Plano, Texas just outside
Dallas was really only a small country place at the year of 1971. There
had been building projects with the schools as if they knew in advance
about the great crowds of people who would cause the town to explode
with population. For the moment, it was comfortably a little town.
Ultimately it would become so big the streets formed one solid
residential area all the way to Dallas and completely filled the
pastures we were presently driving through.
"Oh look! There is my
street." By some chance we had driven by a short lane named Donna.
"Will you drive up this
street?" Rodney was well acquainted with my weird requests when we were
driving and he readily turned to go up the street. At the very end of
the drive was a farmhouse. It was unique, small, yet large. The high
peaked roof gave it a presence on the end of a wheatfield rich with tall
waving green wheat. This field was directly at the end of the road.
I remembered living in
the middle of such a wheat field when I was growing up. I always loved
the changes of seasons as the wheat was first planted in brown fields
only to grow first as beautiful green grass and then became even more
beautiful as golden ripe grain. The wonders of whiskered wheat stalks I
knew would be forthcoming from this delightful green pasture where there
were cattle grazing on it. No more would my son have to point to a horse
and ask if it was a cow as he once had done.
The house was built close
to the ground with a low foundation and this made it easily accessible
for a wheelchair. A for rent sign on the front lawn gave us a phone
number which we called. The friendly lady who answered with a heavy
Texan drawl gave us directions to her home.
Mrs. Donahoe was in her
front yard when we drove up. She was snapping green beans. I sat down
beside her and began to help her break up the brittle pods into bite
size pieces. The elderly woman and I chatted there under the shade of a
tree which gave a little relief from the blazing Texas sun.
"We would love to rent
your house at the end of Donna avenue," I asked.
"Oh you wouldn’t want to
live up there. This is country out here, quite a way out from Dallas,
you know." This gray haired, country woman had an opinion of me, I could
tell. The new car, my town clothes, everything about us probably
Mrs. Donahoe would you
let me pay several months in advance? That way if I decide not to stay
you won’t have lost anything."
This was no problem
because instead of the 60 dollars she was asking, we had been paying
close to 500 dollars a month for rent. That was quite a difference in
the range of cost. It would be easy to pay even six months in advance at
the price she quoted to me. Mrs. Donahoe was a business woman and money
was the key to success with her. For my part, our returned cleaning
deposit alone could easily cover the rental on the house for six months.
After we were moved in
there was just no joy to equal the freedom I felt. Mark was out buzzing
around the yard on his new go-cart, or riding his bike down the road
with a boy who lived on the corner of the other section. To see him
running through the tall wheat or fishing in one of the ponds was a
thrill for me. It was wide flat land and I could see him in every
direction. This was close to the childhood I knew and to me was
This house was old but
well kept with new flooring, new bathroom and kitchen.
A tiny entry of a back
porch was very much a part of the house and I filled that with living
plants from top to bottom. This changed the whole appearance of the back
of the house and back door entry way all farm people use.
What good are they? Mrs.
Donahoe smiled as she asked me that. She was ever the grower of food for
a city on acres and acres of rich land. There was no comprehension in
her mind for what purpose these house plants served.
"Oh I just like the green
in winter when every thing is dull outside," I smiled as I tried to win
her over to my thinking.
Mark’s new friend, who
was just a couple of years older seemed more like a brother than buddy.
Pete’s mother worked and his father who worked shifts watched him during
the day when he wasn’t in school so the little boy was happy to have a
Rodney installed a wood
stove at one end of the small living room and when winter arrived Mark
and I cuddled on one sofa and Rhonda on the other one while we watched
television. This was as close to country living we would have at the
very edge of the massive metropolis of Dallas where we could look out
the window in front to see that landscape of skyscrapers over the
When I took Mark to
enroll in one of the very new, modern buildings I was sure this was the
perfect place for him. The strength of the Native American with athletic
ways often makes ordinary classrooms hard to live through. Here was what
was called an open school and was just the perfect place for Mark. There
was more freedom for the children in the classroom and they weren’t so
tied to a desk. Everything was indeed, open with divisions only made
from one activity to another such as book corners where they could read
or tables set up to do activities. No walls separated classrooms and the
teachers moved easily all about the space with each one helping another
if the need arose.
If that was a pleasant
experience I had no idea what was in store for me when I pushed Rhonda’s
wheelchair through the wide doors to take us into the junior high
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