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American History
Osage Highlanders - Chapter 3


Dawn spoke to her husband with reluctance.  The wife broke into his free time while he read the newspaper  "There is something of a problem I don't really know how to address."  She told him.  Seems the old family ranch house has become a place for kids to collect and party. There is the evidence of it as to the trash they leave behind. It is quite destroyed too, I understand.  We personally no longer own the place, but there is a certain responsibility as to the leaving of it open for such use. This goes to a community problem as well. Everyone knows our family and to me it is an embarrasement. Probably, at least, we should check into the situation.

"When?" came the short and quick usual response Pete was known to use.

"As soon as possible," Dawn was asking.  "This week-end?"

"No, can't, I have promised this week-end."

Before she continued the conversation she picked up the calendar and put it before her husband.

He studied it, marking off with notes as he went, "It won't be until the first of June."

"Great!"  She tried not to be disappointed. "Problem is by then the grass will be up to the roof,  the ticks will be out, the rattlesnakes and probably chiggers enough to deter an army".

"Get Yardguard, Off, tall boots, and sulfur powder, arrange for a lawn mower and chain saw, you will have plenty of time to do all that." Pete grinned and was back to his immediate chore on the computer and to his newspaper. Left unsaid was his true feelings about the area. However, the instructions made a statement of their own. There was no sentamentality or feelings of duty to the area on his part. He had been raised in the oil community and his loyalties remained at that place. Too, the realities of their income came from this locale and one was forced to stay involved with the forces who supported them financially.

"Oh boy! What a drag."  Dawn grumbled with no malice.  It's like waiting for a vacation to simply get only sixty miles from here. "Oh well, that is the way it is 'headin' west."   She closed the subject with her usual fatalistic acceptance of circumstances.

Days went to weeks, weeks to months and at the right time Dawn was not to be put off any longer. "The tallgrass is calling, and I want to see the buffalo. If I can take my cam corder over for filming them maybe we can swing over by the old ranch house too?   How can I draw and paint a buffalo with any kind of accuracy when I don't have a subject to study?"

Pete wasn't anywhere near anxious to go on a foray over and through the tallgrass prairie but he knew Dawn would give him no peace until he accommodated her wish. "We can do it this week-end,"  he told her.

Dawn was unbelieving but in no way making any comments which could spoil the opportunity. When the week-end arrived she was ready with camera, plenty of film, armed with a new book on buffalo, carefully read through and through.

A Buffalo HerdThe car was moving in a climb to a higher climate at such slow progress, she felt, it was not noticed they were, indeed, coming to a difference in height as far as topography was concerned. Slowly, so slowly they wound their way up to and through what was most certainly unending grassland. When they came upon the first group of buffalo what an incredible sight it was. The worry of daily stressed out living, the pushing toward self set goals, the jumping to the needs of  the family and community all fell away with that first glimpse of the powerful, medieval looking beasts. There were parts of herds on the far hills and these Dawn could pick up with the camera bringing them up to a rare closeness allowing an audience to observe their tromping, tossing of their heads, and eternal grazing on the grass.

As much as they wanted to linger time was ever a factor and they had to continue with their trip. They followed the road through the lonely sentinels of pumping oil wells. Their's was a pumping, thumping out a rhythm to entertain nothing and no one.  Nevertheless, they were strong in their intent to bring the precious fluid up from the depths of the earth so folks could travel these distances maybe simply to gawk at their endeavors.

At the edge of the oil field, across the road was the old cemetery setting to one side. They didn't stop and only the camera picked one of the very large marker close to her Uncle and his family's plot. The very large natural stone marked the resting place of the Head family with one word, “Head,”  cut from metal and bolted to the big rock.   These folks had pioneered the wonderfully delicious bar-b-que sauce sold far and near to all who loved the taste of the west on their beef.

A few minutes more and they were in a little town.  Foraker, Oklahoma once thriving, was now just there for a few families. The old church still remained and was in good shape. The camera moved over what had been her family's town house, with turned over cement steps and a cement cellar remaining, nothing else. There was a lonely shrub of a tree left close to a barbed wire fence line. Only memories remained in Dawn's mind of rose bushes, Holly Hocks, Trumpet vines and a mown lawn. What was there now was simply the grass of the Osage, rough and scraggly but triumphant and not softened by delicate blossoms of color from any other cultivated sources.

The car picked up speed  on the flat roads and as they moved more rapidly along. Dawn remembered the many times she had traveled this same road, first as a child and then as a girl and finally as a young married woman. When they turned to go up the more narrow trail toward the old ranch place a large snake scooted across the road as if he was accustomed to having to hurry. It reminded Dawn of the comic road runner in a constant need for speedy travel. The varmints survived in this area but certainly they knew their place and were out of the way in a hurry, most usually.  The gate to the ranch where her nephew lived was open and at Dawn's request Pete pulled the car through it. She was always anxious to visit with them and now by chance  the little family was there.

Dawn's nephew had worked hard to renew the buildings of the old German immigrant's home once owned by his grand uncle. The bloodline was obviously there since everything was as clean and neat as those folks were known to be.  There was a warmth about the place coming from having been settled for such a period of time. Set here in the middle of the prairie these pioneers had not only survived but had prospered themselves as well as the multitude of people who enjoyed the fruits of their labor in the way of beef and prairie hay to feed the animals.

"Don't run over the hamburgers," Dawn made a bad joke and worse yet, laughed at her own bad joke.

Her laughter died in her throat as they pulled up to the old house where once her family had lived. . "The trees, the trees, all these thorn trees! I just can't believe it. Look how they are growing up against the house and the foundation. It is just a crime and I hate it!" Dawn was so hurt by the looks of it. She pulled her camera out again and began to move it about the place in order to pick up the ruins of it. She kept the camera rolling and didn't stop even when her heart hurt with the sight of it. There was plaster from the walls and ceiling all over the floor. The windows were all out, broken to pieces, the doors were off. One or two place in the floor was rotting out from being exposed to the rain through the open roof.

"I can't bear it,"  her mind was saying, but she didn't dare speak, because she did not want  her voice to be picked up on the audio part of her camera. She was like a woman possessed, pushing from one room to another, looking with her camera at the sights she didn't want to see.


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