While Route 60 IS an actual historic highway going through northwest Oklahoma, it can be used to describe many things. Old backroads. Rusty signs. Fields as far as you can see. But there is so much more than just that on ‘Route 60.’ Case in point… – Editor
Today, I stopped and talked to Jack. For 21 years he’s been retired, and for many of them he’s been selling home made bird houses up at the four corners intersection way north of town. He’s a really nice guy, and while I looked at his birdhouses, he told me a little about himself.
He’s 83 years old, and it seemed he was wistful about his life. Just a few questions and a show of interest were enough for him to keep talking. He’s had a long marriage to his wife who he met at the age of fourteen, wanted to marry her at fifteen, but her father said she had to wait until she graduated high school. They were finally able to get married in her senior year.
He grew up west of Hennessey, and for most of his childhood he had no running water (“except for running down to the creek to get it”), and no electricity. He used to work for Bond Bread, here in Enid way back in the day, where he spent long days packaging the bread. I told him it was a shame when they tore down the old Bond Bakery water tower. My father remembers them selling their bread wrapped in brown wax paper.
He’s had many jobs. When he got on the subject of losing one of his daughters to cancer, just a week after having a “cancer free” report from the doctor, his eyes filled with tears. He said, “A person doesn’t think about his children dying before he does.”
He talked about how life is changing for him, about retiring at the age of sixty-one, because all of his family had died by the age of 65, “… and a person is supposed to enjoy life, so I told my wife we’d better do it.” So by the end of the year, he and his wife had driven across the United States three times, and saw all of it but Alaska. “At one point, if I had known where I was, I could have driven the forty-six miles to the southern state line of Alaska and been there, too.”
Just recently, after all these years, the state made him get a business license, and he had to take down most of his signs near the intersection. A few years ago, my friend Denise, and I stopped and bought a couple of his birdhouses. I told him hers had wrens living in it this year, and he seemed happy to hear it.
He said he was fine with me taking photos and seemed to like the idea of having his picture taken. While I was at the birdhouses, he would seem lost in thought, then would look up and wave at the trucks driving by on the highway. We live just four blocks apart, it turns out. I told him if I found some scrap wood, I’d bring it over.