Now I'm a Texan, The
Officer Tells me So
Some called it going up
to Egypt for grain but we did what had to be done to help our little
daughter in any way we could. If the road was winding and twisted we
were on it and nothing was going to stop our making the journey.
The Oak Cliff
congregation was filled with warm friendly people. I was impressed with
their soft southern ways and something about the atmosphere reminded me
of old plantations and the genteel manners of quiet ladies and strong
gentlemen as, indeed, I would learn this probably was the original
Oak Cliff was made up of
the older part of Dallas. This was the area where Lee Harvey Oswald ran
to try for hiding in that movie theater. He must not have known too much
about Dallas. Each little area is like a small town and everyone knows
everything about anyone who comes through.
The apartment we chose
was okay inside. However, there was nothing but a hard dirt yard with
only sprinkles of dying grass in places, outside. No where to walk
presented itself and anyway it wasnít much of a residential area.
Nothing but cement covered parking lots in shopping centers surrounded
The water cooler just
barely provided escape from the heat and it was incredibly hot. I
couldnít believe the sweltering heaviness of it. I felt like that
cartoon character, a wolf who shlepped along in slow motion as he called
to his goat, "Billllly Boooyyyee boyyee , boyyee," as he spoke with even
a slower drawl.
Rhonda and I were quite
alone. There were no children, no people out and about and certainly no
out who looked like someone I wanted to know. The meetings in the
evenings were the only contact we had with humanity since Rhondaís
therapy wouldnít start right away. Only after I had met some of the
friends from Irving, Texas were we able to get acquainted. They were a
family and right away invited us to have dinner with them in their home.
Irving was only 10,000 population at the time but there was the building
of new apartments. We attended the meeting and that was when they told
us about new apartments which had just been built.
I was almost standing in
the middle of the apartment with my mouth open. Soft, pleasant music
came over an intercom in the living room. Air-conditioning made the
space cool and comfortable The furnishings were brand new in the latest
style of the day. Heavy drapes covered the sliding glass doors and when
the apartment manager pulled them back a beautiful courtyard of rich,
green St. Augustine grass truly looked like a carpet outdoors. Rod and I
walked through the door just steps and were into the pool area where
cool, blue-green, clear water shimmered invitingly.
"Oh my! Would you look at
this? I think these folks have created a paradise in miniature."
For some reason Rodney
took a more active interest in Rhondaís therapy and he dutifully drove
her back and forth to Oak Lawn close to downtown Dallas every day. He
could do that because he was now working nights.
When the song "Downtown"
came out, Rhonda loved it and hummed along. "No wonder," I thought, "we
spent a lot of time running back and forth to downtown Dallas, "and in
the process became well acquainted with the sites. We saw the tall
insurance building with an elevator that zipped the many floors at too
fast a speed to be believed,
Fair Park with the art
museum then located there, Highland Park with its small, almost little
town feel, the zoo, the galleries around Oak Lawn, of course, Turtle
Creek and too many other places to list. We were like kids in a candy
store and found ourselves wishing to live forever in Dallas. The
apartment was wonderful and some great times were had in community
service with friends while in Irving.
The residents of the
apartment building were a mix of all sorts who were moving into Dallas
for jobs. I didnít meet one of them I didnít like. They were such a
friendly group. We all spent many an hour around the pool while Rhonda
bobbed happily atop the water on her float. I never let her out of my
reach and we both enjoyed the pool. There was never a lack of
companionship since everyone was in the otherís apartment doing
something to entertain ourselves, or the children, and Rhonda played for
hours right outside our door on that cool grass. Again, I witnessed how
those little ones took turns so that someone was always with Rhonda. I
was mystified at this quality of tenderness in such small children. No
one instructed them to do this. How did they know this was something
they must do? Just as on Elliot street the children saw to it someone
was always with her, so did these children. To see a couple of them go
and run about for a bit only to return so two others could take a break
was something I marveled over.
There was never a time I
took my eye off Rhonda while she was outside the sliding glass door
playing on the lawn. She had a small
push cart toy that could
be operated by moving it along with her legs at a snailís pace. This was
something she could do along with the tricycle Rodney fixed up so her
feet wouldnít slip off the petals.
She buzzed up and down
the sidewalk happily.
A child her age was often
in her vicinity but unlike the other children she never made an attempt
to befriend our girl. This three or four year old never seemed to have
anyone around she knew. I never saw a parent. It worried me to see her
playing on the tall mounds of dirt the construction workers were moving
with heavy equipment.
Once in a while a man
would get all the way out of his cab, take her by the hand and lead the
urchin back to our courtyard.
One of these times the
girl must have been angered to have been led away from her place on the
dirt. She came directly over to Rhonda, jerked her off her play toy,
threw my child to the ground and pounced on top of Rhonda to pummel her
with fists just as you would see a man fight.
As fast as I could move I
raced to my child, took the small girl by the arm and pulled her off
where opon she immediately started screaming and ran away. It wasnít but
just moments until the mother came storming onto and down the sidewalk.
She screamed profanities at me and her eyes told me the woman was on
I remained quiet until
she stepped toward Rhonda.
I just took a few steps
towards her, not really knowing what I was going to do, other than I
wasnít going to see her do Rhonda as her little girl had done. When I
made that movement the woman screamed while running away.
"Iím calling the law,"
she yelled back over her shoulder.
"Iíll be waiting right
here," I thought to myself even though I was so embarrassed to see a
crowd of people beginning to peek out their doors. The screams of the
women was what caught their attention.
In a brief time a squad
car drove up to the end of the walk. The officer did not get out of his
car and I was glad of that. It was enough to have to deal with this
crazed woman. We stood just outside his car door and the woman swore the
worst profanities I have ever heard coming from a femaleís mouth. I
didnít move other than that my hand was jiggling back and forth over the
car door mirror. When I saw the cop observing that I immediately
stopped. I suppose I looked like a cat switching its tail before it
"Her child has played
around this heavy equipment for days and Iíve never seen her mother, I
simply pulled her off my handicapped child because she was using her
fists on her." I did defend myself at which time he turned to the raging
person beside us.
"Mam, I may just haul you
in for using language like that in the presence of an officer of the
law." Finally, the man spoke up.
"If this woman reached
down and pulled your child out of the swimming pool it wouldnít have
been any different. If you donít do better with your behavior I will
haul you off and put this child in protective services."
That was the ending of
the fracas with her practically running to get away and was I ever glad.
Embarrassed, miserable that I had to take the insults, too, I turned and
immediately left as well. As I was leaving I heard someone say, "I think
it best the old gal leave that Indian woman alone."
In a few minutes and
after I was able to compose myself the office came to my door.
"Mam, are you from
Texas?" He wanted to know.
"No. Iím from Oklahoma."
I had no idea why he wanted to know.
"Let me tell you, in
Texas if someone swears at you like she did, you have the right to go to
her house and do whatever it is you wish to keep that from happening
again. I will give you the number of a judge to call, and you let him
know what has happened." He quickly scribbled a number down for me.
In my mind I knew the
woman was frightened off and wouldnít be a bother again, so I didnít
even bother to call any judge.
The strange thing about
the whole incident was that whenever I saw her husband on the grounds,
he would smile and nod to me as if to say, "Iím with you lady."
So began my education and
understanding the world of Texas. Although miles apart and away from my
Oklahoma life style somehow there was always a way to deal with whatever
was to come up. At this time, the self-control I had to exercise threw
me into a mild flash back to when I was traumatized with Rhondaís birth.
The friends I made were with me and worked with me to help me regain
stability. Marsha was the one most present straight through the chills,
bit of fever, and pacing.
We lost touch with her
after our move from the apartments. I have remembered our short term
friendship many times since and wondered about the outcome of her life.
Iím sure all went well with her, She was a beautiful person, physically