I stood at the entry and surveyed the sanctuary as worshippers trickled in, moved past and made their way to their seats.  A gray-haired couple sat ten feet away, near the center aisle to my right. A pianist on the platform up front busied herself with sheet music before taking up a red hymnal.

Hmm, I wonder what songbook the folks do use here? The nearby gray-haired lady held a book of the same reddish tint. My mouth moved as I silently read the title. Cast in gold lettering beneath three delicate crosses it read, Melodies of Praise.   I thought. I like that.  A song book title with feeling.

Spotting a new visitor the pastor left the platform and came my way. His handshake and generous smile reinforced what I already sensed – the church’s warmth.  This may be a place I could get to know the Lord better – and some Rocky Mountain dwellers – all at the same time.

So Jerry, where do you come from? Where would you call home? The pastor’s interest seemed genuine and I warmed to it.

Well, I come from a small place called Okmulgee. It’s in Oklahoma. About thirty miles south of Tulsa.

The mention of Okmulgee struck a chord with the gray-haired lady holding the hymnal. Light refracted on the silver-gray hair as Mom Starbuck swiveled her head abruptly. Her eyes shimmered and her mouth betrayed delight – through the wrinkled face a little-girl smile.  In an accent common to my Oklahoma ears, Mom Starbuck offered her declaration. She was enthralled.

Okmulgee?!  A brief pause. . . and the clincher. I went to high school in Preston!

Astonishment overtook me – even as I smiled at an accent that rendered high school,  haah-skule.

How likely was this? A couple of Okies, she and I. Travelers of a twelve-hundred-mile distance to a common place of worship in the Wyoming Rockies. . .Mom Starbuck and me – united by a common culture – divided  by forty-five years.


Where Typing Instructor, Mrs. Smith acquainted me with circular typing keys. With numbers, letters and symbols mounted on metal stems. I learned in her class to vigorously slide (a thousand times) the feed roller – along the machine at each lines end.  Here I entered  the world of black carbon paper.

And now, Wyoming. Mrs. Smith’s Typing I and Typing II inaugurated my passage to Wyoming. To Cody. And her warm-hearted people.  My vision moved generally toward the church ceiling. God, could you be doing something?

Two weeks later found me and my burgundy suitcase at Starbucks front door.

Oklahoma cooking. That will be nice.

©2015 Jerry Lout



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