I noticed him because of one article of clothing he
wore. Usually there was no identification of clothing or something so
that you could tell what race a person might be. His tie was the
broadcloth fabric so many of the Native American people wore. It was a
plain dark blue in the classic wool, woven, texture and on the very edge
were the colors to be seen on broadcloth, a bit of yellow, a line of red
and all with a soft line created by the weaving of the fabric. This was
a sure statement that he was of a some tribe.
Broadcloth is the fabric with a long history for us,
reaching back to the French traders who brought the trade cloth from
Europe down the water ways of America. The accounts go back to the
Romans who took the rough fabric to England where the Brits refined it
to this soft lovely fabric it now is. To own even a small piece of
Broadcloth like this is costly. This act of respect to wear such an
article at a special occasion would not be understood by any here unless
they were Native American.
"What tribe are you?" I boldly asked.
When he spoke, there was no doubt in my mind he was,
indeed, of some tribe. He stood quietly for a moment and looked off into
the distance as if he were at the edge of some tall bluff on the prairie
gazing out over the terrain.
"I’m Choctaw." He answered and this was his only
reply. No other information was forthcoming as is characteristic of
"Are you married?" Again I asked in a direct way and
had no apologies to make for that because again it is our way. No forked
tongue here, just speech aimed as sure as the mark of an arrow.
"She’s over there." He turned his whole body and
tilted his head slightly toward the place where his wife was sitting. I
wanted to smile because sometimes Ponca people used to point with their
lips. He didn’t do that but used his body instead.
So it was, he and his wife became our friends and
some way or another we would meet again occasionally. Once they invited
us to a fun dance and party when their teen-age children were with them
and that was joyful association there at Cushing, Oklahoma.
An old time fiddle player met my request to play the
song, "The Eighth of January" which was played during my youth by my
Grandmother. Her brother William Collins must have taught her. The tune
was like fire to the gathering and instantly there were people who
couldn’t keep their feet still.
"They fired their guns but the British Kept a Comin."
The fiddle player knew the notes and the quick rhythm of the violin set
everyone’s feet to dancing.
Rhonda was always with us whether
for Amway meetings or a gathering like this. Her paraplegic condition
didn’t let her take part but she always seemed to enjoy the antics of
those around her. We never did much with Amway other than using the
products, but we stayed involved for the meetings where there was a
lecture and then a fun time around a table in some nice restaurant where
we all visited, Rhonda included.
If a person watched Rhonda
closely, sometime she might quietly wipe away a tear while a beautiful
ballerina or a wonderful ice skater performed. These were the difficult
moments for me. I was passed the point of having to take a shower to cry
alone. It was just as easy to walk away into another room for a bit.
Rhonda and I laughed heartily
while watching the young ones doing the Virginia Reel that night at the
Cushing dance. A couple of the girls were involved in conversation and
missed their place to come into the dance while their partners stood
waiting for them. The expressions on the boys faces as they waited for
the girls was just too funny, we thought.
The innocense of young men's
puzzled expressions had a look that seemed to ask, "Are we dancing here,
or are we visiting?"
Like dancers in the
Virginia Reel we skipped along through the heaviness of what could have
been defeating to a place where we learned to accept what was, without
using our circumstances as an excuse to fail.