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American History
Clean Up, Chilocco, April 23, 2005

A huge thank-you must go out to the folks who turned out for the Chilocco clean-up day even if our efforts were like a drop of water in an ocean. The covered patio where we were to have our pot luck meal is at least twenty-five feet wide by 100 feet long. My brother, Dennis Michael Jones, brought his power washer on the back of a truck at 8:30 in the morning. The streams of the powerful jet made short work of the debris cluttering the cement floor. I can't imagine the effort to have gone into finishing the floor with the slick texture it has.

The next task had to be the sweeping of the water off as quickly as possible so that when people began to arrive no one would slip and fall on the slick surface. Garland Kent's wife, Lucy, Garland, Charmaine Billie, Grace Klinger helped with that. In not too long the floor was clean and good enough for any picnic. The large tables were also hit with the power hose. The total length and breadth of the patio was too big to comprehend. But with part of it clean and table clothes spread across the heavy table the place began to take on a pleasant feel, ready to welcome guests.

Gates to the arch were opened at ten and folks began to arrive. The coolness of the day was okay. We weren't so worried with flies, bugs, insects and such and that was good.

The volunteers for the work on the Historical registering went right to work. Their job was to do filming and recording of data on the conditions of the buildings, no small undertaking on a campus of such proportions.

So many thanks must go out to the people who came. Louise Redcorn from the Tulsa World News was there and we appreciated her enjoying the day. Louise has been a world traveler. Seeing Chilocco even in its state of disrepair impressed her.

Dorcas Williams drove in from Tulsa. Her being there was nice and we enjoyed the positive attitude she still has.

Marlys Thurber came to enjoy the day and her jovial ways were refreshing. She added to the group with her love for restoration and her broad knowledge of this field.

Dewey and Eve Wilson was there by my invitation and I was particular glad to see them. They always give a gathering “down home class.”

Bret Carter and Heather were busy going about their work with historic preservation. Such dedication is so commendable. A big thank you goes to all the volunteers with them. Betty Durkee from the Kaw tribe was there and that was encouraging. Betty is a pillar in the work with projects for the community.

Thanks to the Kaw tribe for having their police cars and officers on duty looking so sharp in their uniforms and having such helpful personalities.

Ponca City Chamber of Commerce was represented and that was a pleasure as well.

Ira and Kay Davis Brown drove in from Minnesota. They must have come the greatest distance. However, Vincent Billie, Seminole, drove in from Hollywood, Florida. We were so pleased to see him among the ranks of interested people. From friends of his we learned the Seminole's bring in 500 million dollars a year revenue from their gaming. What an ally this could prove to be for the old Chilocco School, who is tattered and torn and in great need of such a well-heeled friend. This might put to rest some of the nervousness of area population, who like us all, worry about taxes, and as well the five tribes who are not having this sort of revenue.

Anna Eddings from Norman lent her lovely, gracefulness to our group. Anna is an architectural historian. She was particularly special since she willingly volunteered to help older folks carry heavy left over food pots to our cars. What a jewel this clean looking young lady who possessed beautiful, clear skin, stylish hair-do, and quiet ways was to us. And this is not to mention her well-known intelligence.

James and Jeanne Edwards, Chilocco Alumni president and his wife, were present and accounted for after their drive from Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are steady and willing leaders.

Forgive me for leaving out one of the men who works with Heather in the historical research. His solid frame of study stature gives a background and feel of support. My leaky vessel of a brain forgets if I don't write things down. Everything was moving along so well I didn't have time to write anything down and for this I apologize. At any rate you all know who you are, those of you who took time from your busy lives to come and offer support to those of us who commit our hearts and minds to dreaming of what might be.

My face is beet red from the sun, we are all tired but it is such a good tired. It was a wonderful day. May we ever remember the joys of our association with each other. My grandson Ross, caught his first fish in the Chilocco lake. Was he ever happy? On the other hand he was furious when his Dad made him put it back in the lake because it was too small to keep. The moving of my son's R.V. so we could have a generator to keep our food hot was part of what made the meal successful, too.

Once again during my lifetime I drive away from the campus. Strong in my mind are the blooming pink wisteria and the white bridal wreath in great groups of blooms dripping to the ground. The rich green of the grass was impressive even though it was unmown. The deer were scampering across the edge of the campus as if they wanted to see what the humans were doing today. If some of the older former students there were “picking up their tracks” while they held far away, long looking visions of yesterday in their eyes this made all the work worth-while. They would walk up to me, look out across the campus, smile and not say a word. No words were needed. I knew their gratitude was that of the Native American who can communicate so well without speaking.

Today when I say the word Chilocco my grandchildren will know of what I speak and I am thankful for that, too.

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