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Some Kids I Have Known
Art Train, 2004, Ponca City, Oklahoma

       Marianne felt if the President himself invited them for a night out she would find a way out of it. She was trying to revive a  relaxed body after she had soaked in a hot tub to remove  dirt from under her toenails and fingernails after a day in the garden and yard. It didn't seem to be worth the effort.  Nevertheless, when the Art Train comes to town it really is a big deal.  First of all the people who put out real dollars have a reason and means behind their action. They realize how much art can benefit and prosper the whole community.

        The next problem was motivating her ten-year-old granddaughter to wear something besides shorts to the reception. After haranguing around and about over this and that garment they finally came to an agreement. The outfit wasn't a dress but the blouse had an old fashioned cut which was trimmed with a small dainty ruffle around the very long cuffs on the arms. Small tucks on front were also trimmed in this way. A basketball game only minutes before left the little girl's hair wet and hanging in ropes. There was no time to shampoo so a hair brush and hair dryer had to be enough. The hair  was okay but not outstanding. The child was anything but interested. She could have cared less about going.

        Everything to go wrong happened. They went to the wrong building with a strange group. Marianne couldn't recognize one person there and when she finally got the nerve to ask someone they were looking at her with a blank stare.

       “What exactly are you doing?”  Someone asked.

       “I'm volunteering and will be demonstrating drawing.”  Marianne kept looking around to try to find someone who knew what she was talking about.

        Finally someone asked, “What group?”

       “The Art Train?”  Marianne was beginning to get suspicious.

        “OH!”  Oh no, this is not that group.  They are meeting at the Art Center.

        The grandmother was feeling more and more senile as she continued along through this evening.

         “ I'm sure they told me the clubhouse.  Oh well.  Whatever.” She was up on the vernacular of the day.  Wheelchair in tow, the reluctant ten-year-old and her patient husband,  Marianne now was ready to run from the group that was by now looking at her like she was definitely with a problem.

         The stately old mansion where the reception was being held, of course, had no ramp. They all had separated into different tours in their busy little investigation of the entrances.

        “None there.”  Her husband met her around the side.

        “There wasn't one on that side.”  The little granddaughter was beginning to get into the evening now.

        “I asked.  They do not have one. I suppose we will just leave the chair and girl out here while one stays with her.”  Marianne had not had this experience in a number of years. No sooner had she made that decision than a well-dressed gentleman came out.

       “I believe the two of us can lift her right up these steps. Don't you think?”  He spoke to Marianne's husband.

       In a split second the chair was up the steps and they were into the elegance of the old home which had been turned into an Art Center.

        The granddaughter was quick and sharp. She was taking in the massive tables simply heavy with delicious tidbits and delicacies to eat.  The well-dressed older and younger  women were impressive in their lovely stylish outfits.  She did not miss the only other child who was there either. The younger girl was dressed in a beautiful bright colorful costume complimenting  raven black hair her grandmother had twisted into a bun. All the battle over dress was balanced in the favor of Marianne at this time.

        Beautiful works of American Indian art work graced the walls, but this was nothing compared to what they were to see on the Art Train itself. The genre of the work spoke of the strength of their own people. Lighthearted in so many ways it too demonstrated their resilience in being able to live in a world where two cultures were upon them.

        If Marianne remembered how miserable the evening had started out she shed those emotions as easily as she kicked off her too tight new shoes when they were home again.  Somehow her tired body was not important in the least. To see the bright new light in her granddaughter's eyes as she for the first time had a taste of something besides their every day, mundane, chore laden life was like a sparkling drop of water on the tongue of a thirsty person.

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