I had the opportunity recently to look through the book collection of a friend and fellow bibliophile. I found books on religion and philosophy. There are American classics like Twain and Faulkner. The books that I am looking at are not his entire library, only the ones that he left here in Oklahoma in the care of another friend. It is always interesting to see the path that someone takes by looking at what they have collected over the years. The first book from his collection that I read is one that I read years ago. “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Everett Hale. It’s a small book that was quickly read, but I enjoyed reacquainting myself with it after so many years. The next book that I borrowed is “Sanctuary” by William Faulkner. I’ll let you know how it goes. I also spotted a Winston Churchill memoir that will come home with me at some point. I might have taken the Churchill this time but I had just finished “The Citizens of London” and that is enough of World War II for now. The Citizens of London tells the story from a point of view that was different than any that I had read. In retrospect it’s easy to say that they should have done this or that but at the time they were dealing with issues that were either new to them or on a scale that they had never seen. Leaders of nations are by their nature used to being in charge. Churchill felt that since Britain had been in the war the longest that they should be given priority. Certainly had they not stood at the pointed end of the spear for so long and for the most part alone, the world might be a very different place. Great Britain held out long enough for the United States to finally get involved. Of course once the United States became involved, President Roosevelt felt that he should be in charge. Joseph Stalin wanted everything his way or the Soviet Union was simply going to do their own thing. It might seem like I am dogging these men but given the size of their egos and the scope of their undertaking, it amazes me that they worked together as well as they managed. Then you have the generals. I think putting General Eisenhower in charge of the allied armies was a stroke of genius. I cannot think of anyone else that could have managed the officers with which he had to fight a war. Each of them was convinced that he alone had the answer of how to win the war. “The Citizens of London” by Lynne Olsen is a good book and tells a great deal more than I covered in this description. It is well worth the reading for all of the students of history out there. The book also covers the interaction of the American service personnel and the citizens of Great Britain that lived around the bases that sprung up seemingly out of nowhere in preparation for the D-day invasion. In many cases the families had lost sons earlier in the war. Given the chance, I think that you would enjoy this book.
Another Cemetery Fundraising lunch has come and gone. Thanks to the hard working volunteers and the good turn out on the part of both the townsfolk and the out of town visitors, it was a success. The menu consisted of pulled pork and sausage with sides of potato salad and coleslaw. Desserts for both the lunch and the bake sale were supplied by the local women. Many donations were received by mail, sent in by people that are making their homes elsewhere but still take the time to help out with the upkeep of the Ryan Cemetery. The contract for mowing this year has been awarded to the Wesley Martin family. Several years ago they worked for the contract holder and proved themselves more than capable of doing a good job. I’m sure that their standards will be maintained. Dustan Bryant did the cooking again this year, I think that most folks will agree that Dustan might have figured out how to smoke meat. Ol’ Dusty spent most of Saturday night and early Sunday morning tending to his cooker, so if you get the opportunity, say thank you to Dustan for the fine work that he does every year. Councilwoman Tammy Cotton and her band of merrymakers spent a lot of time and effort planning and preparing for this event and then spent a lot of Saturday evening cooking for the bake sale. I never did see this rum cake that she was talking about. A special thank you goes out to Tammy’s friend Holly for all of her hard work. Holly comes to Ryan every year to lend a helping hand with the event. After the meal and bake sale, the names of the raffle winners were drawn by an honest disinterested third party. Each winner got a $25 gift certificate to one of the local businesses, if you won you will be notified or you can check with Town Hall.
The summer reading program will be starting on June 16th and will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm at the Ryan Sr. Citizens Center. Mrs. T. J. Dewbre said that you can go to her Facebook page and find the Amazon wish list if you would like to help out, also volunteers are always welcome and they can use more arts and crafts supplies. Lunches will be provided. June’s theme will be insects so the kids will be learning more about all the creepy and crawly things. Most of the activities will be at the Sr. Citizens Center but there will be ample opportunity to be going outdoors.
I went looking for further inspiration for something for this week’s column and I found it in the guise of a fellow named Mike Rowe and a show called “Returning The Favor”. His description of the show is that they go out looking for do-gooders. They search out, celebrate and try to understand people whose efforts are spent trying to make the lives of people in their communities better. I have watched veterans helping other vets. One woman that owns a restaurant and during the pandemic she had to close, so her and her friends handed out meals to people that might miss a meal otherwise. Another woman that is rescuing both urban children and abused animals. Teaching children responsibility and the animals to trust humans again. One episode was about a man that converted his family owned whiskey distillery so that they could supply hand sanitizer. All of these folks function on donations and that is where Mike and his group come in, sometimes they give them equipement and sometimes money and sometimes both. If you are a sucker for a feel good story, this is a good place to go.
Be kind to one another.
I take as my guide, the hope of a saint:
in crucial things, unity,
in important things, diversity,
in all things, generosity.
President George H.W. Bush
At times we as a nation seem to be growing farther and farther apart, the political lines running between the extreme left and the extreme right don’t leave much room for those of us in the middle. In this time of social distancing, we are seeing more and more of the silent majority coming to the front. While the more politically minded continue to argue about who is at fault, we see regular folks step up and offer a hand. Not just to family and friends but in many instances to strangers. During World War II, many companies retro-fitted production lines to manufacture the machines of war that were needed. Today we see whiskey distilleries stop making the spirits that made Kentucky famous and started making hand sanitizer that medical personnel needed so badly, multiple sewing factories changed over and started making masks and gowns that were needed.
Using Go Fund Me pages and the internet, young people that are sometimes so easily dismissed by us old folks are raising money to buy food and supplies for anyone that need these items. One little girl started a Go Fund Me page to purchase medical supplies, she donated her own savings to the cause and was able to raise several thousand dollars.
Other young people were each helping their grandparents by running errands like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and getting the mail. Some of them noticed that there were some shut-ins that did not have family close enough to be of much help, so these kids banded together to take care of the elderly in their areas. Not only did they supply for the physical comforts, they were in some cases the only contact some of these folks had with the outside world, even if it was from a distance.
I have written before about the wonderful job that the school systems are doing, handing out food and when needed they give tutoring, on line and in person again from a distance. Another teacher story came out of Woodward, Oklahoma. A little girl named Erin was going to turn 14 years old with only her parents and older brother in attendance. In the big picture, it’s probably not that big of a deal but Erin’s day was made a little brighter by the sudden appearance of her English teacher at the end of the family driveway. The teacher, Sonya Bell Covalt, got out of her car and in a voice loud enough to be heard on the porch, sang Happy Birthday to Erin.
The unity and generosity that President Bush spoke of can be seen daily if we choose to look.
I started with one President Bush and I will end with the other. President George W. Bush released a video this last week in which he spoke about the things that should bring us together. “Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise.” Mr. President, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Another week of nice weather here in southern Oklahoma. Flowers are in bloom and the birds are all singing. Admiring nature is a good way to take a break from everything that is going on in the world. Eventually though you have to go back and pick up your responsibilities. I’m not talking about myself because without children or grandchildren to worry about, I don’t have to concern myself with all the details and tasks that are a constant for other folks. I can only admire young parents raising children and working jobs that must be important sine they are still going to work during this lock down.
It’s easy to tale a dim view of humanity if all you read and see are news reports about crime and mayhem. If you go looking you can find the stories about people helping their neighbors and in some cases strangers. This week I watched a story about a woman handing out food to truck drivers that at times have had trouble finding food while they were on the road because of all of the restaurant closings, a restaurant owner keeping many of his employees working, cooking meals for anyone that needs them, another man that owns rental property, several of them house restaurants. He waved the lease payment if the business owners agreed to use the money to pay their employees.
Some of the feel good stories are about people that take time out of their day to be kind to someone that needs a pick me up. A teenage girl after having finished her last cancer treatment, is welcomed home by the neighbors lining the street. All of them keeping their distances but they are applauding and cheering and waving their homemade signs, a t.v. actor getting some of his friends to help and using something called Zoom (I’m told that is some more of this social media that old folks like me don’t understand) was able to host a high school prom for a bunch of kids scattered across the country, all in their homes.
One story that caught my attention, more for it’s quirkiness than anything else, was about all the people that had not gotten dressed up and gone out since this all started, did just that and got dressed in their fine formal wear and took the trash receptacle to the curb for pick up day.
That story makes me think about a job that most people don’t want, trash collector. How bad would this lock down be if they were not on the job.
All the time I have on my hands has enabled me to discover that I enjoy watching You Tube videos of people using a band saw mill to make lumber out of trees. I also enjoy watching people make wooden bowls using axes, adzes and chisels. Just in case you think that I am wasting my time, I have also been watching videos about gardening, pruning and grafting trees, starting plants from cuttings and making flower pots and planters out of cement. Just yesterday I watched a video about the ten ways you can tell that your spouse is cheating, on second thought I probably don’t have much use for that information.
All things considered, I guess social media is good for something. Education and staying in touch with far flung family. Now if you don’t mind I am going to listen to Mads Tolling play The Ashokan Farewell on the violin.
Be kind to one another, you never known what they are going through.
I have written several times about going to the local hangout and drinking coffee. Some of the more narrow minded people call this gossiping but I see it as being almost tribal, a throw back to the days of being around a camp fire or the hearth in a cave. In the old days when communications were word of mouth, we sat around the fire and told stories. Stories about the best place to find game for hunting. Stories that told of lessons learned the hard way, how we know not to do something because it will in fact leave a scar. Stories that passed the wisdom from generation to generation. Just this morning we had a discussion about Gregor Mendels law of dominance, of how parent organisms passed dominant traits on to their offspring. All things considered Marsha is lucky that we don’t sing and dance around something that we have set on fire. I’m sure her insurance premiums would go up.
It would be hard to find anything wrong with the weather that we have been having lately. We have had the rain that we need and also a lot of sunshine. The other night it was cold enough to make you use your electric blankets and like an idiot I was standing out in the yard listening to owls hooting. It seemed like they were all over town, talking about whatever it is that owls talk about. In Greek mythology the owl sat on the shoulder of Athena giving her the ability to see on her blind side, enabling her to see the whole truth. In the Bible the owl was seen as being a sign of wisdom. It was viewed in many cultures as being good luck but in others it was bad, even to the point of being a harbinger of death. All I know was that standing there on that cold clear night hearing all those birds hooting back and forth, it was a beautiful sound.
My eldest brother, Scott who could accurately be described as being old school, was telling me Sunday that in his toolbox at the shop, there is a laptop computer. This machine is not even part of the diagnostic equipment that is part of being a modern auto mechanic. This particular computer is for ordering parts that he needs. The companies don’t send out the old fashioned books made of paper the way they used to do.
In the last twenty years, every job that I have had, involved using a computer. From the warehouse to selling hunting and fishing permits. Even paying my sales tax on the plant business includes those infernal machines, as my good friend Jon Harris calls them.
I remember when I was in high school, my counselor suggested that I go to college and get into computers, that was the coming thing. I told him that was the silliest thing that I had ever heard. According to the seventeen year old Dennis, no one is going to want to sit at a computer all day.
Sitting here looking out the window on a cool, overcast and dreary Sunday after- noon. Johnny Cash singing about the ring fire and I’m thinking that I need to stop looking out the win- dow and get down to business. The poor woman is telling the world that she is falling to pieces and now she is crazy. Take a drink of scalding hot coffee and yelp like the proverbial scalded dog and now I start writing.
This morning at JW’s Travel Stop and Christian Science reading room here in Ryan, we were sitting around drinking coffee and talking about this and that when cheese became the center of conversation. Someone mentioned commod- ity cheese and then we talked about all the other stuff that they gave out each month. If you ever got commodities, then you know what I am talk- ing about, there was peanut butter, a canned meat product that to me was unidentifiable, powdered eggs and powdered milk, various beans and peas. the cheese, peanut butter, beans and peas were all good but I never developed a love for the milk and eggs of the powdered variety. The former County Com- missioner in the group told of having a refrig- erated trailer to send to pickup a load of gro- ceries and one time the cheese was so rank that they called in the health official and it was promptly condemned and was taken out to the old Ryan dump to be buried because it was so high smelling that no one could stand to be around the stuff.
Here is a good one, Jim Reeves singing “He’ll have to go”, had to stop and listen. That son of a gun could re- ally sing.
Congratulations go out to the Ryan High School Cowgirls bas- ketball team for their runner up finish in the Wilson Eagle Classic tournament and also to Samantha Good for being named to the all- tournament team. Well done ladies.
The Ryan Ag Boosters had their first annual jack pot show this last weekend. By all accounts it was a huge success. Young people from all over Oklahoma and north Texas came to Jefferson County with their pigs, lambs, goats and cattle. David Sorrell judged the goats and sheep Friday night and Blaine Red took over with the pigs and cattle on Saturday. The Ryan Ag Booster Jack Pot Show may well be- come a new tradition.
Ran into an old friend at lunch Sunday. He informed me that he reads the paper every week and he enjoys seeing me in the paper because #1, it’s not in the sheriffs report and #2, he said that he likes a little BS as much as the next man. Shout out to Kenneth Blevins. On the subject of people reading my column, last Saturday
I had to answer ques- tions about something that I had written with regards to her grand- daughter. I explained to her that what was said was a joke, turns out she doesn’t think that I am funny.
I was introduced to Ernest Hemingway while still a school boy by my brother Phil. “A Farewell to Arms”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises” were what lead me on to further exploration of Mr. Hemingway’s writing. Although A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls deals with different wars, WWI and the Spanish Civil war, for me they both had much the same feel. The protagonist in the first was an American driving an ambulance for the Italian army and in the second a demolition expert for a Republican guerilla unit that was fighting the fascists that were backed by the Nazis and the Italians lead by Mussollini. In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway writes about American and British ex-patriots living in Paris and Spain in the 1920’s.In all probability, had I read The sun Also rises first, I might never have read the others. After these three I bought a copy of “The Old Man and the Sea”. In my opinion this is one of Ernest Hemingway’s better works. It is every bit as good on the tenth reading as it was on the first. The story of Santiago the fisherman and his struggle with old age and meaning is the last major work published by Ernest Hemingway and I can’t help but see some parallels with the writer’s own life. This is one of the few Hemingway stories that were successfully turned into a quality movie and it was done twice. Once with Spenser Tracey and the second time with Anthony Quinn. Ernest Hemingway novels do not seem to translate well onto the screen, in part I believe it’s his style and in part it’s not being able to find a screen writer able to make the transition. Later on I discovered Ernest Hemingway’s novellas and magazine stories. Short fiction is in itself a difficult art form. You are telling the same story in a much shorter period of time. I had a conversation with Bill Roberson once and we were discussing song writing and the ability of some people to tell a story in a few verses, to me that talent and writing short fiction are very similar. The genre of music where this seems most prevalent is country music. For the sake of clarity, when I say country music, I mean classic country, mountain music, bluegrass and some forms of folk music. If you listen to some of the traditional music out of Ireland and the British Isles and then listen to some sure enough old time mountain music from the Appalachians, you can see where country and bluegrass get their start. Bill always said if you didn’t like country music then you didn’t like life, because that is what it is about. Maybe in my next life I will learn to play the banjo and the bagpipes, just not at the same time.
Thus ends this weeks book report and music tutorial.
There doesn’t seem to be a great deal going on this week in Ryan, so this is going to be one of those times that I ramble until I get to where I am going. Robert Frost wrote about the two paths that diverged and he took the one less traveled and it made all the difference. I do that and sometimes I find that there is a good reason that the road isn’t used much, but sometimes it really is more about the journey than about the destination. I need to keep reminding myself not to get into a rut. Don’t be complacent and go with the comfortable.
I am writing this on Monday evening so that it will be ready early Tuesday when they do the lay out and send it to press. Before going home I had supper with a childhood friend. It has been years since we had a chance to talk and get caught up on the goings on of our lives. The subject matter was much what you would expect, work was put behind us and then on to who we had lost in recent years. Family and shared history were the subjects that we spent the most time discussing. Having known each other so long, we knew the same stories, but we managed to share a few laughs. He was on his way to a drag race, so of course we spent a good deal of time talking about old cars. Besides the 1955 Chevy that he drag races, he still owns the 1968 Chevy step side pick up that his grandfather bought brand new. It was passed down to his father and then to him, he drove the pick up when we were in high school. I’m not as much of a car nut as he but I can appreciate the continuity of passing things down through the generations. I still have tools that belonged to my Grandfathers. The difference is that he still drives that old Chevy pick up, I don’t intend to use Grandpas cross cut saw any time soon. I have done that once and let me tell you that the romance wore off of that real fast. If any of you are on the Facebook, check out a group called “Forgotten Oklahoma”. There is a lot of neat stuff on there. I shared some photos of Grandpa Bell on his old tractor. An older gentleman of my acquaintance looked at the photos and told me that there were at least three different makes of tractor put together. Grandpa made it work but this just proves that not everything is genetic. My Grandfather, my Father and two of my brothers were or are mechanics and for the life of me the modern internal combustion engine remains a mystery.
I rambled so much that I almost forgot to mention how the High School Girls Cross Country team placed at State. The team finished sixth overall and Miss Lilybet Harmon finished in twentieth place individually. These young ladies have done themselves, their school and their town proud.
Last Saturday at the Regional Cross Country meet in Waurika, the Ryan Cowgirls made history by winning their first Regional Team Championship. The team is comprised of Katelyn Dabbs, Grace Stamper, Alicen Williams, Lily York, Juliet Spangler, Whittany Spangler and Lilybet Harmon. These young ladies have achieved so many first time accomplishments that I could probably fill the entire page of the paper, so I will just hit the highlights. Besides the team championship, Lilybet Harmon had the best individual finish in school history with a 5th place finish and a time of 13:13. It is also the first time that Ryan has had two girls on the medal stand in the same regional. The Cowgirls have won 6 meets this year. From here the young ladies go on to State. It is worth mentioning that Ryan had only one Cowboy running at Regional and although he did not qualify for State, he did run his best time of the year. Mason Adsit is young and it will be interesting to see how far he and the Cowgirls go in the future. Congratulations to you all.
Ryan Future Farmers of America will be walking on to the stage in Indianapolis, Indiana to receive the National Three star Chapter Award. The three things that it takes to win this award are community work, agricultural work and building leaders.
So far I have written about students accomplishments in sports and FFA, but I have to think that the qualities they are learning will make them the leaders of the future, be it at the local level or beyond. It is a pleasure to see young people do big things.
The ag boosters will be selling “Boo Bags” this week, if you are interested, contact any of them.(I had to ask what a boo bag is.)
The Baptist Church is going to be working this coming Sunday doing clean up work around town as mission work. They will be working all day and if anyone wants to help you can contact any of the Baptists or I am sure it would be okay to just show up.
Books have played an important roll in my life. From Dr. Seuss as a small child to the books I started checking out of the school library here at Ryan in the 7th grade. I read whatever was available and I must have seemed like an odd kid to Clifford Peacocks parents, he would be playing with toys and I would be reading. The first book that I remember checking out was a book about the racehorse, Man of War. The horse was sold as a yearling for $5000 and became one of the biggest sports figures of the time. At home I would read World Book Encyclopedias, novels or The Readers Digest. As an adult, I discovered bookstores. There was one in the mall in Duncan that was owned by an older gentleman and it was there that I discovered Robert Service, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. Then when Hastings came to town, I thought that I had hit the mother lode. I made many discoveries among the shelves and if you could not find it there then they would order it for you. Waurika has a pretty good library and has always proven to be helpful in finding what you might want.
This has been a productive season for Ryan cross country. The young runners in Jr. High School show improvement constantly and the High School boys seem to shave time off with each passing meet, but the High School girls have taken cross country to a new level here in Ryan. This last week the Cowgirls have won their third team title in a row, Lilybet Harmon won her third individual title in a row and the Cowgirls have had five of the top ten finishers for the third time in a row. Next weekend the cross country team will be competing at regionals. At 12:30 this Saturday, we will all have the opportunity to watch this team in action at Waurika. Basketball season will be starting soon. To be honest, I have never really followed the sport. I’m short, slow and uncoordinated, so it is easy to figure out why it’s not my sport. In an effort to be fair I may give it a try this season, if nothing else it will give me a chance to see the new/old gym. The football game this week will be against long time rivals Waurika Eagles. This rivalry spans many decades and having witnessed it from both sides, I am glad to see that the modern version is much more genteel than it was in the old days. Come out to the game and see some good football. Game time is at 7:30 friday night at the Bob Givens Sports Complex. If you play your cards right you might be able to get some supper as well.
This next Sunday, October 20th from 11:00-2:00 there will be an Indian Taco dinner to raise funds for some of the community projects that are happening around Ryan. It will be at the Sr. Citizens Center and the cost will be donations only. I understand that they still need desserts if you would like to donate some sweets. Take outs are available and Heather Casebolt guarantees that the food will be delicious.
If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed that dirt work is going on out on the highway across from the football field. They are coming along with the future home of the next dollar store for this area.
Fall weather is finally upon us and it is wonderful. Not to appear ungrateful but we could have done without that freeze the other night. Ah well we have to take the bad with the good. I am starting to see mums and pumpkins around town, decorating street corners and porches. With the fall colors a, pumpkin flavored everything and the cool air, it seems that the main part of football season is here. GO IRISH!!!
Christmas On the Trail is coming up and we will be having another meeting on the 25th of this month. If you are interested, you can attend or you can call or come see us with your ideas. We are still looking for vendors and volunteers. We are adding games and activities every week.
I am sitting here listening to Adele sing about setting fire to the rain. I’m not sure the lyrics make a lot of sense but she sure can sing. Until next week.