Sunday, August 27, 2000

Worldcon Chicago Sunday

From Weatherford, OK to Mt. Vernon, MO. 475 Miles.

My parents met and married in Waynoka, and all my life, I had heard of the place, but I had never been there myself, so I intended to look it over.

As I crossed the Cimmaron river, I saw the Little Sahara State Park, or at least part of it. The sandbars of the river have, over time, blown up on the north bank and created an impressive dune field. My parents talk of playing on the sand dunes as kids, but today it is a playground for sand buggies and wide-tire jeeps. I didn't feel like going in myself. For one thing I didn't have all the equipment they wanted before they let vehicles into the dunes, like that tall flag so that other vehicles could see you on the other side of a rise.

The town of Waynoka was a pleasant place, with lots of facilities for the dune buggy trade. I drove around, finding the former location of one grandfather's drug store, and the church where they went, and the train yards where my other grandfather worked.

I next traveled east, heading for Arkansas. Of course, once again it was a very hot day. My car thermometer reached 110 at one point, and I finally had to stop at a diner/gas station to drink down some Gatorade and eat some ice cream. I settled into a booth at the diner and let myself soak up some air-conditioning.

The next booth over had a couple that attracted my attention. The man had the distinctive facial features of American Indians, and was bare-chested with numerous tattoos, one of which was an Indian drum. He was into a newspaper, and he commented to the woman as he read. From what I overheard, he was reading the section of the newspaper that listed the arrests and it was just like all the times I have seen older people reading the obituaries, looking for people they know. He turned to her and mentioned that so-and-so was arrested for burglary and what's-her-name was arrested for prostitution. It was an interesting look into a different culture.

I arrived in Siloam Springs, and immediately tried to find the farm where my family lived when I was born. The farm is in Oklahoma, and the town is in Arkansas. I quickly got lost. I had been there very few times in the past, and on my own, I had never been confident that I had located the place. Finally, I got on the cell phone and called my parents. My father gave me directions, and I was able to locate a farm that almost looked right. I took pictures (later confirmed) and marked the location in my GPS so that I could find it again.

Siloam Springs has always been interesting to me. I was born there, and from what I understand, it was a close decision whether my family would stay there and farm, or return to work with the railroad. So, for one decision, instead of growing up where my father worked in a city and electronics was the norm, I might have grown up rural, more concerned with the weather, seed, and soil.

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