Oklahoma State House Again..

Last week I showed you the art that I found in the Oklahoma State house. This week let’s look at the architecture and statues. I was surprised to see all the native American art there. Native Americans do make up about 9% of the population and much of the State’s heritage is of that nature.

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Sonny and His Sisters and Brothers

This is another story about my dad in his early years.  This one is about his brothers and sisters and his relationships with them. When starting these stories one thing that became glaringly obvious was there is really no photographic record of the Walters clan.  I don’t have any pictures of my aunts or uncles or even grandparents for that matter. They just didn’t seem to do pictures in those days. Maybe they were just too expensive? I inherited all the memorabilia of my parents and included in that was just a handful small photos and few legal documents. So, these posts on dad are pretty much just words. I don’t know if the lack of pictures was a generational thing of not? Anyway, on to the story of “Sonny”

Dad was the youngest member of his family. He had two sisters who were several years older than him and two brothers. One brother, as seems to be somewhat typical of that generation, died at a young age. I really don’t know from what? His two sisters, Opal and Dorothy were the outspoken ones in the Walters clan. Aunt Opal was a large woman in stature and she was also large in voice.  She died when I was maybe a teenager so I don’t remember much more about her. She lived her life within twenty miles of her birth.  Opal married a man of diminutive stature and she seemed to rule the household. I’m not sure that I ever saw her husband talk in Opel’s presence. I guess she did enough talking for both of them.  But when he was just with the men he could talk your ear off. They had a farm, I’m not sure how big it was, but it supported their lifestyle.  They had one son who was probably 30 years old still living at home and didn’t seem to have any ambition to do anything else.

Dorothy, like Opal, married a farmer in the area and lived a town over from her birth. Her husband raised several thousand chickens at a time.  They had a daughter who was born three days before me who I had a kindred relationship with in my early years but I lost track of her many years ago.  Dorothy was a very typical farmer’s wife. As I remember it, and I may have remembered it wrong, but her life revolved canning and taking care of the family.

Robert, dad’s brother, was much like dad. He never talked much and I really remember little about him.

Bucky Walters - baseball palyerNow getting on to “Sonny”, that was dad’s family name. He was the youngest and therefore Sonny. I don’t think many people knew dad’s first name. To his family he was Sonny all his life and after the war he was Bucky. He kept the “Bucky”  moniker throughout his life. As I remember the story he was named Bucky by his army comrades because he looked similar to “Bucky Walters” who was a baseball player of the times.

Next time I will get into dad’s traumatic war-time experiences. Like many others who have been exposed to the killing in war he was forever changed by those years.

Anybody out there want to tell a story about their parent’s families??

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Oklahoma State House Art…

During our trip to Santa Fe this Spring we managed to get to the Oklahoma State House for a visit. They proved to be the most stringent of all the state houses we have visited about taking pictures but I did manage to get some of the artworks that adorn the dome and some on the walls.  Here is a sampling.

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I Am A Rock, I Am An Island…

If you are a “wise” guy you can look back on your life to see where you have been and to learn lessons from past successes and especially the mistakes. This is one of those posts. I don’t think I am your typical senior citizen if someone like that even exists. I have been kind of a misfit at many times in my life. For one thing I am a pretty liberal guy where most “old people” I come across these days seem to be of a very conservative slant.  As kids we are always asking “why”, why this, why that. Most of us outgrow the questions, I never did.

Growing up with only a very stoic father and a younger brother I was just never around women much. So, well into adulthood I was a pretty shy guy around the opposite sex. Since I didn’t understand them it was hard to open myself up to them. They were a mystery to me. For that reason, I was almost forty years old before marrying for the first, and I’m pretty sure only time in my life.

Given all the above I used to live by the mantra “I am a rock, I am an island” philosophy. I’m sure some of you guys know where this phrase came from.  It was the title of a Simon and Garfunkel song of the 1960s and one of my favorite ones. Here are some of the lyrics…

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I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

I built walls around myself even in my early years that I imagined none could penetrate.  Love was something that wasn’t obvious in the Walters clan. Mom was almost totally focused on herself, dad never said he loved me until very near the end of his life.  I tried to think of myself as a rock who felt no pain, as an island onto myself.  Because of this I let many of life’s opportunities pass me by. I just didn’t know how to handle them.  It would be years before I myself would say the four letter word to anyone. I just didn’t think it was within me…

Enough of this melancholy, let’s end it with good news. I did eventually break the hold of this rock mentality and my life is so much better than it was before. But I still find myself humming the tune of “I Am a Rock”….

Ode to the Diner

Indy Diner

I lived in New Jersey for four years and visited there for thirty before that so diners were very familiar to me. When we lived there they became a regular eat-out place. We make an annual trek to a town near Indy to buy our Spring flowers and discovered this “new” diner near there. It is nice to see that the old is new again.

The Greatest Generation…

They called my parents the Greatest Generation I guess because they grew up during the Great Depression and were steeled by World War II. This post is going to tell you some stories about my dad.

Clarence Walters 1940
Clarence Walters 1940

My dad was born in 1923. I’m sure he never traveled further than Indianapolis, which was forty miles away, during his first eighteen years. As mentioned in a previous post his father was a pig farmer and that was probably dad’s total life experiences through his high school years. Belle Union where he grew up is almost non-existent today and was not much even in dad’s day. Being a rural Indiana town there was a general store, gas station, and a couple of farm implement repair places and that was about it beside the school which housed 1st grade through high school in one building.

One characteristic that seems all too common of his generation, especially the men, is that they didn’t have much to say about themselves or much else for that matter.  I seldom heard any stories from my father about his early years. The one he told most often was about having goats and making a wagon to hitch them to. Another story in that line was how he won so many bets from the neighbor farmers who visited his dad. He bet them they could not put his goat’s nose to the ground and he said he never lost that bet and always laughed watching them try.  I remember visiting grandma, his mother, one time when she told the story about how he was such a reckless driver in his youth.  Dad would get embarrassed and tried to shush her but grandma was not about to be shushed especially from her youngest son!

Dad was a teenager during the depression and given that people had to eat he probably didn’t feel the effects of those dreadful year as much as many others. Grandpa didn’t have much to start with so couldn’t lose much during the depression. I remember a few stories about some of the kids in his school being very poor and his dad helped them out with some meat but that was about it.

Dad often said about all he ever got to eat as a kid was pork. He said he ate so many pork chops as a kid that he swore he would never eat another one after he left the farm. But years later when it was just him, my brother, and me pork chops proved to be the staple of many of our meals. But maybe that was because they were the cheapest cut of meat back then and about all we could afford.

Dad graduated from high school in 1941 which was about six months before Pearl Harbor and our entry into the war. Dad was drafted into the army in February of 1943. I’m not sure if he continued to live on the farm after high school or not. After he died in 2000 I inherited much of his personal belonging and one very important document to understanding him was his “Enlisted Record and Report of Separation” from the army. It showed his dad’s address as his so I suspect that he was still on the farm. Never being far away from home would soon radically change!. More on that in a near future story post…

Anyone out there have Depression or parents stories to share ??

No More Lists…

ListsMy month-long hiatus from blogging a while back was more than just blogging. I pretty much ceased all my normal daily activity in favor of just doing what I felt like doing. Some days it was vegging out and some it was all day in the barn working on my micro-RV project of the last three years. And of course given that it was Spring, which is my favorite time of year, it was about sitting on my “mountain” and enjoying the view. One of the primary things I gave up during this period was keeping lists of my activity.

I will admit that this hiatus was brought on by a fairly strong feelings of depression. I was just too mired in the current times of fear and politics. Getting rid of that annoyance was a boon for my emotional state. Another surprising thing that boosted my contentment was that I stopped making my usual daily lists. I know this sounds kind of strange but hear me out.

All my life I have been a list maker. I still have almost a thousand 5×7 cards that I used in my work life to record what I needed to do each week. When desktop computers came in that list moved there and the cards were assigned to the back of a desk drawer. When I retired from the corporate world in 2000 I brought list making with me and have done it continuously until now. I think at some levels, at least to me, I rationalize that it shows me that I am a productive member of the human race. I gauged my worthiness by the length of the list. I have now discovered that his forty-year old habit is stifling my retirement years!

In retirement your time is your own for perhaps the first time in your life.  I discovered that keeping long lists at this point in my life is accomplishing little. It may even lead to depression at times. It doesn’t matter whether I spend four hours getting just the right close-up photo of a flower or even binge watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I finally convinced myself that my time is my own now and to  spend it doing things that make me happy in the moment and not fretting so much about what is happening out in the world. So, from here on out, it is goodbye to lists to justify my existence.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Anybody out there have any other suggestions for letting go of the past in order to just enjoy your retirement moments???

Keeping Things In Perspective…

Got a new macro lens for my DSLR today. Its going to be fun learning this new photo technique.

I have had a book entitled Understanding close-up Photography by Bryan Peterson for a while now. Got it dusted off and ready to jump in with both feet. I seem to always be a both feet type of guy…

Macro Flower

Museum Men…

Museum Men
I just ran across a very creative team at Creative Arts, Unlimited Inc on the History Channel. The work they do is amazing. If you get cable or satellite it is well worth the time to watch them. Their creativity is truly inspiring. And they get their projects done so quickly it is hard to believe…

The Great Salt Lake…

The Great Salt Lake in Nevada is an impressive place. We spent a couple of hours walking its shoreline. It is impressive and at the same time depressive.  We came into Salt Lake City via the west and it was miles and miles of dead landscape on both sides of the highway. Besides the Salt Lake our trip through Nevada was pretty much mundane. Since Las Vegas is not our cup of tea there really isn’t much there for us.