Tuesday, July 29


Confusion and fear
followed the ghastly news from Kent.
Was this war?
It was not clear
who the enemy was
as bullets were spent,
and what the shooting was for.

A season of unrest;
a looting of peace in the homeland
as conflict abroad obsessed ~
and youthful innocence lost
(how could we have known?)
at such a cost
in Ohio.

* An historical companion to the Vietnam War, anti-war protests across the country escalated during the hot Spring of 1970. Emotions were raw on both sides of the issue. The killings at Kent State, Ohio, presented an unsettling pall of unspoken hurt I felt barely 3 months before I turned 13. Still too preoccupied with thinking about boys and horses, I had few resources from which to gain understanding about the tragedy. The Pulitzer-prize winning photograph by John Filo on the cover of Life magazine conveyed volumes in understanding one thing; it had to be wrong.

Fully ripe in an era of Beaver Cleaver white suburban values, I had been taught to trust authority. The National Guard, like the Police, were supposed to protect and serve. But suddenly, this rock-solid support system had crossed the line into something far too sinister and far too complicated to even think about. I buried my new, alien feelings of betrayal and said nothing to anyone about those 4 college students gunned down in broad daylight on a University campus in America.

I listened carefully whenever I heard my dad ranting about the "damn hippies" and communist-inspired "peace-niks". I looked at my brother, with his John Lennon wire frame glasses, long hair and knee-high fringed moccasins and his contra-band collection of rock records. He looked kind of like a "hippy", but he was only my brother. The kids lying dead at Kent State didn't look like hippies. Some of them were carrying their books to their next class.

The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song on the radio seemed haunting in its beautiful vocal harmonies, even though I was uncomfortable with the line,
"Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming...". This didn't sound right. It didn't sound fair to disrespect our President. But then, there were those pictures - anyone could see they were just kids at school. The whole thing was a tiny-voiced nagging that gently and gradually slipped away from my young sub-conscious until it was gone completely.

I stayed outside with my beloved pet chickens, caught horny toads, fretted about the braces on my teeth, rode my brother's hand-me-down banana seat bike underneath the elm tree shade of Jellico Ave, or holed-up at my girlfriend Kathy's house reading horse stories or Nancy Drew mysteries. I did not want to think about what had happened and what it might mean. Sure enough, my idyllic life in Northridge, California did not change at all.

38 years later I am struck by the chilling irony; the National Guardsmen, ill-prepared for domestic crowd control, were the same exact age as the students. They were all so incredibly young. The knee-jerk over reaction by the Governor to declare martial law and send in the Guard only speaks for the general panic of the time. Some felt the country was losing its youth to the dark side of free-love and flag-burning. But like generations before, it really wasn't as much about social anarchy as it was about self-expression. At Kent State that fateful day, the vast majority of her students were still in class and minding their own business. The vocal minority demonstrating had a right to do so up to a point. The two professors who talked them down from retaliatory violence after the imprudent shootings are true heroes nearly lost to obscurity now.

The Kent State shootings or the May 4th massacre happened at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio in 1970. Four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard, nine others were wounded, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia. Other victims had merely been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities and high schools closed throughout the United States as eight million students went on strike. The incident served to further divide the country politically and inspire cultural germination through music and media.

* from 'Station Wagon Wars ~ growing up in the 60's' by cTanner

Thursday, July 24

Anthropological Motherhood ~ the Beginning

Part Four

Gestation presented itself at a time when ultra-sounds were so wholly unreliable a witch doctor swirling turkey feathers in New Guiena could have done better. We were still enveloped in the ageless, happy mystery of not knowing who exactly would be introduced to us somewhere around the 40th week. There was no anxiety about shopping for pink or blue as young couples do now. My mother had given us a white and yellow bassinette from Sears. It was waiting, ready, with a neutral blanket. We placed a duckling-print doll-sized t-shirt (pre-“onesies”) and yellow booties inside, and instantly the waiting seemed more tolerable.

Years behind more patrilineal-tolerant Europe, America was at the very beginning of allowing fathers into the delivery room. They would be trusted to do so only after passing a mandatory 6 week birthing class sponsored by the hospital. The material presented by an unmarried 23 year old RN was dismissive of the more objectionable aspects of birthing. There was a lot of emphasis on the new Lamaze breathing and stretching techniques using gentle words like ‘support’, ‘relax’ and ‘visualize’. I thankfully concluded the bloody horror stories my mother-in-law detailed to me during my entire pregnancy must be gross exaggerations of an otherwise very routine, well-rehearsed human experience.

Labor began on February 6th 1978 with text book perfect symptoms. I timed contractions for an hour while our little clock radio with the flipping cards clicked away the early morning minutes. Beginning labor was a gentle, prodding sensation that gave me a marvelous and thrilling sense of knowing; knowing that today my long and difficult wait would finally be over. I felt other-worldly, like a lovely, ripe Supreme Being who – with an omniscient gift of revelation, generously bequeathed that knowledge on the one I loved as if it were my exquisite gift to him alone. I opened my mouth, and the sacred words issued forth; “the baby is coming today,” I said.

By the time we were driving to the hospital in our Ford Torino station wagon with the wood paneling on the sides, feelings had changed. David stopped at a 7/11 that no longer exists on the corner of 12th Street and McDowell and raced inside to buy film for his camera. Omniscience long gone; sheer panic replaced it with a roar. I had been cruelly betrayed by that waste-of-time prenatal class.

A wheelchair and a labor room later, I solemnly realized I would not live to see my child. I thought about my funeral and how tragic it would be that this young mother was lost. I could see David (the grieving husband) shaking hands with people too stricken to speak. I would fail my life’s purpose at the very moment I might have obtained it! Too utterly terrified to express my fear, I wrestled with the pain like a trout thrashing on the end of a line. A screaming trout.

David attempted massage techniques from our prenatal class, but I could not tolerate it. I yelled at him not to touch me. I could hear other women screaming from either side of the long, linoleum tiled hall. These echoed cries could not have been more frightening. Promised pain-relief never arrived as our stupid class assured us it would. Labor was progressing too fast; I was past the point of safely receiving medication and must face the monster of hard labor a natural. It arrived with primal ferocity.

At one point I felt a hand holding mine. My eyes squeezed tightly shut, I gripped that hand so hard I could feel my fingernails cutting into it. The contraction over, I opened my eyes to thank David for holding my hand. But a thin, grey-haired nurse was smiling at me in spite of the abuse. She brought her wrinkled face closer to mine and said with gentle finality, “your baby will be here before noon. You will be all right. It’s almost time, dear.” I glanced at the clock. I could go a little while longer. This was the first time I began to believe I might survive after all.

The delivery room was a whirlwind of motion, cold air and brilliant florescent light. David whispered encouragement in my ear and snapped pictures. A young nurse was urging me with crisp instructions. A couple more waited nearby. A young intern was poised and ready. Being the center of attention was rather meaningless. In fact, nothing mattered except the task at hand. I had never worked so hard in my life. Labor had removed every other sensory perception; the whole world was focused on my debut as a mother.

At 11:29 AM the doctor pronounced, “It’s a little girl!” I said, “Robin Marie...”, the name David had picked from the Nantucket Sleighride song by Mountain ever since he was in High School. The immortal Lesley West sings: ‘Don’t cry, little Robin Marie...’ And she didn’t. After a brief towel rub, she was placed in my arms swaddled tightly in the warm, stiff hospital-issue receiving blanket. Her eyes were open, and she was sucking her teeny, angel-like fingers. She was breath-taking.

The old nurse had been a Prophetess. I had crossed ‘the valley of the shadow’ just as millions and hundreds of millions of other women had done before me in an ancient and deeply exquisite super-natural rite of passage. There would be no funeral. The yellow and white bassinette waiting at home would have a tiny, lovely occupant. We who had been two, were now three.

Wednesday, July 16

Saturday Morning

We’re up early ~

almost earlier than when we
get up for school (as a rule)
spilling out of our rooms
and settling-in
for a morning of cartoons,
with our cereal bowls cradled
over-flowing in our laps
each loaded with spoonfuls of
pure, white sugar, perhaps.

Later, it’s “Chiller Theater”
and a whole twisted stream
of black n’ white
toxic-radiation fall-out mutations
on Channel 13
make us scream, or quiver
with Sci-Fi delight.

After a while,
we’ll all go outside -
in a minute, you bet!

But wait -
the concerned family Doctor
hasn’t even noticed
the animated brain tissue pulsating
behind him ~

yet . . . !
*This is the genius of the modern age: the gross availability of sugar-saturated cold cereals and an endless stream of really bad grade B science fiction movies! We were totally wired for the day after a couple of hours of UFO-radio-active creatures ‘du jor’ ushering the civilized world to the brink of disaster. It was Cold War emotional Boot Camp and we were eager enlistees.

We didn't mind the long-shot showing us the cardboard rocket hurtling on a fishing line through the terrifying void. We forgave the awkward swamp-creature shredded rubber suit and the embarrassingly, torpedo-pointy bras on hysterical women. (It was their constant, good-for-nothing screaming, fainting or sell-out trip "I've sprained my ankle and can't go on you'll have to carry me!" that disgusted me). All things considered, I turned my head away or covered my face with my hands along with millions of other American kids; heart-pounding and mind-racing with anxiety perhaps in spite of the truly bad drama.

Static, black and white on a 14" screen was never so delightfully scary! Poorly dubbed Japanese horror films were never so satisfying as on a Saturday morning with a bowl full of Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes spilling into your lap.

*excerpt from 'Station Wagon Wars'~ growing up in the 60's by cTanner

Friday, July 11

Polite Society

Once properly enlightened

on unsightly nuclear fall-out

or personal hygiene appeal,

the film strip passively concluded

with the end piece tickitty-clicking

around the projector reel

and all of us

appreciatively applauding.

* Companion to 'Duck and Cover' drills were the highly efficient propaganda film strips all aware young American students were required to view. Regularly. Again, contradicting present-day commentary on Cold War Era follies, none of us were frightened in the least by the pretty, ballooning (though black & white) mushroom cloud expanding on the projection screen pulled down in front of the world map with the giant "U.S.S.R." over the black chalk board. Social Studies and Arithmetic to the wayside ~ it was movie time! Any break in routine was O.K. and we welcomed it.

The hot, stale classroom air thick with prepubescent afternoon recess sweat in the wooden bungalows at Lorne Street School seemed more intolerable than any atom bomb could be. The only thing that disturbed us was the repeated warning never to look at the bright, white flash. Akin to going blind if you looked directly at an eclipse of the sun, these were warnings we took seriously. There was a rumor we had all heard about a kid who looked at the eclipse for just a second - and well, you know.... Besides, we had already seen the film strip about washing your hair and brushing off your clothes from pesky nuclear fall-out dust. We could handle that. Piece of cake.

As for applauding after each educational film, no matter the content, no matter if it was an hour long or 13 minutes - it was just what was done. Even in public movie theaters after the latest James Bond, Henry Fonda or John Wayne epic - everyone stayed in their seats for part of the credits and clapped their hands. Our mothers also made sure we picked up our popcorn boxes, and mine was sure to comment indignantly on the starlet's immodest attire as we dismissed in an orderly fashion.

* Excerpt from 'Station Wagon Wars' ~ growing up in the 60's by cTanner

Thursday, July 10


The week before Independence Day different media forums hosted a series of explorations into Patriotism. Specifically if Black Americans (I have avoided the over-used and irrelevant African-American title) have had enough time to heal so they can feel patriotic. One young, Black and presumably ivy-league educated panelist - in words dripping with condescension and after a too-long hesitation - answered a question put directly to her this way, "Do I consider myself 'patriotic'? This begs we define the definition of what patriotic means. If it means I can criticize and raise my voice against the flaws I see because my criticism might make things better, then yes, I am patriotic." I turned the radio off when a Black woman in her 60's called in and said she hasn't been able to hang an American flag from her porch until now, because a Black man is running for president.

I read editorials and blogs on the subject until I felt sick. "White guilt" seemed the desired outcome of each poorly directed discussion. A country founded on slavery obviously is not worthy of respect from her citizens. Throughout the guilt-generated attempts to appreciate Black American resentment of America, it was more than curious to hear nothing about the resentment potential in the Native-American populace. Slaves at least have a property value assigned to them; Indians on the other hand had a price for their head.

Who are these educated people who speak as if they have never opened a book? How very convenient to criticize the past applying current cultural norms! In anthropology, this kind of myopic outlook is termed "ethnocentrism": judging other cultures by the standards of your own, which you believe to be superior. This philosophy fueled and legitimized the aggressive colonization era.

Who are these people who are so unhappy in America 2008? They seem unaware of how ignorant they sound as they disregard world history. All countries and systems of government evolve. In Japan, people no longer have their heads whacked off if they look at the Emperor. It took India literally many thousands of years (some experts theorize caste systems were introduced as early as the Holocene) to outlaw their ruthless caste system. It is still not eradicated, but since introduction of the law in 1950 its influence is diminished to the point that the 1997 President of India belonged to a caste formerly considered "untouchable". New Guinea tribesmen have given up head-hunting, the Chinese don't cripple their daughters with foot-binding, fiefdoms are gone from Europe and in central Mexico, they no longer glut themselves in human sacrifice.

Basic human nature has a profound voice in this discussion; we like to have control over others. Every human society ~ given enough time and resources, will eventually break-down into divisions of power. Someone will assert authority over another. It won't be fair, it won't be right, but this is nonetheless the heritage we bear as a human family. The King feels justified in his dictatorship. The Chief lusts for more prestige than he has already acquired by birth or by force. Secret Societies lurk to defraud and disrupt for personal gain. And those who are privileged love to complain.

In my Native American Religions class at Phoenix College a few years ago, the Navajo instructor clumsily manipulated hate rhetoric every class session. There was exceedingly little about the great, spiritual identity of indigenous peoples, but bucket-loads of inflammatory, irresponsible "discussion" about the evils of America and White, Western European culture. I had never been in an environment of hate promotion before. At one point, I had the floor. I made the point that we weren't focusing on the real issue. We can't excuse the real tragedy of broken treaties and cultural assault; but we must not assume an easy arrogance about what was going on within the context of the times. What country in the world was safe-guarding human rights and cultural tolerance in 1860? While the correct ideal was outlined in our founding documents, we as a 19th century world were not prepared to mentally or emotionally embrace it. Changes, however, were definitely in the works. Society was indeed evolving.

Indigenous peoples everywhere are traditionally the first society subjugated by influx of a new, more powerful group. I looked at the Filipino boy in class, the Latinos, the super angry Black man my age who should know better - it was really about human nature. I asked them how far back did we need to go to feel "guilty"? The Filipino boy was hot about the indignities his parents suffered to acquire American citizenship, but it wasn't something that happened in his life-time of driving his own car, texting on his camera phone and attending higher education. He didn't know a thing about the crushing occupation of the Philippines
by Japan during WWII. He knew nothing of his own family history beyond their immigration story. Virtually everyone can trace their roots back in time to a period when their people imposed upon another.

ulitzer prize-winner Roger Wilkins wrote Jefferson's Pillow: the founding fathers and the dilemma of Black patriotism in 2001. As a civil rights advocate, former Assistant Attorney General to Lyndon B. Johnson and a Black man in America, Mr. Wilkins is fully invested in his definition of 'patriotism'. He proposes an interesting study of this country founded on slavery; that without it we could not have succeeded in achieving independence from the Crown. The luxury of slavery afforded their master's sons an elite education in a time when most people were barely literate in the known world. Wilkins offers that these exceptional minds, randomly gathered together at this exceptional blink in history, could not have forged the revolutionary social ideal of the American Constitution without the support, or the pillow of slavery.

Jefferson, like many of his Southern generation, inherited his slaves. Had he freed them, there was nowhere for them to go. They could not own land. There were no rights or privileges in place to protect them at that time. Because Jefferson was a land owner in the South (a qualification that required slavery to sustain), he had the education, means and status afforded him not only to the ruling class, but to devote himself wholly to the exercise of country-building. In creating the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (both documents which literally ignited a human fire for freedom around the world), fighting for the establishment of freedom of religion, public universities and all the other brilliant, before-their-time endeavors he and his Continental Congress colleagues managed to achieve ~ can we still remain so ungrateful? Their singular, hard-fought success is a miracle! There is no logical reason that they should have succeeded. Yet they did.

Because they did, we have the most ideal standard for ordering a society and encouraging individual and collective progress on the face of the planet. There is no other society at any time that began with these ideals and has successfully struggled to protect them as America has thus far. True, the system is flawed. There are corruptions and shameful inequities. But the ideal is perfect. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is when we must add the imperfect variable of human nature to the amalgamation of inspired writ that the ideal becomes unattainable. This is not to say it is still not worth striving for and believing in. And above all, respecting.

I can be the most loathsome, animal sex offender and even kill a child in my depravity. All the physical evidence and eye-witness testimony possible condemns my criminal act - yet I am entitled to have an attorney argue in my defense, and a trial by jury of my peers hear the evidence in a courtroom sworn to impartiality under the law. America set the standard for seeking this level of fairness in a world which is by its very nature besieged by all things unfair.

Tell me again how you need to redefine 'patriotism'. Show me your suffering in America as you buy, sell, marry, work, play and pursue happiness in whatever manner you see fit. Don't point the finger at the past and make it your personal injury today; grow up. The world was a different place yesterday. It was - however unfairly to your modern, Western perspective, right in step with the social culture of the times in which it functioned. You can waste a lot of energy beating your chest about historical injustice. Read a book. You are not re-inventing the wheel by crying, "foul!" now.

You bore me with your indignation that the Founding Fathers owned slaves. You need to read the forcefully written clause Jefferson penned that he hoped would identify slavery for the gross evil it was and destroy it. You need to refresh yourself on the facts of what happened because he wrote that, and how Adams and Franklin begged him to accept compromise on this point, lest they lose the entire Southern delegation and their larger cause be lost. You ought to feel the pathos of that argument, so you can appreciate finally how good men, exceptional men - chose to overlook personal convictions on some points to achieve the potential to establish a more perfect union in the future.

You surprise me with how quickly you are willing to expose your lack of basic world history. After 9/11 and Oprah's furrowed brow looking into the camera asking, "Why do other countries hate us so much?", it irritated me how shocked people were that women were being debased in the Middle East. Some of the most unaware were women at my church, in Relief Society. I very much wanted them to have responded differently. It's not like it was a big secret. To me, it perpetuated the awful truth of Oprah's mental vacancy: they hate America because we are arrogant. We don't know other cultures exist, and we don't care all that much that we don't know.

As we appreciate history on face value, strange ironies emerge with a predictable breath of life. The American Indian Boarding School project was a hundred-plus year experiment in forcibly indoctrinating Native Americans into White culture. After the final Indian Wars, this was the alternative to extermination congress chose...both decisions were actually on the table. The motto: "Kill the Indian, Save the Man" is offensive to us today. But to 19th century Americans, many of whom did not accept Indians as human beings, the idea that these newly surrendered enemies of the state could be rehabilitated was considered logical and humane. Children were taken from their homes and shipped to far away compounds to live, learn and work in white culture. Crammed into triple bunk beds in military style barracks, they died by the scores from typhoid and tuberculosis. But - this was before the cause of contagion was known. Children were publicly humiliated for soiling bedsheets when they had never seen a bed before, or punished for speaking their native tongue. Out of the darkest places of this aggressive, intolerant policy, emerged shining stars: Olympic champions who represented the new, "heroic" American Indian to the world. Boarding school students who graduated and turned around to teach their own in new, more culturally revised curriculum so the students could understand illustrated by Indian student artists. Indians who went beyond trade avocations to actually attend universities. And finally, precisely because of the Boarding School experience, there were thousands of Indians fluent enough in English to accept the challenge as Code Talkers in WWII. Their contribution was no small facet in the turn of the war; in fact, it was crucial. Somehow we feel threatened to concede that good can come from bad circumstances. 

Some of us are too fixated on the past to be truly effective in the present. The sucker-punch of criticism does not define your interpretation of patriotism as much as it defines you as a person, surrounded as you are in the spoils of democracy. My love of country is no less legitimate because of the mistakes of her growing pains. I love America because she is rising ever closer to that original ideal the Founding Brothers envisioned. Her red, white and blue really does speak to millions around the globe of priceless, precious freedom. They feel this without the slightest clue to my interpretation of patriotism. They feel it because it is.

Before Obama was Frederick Douglas. Born a slave in 1817, his Master's wife taught him how to read and write. By doing so, she broke the law and risked her husband's wrath. He was the first Black American to be nominated for President of the United States in a major party's roll call vote at the 1888 Republican National Convention. Frederick Douglas was a great man, and a Patriot. Who are you?

* American flag photo by Asia Tanner Photography

Tuesday, July 1

Native Son

Wallace Ove Tanner was born in the upstairs bedroom of his maternal grandparent's red brick home. He was given his Danish great grandfather's name; Ove. He arrived as one of John Tanner's posterity, fifth generation removed. Likewise the English lines of Parkinson, Godfrey, DeFriez and Jarvis are notable as are the Danish names Christensen and Ove(r)son. Pioneer stock all; Mormon colonists first to Utah and San Bernardino, California, and then to the little nondescript northeastern Arizona town of St. Johns, Arizona. Where the grandfather built the red brick home with his own hands. Where that house still stands. We buried him there next to his wife two Saturdays ago. They passed away 11 days apart.

Somewhere in between the beginning and the end of his long life story, my world intersected with his. I married one of his sons. My children are his grandchildren. Our son James is the very image of his grandfather. Comparative photos of the two almost take your breath away.

New to this family with the famous last name, I was enthralled with all things TANNER. Lucky for me, my father-in-law was always in the mood to talk about his very interesting life. I used to feel sorry I had no roots to his home town, our summer family reunion destination. This was a place that shouted belonging to history, to coming from significant struggle and surviving the loneliness and uncertainty of the colonist's life.Original pioneer structures defy time and logic in their God-given tenacity.The old church on the highway hosted a 2 hour Sacrament meeting sweltering in the over-crowded chapel and adjoining hall every 24th of July. I wished I could join the tearful testimonies about beloved, brave ancestors who obeyed Brigham Young and left beautifully abundant places like Bountiful, Utah, to come to this high-desert cedar tableland deep in Indian territory. Besieged by disheartening drought and imperiled by an earthen dam that failed tragically time after time ~ still, the faithful stayed.

Their children grew up roping cattle and moved to Phoenix. Many of them married city girls and began their careers. Far more than one would expect for a town that maintained a population of around 1200 for almost a hundred years (until the Bechtel plant was built), the native sons and daughters married each other and came back home to sacred ground. Some survived the trenches of WWI, only to meet eternity broadsided by the evening flyer train. Sturdy, instantly recognizable Arizona colony names like Platt, Hamblin, Peterson, Hatch, Tenney, Farr and Udall, all have sons and daughters who remained or have returned home.

About 10 years ago I was surprised to discover my family roots in St. Johns are ~ after all this time ~ legitimate and documented! My English immigrant great-great grandfather Benjamin Peel and his wife Nancy Turnbull lived in St. Johns for 2 years before continuing South to the Graham County colonies of Pima/Layton/Safford. It shouldn't make that much difference, but it does.

The locals are fiercely and unabashedly loyal to their home town. This busting-pride is never more apparent than at seasonal High Holy Days like the 4th of July, and of course, Pioneer Day on the 24th of July. Both open with a bang literally as a cannon is fired off thunderously at dawn from the corner of the court house - (which happens to be a stone's throw from the Tanner homestead on the hill). I loved it. Soon to follow was the pancake breakfast at the park, and then a mid-morning parade down the middle of the highway. You could count on my father-in-law taking a million blurry pictures of every single ridiculously Mormon-themed float that rolled by; glorious concoctions emblazoned with scripture quotes, slightly disfigured paper-mache Angel Moronis and trailing tattered crepe paper. Fist-fulls of hard candy and water balloons were flung out to an appreciative crowd. Each year we would watch Grandpa's reunion shirt intersect doggedly with the spectators. He was truly in his element seeking out familiar old faces and shaking hands, hoping their renewed conversation would be under a tree. Alarming us, he would abruptly cross the road perilously close to the red, white and blue festooned parade firetruck or desperadoes atop skittish, side-stepping horses. His hand extended, we saw he was just greeting another kindred spirit. Snow cones never tasted sweeter than on the sweaty sidelines of this wonderful, entirely predictable spectacle.

It was very quiet when we crested the hill and stepped out onto the tumbleweed-spawned soil of the St. Johns cemetery. The ever-present wind pulled our hair and the moisture from our lips. This place is familiar to my children. It is not creepy or morbid; it is where the ancestors are waiting beneath blushing, simple old sandstone grave markers. But they lie to the north, in the Pioneer section. Today we are gathering around a fresh grave we left only 2 weeks previous. These are just two of about 27 plots grandpa purchased years ago, hoping to line us all up together. He said it was "the best view" of "old town". There is nothing left of old town, the original settlement. Just alternating fields of sweet alfalfa, ochre colored dirt and pasture land. Grazing livestock decorate the most pastoral of scenes.

He was right. It is a lovely view.

When the wind turns, we can hear the muffled booming of the announcer intermittently from the fair grounds. Heads are bowed as we strain to hear the second son pronounce the dedication of his father's grave. I am standing next to him. He is my husband. He feels what we all know: the Native Son has returned home at last.