A Lucky Encounter
So many of my stranger recollections are from long ago. I don't always have photos of those strangers. Sometimes I'm lucky to find details in a journal that help bring a memory back to life.
It's been less than a week since my husband, Don and I met Mr. Sam while on a road trip down Route 66. We were lucky to have a camera with us, but even without photos, there is no doubt... Mr. Sam will never be forgotten.
Round Barn on Route 66, in Arcadia, OK.
This restored 1898 barn is now a museum and gift/thrift shop. 100 years ago, locals gathered in the upstairs for dances beneath the rounded roof. (Which looks like a woven basket!) Don and I were wandering the lower level looking at a table of homemade wooden puzzles, when Mr. Sam approached us.
What's a SKY HOOK?
Mr. Sam volunteers once a week at the shop and was delighted when I asked. He said his granddaddy taught his granddaddy, who taught him how to carve this clever tool that can balance off one finger, when just the right weight is placed on the hook.
Two Hours of Stories
Mr. Sam has 86 years worth of stories to share and we had the time. He was animated and energetic as he moved us about the barn answering our endless questions and telling his tales. His polite manner matched his perfect attire. He must have asked us graciously about 10 times if we might have time to hear one more story. He seemed tickled each time we responded positively...rubbing his hands or springing into a new pose. I couldn't tell which was more entertaining, listening to him or watching him. As he spoke I watched his laughing face, his string tie (with arrowhead) swinging with his movement, his boots almost dancing on the floor, his Oklahoma belt buckle glistening as we moved towards the light from a window...and his hair! When he removed his hat, his white hair as airy as cotton candy, came to a perfect curl on his forehead. I was obviously charmed!
What I'll Remember
Mr. Sam is not a costumed storyteller. He is really an 86 year old hay farmer who enjoys sharing his memories. There are so many tales to remember, but there are a few that stand out to me. He told us about his farm down the road and how a distant relative acquired that property during the Oklahoma Land Run. He told us about being a small child and watching his mother put rags in the windows during the Dust Bowl, he talked about Route 66 when it was still bustling with cars. After nearly two hours of sharing, he asked us if he could tell us one last story...upstairs.
Dancing in the Barn!
This is what I'll most remember. Before we left, Mr. Sam wanted to climb the stairs and tell us a story about how this upper level was converted from hay loft to dance loft years ago. I think it was just a tricky way to get us upstairs to teach us some dance moves. On the wood floor, with a breeze blowing through the window Mr. Sam taught me the fox trot. I laughed a few times when my flip flop stepped on his boot. He spun me around and I followed....sloppily!
Mr. Sam was pretty serious about the waltz. I'm a horrible follower and he was patient.
Mr. Sam's Question
We took one more photo outside the barn. Before leaving Mr. Sam asked, "If you had looked into a crystal ball at breakfast this morning and it said you would be waltzing in a barn today...what would you have said?" I answered, "I hope so!"
Thanks Mr. Sam!
I was impressed by your stories, your energy and your charm. But mostly I will remember your positive nature. You may have spoken about the Dust Bowl and the Depression and even the Trail of Tears, but you also kept us laughing and smiling.
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers