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Some Kids I Have Known
Ponca City's Fountain


The prairie is a wondrous place. There are massive building thunder head clouds. The expanse makes anyone feel free and alive. Nothing presses in on a person as to spaces. People are isolated and always are joyous and ready for visitors. The warmth of their homes both literal and symbolic makes for happy, well adjusted children.

If there was a shortage of anything Mary Louise never knew of it. Except for one thing. There was an absence of standing water. Well, of course, there were the tanks and ponds to provide drinking water for the cattle. These were hardly considered to be a places for recreation. Usually, the hooves of the cattle kept the muddy edges of the water pock marked with their tracks they left there which made the water inaccessible to humans. The water itself was covered with an algae type moss growing on the surface. This was hardly conducive to swimming. Water Moccasins, a slithering black snake, which has a deadly poison venom, inhabited the depths as well as the shallows. Crystal sparkling water was only available in one location called the Kansas Trap, and it was owned by a great ranch. Occasionally, they would drive the distance to go to that place, but only rarely.

For this reason, among others, Mary Louise loved to visit her grandmother in the small town of Ponca City, Oklahoma. The town was graced and blessed by wealthy oil barons who saw to the establishment of the most beautiful swimming facilities, at the time in 1941, to be found. The leaders of the community seemed to have thought about what could be provided for the people so as to offer the most enjoyment. Following these thoughts they set an elegant fountain in front of the civic center building. Even for the well traveled folks in that day and time, the fountain was outstanding. The water splashing, a sweet falling rain sound, reached high into the sky and with changing patterns it was given different heights and shapes. The most enthralling part of the fountain for a four year old child was the fact that different colored lights from below made the water appear to be of different colors. The colors were vibrant and rich being cranberry red for seconds, changing to azure blues, going on to stunning pinks, then again to bright yellow.

Her grandmother's love for the child focused on keeping Mary Louise entertained. The elderly woman's young unmarried son was her driver since the older woman did not drive. She kept the little girl happy in the evenings by imposing on her son to drive them to the main street of town. Dutifully, the young man patiently escorted the unlikely pair with him in his car.

The little girl was his niece and he was fond of her from the time she was a tiny baby. His wood working skills had seen to the child having her toys built by hand. Tricycles, doll cribs, her own crib he built for her in his wood working class at the high school he attended. These were the days when there wasn't the term "teen-ager." One was either a youth in school, or they were an adult. At this point in time he was out of school and he was an adult. Mary Louise thought of him just as she would have any of the many adults in her life. She knew he put a front up as to being strict. This was the understanding they had between them.

On main street Mary Louise was allowed to walk up and down the block in front of the parked car, peering into the lighted store windows to see the many articles of wonderment there. Sometimes she was held by the manikins who were children wearing bright sharp looking clothing. Since she was the first grandchild she had been lavished with too many garments and she was not interested in the dresses. But the manikin, now this was something else. Certainly, here was a fascination. The little models had eyes focused on something out past where she was. Sometimes, she would turn to look behind her to see if there really was something they saw that she did not.

After she tired of window shopping her Uncle would drive her to the little, tiny, concession stand beside the post office for a soft drink. More than the drink she enjoyed standing listening to the disabled man visit with her care giver. Once, the man confessed to putting sliced onions on the grill a little before meal times in order to build the passing folks awareness of his hamburgers. "It works every time!" The man grinned.

When they were again in the car Mary Louise was not willing to give up this delightful evening.

"Uncle Frank!" "Uncle Frank!" "Please, please, may we stop to see the fountain?"

For now, dear reader, lest you have forgotten the year, it is my wish to remind you, these were the days before televison, VCR's, video games, CD's or the many modes of electronic entertainment we now have for our children. The cool splash of the fountain's waters on one's face, the sparkling colors, the rising and falling of the water was all close to magic to a child who lived on the prairie, removed from fresh water being so free and available.

For a young man who had gone the whole distance to entertain this child her uncle's patience was fast coming to a stopping place. However, he never denied her the pleasure of this one last gift for the evening.

"Don't you ever get tired of this fountain?" He was just a little more than ready to call it a day she knew.

"Nope!" Came her quick reply. She did not give him any trouble when he was ready to go though. After all, there was tomorrow evening.

Years later when she was a grown woman she reminded her Uncle Frank of their trips through the town and her imposing wish to always visit the fountain.

His reply was, "Oh yessssss, the fouuuuntain.........."


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