I know the road to Talahina Oklahoma well. Chris's favorite place to camp was at Billy Creek, located about sixteen miles east of Talahina. We drove that winding road many times with the car packed full of camp gear and Hooper trying not to barf in the back seat (poor car sick pup). Chris was usually the one driving which left me to managing the snacks and the map. I spent a lot of time just staring out the window and pointing out odd things along the road. It is a surreal experience making that drive now. The drive to Talahina is no longer for camping, but for visiting dad and the route is so familiar now that I don't need a map. There's a ruin of house on the side of the road that winds it's way around the Kiamichi Mountains towards Talahina. I remember passing it so many times. Every time I'd come up with a new story about it, like how it was a pony express station or a road side tavern for the wagon trains. On one of those trips to visit dad, I mentioned this to mom. I told her how I wish I knew it's story. On that trip, mom told me about meeting a woman a long time ago when Randy was still little. They'd gone camping and these people camped next to them. The woman was a retired teacher and had written a book about her life. She started her teaching carrier in a one room school house somewhere out in the open plains of Texas. Cowboys would come from miles around to see her because they'd heard that there was an eligible young lady in the area. One day she got so fed up with men coming to her school house just to look at her that she dressed herself up as ugly as possible. The cowboy that came to see her that day was the man she ended up marrying. She told mom about how they'd pull up a post to lay the fence down so they could drive their wagon over to some ranch party or another. I'd never heard this story before and was floored by it.
The last time we went to see Dad, I asked to stop at the little rock house to take pictures. I was hoping that maybe there was a plaque or a sign buried around the base of the structure. Michael and I got out of the car and he followed me as I circled around the house. We'd made it to the back side of the house and we were just about to head back to the car when we heard "you guys interested in that old building?". We turned around to see an older man watching us through the thickest pair of glasses I'd ever seen. He was dressed in camo pants that were held in place on his thin frame with the help of thick red suspenders over an off white thermal shirt. His little round head sported one of those hunting caps with a bill and ear flaps. He reminded me of a Muppet and I had to force myself from lifting the camera to capture his face. "Yes." I replied. "I want to know this building's story." He told us that during the depression the Civilian Conservation Corp came out to do some work. They built a pavilion across the street. I'd never even noticed that before. The man said that they built this building first. They used it as a jail for wayward CCC men. He thought that the upstairs was used as the cell part but couldn't figure out how they got people up there. And that was it. That's all he had to say about it. We thanked him and then got back in the car. I regretted that I didn't get his picture. I knew that by asking his permission it would change things, so I let it go and allowed myself to be content with just the story.
Happy Love Thursday.