Tulsa History: March 2011 Archives

While looking for something else, I came across this, entered into the Congressional Record by Illinois Congressman Phil Crane on August 4, 1994 (p. E1664). Crane describes it as a speech Paul Harvey gave in Tulsa on April 2, 1994, but it reads more like a radio commentary reflecting on a visit to Tulsa. Harvey had returned to his hometown to speak at a benefit for the Salvation Army in March of that year.

Over my shoulder a backward glance.

The world began for Paul Harvey in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ever since I have made tomorrow my favorite day, I've been uncomfortable looking back.

My recent revisit reminded me why. The Tulsa I knew isn't there anymore. And the memories of once-upon-a time are more bitter than sweet.

Of the lawman father I barely knew.

The widowed mother who worked too hard and died too soon. And my sister Frances.

Tulsa was three graves side-by-side.

Recently I came face-to-face with the place where a small Paul Harvey's mother buttoned his britches to his shirt to keep them up and it down.

Tulsa is a copper penny which a small boy from East Fifth Place placed on a trolley track to see it mashed flat.

It's a slingshot made from a forked branch aimed at a living bird, and the bird died, and he cried, and he is still crying.

That little lad was seven when he snapped a rubber band against the neck of the neighbor girl, and pretty Ethel Mae Mazelton ran home crying, and he, lonely, had wanted only to get her to notice him.

Somehow he blamed Tulsa for the war which took his best friend, Harold Collis...

And classmate Fred Mrarkgraff...

And never gave them back.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, he learned the wages of sin smoking grapevine behind the garage and getting a mouthful of ants.

Longfellow Elementary school is closed now; dark.

Tulsa High is a business building.

The old house at 1014 is in mourning for the Tulsa that isn't there anymore.

It was in that house that a well-meaning mother arranged a surprise birthday party when he was sixteen; invited his school friends, including delicate Mary Betty French without whom he was sure he could not live.

He hated that party for revealing to her and to them his house, so much more modest than theirs.

Tulsa is where the true love of his life waved goodbye to the uniform that climbed aboard a troop train.

She was there waiting when he got back but they could not wait to say goodbye to Tulsa.

Tulsa was watermelon picnics in the backyard and a small Paul blowing taps on his Boy Scout bugle over the fresh grave of a dead kitten.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, used to be the fragrance of honeysuckle on the trellis behind the porch swing.

Mowing for a quarter neighbors' lawns that seemed then so enormous.

Only Tulsa's delicious tap water is as it was.

That and the schoolteachers...

Miss Harp and Miss Smith and Isabelle Ronan. These I am assured are still there somewhere--reincarnated.

In a sleek jet departing Tulsa's vast Spartan Airport at midnight, I closed my eyes and remembered...

When Spartan was a sod strip...

And a crowd gathered...

And a great tin goose landed...

And Slim Lindbergh got out...

And a boy, age nine, was pressing against the restraining ropes daring to foretaste fame--and falling in love with the sky.

No...

The Tulsa I knew isn't there anymore. But it's all right.

A new Tulsa is.

I'll not be afraid to go home again.

I have made friends with the ghosts.

Note: I've corrected obvious misspelling and punctuation errors from the online Congressional Record (CR), and replaced the CR's use of three asterisks to indicate ellipsis with the standard three dots. The CR text mentions "Karold Collis" and "Fred Mrarkgraff." Harold Collis of Tulsa is listed in the roll of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard dead in World War II, so I've made that correction. I couldn't find any name resembling "Fred Mrarkgraff" in either the Army or Navy lists of casualties for Oklahoma, so I've left that uncorrected.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa History category from March 2011.

Tulsa History: January 2011 is the previous archive.

Tulsa History: May 2011 is the next archive.

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