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By Donna Flood
Chapter 2 - An Evil Wind

As surely as the wind could  rip a door out of a person’s hand so  too, it  was  tearing over the expanses of  prairie lands. This wind was of a different kind.  Enmeshed in the web of its beings were held spirits of greed, and crimes of murder. Insidious plotting, murky investment all,  suddenly came over the highs and lows through the hills of the Osage after the wealth of oil was dropped upon them.  Like children, Bertha and Dean went about their lives mostly protected from this hatefulness by Dean’s father, Joe, who carried not one weapon, but three, besides the shotgun resting under the seat and floorboard of his car.

“Texas Rangers have offered me wages for helping them clean up Whiz Bang.”  Joe, a man of few words, commented to his wife.

She made no reply.  These were the days of chauvinism. Not only did this apply to racial bigotry,  as far as anyone non-American, but to the place women held for being governed by men. Certainly,  she and her husband butted heads on politics, but in bawdy living such as this at the little town of Whiz-Bang, the wife kept wisely, silent. This town of Whiz-Bang was ribald with prostitution, gunslingers, corrupt leaders, and the substances of Whiz-Bang, which was a mixture of Cocain and Heroin.

Joe worked the roads during the day and worked with the Texas Rangers at night.  He didn’t need the money,  but was a man who perpetually looked to the future.  The gumbo soil held and stuck  to the wagons and hooves of horses. Travel was not only difficult after rain but, actually, quite impossible. The  projects to create civilization and travel were truly achieved through the efforts of man and horse -power. Picks, iron, pry poles, shovels and horse drawn wagons were the tools they used. 

Joe’s parents were descendants of a civilized land before the civil war out of Georgia.  He knew what was required to see progress and it wasn’t the likes of Whiz-Bang.  These elements had to be rooted and torn out of the community it there was to be any advancement and development.

          Dean and Bertha enjoyed the freedom of their new lives.  With pockets full of the Osage oil royalties they shopped the towns of Pawhuska, Fairfax. Ponca City and even Tulsa. Slowly but surely,  Bertha furnished their new home with the latest of appliances for that time. The two had played with dolls together when they were children and now Bertha continued to treat Dean as lovingly as if he were one of her toys. If he wanted a new car, even though one was in the drive already, she bought it. They both frequented the finest Habedashery shops.  Bertha was a large woman, but skilled  seamstresses sewed clothing to become her.

They lost their first child, Dempsey when he was three. Nothing then,  was known about milk allergies for the American Indian. The Native women were encouraged to adapt the American-European way of giving their children cow’s milk.  If Bertha had followed her Native customs for breast feeding, probably, Dempsy would have lived.

 After Mariah was born, Bertha had a series of miscarriages.  Dean’s blood-type, Rh negative,  might have been the cause.  Those doctors of early day Oklahoma had no understanding of this at all.

When their last child, Weldon Curtis, was born Dean and Bertha truly felt their run of misfortune was broken and they lavished every gift upon him.  No longer was she interested in the shops of the towns. Her only interest was her son and daughter.  Weldon  took the beautiful, strong good looks of her family, the Big Eagles,  and she all but worshiped the ground where he stood.  The finest food was prepared in the kitchen  by their hired cook, his clothing was as expensive and stylish as could be found, and whatever joy to be known was given to him.  Bertha could be seen by day tending the large garden she grew.  Her large, floppy hat purchased from Mexico on one of their trips identified the woman, even from a distance.

“Mom!  Why are you dressing me in these clothes?  I’m not a cowboy.” Weldon was always interested in everything around  him.  He knew the role his mother wished  him to play and it wasn’t  to be a cowboy.  It was no secret the cowboys lived a hard life.  Working with   cattle was demanding and not something someone would desire  to do.

Bertha pulled the small cowboy-hat down on his head and hitched the strings up under his neck.

“Too tight!”  Too tight!”   Weldon loosened the strings of the small hat.

“Okay Son!  Come on out to the front steps.  Dad wanted you to have this.”

When Weldon walked out across the big porch, he was, for once, speechless. The boys short legs almost stumbling down the steps as he ran.   The only way he knew for mounting the pony was to run directly toward it as he had seen the cowboys do. Smack!   The force of his approach caused him to fall backward and  sit down,  flat on the ground.

            The Shetland Pony was so well trained he simply stood still without moving a muscle.

That night the well-schooled horseman, Joe, did laugh out loud to hear of his grandson’s reaction to his first horse. The man dropped  into his leather rocking chair Bertha had given him, and breathed a sigh of relief to be home.

“I’m thrilled there is something of good living here. Things are just about as bad as they can be at Whiz Bang. I want to tell you those Texas Rangers are something.  The rowdies are not up to them and one by one, the Rangers  are sorting them out, like bad ‘taters from a barrel. This chair shore feels comfortable.”

“You’ve been bLeonding!”  His wife saw he had a cut across one cheek.

“Oh well!  One of the yay-whose caught me with his fist.  He won’t bother me again, and that is one more down.  They locked him up, good and proper.  By the time he gets out he’ll be only too glad to get clean out of Oklahoma. They took my picture today with those tall law men.  I felt a little sheepish  for them  to have to stand me on a box,  so I would be as tall as they are. Sure enough, the grin displayed by Joe in that picture  had the look of someone who felt a bit embarrassed  by something

That rush of ill wind was being met with opposition by the Texas Rangers and it was being whipped into confusion  as,  one by one,  the rabble was  removed from their area. Schools and churches were already being established. These had to be protected.

“I’ll be glad,  when your part of this is over!” Joe’s wife and Weldon’s grandmother announced.

“It won’t be long now, the monkey said as he backed up to the lawn mower.”  Joe chuckled at his own favorite joke. We’re shakin’ their trees. Nothing was said about how Joe kept a 45 Colt revolver under his pillow at night, or that Dean wore a gun in a shoulder holster under his coat, as well as the one he kept locked in his glove compartment of his car. Even though the wind was soon  to become a breeze its chill of evil would be played out in the future and far future to the family’s sorrow.

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