What a week, spent with many of you as we rolled out my new historical novel Shortgrass in Dallas, where I was born; Duncan, OK (twice), where I grew up and where much of Shortgrass takes place; and Norman, where I went to college and live now, and where a bunch more of Shortgrass happens. We managed to slip in an exciting new presentation about the American hero Ranald Slidell MacKenzie for the Oklahoma Daughters of Union Veterans in OKC, where yet more of Shortgrass takes place. It was a great time of fellowship with old and new friends alike. Here are some of the highlights.
My former colleague and still dear friend Tray Elam, successful head of ImageNet Consulting's incredible Dallas-Fort Worth operation, his sweet mother Sharon, and my beautiful wife Grace! (Logos Bookstore, Dallas)
Dear Dallas friends Becky Yates Jones and her parents, Gloria and Ed Yates. When I returned to Dallas in 1986 to attend Dallas Theological Seminary, I knew I needed to secure good discipleship from wise older men like I had had in Norman. After hearing Ed teach Sunday School my first Sunday in town, I asked him to lunch. When we met, I learned he owned the place—Highland Park Cafeteria. And he asked me whether I had had a relative named John Dwyer. When I told him that was my dad, he about dropped his fork. "Your mother and father were dear friends of mine. I was their attorney and the executor of his estate when he passed away." That was nearly thirty years before and my meeting with him was pure (Providential) chance. He subsequently well filled the role of discipler for me. Among his many key contributions to my life was helping me stay on course through a couple of close calls and get my seminary degree! (Logos Bookstore, Dallas)
Lindsey Sobolik, my teaching aide her senior year at Coram Deo Academy, longtime dear friend, and one of the godliest young women I have ever been privileged to know. She is the genuine article. (Logos Bookstore, Dallas)
My Dallas cousins Susan Thweatt and Chuck Roark. There were four of us Miller clan cousins in the house that day, including my brother Paul! (Logos Bookstore, Dallas)
Kuby's, a classic restaurant in Snider Plaza, Dallas, where brother Paul treated Grace and me to some delicious German food after the Logos signing. The gentleman pictured in his Bavarian regalia entertained us with some fine German tunes.
How about this masterpiece, "Sacrifice," by Durant artist Kathy Sturch, which will prominently appear in Volume 2 of THE OKLAHOMANS: THE STORY OF OKLAHOMA AND ITS PEOPLE? I spotted it hanging on the entry wall of the Charles G. Page Public Library in Durant when I spoke there a couple of months ago with Durant artist Neal Taylor. Kathy's painting depicts her son dancing with his daughter (Kathy's granddaughter) as he prepares to deploy with the U.S. First Cavalry during the Iraq War. He knows what is coming but she doesn't and she is dancing with her feet on top of his. Wow...
Thanks to my photographer cuz Susan Thweatt (see two photos) above for her expert high resolution shooting of this memorable work.
My old friend and Duncan leader Tommy Jones, a great guy who encouraged and helped me and many others along the way. (Duncan Rotary Club, Duncan, OK)
Sculptor Paul Moore's epic Chisholm Trail monument, fifteen feet high and fifty feet long, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center (CTHC) in Duncan, founded by Thomas H. McCasland, Jr., Mary F. McCasland Michaelis, and the McCasland Foundation. The CTHC gift shop now carries both Shortgrass and The Oklahomans, Vol. 1.
When I showed the flag of the Comanche nation during my Shortgrass presentation, Mary Frances Cox, who was married for sixty years until he died to one of my junior high coaches, Quanah Cox, grandson of legendary Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, expounded a bit on that flag. Turns out her brother-in-law James Cox designed it, then after it was stored away for years, she found it at a tribal reunion and brought it out, whereupon the Comanches began using it as their official flag, which they have ever since! And what a flag! (Duncan Public Library, Duncan, OK)
These two big lugs, Wes Padgett and Jim Minter, put on the greatest performance of any Duncan High basketball team I ever saw. When I was a skinny sophomore and they were seniors and we were a double digit underdog, they led us to an epic double overtime 87-85 loss in the regional finals to (and at) arch rival Lawton, who went on to the state championship game. Lawton had a whole team of stars, including one player who would start at center for three years at OU and another who would start at guard for LSU. But they couldn't stop Wes or Jim all night and they only won because they had the ball last. I learned so much from these humble, gentle, fierce warriors.
(Duncan Public Library, Duncan, OK)
The 650-square foot one bedroom Duncan apartment where I lived in grade school. My brother Paul and I shared the bedroom and mom slept on a (small) couch in the living room. There was no handicap ramp nor bench back then.
My personal basketball practice court while living in the apartment, the front of the storage shed. It looked pretty much identical to this fifty years ago. My "goal" was the lip of the roof gutter. I made a million and one baskets on it and learned how to shoot a jump shot. I know that God was with me every dribble. Janalyn Jones Geurkink and Judy Jones Neville's back yard was on the other side of the fence.
Luke prepping the dolly to load books for my OKC presentation to the Annual Conference of the Oklahoma Daughters of Union Veterans.
With state and national officers at the annual conference of the Oklahoma Daughters of Union Veterans, where I delivered for the first time my new presentation "Ranald Slidell MacKenzie - America's Greatest Indian Fighter." (Fairfield Inn & Suites, OKC)
American hero Ranald Slidell MacKenzie.
A guy who REALLY knows how to write, former Norman Transcript Executive Editor and current OU Journalism Professor Andy Rieger; a lady who really knows her Bible, Patricia Askins; Luke; and other friends. (Barnes & Noble, Norman)
Thanks to Danny J. Brewer, Luke's other grandpa for sharing this pic of Luke adding his John Doe to Danny's copy of Shortgrass. (Barnes & Noble, Norman)