Bess and I recently returned home to Oklahoma to attend the Marshall School alumni function. We went to Marshall to visit some old friends, Ernie and Verba Vculek. Ernie used to work for my dad, managing and maintaining several oil leases near Lovell and Roxanna, Okla. Both of these cities pretty much are gone now. When dad wasn’t going to be around for the day, Ernie used to talk me into playing hooky from school so we could go fishing, hunting and swimming. Then he would tease me that he was going to tell my dad I had played hooky. I didn’t realize it at the time, but if I was playing hooky from school with Ernie, he was playing hooky from work as well. I didn’t know for many years that my dad had given Ernie and I permission to play hooky and not work those days. Ernie told me when we were visiting that my dad was the best employer that he ever had.

Later that day, we went to a relative’s home before going to the (now-closed) school for the alumni event. We spent several hours visiting with old friends and relatives, while watching the storm and tornados forming in the sky. We were watching the weather on television and outside as well. Then we received a call from a cellular phone that everyone was asked to go to the storm cellar at the school.

Everyone drove to the school, and went to its cellar that hadn’t been used nor had any attention for many years. The cellar was dirty, with almost an inch of water on the floor, and the benches in it were dirty with years of dust stuck to them. A young girl with us was crying because she was afraid of the storm threat, and of having to be in the cellar. Bess was trying to console her when another person voiced concern of the storm. I said, “Get used to it; we could be here for days!” To which Bess said, “Be quiet, Porky!” I didn’t know the young girl was afraid of being there.

After a time, we were given the all clear, and we went to the school auditorium. Then we were advised of another tornado nearby, and were advised to return to the cellar again. At this point, most of the people decided just to watch the approaching storm from near the cellar. The power went off and stayed off, and the storm passed. But it appeared that due to the storm threat and no power, there wasn’t going to be a good alumni attendance, so Bess and I decided to return to our relative’s home in Covington where we were staying.

Just a few miles from Marshall, the highway was blocked by emergency vehicles, highway patrol and the Channel 5 TV crew. A tornado had destroyed an oilfield office building, and scattered it across the highway and the field. Thankfully, no one was in the building at the time. The tornado also had torn down the power line to Marshall. Rather than backtracking and taking an alternate road that may have been closed as well, we decided to wait until the road was clear.

We returned to our temporary home in Covington to experience more wind, lightning and rain, and to watch for tornados. It reminded us of why we left Oklahoma some 45 years before when a tornado destroyed our 45-day new home in Enid.

We visited our grade-school classmates Mary Anne (my old girlfriend), her brother, Charles Nichols, and her husband Bill. We hadn’t seen Mary Anne in almost 50 years, so we had a lot to talk about.

We visited Bess’s 94-year-young mother in Oklahoma City. Then we were going to visit our 101-year-young friend, Julian Stetnish in Edmond. We called, but the assisted living facility advised us that he had moved! We were afraid he had moved to the cemetery, but no, we were advised that he had moved to Ohio with his son.

We had lunch twice at the Tri-County Senior Citizens Center in Covington. They have a great lunch almost daily at a reasonable price, and we were able to reacquaint ourselves with old friends and relatives.

We went by to visit with a 99-year-young water dowser friend Fred Gopfert at his home in Covington. He and Bess discussed dowsing, while I visited with his younger brother Charles. Fred helped my dad build his machine shop on the west end of Covington. This building looks great, and is used as a feed store today.

I was told by old friends that they thought I was richest kid in Covington because I had a Cushman motor scooter. I thought I was the poorest kid because I had to deliver groceries, ice and newspapers to the elderly people who couldn’t drive to the store.

All in all, it was a great visit, and we look forward to doing it again in a few years. But to move back home one day – I doubt it. Not enough traffic and too much quiet.