Friday, January 19, 2007

The Dark Side of Beauty

My house is about a quarter of a mile off the paved road. Most of my driveway is rock, but a short portion of it is hard-packed dirt. For the last week, the drive has been totally iced over, but driveable. Yesterday, the temps finally got above freezing and things began to thaw. Now that hard packed clay is Oklahoma slick soup. My little Toyota became a muddin’ vehicle last night as I drove to my art guild meeting. I have to admit that it was fun to slide around the curve, overcorrect and slide again. Then I spun out pulling out onto the paved road – yeha!

The art guild meeting was held at the home of one the better known artists in the area – Gay Faulkenberry. She is an oil painter with a rather loose style. She lived in Taos for a few years, but moved back to Duncan as soon as she discovered that the schools and lifestyle were not all that great. We have something else in common (not just common sense). Her parents met in Red River in 1947. My parents met there in 1953. Her dad’s family owned the Monte Vista Lodge. Her mom’s family went there on vacation. It was love at first sight when he carried her bags to their room. I spoke with Gay’s father last night, Mr. Rawls. We talked about the old days in RR. He knew Hank and Johnny Mutz and many of the Mutz family. Hank worked at the Monte Vista before she married Johnny, as did Rosie Brandenburg before she married. Mr. Rawls told me some stories about being a young teen-ager in RR back in the day. It was great to visit with him, and made the guild meeting much more fun.

One of the most interesting things he told me about his teen-age days in RR was that he witnessed a fight between the Gallagher boys and their brother-in-law, Gwynn. He said it was an ugly kicking-gouging-biting serious fight. I had heard a story that one time when Gwynn first married the Gallagher’s sister, Opal, he got drunk and beat her. It was the last time he ever beat her. The Gallagher brothers were rather rough in their younger day, as was Gwynn. Mr. Gwynn was really a very nice man. He raised two wonderful daughters of which I was a good friend. He and Opal had a good life together. I would assume he made one serious mistake, but learned from that mistake quickly. Red River was a lawless mining town and later an illegal gambling place before it became a family vacation area. There were only a few families that lived there year around and they were a close group of people - if not related by blood or marriage. Life could be hard in RR. People worked hard and they often played hard.

Some things do not change. Those that live in the little town are still close. They may fight and argue, but they are friends. They work hard to make a living in a seasonal tourist town. And many still drink too much. Drugs have been added to the picture in modern times. People often come to these beautiful tourist towns like RR and Taos and think, " Wow, this is an idea place to live." But, there is often a dark side, which needs to be considered. As for a vacation place, RR is the best. Are all resorts like this or is there just a stronghold over RR waiting to be broken, but sucking the life out of those under its hold in the meantime?


Buck Pennington said...

Are all resorts like this or is there just a stronghold over RR waiting to be broken, but sucking the life out of those under its hold in the meantime?

I've often wondered this very same thing. I guess only full-time, long-time, residents of resort towns can answer that question. Is there some sort of "Association of Resort Town Residents" we could ask? :-)

Get ready for some more nasty's on the way!

Laurie said...

I think most places have a dark side, because it isn't the place itself, it is what is in the people that makes it so. Anywhere you go these days, there are going to be a certain number of people who struggle with addictions and abuses. In smaller towns I think it is kept for the most part a little more "behind closed doors", but in bigger cities it's spilling out all over the place, and manifests itself in increased crime, etc. That said, I think that spiritual revival and change can happen even in the darkest places.

Bec said...

Beautiful, thought-provoking essay, Lou. And good points, Laurie.

When looking at our behavior throughout history, I always remember Bodie, California (as in "Goodbye, God. We're going to Bodie.") We've always had that dark side. It's always a balancing act, isn't it?

But I liked that story about Opal's brothers looking out for her. Nowadays, we ask law enforcement to do it. This prevents vigilantism and offers protection against an over-emotional reaction on the part of the victim's kin, but I kind of miss that "hands-on" message. Sounds like instead of being thought a criminal, he learned his lesson within the family.
Doesn't always work that way, though!

Bag Blog said...

You are right, there is a dark side to most places. When a town has a small population and a big drug problem, it is more "in your face" than hidden though. The Bodie story was much like Red River, but RR pulled out of being a ghost town by moving into the resort business. Yet, there are still generational drug and alcohol abuse. I call it the spiral down therory.