Okies

Almost everyone in the world is horrified at the tremendous destruction done by Mother Nature to the town of Moore, Oklahoma last week.  I grew up in tornado alley and spent many hours in a storm cave.

Moore is half way between Norman, where I went to the University, and Oklahoma City or the City as we Okies call it.  When I was in school the population of Moore was less than two thousand.

Like everyone else, I watched the television accounts carefully.  Tears would come to my eyes as I watched victims tell their accounts but pride would fill my heart as I would see and hear their spirit.

This brought back to me an incident that I had almost forgotten.  About thirty years ago, before I retired, I was asked to attend a legislative hearing in the City.  The hearing was to be held on Monday morning so I decided to fly from Denver to the City on Saturday morning rent a car and drive a little over a hundred miles to visit my parents in Snyder.

I called the folks and told them to expect me shortly after three o’clock that afternoon.

The plane left on time and we were scheduled to arrive just before noon.  When we approached the City, we could see nothing but clouds piled high in the sky covering the entire area. The captain came on the speaker and announced that the fog was so terrific that we could not land but that we would fly around the area until it lifted.

About thirty minutes later, we were told that because of fuel problems, we would fly to Atlanta.  He told us that the Oklahoma City passengers would return on a scheduled flight from Atlanta about five o’clock that afternoon.  I certainly did not enjoy spending so much time in the Atlanta airport but we left on schedule.  I finally arrived at my parents’ home about ten o’clock that night.

What makes this trip memorable to me was a part of the conversation I heard between two ladies seated behind me as we were flying around the City in the fog.  It had been established that one of the ladies was returning to her home in the City where she had lived for five years.  She had been visiting friends and family in California where she had previously lived. Where the other lady was from was not revealed.

With a sound of disapproval in her voice, lady number two inquired “How do you like living in Oklahoma?”  The reply was “Well, I tell you, Oklahoma has the world’s worst weather but the world’s very best people.”  This was from a person who was not a native.

I think that was the highest tribute my home state could ever receive. The Moore tragedy and the reaction of the populace proved the anonymous lady on the plane had lived in the state long enough to know what she was talking about.

JIM PERSHALL

May 2013