When downsizing or weeding, there are so many things that just don’t fall into a clear cut category. I look around and wonder what I can do without…and often think nothing, think it is all so important. In the small hut sits a plate that was an advertising promotion and a calendar for the year 1908. This was the year my Granny was born. How could I ever let it go although it is meaningless to probably almost any other human right now?
I don’t know how I ended up with the plate, but of course, got it when her house was broken up after she died. It doesn’t look like anything else I own, and when I was younger I tended to not keep anything that didn’t function for me in some way. However, I guess even I recognized the uniqueness of a plate marked with Chelsea, I.T. This would have been the Indian Territory my Gran was born in. Family story says she was Cherokee, but I can’t find paper proof. At this late date in life, I wonder if she could have been Choctaw. She had an aunt named Tishamingo which was a Choctaw chief’s name, and I don’t think White people named their children after Native Americans in that time period.
Right now, I am reading an older book called Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan. It is a novel about the Indians of Oklahoma and how they were swindled and killed for their oil rights and oil money. It is a sad, sad tale, but then it is very contemporary—the power of one group of people over another and of racial bias. I just finished reading a classic for the May book club, and that was Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. This book was also contemporary in that it dealt with cheating real estate deals, crafty bankers, of people of a certain class leading empty lives as they tried to beat each other to the top of the society stack.
I have been so disheartened by the political scene the last few months, by the greed I see in big companies, by the lack of civility in human beings, by the struggle for money and by the treating money like it were a Greek god. Once again literature is showing me that we are not much worse than we ever were. Our sinking into the darkness of evil really isn’t new; this is the same old story.
So I run my hand across the plate before sitting it back on the shelf, think of the storekeeper who built his business, of the great grandparents who took the plate home in 1908, of the Indian Territory that would become Oklahoma years later, of the grandmother who kept the plate into her final years as I am now doing. I guess if the plate could talk it would tell us of all the injustice, trouble, crookedness it saw along with joy and celebration. In the end, I think the plate would say, “Life goes on.” I just wish we could get a handle on the evil which would make the going on so much nicer to do!