A New Zealander's fond memories of Tulsa

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A few weeks ago I received a note from Eseta Sherman. Eseta is originally from New Zealand, now lives in Alaska, but spent the 1980-81 school year at Tulsa's Memorial High School as an AFS exchange student. She remembers Tulsa, her teachers, her classmates and fellow AFSers, and her church fondly, and she gave me permission to share her memories with you:

I was an AFS student from New Zealand, lucky to have lived in Tulas, Oklahoma, from 1980-81. I attended Tulsa Memorial High School and lived with two generous families, the Cornetts and the Harpers. I was googling for two great teachers from my past, art instructor Dennis Rutledge and US history teacher Frank Markham - and I stumbled on your batesline!

I really enjoy reading your blog - especially when the cold here in King Salmon, Alaska, can deter any thoughts of wandering outside.

Thank you for the wonderful collection of news. I miss Tulsa. I saw my first pop concert there - Elton John. I also went to my first live football game and sang something about "Boomer Sooners." Good memories.

In my reply I asked her if she knew Jenny Sunnex, another New Zealand AFS student who attended Catoosa High School that same year and lived with the family of our church's pastor:

I bet you I knew Jenny. Did she have longish blonde hair? There was a Jenny from New Zealand that hung out with a Garth Mahood from Ireland. I can't remember the name of his high school, but I think his host father was a pastor. The Tulsa Memorial chargers played against their basketball.

I remember Catoosa High; I can't remember if the AFS chapter had a meeting there, but we did travel around to different high schools to promote AFS. I think I might have attended a prom at Catoosa. I think it was either Catoosa or Claremore. I went to my own with a friend named Mike. And then I went to his - I wore a matching tux. I think I surprised him - not to mention my poor host family. But we had a blast.

Our AFS group also appeared on a morning show and sang a song, while an AFS student from Japan played the guitar. His name was Yohei Eto and wrote a take off on "Oklahoma." I can't remember if he sang "Yokahama" to the tune of "Oklahoma" on air, but this kid had a great talent.

My year in Tulsa was an incredible year of growth for me. This city has a special place in my heart because of the kindness and the generosity of so many people towards me and my fellow AFSers. We traveled through other parts of the United States, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, California, I even fished for bass at about four in the morning in a humongous lake called Texoma! Ate the best doughnuts on that trip.

The first family I stayed with in Tulsa attended Asbury Methodist church, which had an active youth group. But later, when I had moved to another family, I felt a need to be baptized (even though I had been christened as a baby and confirmed at about twelve, I think) so a high school friend's father, who happened to be a pastor, agreed to baptize me in another friend's swimming pool. My Korean friend, Doug Kim, and his parents, who owned the pool, plus my second host family, Bob and Linda Harper, and Billy Cuthberts and his dad were all part of my baptism. This is another reason why Tulsa means a lot to me....

I owe Dennis Rutledge and Frank Markham a lot. They were wonderful human beings and inspirational teachers. Dennis Rutledge was an enthusiastic art teacher and compassionate friend, and Frank Markham was one of the few teachers I had in school that made history really fun. (He literally wore many hats in the course of my time in US History. He even made us sit though slide shows of his family vacations if we failed to do a homework reading - and it actually worked. We made sure we read our assigned readings the next time. One could only handle so many slide shows of the Grand Canyon or whatever climbing expedition he and his family went on!)

Many thanks to Eseta for getting in touch. If you remember her from her stay in Tulsa and would like to get in touch with her, you can reach her at sherman@bristolbay.com.

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greg price said:

Eseta Sherman
What a surprise to find your comment regarding D. Rutledge. He was my instructor for 3 years. I graduated in 1980.
Because of the technique he taught me I was awarded a slot in an impressive art show.
I am trying to locate him and if I am sucessful I will forward the message I found typed by you.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 11, 2009 9:34 PM.

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