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Donna's Journal
Book signing, September 2005


"Lizzie"Bumpy brick streets put there by WPA, a federal program which has been abbreviated in the '30's meaning Work Projects Administration makes our car feel that is it walking, tip-toeing much like the little drawings of cartoons are doing. When I was very young, these streets were appreciated. Anything was better than the gumbo roads from the ranch to Foraker, that very small town where we went for provisions.

Nevertheless, September weather with prairie warmth and only, now-and-then suggestions, of what is just around a corner with occasional, cool gentle breeze, remind me to think and appreciate the moment. Added to this pleasure is the glory of brightly blooming plants up and down the streets and in massive profusion. The space around me suddenly becomes, like something out of a fairy tale story book. The feeling that I have lived this moment before is not imagined. Surely the seasons have played out their staged presentation on our minds many times before now. The enjoyment of it is that we lift our eyebrow in sweet communion with a latent memory of another time so far away. It was a time when I stepped up this same sloped lawn which joined the curb. It was an uncomfortable move because if the car was not parked away from the concrete edging the doors hung on the ground and there was no room to exit that car. And, even if the car was parked away from the cement, a person had to step back up on the grass, usually walking backward in order to get to the sidewalk or, otherwise, walk at an angle, forward onto the sidewalk. When I was a child, the effort would sometimes leave me dropping onto my seat first to walk spider-like on hands and feet until I made it to the walk.

I shook the memories away from my mind as mentally I shifted back to what was my artist's eye so I could record the moment for you, dear-reader. Borders along the front edge of the flower bed held beautiful blooming begonias all lined up like small soldiers guarding the entry of this meticulously restored older home. The garden club meeting for which I was to speak about my book was arriving. There would be newer things to add to past experiences this day. The entry way was all enclosed from the rest of the house but one door was open and it took our eye into the kitchen. For anyone who lived in another place like this shelter there was a vis-a-vis of dark polished wood, values going dark but made light from the highlights produced by wax and dustcloth. The same strong woody look carried on into the room for food preparation.

The door to our right opened and shot through to me with imagery of a space chosen for formal dining. Again the highly polished wood of this dining room furnishings made them striking, in their desire to serve. The long, elegant table was set with unusual cloth place mats crumpled up to look like a leaf from some plant to hold the dishes and silver. The center of the table held bougainvillea blooms in a stunning hot pink. Around them were leaves of collards. The vein on this plant was the exact color or the blossoms it was framing. Against the dark wood of the table the arrangement was beautiful. In this room given to ceremony the ladies were seated and enjoyed polite conversation while they had taste buds treated to two different pies of their choice.

The group was directed to another door off the entry way and this was a remembered sun room which is often a treasured location in houses of another era where quiet repose gifted a family tender association to be kept in the mind for a lifetime. In my mind's eye I could again see my grandfather seated in a rocking chair while I lingered at his feet asking him questions only a grandchild can ask a grandparent. This room; however, held no wood rocking chair. Instead, there were large overstuffed pieces taking up most of the space. A grand piano filled one corner of the room.

T.L. Walker was the main guest-speaker and she went through her prepared speech about the Standing Bear Park project quickly, while she concisely informed the group about the progress made there. It seems the only thing to finalize the years of work will be the building of the museum. The trails, the permanent arbor, statue, voice boxes and each tribe's outdoor room is complete. T.L. does much work with going to the schools to educate the children about the tribes involved, Ponca, Otoe, Tonkawa, Osage and Kaw. Her enthusiasm even after years of work is still contagious.

After T.L. finished her talk, it was my turn to review my book for the ladies. As I went over the material about my Native American Grandmother who, in fact, had lived only a short distance from this house I had many thoughts and feeling about her. The lovely picture I had enlarged I set on an easel on top of the piano and Grandmother Elizabeth gazed about over the group with a half smile. She wore a dress of soft lacy fabric in a pastel color. Her hair in the Gibson-girl hair style was caught to the back of her head with a dark ribbon. A lovely chain of pearls rested on her neck. Her expression was one to tell of a kindly, considerate personality.

In my book, at one point, I wrote that she told her lawyer she wanted a divorce. When he asked her if she realized the implications involved with a divorce at that time in history, she simply commented, “Oh well, I won't be attending any garden parties, anyway.” This part of the story I didn't put forth. In my mind I told her, “Gramma, you were wrong, here you are, at a garden party. No matter that it is some fifty years after your death. Your spirit of unsinkable determination lingers on, not only with this lovely picture but with your story, written and preserved in my book, HOW TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONESES.


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