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The Pioneer Woman Statue
The Statue of
Chief Standing Bear
~Ponca City, Kay County, Oklahoma~
Like kids on a trampoline,
we bounced back and forth between my grandmother's home
in Ponca City, and our ranch home in Osage County.
The first thing I remember about Ponca City,
was coming to my grandmother's house at night,
and seeing it as dark as if there was no one at all there.
When the door was opened
and we quickly slipped into the house,
the interior was all brightly lit.
The thing was,
the town was practicing the "black outs" they felt necessary
during World War II, when there was the real threat of bombings,
because of the town's oil supplies hanging over everyone's head.
As a child, I just thought it was a great thing
to learn about the very heavy dark green roll down blinds
which kept the light so jealously hidden at night.
My grandmother had a son in the islands, Iwo Jima.
She, being full Ponca, approached her Great Spirit
early every morning, praying fervently her son would be allowed
to survive the dreadful battles everyone knew about via the news.
She hung a little banner in her window with a star on it
to show she had one son in battle. I remember touching it
and asking if this is what made her cry, and she said,
"Yes, but I must remember
that some mothers have a banner that has two stars on it,
and that means they have two sons for whom they must pray.
I feel fortunate in that I only have one son there."
coming into Ponca City from the Osage,
was what is now called the "Old River Road."
It was the only one. There was no "New River Bridge" yet,
nor was there the raised highway going out of town.
That all came-to-be later.
It was nothing uncommon for the folks on Dixie Avenue
to be flooded from the Arkansas River quite often.
After the new road was put in, it served like a dike,
to keep the flood waters from overrunning
this part of Ponca City, which was surely a blessing.
had been a cook for my family,
and after he bought the
"Blue Moon Cafe,"
my father built Mr. Tucker's barbeque pit for him.
Dad was always good about inventions.
He designed the enclosed grill
so the smoke would pass over the meat twice.
It was a wonderful, good tasting meat
and we always stopped for some.
At that time, The Blue Moon
set off the West side of 14th Street, on South Avenue.
There was a Blue Moon Bar and Grill in Ralston, Oklahoma,
when my father was growing up, and I've wondered about the name.
had a cafe and she was a wonderful cook.
The races didn't mix then,
but Dad always managed to steal some time
with Mama Lou's man, George Hamilton.
Dad held no prejudices and he and George were good friends.
we stayed with my grandmother, for one reason or another,
to go to school in Ponca City. I especially loved Roosevelt School.
It was the most similar to the schools I liked so well in the Osage.
I remember well, Mrs. Beavers, the art teacher,
Mrs. Herrod, the librarian, Mrs. Crawford, the music teacher,
Mrs. Tracy, social studies, and Mrs. Thompson, the principal.
I can't remember the teacher who taught Penmanship,
but I remember so enjoying her class.
When my husband and I moved back from Dallas,
in order for our cerebral palsied child
to be closer to grandparents,
there were new experiences too.
On one day,
I first visited the home of a Native woman
who had expired. Her body was brought to her home site.
She was in her own living room resting in her coffin.
Her family was all about her property,
as though it was a day for visiting one's grandmother.
My next stop
was the sumptuous and rich, former surroundings
of E.W. Marland, oil baron and 10th governor of the state.
The folks in charge had allowed me to hang my paintings there.
I couldn't help but contrast the surroundings of this elegant home
against the home of the Native woman I had just left.
The next stop
I made was a small country restaurant, not far from my home.
The cafe was filled with an obviously regular group of cowboys.
They wore the tall boots and they loved to carry a stranger "high."
These were the true cowboys.
So all and all,
one must admit the variety of people coming into work
at Conoco Oil, gives one the opportunity
to never have a dull moment. And if the citizens of the town
had not worked together in the endeavors they have made,
as to restoration and clean-up,
there might not have been much of a town,
population-wise or otherwise.
~Osage County, Oklahoma~
"You can take the girl out of the country...
but you cannot take the country out of the girl."
That is the way it is,
when I'm talking about Osage Country.
When we roll over those expanse of roads
toward Pawhuska, the old ranch place, Hominy, or Fairfax,
my heart swells to the beauty of the rolling hills.
The car will pop up over a ridge, and there before you,
can be the most dramatic vistas a mind can conceive.
Depending on the time of day or the weather,
there will be a choice of misty hills
touched with all shades of azure blues and lavenders,
or maybe a catching of sun and shadow on distant ranges,
picking up bright greens to dark shadows shaded by the clouds.
In Winter, the yellow ocher grass flows from burnt sienna to raw ocher,
down to shades of burnt umber, and there it is,
as far as the eye can see.
when the ranchers are burning the pasture lands,
to free it up from weeds, the flames leap along the night sky
like a giant leaping tiger,
except it is a bright red rather than a tawny cat.
there is a feeling among the people that is rare.
They have a quiet appreciation for life,
and it is just as much a part of their make up
as a city boy or girl has a savvy of their surroundings.
They too are like the horses they ride, quick to observe,
thinking through a situation, as they rapidly move to solve
whatever problem to confront them.
There is a division of people,
although it doesn't seem to be as much so as there is in the city.
The cowboys, the workers, are lean and hard in their need to be.
The land owners are shrewd thinking men,
born of generations of the same type.
There are the lawmen, the judges,
the women who are ranchers wives,
women who are the workers in the businesses and the offices.
The thread that binds them together
is stronger, though, than their city cousins,
and it is the love they have of this country of the big sky
in Osage county.
~White Eagle, Oklahoma~
West of WhiteEagle,
across the Arkansas River, is the area called "Fox Town."
This is where the descendants
of Oo-Ha-Shing-Gah "Sam" Little Cook settled.
It was the area around what was the infamous
owned by the Miller brothers.
Elizebeth, (Little Cook) Pensoneau-Hernandez,
my grandmother, lived in that area,
actually about five miles from the Fox Town area
It was quite a historical place
and many books and stories have been written about the Miller brothers.
My mother, Velma Louise (Pensoneau) Jones,
worked for Zack Miller, one of the brothers.
She worked in the store which was actually in town.
Of course, the "101" was famous for its many animal shows.
In keeping with this, Velma kept a pet badger on a leash,
which she walked with her.
Needless to say,
many gave the two a wide berth when they met them on the street.
When I was a teenager
we left, forever, our beautiful home in the Osage
and moved onto the old family home of Elizebeth, my grandmother.
These were wheat fields bordered by the river and woods.
It was a wonderful free time,
and the children of our family all remember the great times we spent there.
The pecan groves owned by my grandmother,
were more productive at the time, and they were quite a source
of a small income for us children.
There, of course, was the picking up of the delicious little nuts.
We never tired
of the time we had in the timber, the river, or of the
school chums we walked with the six miles a day to school.
There were wonderful happy memories
and, although, we were away from the beauty of our Osage home,
we were wealthy in another way,
we just wouldn't think of it much until we became older.
I left there, forever, when I began boarding school at Chilocco,
but that is another story.
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