Another weekend saw her at a
much smaller town of a totally different setting and this was in a wheat
growing area. The little town of Billings, Oklahoma is set off to the side
of the interstate hi-way and is rather isolated in an off the beaten track
way. This community celebration was to mark the accomplishments the town had
made over the years. For a small town the turn out was impressive. It was
the individual, the people, who struck the artist as being so outstanding.
The parade was fun and opened
with the oldest citizen, a Mrs. Hunter, riding down the broad avenue in a
classy antique car. She was given a place of honor. Dawn couldn't help but
wonder about her own folks, the Hunters.
There was a float set up with
the way women worked before modern appliances. One of the ladies sat with a
butter churn on her lap, another hung clothes from a clothes line, and yet
another watched a pot
of beans on an old wood burning stove. They were all dressed in the pioneer
garb of the early Oklahoma days which included the tradition sunbonnet. Dawn
remembered how she hated to wear one even though her grandmother insisted
lest her complexion be ruined with the sun. She now looked down at her own
sun darkened arms called a tan and she knew Gramma Bell had been right.
The next exhibit to come down
the street was a large piece of modern equipment called a Ditch Witch which
was used for excavating large amounts of earth. The owner had geared up the
engine so he could "pop wheelies," all the way down the wide street. It was
quite a sight. This giant jeep looking thing on huge tires, rolling down
the street and all at once popping the front end of it up off the ground. It
would roll on its back wheels only for a while and bucking it was back on
the ground. The man driving it added to the show with his attitude. It was
something like, "Ho-Hum, I do this all the time.” This was hilarious to
Dawn. But, since no one else was laughing she decided she shouldn't either.
The small classy little high
school band marched and played well. They were in tune and in step. The
youthful girls and boys were beautiful and handsome in their sharp uniforms.
The uniforms of a burgundy color were trimmed in shining gold trim. Some of
the ancient melodies they played reached back to Scotland and Dawn again
remembered the oldest citizen, who was over ninety, a Mrs. Hunter.
All about the town it was
obvious there was an unusual amount of people in wheelchairs. When Dawn
asked the lady standing to her right the reason for this, the woman was kind
enough to explain to her there was an institution here in the town who cared
for them. What was impressive about this was the way they fit in with
everyone. They called out to people and were greeted with wide smiles and
returned waves. There were no lonely isolated wheel chair people here,
"What a high degree of
civilization you folks have achieved and out here in the middle of nowhere
but wheat fields." Dawn was truly encouraged by the strength and spirit of
the people in this little town. Their handsome and clean good looks made her
believe they must have descended from an older generation of immigrants.
Most of the folks were
centered in an area about one half a block away from where she set up her
table and easel. An artist doing their work always draws a crowd and Dawn
being an outsider did not want to take away from the local exhibits of
quilters and other crafters. By choosing a little used medium known as
scratch board she was able to work in a deliberate manner to turn out a
piece of artwork resembling the etchings of by-gone days. These etching were
produced with acid and metal. This medium was simply a black board treated
with a substance to be scratched off in lines with a small tool. The eye of
most of the people was caught with the process and there were many pleasant
exchanges between them and the artist. These were country people who were
able to create absolutely anything. A new challenge like this sparked their
interest and they were enjoying the artist sharing the technique with them.
When Dawn had thought about the medium she would use she knew it would have
to be something to appeal to a people who were masters of every craft and
artwork available to them. They were from all walks of life to hold retired
university professors, farmers, and some who commuted to other towns to
work. The scratch board saved the day for Dawn.
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