My grandparents were deceased when I was born.  As I grew older, my interest was in my culture and history.  I understand that my grandfather on my father’s side was a Medicine Man.  They called him Old Man Nevaquaya.  People would tell me about him.  He was a blind man.  My father was born in a teepee, and he had to take care of my grandfather, because of he was blind.  He heard a lot of history among these people that his father associated with.

And Nevaquaya was my great great-grandmother’s name.  Long ago, many of the tribes and people had just one name.  In Comanche pronunciation, is NAH-vee-kway-up.  “You’re tired of being pretty,” or “You’re tired of being well-groomed,”  is the interpretation of that word.  She had one son, and she wanted him to inherit that land, Nevaquaya.  So she gave that name to her son.

Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Comanche Flutist and National Heritage Fellow, was 62 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.

When he grew up and had a family, then he gave his name to my grandfather.  Into the real late 1800s, when the Indian people had to give account of themselves to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, they had to have a English name.  Along with their Indian name, Nevaquaya.              My great-grandfather, they raised cattle with a rancher from around Cyril and Fletcher Oklahoma. So, when it came time for the Indians to give account of themselves, My great- grandfather said, “I’m to give account of myself to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and I need a English name.  What would you suggest?”

The fella said, “Well, we been friends all our lives, we’re just like brothers, so why don’t you use my name?  My name’s Tate.”  That’s where that English name comes from, Tate Nevaquaya. When my father was born, they named him Lee Tate Nevaquaya.

My mother, her Indian name was Wyooki.  I don’t know as much about her history because she passed away when I was just a little boy.  She come from the branch of the Avakabop. Avakabop was one of the chiefs of the Anadarko band of Comanches that lived and roamed through Mexico, up into Texas.  Anyway, the Wyooki, they were cousins to the Avakabop family line.

When I was just a kid, we owned several horses.  When I was about five, six years old, I used to jump on my horse and just ride across country.  I’d be barefooted and I’d ride in the direction of the hills.  Had several friends live out in that direction.  I’d pick up them up and they would be on their horses and just ride and roam around this part of the country, all day.    My Dad helped me learn to ride.  I remember leading my horse up to a fence, or leading a horse up to our porch, and jumping on him, and just riding.  Most of the boys around here that hung around with us, was my age.  We rode around here, during summer months.  Once in a while, during the wintertime we rode our horses to school,  Apache school.  When I went to school, I could either use just my English name or my Indian name.

I remember when we used to go to some of the activities, gathering up our Indian people in this area. They did their ceremonial dances.  A lot of these dancin’ grounds, they have been did away with.  They don’t have ’em on these grounds any more.  They’re not preserved.  They got new places that do the dances now.

Every dance that you see, the Indian people celebrate their achievement, they express their feelings of their achievements through dancin’.  For instance, long ago, if they come back of a successful hunt, they’d celebrate by dancin’.  If they return from a war journey, their celebration would be expressin’ it through a particular form of dance.  Someone was gettin’ married, they would celebrate it in dancin’.

So they tryin’ to keep up with the tradition and pass it down through the years, and back there in the late 30’s, I can remember bein’ to some of these old, pow wow grounds. I’d go with my parents.  The old timey dancers were there.  They’re very different from what we see today.  I can remember some of the men, how they dressed when they danced, and the different dances they did.  And the women, how they dressed, and how they danced, and celebrate.  Many of the old songs, they were many of them has been  lost.  A lot of them never was preserved for the younger generation.

That was what was interesting to me.  I used to like to watch ’em dance and someone that stood up and give a speech, and explain why they’re havin’ that dance.  They didn’t have any microphones or loudspeakers like we have today at these pow wows.  You go to pow wow now, and they have speakers and microphones and all the convenience too. Everybody can get the message.  Some of the old camp criers, they’d go around hollerin’ out what’s goin’ on.  That was kind of fascinating,  even then.

It was so different from today’s activities.  And the old regalias is different from the modern design regalias that they wear during their ceremonies.  It’s more elaborate today.  We exaggerate more in the designs and the ornaments.  They call it the fancy dance.  That came in not too long ago, in the 40s, I believe. Their regalia wasn’t too elaborate.  Then, some of the older way of dressin’ came back in the, ’bout the 50s. But today, man, they’re pretty wild.           I always was interested in my culture, since I was a kid.  My mother and father passed away in 1946.  I lived with one of my brothers.  His name was Linsey.  Everybody called him Bernard.  I lived with him and his wife, and my sister.  We worked, I worked on a farm around here.  Work was plentiful.  We worked out on a threshing crew, and we ran a hay baler and drove tractors.  All summer long, we had a good steady job.   That’s how we survived until he went to the army.  Then, I went into the Fort Sill Indian School, it was a government boarding school.

So, I went out to Fort Sill by Lawton, Oklahoma, made a research on some of their clothin’ they have there, some of their buckskin shirts, and buckskin leggin’s.  I made me and my little boys some buckskin regalias and tried to pick the real designed buckskin wear, the Comanches.  We made our debut one day durin’ a pow wow.  Much to my surprise, a lot of people said, “Well, where’d you get the clothes?  You know, you don’t see this no more.”

I said, “Well, me and my children made ’em.”  The people were fascinated with that, because everyone, even the elders, men, I’m speaking specifically of, they  were wearin’ the modern day regalia.  The fancy dancer regalia.  After that particular event I gave the design to several people wanting to know how to make ’em. That was one of the things that I was fascinated in, the dress wear of my people.

I used to see the old men come into the teepee, I attended services with the Native American Church ceremonies, where you sit all night long through a ceremony, and that was way back durin’ 1940.  I’d go in with my father. I remember sittin’ there and really gettin’ a good look at some of these old men.  Then I didn’t know I was  lookin’ at history.  Today, you don’t see  guys wear the moccasins and their hair braided with otter skin.  I remember, several individuals used to come up town and sit there with their moccasins on, and they’d have their hair in otter skin, they’d have their ornaments on.  You don’t see that any more.

It’s a very serene experience, when you first come into a teepee.  The scent of the sage and the cedar in a teepee is overwhelming.  Very pleasant atmosphere.  The serenity of it.  They sing and they pray all night long.  They sing four songs apiece as they go around in circle.  You have a drum, a gourd and a staff, eagle feather and a sage that you hold and handle while you’re singin’ the songs.  What you’re doin’ is more or less praisin’ God and you’re givin’ Him ovation through prayer.

After the four songs, there’s a short pause, and if anyone wants to say anything while he’ll roll his cigarette, they call it a sacred smoke, and he’ll smoke it, and he’ll give it to the chief, or the leader, then he can stand up and  express himself.  Maybe tell the people in that service, it’s be about an average of 25 to 30 people in there, express himself, and maybe tell ’em that he feels pretty good.  Or he had received a blessing.  He’ll like to thank everybody for their prayers or for their gifts, or he’d thank people for coming to the ceremony.  After he gets through with what he wants to say, then they’ll go on singin’.  They’ll sing 4 more songs.  Then they’ll pause again, and then the next individual, he’ll sing four songs, all through the night.  It’s very beautiful.

I think it started around here about 1880, among the Comanches, the peyote religion in the Native American Church.  When it was first founded, they used the peyote.  It’s kind of a cactus form of plant, found in the area of El Paso, Texas.  The peyote looks similar to little cactus button.  It comes in different size.  There’s a certain way they fix the peyote to eat it, or make it in a tea form and drink it.

When it first was used, it was used to help heal a sick person.  Pneumonia’s one of the sicknesses that it has power to heal.  There’s a lot of other sicknesses that they used the peyote to heal with.  The sensation of it, when they first ate the peyote, it gives a holy feelin’.  You feel that everything is in order, or everything will be in order between you and Mother Earth and God.  When it’s applied right, it gives you a very good holy feelin’.

The songs and the prayers, and the people in there, you feel in harmony with them.  You feel in harmony with everything that your mind thinks about.  Even the negative things that you often thought about.  You feel that you can overcome, or you feel that you can conquer.  Whether it’s a problem or whether it’s sickness, it just makes you feel positive.    They apply that to the sick person.  That’s where a lot of the medicine men goes to doctor the sick, in a Native American Church, in a teepee.  Today, they run it a little different from in the 40s and 50s.  And I imagine they run it a little different from in the early 1900s.

My mother, there’s an old mission school out here, about 4 miles from here, a very old mission school, built in 1889, I believe.  It’s a Presbyterian denomination.  It was built for the Indian people.  That’s where she went to school.  My Dad, he was born in a teepee.  He was familiar with the Native American Church, but she was familiar with the Christian concept, the Presbyterian.  When they got married, we had two concepts, the two religions.

Far as I can remember, we were always associated with the Native American Church.  I mean my family, my brothers, my father.  My mother, I remember she was very sick, I was just a kid, way back there about 1941.  They set a teepee up and they’s gonna have the ceremony that night for her.  A doctor come from Cash, Oklahoma, by the name of Post Oak Jim.  He come down to doctor my mother.  They carried her in a blanket in this teepee.  I was just a kid, I was watchin’ ’em.  They wouldn’t let me go in there because they were goin’ to be all night ceremony.  There was about 20, 25 people went in there.

I loved it out in the country, wide open space.   I liked to sketch when I was small.  One of my brothers, he always encouraged me to sketch the mountains and the trees.  Sketch a horse, or a dog.  I just start gettin’ interested in sketchin’ and colorin’ and crayolas.  Later on, I bought water colors.

When I went to school, I always did sketch on my tablets.  The teachers used to get on to me for doin’ that.  The sketches, I just give ’em away.  Before I went to the Fort Sill Indian School, my mother used to save clippin’s from the newspaper from a real famous artist.  I remember lookin’ at them when I was just a kid.  That influenced me to study the Indian culture and history.

In school, the teacher would ask me to illustrate that particular season.  If it was Easter, I’d draw Easter subjects, like Easter rabbits and children lookin’ for the eggs, the landscape. Then, when I went to Fort Sill Indian School, I was in the ninth grade.  They had a sketchin’ class that was taught by one of our famous Indian artists.

All through high school, I would sketch and do figures.  I was more or less of a cartoonist, to put expression on a character.  That was what was fun to do, is tryin’ to sketch a individual and put expression on ‘im.  And show him to one of my friends and make him laugh in the classroom.  I had a friend that was a good artist and he would draw a real funny cartoon and put a  funny expression on him, and he’d show that cartoon real fast, and he’d pulled his paper up and I’d draw one.  I’d show him mine, and we’d just show it back and forth and try to make each other laugh.

Then I did performances, the Indian dance.  I performed with Spencer Asa, he’s a real good performer.  I learned the detail of our regalia.  I’ve learned that there was more designs of a regalia than one.  From then on, I began to get interested in different tribe’s regalia.  There is a great difference in their color scheme, in their design in their fringes, how they design their fringes on the men’s clothin’ on their leggin’s, on their jackets.  And of course, on the women’s buckskin dresses, their different designs.  I had to learn all of that to be correct in my expression of that particular tribe.  By dancin’ I learned more about the regalias that they wore.  That was back there, in I think, about ’46.

The flute music, I always wondered who played the flute.  You know, this is dancin’ and paintin’, but somethin’s missin’.  I never heard a flute except one time, that’s way back in 1939.  You very seldom heard it, and no one was makin’ it.  No one was teachin’ anybody to play the flute.  When I first heard it, I was about 7 years old.  I was layin’ in a brush arbor.  We was at a festival where a lot of the Indians gathered.  Not too far from where we had our encampment, I heard some laughter and some people not too far away from us, havin’ a lot of fun.  After a while, this group would sing a chant.  After they sang this Indian chant, why then I’d hear this instrument.  I was fascinated.  It was a real beautiful night. It was a still, clear night that you could hear real well.

The time we were here at the Indian Fair, we had a willow brush arbor.  We were camped out, me and my father and mother.  Not too far away from us, I heard this group of kids havin’ fun, and then, after a while, this instrument would play.  I said, “Anybody know anything about that?” So my oldest brother said, “Yeah, that was me and my friends listenin’ to Far Away from Our Encampment.  This guy had a flute and we were out there having fun.”  I guess he was about 18 years old then.   I said, “Well, what was that instrument?” He said, “Well, that’s a flute, that’s a Indian flute.”  I said “Who’s the guy that played it?”  He said he was from the Winnebago tribe from Mason, Nebraska.  He got killed in World War II.  It was about 1939 when I heard him play that instrument.

Not too long ago, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., they gave me a recordin’ that was been recorded in 1897 on one of the old cylinder recordings of the flute music.  And one of them’s a Winnebago song.  And it was similar to that, it just kind of a, kind of gave me a strange feeling, that music was very similar.  Twelve pieces of music on there that was similar to the music that that boy played then.  That’s what I refer to whenever I try to make my flute music, is the old, old flute music.

The Smithsonian made a survey in ’69, I believe, and they come up with about five guys that played it and made it.  Out of that group, that five, probably I was the only one went out and taught workshops on it and taught to preserve the flute.  ‘Cause I was fascinated.  I never intended to be a flute player, but I was fascinated in how it was made.

I’ve held out it was the hardest thing to make.  It took me many years to learn to make one, because of the characteristic of it, I guess the way you would describe it.  What a flute maker looks for is the wood sound that you produce in the flute, because there’s a fine line between the flute and the whistle.  A flute you play melodies on, and a whistle is more or less a shrill, it’s a callin’ instrument, kind of, or a signal instrument.  But the flute was a instrument that you play melodies.

There was a lot of different designs of flutes and, from different tribes, different legends.  It was just a vast amount of history.  I ran into a fellow from Oklahoma City.  I was at a art show and I illustrated a flute player on one of my paintings.  And he come by my booth there, during the art show, and he seen the paintin’ and he asked me if I knew what I painted.  I said, “Why, yeah, of course,” I says, “That’s a flute player, playin’ a flute.”

“But what kind of flute is he playin’?”

I said, “Well, he’s playin’ a flute, a Native American flute.”

He asked me what I knew about the flute.  I told him and he said, “What is it used for?”  He began to ask questions, so, immediately I knew that he knew something about the flutes and he was more or less analyzin’ my knowledge about it.  So I went along with ‘im there for about a couple of hours, talkin’.

So he said, “Well, I’ll see ya tomorrow,” he said, “I’ll be back.”

The next day he came back and he had a white cloth under his arm.  And he unraveled it and he had five flutes, beautiful flutes.  He said, “Doc, you never exaggerated to me, and you never told me a fib about what you knew about the flute.  A lot of people try to sensationalize it or try to exaggerate on it.  But, I like your conversation.  I wanna give you a flute.”  He said, “I got about five hundred flutes in my collection,  and I got a lot of Indian flutes.”

So I looked at ’em and I picked one out and he said, “Why did you pick that out?”

And I said, “Well, it’s a Plains flute of our part of the country.”

He said, “You’re sure?”

And I said, “Why, yeah, It’s a six note flute.  See, the five note flutes, they’re the northern tribes. Well, I feel guilty, these are valuable instruments, nobody makin’ ’em.”

He said, “I know it, there’s no one producin’ these things.”  He said, “I collect ’em, and I make flutes, but, I don’t teach or, advertise ’em in any way.”

I took that one flute.  So I turned around and I got that paintin’ off my wall and I gave it to him.  It’s a pretty good size paintin’.  I said, “Well, I’ll let you have this paintin’ here.”  So we exchanged.

So, I took the Plains flute, it’s similar to the Comanche’s flute, and I kept that for a long while.  I had about 11 flutes stolen from me, some flutes that I made, and, my collection.  Real nice flutes that were all choice design flutes.  The one that I got was among those that was lost.

From there on, I played my flute for occasions like banquets and weddings.  And I remember the first banquet I played for, my daughter was participating in it.  She was going to school, and it was the Indian Club banquet.  They said, “Doc, you gotta play your flute.”   I had a old metal pipe flute.  When she asked me, my daughter, I had to play it.  I sounded like a old muffler, a old blown out muffler when I played it.  From there on, why different people would ask me, to play at their occasion, weddin’ or banquet or a church activity.

One day, somebody’s knockin’ at the door, and I opened it and there’s Charles Kuralt, and his film crew was out there.   I invited him in.  It’s a cold day.  We had breakfast together.  He wanted to do a film on the flute ’cause it was new then.  It was back in 1970.  So we picked a nice place out here, in the mountains, did a beautiful documentary about it.  And then I took him to a pow wow down here in town.  A great big pow wow.

People began to call about the flute. I did workshops in high schools, I lectured to different groups of people.  Then I worked with Brigham Young University, the Indian Program.  I performed with their Inter-tribal Choir.  Then of course, I did workshops in high schools here in Oklahoma.  Now, we have all kind of flute players and flute makers.

My flutes are crude.  I make seven flutes a year, but they’re all crude.  They’ll play, I emphasize on the sound.  My flutes has got to just be right.  That’s the hardest about flutes.    I’ve been to many shows, art shows, and there’s flutes around, but I think some of these people, they produce flutes to make a fast buck.  That’s not doin’ the instrument justice, because of the history behind it.  All the flute makers and players of the past, they were real particular of the sound that they produced.  They looked for a special sound, and they worked for days and days.  I’ve lost sleep over some of the flutes I’ve made, to get that sound in there.      I never intended to actually play the flute, but it just happened.  It brought a lot of good things to me like, I met a lot of people, playin’ the flute.  I had the privilege of playin’ in the Kennedy Center, did a flute recital there.  Had a flute recital at Carnegie Hall, and at the United Nation building there at New York.

It just brought a lot of good things.  I used to lay on my old porch and look up in the sky.  Every once in a while, I’d see a plane come by. I thought, “I’ll probably never, never ride on of them things.”  It seemed like we was so far out here.  I said, I’d probably be fascinatin’ to ride a plane.  My art career and playin’ the flute has took me a lot of places that I never imagined to be.  I’m always grateful for that.

My Dad used to teach his boys, “If you’re gonna set out to do somethin’, you go out to be successful, don’t halfway do it, whatever it is. Try your best to always be diligent about what you’re gonna do.  If you’re gonna be a shoe salesman, you be the best shoe salesman that you can be.  Or if you’re goin’ to be a taxi driver, why you be the best.”  In other words, you try to do the best you can.

A long time ago, he told a story about this couple, they lived in this teepee, and the man, he was kind of a ornery individual.  Their grandchildren lived with them in that teepee.  This group of people they were encamped with, they moved into kind of a dangerous territory because there was another tribe around.         So, one night they were goin’, beddin’ down and the old man, he bedded down real comfortable.  The grandmother was sleeping with their grandchildren, a boy and a girl, and she said, “Now, put your moccasins where you can find them.  We’re in enemy territory.  They may be close somewhere.  Put your clothes where you can find ’em.”  Well, during the night, some of enemy tribe sneaked up on them and they could hear ’em comin’.  The lady, she woke up, and she told her grandchildren, “The enemy’s here.  You better get up real fast and put your clothes on, and let’s run and hide someplace.”

She called the old man and he just laid there.  He said, “What’s goin’ on?”  She said, “You better jump up and get your clothes on, and let’s get out of here, because the enemy’s comin'”  “Oh what enemy?” he says, “There ain’t no enemies around here, it’s warm and comfortable.  You all go to sleep.”  She said, “No, come on, the children are just about ready.”  “Oh, whatchou gonna hide for?” He said, “They’re not gonna hurt anybody.”  And he just laid there in his comfortable bed.  The grandmother said, “Come on children, grab your clothes and let’s go.”  And they ran out.

He could hear a lot of commotion and it was gettin’ closer to their teepee.  And then, a arrow penetrated that teepee and hit pretty close to where he was layin’.  He said, “By golly, they are close.”  He couldn’t see in that teepee because it was pretty dark in there.  He jumped up and he was feelin’ around for his clothes.  Then another arrow come in there.  He could hear that thing penetrate that teepee.  He was lookin’ for his moccasins and when he couldn’t see the fresh coals that was in that fire, he ran across that bare-footed.  He was hoppin’ around there, rubbin’ his feet, and tryin’ to find his clothes and his moccasins.

Pretty soon, 2 riders, they have a rope, and they go full speed on each side of the teepee. They turned his teepee over.  He was standin’ there, in the cold.  He was runnin’ around there lookin’ for his family.  Everybody was gone, and it was a cold evenin’.  According to the story, he was out there hidin’ in the bushes without no shirt and without no shoes, and you could hear his teeth rattlin’.  He’s about freeze to death.

When it was clear and the enemy left, they knew it was safe.  And here come the old man.  Man, his foot was all blistered from runnin’ through the coals in the fireplace, and he’s about freeze to death, and he wantin’ some blankets from the old lady and the little children.  The old lady said, “Well, that’s what you get for not listenin’.  You thought you were smart by layin’ there real warm and comfortable and not gettin’ up  and tryin’ to protect yourself.”

So, my Dad used to tell that story.  And he said, “Always be a good listener.  You listen to what’s said to you, because you may miss out, or you may get in trouble, or you may be missin’ out on some important thing that you should hear.”   I always tell my kids, “I like the old philosophers of the people, the Indian people.  They had some pretty good ideas.  They were primitive, but they were very good.  Like the flute music, with the primitive tools they had, which were very few, they were able to carve on a piece of wood and produce melodies and music out of.  Some of their ideas, although primitive, and out of style, can play a big important part in helpin’ you get through our life today.”

I used to hear my parents tell stories at night.  Of course there was no radio, we didn’t have no radio then, or television.  I can remember a wagon, Indian people go to town in a wagon, pass by the house here.  Way back in 1939 and ’40, there was a few people still travelin’ in wagons, horseback, and old cars.  We had a wood stove.  I remember studyin’ by a kerosene lamp.              I remember at night, my Dad, he had a rawhide drum, or a tom tom, he’d hit that and he’d be singin’ a chant.

When me and my wife first got married, we lived off of the land, more or less.  I hunted out in the mountains here, these Slick Hills.  There was some timber up in there.  Always went up there to hunt deer, ’cause a lot of deer come out this part of the country.  Hunted squirrel and rabbit.  Had quite a bit of rabbit in them days, healthy rabbits.  I went fishin’.  That’s  what my desire was, to live out in the mountains, or way out in the timber.

I worked at odd jobs.  I helped my aunt.  They had a large farm, and they had quite a bit of cattle.  My aunt and her daughters.  I helped them once in a while to farm, plow, and herd their cattle, and we’d brand ’em and vaccinate ’em.  Load some up in the trailer and take ’em to the sale.  I liked that kind of life, ride a horse and round ’em up.  Stay way out there in the country for days, workin’, workin’ cattle.

When you begin to forget about the goodness of life, why then, that’s when it becomes stressful and, a lot of stress begin to take over.  But there’s a certain kind of people you’re gonna meet, that you communicate with, that you enjoy.  There’s perhaps a new thought, a new friend, that you gonna get acquainted with.  That’s refreshin’.  And then all of the stress and this tension goes away.

One day, I was ridin’  my horse, and I rode on this little hill.  Long ago, used to be a fastin’ place, but now’s a road goes right by it.  I rode ‘im up there, and I felt kind of low, I felt kind of bad.   My hair was long.  As I stood there, I looked at the grass.  The grass was blowin’ and it was a beautiful day.  The wind was a little gusty.  My horse’s mane was blowin’ in the wind.  I noticed it was in harmony with the grass.  And I could feel my hairs blowin’.  And it was in harmony with the horse and the grass, and the wind.  And my saddle had some leather and fringes hangin’ and was all flappin’, blowin’ at the same time.  What my people says is that when you become complete, you realize that you’re in harmony with nature, Mother Earth, the animal, and God.”  And all of us was in harmony with the wind.  Boy I stood there, and I thought about that, and I felt inspiration.  I said, “Perhaps this is one way that God the spirit speaks to you, through these experiences.”  To me, it was a vision.  That we were all in harmony together.  I always remember that time.


One of the things that I cherish is that knowledge that I have learned about the Native American Church. I think that’s one gift that I will cherish all my life.  It’s a gift of faith and believin’.  There’s so much misunderstandin’ about  this.  There is a lot of misinterpretation of this religion.  But I like to think of it as one way that man has searched for an answer from God.

Today, men are still lookin’ for an answer from God, through technology, through medical science, through a lot of ways of tryin’ to learn about God.  You find him in a lot of things.  If he really created this earth, everything that exists, according to the old people, the Indian people, everything that you see comes from Mother Earth.  The furniture, the house, everythin’.  Water, and even the herbs that we use for medication, and so too the Native Church. It’s just like anything else, you can go in the wrong direction and accept it in the wrong way.

I’m pretty satisfied.  I sit sometimes, I think, “Well, there’s always goals that you reach for.” I never try to rush.  Like, me and my wife were gone from our home, our boys stay here most of the time.  And we always look forward to bein’ at home.  Seems as though there’s somethin’ new all the time.  It takes one place to appreciate the next.  So, I’m satisfied.

The happiest time in my life was in my early age when I chose the mate I was gonna be with the rest of my life.  The reason why I was happy is, I went on to school, and she went on to her home town, and we were separated there for about a year.  I was in Kansas, and she was in Oklahoma.  When I finished school, Id come back to her town.  And if we’d get together, get married, why then we’ll start our life.  Then when I began to think, “Why there’s a chance that we may not get together, ’cause we’re so separated, so far apart”.  It was in the 50s, and the transportation, communication wasn’t as such today.  That’s the happiest time I had, because there was a little doubt there, for a while because of the distance we were in.

I hope I never forget to always be grateful and thankful.  I remember one time, I got caught in a storm.  And man, it was a big storm.  Clouds was just rollin’, the dark clouds was rollin’ in from the southwest.  I was runnin’ across this field.  I was goin’ to ask somebody if I could stay with ’em.  I seen the clouds movin’, and I knew it was rainin’ cause like I could smell the rain, and I could hear the clouds, the thunder rumblin’ and the lightnin’.  This is late in the evenin’, so I began to run.  Just about time I got into town, well, that storm hit.  I ran up to this house, I knew these people.  I knocked on the door.  I asked this lady.  When I looked at her, she scared me to death.  I said, “Well, I better not ask her if I can come in.”  Because I was wet, and her house was warm.  I said, “Can I have somethin’ to eat?”

She said, “Why you stay right here, I’ll be back.”  So she went in  the kitchen and brought me a biscuit.  She gave it to me, and she shut that door.  I stood there, and I ate that bread.            I was tryin’ to keep out of rain.  I was underneath a little porch.  When I ate that bread, it was so satisfyin’ because I couldn’t remember when the last time I ate.  That taught me a lesson.  Always be thankful, grateful.

The most valuable possession that anybody has is life.  Life is so unique and valuable.    Anything that makes you joyful, that doesn’t harm you is what I like.  I have 16 grandchildren.  One of the great joys I have is when I see all of them at the same time.


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