Gramma Bell was beyond the age to be active
with yard work and gardening, but there was a remnant in her back yard
of what she wanted kept. The grandchildren were like all children. They
were interested in every activity their grandparents were working
around. If someone had told them that most folks didn't grow tobacco in
their back yard it would have meant nothing to them.
They too, thought roses were grown for
gathering the petals. A small pillow of some ladies satin under which
had been saved for just this purpose, held the fragrant petals, and the
children nestled against them when they dropped off for a nap. Molded
into their consciousness was the memory of white and black wedding ring
patterned quilts their grandmother had sewn by hand which held the
The country around Foraker, Oklahoma
truly was a place where the prairie reigned. The miles of grassy
stretches did nothing to stop the ever blowing winds and in the winter
they were biting, icy cold.
Rough looking, earthy speaking, cowboys
with hardened leather looking skin mingled in among the folks of the
little town where they had to shop for groceries, bank their pay check,
have a garage repair a car, or purchase medical supplies out of either
of the two drugstores.
There wasn't one structure like another
in Foraker. Every house and building was totally different in
architecture from the other. On the street where they lived at one end
was the tall heavy hewn stone school building of basement, and two
stories above that. On the other end was a large house built of bricks.
The tall steps led up to a high porch edged with columns of cement
pillars. The house to the south was a smaller house and their
grandmother's house was a tall, three-storied house. There were inside
staircases, relatively hidden on the sides which took a person to the
other two floors. Some very old ruins of a stone house had stood across
the street for years, desolate and empty. Never were the children
allowed to enter the grounds of that building. Fears had been put into
their head such as snakes, old wells, and maybe even a haunting. They
never broke the rules on this subject.
The downtown segment of the town was
basically just one long street. But this too showed buildings to be
equally as different. The two banks there also were tall brick buildings
and had outside stairs to the top floor. Once when they climbed the
stairs to the upper room, they were able to see a most open flat floor.
The picture of this giant room with windows reaching to the floor all
around was a place they wanted to play, but knew they had gone as far as
they better go and carefully backed away. The thought of maybe slipping
out of one of the broken windows was a possibility so it was just as
well they did not stay.
Today while the children helped their
grandmother around her garden they told her about the old bank building.
"You kids, best stay out of that old
building," Gramma was short with her words, but had a way of
getting a point across with her facial expressions.
"Miz Quarrely is out," they
alerted their grandmother.
"I see her, and her name is
Corley," Bell looked over toward the neighbor.
She maintained a rather easy friendship
with the woman although they were so very different. Bell was a
delicate, very slender woman who always was attentive to dressing with
soft flowing fabrics touched with ruffles creating gentle folds. Mrs.
Corly was a more stocky woman who dressed much like the women of the
area with no frills added to practical cotton dresses. Bell's hair was
snow white with soft curls fluffed around her face. Mrs. Corley wore her
grey hair in a severe style pulled neatly into place. This was not the
end of the difference either. Mrs. Corly liked her lawn manicured and
neat to the smallest detail. Bell's back yard was more of a garden than
a lawn. There was such a variety of plants one could in no way claim
their grounds were manicured. Tall spiraling grasses set between
culinary herbs, certainly separating them, but having this one texture
contrasted with another texture gave a sometimes, straggly appearance up
beside Mrs. Corly's yard. The pear shaped yellow colored little bite
sized tomatoes climbed on the fence between the yards on Bell's side and
they too were rangey looking. This didn't matter to the children because
they knew some of them were to be made into the transparent jam they
All these individual plants created nooks
and hidden places where the children could cuddle down in warm places
away from the pulling winds. When their friends came for visits, they
too were equally pleased to share their Gramma Bell's growing garden
like landscape. The observation has to be made as to how easily these
children of yesteryear were to please as to having fun. A simple thing
such as grandmothers' herb garden yard gifted them with interest and
pleasure, lending them learned memories of something truly mysterious,
while filling their senses with pungent odors and special feelings.