Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

An Old Ford Tale


I love to get my dad and uncle talking about “the day”. When they tell stories about the Ford, the original one that is no more, I find my own memories of a town (gone for years and years) waking up. I don’t remember houses so much as the road and trees that lined it.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m reading “Cherokee Strip Fever”  by Zola Sample, which is written about the Ford area before the opening of the Cherokee Strip (at least so far in the book).

Zola was born a Bellis. The story tells of her mother, Charity, coming out to Oklahoma territory alone with three children, before Zola was born. When she arrives, she goes to the town of Sinnett (the book says, “Just down the road from C-Town.” Cool, huh?)

So I wondered, just where was the town of Sinnett? I’d love to go there to explore and see if I can find any remains of buildings. Maybe the post office.

Turns out, it’s very near the place I live right now. First day off I have, I’m heading that way. I want to  explore the old cemetery and see if there are names I recognize from the book. Look around and see . . . what I can see. I’ll take a few pictures and share them here. Next time I have a free day, that is. 🙂

Dad tells me he knew Charity. Remembered her well, in fact, and much of their family.

He said Zola and her husband lived next door to his aunt and uncle, Lena and Cecil Shoemaker, when their daughter, Judy, was just a little girl.

“Where did they live?” I asked.

“You know where Nola lived?”

“Past us on the highway?” That’s the only house I remembered for the Fishers.

Dad laughed. “The house before that. Next door to the grocery store, the house with the big lot.”

I remembered that house because I used to trick-or-treat the Vaughts there.

“I used to mow that big lot for fifty cents!” He chuckled at the memory. “Lena and Cecil lived on past them on the other side of the street.”

Memories surfaced from the fog in my brain. “Did someone else I know live down that street?”

“Yes. Mr. and Mrs. Lambertson lived down there, and the Wards–Uncle Joe’s in laws.”

A memory of my mom getting her hand smashed in a car door at the Ward’s house popped in. Dad didn’t remember it, but I remember Mom lying on the bed in their house with ice on her hand. Funny what we remember.

“Was the Christian Church on down that street?”

“Yes, it was.” I used to walk home from church with my cousin Kathy on that street when I was little.

Finally, he got to tell me the story. “One day, Cecil decided to put up a clothes line for Lena.” (Early day clothes dryer as well as a kid’s “tent” superstructure.)

“While he dug the first hole, Lena and Judy, who was a cute, tiny little girl, left to run some errands. They were gone a little while, and when they got back, Judy ran into the back yard to see how her daddy was getting along. Cecil had just finished digging the second hole.

“Judy saw that hole and was just amazed. She ran back to her mom. ‘Mama, did Daddy carry that big hole all the way over there by himself or did Dex help him?'”

The only problem with the story is that when Dad told it, he called Dex Deb. According to Zola’s obituary, Deb was Zola’s brother name, not her her husband, Dexter’s.

I need a little help from the Shoemaker girls to find out which one lived next door.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

4 thoughts on “An Old Ford Tale

  1. Susan, I read this through tears in my eyes.  Just the mention of my Mom & Dad & their life in the old town of Mannford brings back such good memories.  Judy will have to fill in some of the blanks on Zola.  Zola & Delbert Sample lived on the south side of our little pale yellow house–right next door.
    According to obituary, Zola had a brother, Dexter (called “Deb”) of Sand Springs.  Must have gotten confusing with a Delbert & a Dexter or Deb in the family!
    You can read the full obituary at:
    Zola had a Beauty Shop at the back of her house with the entrance facing our driveway.  Zola had wanted Mother to cut Judy’s hair, and Mother didn’t want to cut it.  So, one day while Mother was in the house, & Judy was outside playing, Zola scooped Judy up off the driveway & gave her an “unauthorized” haircut.  Would love to have been in on the conversation between my Mom & her after that haircut!
    Your post brings back wonderful memories of a beautiful childhood ~ thanks for the jogging my “jillion” memories, Susan!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, Sharon. I confused her husband’s name with her brothers, didn’t I? Wish I could have known them!

  3. Enjoyed this blog very much and now that I’ve figured out you have it I will follow your postings from now on. Now I get to go back and read your others! Mother talked about Zola frequently and had a copy of her book. I read it approximately 45 years ago so I need to reread it now, but I do remember enjoying it.

    • Hi Allene!
      Thank you for the sweet words. Glad you enjoyed it. Please, comment often!
      I remember Grandmother talking about Zola, but not a lot. I wish I had a copy of House with a Jillion Memories, but they’re expensive. Maybe someone will publish them digitally. (I’m hoping.)

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