Driving along the Will Rogers Turnpike on our way from Tulsa to my hometown of Miami, my preschool son required a potty break, so we exited the toll road at Big Cabin. He didn’t want to get back on the interstate, so I said we could take the scenic route, driving the old highway through the small towns. Which also meant a drive through family history.
Vinita–that’s where one grandpa lived at the end of his life. Afton–that’s where another grandpa went to high school. Then in Narcissa the church where Mum-mum and Grandpa Randall were married. And down there you can see the farm of my grandparents Jones. I said, “That was our family land.” And he asked, “Why isn’t it our land anymore?” “Well, we sold it a long time ago after Grandma Jones died.”
So we are in territory rich with family connections.
At the book signing an older woman came to sit with me and said, “Tell me about your book.” She was a longtime Kindergarten teacher who seemed long retired 30 years ago. She looked exactly the same. I reminded her who my people were; she knew them, of course. “Were you my mother’s Kindergarten teacher?” “No, she had someone else, I believe.”
Then she told me, “Miami’s changed.” She explained that her minister is a gay man, which did surprise me. She also said it was her understanding that there were openly gay high school students.
Later a man walked up to get a book and I ran through that old Rolodex and produced the name–Mr. Revis. He had been my senior English teacher final semester after our beloved teacher moved mid-year. He had seen the advertisement for the book signing, remembered me as a student from 26 years ago, and came to see me and get the book. We chatted about other retired teachers.
Many of the people who dropped by were my good friends from junior high and high school, and we all sat around talking like it was 1990 again.
After the signing we went to the high school football game, which was also fun. And there I saw openly gay high school kids. Clearly Miami has changed. Wonderful.
The day’s nostalgia ended with after football stop at the Pizza Hut.