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American History
Osage Highlanders - Chapter 1


The decision was made and pushed upon her like the winds off the prairie highlands to seek shelter in the "ghost house" of her ancestors.  These great gusts of wind herded clouds across the sky with a power and strength to make Leslie aware of her own insignificance. She  was at one with the ecstasy of the scene but was humbled at how mortal she suddenly felt.

At the moment her only thought was to take refuge from the approaching storm under some part of this remaining roof of the dilapidated old house still intact enough to break the obviously approaching torrent of rain. The movement of the storm was sweeping closer and she could see its approach. With no fear she stepped across the threshold. The moment she did so, there was no gripping cold, no frightening banshee, no spirit of evil at all. Suddenly, she was lifted to a place of warmth, of laughter, of happiness and for a moment she could see the things as they had been only one half a century before. A sip of the wine of another time made her heady with anticipation.

The long dining room table at the back of the great room stood and elegantly performed its duty toward service. The long flowing provincial legs in a dark mahogany  table was shining and she could almost feel the dust cloth in her hand as she rubbed it across the wood.  The white lace tablecloth was spread over the table and the eternal silver leafed fixture rested in the middle of the table. She felt she was the ghost while this family quietly went about their evening meal. One would speak of some event to go on during the day and there was quiet soft laughter while they enjoyed the telling of it.

Her peripheral vision came into play and from this she saw the bedroom to her immediate right. It was a rather small room setting at the front of the house. A large window opened up on to the stone porch and to the vistas of the prairie highlands. White lace curtains were gently lifted as a storm's warning breeze wafted through and off that same prairie.

There was a smell of approaching rain and if that was then or now Leslie's mind didn't question it. She simply accepted the event as one akin to sacred as far as a blessing of rainfall which was not for her but for those residents of another time warp who were so dependent upon such things.

Leslie knew through out her life this feeling to go with that scene would always be with her. The total aura of elegance so richly worked through the mysterious elements of this oasis at an isolated place was totally separated from the world and realm of the girl's knowledge. It was more than a feeling. There was a complete envelopment of peaceful serene dignity resting on her shoulders as lightly as an antique lace shawl and up until this time she had only seen it pictured. Never before in her life time had she every experienced such a treasured existence.

In this front bedroom she could see the black and white patterns of a quilt recognized, even though, she did not really know of it. The "wedding ring pattern." Again she remembered the stories told about her great-grandmother, Bell.

The posters of the bed were a rich very dark brown wood almost actually black and they were compatible with the black and white pattern of the quilt. To one side of the room set a massive oak roll top desk. It was closed and locked from prying eyes and fingers.

To the middle of the great room stood the colonnades filled with souvenirs from different parts of the country. There was a small ceramic elephant with a burden to carry. The holes in the top of the elephant's burden  were the precise size for cigarettes. The bottom shelves held rolls for the player piano and they too were protected by lock and key even though the small souvenirs were not clearly visible through the glass doors.

The rugs on the floor were different. Their's was not the way of the carpet of her day with its lush, soft inviting,  luxury. These rugs were what made the room of another time. They were as flat as the floor itself. The rich design of Persian influences swung her thinking to a decorator's wish for conveying something. Of what were they speaking? What was in their wish to create an ambiance for the family?  By happenstance or by plan there was a mixing and agreement of  Scottish culture with the Native American's who were  co-owners of this home.

Following this line of thought a row of a native designs were painted just at the top of the wall next to the ceiling. The walls were a lovely cream color and the border at the top picked up the rich dark berry reds of the carpet. All around the walls hung pictures of Osage chieftains. They were not things of beauty but were rather stern and foreboding in their steady gaze as they looked out across the big room.

"We belong here," they seemed to say, "too bad, if you don't agree."

To the front of the large living room set an old Victrola she was sure had been used to entertain since she could see a slotted shelf holding black disks of old records. If she could have seen the labels she would have enjoyed the thought of the sound of the Scottish Irish melodies,  Amazing Grace with the pipes, Danny Boy, and others.

The massive pieces of overstuffed furniture were in dark shades of brown. Here and there as accents, set the polished roots of the Bois d'art tree, which were of a strong yellow gold color. A small desk set to the front of the room and perched on this desk was a miniature Charlie McAuther radio. The little wooden dummy dressed in black was all at once given a principle position in the household and rightly so, since the inhabitant truly did enjoy the comedian's endeavors to lighten the lives of those who were embroiled in the saddest of the world war times.

On that same desk a lamp held a position too. It was a total round globe of a tree green color resting on a platform beside an oil derrick of a metallic gold color. This too was a symbol  strong to the family and to that of the days as  the riches of oil was brought to the communities in Oklahoma and, indeed, to the world.

In an instant the vision was gone and here remaining again was the clutter of the fallen plaster walls and ceiling. There was a hole in the floor and it was obviously  where the table the girl thought she had seen had set.

If Leslie was to be warned away by the vision the sudden wind and rain storm stopped her from leaving the dry place where she now stood. The wind whipped and tore at the desolate old house bringing with it the mourning of a banshee like thing. Those who entered for a brief time were tormented into believing it was a haunting.

Leslie, as her blood decreed had no fear of such things. Too many of the traditions passed down to her were those of something pleasant and of looking to angelic presence's. Even the Irish fairy and little people tales were ones of positive thoughts. Now as she recalled the vision she had seen there the teenage girl had a quiet yearning in her wanting to know of another time. She had experienced a quick glimpse to when there were genteel soft ways free of so much of the common daily stress of her modern world and Leslie wanted to learn more of this other world.

Slowly, but slowly, there was a flickering of light about the room. Here a soft shuffling as an activity once again began to become known to her. She could see the same scene, the table, the people, but this time it was more real. She felt at home with these people as if they knew her and as if to agree with her thoughts one of the elderly women turned to her and said,  "Why Leslie, we were so worried about you. We are so glad you made it in before the storm and just in time for dinner. Go on in now and slip out of your jodhpurs into something more suitable for dining."

Leslie looked down to see how she was dressed. She knew she was wearing her usual uniform of blue jeans and a cotton shirt. To her surprise instead she saw she was dressed in the appearance of one who had been on an English riding hunt. The strange thing was, she was not shocked to see herself dressed this way.

The girl walked into the middle bedroom as if she knew where she should go. Around her now was the soft earthy blues to match  her eyes. The bed was made up with the same blue color but in a silk looking fabric embroidered in a most rich manner. On the bed was a doll who was dressed in that muted blue but with a taffeta moiré. The doll's hair was as black as her own and its eyes were the same startling blue. She had a rose bud mouth painted on in just the same red as Leslie's own lips.

When she sat down at the dressing table in order to pull off her tall leather riding boots, she glanced up at the wall on the west of the room. Along the wall in a straight line were small artist's original pieces of artwork. There were the little pin up girls popular during the 1940's. The signature of the artist was visible and Leslie studied it closely. She slid out of her riding habit and carefully hung it in the closet to her left. From that same closet she took a soft creamy silk shirt and a sharp pleated plaid skirt of tans and browns. After she brushed her hair with the heavy brass hair brush, she quickly pulled it into a soft bun to the back of her neck much like the one worn by the petite doll watching her from the bed. There was no catching of all the tendrils of curls and there were loose long strands to slip out and form a frame about her face.

When she walked back into the dining room Leslie was again greeted with loving comments. “My! My! How our beautiful girl is growing up. Can't you just see her all busy with her own life?  I guess there just isn't that much time for us anymore. We  are so happy you've made this time for us. Come, come, sit thee down, here."

If Leslie knew this wasn't real her mind could not tear itself away from the charisma of the moment. She didn't know these people, but, somehow, the bond was there. They were her own folks and they certainly spoke with an easy acquaintance, even calling her by name.

Breaking into these questioning thoughts the elderly gentleman sitting at the table said, "Well, I wonder why Bertie isn't serving our coffee?"

"She is busy waiting on the table on the back porch," one of the women answered. "I'll get the coffee for you."

"Let me help," Leslie offered. She was curious to know about the "table," on the back porch and used this as an excuse to go look for herself.


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