Re-reading the Heart’s Garden

Rereading The Heart’s Garden

The Garden’s Heart

By Kenneth Rexroth

has sustained me

through decades

His words continue

Almost unknown

Almost forgotten

But they are there

And re reading

Tears of recognition

of thanks and also of sorrow

What else have I forgotten

What else have I left behind

What else is there

To think

To do

To write

To paint

To believe

To remember

What happens to the environment

the earth

the forest

the birds

the plants

the animals

encased in layers of concrete

glass and steel

overwhelming the natural

yet doomed to failure

to falling

Thank you Kenneth Rexroth

What Astonishes?

Underwater

There is so much

we do not see

We watch the waves

Maybe the whales breaching

But what I want to see

is there

underneath

demanding I change

my frame of reference

from warmth to chill

from light to muted

Adjust your body

Adjust your eyes

Head down

Keep looking

immersed

in water environment

as you never are

in air

walking standing breathing

seeing objects colours

floating in the ocean

Adjust

Accept

Lose track

So that

Astonished

When you raise your head

out of the water

the world is still there

And you will return

My father, the drug addicted vagabond

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I would like to share information about my book Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time  which I finished writing in January 2020. Because of the COVID19 pandemic there was no possibility of traveling from my current home in Canberra, Australia to the USA to launch the book.

Many years after being disowned by my father  and after his death (1971), I made a decision to reconcile with him – with his memory – to construct a portrait of a human being that I could respect. I wrote a novel  Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time based on data I collected about my father’s contacts with the justice system in the USA. He was in and out of jails, prisons and mental health institutions (known as asylums) for many years.

The book Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time is available on line at www.lulu.com.
Also available on Amazon, but they pay the authors very little.

If you do purchase and read the book, I would very much appreciate your feedback,
on my blog  http://www.familyfiction.comor by email at pamela@tucacas.info.

Here’s a comment about Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time from my friend Martha Woodmansee, Case Western Reserve University Professor of English and Law, emerita.

 It being Presidents Day here, I took the day off from politics and paperwork (a euphemism for my present stasis) to read your novel. So delicious! It’s really, really good. I do really wish you’d been able to launch it in Kansas City MO.

If you want to situate your novel thematically in our American literary tradition I’d like to stress its fit into our deeply held embrace of the individualistic self-made man myth — so
destructively sexist and racist in my view — as set forth so brilliantly by F. Scott Fitzgerald in *The Great Gatsby.*

Thanks for your interest!

Pamela Hutchison Collett

 

How long

How long will I stay

in this expanded space

Walking through life

with increased senses

Aware of nuance

Listening to a talk

about the intelligence of birds

Thinking of a book

Thinking of a friend

Thinking of family

Thinking of life

Advising a friend

to write a fictionalized

story of her family history

To put her father in the world

To respect his life

Not to honour or elevate

That’s what I’ve done

with my father

Let Down

Somewhat

After putting aside for several months my novel-in-process based on events in my father’s life, Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time, I came back to it. I went through it page by page. Made some minor changes. Leanne my editor did a copy edit. Ready for layout.

So what am I waiting for? Is it perhaps that I’ve lost some of the energy and enthusiasm? Or is it that I can’t face actually publishing and sharing the book and what that entails? So just put it aside and pretend I’ve done it.

With the help of my spouse, Jim, we did the layout in InDesign and submitted it to Lulu in mid January. I ordered a proof copy. Now at the end of January it never arrived. So I ordered another copy for the final proof reading.

Here’s the front cover:

The photo is of my father W. Lon Hutchison on the left, his sister Margery and brother Jack.  Lon was the first born.  I believe this picture was taken in Tulsa, Oklahoma about 1917.

More soon on planned launches later this year in Canberra, Australia, Oakland, California, Kansas City, Missouri, and Vinita, Oklahoma. Watch this space!

Please keep in touch if you would like to attend any of the book launches.  Thanks!

Oklahoma OK

Previous to this trip researching about my father’s life for my novel, Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time, I had never spent time in Oklahoma. Whenever I heard the word “Oklahoma”, I thought of the musical.

Oklahoma! is the first musical written by the well-known team of composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is set in Oklahoma Indian Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906. The original Broadway production of Oklahoma! opened on March 31, 1943 and was a box-office smash. (source: Wikipedia).

One summer during my childhood in Kansas City, Missouri, my parents bought season tickets to the Starlight Theatre in Swope Park. Starlight Theatre has an outdoor stage and seating. It has operated continuously since 1951. Having been renovated several times over the decades, Starlight currently has a capacity of about 8,000 people.  I saw Oklahoma!  at the Starlight Theatre.

https://www.kcstarlight.com

I consider myself tone deaf and have a poor memory for music. But somehow, even after many decades, I can still hear the lyrics of Oklahoma! somewhere inside my head.

The lyrics come bouncing back, instantaneously when anyone mentions the word Oklahoma.

Ohhhklahoma,
where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet

When the wind comes right behind the rain.

But I only remember the opening lines (above) and the ending

You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

As a child, I never thought much about Oklahoma as being the birthplace of my father, W. Lon Hutchison, and the home of my grandmother, Letha Yates. She was occasionally mentioned and even visited us once in Kansas City. There was never any mention of any grandfather, aunts or uncles.

For me, Oklahoma was a mythic place, based on the musical, much as Kansas is considered by some to be mythical based on the book, The Wizard of Oz.

Having visited a small corner of northeast Oklahoma looking for information about my father and his family, do I think I “know” Oklahoma? Of course not. The words of the musical are indelibly linked in my mind and have not been erased or subsumed by my visit.

 

 “Little Italy” Krebs, Oklahoma

In Tulsa Oklahoma in the 1925 probate records of my grandfather, E.S. Hutchison (the murdered “Love Pirate”), I discovered that W. Lon Hutchison, my father, the firstborn child, had been disinherited by his father. Many decades later, my father did the same to his firstborn child – me. In this family history, I found a pattern of revenge and rejection that I want to change.

That’s why I went on this journey – to uncover the mysteries of my father’s life as a basis for reconciliation. The journey has an end point: writing a novel, Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time, based on events in my father’s life.

Continuing my search for information, I left Tulsa, Oklahoma and drove to Krebs. I could hardly tell where the larger town of McAlester Oklahoma ended and the tiny town of Krebs began, except for a sign, The City of Krebs welcomes you.

My father was born in Krebs in 1907, when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory. Today Krebs is a very small town in what was once coal country.

The population of Krebs is about 2,000. Because of several restaurants and a specialized grocery story, Krebs has chosen the nickname “Little Italy”.

According to Wikipedia, Krebs was founded in the late 1800s. The first post office was established in 1886. The town began as a coal-mining camp, housing European immigrants who came to work in the mines.

Street scene, Krebs, Oklahoma

On January 7, 1892, an explosion in the Osage Coal & Mining Company’s No. 11 mine killed 100 workers and injured another 150.

Here’s a photo of the memorial to that explosion listing all those killed in the coal mine explosion.

I visited the Krebs Heritage Museum, a hodgepodge of stuff from peoples’ attics. I found a record of the birth of the Gilpin girls – my grandma’s maiden name, but nothing more. I bought a tee shirt of the Krebs Heritage Museum and went to look for a cheap motel to spend the night.

 

The next day I left Krebs to drive back to Vinita to find out if the woman at the Forensic Center had found any records relating to my dad… She hadn’t.

Weary of travel and digging for information, feeling somewhat frustrated, I drove back to my friends’ home, outside Lawrence, Kansas.

Talking to the Dead

I had gone to the Tulsa County Court House to try to find out more about my grandfather’s killer. Instead at an annex, I found probate records of my grandfather’s estate. I was surprised by the size of my grandfather’s estate, (over $200,000, a sizable fortune in 1925) and that he had disinherited his first born child, my father.

Disappointed that I hadn’t been able to find out more about my grandfather’s killer, my next stop was nearby – the Roseville Cemetery.

Through online records I found out that my father had been buried at the Roseville Cemetery. I got there while the cemetery was open, but the office was closed. In the very extensive grounds, I could not find my family’s burial plot. There was no guiding information posted. It would have to wait for the next day.

Hutchison plot, Roseville Cemetery, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The next morning, the office was open and I got directions to my family’s burial plot. With some difficulty, I eventually found the Hutchison family plot. The Hutchison plot was  right next to the Purdy family plot, which was the surname of my grandfather’s killer.

I avoid cemeteries and have never attended a funeral, but I stayed awhile, talking out loud with everyone who is buried there, including my dad. There were gravestones for my grandfather, grandmother, great uncle, uncle, aunt and my father.

Gravestone of my grandfather, the murdered “Love Pirate”

I went from grave to grave, greeting each person. I spoke with each of them and shared what I was doing. I told them I was researching my father’s history to understand the man I didn’t know and that I was writing a novel, Tracking the Human, based on events in his life. I explained to them that my project was a work in progress for reconciliation for all of us.

Gravestone of my father

Driving out of the Rosehill Cemetery, I noticed a gun shop and firing range directly across the street.

Gun shop across the street from Roseville Cemetery

My next stop would be Krebs, Oklahoma, a very small town just outside McAlester Oklahoma, where my father was born in 1907. I had no particular leads, but thought I would go and take a look at his birthplace.

Disinherited

Having gone to Tulsa Oklahoma to find out about the death of my grandfather, I was shocked to learn how he had died. On January 14, 1925, in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, my grandfather, E.S. Hutchison, age 43, had his brains blown out by a jealous husband, Charles Eugene Purdy,  (see Blog 18: Love Pirate Murder).

To try to find out more about my grandfather, I went to the annex on the outskirts of Tulsa where probate records were kept.

                                           Tulsa County Annex Building

I shook my head in disbelief at what I found in the probate files. I was astounded that the estate of my grandfather in 1925 was worth over USD $200,000!! A fortune in those days.

There were pages and pages of disputes about who should get the money – the children of his first wife, my grandmother, who had three children, (the first born was my father, W. Lon Hutchison), his second wife, who had four children and was living in Arkansas or the woman Helen Purdy, who was with my grandfather when he was shot and killed  by her estranged  husband, Charles Eugene Purdy.  A  handwritten will left specific sums to his mother, sister and children from both wives, and made Helen Purdy his executor.

The story became more complex reading through over 70 pages of charges and counter-charges, mainly between E.S. Hutchison’s second wife, Mary Hutchison and Helen Purdy, who had been his employee and personal secretary prior to his murder.  In the depositions included in the files, Helen Purdy is accused by Mary Hutchison of conspiring with her ex-husband Charles Eugene Purdy to defraud my grandfather of his considerable fortune.

The issue of why Charles Eugene Purdy shot my grandfather, despite the “Love Pirate” stories, became less clear because the documents state that Purdy had filed for divorce from his wife some months prior to the shooting.  Also at one point, according to the probate documents,  he had received tens of thousands of dollars from my grandfather because Purdy had somehow contrived to have my grandfather  briefly put in jail.

The probate files included a copy of my grandfather’s  hard-to-decipher handwritten will that I forced myself to read and re-read. My grandfather wrote that his firstborn son, my father, W. Lon Hutchison, would get $100 from his estate, but only if my father never returned to Tulsa until after his father had died!

My father, the firstborn child, had been disinherited by his father. Decades later he did the same to his firstborn child – me. I was beginning to get the picture. The more I found out, the more I wanted to try to stop the passing on of rejection generation after generation within this family.

Have you found a pattern of rejection in your family?

What have you tried or are trying to do about it?

Your comments are most welcome!

 

 

In the wrong place?

 At the archives of the Tulsa Public Library, I found the shocking news that my grandfather E. S. Hutchison had his brains blown out by a jealous husband in front of the post office in down town Tulsa Oklahoma in 1925. Then a few days later in a speech at the Tulsa City Club, his brother, L.L. Hutchison denounced my grandfather as a womanizer and said he got what he deserved. As Ye Sow So Shall You Reap.

I wanted to try to find out more about my grandfather and his murderer, so I drove downtown to the Tulsa County Court house.

At the County Court house, I tried to trace what happened to the shooter, Charles Eugene Purdy, who killed my grandfather. I couldn’t find out if he was convicted or not. Perhaps I went to the wrong department.

In a very big thick black book, that was too heavy to lift, I searched and did find handwritten references to probate records for 1925. But the records were not kept at the county court house.

To see the probate records, I was sent to an annex in a temporary building in an industrial area. Thanks to the GPS, I found it on the outskirts of Tulsa. The annex was a nondescript building with a small parking area. There were no clear signs indicating what was in the building. I knocked on a few doors and finally found the probate records annex.

After writing a request for the probate records following my grandfather’s murder, I sat down on a metal folding chair and waited. I felt isolated and alienated in the bare surroundings with no signs indicating where I was or what was the purpose of the space I was in. I controlled a feeling of hopelessness telling me to get out of there.

Just as I was wondering if I was in the wrong place or if the files no longer existed, a clerk came into the room carrying a thick book of records. Glancing quickly through the files, I shouted out in a very loud voice, What? The startled clerk opened the door to the adjoining room to ask if I was okay. I reassured him that I was.

What caused me to shout out loud and startle the clerk?

Find out in the next blog.