Photo By Brandy Coe
A Tribute To Grandfathers and Small Towns
By Unfamous R. Brown
Some people want to grow up so fast, so they can become Artists, Drifters, Fighters, Musicians, Bikers, Rebels, Brothers, Sisters and Lovers. There seems to be some kind of due to be paid, or used to be! Now it seems there just aren’t near as many people that understand the meaning of “Old School”. Well, I’m into my thirties now and have always called myself Old School and although i may not be that old, I finally earned it! They are tearing down my home town school, Perkins-Tryon Highschool to build a new one in the name of progress!
Photo By Brandy Coe
I for one, understand progress especially in a school. However, I can’t help but be a little sad and reminiscent. I remember the small town Friday night football games under the bleachers where you got your first kiss, to the fights in smokers alley or skippin’ school to go the end zone to play video games and eat atomic fireballs until you were sick! Even though this wasn’t a politically correct academic curriculum, it was a small community that knew everyone. Your kids could stay out until dark and know there wasn’t much trouble that could be gotten into. However, like I said, it’s official. They are now making T-Shirts that say “I’m From The OldSchool” and in the name of progress I am finally “Old School”. For an old Outlaw Gypsy like me, this is of the highest accolade !
Perkins, Oklahoma, a humble town (established 1889, the population in July 2008 was 2,396) has given many people a place to call home and plenty of memories! The history and Native American heritage of Perkins runs thick and red as the Cimarron River which runs just south of town and occasionally floods the little red dirt river city called Perkins, Oklahoma.
Prior to being Perkins, the territory was once Called “Italy” and “Cimarron”. It has had it’s fair share of outlaws and travelers. It was home to Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton, born in Connecticut in 1860. Frank Eaton’s vigilante father was shot in cold blood when he was only 8 years old by 6 former confederate soldiers known as the “regulators”. It is said that Frank (Pistol Pete) was raised by Indians and was going to make sure he avenged his fathers death. At 15 years old, Pistol Pete out-shot the cavary’s best marksmen! Famous quotes in midwestern United States related to Pistol Pete are “I’d rather have a pocket full of rocks than an empty gun” and “Hotter than Pete’s pistol”. In his teens, it is said that he was faster on the draw than “Buffalo Bill”. Pistol Pete, at the tender age of 17, was a deputy U.S. marshal for the ” hangin judge” Judge Isaac C. Parker, when he started tracking down his fathers killers. One of Pistol Pete’s father’s friends would say to Pete, “My boy, may an old man’s curse rest upon you, if you do not try to avenge your father.” Nineteen years later he would avenge his fathers death. Five of the six gunmen died from his pistols while the 6th member only escaped his pistol by getting killed in a card game . He finished living Life at the ripe old age of 97, after becoming author of 2 books, the first of which was, “Veteran of the Old West” Thirty years after his death, the second book “Campfire Stories: Remembrances of a Cowboy Legend Pistol Pete” was published. They were the stories he would tell on his porch in Perkins. In all, Pete was a scout, cowboy, and the living likeness of the Oklahoma State University mascot.
Outlaws like William Blake, “Tulsa Jack”, Charlie Pierce, George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, “Little Bill” Raidler, and George “Red Buck” Waightman run through the history of Perkins. Members of the notorious Bill Doolin gang and Dalton brothers gang, also known as the Oklahombres, and The Doolin Dalton Gang traveled through regularly and had a shootout with lawmen in another town just east up the Cimarron River. Called Ingalls, the story is that in 1893, the Dalton and Dooling gang were holding up at the city hotel. It was called The “Ransom Hotel” as Ingalls was known for outlaw gangs of cowboys as well. Just 8 miles west of Perkins is “Horsethief Canyon” on the south side of the river, where the tributaries of the Cimarron cut a V Shape opening through the bluff. This place is full of stories about robbery hideouts, hidden money still buried and all types of outlaw and gunfighter history.
On the other side of the silver dollar, ” BIBLIOGRAPHY: (David Sasser, Perkins, Okla.: A Place to Call Home, A History Through the 20th Century) David Sassers book, “Perkins A Place to call Home’ speaks of founders like U.S. Sen. Bishop W. Perkins, for whom the town was named, and members of my family, along with several other founding families of Perkins.
Memories of sitting on the corner wtih my grandpaw Jack Moser, also known on the C.B Radio as “Apple Jack”, selling watermelons, apples and fruits out front of his old and retired store full of antiques. The store, also know as C.A. Moser and Son general store, provided gas, grocery’s, auto repair, and fishing bait. They took credit and I.O.U’s and offered “delivery on credit” via my grandfather Jack Dewayne Moser. He began his career as a salesman for Nabisco, after spending a short time at college. He also became mayor and firefighter, and had a strong John Wayne, Clint Eastwood sense of things. Providing the help that they could for the small growing community ultimately became but a pebble falling off of a step in the ever growing progress of a small town.
Also, Perkins is home to the Iowa Tribe Indian Nation. In their language, the tribe is called “Bahkhoje”; pronounced Bah-Kho-Je; meaning grey snow because of the tribe’s traditional winter lodges covered with snow, stained grey from hearth fires. They originated in the Great Lakes region of the globe and broke into other tribes moving into the south and the west. The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma is headquartered in Perkins The Iowa Tribe is doing some great things with programs like Bah Kho-Je Xla Chi or Grey Snow Eagle House: Eagle Rehabilitation Program working with golden eagles and bald eagles. They are a strong and proud people with good reason. They have seen as much progress as Perkins with the Bahkhoje Housing Authority. They own a truck stop, a gas station, a smoke shop, casino , and an off-track wagering facility. They have their own police force with numbers growing. They have done well working hand in hand with the people of Perkins to progress in a positive way. This little bitty city is packed full of what is now to be called oldschool history and heritage.
Being the “Black Sheep” of the family, I broke out of the small town as soon as I could. Riding with outlaw motorcycle clubs paying my dues , playing in bands ,writing music, tattooing, working on the road searching the bottom of every bottle and every highway hole in the wall for the title “Oldschool” like so many drifters, musicians, outlaws and all around gypsies from small towns have. All the while, it would be where I was from, and the memories and stories I had to tell about where I am from, that would define “my oldschooledness”. A small little territory on the Cimarron with big dreams that never leaves your heart. Perkins, I am proud to say I Am From The OldSchool. And Amen to progress!
As a lot of drifters on the road, I found “religion”, but not a religion that is anyone’s but mine. Like so many on the road often do when traveling on a rattling, rumbling, war pony, I could hardly hear myself think, much less have anyone to talk to. For awhile on the road, I felt forsaken, like I was alone in the ever changing world that that I was no part of. That’s when I met The Forsaken Few Mc “Outlaws 1% Mc” support club, from Jackson County in Altus, Oklahoma of which I was a probate (probationary member). The Few went on to educate me in what I will call (BrotherHood 101) lessons on serving drinks correctly, respect, and what is to be a brother as a probate. You are the clubs slave to earn their respect, as they will earn your trust and respect. They will educate you on laws, bi-laws, and rules as there are a lot of politics and things that can’t be spoken of and are unspoken mysteriously between brethren.
In finding my religion on the road, I found myself drifting towards the open road alone and free; to not be a part of this club family life anymore, but to be a part of a family of drifters, gypsies, and biker’s who love the simple things in life. It was all about hanging out with traveler companions and sharing stories of travels and brew with some folks you know and some you don’t. As I rode on it became a matter of trying to find out who I was. I found myself remembering home. “Perkins”. I must have been getting older.
Thoughts of my grandfather speaking of The Secret of Life being “Work.” Ha. I always thought to myself, that old man is crazy. Work is no secret to life. Well, turns out I think he’s right. You have to work at everything you do. I mean in the aspect of working on a friendship, working on a relationship, working on your family or just plain working, you have to work at everything you do. That’s what I think he meant, anyway.
I can still remember the first fishing/camping trip on the Cimarron river with Apple Jack, my great grandfather. We would plan for a week! Of course it would take a week to make all the “trotlines” (heavy duty fishing twine with 12″-16″ inch long hook leaders spaced about every 18″-24″inches) that we would run all the way across the river and back again a few times. Then we would bait all the hooks with “crawdads”(crawfish) that we would “sane”(dragging a net from two ends through shallow water) out of a shallow drying pond from the hot Oklahoma sun. We would load buckets of crawdads in the truck as we would get bait and prepare, like i said, All Week ! Finally, school would let out on Friday. Me and great grandpaw were goin’ fishin’ on the Cimarron!
I rode my bike as fast as i could behind the old C.A Moser Store where my great grandparents lived. Jack and Winnie Moser owned a quaint, one bedroom home. Grandmaw Winnie would never let us leave the house without eating something. Grandpaw and I felt it was always good luck to eat fried catfish and fried potatoes prior to fishing. After eating a hardy meal of fried catfish and taters, we would load up the fishin’ poles and buckets of crawdads and head to the river. We got there in the evening, so it was imperative that we set up camp first. Then we would get out the homemade wine and fishin’ poles and we would set and get half drunk on the river bank and we would tell fish stories most of the night while we were getting our poles wet for the big fishing weekend!
After we had gotten hardly any sleep, we got up Saturday morning and cooked a couple hot dogs on the campfire and proceeded to unload our little flat bottom river boat. We gathered up plenty of bait, all of our trot lines and two thermoses full of coffee as we worked all day running trot lines back and forth across the river in the hot hot sun. Grandpaw would cuss and get irritated about the way I was doing things. He was a you do it my way kinda’ guy! But after all the hooks were baited, we were proud of what we had accomplished and we were sure this was going to be the best fishing trip ever!
As we ate sandwiches and drank some more homemade wine, my grandfather passed on the knowledge of the fisherman’s knot on the bank of the Cimarron that day. I didnt realize how much that lesson would mean to me until later on in life when I passed it on I to my own children and how such a simple thing could mean so much to me. Well as the day went on we would check and check and check our trotlines only to find out that they weren’t bearing the fruit of fish, but we were bound and determined to catch fish and have a good weekend so we baited and baited the trotlines all day and half the night. We decided to lay down and get some sleep. Me and grandpaw couldn’t sleep so we decided to make some beans on the campfire and being a young boy and being curious I asked, “Grandpaw how did the Cimarron get it’s name?” Grandpaw could make me believe anything. He went on to answer, “Well, two cowboy’s were camping by the river and were cookin’ beans. They got to talkin’ and forgot about the beans and when the beans started to burn and simmer, one cowboy jumped up and grabbed the pot and threw the beans into the river and said ‘simmer on’. Hence, Cimarron.” Yes I know I was gullible, but my grandfather told me the truth later on in life after i had already found out for myself that Cimarron derives from a Spanish word meaning “wild or unruly” a name surely given for the wild and unruly characters it took to tame the land.
A little later that night as it would turn to what i like to call Dark Dark; when it’s so dark you can’t see your nose; I asked my grandpaw “Were you ever in a war?” He proceeded to tell me, “Yes.” I asked, “Which one?” Grandpaw said “the civil war”. Wow, this was exciting already because I had just been on a family vacation to the south south and spent two weeks going to civil war battle sites. Very indulged, I asked “what did you do in the war grandpaw?” He proceeded to tell me that he had pulled cannon’s by himself in the civil war. As he was telling me this intriguing story, we heard something. Was it… Was it… Yes! It was one o’clock in the morning and the fish were going crazy. We could here them splashing and fighting our trotlines with everything they had. We spent all night pulling fish off and baiting lines. Finally, half way through Sunday we had enough fish and were very sunburned and exhausted. We packed up by sunset and headed home.
At home later that night I had to ask my grandfather Dewayne former mayor of Perkins, of whom I was raised by, about Grandpaw Jack’s term in the civil war pulling cannons. “Ha ha ha,” laughed my grandfather, Dewayne, who i still call to this day “DooDad”; a name I had given him at a very young age for a type of crackers named doodads he delivered as a Nabisco salesman. DooDad said “you will believe anything my dad tells you. He was never in the military ha ha ha.”
Grandpaw Apple Jack took advantage of me believeing everything he said. Apple Jack had false teeth that he showed me how to remove at a very young age. Even though my teeth would not come out, I believed for years they would. Grandpaw Jack also went on to tell me that the warning signs on the side of the road that say Watch for Fallen Rock were basically signs that an Indian chief had made to look for his son “Fallen Rock” who had went on his walk into manhood and never returned. That old man never stopped tormenting us grand kids. I think that’s why we love him so much! No more fish stories though. Here are the facts of his life.
History of Jack Melford Moser and obituary compliments of “The Perkins Journal” local Perkins news paper.
Jack Melford Moser born 1907 , 99, died on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Jack was born on May 23, 1907 in Saginaw, Mo. to C.R. Moser and Ellen Marie (Harryman) Moser. He married Winnie Jane Dodson on June 1, 1929 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She preceded him in death on February 27, 1999.
He was raised in an area called Sheep’s Hollar, north of Joplin, Missouri. He was the first of ten children; he had five brothers and four sisters. His father worked in the strip mines. His father also farmed with his grandfather in Missouri until 1919.
At the age of 12, he moved to Drumright, Okla. to work in the oilfields. His family followed and they lived east of Drumright for two or three years. The family later moved to Quay, Okla. He had to quit school and help support the family by working as a farmer and butcher. He went to work at a bakery in Yale, Okla. for $1.00 a day.
He met Winnie Dodson in Cushing, Oklahoma and they were married on June 1, 1929. After their marriage, the couple lived in Yale, Oklahoma and he worked in the bakery and as a sharecropper. They moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1936 and he worked in the Rainbow Bakery. He also worked at Douglas Aircraft during WWII.
In 1947, they moved to Perkins, Oklahoma. There they bought the general store from his brother Charlie Moser, who had bought the store from their father. C.A. Moser had opened the store in 1936. He retired from the grocery business in 1962. He operated Moser’s Trading Post well into the 1980’s and he enjoyed his favorite pastime, fishing, well into his 90’s.
My grandfathers will always be heroes to me and a part of a more simple society. Perkins has had its changes for sure, from hanging outlaws at the old hanging tree south of town to now being home to a flourishing town and part of Native American and outlaw history. Perkins, Oklahoma is just proof that there are still small town values and something left on this rock we live on and have been a part of.