Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Border Crossing

I had not yet reached the age of two when my parents decided to leave the town of Sentinel.  I don't know what prompted them to leave.  It was, after all, where my older sister and brother and I were born.  I can only speculate:  perhaps they could sense the declining economy;   perhaps their friends and neighbors were also planning to leave the area at that time;   perhaps my dad had had a business dispute with his partner down at the Rexall store.  I will probably never know the true story.  What I do know is that my folks packed up the car and we set off on a journey out of the state.   We were apparently not alone, since census records now show that Washita County has lost more than 35% of its residents since the 50's.    There are currently only about 11,400 people living in the total of only ten towns remaining in the county.

Looking at a roadmap, we must have first driven east to the tiny community of Rocky.   This town, named by the Kiowa Indians for the rock constructed trading post, known as "Rocky Man Store",  would have been at that time about twice the size of its current population of 174.

Here is a section of a diary written by a woman living on a land claim somewhere between the towns of Sentinel and Rocky in 1901: 

From: Oklahoma Historical Society
The woman, Louisa Fair, describes cold weather, winds and even a sand storm during this week.  She also describes someone building a new home --  a sod "dugout"  -- out on the Oklahoma territory's plain.  These people were clearly what is known as "hardy"!

From the town of Rocky, my folks had a choice in our trek out of Washita County: they could either drive south on US 183 through small towns and farmlands, or they could make their way east through the more scenic Wichita Mountain and Fort Sill area before heading south to our new home in:

 the Lone Star State  !

1 comment:

Kathy said...

That was quite a move your parents made. The letter was interesting. Those people were made of strong stuff weren't they? Living in a dug out? Wow.

My own parents moved from Missouri to Michigan for work in the factories. They were 19 and 22. When I told my mother how brave I thought she was, she said " I didn't know any different."