Archive for June, 2016

Off To See The Wizard…………#180 (80’s)

June 30, 2016

Robert and Sandi ready for school

Jan was disappointed having applied for the Grade School Secretarial position and not being accepted,   Judy Rocket from Hardtner  receiving the school principal Juanita Smith’s approval.   Gary was cognizant of a possible partiality implications, Mrs. Smith a long time resident of Hardtner,  a community of less than 175  and in all likelihood were friends of Judy and her husband Gary.  His wife Jan still convivial with her employment at the Bank of Kiowa, disappointed but accepting the school abnegation,  her position as a bank teller still remained a comfortable appointment.

Judy Rocket – Grade School Secretary

Jeannie Albright 2nd Grade teacher

The Main St. school lawn mowing application was in progress when Judy Rocket approached with a discerning expression on her face stating Gary’s presences was required in Mrs. Albright’s  second grade room.   Upon arrival finding the classroom to have been vacated by the students,  custodian Pam Cooper standing at the entrance. Gary questioning her why he was summoned, his co-worker remaining at the door refusing to enter the premises.  Gary entering, looking about appraising the room, discovering an immediate answer, the remains of a student’s breakfast, the stomach discharge decorating a desk and the surrounding area of the floor.  Pam giving him a stifling look,  her posture stiffening and with a declarative voice,  “I don’t do vomit”,   abruptly turning away leaving Gary to provide for the rooms disparages culmination.   Gary shrugging, setting about the task,  concluding he had inherited a new juridical responsibility, coming up with a  job description title,  “jurisdictional exemplary for the hygienic ascendancy of vomit”. Not exactly a fragrance enhancing position, but one of caliber, especially the first two weeks of the school year,  when  the kindergarten, 1st. and 2nd grade classes are most likely to propagate the unsightly discharge.

46 passenger Bluebird school bus

Vee Hill & Jane Thompson 1st. grade teachers

Pam Cooper

The Theatrical Study Program of Northwestern State College at Alva  extending an invitation to the surrounding community elementary schools to attend their musical adaptation of the Wizard of Oz.    Vee Hill,  Jane Thompson’s 1st grade,  Norma Feaster and Jeannie Albright’s 2nd grade all enthusiastic for the presentation.   The morning of the event found Gary and Pam addressing the high school,  each retrieving a respective Blue Bird forty passenger bus to be stationed on 9th st.  adjacent to the school gym’s west door to await the students.  Gary was designated to provide for Mrs. Hill and Mrs Thompson’s first grade class,  the students filing out of the gym single file into the waiting transports,  the two teachers reminding the student as they entered they could talk  but to hold it down.   The bus journeying south crossing of the Sante Fe tracks and the Oklahoma Stateline,  Gary accomplishing a 55 mph momentum,  noticing Pam’s trailing bus falling further and further behind,  a curiosity beginning,  could she be experience some type of trouble.  Encompassing the two-way radio’s  microphone,  Gary attempting to communicate with Pam concerning her possible hindrance,  a brief silence,  then Pam’s voice finally responding,  Gary asking if there was a problem?  Pam’s immediate reply, the bus wouldn’t go over 40 mile per hour.   Gary questioned if she had the bus in fourth gear?  she replied affirmative.   Gary continued, asking if she had engaged the two-speed axle.   The silence was deafening,  then a reply,  “what’s that?”   Trying not to sound contemptuous,  he explained,  if she would commission the  clutch and pull the small protruding lever connected to the gear shift to an upward position,  it would switch the two-speed axle to high and find the bus performing at an extended speed.   Jane Thompson whom was sitting across from Gary,  a grin on her face after overhearing the conversation,  a knowingly expression,  having accompanied her husband Monty,  the Middle School football coach and also the team’s bus driver,  shook her head,  acknowledging Pam’s lack of bus driving experience.

Of to see the Wizard

The Wizard of Oz at Herod Hall

Arriving at the college, finding  the parking area according  several buses from outlying areas,  the musical production being performed in Herod Hall,  a landmark auditorium on the campus.   The grade school students again in their perfection,  lining up to enter,  Gary questioning Pam about attending the performance,  her answer was negative,  she preferred to remain  with the bus.   Gary joining the class as they began to enter,  his daughter Sandi among Mrs Feasters second graders.  Standing at the door waiting for  the class to finish filing past,  an unexpected visitor,  Juanita Smith,  the school principal.   Gary’s curiosity was aroused wondering who covered her English class,  Juanita acknowledging, Bev Molz,  the Chapter One reading instructor was substituting in her absence.   The program commencing,  Gary seated with Juanita,  both enjoying the musical production,  Gary reminiscing of his first acquaintance with the 85-year-old Wizard of Oz story, created in 1900,  most people only familiar with the first volume of the 14 Oz books authored by L Frank Baum. Gary having read most of the Oz books borrowing them from  his mother’s best friend,  Natalie Calhoun, a professor at Mills College in Oakland.  His attendance a rewarding benefit of his school employment, a second benefit was the joy reflected in the  smiling  faces of  the students.

Bert And Ernie……………….#181 (80’s)

June 28, 2016

A home for Bert & Ernie

Jan was to be a bird sitter, Gary standing  there for a minute stretching out his response with a long drawn out   “Oooookay”.    Pam Cox, who frequented Jan’s Stateline ceramic business  asking if Jan could look in and feed her birds while she and husband Bob were on vacation.   Gary was aware of Bob’s printing and clock repair on Main St. but had no idea the couple were engaged in the raising and selling of  several variety of birds.  It was a given conclusion when Pam asked, that Gary would accompany his wife to the Cox residence, Pam proudly showing her aviculture collection explaining the duties of how to feed and water the caged feathered vocalists.  The couple taking on the responsibility and Gary remembering as a youth having a brief experience with a family parakeet named Pretty Boy.   On occasions they would leave his door open and the  bird would be released from its caged environment and one day like an imprisoned convict,  the opportunity came Pretty Boy fled its gilded cage  for the world of out-of-doors.  A bird avidity was not one of Gary’s attribute,  but upon the return of the Cox family some new additions resided at the 11th St. Willson residence,  a pair of glowing white Budgies.

Finding the appropriate location was not difficult, the small room at the rear of the  kitchen that provided for the  wash machine and water heater would be suitable for their domain,  especially after experiencing the hygienic projection and feathers of  the two-winged courtiers.  The new residential endeavors receiving a welcoming reception, Robert and Sandi being questioned for applicable names and without hesitation the two birds were appropriated as Bert and Ernie,  a reverence to the television incarnate.   The two newly acquainted residents firmly established, Jan finding that Ernie in reality should have been endowed Ernestine,  thus a search for a larger more suitable habitat was in order.  Fulfilling a trip to Wichita,  a three-tier wooden dowel constructed domicile was purchased,  the much larger quarters,  a provision for a possible family expansion.

Apply named Burt and Ernie

The wooden structure proving to be an adequate abode for the two nestling Parakeets except for Bert’s inquisitive nature,  soon discovering he could peck at the dowels,  opening a fissure and enjoy the freedom of flight throughout the house.   Gary doing his best to discourage it, replacing the missing wooden restraints immediately.   Robert and Sandi’s interest in the two birds soon waned,  the youths  finding school and outside activities more attuned to their appreciation,  but this was to be expected,  Gary inheriting another incumbency of custodial care.  Ernestine giving indication by composing a nest,  but wasn’t resolute in her accomplishments, her demeanor began to change and she began to display signs of physical distress.   A question to Pam concerning the ailments contracted by  birds found a discovery,  some of her customers birds having developed a disorder common to parakeet.  Ernestine passed on, soaring in the boundless heavens,  an additional beauty added to God’s  Realm.  With Ernestine’s demise,  Bert soon became despondent,  refraining from eating,   getting weaker,  but still a relentless worker at freeing himself from his prison.   Raising at 4:00 a.m.,  readying for work,  Gary entered the bathroom,  a bereaved sight,  finding Bert floating in the commode,  his nighttime flight having gone awry.   Gary having no affinity for the despondency encountered by the Bert’s passing so when Robert and Sandi questioned about the disappearance of Bert,  the story was,  Bert manage to gain his freedom thru an open window and was enjoying his life amongst the towering trees, soaring with the clouds and once again free of confinement to join in the activities of  all the other birds.

Osage Orange better known as Hedge

The brisk Kansas winters required an ample supply of  firewood for the Hurricane Wood burner.  Gary always keeping an eye open for free firewood.  Huber Farney offering to oblige, mentioning  the old growth of wind breaking trees surrounding his large two-story farmhouse needed to be removed as he had planted a newer growth of row trees and they were big enough for a wind break.  The Farney’s older tree row was a combination of Cedar and Osage Orange,  better known as hedge.  As a novice with a chainsaw Gary entered the firewood escapade full of confidence with his 16 inch Homelite saw expecting the ready-made tree row would succumb without any difficulty, he was wrong.  It was his first experience cutting hedge, having heard it was slow burning, giving off lots of heat and  was high on the list of  best firewood if not the best.  What wasn’t said was, its qualities of slow burning high heat was due to its hardness and that those qualities also could devour the chain on a under-powered 16 inch chainsaw.  Saving face he proceeded to harvest just enough of the cedar to justify his attempt and for the Farneys to see that he had been there.

An epidemic, dutch elm disease

Homemade log splitter using welding chisel blades.

 All was not lost in a search for firewood, Gary having taken notice of the news on television of the  influx of Dutch Elm Disease that was sweeping Kansas and Oklahoma.  He was very much aware of the detriment to elms on both sides of Main St. between 9th and 11th street, bringing it to the attention of Glen Piper, as several of these trees were on school property.   The City of Kiowa finally taking action to have the most severely affected Elms removed, Gary suspected it was a result of Glen placing a call to some higher authority about the Dutch Elm problem.   The elm tree take down and removal wasn’t a total loss,  visiting with  city employee Tex Dixon, discovering the city would be hauling the trees to the dump on the cemetery road, Gary mentioning that he was willing to haul off limbs up to sixteen inches in diameter.  Apparently Tex got the word out to those falling the trees,  Gary able to compile a host of good size limbs,  piling them along the driveway and fence line of his residence.  Back when he was employed at John Deere he looked into buying a log splitter but found it cost prohibitive, but recognized that ingenuity was free.  At work he came up with a four-foot I-beam,  a remnant from the assembly of the new Service Company shop, welding two chisel blades to form a cutting edge V then mounting a three-inch diameter implement cylinder with a push plate on the other end.   A discarded Service Company electric 10,000 PSI hydraulic pump previously used for endowing fitting on high pressure hoses was a meaningful source of power to activate the hydraulic cylinder. The time consuming work to begin,  chain sawing the logs in useable lengths and introducing his  home-made log splitter to the elm.  The appliance was absolute in performance, young Robert accompanying Dad in the log splitting operation,  Gary placing the logs in position, while Robert operated the hydraulic pumps control button, the two recognizing a summer’s work,  for a winters heat.

A Moving Experience……#182 (80’s)

June 26, 2016
611 Dickinson St.

611 Dickinson St.

The subject of selling the house having been discussed in the past now elevated to a higher level of consideration,  a third-party involvement was necessitated if the plan would come to fruition.  Gary and Jan, friends with the Ott brothers both whom were in Jan’s high school class of 69,  Brad, a Vice President at the Bank of Kiowa,  his wife Deb a Reality Agent being approached about marketing the Willson’s house.  The five years of Willson ownership of the Roth family heirloom on N. 11th street having resulted in a marked improvement to the once unlivable structure.   The two-story aperture with a new roof,  an outside facial coat of paint,  every room wall acquainted with new acrylic covering,  an application of central heat installed,  the lowering of the downstairs living and dining room ceiling to an acceptable eight feet,  the yard enhanced with fencing and the installation of a triple wall chimney wood burning stove.   Gary realizing the time and cost invested in the improvements,  suggesting an asking price twice his $7500 acquisition amount, Deb agreeing to the amelioration and would start the solicitation.

Joe Potter and his wife Judy  finding an interest in the Kiowa property,  Judy employed as a dietary person at the middle school in Hardtner,  Joe a past custodian/driver for the school.   Deb Ott entertaining their application,  representing both the buyer and seller at the Farmers Home Administration office in Medicine Lodge.  Gary soon discovering it was more arduous to sell a house than to purchase one.  Among the inspection requirements was an inspection by a licensed certified electrician to sign off on the electrical status of the dwelling.   Gary approaching the community electricians finding that not a single local electrical contractor was licensed by the State.  Deciding on another avenue addressing the City of Kiowa electrical engineer Ed Maddox about inspecting the house and  filling out the paperwork for the sale approval.  Gary mentioning that it needed to be done by a licensed certified electrician and he would be more than happy to compensate Ed for his time, but again another astonishment, Ed was not licensed by the State.  Gary was stymied,  not wanting to endeavor someone he didn’t know from Medicine Lodge to inspect the wiring because there was always the possibility that the sixty year structure wouldn’t meet a strict interpretation of the requirements and would incur a multitude of expense.

Kiowa’s city road crew headquarters.

Once again deciding on another tact, meeting with Ed at his makeshift office in the ancient brick city garage asking if he would at least take a look at the residence to see if there was something outstanding that needed corrected.  Ed agreeing to do a walk-thru, the two proceeded, Gary noting that with all the past years of  wiring changes, knob & tube, romex and conduit, he felt like a tour guide in a museum that displayed turn of the century electrical wiring.   Their walk thru completed, Ed not finding anything outstanding except the multiple types of wiring.  With Eds departure Gary sitting at his typewriter composed an official document looking letter stating that residence was concurrent with the FmHA requirement, adding a footnote stating,  “at the time of installation all wiring in the residence complied with existing electrical codes”,  below the bottom signature line Gary typed, ” Kiowa City Electrical Engineer”.   Ed didn’t hesitating in fulfilling his signature to the document or accepting a token compensation, the FmHA also in acceptance.

Just when Gary thought everything was copacetic, Deb announced that there were problems with the sale and with the Potters loan approval.  The Farmers Home Administration in Medicine Lodge finding an additional compulsion, a newly formulated  Federal  Statute to meet the loan requirements. The residence had to comply with a storm window provision the antiquated screens on all the windows was no longer acceptable.  Gary telling Deb about a similar problem when applying for  loan to buy the house.  The FmHA refusing a loan because of the condition of the house, but agreeing if Gary borrowed another $2000 to bring it up to their standard.  Gary asking Deb to mitigated with the FmHA,  the Willson’s would reduce their selling price to cover the cost of the storm window expenditures, if the Potters would agree to the installation after the sale.   Again all seemed well until another resolution came about, the Potters were required  on acquisition of their loan to post a one year housing insurance premium.   Visiting with Joe Potter discovering they were without the financial resources for a required insurance provision, plus Joe mentioned a concern about the utilities deposit.   Gary was resolute in concluding the sale,  even if it meant his financial involvement issuing a personal check for the Potters insurance and agreeing to leave the utilities in his name for the first month.

With the sale completed a very familiar three bedroom house at 611 Dickinson St. was available as a rental, the N. 11th St. house they were leaving being the old Roth family home place,  the Dickinson house also having a Roth identity, it had been the home of Jan’s grandmother,  Martha  (Bampy)  Roth, her town residence upon descending from the farm.  The moving experience beginning, the furniture and household accouterments discovering a new home, the kiln’s and accumulation of countless molds finding storage at the Murrow residence.   The satellite dish once again installed on a roof mounted platform,  Gary’s father-in-law Bud providing the Dickinson St. platform, Gary well adept at aligning the dish for satellite acquisition.     The new residency providing a solace of convention,  no longer having  to rely on an accumulation of firewood for a wood burning stove to supplement the heat or the covering of the north windows with plastic to restrict Chuck Payne’s open field winter wind.  Jan no longer having to hang clothes on a clothesline, the rental house having a 240 volt outlet for a dryer.  The fact that the N. 11th St. residence resided with open pasture on two sides, moving into the Dickinson St. house was like moving from the farm into town.

A Gained Reputation………………….#183 (80’s)

June 22, 2016

Robert – not a starter but a finisher

The little league baseball season having arrived,  Robert endorsing it with his first year of participation,  the baseball contingent being made up of fourth and fifth grade students, many of the  fourth graders novice at their first experience of fast pitch hardball. Keith Rathgeber being the coach,  the youths all wearing K signature baseball caps and green embossed tee shirts displaying the team’s name, Kiowa.   Young Robert Willson wasn’t a starter, taking more aphorism in the wearing of the uniform than excreting an athletic presentation on the field of play.   The Kiowa team having eleven players,  finding Robert and Shawn Alexander starting the game on the bench, the two somewhat non   enthusiastic spectators aware that eventually they would end up in the game, Keith accomplishing the unsaid rule all members of the team would participate in the game.

Little League Manager Keith Rathgeber

Brad Rathgeber and the teams foremost pitcher Mark Tucker.

Gary allocating his Saturday mornings with his son, recalling his past as a teen in what preceded Little League baseball in Oakland California in the early 1950’s, the Police League, sponsored by the Police and the Oakland City Recreation  Department.  Gary could identify with Robert,  as a youth he addressed the same situation, a non starter except when there was a no-show, but found a way to be activated in almost every game.  Gary’s dad instructing him on the fingering used by pitchers to acquire that different pitches, but more important was the ability to get the ball in the strike zone. Robert  acquiring confidence developing his pitching arm,  the two spending time at the ball field, his sister Sandi a reluctant participant in returning the baseballs during a batting practice session with Robert.  Gary having his son concentrating on just throwing strikes,  a five finger release,  just get the ball over the plate.   Gary approaching Keith about Roberts acquired ability of consistency in getting the ball over the plate,  which was the quandary of the team,  the base on balls from the opposing team accounting for their score unless the incomparable Matt Tucker was pitching.  Robert soon gained a reputation, the bases loaded from the previous pitchers inability to throw strikes ,  finding he would be called upon to enter the contest and preserve the game,  not walking another batter.   The final championship game at Medicine Lodge, finding the bases loaded in the last inning,  Matt Tucker,  the workhorse starter of the team after a grueling game  finally exhausted his pitching arm,  a chant from the Kiowa residence in attendance,  “Robert,  Robert,  Robert”, all expecting Keith to call  upon his reserve pitcher, but instead of Robert, the coach addressed his son Brad, who was playing shortstop and who had never acquainted the pitcher’s mound,  but was stout in his athletic ability.  A censure echoed from the Kiowa fans  in disappointment,  the coach’s son taking to the mound and without hesitation, promptly walked in Medicine Lodge’s  winning run, the game, a Kiowa loss. What could have been a shining moment turned out to be a cloudy day, what could have and should have, wasn’t.

Darrell Surface – A man for all seasons

The Kiowa Service Company was no longer under the reign of Steve Miller,  Steve having relinquished ownership, the John Deere dealership proclaiming a new name to Kiowa,  Darrel Surface.   Gary having difficulty picturing the Service Company without a Steve Miller and was totally surprised when he received a phone call from the new owner.  Gary noting that Steve McCreary whom Miller had instilled to replace Gary as parts manager had given notice that he and his wife Tudi who operated Conejo’s restaurant were moving back to Wellington.  The parts manager giving notice just weeks prior to the beginning of harvest.  Darrel having been informed of Gary’s experience, inquiring if  would be able to give some assistance thru the rigorous upcoming custom cutting season.  Gary having never been introduced to Darrel agreeing to work evening and weekends,  his  curiosity aroused about the new proprietor.  Gary’ brief harvest employment was meaningful, having invested over five years of his life behind the parts counter and the experience of working for Surface was a pleasure.   Darrel was a on-hands person, unlike Steve Miller,  the new owner was vested with experience in all aspects involving the company, working the parts counter,  mounting a ten-wheeler for a combine delivery, assisting in  the shop setup contingency,  a hegemony in leadership, a man for all seasons.

Gary’s brief advent at Kiowa Service once again brought him in contact Howard the service manager,  Howard having  a 1976 Ford Van for sale at a very reasonable price.  Gary accepting his offer with the conditional sale of his present 69 Chevy Van,  knowing a set-up shop employee was interested.  With the acceptance of  the transactions,  the Ford turned out to be totally misrepresented, but the paperwork having been completed,  the van,  although being very appearance presentable and driveable was mechanically worn out.  Gary blamed himself for taking Howard assurance at face value and not recognizing the symptoms of the an oil burning six cylinder engine with a lack of compression.  Biting the bullet he realize it would have to suffice until other arrangements could be made.  Like all commercial vans this one too lacked a rear seat and for a second time, like in his Chevy van,  Gary began the process of installing an additional rear seat, the Ford having a windowed sliding door, electing something different,  mounting the seat against the driver side panel facing the door, enabling a door-window street side view.   Once again the addition of paneling and carpet was installed knowing his ownership would be short-lived, concluding sometime performance had to be subjective to appearance especially when trading at a dealership.

An Expanding Horizon………#184 (80’s)

June 20, 2016

Bank of Kiowa

It was brought to the community’s attention by Rex Zimmerman the editor of the Kiowa News,  publishing an article about an ongoing  county investigation of the rumored misappropriation of funds by Kiowa’s Barber County Ambulance Service, mentioning the names of Bev and Lonnie Williams, the Williams directing the ambulance operation from their residence.  It was common knowledge the ambulance service was more or less a family endeavor, the two Williams, their son Monty, Bev’s sister Doris, her husband Ed Hermon, along with good family friend Billy Duval and the assistance of  the Kiowa Hospital nursing staff.  The article projecting a possibility that  the ambulance service might be removed from it’s Kiowa location and all emergency service dispatched from  Medicine Lodge.   The Kiowa news publishing a notice about a public meeting at the Kiowa hospital to discuss a resolution. The event finding  Hospital Administrator Buck McKinney, a barber county representative, Lonnie, Bev, the ambulance personnel and several other concerned citizens in attendance including Gary’s wife Jan.   The corollary was to cement the ambulances Kiowa location and if it would make a difference Lonnie and Bev’s offered to step down as ambulance  management.  Buck McKinney stating he was  willing to accept responsibility as Ambulance Director and have the total ambulance operation managed and dispatched from the Hospital.  It was acknowledged that there would be a transition period and the Barber County representative dictating the need for additional ambulance personnel.  The following week  a notice was published in the Kiowa News soliciting persons interested in a EMS position as an ambulance driver and for enrollment in an accelerated EMT class,  a very concerned Jan Willson enrolling in the EMT program.

Rex Zimmerman's Kiowa News

Rex Zimmerman’s Kiowa News

Gary having thoughts but considering his 12 hours days for the school having no desire to inoculate himself into the world of emergency response,  then unexpectedly  answering a request to assist the evening EMT class as a responsive victim for instructional purpose.   Notwithstanding Gary was exposed to the modus operandi of  the ambulance service noting that it normally operated with a three person crew on emergency runs,  a combination of two EMT’s or R.N’s and a driver,  the on-call responders scheduled for a 12 hour shift with a five-minute response time.  Gary’s attendances assisting the class began to dwell  on his conscience,  discovering his school bus Defensive Driving, First Aid and Class B driver’s license fulfilled the prerequisites as a ambulance driver. The inevitable happened, he soon found his name on the monthly ambulance schedule as a driver, while Jan continued her  EMT training.  The new  driver  keeping abreast of  his wife’s accelerated EMT class,  the 150 hour course normally spanning upwards of 90 days depending on the instructor, the Kiowa class completing it in less than six weeks.  Upon its conclusion the group journeyed to the Kansas Emergency Medical Service Center in Wichita for their written and the five station practical tests.  Gary’s interest peaked knowing the intensity and dedication his wife exhibited to obtain her goal and shared Jans anxiety waiting for the notification letter from the KEMS.  The letter with the results having arrived  Jan and just one other of the seven applicants passing which they were told was not unusual.   Gary was aware that the scheduling  and hours with the ambulance service were in conflict with his school hours and bus driving duty, but with some unexpected assistance resolved both.  Glen Piper granting Gary permission to take call during his school hours on the condition he notify Judy Rocket if he had to leave. The other conflict concerning his bus route was resolved by hospital Director of Nursing Sharon Ragan who graciously offered to cover Gary’s ambulance calls when he was on his school bus route.  Gary wasn’t alone with his EMS schedule conflicting with his work day hours,  Jan employed at the bank sometimes finding her name on ambulance call for a day shift, but Marvin Ott the bank president making allowances for her also to take call.

Always responsive

  It was a Saturday morning when the hand-held ambulance radio broke the silence, “Kiowa ambulance we have a call”…..the adrenaline kicked in it was Gary’s first run as a driver.  He was on call with Doris and Ed Hermon but what added to his concern beside being his first run was the weather, Kiowa was in the midst of an ice storm.  Gary pulling the ambulance out of the shed located behind the hospital with  Doris and Ed aboard,  being informed the run was for an unresponsive person in Hardtner.  The ice storm was still in progress, the roads covered with patches of slick black ice the road conditions dictating a slow response,  the driver feeling handcuffed, red lights and siren at 35 mph.  With their arrival in Hardtner, entering the callers home being a dimly lit, small two bedroom house, cluttered and reeking with the smell of a badly vented gas heater, directed to bedroom, Doris and Ed checking on the unresponsive elderly man immediately determining he had expired.  Gary not at ease in very warm confines of the house, listening to the explanation from what appeared to be a very upset wife, explaining that she went into his room and found him unresponsive and she wanted him out of here right now.   Doris calmly explaining that they would have to place a call and in all probability wait until the coroner arrived before notifying the funeral home for transport.  Gary finding the wifes non grievous deportment somewhat puzzling but it wasn’t for him to judge.  Doris taking the situation in stride telling the lady she would see what she could do, calling the hospital on the phone finding out that Dr. Chris had arrived.  Explaining the situation to Chris who said the subject was his patient and because of the road conditions rather than calling the Coroner and Funeral Home the ambulance could transport the deceased to the hospital where he would sign off stating the patient expired during transport and they could continue on the funeral home. The trip back to the hospital was uneventful, Dr. Chris meeting them at the rear E.R. door,  the hospital placing a  call to the Fisher Funeral Home notifying Birdie Fisher about the deceased and that the ambulance would transport.

Galen & Bertie and the Fisher Funeral Home

The Bank of Kiowa was under siege,  the Compliant Examiners with the FDIC having explored the regions of documents for two weeks, then  an unexpected pronouncement, Roger Noble the loan officer bewildering bank management and the Kiowa  community with his resignation.  The sudden departure of Roger was more of a concerned than just his position as loan officer, the Noble family also being responsible for the custodial care of the bank, Roger, his wife Pat and son Stuart helping in the undertaking.  Marvin Ott the Bank’s president was acquainted with Gary and Jan’s custodial responsibility at the Apostolic Christian Church,  inquiring if they would be interested in replacing the Noble’s family application as the banks custodians.   The couple accepting the offer and were pleasantly surprised at the wages for the service,  Gary noting that Roger Noble had paid his family well, $500 per month for their service.   The couple immediately organized a duty schedule,  with Jan’s employment as a teller, after closing hours she would empty the ashtrays,  fill the transaction customer container,  wipe down all the horizontal counter appliances and empty all the lobby trash container and clean the employee restrooms and break area.   Gary would return at night,  upon entering after disabling the alarm system,  vacuum the carpets,  mop the restroom,  emptying the large bags of shredded papers into the outside dumpsters,  check for additional trash in the offices left by late afternoon workers and ensuring the glass doors and drive thru window were spotless.   A weekend would find the mowing  and edging of grass,  the cleaning of windows and the servicing of the water softener and HVAC filter, Gary appreciative noting the work endeavor although time consuming paid exceedingly well.

Roger Noble under bank examiners scrutiny

After several months the inevitable happened,  the Bank Examiners returning once again in search of documented amiss,  Gary was aware of  the office used by the examiner and their leaving of non-shredded notes with a mentioning of irregularities and Roger Noble’s name but no written accusations of his direct involvement.   On July 17th 1986 the Bank of Kiowa was permanently closed,  the published explanation being  it no longer meant FDIC requirements,  Marvin Ott accepting full responsibility for its demise.   Roger Noble applying for and accepting a position as Vocal Music Director at USD 255 Kiowa’s Middle and High School,  his name no longer a banking presence but still a pillar in the community.   The banks closing was a loss for the Kiowa community and the employees but also a double  loss for the Willson’s if you include Jan’s employment as a teller and the families custodial care income.   Jan’s EMT status having initiating a never before expressed compassion within her with a new-found interest in healthcare and community service.   With the loss of her bank employment she approached Sharon Ragan at the hospital being hired as a nurse aid but continuing to expressed her desire to further her education and pursue a nursing degree.   Gary was in total agreement with his wife’s healthcare ambition but realized the difficulties they would have to overcome with in the family, recalling what Jan’s mother and father had said in the past when told of her aspirations of college and getting a nursing degree  “Why would you want to do that, you have a good job at the bank.”

Omniscience Was Contemporaneous…#185 (80’s)

June 18, 2016

Pratt Community College

The closing of the Bank of Kiowa was a detriment to the community,  but Jan Willson’s loss of employment was a life changing accession to a new trajectory, enrolling at Pratt Community College, acquiring an associates of science nursing degree with the goal of becoming a R. N..  Gary was totally committed to his wife’s ambition but several obstacles were manifested mainly regarding finances.  The tuition,  fees,  books, could be reconciled with the application of a Pell Grant and  student loan, but the most prevalent encumbrance would be of addressing  Jan’s transportation means for the 120 mile round trips to Pratt, especially during the adversity of winter.   Gary pondering for a solution, realizing that Jan’s gas guzzling New Yorker would have to go, and at the same time desiring to rid himself of the ill-fated Ford Van.  Being the lone wage earner since the bank closing, although Jan had visited with the Director of Nurses Sharon Ragan about working part-time as a nurse’s aide at the hospital,  Gary was having some doubts about getting a loan approval to finance a car for Jan.  For the very first time he approached his father explaining Jan’s desire to become an R.N.,  the families financial shortcomings  including her transportation needs.  The Elder Willson didn’t hesitate, Gary could hear it in his voice, the prospects of having an R.N. in the family meant his approval.   His Dad posting a check doubling the amount Gary thought sufficient and when sending back the excess amount, his father tore up Gary’s check, the Murrow family still questioning their daughter adjudication.

82 Toyota SR-5 Wagon

Robert & Sandi with Gary’s 79 fwd Isuzu in the background

  It was Jan who first to prompted Gary’s attention to a 1983,  red,  4-wheel drive SR5,  Toyota Tercel Wagon stationed at the corner of Bill Bogner’s Main Street dealership.  Gary wasn’t enthralled about Jan’s choice but agreeing to test drive the Tercel, the couple driving east of town discerning  a slight grinding sound oscillating  from the rear wheels. Gary suggesting they look at Bogner’s other automobile endeavors at the old Jacks Ford establishment that Bill had purchased when Steve Miller relinquished all his Kiowa Service properties.   Gary having already spotted  a small fwd,  4 speed Isuzu pickup,  branded as a Chevrolet that had been traded in by Brad Ott.  Gary having inquired with Brad as to its condition and reason for trading, Brad confirming, the pickup was in good condition and the reason for trading was his desire for a larger pickup.   Gary could see Jan’s heart was set on the red Toyota, deciding to  approach  Bill about a duel trade,  the New Yorker and the Ford Van for the Tercel and the Isuzu, with the provision that the Toyota’s  possible wheel bearing problems would be alleviated.   The trade-in agreement was consummated,  Jan’s school transportation accomplished,  Gary finally disposing of the collateral damaged  misrepresented Ford Van, the couple both now suited with 4 wheel drive vehicles. .

Bill Duval emerging from the smoke

Gary watched as Bill Duval emerged

The family was visiting the Murrow’s, Gary’s stepping outside briefly to retrieve his ambulance radio from the car noticing black smoke rising from what appeared to be downtown Kiowa.  Remarking as he entered the house  there must be a fire  downtown,  no sounding of a fire siren as customary in the past,  the  volunteer fire service recently making a decision to no longer alert the citizens when they were called, the fire department having been appropriated funds to equip each member with a  radio.   The family  continuing with their visit, Gary once again departing outside questioning what he had seen earlier,  a concern starting to materialize with the continuing rising presence of a billowing  black smoke cloud,  the families curiosity must have spiked as they soon joined him in observing the display.   The curiosity was too much for him,  deciding to appraise the situation,  driving the short distance discovering the Kiowas Fire Department on the scene at Bogner Chevrolet.  Gary noticing that they had yet to block off Main Street and it appeared the fire was in basement automotive service area and from the amount of smoke and heat there was no doubt that several cars must be engulfed,  Gary also suspecting that the fire was being  fed by the assumption of  grease and oil below.   He watched as Bill Duval retreated up from the flame ridden below ground level, emerging out of the  smoke giving notice to the others the possibility of an explosion and  that they would have to approach cautiously, unable to acquaint the flames directly.  Gary returning to the Murrow residence, going to the kitchen sink for a glass of water discovering almost no water pressure giving evidence of his apparition,  the family starting to realize the seriousness of the situation and a reason for concern.

Gary’s ambulance radio echoed a call,  not a health application, but a station call for the ambulance  to be employed at the fire scene in readiness.   The fire having grown intense, its effulgence broadcasting skywards casting an increasing glow on  the horizon in the diminishing light as darkness began to prevail and reportedly could be seen from the aspects of Alva and Anthony thirty miles away.  The inferno consuming Bogner Automotive spreading east to the adjoining buildings  continuing its havoc, spreading to the building with the 2nd floor Masonic Lodge.   The congruous structure an emblematic town fixture a personal concern for some of the citizens as they watched the building and artifacts, historic in nature, being engulfed in flames.   The fire continued seemingly unabated,  its flames reaching ascendancy, a call for additional assistance being extended to the other townships, Medicine Lodge,  Anthony and Alva Oklahoma answering the call.   Kiowa was soon without water pressure,  the local residence finding a trickle in their facets, the water tower supply being prostrated.   The arrival of tanker trucks  from the outlying communities began resourcing the extraction of water from the Medicine River and journeys to the local farm ponds to supply the much  needed inhibitor.

The battle-line of resolution was drawn at Gamble’s Hardware Store, the firefighter struggling , a ladder truck from Alva arriving  conveying its affluent stream of water from a higher elevation,  preventing a breach of the building’s  firewall.  The pyre was halted , the combatants finally staying the four-hour fire carnage,  Bogner Chevrolet and the Masonic Lodge at a total loss,  Gambles surviving with smoke damage.   A consensus,  the town was blessed,  the normally strong Kansas winds were silent that night,  omniscience was contemporaneous in the Kiowa community.

A Better Understanding Of Nature….#186 (80’s)

June 16, 2016

Wichita Zoo Rain-forest

The conclusion of the school year finding it was adventure time for the grade school students, the first and second graders boarding the bus for a 90 mile journey to the Wichita Zoo.  The exhibits totally  over 2500 species including the usual suspects,  lions,  elephants, the menagerie of wilderness and the relatively new children’s petting zoo consisting of mostly farm animals.   A glass enclosed chimpanzee domain and a magnificent indoor rain-forest with waterfalls and tropical unhindered birds, an impressive focal point for the students as well as the bus driver.   Gary in the past having experienced the Oklahoma City Zoo on numerous occasions,  finding its size prohibitive,  taking hours to tour, finding the Sedgwick County Zoo  more compatible, able to traverse its accomplishments in a more compendious time.  Mrs. Hill, Thompson, Albright and Feasters students displaying their best behavior, Gary having volunteered to accompany the group as a rear guard to assure that no stragglers were left behind, discovering the real joy was the expressions on the Kid’s face.

Marcia Cantrell and Vicki Golliher

Crossing the legendary Cimarron River

Crossing the legendary Cimarron River

Another year and another class excursion, Mrs. Cantrell and  Mrs. Golliher third grade class was ready,  their voices echoing their excitement, having waited all year for their class activity,  a trip to the Alabaster Caverns,  6 miles south of Freedom Oklahoma.  Gary  having position the bus on the west side of the gym, watching the exuberant class board for the 60 mile journey, the students yet to realize the magnitude of their adventure.  It had been over ten years since Gary had acquainted Freedom and the Cavern and was still awestruck when crossing the Cimarron River.  He never mentioned to anyone that he and fellow band member Jerry Willis had attempted to fish adjacent to the bridge crossing only to discover later what the locals knew, there were no fish because of contamination from the sulphate and chloride mining upstream.  Arriving at the Alabaster Caverns State Park, the bus driver was well aware of its history,  an Englishman,  Bob Grass recognizing its significance buying the property in 1939, it being one of just three venues in the world where black veins of alabaster are found and the Oklahoma location being the largest cavern,  the other two localities were in Italy and China.   The State of Oklahoma purchasing the 200 acres in 1953,  the property being used as a nuclear fallout and emergency supply storage shelter.  In 1956  it was designated a state park and opened to the public.

The Visitors Center

Filing into the abyss.

Filing into the cavern abyss.

The students having been introduced to a uniform state park guide in the visitors center giving a presentation,  the lady annotating  the exhibits of the various types of gypsum mineral and the caverns Oklahoma Native American heritage.  Relating that the use of the cavern during the 1800’s was a haven for outlaws during a period when the Oklahoma Panhandle was called of the Oklahoma Badlands.  She concluded her lesson directing the class’s attention to an operational seismograph to measure for earthquakes, having been installed as a safety precaution.  The guide,  with the class in accordance proceeded down the path to the entrance of the cavern abyss, disclosing the temperature inside  3/4 mile of cavern length ranged between 52 to 58 degrees,  depending on the season,  adding that the journey thru the cavern would take one hour.  Once endowed within, the entrance no longer providing a detectable source of afferent,  the walkway course broadcasted with the dimly lit effervescent lights,  the once bubbling class now strangely silent as the they filed into the largest room of the cavern,  60 feet in length and 50 feet high,  the guide pointing out the veins of alabaster.  Continuing,  the observant group soon reaching a wooden bridge,  finding a stream flowing beneath them, the water entering from a hidden source and exiting the same,  the guide pointing out the residency of 5 species of bats that hung from the heights of the promontory cave.

The Alabaster Caverns

The unbelievable color spectrum

Reaching a mid-point,  the group was halted,  the Criterion again explaining  to the group,  they were about to experience total darkness, the lights in the cavern would be extinguished briefly and not to be afraid.  A deafening  silence among the third graders was prevalent,  the lighting within the cavern was removed,  a total darkness unveiled and with the stillness of silence a surreal environment of total abandonment was present,  each person acquainting themselves alone in a capsule darken world for the first time.  Even Gary appreciated the demonstration,  an experience of solitude, a taste of reality.  The restoration of light, the sound of voices  finding a relief for many who never experience the perception of absolute darkness.   Continuing the journey,  the guide referencing several ancillary passage’s that branched out from the tours main access route,  ten other small,  but aurora reaching openings providing entrance.   The hour-long tour consummating,  the class arising from the profundity of the earth,  once again imbuing the blue sky and verdant Oklahoma air.   A tram ride back to the visitors center, the provided  sack lunch in hand,  the third graders finding the spacious grounds a place of contentment to relate their recent experience with each other.

Kids making a discovery

The natural rock bridge

The bus driver approached the two teachers relating that some of the kids wanted to explore more of the parks realm, Gary telling them he would see if it was permissible and if so he would take the group on an expedition to find some of the ancillary entrances to the cavern.   An affirmation from the two instructors  found the campaign on a search mission, finding eight of the ten well concealed openings,  but only two with a width for human access.   A further exploration, Gary chaperoning the students on a venture to find some of the other natural attributes of the awe-inspiring parks  domain discovering a trail leading to other caves and the renown natural rock bridge.  The adventurous class activity concluded,  once again finding the school bus returning to Kiowa,  it’s occupants  having obtained an adventure and a better understanding  of nature and a bus driver with an acknowledgement of the rewards that those in the teaching profession experience everyday.

The Great Salt Plains.

The Great Salt Plains.

A impressive experience for Gary, the fourth and fifth grade class were destined to  travel the 35 miles to the Great Salt Plain Lake  five miles east of Cherokee Oklahoma,  its presence having the distinction of being  the only location in the world where selenite salt crystals in hourglass inclusions are found.   The students able to forage on the salt plain bordering the 9000 acre lake,  fed by the salt fork of the Arkansas river.  Mrs. Miller and Mrs Elwood escorting the class, the bus halting in the digging area of the desolate expanse of the salt plains, Gary having visited the state park with his family but preferring the lake over the crystal inflected flat lane.  The lake was without a doubt the most unusual one in the Oklahoma,  providing a prevalence depth of only four feet, a dam on the east withholding the reservoir of water. The fourth and fifth graders lost their enthusiasm shortly after arriving, it was understandable, digging for salt crystals wasn’t very exciting.  Gary made some attempt to enact some stimuli from the boys by relating that during world war 2, this area was a bombing range and in all probability their might still be ordnance just below the surface.  The itinerary for the return called for a  stop at the Dam and its picnic area for a sack lunch and a hesitation at Kegelman Air force Base training command.  The runway at the base was an axillary facility used by the small jet trainers stationed at Vance Air Force Base in Enid.  The excursion had a down side for the driver, it was called salt and it permeated the interior of the bus which upon returning required more than being swept, a garden hose accomplishing the project.

Arboriculture Plan…………….#187 (80’s)

June 14, 2016

Bev Miller

      Mrs. Miller’s U.S. history class was an endeavor the students enjoyed,  a diversity of classroom activity,  not just an affirmation of a chronological comprehension from the printed bound compendium, but with a hands-on creative visible approach.  The study of the early american colonial villages found the students fashioning cardboard miniature housing, duplicating the facsimile of the 1700′s era,  coloring them and placing the creativity on a windowsill display.   Gary enjoying the creative expertise of the class, but desiring to bring more of  an admonition to their labor,  a unique idea prevailing.   With some thought, ‘the paper clips would suffice’,  after school Gary proceeding to shape them into an appearance of television antenna fastening the make shift aerial replica’s to each of the students colonial house‘s.   The following day curiosity prevailed questioning his history alteration,  finding an attentive reaction from the students and Mrs. Miller, the event taken by all as a humorous display of recognition.

The inventiveness of the history teacher was paramount,  the class cogitating the history of the American Indians, finding a replica of an Indian village being established in a 3 x 6 ft. mobile metal sandbox fixture that could be conveyed into the classroom.  The students constructing numerous Indian tepees,  a presentation of a corn field and  corral with Indian ponies, the students endeavor again drawing contemplation to their historical assiduity.   Gary finding the presentation very animate,  but needing a promulgation,  once again deciding to offer his expertise,  an enhancement to their project.  Gary, completing his after school duties returning to the Bev Miller’s classroom for augmentation to the classes’ Indian village pronouncement.  Toothpicks in hand,  he imparted the wooden placards into two segments,  gluing the pieces to form miniature crosses.   Approaching the sandbox Indian village display,  placing rows of the crosses to resemble a cemetery,  cutting a small triangle piece of paper,  mounting it on a pole to represent a flag with the inscription  7th Cavalry,  a humorous adumbration to Custer’s last stand.

Bob Ross

Juanita Smith, the Principal and English adversary presented an appearance of austerity to the students,  very stern and disciplinary correct with her students,  but beneath her exterior portrait,  a very natured and caring instructor,  her many years of experience able to charge and access the optimum from  her students.   The fifth grade English class enabled an opportunity to display their artistic ability.  Mrs. Smith obtaining a flowering plant to exhibit,  instructing each class member to depict a replica on paper.   The fifth grade teacher posting their artistic results at the end of the day,  the display pinned above chalkboard’s  in the classroom.   At end of the school day  Gary apprising the students picturesque and the students assessment of the flowering exhibit.   Some were quite good demonstrating a talent, but others were done in haste without noticeable perspective,  Gary having acquired some poetic license on canvas working with oil paints from television artist Bob Ross,  perceiving some of the students presentations could be embroidered by a small emphases of shading or a small border line of articulation,  not enough enhancement to change their perception,  but just enough to engender the purpose.  Gary’s tweaking endeavor completely unknown to all,  Mrs. Smith complementing the class on their artistic conception.

Juanita Smith

Gary was comfortable in the educational community,  his relationship with most of  the teachers at the three schools was on a first name basis, finding himself  an anomaly, the only one in the district addressing the superintendent by his first name in the presence of others.   Gary finding Glen’s attitude somewhat chauvinistic towards the only female administrator,  many of Juanita request being put off as being frivolous  by the Superintendent.  Juanita’s request for a new  American Flag to adorn the School flagpole being denied, Gary initiating  a visit with Glen about the need for a flag providing an explanation about the condition of the old one, soon finding Juanita’s  request filled.  Mrs. Smith  was resolute in her responsibilities as principal to the point of initiating an evaluation to grade her job performance and other attributes by the teaching staff.   Sally Forester having been designated to summarize the collective F thru A graded evaluations.  During his custodial duties after school Gary couldn’t help but notice that Sally had left the evaluations stacked on her desk.   The teachers were honest in their unsigned appraisal of Mrs. Smith with one questionable exception, Jeanne Albright having signed her name, crediting Juanita Smith as a straight A principal in every category.

Gary and Mrs Forester with the Kindergarten Class of 2000

Juanita was concerned about the effect of the recent Dutch Elm epidemic desiring an appropriate dissertation  having arranged for  state forestry person to survey, document and recommend replacements for the trees that were removed on Main Street.   The well constructed  plan would also include provisions for populating the treeless south side of the school.  The principal having put an abundance of time and effort in organizing the objective and was ready to introduce the arboriculture proposal to the Superintendent.  Mrs Smith returning from her meeting, Gary recognizing the look on her face, Glen Piper disapproving Juanita’s effort,  the custodian perceiving her despondency in the rejection, not wanting to compound the rejection with failed hope Gary deciding he would remain anonymous in trying to salvage the proposal.  Visiting with Glen, he surmised the superintendent’s cardinal reason for declination, beside having been kept in the dark about Juanita’s plan, was the cost.  Gary having surveyed Juanita’s cost estimate and documented placement of  eleven trees,  annotating to Glen there would be no need to employ a nursery, elucidating he would acquire the material , perform all the labor, make the necessary trips to Wichita for the trees and accomplish the project himself.   The six-foot four-inch superintendent looking down on this unpretentious school custodian,  shaking his head,  then reversed his decision,  Juanita’s effort could come to fruition,  Gary’s vestigial part never disclosed.

Day Of Atonement……………………#188 (80’s)

June 12, 2016

King James Holy Bible

The years of attending both Sunday and Wednesday nights Services at the Apostolic Christian Church  began to assimilate with Gary,  the fellowship with the members not the only benefaction,  the ecclesiastical message from the pulpit instilling a consequential testament.  The congregation expressing unity with total humility and solace of purpose, the displacement of facades addressing worldly vanity, the shedding of self-adornment, fashionable attire to overly and enhance appearance, a reluctance to participate in self-proclaiming public endeavors including movies and so-called entertainment television amenities, not a prescribed perquisite but a self desire.  The elder ministering Brethren not schooled by man to proclaim The Word, but called upon by their convictions to stand before the crown of redemption and administer to the assembly.  A volunteer contribution when a financial need was discerned, the biblical tithing a provision, never a collection tray, the only employed person receiving gratuity, the person maintaining the cleanliness of the facility.  A new horizon emanated, there was a another subservient admission of life other than the worldly ways of society,  Gary imbibing the words of the bible, his meaning of thought having found a comforting solace.

Gary  having witnessed Jan’s acceptance of Jesus Christ and the acquiesce of becoming an Apostolic Christian Sister in faith,  first approached Jan’s Uncle,  Raymond Roth, a Church Minister but subsequently embracing a hierarchy, Ronnie Nelson the Church’s Elder to petition him to the prerequisite for acceptance in the apostolic brotherhood.   Ronnie patiently explaining that the church required no more than what was in the bible,  a term of repentance was first in order to demonstrate and  acknowledge the wrongdoing in one’s life and to make amends,  privately or personally and in some means approach those whom you have offended,  giving a penance for your censurable action and beseeching absolution.  Gary, meeting in prayer with Ron Nelson in his home in the evenings,  discussing the lamentable occurrences of the past, receiving guidance on a desirable approach to fulfill his commitment with the Lord’s direction.

Kiowa Apostolic Christian Church

Kiowa Apostolic Christian Church

Ninety days having passed, the traditional repentance temporal for those seeking affiliation with the Apostolic Christian Church  was thirty to sixty days, most prospective disciples having family members abiding in the congregation for generations.  Gary in abeyance, but never questioning his accession, his faith in the Lord firmly resolved, acknowledging the decision to proceed was at the discretion of  Ron Nelson.   A day of atonement  having arrived, the total apostolic congregational membership present for a closed session attendance, an open colloquy of the aspiring brethren.   Brother Bill Schrock  directing prospective brother to enter, Gary standing before the brothers and sister of the Apostolic Christian Church, a warm glow of solace empowering him, acknowledging his total acceptance and certitude, Jesus was Lord and Savior, answering inquiries of his affirmation and belief in his salvation thru Christ.

 The inherent faith protocol consummated the baptism being affirmed for the following week.   Gary having a decision to make, it was tradition that the baptismal recipient embrace a church member to accompany him as a  sponsor,  to attest to his communion and to assist in the baptismal ceremony. The person also to stand with him and the minister,  providing a towel to edulcorate the baptismal water upon his emergence.   Jan’s  family and most of the congregation expecting Gary to approach Jan’s Ministering Uncle,  Raymond Roth to conferred the carriage of sponsorship,  but to their surprise another finding prominence in Gary’s acuity.   A person of esteem religious conviction,  one whom Gary had many pontifical discussion with,  a man who lived with total divination to Lord in every aspect of his life, his statue presenting a prodigious ascendancy on the new disciple.   His choice a disappointment to his in-laws,  but an atonement of his commitment, Gary espousing Frank Kisling, a farmer,  friend and true believer from Burlington Oklahoma.

The Baptismal water vessel was filled, the last time availed was when  his wife Jan was emerged into it cleansing waters years earlier, the church endowment having had no additional proselytes.   The  Church,  their traditions of a by-gone era,  discomforting to some inaugural visitors,  but finding the kindred membership all in attendance for the ceremonial occasion.   The new disciple stepping into the sacrosanct of water, Ron Nelson proclaiming the baptismal sacraments,  the laying on of hands,  Gary to be  immersed,  the church elder placing his hand on the adherent,  submerging him in the cleansing waters,  a new personage in Christ arising.   With an accommodation of dry cloths,  the newly announced person in Christ standing before the pulpit,  the congregation,  each walking down the center aisle to greet their new brother in faith,  the traditional bumping of chins by the men to symbolize a greeting with the holy kiss,  a handshake from the women,  a adulation of blessing expressed by all, some with joyous tears,  for the first time in his life Gary experiencing a worldly emptiness but replaced by the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Phoenix Adventure…………..#189 (80’s)

June 10, 2016

Cruising at 34,000 feet

It was the first day of the Willson’s 16 day journey, enjoying breakfast at 34,000 feet, the early morning flight of American Airlines having soared into the celestial sphere above Kansas,  having departed from Wichita’s Mid Continent airport,  it’s designated appointment,  Sky Harbor International in Phoenix Arizona.   The in-flight family being provided a Skyway Catering service meal of scrambled eggs, sausage and pancakes to sustain their morning appetites during their 843 mile southwesterly flight.   An Arrival in Phoenix finding Pam,  her children Jay C and Summer K awaiting at Sky Harbor,  Pam being Jan’s best friend having invited the family to visit with the Ott’s. Her husband Doug and his twin brother Brad both members of Jan’s 1969 Kiowa high school graduation class.  Pam being very efficient having prepared an itinerary,  the first stop before acquainting their home would be the Desert Botanical Gardens,  a scenic walk presentation of the anthologized flowering cacti species from around the globe.

Desert Botanical Garden

The Sonoran Trail

The Sonoran Trail

The fifty acres of nature’s exhibition included several trail tours,  the Discovery,  Sonoran Desert and Wildflower trail,  providing over 21,000 plants.  The Willson clan enjoying the trifecta tour, but Gary discovering it was better adhered for those persons with an astute desert botanical background.  With the walk-thru tour completed,  the Phoenix calefaction approaching 100 degrees in the late morning hour,  a welcome relief from the elements was found at the Ott’s residence on West Milagro Avenue in the suburb of Mesa.   Gary taking notice and discovering  most of the  homes in the housing addition engendering sand in place of the green lawns for their yards,  the exception being the Ott’s back yards which was seeded in grass and lost golf balls,  the rear of their residence addressed a fairway on the Dobson Ranch Golf Course.

An afternoon journey  to downtown Phoenix,  Pam introducing all to the Engle Homes Towers,  a new 20 story high-rise building,  to meet with Doug, having recently received his law degree securing employment as a new attorney with a prestige’s law firm.  Doug proudly providing a tour of the twelfth  floor law offices,  Gary mostly impressed with the presence of the firm’s law-book library  but also with the view from the high-rise structure.   Returning, spending a quiet evening with the family,  the morning awakening  finding Pam, Jan and the children leaving for a shopping foray,  Gary and Doug remaining.

A discussion of living in the summertime environment of Arizona enfolded,  Doug pointing out the normal thermostat setting in the residence was at 80 degrees,  but Gary noticed upon Pam’s debarkation, Doug walked over setting  the thermostat to 74 and then later upon hearing Pam’s  car in the driveway, reset the thermostat back to 80 before his wife entered.   Gary surmising Doug’s serendipity clandestine action was  a result of his employment being used to a much cooler air-conditioned office.   The afternoon found the kids adorning swimming attire, the two families traversing to a first for Gary, a wave manufacturing indoor swimming facility.  The parents watching the kids experience  the wave producing natatorium,  the swells of water rushing towards them, an enjoyment for everyone.

The late afternoon,  the two families journeying South towards Chandler to experience the Rawhide Wild West Town Theme Park, a replica of an earlier era located  on 160 acres of the Gila River Indian Community, featuring  covered wagons,  buckboards,  a museum, and showmanship characters giving a presentation of gunfights and humorous interaction with members of the audience.   A gun fight between factions ensuing,  Jan being singled out as a hostage, called upon to participate in their production,  the crowd and her family enjoying her concert.

Jan – Captured for The Show

Conestoga Kids

The evening concluding with dinner at the Rawhide Steakhouse, the two families in an outdoor patio setting, enjoying the crowning point of the evening,  a mesquite flame broiled steak.   The entertainment continuing at the steakhouse with an unusual circumstance,  if a patron ordered a well done steak,  upon the servers arrival,  beneath a cover they would discover a well done smoking cowboy boot on a platter,  a novice Rawhide Ranch idea for remembrance.


Sunday morning unfolding, the two families participating in church services at the Phoenix Apostolic Christian Church,  although being nonmembers, Doug and Pam were well acquainted with the Apostolic,  Doug’s father and mother  church members,  having raised their son’s in the Kiowa Apostolic Church.   Gary and Jan having the opportunity to meet many of the Phoenix  Church Brothers and Sisters with relations in Kiowa,  finding a solace in bringing greetings from the Kiowa congregation.

The  afternoon, Pam providing the transportation,  the Willson family accepting an invitation from Jan’s cousin LaVonne and Husband Roy Yergler to visit their home  in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.   LaVonne being the eldest daughter of Jan’s Aunt Lavern and Uncle Raymond Roth,  a minister in the Kiowa Apostolic Church.

Roy, Vonne and the Yergler family

Jan - a farewell to Pam and Phoenix

Jan – a farewell to Pam and Phoenix

A quiet evening remaining, Gary grateful for a very enjoyable time and the  hospitality provided by Doug  and Pam and their family, the visit would be an everlasting memory.  A morning wake-up call, Sky Harbor beckoning, the Phoenix adventure fulfilled, a flight to California with the journey to continue.