This year's stay in OKC had much more purpose than usual. On Saturday, July 7 we were to hold a memorial service for Shelley's dad, P.E. “Gene” Carpenter, at All Souls Episcopal Church. But before we get to that - we have to gather together some family members and take a day trip to Harrah, OK
You all remember Shelley's Aunt Ann from Colorado? Her name is Anna Lilac and at the beginning of the week she was 88 years young (remember this for another episode) and she is Shelley's dad's older sister. Her daughter Cheryl who lives in Bellevue, Washington drove to Colorado, joined on her road trip by her grand daughter Michaela, picked up her mom and drove on to OKC.
On the day after their arrival, Aunt Ann, 1st cousins Cheryl, Shelley and Deann (Deann's mom, Crystal, was Anna Lilac's and Gene's baby sister) and 1st cousin once removed Michaela headed out to Harrah. Land where the Carpenter clan was raised.
First stop - the Harrah Historical Society Museum. Of course it is closed – but a phone call to the number on the gate got a quick response and within 5 minutes the doors were unlocked and we were invited inside.
For a place that Shelley thought would take 5 minutes to go through – it was pretty amazing and we were there for about 90 minutes. We found some great pictures of the graduating classes of Anna Lilac in '41 and Gene in '43. These were the original that hung in the high school for years.
Anna Lilac Carpenter - Class of '41 Valedictorian
Pearl Eugene Carpenter - Class of '43 Valedictorian
Crystal Carpenter - Class of '51 Valedictorian
The ladies that helped us both knew Gladys Carpenter, mother to Anna Lilac, and Grandmother to 3 of us and great-great grandmother to Michaela. For many years after leaving the farm Gladys wrote “Harrah Happenings” the local gossip column for the Harrah Herald so she was well known around town.
Gladys Carpenter - Early days at the Harrah Herald
And Gladys in later years with "Her Paper"
Next stop – Glady's home after she left the farm. This is the home that Shelley remembers from her childhood. The place where she ate the best ever chicken and noodles and learned to love fried okra and bit in to a blackeyed pea and then realized it was a look-alike worm (Shelley would not eat blackeyed peas for many years) and where her grandmother taught her to bake bread. So many memories in this little house. Today, we were joined by a thief. Yes, a thief. Deann – took a brick from the back yard and dug up a day lily bulb or two to take home as a part of Gladys. It was a great visit but we were reminded of how much she meant to each of us and how greatly she is missed.
Stealing Flowers - Did I mention that the house is now owned by the church and
is used as a food bank and thrift store?
3 of 4 Generations - Anna Lilac- mother, Cheryl, daughter, Michaela, great-granddaughter
Michaela is standing in front of her 2nd great-grandmother's home in Harrah, OK
Next stop – a couple of cemeteries to pay respects to our antecedents.
Anna Lilac explaining how there is "a spot right here for me"
Gladys and Pearl Eugene Carpenter Sr. Shelley's grandparents.
Why include the headstone for Mable Robertson you ask. For those of you who are old enough you will remember Dale Robertson, who played Jim Hardie in the TV show Tales of Wells Fargo. Dale was also from Harrah and this is Mable, Dale's aunt who married Jesse Carpenter, half brother to Anna Lilac, Gene and Crystal. Jesse and Mable had one son, Jesse Jr, born 1918, who was a WWII bomber pilot and was killed on a bombing run over Italy in 1943. So Shelley refers to Dale as Uncle Dale although I don't think you can be more distantly related than they are.
Then – having no idea what to expect but with high hopes - we headed 2 miles east and 2 miles north.
Not to be missed - the next episode – The Carpenter Farm.