Thursday, September 13, 2007

Heading West

The missus and me are taking off for Oklahoma tomorrow.

My dad turned 80 yesterday and the party is Saturday in Bristow, OK, his hometown.

My cousin Donny just remodeled his house, once my grandparent’s house, and the party is a both a housewarming and birthday party.

I haven’t been out of the northeast in over 2 years and haven’t been to Oklahoma for about 10 years. When I was a kid we’d spend at least two weeks every summer at my grandparent’s farm. It wasn’t much of a farm. My grandfather was retired and they only had a few dozen head of cattle at any time but is sure was country. The house was actually about 15 miles from Bristow but that was the nearest town of any size. The only shopping you did was on Saturday when everybody “went to town” to shop, gossip, shoot pool and drink beer. (We’d sneak Grandpa over to the pool hall praying the Grandma didn’t find us.)

Bristow, like many western small towns, has been killed by Wal-Mart. That and cable television. It is almost a suburban town now or at least it was last time I was there. I am interested to see what it’s like now.

We will be staying with the mayor of Kellyville Saturday night. Kellyville is a town of about 1000 people, very poor, very rural. The mayor is my cousin Randy, Donny’s oldest brother.

I haven’t seen some of my cousins since 1986. I went out to visit before taking off to England to study. I was 21, skinny (bike racer skinny), with a Flock of Seagulls blond ‘do. My cousins for the most part had all had kids, divorces, addictions, heartbreaks and lives. I was a punk college kid but still accepted like I was when we were kids. The cousin from back east. They always took an interest in me and made me welcome. Despite growing up in New England and going to prep school and college (a different world from my family’s) I always felt at home in Oklahoma.

Randy visited my dad in Massachusetts last year and we had he and his wife over for a cookout. It was an interesting group, me & Mrs. M., my dad and stepmother, my Lancashire born and raised in laws, my best mate Gary and his wife and Randy and his wife Gleneva (her twin sister is Geneva). What a great night we had. I am really looking forward to seeing the family and introducing Mrs. M.

To look at us (me) you wouldn’t guess it but we are Muscogee. No really. I have a tribal roll number, am eligible for tribal health care, elections, housing assistance, welfare the whole lot. My grandmother was 50% Muscogee (Creek) and went to Indian school as a girl.

My first cousins and I are the last generation of our family to qualify for full tribal benefits. Most of my cousins live in or have lived in tribe subsidized housing and go to the Indian clinic for medical services. I never really identified as a Muscogee it was not a part of growing up in Rhode Island but being an Indian, even a “white Indian” is a real part of most my family members lives. My dad wants Mrs. M to see what it’s about so we are going here Friday afternoon:

It should be an interesting trip.


gewilli said...

too many words - my eyes hurt


gewilli said...

also funny u bring up injun comment in my blog...

me no injun...

Il Bruce said...

It was the ironic coincidence that brought the injun comment.