This past Wednesday we took the “scenic route” from Granbury, Texas to Plainville, Kansas. We had spent a week in Texas with daughter Amy and family, where it could not have been any better for Papa Mark. It was topped off last Sunday with a Denver Bronco romping of the Dallas Cowboys.
We treated the whole Piatt clan to nosebleed seats at AT&T stadium. We were a house divided. My only hope for the game was ‘please don’t embarrass Colorado’—in fact in spite of Vegas odds that had the Broncos losing by 13, the boys in Orange humiliated the Cowboys. I tried very hard not to gloat, but watching my son in law’s face sink into just this side of despair almost made the fortune I spent on the tickets worth it.
Recently I have connected with friends I have not seen for 40 years. Kathy and Charlie invited us to stay at their house in Plainville, KS on our way both coming and going to Texas. The time with them was truly a gift which I suspect will grow into even more shared experiences. On the way to Texas we did the I-70, I-35 route. It might have been shorter but the stress factor was off the charts—construction, rush hour, and way too many BA__ trucks. We decided to take the two-lane route back.
It was a beautiful autumn day as we worked our way through one small town after another. What I saw was the “melting away” of rural America. Town after town had dozens of shuttered businesses and homes. What were once bustling post—WWII communities were all wilting on the vine if not already gone. The worst was Roosevelt, Texas. It would make a great set for a very scary movie. Blocks of decaying homes and businesses littered the highway through town. The only vital businesses were junk yards that sold very specialized “car parts”. One whole city block had nothing but side panels, while another had truck beds. I was reminded about my time in Israel, where we visited archeological sites that revealed 23 different communities built on each other.
I suspect we went through 15-20 communities all of which showed the slow death of changing times. The whole time we did these 100’s of miles, we were listening to “Willies Roadhouse” on satellite radio. So many of the songs echoed through images of times gone by. The only constant is change.
We came in through a part of Oklahoma l had never seen. I knew the names of the towns, Lawton, Fredrick, Hobart and the like. I had spent 11 years of my life living in Oklahoma, and politics aside, I consider it one of my homes.
We decided to get gas in Clinton, OK which is actually a town which I once visited. We stopped at a dapper convenience store/gas station/gathering place. After gassing up I went in to take advantage of the facilities. I was immediately greeted with a very friendly “Welcome, how can I help you?” I asked directions to the WC and as I was walking back there I realized that the I was listening to Gene Autry singing “Here Comes Santa Claus”. The music was piped into the sparkling clean Men’s room where the music transitioned to “Oh Holy Night”—you can’t make this stuff up!!! It was November 10th, they still had left over Halloween candy on sale.
I bought a bag of “Dots Pretzels” which, if you have not tried them, have raised the pretzel bar to a new level. I learned about them from my 2 year old granddaughter, Sofia, a couple of weeks ago. They are made in North Dakota and they should be illegal—that good. So I noted to Miss Extra Friendly about the Christmas music. She said, “I need Christmas. I already have two trees up at home”. About that time the Muppets were singing the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Who was I to argue. At least it wasn’t “Please Daddy don’t get Drunk this Christmas”.
So, Christmas in Clinton begins at the Shell station in early November. Fun is where you find it.
Onward and Upward, Mark