Bumpy brick streets put there
by WPA, a federal program which has been abbreviated in the '30's meaning
Work Projects Administration makes our car feel that is it walking,
tip-toeing much like the little drawings of cartoons are doing. When I was
very young, these streets were appreciated. Anything was better than the
gumbo roads from the ranch to Foraker, that very small town where we went
weather with prairie warmth and only, now-and-then suggestions, of what is
just around a corner with occasional, cool gentle breeze, remind me to think
and appreciate the moment. Added to this pleasure is the glory of brightly
blooming plants up and down the streets and in massive profusion. The space
around me suddenly becomes, like something out of a fairy tale story book.
The feeling that I have lived this moment before is not imagined. Surely the
seasons have played out their staged presentation on our minds many times
before now. The enjoyment of it is that we lift our eyebrow in sweet
communion with a latent memory of another time so far away. It was a time
when I stepped up this same sloped lawn which joined the curb. It was an
uncomfortable move because if the car was not parked away from the concrete
edging the doors hung on the ground and there was no room to exit that car.
And, even if the car was parked away from the cement, a person had to step
back up on the grass, usually walking backward in order to get to the
sidewalk or, otherwise, walk at an angle, forward onto the sidewalk. When I
was a child, the effort would sometimes leave me dropping onto my seat first
to walk spider-like on hands and feet until I made it to the walk.
I shook the memories away
from my mind as mentally I shifted back to what was my artist's eye so I
could record the moment for you, dear-reader. Borders along the front edge
of the flower bed held beautiful blooming begonias all lined up like small
soldiers guarding the entry of this meticulously restored older home. The
garden club meeting for which I was to speak about my book was arriving.
There would be newer things to add to past experiences this day. The entry
way was all enclosed from the rest of the house but one door was open and it
took our eye into the kitchen. For anyone who lived in another place like
this shelter there was a vis-a-vis of dark polished wood, values going dark
but made light from the highlights produced by wax and dustcloth. The same
strong woody look carried on into the room for food preparation.
The door to our right opened
and shot through to me with imagery of a space chosen for formal dining.
Again the highly polished wood of this dining room furnishings made them
striking, in their desire to serve. The long, elegant table was set with
unusual cloth place mats crumpled up to look like a leaf from some plant to
hold the dishes and silver. The center of the table held bougainvillea
blooms in a stunning hot pink. Around them were leaves of collards. The vein
on this plant was the exact color or the blossoms it was framing. Against
the dark wood of the table the arrangement was beautiful. In this room given
to ceremony the ladies were seated and enjoyed polite conversation while
they had taste buds treated to two different pies of their choice.
The group was directed to
another door off the entry way and this was a remembered sun room which is
often a treasured location in houses of another era where quiet repose
gifted a family tender association to be kept in the mind for a lifetime. In
my mind's eye I could again see my grandfather seated in a rocking chair
while I lingered at his feet asking him questions only a grandchild can ask
a grandparent. This room; however, held no wood rocking chair. Instead,
there were large overstuffed pieces taking up most of the space. A grand
piano filled one corner of the room.
T.L. Walker was the main
guest-speaker and she went through her prepared speech about the Standing
Bear Park project quickly, while she concisely informed the group about the
progress made there. It seems the only thing to finalize the years of work
will be the building of the museum. The trails, the permanent arbor, statue,
voice boxes and each tribe's outdoor room is complete. T.L. does much work
with going to the schools to educate the children about the tribes involved,
Ponca, Otoe, Tonkawa, Osage and Kaw. Her enthusiasm even after years of work
is still contagious.
After T.L. finished her talk,
it was my turn to review my book for the ladies. As I went over the material
about my Native American Grandmother who, in fact, had lived only a short
distance from this house I had many thoughts and feeling about her. The
lovely picture I had enlarged I set on an easel on top of the piano and
Grandmother Elizabeth gazed about over the group with a half smile. She wore
a dress of soft lacy fabric in a pastel color. Her hair in the Gibson-girl
hair style was caught to the back of her head with a dark ribbon. A lovely
chain of pearls rested on her neck. Her expression was one to tell of a
kindly, considerate personality.
In my book, at one point, I
wrote that she told her lawyer she wanted a divorce. When he asked her if
she realized the implications involved with a divorce at that time in
history, she simply commented, “Oh well, I won't be attending any garden
parties, anyway.” This part of the story I didn't put forth. In my mind I
told her, “Gramma, you were wrong, here you are, at a garden party. No
matter that it is some fifty years after your death. Your spirit of
unsinkable determination lingers on, not only with this lovely picture but
with your story, written and preserved in my book, HOW TO KEEP UP WITH THE