Rod and I moved to
Stillwater, Oklahoma during a rain storm to have dropped eleven inches
of water on the little college town in only one day. The realization of
why the town was named Stillwater was being made clear to us. We almost
didn't want to tell the utility people our name: Flood.
This was before the town
had cleared the grown-up tree lined creeks. A surge such as this caused
the streams to flood and spread out over the lowest areas of the town.
This was certainly a dank, damp, difference than where we had been
living atop a hill in Osage County on the prairie. Guaranteed, no floods
ever ravished that area. Rodney was having to take alternate routes
around the town to avoid streets under water. My mind was not wishing to
accept these conditions but the decision had been made for my husband to
get an education so I kept quiet and did not complain. Years later great
concrete run offs keep this from happening.
The overseer of the small
Stillwater congregation brought over a couple and their new baby so they
could find shelter with us away from their rain soaked area. This young
mother stayed with me for a day until they could get back into their
flooded trailer. I couldn't even imagine how miserable it was to go back
into that tiny, soaked place but they wouldn't accept our offers for
them to stay overnight.
She was a tall, lovely,
willowy looking girl with an aristocratic bearing but she didnt seem to
be overly nervous about her predicament. Our hide-a-bed in the living
room would have been comfortably dry for the couple. These were youthful
people and already the philosophy, stand on your own feet, must have
been implanted into their thinking because my hospitality was politely
Rodney applied for the
G.I. bill. It wouldn't come through right away and was only 175.00 a
month. I went to work at a dry good store rather than work as a reporter
on the paper. I had no camera which was necessary for that work.
Rodney brought Rhonda to
me between his classes and on my breaks so I could nurse her. Mother was
with us most of the time so she could help with Rhonda. His uncle Ross
gave him a job on Saturdays at his cattle sales lot. It paid ten dollars
a day so that added another forty dollars a month to our income. Mother
was working at night in a small cafe on the south side of town.
I was still not strong
and was battling infections after the difficult birth. Sometimes, it was
hard for me to get through a chore without having to stop, sit down and
wait until the pain subsided. Diapers were washed by hand since we had
no machine. I learned the sun would bleach them white. Youth, strength
and will, along with antibiotics soon allowed me to get better.
Mother saw how we were
struggling so she moved us to a bigger house. She and Dad took care of
the rent which was then, sixty dollars a month. The property our land
lady purchased was just for rental purposes. It had been part of a farm.
The place was bought from a couple who must have been very industrious.
All kinds of jars with canned preserved fruits and vegetables were held
in the cellar.
When the new owner and
land lady came to collect the rent, I showed her the cellar and asked if
we could use the food. Mrs. Wigley was agreeable and admitted to not
knowing it was there. She said she wouldn't use it anyway. The frugal
farmer's wife who once owned the house had even canned bean sprouts and
they were delicious besides being so good for us.
Another farmer left corn
at the edge of the field for gleaners as people used to do. Rodney asked
him if we could pick it and the man was okay with that. The corn was
totally dried and hard. Husks were already dried and rattled while we
stripped it from the stalks. The farmers used dried corn on the cob like
this to feed their stock.
Mother taught me how to
break the husk with lye sprinkled into a tub of water. She always
carefully used the dangerous solution of potassium hydroxide which can
burn skin or blind a person if it splashes up into an eye. After many
washings while wearing rubber gloves, the corn became hominy and it was
better than any I had ever tasted. Since there was a quantity of it we
canned many jars.
Rhonda was still not
strong. She couldn't hold down breast milk, at times. There must have
been pain. She cried a lot. Many nights were spent in the found, rickety
rocking chair. We loved her though, and did everything to make her
comfortable. She enjoyed warm baths, so I always gave her a number of
baths a day. Today she has her own spa. The warm, moving water is
relaxing to her. The baby couldn't hold her head up and couldn't sit up
at all but I sewed for her and she always looked like a little princess.
Rodney's mother sewed,
too, She made me three beautiful light cotton dresses of dark, lovely
colors which I wore, Sundays, to the meetings. When we had to attend
conventions, I sewed my own clothes. Life was good and I never felt
There were only eleven of
us in attendance for the meetings at the small upstairs room. Mother, my
little sister and brother, along with four couples all met together. We
were the pioneers of the now large, elegant Stillwater congregation.
Navigating the long,
steep steps with baby, diaper bag, and study material, I remember, was a
challenge. In the group was the young couple we had met when their
trailer was flooded so we already felt we had friends. Our following the
songs without accompaniment by an instrument might have been laughable
if each and every one of us wasnt trying so hard to stay on tune with
our singing. While engaged in presenting one of the six minute speeches
I was counseled for saying, uhhh 16 times. I guess the ministry school
conductor had been counting them. I looked to the back of the room where
my new friend was with her baby. Her sweet smile was a salve to the
curtness of the council by a young man from another part of the country.
We were conected with the new duties we had to our babies and that was
The overseer and his wife
were past their youth but still very active. He was a stocky man, with
partially graying hair who dressed in conservative clothing. The man was
not tall but his health and pleasant manner made him a likable person.
His wife was a tiny bit of a woman about the size of a twelve year old
girl. We became friends with the overseer and his spouse and spent many
hours enjoying their companionship in one activity or another.
An invitation to dinner
one evening in their unbelievably small, tear drop camper trailer which
was parked in a vacant lot was so nice, we thought. A rich overgrowth of
trees made the space like a hidden, little secret garden nicely tucked
into a private area someone of wealth might have paid a great fortune to
enjoy. Their tiny radio with the volume turned low played nice music and
seemed to be in the background, although, in reality it was in the same
room with us.
For our meal this tiny
little woman fried two potatoes for the four of us. One can of Tuna fish
for a sandwich, a sliced up onion on our plate along with iced tea was
wonderful, I dont think Ive ever enjoyed any food or association as
much. Mother kept Rhonda at home and this was as good as a night out for
us. We did not linger though and when dishes were cleaned up we said our
good-by's. After that I made it my business to always share our food
with the couple. They loved Mother's hot rolls, cinnamon rolls and other
delectable things she cooked.
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