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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 26

Now I'm a Texan, The Officer Tells me So

Some called it going up to Egypt for grain but we did what had to be done to help our little daughter in any way we could. If the road was winding and twisted we were on it and nothing was going to stop our making the journey.

The Oak Cliff congregation was filled with warm friendly people. I was impressed with their soft southern ways and something about the atmosphere reminded me of old plantations and the genteel manners of quiet ladies and strong gentlemen as, indeed, I would learn this probably was the original Texanís culture.

Oak Cliff was made up of the older part of Dallas. This was the area where Lee Harvey Oswald ran to try for hiding in that movie theater. He must not have known too much about Dallas. Each little area is like a small town and everyone knows everything about anyone who comes through.

The apartment we chose was okay inside. However, there was nothing but a hard dirt yard with only sprinkles of dying grass in places, outside. No where to walk presented itself and anyway it wasnít much of a residential area. Nothing but cement covered parking lots in shopping centers surrounded us.

The water cooler just barely provided escape from the heat and it was incredibly hot. I couldnít believe the sweltering heaviness of it. I felt like that cartoon character, a wolf who shlepped along in slow motion as he called to his goat, "Billllly Boooyyyee boyyee , boyyee," as he spoke with even a slower drawl.

Rhonda and I were quite alone. There were no children, no people out and about and certainly no out who looked like someone I wanted to know. The meetings in the evenings were the only contact we had with humanity since Rhondaís therapy wouldnít start right away. Only after I had met some of the friends from Irving, Texas were we able to get acquainted. They were a family and right away invited us to have dinner with them in their home. Irving was only 10,000 population at the time but there was the building of new apartments. We attended the meeting and that was when they told us about new apartments which had just been built.

I was almost standing in the middle of the apartment with my mouth open. Soft, pleasant music came over an intercom in the living room. Air-conditioning made the space cool and comfortable The furnishings were brand new in the latest style of the day. Heavy drapes covered the sliding glass doors and when the apartment manager pulled them back a beautiful courtyard of rich, green St. Augustine grass truly looked like a carpet outdoors. Rod and I walked through the door just steps and were into the pool area where cool, blue-green, clear water shimmered invitingly.

"Oh my! Would you look at this? I think these folks have created a paradise in miniature."

For some reason Rodney took a more active interest in Rhondaís therapy and he dutifully drove her back and forth to Oak Lawn close to downtown Dallas every day. He could do that because he was now working nights.

When the song "Downtown" came out, Rhonda loved it and hummed along. "No wonder," I thought, "we spent a lot of time running back and forth to downtown Dallas, "and in the process became well acquainted with the sites. We saw the tall insurance building with an elevator that zipped the many floors at too fast a speed to be believed,

Fair Park with the art museum then located there, Highland Park with its small, almost little town feel, the zoo, the galleries around Oak Lawn, of course, Turtle Creek and too many other places to list. We were like kids in a candy store and found ourselves wishing to live forever in Dallas. The apartment was wonderful and some great times were had in community service with friends while in Irving.

The residents of the apartment building were a mix of all sorts who were moving into Dallas for jobs. I didnít meet one of them I didnít like. They were such a friendly group. We all spent many an hour around the pool while Rhonda bobbed happily atop the water on her float. I never let her out of my reach and we both enjoyed the pool. There was never a lack of companionship since everyone was in the otherís apartment doing something to entertain ourselves, or the children, and Rhonda played for hours right outside our door on that cool grass. Again, I witnessed how those little ones took turns so that someone was always with Rhonda. I was mystified at this quality of tenderness in such small children. No one instructed them to do this. How did they know this was something they must do? Just as on Elliot street the children saw to it someone was always with her, so did these children. To see a couple of them go and run about for a bit only to return so two others could take a break was something I marveled over.

There was never a time I took my eye off Rhonda while she was outside the sliding glass door playing on the lawn. She had a small

push cart toy that could be operated by moving it along with her legs at a snailís pace. This was something she could do along with the tricycle Rodney fixed up so her feet wouldnít slip off the petals.

She buzzed up and down the sidewalk happily.

A child her age was often in her vicinity but unlike the other children she never made an attempt to befriend our girl. This three or four year old never seemed to have anyone around she knew. I never saw a parent. It worried me to see her playing on the tall mounds of dirt the construction workers were moving with heavy equipment.

Once in a while a man would get all the way out of his cab, take her by the hand and lead the urchin back to our courtyard.

One of these times the girl must have been angered to have been led away from her place on the dirt. She came directly over to Rhonda, jerked her off her play toy, threw my child to the ground and pounced on top of Rhonda to pummel her with fists just as you would see a man fight.

As fast as I could move I raced to my child, took the small girl by the arm and pulled her off where opon she immediately started screaming and ran away. It wasnít but just moments until the mother came storming onto and down the sidewalk. She screamed profanities at me and her eyes told me the woman was on something.

I remained quiet until she stepped toward Rhonda.

I just took a few steps towards her, not really knowing what I was going to do, other than I wasnít going to see her do Rhonda as her little girl had done. When I made that movement the woman screamed while running away.

"Iím calling the law," she yelled back over her shoulder.

"Iíll be waiting right here," I thought to myself even though I was so embarrassed to see a crowd of people beginning to peek out their doors. The screams of the women was what caught their attention.

In a brief time a squad car drove up to the end of the walk. The officer did not get out of his car and I was glad of that. It was enough to have to deal with this crazed woman. We stood just outside his car door and the woman swore the worst profanities I have ever heard coming from a femaleís mouth. I didnít move other than that my hand was jiggling back and forth over the car door mirror. When I saw the cop observing that I immediately stopped. I suppose I looked like a cat switching its tail before it pounced,

"Her child has played around this heavy equipment for days and Iíve never seen her mother, I simply pulled her off my handicapped child because she was using her fists on her." I did defend myself at which time he turned to the raging person beside us.

"Mam, I may just haul you in for using language like that in the presence of an officer of the law." Finally, the man spoke up.

"If this woman reached down and pulled your child out of the swimming pool it wouldnít have been any different. If you donít do better with your behavior I will haul you off and put this child in protective services."

That was the ending of the fracas with her practically running to get away and was I ever glad. Embarrassed, miserable that I had to take the insults, too, I turned and immediately left as well. As I was leaving I heard someone say, "I think it best the old gal leave that Indian woman alone."

In a few minutes and after I was able to compose myself the office came to my door.

"Mam, are you from Texas?" He wanted to know.

"No. Iím from Oklahoma." I had no idea why he wanted to know.

"Let me tell you, in Texas if someone swears at you like she did, you have the right to go to her house and do whatever it is you wish to keep that from happening again. I will give you the number of a judge to call, and you let him know what has happened." He quickly scribbled a number down for me.

In my mind I knew the woman was frightened off and wouldnít be a bother again, so I didnít even bother to call any judge.

The strange thing about the whole incident was that whenever I saw her husband on the grounds, he would smile and nod to me as if to say, "Iím with you lady."

So began my education and understanding the world of Texas. Although miles apart and away from my Oklahoma life style somehow there was always a way to deal with whatever was to come up. At this time, the self-control I had to exercise threw me into a mild flash back to when I was traumatized with Rhondaís birth. The friends I made were with me and worked with me to help me regain stability. Marsha was the one most present straight through the chills, bit of fever, and pacing.

We lost touch with her after our move from the apartments. I have remembered our short term friendship many times since and wondered about the outcome of her life. Iím sure all went well with her, She was a beautiful person, physically and mentally.

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