Round-trip to posterity

Laugh Tracks in the Dust


A week ago about this time in the afternoon we were pulling up to the unloading dock and greeting some helpful folks at the Texas Tech University Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library in Lubbock, Texas.
We unloaded 14 storage boxes of “paper or computer stuff” I’ve either written or saved since 1974, since the founding of FARM TALK.
It included all of my columns I’ve written during that time span, all my correspondence — letters written and received — and other business, legal, civic, and economic materials that I felt at the time were important enuf to save for posterity.
If readers will recall, we made the same trip last April to make the first delivery of similar materials to the archive library. In the future, there will likely be more “stuff” for the library as Nevah and I continue to downsize our latter-life.
Only time will tell if “posterity” finds any of my “stuff” important enuf to revisit. But, one thing for sure is all that “stuff” is out of our basement and archived at a major university if anyone ever wants to take a look. That’s a major load off my mind.
Contemplating that pile of materials, I think might explain the intermittent arthritis pain in my fingers and hands. My ol’ fingers have done a lot of typing during my life — and they ain’t done yet.
Our April trip to Lubbock wuz just Nevah and me. This trip we were joined by my high school classmate from Platte City, Mo., ol’ Canby Handy, and his wife May Bea. Canby wuz at the wheel becuz he drives a nice Ford F-150 with a weather-tight cover over the pickup bed. The truck had ample room for my “stuff” and all our travel cases.
We decided to visit some sights in Oklahoma that were new to the Canbys. They picked the route from Emporia. They stayed with us Saturday night and we headed south and west Sunday morning. We went south to Pawhuska, Okla., to take in all the changes to that county seat brought about by the now-famous television chef Ann Marie “Ree” Drummond.
From there it wuz on to Fairfax, Ralston, and Pawnee, where some of Canby’s early kinfolks resided a few generations ago. Next stop wuz Oklahoma State University where we “tour-drove” the campus and ate a leisurely lunch at the iconic Cowboy restaurant and store Eskimo Joe’s.
Then it wuz straight west to Okeene and south toward our evening destination Lawton. It got late on us and we made a little unplanned diversion onto some remote backroads. That’s when a funny thing happened. Just as dusk, we mentioned that we hadn’t seen any wildlife all day. We’d scarcely got our mouths shut when a big fawn deer leaped out of the ditch right in front of us and we chased it a couple hundred yards until it found a spot to jump the fence.
After our overnight in Lawton, Monday morn found us in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Preserve, atop of Mount Scott, the highest elevation in Oklahoma at more than 2,000 feet. It wuz cold and breezy and above some of the low-scudding clouds, but we got quite a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
From the Wichitas, we drove to Frederick and then entered Texas. About 50 miles into Texas, we turned west and drove past the famous (past and present) 6666 Ranch. We saw a slew of Taylor Sheridan’s horses, but none of the Dutton family members or crew from the “Yellowstone” TV show.
We also drove by the famous Pitchfork Ranch and also a lot of cotton fields yet to be picked. It’s still droughty everywhere we went on the trip, but there were still puddles from a recent rain, no dust, and the landscape look a lot better generally than it did in April. Most of the wheat looks in pretty good shape.
After unloading, we drove a bit through the Texas Tech campus and then headed north to Plainview for our Monday night lodging. Tuesday, we headed north, then east, and caught a fabulous eastern portion of Palo Duro Canyon. We got a good view from the tourist lookout.
We skirted Amarillo and stopped at the decrepit little burg of Skellytown, not far from Pampa. Skellytown played an important part in the lives of Canby’s Dad and Mom. During the Great Depression, they lived in a tar-paper shack in Skellytown and his Dad worked a filthy job in a carbon-black factory. After a few years, they moved back to Kansas with all their life belongings in a homemade, two-wheel trailer pulled behind a Model T Ford (might have been a Model A).
We stopped for a nice lunch at Canadian, Texas. We ate at the historic Cattlemen’s Exchange Building — a former real cattle exchange, now renovated into an upscale restaurant. The grub wuz pricy, but good. The top-priced steak wuz $62, but I’m wuz too frugal (cheap) to order it and ate a big burrito instead.
After we entered Oklahoma, we drove through Shattuck, a little town with a city park display of all sorts of windmills. Next stop wuz at Boiling Springs State Park, just east of Woodward. The big spring doesn’t actually boil, but it stirs the sand as it flows out of a sand dune and it looks like it’s boiling.
We went north hoping to see the Alabaster Caverns near the Kansas line, but it wuz too late in the afternoon and too long of an underground hike for a group of elders like us.
Our evening destination wuz Pratt, Kan., and we drove north through the rustic burg of Sun City. We ate supper at Woodie’s Cafe with a mutual friend and my fishing buddy, ol’ Claude Hopper. Canby and I first met Claude in a dorm room at Bea Wilder U in the fall of 1960. Our trip on to Emporia was uneventful the next day. All in all, it wuz a great little trip for all of us.
Words of wisdom for the week: “Someone may owe you a yesterday, but no one owes you a tomorrow. That’s up to you.” Have a good ‘un.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here