RUTH BRELSFORD, the recipient of a 2013 Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence award, accepts writing awards recently won by her students. Brelsford, the winner of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College, is a professor, department chair in speech and theatre, and Honors Program coordinator at Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton. As part of her 26-year career as an educator she has taught in middle school, high school and university settings, as well as in a college creative writing program for inmates at a local prison. Students in her creative writing class at Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester were among the winners of the annual McAlester Public Library Essay and Short Story Writing Contest, concluded during National Library Week in April. Brelsford is shown with the certificates won by her students. The contest is funded through a grant from the J.G. Puterbaugh Foundation. “My teaching techniques are based on listening to students and then introducing them to that really huge world out there, reminding them that they have every right to succeed in it – and can – but they have to think critically and communicate effectively,” said Brelsford, who also teaches Eastern Oklahoma’s introductory speech course. As the Honors Program director, Brelsford also teaches an Honors Seminar each semester that challenges students not only to read and write about great social and political issues, but also to take action in their community.Their projects have included launching a campuswide recycling program; developing an anti-bullying workshop to serve local youth; and making 1,000 paper cranes and raising $1,000 for tsunami relief. Brelsford is also an adviser to many international students, inviting them to her home for meals, taking them on outings to attend cultural events and involving them in community projects. Outside the classroom, Brelsford and her students have co-led voter registration drives, coordinated a Constitution Day forum and organized Veteran’s Day observances on campus. She will be honored at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence awards dinner Saturday, May 18. The event will later be televised on OETA.
(NOTE: The following short story was written by Carl Gerard Luft and was the first-place winner in the recent McAlester Public Library Essay and Short Story Contest. Readers might remember the characters from last year’s contest.)
“Excalibur, this is Admiral Mike Hawkins aboard Merlin’s ship,” I called through the
speaker mounted amidst the anachronistic controls around the time machine’s power shaft.
“Merlin needs immediate medical attention. Have Dr. Winfield standing by on the hanger deck.
We’ll be materializing soon…I hope.”
“Oh, God, Mike, he’s burning up!” cried my golden-haired fiancé, Robin, on the other
side of the control platform.
“I hope the Excalibur got my message,” I mumbled as I went over to Robin. “I have no
idea how this ridiculous machine works.”
Robin was wiping sweat from the very young face of our millenniums-old friend. He was
shivering, clutching his tweed jacket closed, and sick from fever. Robin’s blue eyes looked up at
me, pleading. “We’ve got to help him, Mike! He’s delirious…”
A gong came from the time machine’s controls and the lights in the power shaft
noticeably dimmed. “I think we’ve landed,” I announced.
I took Merlin by the shoulders and Robin took his legs. We carried him down the
companion way to the deck of the massive, hemispherical engine room and out the
dimensional causeway. We emerged from the cabinet-sized white monolith which was the only
extension of Merlin’s time capsule in our four-dimensional universe.
We materialized on the hanger deck of the Asteroid Breaker Excalibur, just as we had
hoped. Several Space Guards were assembled there, including Dr. Emily Winfield with a
stretcher. “Emily, get Merlin to sick bay on the double.” I ordered. “If he gains consciousness,
do whatever he tells you, no matter how strange it may seem.”
“I’m not used to taking orders from a patient…” complained Emily.
“Emily, you were there when we first met Merlin on the moon base. He saved us from
those cyborgs and their mind control devices. Remember when the Outer Ones invaded Mars
Colony? Who bought the fleet time to evacuate?”
“Sorry, Admiral!” Emily apologized. “I’m well aware of all Merlin has done for this crew.
What happened to him?”
“He absorbed the radioactive output of a fission reactor.”
“He shouldn’t be alive!”
“He’s alien, Emily! Now, help him!”
As Emily and her medics rolled Merlin away, the very young Navigating Captain of my
Flag ship, Christopher Rogers, approached me out of the crowd. “Admiral, Commander. It’s
good to have you two back,” Chris nodded to my tearful fiancée and myself.
“What’s with Emily?” I asked. “She didn’t used to argue with me.”
“You and Commander Brady have been gone for over a year, sir,” explained Chris.
“It’s been that long?” asked Robin. “We landed correctly in space, but we mis-jumped
by a year in time!”
“It can’t be changed now,” I replied.
“Admiral, when we got your call, we were already responding to a distress signal,”
explained Chris as he beckoned us to follow him. “It’s a ship that broke away from the fleet in
orbit of Earth.”
We followed Chris through the ship’s passageways and companionways into the
compact, hemispherical bridge. On the forward view screen was the image of a late-model
spaceship adrift in space.
“Admiral!” cried a delighted Diane Carpenter at her commstation. “It’s good to see you.
The ship on screen is hailing us.”
“On screen!” I ordered.
A man in an all too familiar grey uniform appeared on screen. “General Quarters!” I
ordered at the sight of the enemy. “Arm missiles!”
“We have you outgunned, Admiral,” explained the enemy captain.
“The ship’s powering up, Admiral,” Executive Officer Elliot announced.
“Your ship was built for destroying asteroids,” continued the enemy. “Ours was built to
destroy you! We want the Atlantean. We know he’s aboard your ship. Surrender him and
we’ll let you go.”
“And if we don’t?” I asked.
“Then we’ll blow you out of space and pick Merlin’s remains out of the debris. We don’t
need him alive. You have fifteen minutes to respond.”
As the image of the enemy captain blinked off the screen, I turned to Robin and asked,
“What does the Institute for Coordinated Experiments want with Merlin’s body?”
“An Atlantean’s body is a miracle,” Robin explained. “The amoral scientists of I.C.E. will
dissect every cell of Merlin’s body to learn the secret of Atlantean immortality. An Atlantean
can live forever, barring accidents.”
“We can’t let them have Merlin,” I concluded. All the bridge crew expressed their
agreement, save one.
“Admiral, there are sixty people aboard this ship,” said an ensign at the pilot’s station.
“You can’t sacrifice them all for one man.”
“Who the hell are you?” I demanded.
“Ensign Sussie Brooke.”
“Do you know who Merlin is?”
“I know he’s not Space Guard and that he’s not human.” she replied.
I took a step forward, brought my face a few inches from hers, and growled, “In 2086,
shortly after the Outer Ones invaded Earth and took our home planet from us, while the
Excalibur was refueling at Moon Base Tranquility, the entire crew, save Robin, fell under the
power of mind-controlling cyborgs. Merlin turns up and saves us.
In 2087, when the Outer Ones invaded Mars colony, Merlin shows up again and saves
half of humanity’s refugee fleet. Later that year, Merlin brought us Captain Rogers from the
57th century to destroy an Outer One base on Pluto, preventing an invasion…”
“I’m sorry, Admiral,” Brooke stammered. “I’m new to the Excalibur. I hadn’t realized
what he means to this ship.”
“Take my word on it, Ensign,” I said. “Merlin matters.”
“But the crew of the Excalibur matters more, Mike.” It was Merlin’s voice. I turned
towards the bridge’s hatch. There stood Merlin leaning against the bulkhead with a warm smile
on his “twenty-something” face.
Dr. Winfield, beside him, said, “You told me to do whatever he asked. He asked for a
hot dog, and then promptly vomited it up!”
“I needed something to purge the radiation from my biomass,” explained Merlin.
“Radioactive puke!” Robin laughed, giving our time-travelling friend a big hug.
“Thank you all for making me feel like I matter,” said Merlin, “But you matter more.
Since Atlantis was destroyed, I’ve spent the last couple of centuries as a homeless wanderer
floating around time and space. But you, the crew of the Excalibur have given me a place to
come home to. You’re worth the danger and risk to defend. You’re my home, my community,
now, and you matter!”
Merlin approached the forward view screen and said to Carpenter, “Diane, hail that ship
for me, please.”
As the I.C.E. captain appeared; on screen, a broad smile spread across his face, and he
asked, “Merlin, I presume?”
“You know who and what I am. I’m giving you one warning: Surrender!” his face
suddenly grim and hostile, Merlin commanded.
“Fire a warning shot along their bow!” shouted the I.C.E. captain. A second later, the
Excalibur lurched and an explosion boomed through the ship.
“I’ll take that as your answer. I’ll be in the forward airlock.” Merlin replied gravely.
The screen returned to a view of the I.C.E. ship as it moved into dock.
“Merlin, you can’t!” Robin sobbed as she blocked his way to the hatch.
“Mike, please hold on to your wife-to-be,” said Merlin as his brilliant green eyes looked
deep into Robin’s. In a voice as warm as a summer’s breeze, our friend said, “You have to let
me do this, Robin. Trust me.”
As I wrapped my arms tightly around Robin, Merlin stepped around us and said, “I’ll
need a space suit. The airlock’s not cycling.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the forward airlock,” objected Engineering Officer Ling.
“I need an excuse to be wearing a space suit,” winked Merlin.
“Oh!” replied Mr. Ling. “Looks like the forward airlock’s not cycling.”
“Good man!” Merlin cried as he left.
“Mike, you can’t let him do this,” Robin pleaded.
“There’s no stopping Merlin when his mind is made up,” I replied as I kissed her
forehead. “You know that, sweetheart.”
“Merlin’s aboard the enemy vessel,” Brooke reported. “They’re pulling away. Orders,
“Wait,” I ordered. “Sweetie, look at the screen! Everyone, look!”
Explosions were erupting all over the surface of the retreating ship as it began to
“I’m picking up a directional transponder amidst the debris,” announced Carpenter.
“It’s from a Space Guard space suit.”
“Zoom in on it!” I ordered.
The image magnified on to a space-suited figure madly waving its arms. As the image
focused in on the face plate, Merlin’s smiling face filled the view screen!
“He did warn them!” I laughed. “Let’s bring him home!”
WILL ROGERS, as portrayed by Dr. Doug Watson of Shawnee, performed at McAlester Public Library Thursday night,
talking about the life of Oklahoma’s favorite son, perusing the local newspaper and doing a variety of rope tricks. Watson is
affiliated with the Will Rogers Memorial of Claremore.
Dr. Doug Watson, the “official Will Rogers” of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, will present his nationally-known portrayal of Oklahoma’s favorite son in a special show at McAlester Public Library Thursday, May 9.
Watson will present a program in character as Rogers, and will answer questions from the audience about current topics, using his extensive knowledge of Rogers’s works. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Whiteacre Room.
Watson is a retired English professor from Oklahoma Baptist University, where he taught poetry, American literature, Western and world civilization, children’s literature, classical literature and composition. During the 1988-89 school year, he was a Fulbright lecturer in Nigeria, West Africa. He was been a frequent presenter at the library’s Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book series.
He has been involved in historical characterization since 1991, traveling with the Great Plains Chautauqua as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Stephen Crane from 1991-97. He has performed as Will Rogers more than 500 times nationwide since 1997, in schools, theaters, libraries, retirement centers and Chautauqua series.
“Having done a pessimist and a cynic, I have thoroughly enjoyed being tied to a humorist like Will Rogers,” Watson said. “It’s a great joy to help people laugh, and it feels good to speak words that seem like common sense wisdom, even today.
“I know you don’t have to like the characters you portray in Chautauqua, but when you do, it transforms the relationship you have with the character, the history, and perhaps the audience as well.”
Since 2005, the professor has worked for the Will Rogers Memorial Museums, presenting “Will Rogers in Schools” in and beyond Oklahoma. He was born and reared in the Texas Panhandle, and is at home in the small towns of the Great Plains. He attended Baylor, West Texas State (Now West Texas A&M), Middlebury College and Texas Tech. His wife Kay is a retired public school English teacher and master gardener. Their daughter works for a San Diego music publisher and studies music therapy at Kansas University.
Watson enjoys fly-fishing, gardening and working for the international development organization World Neighbors, on whose board he serves. In the past year he has become interested in the policies of food and food security. But, he says, given a choice, he prefer to be on the golf course.
(NOTE: The following short story was written by Ryan Williams and was the second-place winner in the recent McAlester Public Library Essay and Short Story Contest.)
I have been known by many names, many that are too difficult to pronounce, but you can call me Astrid. I have been around since the beginning of time. I am not considered alive because I was never born, I was created. I was not meant to be around for so long. I was meant to disappear when the humans realized the danger they were in and took the efforts to fix the problem. I was not created to solve any problems; that is the human’s job. The world that you live in today is not the world that you are meant to live in. The world that is supposed to exist depends on working together.
I have been giving you a glimpse of the danger you are all in. I have shown you what will happen if you continue in your selfish ways. The volcanoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, and droughts are all due to your inability t0 realize that you must not take the world and all the life forms for granted.
Many centuries ago, before your kind existed on this planet, the human race lived on a distant plant called Jurthis. For some centuries you lived in harmony with the other life forms that coexisted with you. However, the humans soon learned that they were more powerful and smarter than the other life forms. The humans decided that instead of living simply and peacefully, they would strive to be better and do whatever they could to get more. The humans became greedy and always wanted more. As their world began to crumble I was created. It was believed that once the humans realized that they were causing the world to deteriorate around them they would return to their peaceful ways. The humans, unfortunately, did not understand. Within 3 centuries Jurthis was completely destroyed, along with all the humans.
Soon enough the humans were ruling again on another planet. And soon enough they had destroyed a second planet.
The humans are now living on Earth and close to destroying it as well. There is too much greed and not enough compassion. If there is not change the humans will destroy a third planet.
I have returned to the human race to decide if I will take matters into my own hands and destroy the planet before the humans do any more damage. I have been traveling to different communities to see how the humans are living. I have been disappointed with every city. People are robbing their neighbors, abusing their children, children are killing their peers; people are caring more about their own superficial and selfish needs then the wellbeing of their neighbors.
As I was about to destroy the community I was currently in, I came across a young child. I told her why I there and asked why her community was in such a terrible mess. She looked at me with her big, beautiful, brown eyes and said, “What do you mean? This is a wonderful place. The people are great. They are my friends and family.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A wonderful place?!? I looked at her and told her that she was wrong and the community needed to be destroyed before more evil was created.
Rebecca, the name of the young child, said, “I don’t believe you; you are wrong.” I told her I would prove it to yer. “Come with me,” I said to Rebecca.
The next moment we came across a local highway. “What are we doing here?” she asked. “Just wait.” I replied.
Soon we saw a tan minivan drivne by a woman with her young child strapped in the backseat. Behind her a speeding sports car started to blare its horn at her. The driver came up close to the van and went to pass the woman and child. Due to the driver’s recklessness the van was forced off the road and into a ditch. The sports car continued speeding down the highway without a second thought about who may be injured in the van.
“Do you understand?” I ask Rebecca. I looked at her and she had tears in her soft brown eyes.
I was not yet done showing her the cruelty of her community. I take her to a home which is engulfed in flames. An elderly woman is crying on the street clutching her heart. The firemen are trying to save the home, but they were too late. The woman’s home burns to the ground with all of her belongings and memories. A teenager sits in the back of a police car. The teen had previously broken into the woman’s home and later set fire to the home as part of a gang initiation.
“Do you understand?” I ask Rebecca. I looked again at her and saw shock and sadness in her eyes.
The next moment we were again on a road. This time, however, it was a dark and deserted country back road. Rebecca looked at me expectantly. I told her to wait. We saw a large truck coming down the road and stop near a ditch. We see a bag being thrown out the driver’s window. The truck speeds off leaving only a tornado of rock and dust. Rebecca looks at the bag and cries when she sees 3 young puppies yelping with fear and hunger.
“Do you understand?” I ask. She doesn’t answer my question. She makes a request. “Before you destroy my community I would like to show you a few things.” I agree even though I don’t believe it will change my mind.
She brings me back to the highway where the mother and child are trapped in a ditch. I ask why we are here. “Just wait,” she says. Soon the highway was full of parked cars. Drivers of passing vehicles who had seen the accident immediately pulled over to help the woman and her child. Before the ambulance and police had even arrived 15 people were on the side of the road giving the woman and child blankets, water and support.
She looked at me and said, “It is not about the one driver who thoughtlessly ran them off the road and didn’t stop. It is about the 15 people who did stop.”
Next she brought me to the home of the woman who lost her home in a fire set by a cruel and callous teen. We see 100 people working to rebuild the home. Rebecca explains, “These are friends, family, neighbors, members of her church, and complete strangers; they are here because they want to help another member of their community who needs help.”
Next Rebecca takes me to a home where we see a young child playing with three puppies. The little boy is laughing and rolling around on the floor while the pupplies lick at his face. Rebecca speaks, “After the puppies were left a man found them whimpering and took them to his local veterinary clinic. The vet and his team all worked together to help the puppies and found a good home for them. They didn’t do this because they had to; they did it because they wanted to.”
She looks into my eyes and asks, “Do you understand?”
And I did.
I couldn’t believe how wrong I had been. I had spent thousands of years believing that all communities were full of only hate and evil. It only took a little girl to make me understand that there is cruelty and sorrow and ruthlessness everywhere; but, every community has thousands more people who are willing to do whatever they need to help out friends, neighbors, and strangers not because they have to, but because they care so much about their community and all those apart of it.
(NOTE: The following essay was written by Dustin Langston and was the third-place winner in the recent McAlester Public Library Essay and Short Story Contest.)
Community. What is community? What does community mean to me? Most
importantly, does community matter?
Common definitions of community are: 1) a group of people living in the same locality,
under the same government 2) the locality in which such a group lives 3) a group of people with
common interests 4) society as a whole 5) common possession or participation.
To me, a community is more than that. To me, it’s more personal. It is a group of
people who come together to support one another, to celebrate together, to mourn together.
A group of people who care about each other, who celebrate their differences and cherish what
each individual offers to the community as a whole. People who lift one another up, who
provide their strength where another is weak, who are there to pick each other up when they
I believe a community is also a set of values. Some of these values come straight
out of the Bible: to love your neighbor, to not bear false witness, to care for the widows and
the fatherless, to give to the poor, honesty, integrity, caring about your fellow man, forgiving
those who have hurt you and setting aside your differences to come together for the greater
good. These are all keys to a good community.
When I look back on my life, I begin to realize how much community matters to me. I
have so many memories that help to define community. Some of the best times of my
life were when my friends and family would come together: barbeques on
Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, family dinners on Easter, Thanksgiving
and Christmas, and birthday parties. We didn’t always see eye to eye on everything, but we
cherished one another’s differences. It took each one of us and our differences to make us
whole. That’s community!
When I was a child, my family suffered through two house fires in two years, both
during the holiday seasons. The first fire happened when we were on vacation during
Thanksgiving. Someone had robbed our house and then set it on fire.
I remember coming home to find our home of almost ten years in total ruin. Unfortunately, we
had no insurance. It was a terrible experience. But from that tragedy came the biggest
blessing. The support we received was amazing. People we didn’t even know gave us more
than we could ever ask for: food, furniture, clothing, toys, and so much more were donated.
Two years later, two weeks before Christmas, the unthinkable happened again. Our
new home and everything in it went up in flames. This time we were at home, asleep in our
beds. By some miracle we all made it out safe, but for the second time
in two years, everything was gone and we were homeless again. Thankfully, we had insurance
this time. Still, our Christmas was surely ruined. No house; no Christmas tree; the presents
were all destroyed. The insurance wouldn’t come in time for Christmas. When people heard
our story, the blessings began to pour in. Christmas that year was provided by the generous
people and organizations who stepped up in our greatest time of need. That’s community!
I went to high school in a small town in north Texas. In the fall, Friday night
was the best night of the week. You knew where most of the town was going to be, at the
football stadium, cheering their team on to victory. People arranged their schedules around the
football schedule. The stands were full of happy kids and content parents all enjoying each
other’s company. Even when our team was losing, the stands were full of people cheering
them on. That’s community!
When someone we knew passed away, we all came together to support the family. We
brought food and refreshments to ease their burden. We gave a kind word of encouragement
or just sat with them, knowing that no words can help. That’s community!
When I was seventeen, I worked as a waiter at a retirement home. It was a job I truly
enjoyed. I loved to give that kind word or gesture that would turn
someone’s day around and put a smile on their face. One day as I was working, I noticed a
little old lady who was usually pretty grumpy. She appeared to be choking on something.
Without even thinking, I jumped into action and ran to her. She wasn’t breathing. I pulled her
up and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver. I’m sure I saved a life that
day. After that, the woman was more pleasant to be around and I was always able to put a
smile on her face. My employer wasn’t as happy. To them, I broke the rules because I wasn’t
certified and they were worried about being sued. I was almost fired. The risk of losing my job
was worth the life that was saved. That’s community!
I recently saw a news report that shocked me. It was about a nurse in California who
worked at an assisted living facility. She apparently found a woman unresponsive. The nurse
called 911 and the operator asked her to give the woman CPR. She said she could not, due to
company policy. She was afraid of losing her job. The 911 operator asked her to pull any one
off the streets saying that she would walk them through the process. Still the nurse refused.
The woman died. When did a person’s life become so unimportant? That’s NOT community!
When you turn on the news today, most of what you hear is negative. Murders,
robberies, thefts, abuse have become everyday situations. What was once considered
unimaginable has become normal. Our society has stopped caring about one another. People
only seem to care about themselves. Crime rates continue to climb and our prisons are
overcrowded. We have allowed our sense of community to be taken from us. It can happen to
anyone. That’s NOT community!
I am an example of how easily you can be robbed of your sense of community. I didn’t
even realize it was happening until it was too late. I had turned away from everything I knew
was right. I stopped worrying about others and started worrying only about myself. Next thing
I knew I was sitting in prison, wondering how I had fallen so far. Without community we
become a bunch of little people lost without meaning in a big world. We start to do things that
we never thought imaginable. We stop caring how our actions affect not just ourselves, but
everyone around us as well.
We must end this cycle. We need to take back our sense of community. Our children
need to be taught community values. Maybe one day, if we can accomplish this, we can live in
a better place.
You can find a community in some of the most unlikely places. I did not think I would
find community in prison. The community I have found myself in was a surprise and a huge
blessing. We work hard to support one another, keeping one another accountable, praying for
each other and the ones who have no one. That’s community.
So I ask you, does community matter? It mattered to the little boy who lost his home
and everything he had, not once, but twice, the little boy who thought Christmas was ruined
and was sure future Christmases would mean bad memories, the little boy who learned a
valuable lesson from the worst of tragedies. What seemed to him to be the end of life as he
knew it turned out to be a blessing he has cherished.
It mattered to the family who lost a loved one only to make a new friendship that lasted
a life time. It mattered to the little old lady whose life was saved by a young man who cared
more about her life than the possibility of losing his job. It matters to the man sitting in prison
hoping that he can be forgiven for his past mistakes and be able, once again, to be part of the
Yes! Community does matter!
CAPTAIN JACK PARKER (right) visits with audience members Linda and Martin Navratil following a performance April 25 at McAlester Public Library. The Western humorist kept the crowd laughing with his tales of Okie vocabulary, garage sale manners and country road waving. Another special program is set for May 9 at the library, when Doug Watson, the “official” Will Rogers of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, will present “An Evening with Will Rogers” at 6:30 p.m. This free program is made possible by the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma.
(NOTE: The following short story was written by John Peabody and was the fourth-place winner in the recent McAlester Public Library Essay and Short Story Contest.)
The sun shone down, warming the day. Spring had come early in March. A few, bright, white, cotton
candy clouds strolled by. Over one hundred people wandered around, enjoying the 75 degree weather.
It seemed everyone in town had turned out for the festivities. The local library had put on a writing
contest, to coincide with National Library Week. People sat in the warm, green grass, many making a
picnic of it. The trees were green again and birds sang, hidden in their leaves. The contest judges sat up
on a platform, above the crowd, accepting entries, as people passed by. It was a nice inviting day and
they were happy to be outside. Looking around at the different booths and the milling crowd, they
thought this was a wonderful idea: to hold a small festival. The turnout was more than they hoped for.
More than 65 entries had already been turned in! First through fourth place winners would be chosen
later. There would be certificates given and even a little prize money handed out. Everything was going
along like clockwork. The theme was “community” and the community had certainly turned out.
Suddenly the calm was split by the roar of twenty motorcycles, screaming into the parking lot, across
from the judges’ platform. Parents grabbed their children. Kids stopped playing and began to cry.
People ran to their cars, dragging blankets and picnic baskets with them. Booth owners held onto their
merchandise; some closed up shop. Birds flew out of trees, car alarms went off. The judges were
shocked. The men and women on the platform just stared, as forty bikers stopped and turned off their
machines. From their vantage point, the judges could make out through the parked cars only the top
rocker of the patches all the bikers wore on the back of their vests. It read “WARRIORS.”
“So,” the judges all thought, “This isn’t just some friends out for a ride together. This is a motorcycle
gang! Come to disrupt and mess up everyone’s good time.” They began to whisper their fears and
trepidation to each other. “What do they want?” “Why OUR community?” “There are so many of
them!” “Probably just out of prison!” “Do they have guns?” “Are they after someone?” “Just look at
how they dress!” “Buncha drug addicts, probably out of their minds on dope.”
Men and women dismounted from the bikes, all dressed in black leather and blue jeans, patches, chains,
and pins covered their vests. Obviously outlaws, these weren’t casual riders. These people must prefer
bikes and scorn people who drive cars. They milled around together, laughing and joking, giving each
other “high five’s.” The judges thought about their contest; communities, well, here was a community in
and of itself, a bad one. Many different communities exist, some good, some bad. Most likely these
club members would start taking drugs and drinking alcohol, right there in the parking lot. Hopefully,
they wouldn’t pull out any guns or knives. These bikers were just ruining a fine day. They began to split
up, walking around in the crowd that remained. They visited booths and wandered about. How dare
they try to be part of this community! They didn’t belong! They didn’t blend in.
The judges were incensed; they knew all about these biker types! One of the bikers began to walk
towards the judges’ platform. Who did he think he was? What did he want? He in his leather vest and
leather chaps, his black boots, his long hair, his skull cap with lightning bolts. What was he going to do?
As he neared them, they could see one of the pins on his vest was a name badge; it read “Snake.” Of
course this evil man was not named Tom or Bob, but Snake. He stood in front of the platform and
reached into his vest. “Oh God!” They knew it now, come to kill them, assassinate the judges, they all
began to panic.
One of the judges stood up quickly and fell off the platform, unconscious, on the grass behind it.
Leaping quickly up on the platform between two judges, the biker jumped off the back and was feeling
for a pulse on the judge who lay sprawled out on the grass. The other judges became animated, yelling
at the biker, “Stop that!” “Leave him alone!” “Don’t touch him! Who do you think you are?”
The biker pulled a couple of papers out of his vest and handed them to the nearest judge, not looking
up. The papers were unfolded; the judge was at a loss for words. It was an entry for the writing contest.
The papers were passed around. They stared at the name on the top of the paper. It read Dr. James
Thompson. From the local hospital, they all knew him. He was a good man.
“He’s only fainted; he’ll be fine.” Dr. Thompson said. By the time they looked up from the papers, the
biker was walking away. They could all see his whole back now; the complete patch on his vest read
“Warriors in Christ,” the local Christian motorcycle group.
By KATHY McGILBERRY
Usually these newsletters about library events have a theme. But this month, it’s plain. Simple. Unadorned. No gimmicks. That’s to remind you of Will Rogers, the plain-spoken Oklahoma native who became a beloved worldwide star.
Doug Watson, the “official Will Rogers performer of the Will Rogers Memorial Commission,” will bring his nationally-known portrayal of Oklahoma’s favorite son to Pittsburg County this month when he appears at McAlester Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9.
Dr. Watson, whose Rogers portrayal has been featured on C-Span and at conferences nationwide, began appearing as the famed writer, actor and national treasure in 1997.
“I occasionally met audience members who had seen Will perform on stage, and I met many who remembered seeing his movies and recalled the tragedy of his death in 1935. Since then, the last of Will’s children has died and my audiences are less and less likely to have any direct connection to will’s life or his far-reaching influences on the America of the previous century,” Watson said. “Today, many young people I meet know of him not at all.”
You and your family can learn about Will Rogers at this fun, funny and educational show made possible by the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma. Mark your calendars now so you won’t miss this one-night-only special performance.
There’s much more going on in May, as we conclude the school year and get ready for a fantastic summer here at the library. Here’s more of what’s in store in May:
*Wednesday, May 1—Basic Computers with Anthony Smart, 4-5 p.m., registration required. Call 918-426-0930 to sign up for this or any other computer class.
*Thursday, May 2—The Bookies will meet from 1-3 p.m. in the Conference Room to discuss Erik Larsen’s “In the Garden of Beasts.”
*Fridays, May 3, 10 and 17—Closed for inventory.
*Tuesday, May 7—Family Fun Night with Amanda McPhetridge and Anita Ross, 5:30 p.m.
*Wednesday, May 8—T-shirt necklaces and bracelets will be the project when the Free Crafts Workshop meets in the Whiteacre Room from 1-3 p.m. Then Anthony teaches “Advanced Web Searching” to the computer class at 4 p.m.
*Thursday, May 9—An Evening with Will Rogers, 6:30 p.m., Whiteacre Room, free at your library.
*Saturday, May 11—Second Saturday Cinema, 2 p.m., Whiteacre East. Did you enjoy the book “Life of Pi?” You’ll want to see the spectacularly beautiful movie that won Ang Lee the Best Director Academy Award this year. Enjoy the free popcorn at this PG-rated film, too.
*Monday, May 13—Matt Damon stars in a movie about fracking and natural gas industry. See it at Arthouse Theater at 6 p.m. in the Whiteacre. John Krasinski of “The Office” wrote the screenplay for this R-rated film.
*Wednesday, May 15—The computer class at 4 p.m. is called “Keepin’ It Safe,” and will feature lessons about Facebook privacy settings, phishing emails and other Internet safety topics.
*Monday, May 20—The Light Readers will meet at 6 p.m. in the Conference Room to discuss “The Shack” by William P. Young.
*Tuesday, May 21—Friends of the Library meet for their regular third-Tuesday noon luncheon. Then at 6:30 p.m., the Night Readers meet in the Conference Room to discuss Arthur C. Clark and Stephen Baxter’s “The Light of Other Days.”
*Wednesday, May 22—“Assembling a New PC” will teach computer students how to set up a new PC and protect it with antivirus and anti-malware software. Class begins at 4 p.m.
*Saturday, May 25—Documentary Matinee at 2 p.m. features the Ken Burns PBS documentary that examines the miscarriage of justice known as the Central Park Five case.
*Sunday and Monday, May 26-27—Closed for the Memorial Day holiday. You’ll want to take note that the library will not have Sunday hours through the summer months. Sunday hours will resume after Labor Day, in September.
*Tuesday, May 28—Socrates Café meets at 10 a.m. in the Conference Room for philosophical discussion and brunch. Then at 6 p.m., the Film Movement Independent Movie will be “Campfire,” unrated, from Israel.
*Friday, May 31—Friday Foodies Recipe Exchange begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Conference Room.
Teen programs include Game Times every Thursday beginning at 3:45 p.m.; a Teen Challenge at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 7; a Cooking Class featuring Monkey Bread at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 8; Yu-Gi-Oh Club at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 14; Craft Explosion at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 15; a Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 18; and a Teen Room Decorating program from 2-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 21.
Children’s programs include Tuesday morning Lapsits, Wednesday morning Story Times and all the other regular activities. Look for children’s, teen and adult/family calendars at the front desk. Or check our website at www.mcalesterlibrary.net. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter too.
Then look for more information later in the month as we prepare for a season of “Underground” Summer Reading Program activities. You won’t believe all the great things we have in store for you this June, July and August.
CIRCULATION LIBRARIAN Janice Saaranen and Candy the Library Gorilla were early to arrive at the Expo Center Saturday as they prepared to open the McAlester Public Library booth. Hundreds of fairgoers stopped by the library’s display, much of which was created by Ellen Barlow. As the event wound to a close, Ellen donned her straw hat and let out a sigh of relief and Candy the Library Gorilla hitched a ride home on a McAlester Fire Department fire engine.