Most people know that I have lived virtually my whole life at my current address. Yes, I have lived other places as far flung as Florida and North Dakota but this has always been my permanent address, as the military calls it.
It occurred to me today that if my life were laid out in strings the widest and most pronounced line would be a less than one mile line from my home to my grandparents in Okmulgee.
To be fair, the second closest would be the one that encompasses the area from the 700 block of N Central to the 800 block of N Alabama, but a vast chunk of my life is on Alabama avenue.
Some of my earliest memories are of Sissy (Euvah) taking my hand as I insisted on toddling from our home to our grandparents home five blocks north. We had the same numbers in our address (Can't say either for fear of some psycho hunting me down and killing me! LOL). They lived on the west side of the road, we lived on the east, but regardless, it was nothing for us to wonder out the front door of one house with nary a word and up to the other house.
I was spoiled completely rotten for the first 2 years, 5 months and 13 days of my life. I just figured that up, BTW. My sister and 5 male cousins were all 8 or more years older than me and the cousin closest to me in age was 2 or 3 years older (What year were you born, LaRaine?}. Between them, Moma, Dad, 3 aunts and and uncles, and my grandparents, there was no hope for me not being spoiled. Then the twins came along :-O.
I am sure it could be said that they saved me but who doesn't like being spoiled?
One block north of our home was my elementary school and 2 blocks south was(is) the high school.
Most folks don't want to be here or, if they are here, they work in the city, Tulsa for those not from here, and commute. (Side note, not only did I live on Alabama Ave in Okmulgee, OK and move to Selma, AL near Ocmulgee Creek but both towns were similar in other ways includng having a T-town close by!)
I have always known I would come home to stay and I can thank my sisters for making it possible. My neighbors to the north have been my neighbors my whole life. It is nice to know your neighbors. I cannot imagine going back to not knowing the folks around me like when I lived in Atlanta or Louisiana.
My friends were, as they say, the neighborhood kids. Of those kids, 2 are deceased now that I know of and the rest have moved on. Some are still in contact and others did what they promised, they grew up and moved away and stayed away. Still others are here in Okmulgee plugging in and trying their best to help bring back the Okmulgee of yesteryear. (Scott Fetgatter, I am looking at you!)
In 1972 the oil refinery was shut down and Okmulgee began to die. In the following years, some more far flung than others, we lost both Ball Brother's and Anchor Glass as well as any other large companies to other communities furthering the decline. Now a small town of 12,000 (maybe 15,000 when the colleges are in session) it is trying to make a comeback.
I know that our hometown had a long way to go, but I also know that it can happen if we join together and say no more.