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Some Kids I Have Known
Fun at Foraker, Bell's Garden

Similar house and gardenGramma Bell was beyond the age to be active with yard work and gardening, but there was a remnant in her back yard of what she wanted kept. The grandchildren were like all children. They were interested in every activity their grandparents were working around. If someone had told them that most folks didn't grow tobacco in their back yard it would have meant nothing to them.

They too, thought roses were grown for gathering the petals. A small pillow of some ladies satin under which had been saved for just this purpose, held the fragrant petals, and the children nestled against them when they dropped off for a nap. Molded into their consciousness was the memory of white and black wedding ring patterned quilts their grandmother had sewn by hand which held the sweet-smelling pillows.

The country around Foraker, Oklahoma truly was a place where the prairie reigned. The miles of grassy stretches did nothing to stop the ever blowing winds and in the winter they were biting, icy cold.

Rough looking, earthy speaking, cowboys with hardened leather looking skin mingled in among the folks of the little town where they had to shop for groceries, bank their pay check, have a garage repair a car, or purchase medical supplies out of either of the two drugstores.

There wasn't one structure like another in Foraker. Every house and building was totally different in architecture from the other. On the street where they lived at one end was the tall heavy hewn stone school building of basement, and two stories above that. On the other end was a large house built of bricks. The tall steps led up to a high porch edged with columns of cement pillars. The house to the south was a smaller house and their grandmother's house was a tall, three-storied house. There were inside staircases, relatively hidden on the sides which took a person to the other two floors. Some very old ruins of a stone house had stood across the street for years, desolate and empty. Never were the children allowed to enter the grounds of that building. Fears had been put into their head such as snakes, old wells, and maybe even a haunting. They never broke the rules on this subject.

The downtown segment of the town was basically just one long street. But this too showed buildings to be equally as different. The two banks there also were tall brick buildings and had outside stairs to the top floor. Once when they climbed the stairs to the upper room, they were able to see a most open flat floor. The picture of this giant room with windows reaching to the floor all around was a place they wanted to play, but knew they had gone as far as they better go and carefully backed away. The thought of maybe slipping out of one of the broken windows was a possibility so it was just as well they did not stay.

Today while the children helped their grandmother around her garden they told her about the old bank building.

"You kids, best stay out of that old building," Gramma was short with her words, but had a way of getting a point across with her facial expressions.

"Miz Quarrely is out," they alerted their grandmother.

"I see her, and her name is Corley," Bell looked over toward the neighbor.

She maintained a rather easy friendship with the woman although they were so very different. Bell was a delicate, very slender woman who always was attentive to dressing with soft flowing fabrics touched with ruffles creating gentle folds. Mrs. Corly was a more stocky woman who dressed much like the women of the area with no frills added to practical cotton dresses. Bell's hair was snow white with soft curls fluffed around her face. Mrs. Corley wore her grey hair in a severe style pulled neatly into place. This was not the end of the difference either. Mrs. Corly liked her lawn manicured and neat to the smallest detail. Bell's back yard was more of a garden than a lawn. There was such a variety of plants one could in no way claim their grounds were manicured. Tall spiraling grasses set between culinary herbs, certainly separating them, but having this one texture contrasted with another texture gave a sometimes, straggly appearance up beside Mrs. Corly's yard. The pear shaped yellow colored little bite sized tomatoes climbed on the fence between the yards on Bell's side and they too were rangey looking. This didn't matter to the children because they knew some of them were to be made into the transparent jam they loved.

All these individual plants created nooks and hidden places where the children could cuddle down in warm places away from the pulling winds. When their friends came for visits, they too were equally pleased to share their Gramma Bell's growing garden like landscape. The observation has to be made as to how easily these children of yesteryear were to please as to having fun. A simple thing such as grandmothers' herb garden yard gifted them with interest and pleasure, lending them learned memories of something truly mysterious, while filling their senses with pungent odors and special feelings.

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