Having grown up in Tulsa, Okla. a city of 400,000 plus the neighboring communities, I was fortunate to be raised in the same house and neighborhood all my life.
I knew all my neighbors and like a small town, we checked on each other and called if we needed anything.
My boyhood home was a two-bedroom, one-bath model. It wasn’t fancy, but it was filled with love and good memories. My parents bought and closed on the house on April 11, 1959, just five months and a few days before I was born.
We prayed at the dinner table, ate together as a family and talked about life as it happened. My parents wanted the best for their children. They took us to church and taught us the good book. If I got in trouble at school, which I did on occasion and got a spanking, I got a second one at home. I’m thankful for every time my mom got the belt out as it kept me from a lot of trouble later in life.
Our house featured a two-car detached garage. It included a wooden workbench with a vise and there was an attic, which I converted part of into a club house in junior high. I put carpet squares down and had electricity via an extension cord and lights. I had a bean bag chair, a radio, games, a fan and a cot to take nap. It was my boyhood cave of sorts.
We cooled the house with a window air conditioner and fans during the day and an attic fan at night.
My folks remodeled the kitchen in the early 1960s and added a utility room to the house in the early 1970s.
My dad spent many summer days working the yard. He and Mom always had a small garden in the backyard where they grew tomatoes, okra, potatoes, onions, lettuce and green beans. For some years, my parents and another couple from church, grew a large garden in east Tulsa. That garden produced a bounty of goodies.
I remember spending many summer days at the garden as my dad tilled the earth and Mom gathered the fresh vegetables. I also helped my mom snap green beans for canning and smashing tomatoes in a tomato press. I can still hear Mom’s pressure cooker jingling on the stove.
My dad enjoyed wilted salads with bacon grease poured on top and fresh onions from the garden. Some the best advice he gave me was to slow down, chew my food and enjoy it.
Mom was the best cook. Anything fried from chicken to pork chops, fish, potatoes and okra were my favorites. And for years, Mom baked wedding, anniversary and birthday cakes for family, friends and church folks.
All my neighbors were like family. I was especially fond of the Belknaps, who lived next door to the north. I spent many hours playing dominos with Mr. Belknap and eating popcorn. Mr. Bell, as I called him, was from Harris, Iowa a small town in the northwest part of the state. He attended Texas Christian University where he met his wife, Madge. He was well into his 90s when he passed away in 1991. He would have been in college prior to World War I. I hope to visit Harris someday down the road.
The Watson family next door to the south gave me my first camera when I was in junior high school. It was an Argus Twin Lens Reflex camera that used Kodak 620 color film. I still have the camera and a box of photos I took using it.
I will always be appreciative of the hard work and dedication of my parents to raise their boys with love, care and correction. It’s something that I take to heart in everything I do and achieve in life.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.
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