As surely as the wind
could rip a door out of a person’s hand so too, it was tearing over
the expanses of prairie lands. This wind was of a different kind.
Enmeshed in the web of its beings were held spirits of greed, and crimes
of murder. Insidious plotting, murky investment all, suddenly came over
the highs and lows through the hills of the Osage after the wealth of
oil was dropped upon them. Like children, Bertha and Dean went about
their lives mostly protected from this hatefulness by Dean’s father,
Joe, who carried not one weapon, but three, besides the shotgun resting
under the seat and floorboard of his car.
“Texas Rangers have
offered me wages for helping them clean up Whiz Bang.” Joe, a man of
few words, commented to his wife.
She made no reply.
These were the days of chauvinism. Not only did this apply to racial
bigotry, as far as anyone non-American, but to the place women held
for being governed by men. Certainly, she and her husband butted
heads on politics, but in bawdy living such as this at the little
town of Whiz-Bang, the wife kept wisely, silent. This town of
Whiz-Bang was ribald with prostitution, gunslingers, corrupt
leaders, and the substances of Whiz-Bang, which was a mixture of
Cocain and Heroin.
Joe worked the roads
during the day and worked with the Texas Rangers at night. He
didn’t need the money, but was a man who perpetually looked to the
future. The gumbo soil held and stuck to the wagons and hooves of
horses. Travel was not only difficult after rain but, actually,
quite impossible. The projects to create civilization and travel
were truly achieved through the efforts of man and horse -power.
Picks, iron, pry poles, shovels and horse drawn wagons were the
tools they used.
Joe’s parents were
descendants of a civilized land before the civil war out of
Georgia. He knew what was required to see progress and it wasn’t
the likes of Whiz-Bang. These elements had to be rooted and torn
out of the community it there was to be any advancement and
Dean and Bertha enjoyed the freedom of
their new lives. With pockets full of the Osage oil royalties they
shopped the towns of Pawhuska, Fairfax. Ponca City and even Tulsa.
Slowly but surely, Bertha furnished their new home with the latest
of appliances for that time. The two had played with dolls together
when they were children and now Bertha continued to treat Dean as
lovingly as if he were one of her toys. If he wanted a new car, even
though one was in the drive already, she bought it. They both
frequented the finest Habedashery shops. Bertha was a large woman,
but skilled seamstresses sewed clothing to become her.
They lost their first
child, Dempsey when he was three. Nothing then, was known about
milk allergies for the American Indian. The Native women were
encouraged to adapt the American-European way of giving their
children cow’s milk. If Bertha had followed her Native customs for
breast feeding, probably, Dempsy would have lived.
After Mariah was
born, Bertha had a series of miscarriages. Dean’s blood-type, Rh
negative, might have been the cause. Those doctors of early day
Oklahoma had no understanding of this at all.
When their last
child, Weldon Curtis, was born Dean and Bertha truly felt their run
of misfortune was broken and they lavished every gift upon him. No
longer was she interested in the shops of the towns. Her only
interest was her son and daughter. Weldon took the beautiful,
strong good looks of her family, the Big Eagles, and she all but
worshiped the ground where he stood. The finest food was prepared
in the kitchen by their hired cook, his clothing was as expensive
and stylish as could be found, and whatever joy to be known was
given to him. Bertha could be seen by day tending the large garden
she grew. Her large, floppy hat purchased from Mexico on one of
their trips identified the woman, even from a distance.
“Mom! Why are you
dressing me in these clothes? I’m not a cowboy.” Weldon was always
interested in everything around him. He knew the role his mother
wished him to play and it wasn’t to be a cowboy. It was no secret
the cowboys lived a hard life. Working with cattle was demanding
and not something someone would desire to do.
Bertha pulled the
small cowboy-hat down on his head and hitched the strings up under
“Too tight!” Too
tight!” Weldon loosened the strings of the small hat.
“Okay Son! Come on
out to the front steps. Dad wanted you to have this.”
When Weldon walked
out across the big porch, he was, for once, speechless. The boys
short legs almost stumbling down the steps as he ran. The only way
he knew for mounting the pony was to run directly toward it as he
had seen the cowboys do. Smack! The force of his approach caused
him to fall backward and sit down, flat on the ground.
The Shetland Pony was so well trained he simply stood still without
moving a muscle.
That night the
well-schooled horseman, Joe, did laugh out loud to hear of his
grandson’s reaction to his first horse. The man dropped into his
leather rocking chair Bertha had given him, and breathed a sigh of
relief to be home.
“I’m thrilled there is
something of good living here. Things are just about as bad as they can
be at Whiz Bang. I want to tell you those Texas Rangers are something.
The rowdies are not up to them and one by one, the Rangers are sorting
them out, like bad ‘taters from a barrel. This chair shore feels
“You’ve been bLeonding!”
His wife saw he had a cut across one cheek.
“Oh well! One of the yay-whose
caught me with his fist. He won’t bother me again, and that is one more
down. They locked him up, good and proper. By the time he gets out
he’ll be only too glad to get clean out of Oklahoma. They took my
picture today with those tall law men. I felt a little sheepish for
them to have to stand me on a box, so I would be as tall as they are.
Sure enough, the grin displayed by Joe in that picture had the look of
someone who felt a bit embarrassed by something
That rush of ill wind was
being met with opposition by the Texas Rangers and it was being whipped
into confusion as, one by one, the rabble was removed from their
area. Schools and churches were already being established. These had to
“I’ll be glad, when your
part of this is over!” Joe’s wife and Weldon’s grandmother announced.
“It won’t be long now,
the monkey said as he backed up to the lawn mower.” Joe chuckled at his
own favorite joke. We’re shakin’ their trees. Nothing was said about how
Joe kept a 45 Colt revolver under his pillow at night, or that Dean wore
a gun in a shoulder holster under his coat, as well as the one he kept
locked in his glove compartment of his car. Even though the wind was
soon to become a breeze its chill of evil would be played out in the
future and far future to the family’s sorrow.