Yearning for Yesterday
My next novel in the Kelly Can Saga Series, "A Cowboy's Fortune," will launch in January 2024. I'm excited about this! It will continue the story following Charlie and Susan Kelly as they create their future together. My native state, Oklahoma, will continue to be where the action is, and several counties are featured. Two mean a lot to me. I lived in Payne and Pottawatomie counties from pre-school to college in Shawnee and Cushing; both towns have important scenes in Fortune. I couldn't stop thinking about how great it was to be a kid back in the 50s and 60s in those two small cities.
I wrote a short story/memoir about being a kid in Shawnee when I learned my father had accepted a new job and we would be moving to Cushing. My grandfather Clarence Kelly (who is the inspiration for Charlie) helped me through that "trauma." This blog will be long, but I hope you enjoy it. Here's the first segment of that story.
It was the 1950s and the last day of school in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I reached the edge of Horace Mann Elementary School's playground, heading home when I heard, “Joey, hold up there. What’s the big rush, boy?”
It was a familiar voice coming from behind me. I turned around and saw my friend Donna Sue hurrying toward me.
“I don’t know. I guess I gotta lot on my mind.”
We began walking home together, as we typically did every school day.
“Joey, what’s wrong?"
I stopped and looked at her, “I learned last night that my daddy has a job with a new company. We’re gonna be movin’ to a town called Cushing. I don’t know exactly when we’ll be movin’, but it could be in a few weeks.”
Donna said, “Gee, that's awful and way too fast!"
I looked at the ground and said, “It sure is. I don’t wanna leave Shawnee and move to this Cushing; I don’t know anybody there. I won't get to see you or Bobby, Glennie, or Mikey. Who’ll I play army with, climb trees, and walk home from school with?”
Donna said, “Didja know your daddy was looking for a new job?”
“No, but I guess mom and daddy had been talkin’ ‘cause they have some plans already made. We’re packin’ tonight and goin’ to my grandparent’s house in Okemah tomorrow mornin’. Gency, my little sister, and I will be spendin’ a few weeks there. That’s excitin’ ‘cause I’ll get to do things with my Granddaddy Kelly. We’ll get to fish almost every day after he finishes his work for Skelly Oil Company. I’ll also do neat things like feed the chickens and explore in the pastures around their farm and all kinds of other stuff!”
Donna smiled, "Joey, that sounds like the things you love to do, and your Granddaddy must be a neat man.”
About that time, we got to Donna’s house. I said, “After I get back from my grandparents, can we get together at least one more time and go to Taber's Grocery and get an RC Cola and a Moon Pie?”
Donna offered her right hand, "You betcha. Maybe we can go to Scout Park and find a picnic table, and you can tell me about Okemah."
"Okay, I'll see you then."
I continued toward home, still feeling a little down, when I realized I was in front of Taber’s Grocery. I went in to say hello. I always found Mr. Taber behind the counter just inside the front door. He greeted everyone with his big smile.
As I entered, I heard, “How’s Joey today?”
“Great, Mr. Taber, here’s a nickel. I’ll get me a pop from the cooler.”
"Go ahead and bring it here, and I'll open it for you."
I lifted the lid, slid the bottle down the track, pulled it out, and took it to him, "The family’ll be goin' to Okemah to visit my grandparents tomorrow mornin’.”
“That sounds like fun for you. How long will you stay?”
"Gency and I’ll probably be there for a couple of weeks. Mom and Dad should come home Sunday afternoon after church."
I took my pop and headed to the door, "So long, and I'll see you when I get back."
He was another person I would miss after we moved to Cushing. I was only about three or four blocks from home, as I took my time and continued to think about moving, friends, change, and how I didn’t get a say in any of this. I had already made plans with my art teacher for my next school year, and my basketball coach was expecting our team to win the city elementary school tournament again next year. I already knew who my sixth-grade teacher would be and was happy about it. I wondered, Doesn't any of this matter to anybody but me?
You can find the whole piece on my website. See ya next time.