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  • Nathan Alan Toon

My Okie Family


Many Texans' resent our neighbors to the North for many reasons, as do I, but only when it comes to College Football, I am a Longhorn fan which means that I hate the Oklahoma sooners... Matter of fact I tell people that the only three things I hate in life are the Oklahoma sooners, the Ney York Yankees and ____________ I fill in the blank with whatever I am pissed off at that moment, which I wind up getting over pretty quick... Other than College Football I enjoy the state and the people there quite frequently, and the music too; my favorite place in the whole world is on a river in the hills of Southeast OK... That's right I said it, and I have visited Beavers Bend State Park every single year of my (32) life, it's only about an hour and a half from where I grew up so It ain't nothhin' but a step for a stepper to get there as well... The very background picture on this site was taken there, that was my whole life at the time; my home, my best friend, work, and my play all one picture... Right across the street from a park host that collected money from me and my family for a couple decades... I do have blood on my moma's side up around Wright City somewhere but that's not what this story is about, It's about the More family and the crazy bizarre way I got welcomed into it, I am writing a book about connections and how we are all connected in one way or another and how most of the time that works out in my favor... This story is an example of that and nothing short of a glimpse through a window into my way of life and why I write things down every day because you can't make it up... I couldn't anyway...

I’m on stage in Paris, Texas and goosebumps gather as I look to the dance floor and see a daughter and father dancing and singing along with a song I had wrote; the man is a family friend and has been for longer than I’ve been alive which makes the daughter an automatic but she also happend to be one of my best friend’s girlfriend at the time... In my town, that’s how close we are and we like it that way... The drive to Greenville after the show was rather interesting; I had gear loaded up in my 1990 chevy truck with the skin off of a bull from down king ranch way tied onto the shifter stick and a leather candle underneath it going, for some damn reason... As I pull through Commerce, Texas at around 4 in the AM I am met by red and blue lights belonging to a young state trooper who’s name will remain between him and I but just put yourself in his shoes for a minute... Walking up to the window and seeing a guitar and equipment thrown around, its’ four in the morning and this kid is going “way too fast” with a story of playing a gig in Paris and headed to Greenville to his moma’s house, there is a leather candle going but the aroma you smell isn’t leather... This man would wind up letting me go and fallowing me to my destination because that’s what honesty and a little luck with a connection gets you sometimes, a helping hand when things could’ve went a completely different way...

I wake-up the next morning in my moma’s guest room to the sound of steam in a tea pot on the stove, very abruptly and almost violent like so much so as to cause what I thought was whiplash when I came to a sitting up straight position... My first thought was, did that REEAALLLY happen last night, hoping it didn’t, and that question was answered as I looked at a fuzzy screen on the cellular unit, it was a simple “you’re welcome” from our mutual friend... Yep, that happened and it was a pretty good wake-up call; it had been a while since I had a run-in with the law, especially one that was like that one and could have been pretty bad, for me, pretty quick... I drank a couple cups of coffee with moma and made the decision that I needed to get the hell out of dodge for a minute, I really don’t want to be on a state trooper’s radar, ever... So, I called my brother and headed his way by that afternoon, I had been to Altus, OK to visit before this but just for a day or two... Woke up the next morning in Blair, OK with one of my nephews trying to fit a toy in my ear that just wasn’t going to fit, I couldn’t help but smile and scare the piss out of him real quick, that’s what kind of uncle I am...That very afternoon one of my brother’s friends came to visit for a minute and was talking shit about the OSU vs. TEXAS game going down in Stillwater on Halloween night and how he was leaving in an hour headed that way... Having known this guy for literally 7 minutes he turns to me and says “you want to come?” and I couldn’t say HELL YEA quick enough... I knew UT was going to win but I also knew about the strip on such a holiday and he had mentioned that he has family with plenty of room to stay... So, two hours later the stranger and I are headed to Stillwater Oklahoma from Altus, OK on a random Friday road trip; around 24 hours after leaving Greenville, TX for Altus because a run in with the law from Commerce the night before after a gig in Paris and I'm from Cooper... Still with me?

Good, because I’m going to stop right there and flash back to 2007 in Mt, Vernon, TX: the sun is coming up on a Friday morning and we are having a safety meeting (party) at my house a couple miles away from where all of us work night shift... We did this almost every morning but this one was little bigger than normal because I was supposed to be moving to the warehouse in Cheyanne Wyoming come Monday and all of us safe employees had to celebrate... One of my closest friends at the time is drawing a tattoo on my left arm of the state of Texas with “boy 4 life” under it, as she is in the middle of all the detail my phone rings... I pick it up and its work telling me to write this number down and I couldn’t get up to look for my pen and pad because I didn’t want to break her concentration on my arm so I grabbed a dollar bill that was sitting out on the table and jotted whatever it was down and got off the phone asap... Wound up not going to Cheyanne and not taking the big promotion so I didn’t think twice about spending the dollar on more beer for the “I’m staying home” safety meeting... Mind you, I’m barely 21 years old when all of this is happening…

Four years later I’m riding with a stranger to Stillwater and we stop at a McDonalds somewhere outside Oklahoma City and when I get my change back I see on one of the bills my name and that number that I wrote down in my living room as the sun came up and my dear friend drew on my arm... I went absolutely crazy hooping and hollering like a crazy man as I’m sure this guy thought I was by now... Nonetheless, I will keep that one dollar bill forever and enjoy that part of the story but that’s not near where this adventure ends and not the only bizarre connection I will find out about the man driving... We enjoy ourselves while watching the game with a slue of his cousins at his aunt’s house and one of his cousins and I were really enjoying it because our Longhorns were smashing the Cowboys as I expected... What we didn’t count on was wagering a beer a touchdown, shotgun style, I think I only was forced to down one and they all had quite a few but the good sport that I am and the fact that I love a good ole shotgun, I went ahead and stayed one-for-one my new Okie friends... After all that we went to the strip on Halloween night, it was a blast and the best part about all of that besides the fact that the Longhorns won, was that at the end of the night when we could barely walk to the 24hr dinner their women came and picked us up and gave us a ride back so as to keep us safe... Woke up at his aunt's place right outside Stillwater and for the third morning in a row my first thought was something along the lines of “this is a different place than I woke up yesterday” his family was very hospitable and we all made lunch as we told stories on each other about the night before... As I looked around I felt like part of their family, like this is how it would be between cousins and family, and the random Texan... After him getting to catch up for a while and all of us recovering from a night on the Stillwater strip we slowly start packing our stuff for our 5hr drive back to Altus, OK as do all the other cousins preparing for their drive back to wherever they came from...

It is on the way home when we discover the thickest connection that we shared as friends, you see we have crossed paths before... One of my family’s traditions for the first half of my life was to meet up in Beavers Bend State Park on Memorial Day weekend and we would pack the same circle every single year, I have kept it going for myself after the family quit going... I have been every year of my life sometimes 5 or 6 times in one year and sometimes I can barely squeeze one trip in but the same man has been taking money from me this whole time and every time we see each other we have a couple more stories or jokes we’ve heard since the last time we spoke... He is always fun to talk to and half the time he would drive off without even charging us for the campsite which was his original point in even coming to see us in the first place, “I really like that guy” I declared to my new friend on the way back from Stillwater... I directly noticed a shit eating grin on his face as he was listening to me talk for a minute and he couldn’t hold it in anymore, he blurted out a name “Archie More!!” and as a matter of fact I remembered that as being his name, the old man taking money from me and cracking jokes for the past couple decades... But how did he know? Well as it turns out the man that I was speaking of is this guys grandfather, that’s right, the random guy that I just road tripped with after knowing him for 7min is the grandson of a man whom I’ve known all of my life and is one of my favorite people in the world and works in my favorite place in the world… Can’t make it up yall, so that started a whole nother conversation that would last hours on in about the great Beavers Bend State park and Mr. Archie More, Chris’ Grandfather…

From that point forward I remember being very anxious about seeing Archie again so I could tell him this very story about the random trip I just took, the dollar bill in the drive through outside of Oklahoma City and of course the fact that the man I was with the whole time happened to be his grandson, I just knew he’d get a kick out of all that… Since that day the More family has taken me in and I now call them my “Okie Family” as they treat me so, a guy with a different bloodline and a tattoo on his arm of a different state, is welcomed into the family; that’s what kind of folks I am speaking of… Something worth saying is that you can close your eyes and place your finger on a map anywhere east of Interstate 35 all the way from Tahlequah, (NE) Oklahoma down to Huntsville, (SE) Texas and their aint just a whole lot of difference, you’ll find good people with a heart of gold, such as the More family, in any and every poe-dink town in between; the two major differences are the color of the dirt and the humidity… Anyway, this family has since invited me to their deer cabin every year, Thanksgiving among other family get togethers "you're always welcome Nate" they tell me… I just can’t express how grateful I am to have a group of friends/family such as the More family, to me, the friendship is a symbol as well, quite a few from both states kind of resent each other but the people that look past all that see the person not the state, it is a trait of good people, I so believe…


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