Saturday, September 2, 2017

Chrissy's Lemonade

Chrissy’s Lemonade
It was the end of summer and in the next few weeks school was
starting. Some of the kids on the rez had to travel many miles away
to buy clothes for school. For some there was no money for such

There was this one Navajo woman, Chrissy's mother, and she lived a
couple of miles off the dirt road across a small arroyo (a canyon)
and lived amongst the cedars. Her man had left her some time ago for
the city lights and streets of Gallup, finding comfort in the taste
of Roma wine and Thunderbird.

She had two girls, Chrissy who was ten and Rowena, nine, who used to
play outside during the day and would help their mom chopping wood
for her and bringing in buckets of water. Their place was small but
warm and happy. Their mother had no work, but she could weave, and
there was loom with hand-spun wool sitting by it. The kids had
gathered the different plants with their mother over the summer and
she had showed them how to smash the small plants in boil a whole bag
full to make certain colors, warm browns, reds, and tans, and gray.

They watched as the men from the local area came to help shear the
sheep by hand, with sheep scissors and how Chrissy's mother cleaned
and washed the wool. There were big gunnysacks used to store them
away and worked on cleaning, carding and spinning the wool by hand
while sitting outside in the shade house, called a chaooh. As she did
Chrissy and her sister Rowena played around the small area of their

There was a corral and the sheep stayed there. The oldest girl and
her sister would take the sheep out everyday and knew all the small
mesas, and gullies and a long valley they would take the sheep up to
where they watered at s spring.

School was going to start soon and when they walked the four or so
miles to the trading post, the Chrissy looked at the posters on the
wall talking about registration for school, headstart and  immunizations.
In one corner of the store was the post office really
just a cubbyhole with mail in it.

On the side of counter was a trashcan and she saw the trader's wife
throw a catalog away, an old Sears. She picked it up and took it home
carrying in a gunnysack they brought for food.

When Chrissy got home she stood it out and layer on the bed and
looked at all the pictures in there of new clothes, shoes, toys, and
toasters, and towels and many things they did not have.

She thought how would it be to have a shower way out here, to set up
a tub outside next to the house and have a shower curtain with brass
pipes to hold it up and there would be a room to wash in and throw
the big towels on the floor.

How would it be to have a big closet with all those shirts, pants and
sox of different colors. Chrissy marked the ones she wanted with an
X. She took a break every now and sneaked a spoonful of dry cocoa mix
from kitchen as a snack.

As school got nearer she realized there was not enough money to buy
any new clothes and her sister was going to get her old ones from
last year.

The missionaries from the different churches usually had clothes at
their churches but this year they did not go anywhere on Sundays
because it was too far. To get to church they had to take the sheep
out real early and bring them back in, get a dress on and then walk
the two miles to the dirt road and then walk to the small Indian
community where the churches were 8 miles away. They would walk
hoping someone would pick them up who was going that way.

One thing she couldn't understand was why people who went to
different churches didn't stop for them, but just drove past. Every
once in a while someone would stop and they would get a ride, but
sometimes they would go part way and then have to turn around and
walk back home. So they quit going. There were no church donated
clothes this year for them.

Chrissy just wondered about what they were going to wear, she needed
some shoes and was wearing thongs she got in Gallup last year. Her
tennis shoes were worn out. She had read a book about a how kids set
up lemonade stands to sell lemonade. She told her sister they were
going to sell lemonade by the road on Sunday's afternoons.

She found a box and searched everywhere for loose change, a few cents
here and there. When she went to the trading post, she asked the
trader's wife if she could sweep around the store, but she said no,
she didn't need any help.

She went outside and old Morris Natani, the mailman from Newcomb said
to her, "You can help me bring in the mail". He was a friendly old
man. He asked her why she trying to earn money.

Chrissy told him, "I have to buy lemonade to make a lemonade stand
so I can buy some school clothes".

He said, "Oh, I see..." She pointed back down the road to her place
and said, "We are going to put the lemonade stand by the bus stop way
up there". He looked that way and could see it.

The trader asked Chrissy how her mother was doing with the rug, she
had credit at the store as a down payment for the rug, and it was a
Two Gray Hills rug, with blocks and squares. It took a long time to
weave one of those, her mother would sit there all day and into the
night day after day weaving it one strand at a time. Chrissy said it
is more than halfway done. He said ok and gave her a candy, but she
traded it and her money for lemonade mix.

Old man Natani just watched this as it was going on looking up the
road at the place where the lemonade stand would go. He gave her a
ride in the mail truck, he was sort of the way people got back and
forth if they could see him, so they could ride to Newcomb and then
catch a ride to town.

Chrissy got home and put her lemonade away and brought empty plastic
jugs to the spring and filled them up carrying them back to the house
for lemonade.

Sunday came, and she carried her water jugs to the dirt road and sat
there with her sister Rowena at the base of those two mesas some call
Two Gray Hills, and sat there with a sign that said lemonade 25 cents
a glass. It was early morning, and she waited for the first customers
to come up.

A family drove by, the Nez's and they stopped and asked her what she
was doing and when she told them they bought four cups. They said it
was first time they had seen a lemonade stand way out there at Two
Gray Hills. They were going to the chapter meeting, a community
meeting at Two Gray Hills. As she sat there she drew designs, rug
designs that she had seen done by her mother on notebook paper she
brought. She drew a bunch of designs.

Old Man Natani came by and said, "Let's go down to the chapter house
so you can have more people to sell to".

They left and went to the community building and she sat by the door
with her lemonade stand started to sell a few cups here and there.
The meeting was about the chapter getting a new water line in from
Toadlena, the work would have to be volunteer and many people were
there. Chrissy just sat there and drew her rug designs.

In the parking lot a car came with white people sitting in it with
California license plates and two kids with red hair got out and
walked over to her, while their parents were getting out. The parents
had red hair and were talking to some of the people gathered there.
She looked at them; it was unusual to see white people out here and
with red hair too. Their eyes were reddish brown. They asked her if
she was a real Indian girl, she looked at them and said,

"Do you want to buy some lemonade?"

They turned around and ran back to their parents who were coming over
with Old Man Natani. Their father had a kind face and said we will
buy four lemonades, and she fixed them up. They stood there and
watched her as she poured the lemonade from the gallon jugs into solo
paper cups. The father stood there and looked at her and saw the
notebook with pictures in it. He picked it up and turned the pages.
Chrissy hoped he would not take it with him.

Old man Natani, said, Chrissy's mother is a weaver, she makes Navajo
rugs with natural dyes, she is well known for her rugs. Since you are
looking for one you might want to talk with her.

The man with red hair asked her where her mother was and she said she
is at home. Can we go there he said to her, and she just looked at

She was going to say it was hard to get to, but Old man Natani said
it first. He said we will have to take you there. She didn't want to
go because she had lemonade still left but loaded up her stuff in Old
man Natani's truck and they all got in the back leaving the car at
the chapter house.

As they drove along the way, the kids talked to her about school,
where it was and they learned how far away it was. When they got to
the turn off, the road was really bumpy since they didn't have a car;
it was not used very much. The red headed family was surprised at how
far away it was. They were even more surprised to learn she walked
two miles one way to go to school each day.

When they got to the their place, her mother came out of the shade
house wondering who Old Man Natani had with him and if something had
happened to her girls. The family got out and Old man Natani said
they were looking to buy a rug, a genuine Two Gray Hills. Chrissy's
mother was embarrassed cuz she didn't have much to offer them, but
the went into the shade house to look at the rug on the loom. It was
three fourths done, and it was really nice, the design looked like
one of Chrissy's drawings. As the father talked with Chrissy's
mother, the children looked around and saw the catalog, and looked at
it seeing the X marks she had made by the girl's clothes. The
mother of the red head kids watched this as she said it was just some things
she liked.

After some talking, the family that came went to the truck and talked
for a little bit, and then as Old man Natani helped Chrissy put away
here lemonade jugs, her mother asked her s she sold some. Chrissy's
mother was surprised to see she had six dollars in change from the
sale. She didn't tell her mother that she could have sold more, but
it was obvious why it did not happen, cuz the people came here with

They wanted the rug, and gave her mother a check, a down payment for
it so that she could pay her bill at the trading post and buy a few

Chrissy's mother was trying not to smile but it was there anyway. The
father turned to her and told her we are sorry we messed up your
lemonade sale today but I put a little something extra in this for

When they left, she wanted to see the check her mother got, and
wanted to know how much it was for. Her mother told her to get the
Sears catalog and they sat at the table with her sister Rowena and
she just smiled and laughed as she pulled out the order form and
filled it in with all the things Chrissy had put an X by and some
things for her sister and her mom too...rustywire

Blue Eyes

Blue Eyes
There is a woman, she is from up North, she
speaks in the lilting way of those from Rocky
Boy, Fort Peck, Standing Rock. I am not sure what
she is maybe Mandan, Arikara, Hidatsa, Cree
maybe...she told me once but I have forgotten...
when she talks her voice is like crushed velvet,
soft and inviting and her laughter falls like
heavy rain soaking your every sounds as
it comes from the soul...

I have known her for sometime...when she was a
youngster...then a teenager and then a bright
young woman...I know her mother and sometimes I
wonder about her father...

She talks about him how he took care of her,
protected her and spoke to her about the way she
should live... he passed away a couple of years
ago...alone. Her mother having left him years
ago...her mother once said she married him
because she wanted a powerful man in her
life...but he beat her and she got tired of it
and left him after many years...

This young lady has long black hair and eyes that
shine even at nite and they smile when she speaks
to you. I see her every now and then...

I went with her on a trip where we talked about
the things of work and day to day living...

She dances, women's traditional at pow wows
dressed in white buckskin and she moves like a
branch in the wind...softly and with a step that
has been learned from hours of practice....she
has two boys and they are her life...they make
her complete...

She works hard everyday and cares for her
children and is married to gruff young man and
sometimes I wondered how they got together but it
is not my place to ask why...but she is....she
loves him..

He goes about and checks on her every day...where
is she...what is she doing...who did she go
with....he says.....sometimes he drops by and
visits her...bringing gifts and presents...and
sometimes stays for hours....

I saw her the other day like I have in days town getting out of the truck...she
moved ever so slowly...her body aching it looked
like...and sometimes she comes in and her bright
eyes covered by dark glasses hiding the light
from her blue eyes...

Sometimes there is a limp in her walk...and she
moves gingerly...taking the day slow and smiles
and talks...she has the gift of talking about
anything and everything...oh, I fell she
says....and there under her arm are the dark
lines of fingers....some never will go away they
stay for months...they tell their own story...

She is here today...and yet she has been gone for
many days...twisted her shoulder...falling from a
horse...but she will dance traditional for July

He brought her new buckskin leggings...she showed
them to all...

She is a natural beauty...tall and fair...with
long black hair and dark brown eyes and a soul
that shines on her children...they are everything
to her.... She has a smile that is radiant..but
it seems her eye brows are sometimes
swollen....retaining water she says...and yet I
can hear her father...just as she would say... he
was a tall large man...from Northern Montana...he
always treated her well...and took care of her...
if he were here he would take care of me she
would say and nothing more...and she talks about
him so....

She loves this man she married and the other day I
asked her why...she looked at me closely...I
looked into her eyes and in there spoke to the
person are young and have a long
life ahead of you...maybe you should get rid of
him...and she was quiet...and then said...

I am going to dance at the pow wow this week
end...and I will wear these new buckskin
leggings...and look at the is so
nice...and looking at her I could see that under
her dark glasses she had blue her life
goes on...time after after day...and
though the world waits at the edge of the dance
arena she will dance in the way she has lived and
it will go on....and on...

Somewhere in her soul...she lives free...and it
is a place...where she goes to her little world
but her children can't get there....they see it
all...she is there just a little ways
away...smiling and laughing with her blue
eyes...and there is nothing else to say ...

She has blue eyes... rustywire

Native Born

Native Born
There was a small white envelope waiting for me when I got home,
it reminded me of some work I had done two years ago on some land
matters that ended up in federal court. It was a subpeona, it said be here
at this time and don't be late or else bad things will happen to you. So I
went, it was a long day, not that day but the day before trying to catch
up on some things, so I worked late till 4 in the morning, went to get
some sleep for couple of hours and got up real late...what did the paper
say....8 and don't be late, well it was about 9 when I got there.

The federal court building is a magnificent granite ediface, marble and
granite, the court room was all mahogany, quiet and stately.

I sat there waiting while the preliminaries were done and it is one of those
cases that is going to go a couple of days...those lawyer types dressed
in pristine white shirts, and black suits waved me over...we will probably
need you tomorrow they said...but since you are a witness you will
have to wait just outside, don't wander off we might need you, so don't go
anywhere. I wentoutside and stood in the hallway. It was a large hallway
white marble walls, cold and quiet.

A couple of people from the tribe were there, it involves them and the
work I did for them...I stood there with them, all dressed to kill with
white starched shirts, a blue tie for me and a suit, one that I like that fits
comfortable and so I stood there with them. We talked about fishing, and
a little about the snow of late. Them two from the tribe dressed just as I,
holding up those white marble walls....

The hallway began to fill little by little people of different shapes, colors,
from nations like Iran, China, Sweden, Thailand, Mexico and a lot more,
just down the hall. I walked down there and saw a sign, a paper on a door.
It said, Citizenship ceremony at 1:00, assemble here.

We stood there and watched them as people kept coming slowly, with
children, grandmas, an Hassidic Jew with a feathered hat, an Indian woman
in a sarong, Iranian women wrapped head to toe. The went into the room and
spilled out into the hallway.

The court room where we were in, was off to the side, the lawyers inside
took a break, one of the ones for the government came over and stood with
us three natives in the center of the hallway. I had heard he was Native but
not for sure so I sort of asked him from where he came, he told me he was
Seneca Cayuga and spoke to us of his people. There were just us four Natives
standing there, quietly talking and looking down the hall at all those people just
over there.

It is a naturalization ceremony, they are to be sworn in as citizens. We all
looked at each other, and without saying a word walked over to the door and
joined the masses standing there...these people from all over the world....
wanting to be American.

I am not sure who said it, but one of us did. Maybe we should join them
and get sworn in. We all started to laugh. The people there looked at us,
those four making noise...wondering what country we were from...we
looked at them closely and wondered how it would the break was
over the case resumed....

I stood there for a minute and watched those waiting to become American
and they looked at me.....I thought about it and after being told they did
not need me to testify until tomorrow I wandered over there into that
room and stood there and watched them, 90 there were all together....they
raised their hand and swore to be American. It felt strange to stand there
and listen to them, a Native American out of place. I stood next to a man
from India, he asked me, Where are you from? I told him, I am born for
Bitahni, the Folded Arms People, and that my father is Tsinalbiiltnii, the
Mountain People, that I come from Dinetah, and some would say I was
Navajo, a Native American...he looked at me and we just smiled at each
other....he said are you here with I said just taking a look
around...he said you come from a great country...and walked away....

I stood there and thought, I guess I am an American and after listening to
those folks talk about where why we are here. I am tired, I have put in a
long day, and sleep won't find me quite yet. I have been thinking about
some things and one of them is that sometimes I get restless, I am not
sure why. I find that I want to go home sometimes, to the reservation, and
to stay there, but in reality I know that I can't do that.

It is kind of funny I was in the room watching a ceremony celebrating
citizenship and yet I felt I did not have a place there, they were doing
something I never had to go through and no where were native people
and that once this was all our land mentioned. But then they made a journey
to come to a new land, and it was a hard one for them, having come
from far off with a dream and having overcome difficulties to get to this
time and made me think I guess I am glad I am an American,
and a Native....then I left to find me a burger and a Coke.....rustywire

The Field

The Field

In Toadlena, the place where I come from, there is a field not too far
off from the house; it isn't exactly all green in color and it really isn't
flat, but it is just a little ways off… just across the wash.

There were two horses, Smoky was a smoke gray horse we had. He sure was
feisty if you didn't handle him right, like when we rode him to the
trading post he would get spooked and the next thing you knew he took off.
He used to take off at a full gallop and then next thing you knew were going
pass the trading post hanging on for dear life with my sister hanging onto my
pants trying not to fall off. The old folks waiting for the mail outside on
the steps would just laugh. That was the kind of horse we had.

We also had a Blackie, a big black stallion, but gentle and easy going.
We used to ride him bareback and he was a good horse, but sure was slow.
Going to get the mail took all day cuz he would sort of just eat his way to
the trading post from home, going from plant to plant. When we finally got
there he liked to stand by himself. We did not have to tie him up, he just
stood there and waited for us by the door. I used to look at him standing
there and he would always be looking at the old barn next to the trading post,
it was the trader's. The old trader had a few bales of hay there to sell and you
could see the  loose bales laying on the ground. Old Blackie used to stand
there and look that way. He was sort of old and the fence was too high.
Everyone once in a while we used to sneak over there and grab a handful
of hay and give it him. Anyway, these two horses used to be in a small corral
not too far from the house.

My dad and grandpa used to use those old time yokes and use a plow you
steered by hand. The field was across the wash and you see that wash is
pretty steep. There is nice stream at the bottom which always had water in it
and there was pond right there. We had put some good flat rocks across the
stream so you could walk across to the other side. The trail to the field was
well worn. I liked it and didn't like it at the same time. It was nice to
walk in that pond, but usually we had to get water in buckets to carry to the
field to water the plants there.

That old plow was used to make rows for planting and with corn we used
to stand behind my dad and follow him with a bag with a few kernels in our
hand. We would plant them in the side of the furrow and had to be sure we
didn't bury them too deep or too shallow. When you are small it takes a
couple of years to get the hang of it, but you finally learn. When you do this
you can see the trees growing at the edge of the field and you learn how
every bush, every plant looks, because you stand there all day. At midday
we would go home and eat and it was pretty good.

My dad used to tell my aunts to help, so they could get an equal share
of the corn on e it was all grown, but we usually didn't see them around
when it was planting time. I can see still my father with the horse reigns
around his neck making the rows, doing that takes a lot of time, but somehow
it got done.

The pond at the bottom of the wash had two old buckets by it and we would
have to take those buckets and dip them in the water and carry them up to
the field. We used to pour two buckets of water on each each plant. When
you are small you think about the steps you take to carry the water, I
remember it took about 300 steps to get the the field, I still remember each one.

My foot prints are still there somewhere. That is what you call dry farming,
when you had to water each plant twice a week. It was something we all did,
everyone in the family.

My sister during this time of the year sure liked going to the Christian
Reformed Church for bible learning during this time every year, but
after the growing season was over she wouldn't go anywhere but stay home.
I kind of  think she did that so she wouldn't have to carry water.

One of the things that is good about it is you see those corn stalks
grown and just before it is time to pick the corn, my dad used to take us out
there and cut off a stalk at the root level and open it up for us. We used to
chew on this part and it was sweet, like sugar cane. It sure was good.

My Grandma (Shimasani') and Mom (Shima') used to go out and gather the
corn pollen dusting eat plant top, I can still she the deerskin pouches they
would carry and how they were all yellow colored inside. I remember my
grandmother, putting corn pollen on my head and on my tongue and
blessing me. It is called Hozhogo Nahasdlii', the Navajo Blessing Way,
a prayer that you can Walk in Beauty all the rest of your days. My mother
used to do the same with us kids. That pollen came from our field, our work
and was a part of our life. I still have those pouches and they are still yellow.
It is our way of life even now that I am far from home. This is what I remember
about that field just across the wash not too far, just over there. I can see it from
here, yes that is it, in Toadlena, where the mountain is cracked and the
water flows from there....rustywire

Boarding School on a Winter Night

Boarding School on a Winter Night
It is snowing outside, it reminds me of a night long ago. It was this
time of year….

The Indian Club used to meet in the boarding school dining room. The
girl's dorm was on the west side and the boy's dorm was to the North.
Flag Bordertown dorm, these buildings were light blue green in color
and stood in the forest, the tall pine trees hanging their shaggy limbs
and the crystal snow falling in clumps to the ground, showering those
who walked between the buildings with wind blown snow that would make
you catch your breath from the cold.

It is evening, and the lights are on and but the whole scene is blue
and there is no night, but reflected light of white of the snow. In
the midst of this quietness there is a sound coming from the dining
room, the chairs and tables moved out of the way and in the window. I
find myself walking from my wing where I stay on the boy's side down to
the dining room. The air is clean, fresh and I can feel it as I
breathe. I find myself on the walkway going down the hill to the dining
room, I can hear the sound of a drum beating and the sound of one of
the dorm attendants, who heads the Indian club.

In the large windows I can see the movement of Navajo boys and girls
swaying back and forth dancing to his voice. They are dressed in fine
clothes, satins, velvet, silver and moccasins. As I step into the room,
I see the other kids standing on the edges of the room watching those
ten or so that are out there dancing. They are getting ready for the
annual Christmas program and are making their final run before their
performance tomorrow. I see them, those with names like Keems, Sloan,
Acothley, Whitehat, Tom, Benally, Hoskie from places like Gray
Mountain, Skeleton Mesa, the Gap, Leupp, Selba Delkai, Coppermine,
Kaibeto and Shonto. As they move about they shine in a way that is far
removed from these four walls, from this school on the edge of town.
They are lifted from here to the mesas, flat lands and cedars of home.

In time, they have learned at the hands of this man who is singing and
they move about with grace and unity. Their steps together moving
satin dresses rustling in gold, green, blue and red, with velveteen
shirts and a shawl. The young men are dressed in white pants with red
velveteen shirts and they are all adorned with concho belts, turquoise
beads and silver. The light catches their movement and they float on
the words of a song. I find myself standing just inside the door, and
the room is quiet, as those of us far from home in boarding school see
how these our friends dance. I miss home and think about my parents and
the old folks and long summer days where I stood with the sheep and
quietly I find myself at peace. These kids, are all like me, so far
from home, and as I watch them dance I find some happiness in the song
and movement. As I look about the room there are many here and we seem
to be thinking all the same thing. It feels good to be here, to know
that this is a part of me, that I am Navajo and these words come and
take me home. It is good to be who I am and as I watch this song come
to an end. Sometimes boarding school was not so good but other times I
remember that some things we shared were good and helped us remember
who we are and this was one of those was just Indian Club
on a boarding school on a cold winter night. rustywire

Turkey Day

Turkey Day

The sound of silversmiths working in a sweatshop making Indian jewelry
brought together young kids from different reservations. Each day was
filled with work turning out rings, bracelets, squash blossoms and
more. They worked together singing Indian songs from their work
benches, and during breaks played basketball outside. As time went by
shared more than their time there but also when the day was done, time
with one another.

When you are far from home, a long ways from the rez, you seek out
others like you, it doesn't matter their tribe, just that they are
natives and share a kinship in the way they were raised and like many
people like to laugh and play ball together.

Three of them were newly married less than a year and lived not too far
from one another. Turkey day was coming and so decided to get together
to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was small affair, just the three couples;
they were a mixed up group, far from their own reservations. In the
midst of them were an Omaha, a Hopi, Ute, Navajo and Sioux all far from
home married less than a year. Their apartments were small in this
college town and so they decided to have their first Thanksgiving

David and Gretchen were just married that summer, she was a little
taller than he was, she stood 5'10" and he was 5'8". It was the time of
clogs; those shoes that had thick soles; some were an inch others grew
to 8 inches or so. David worked the silver and Gretchen buffed the
jewelry. When they came to work, she was taller, but one day he walked
in and stood nest to her and they were the same height. Looking down he
had on those cloggy shoes, an inch or two added. A few days later
Gretchen came in and she had on the same size shoes. On the following
payday, David was seen walking around with shoes that were three inches
high and so he stood taller than she did. Well, Gretchen came in with
shoes that made her taller still.

A week later, the boss came in and wondered why all the silversmiths
were standing not too far from the door to the shop. He was told we are
just waiting for a little bit for David and Gretchen. They came in and
stood there, their shoes had soles 6-inch soles. They had stilts on,
and had a hard time walking. There were thirty of us there and we all
laughed and they did not say a thing but went to work. It was the Sioux
girl, Gretchen who got to cook the turkey for us.

Curtis and Maxine had just had a little girl, Marie. Curtis was easy
going he came from Macy, Nebraska, Omaha country and his wife was from
Second Mesa. He was a good silversmith, his work was clean and he neat.
I learned a lot about patience from him. He never got mad but took any
problems out on the basketball court, he was quick and agile and a good
ball player. We spent a lot of lunches outside playing ball with the
chintzy hoop we used. There is a lot to be said for Indian basketball,
it is a game that tests skill, stamina, endurance, teamwork and is
having a good time. All the things that seem to bother you float away
in the wind when you play ball and life in the city is bearable
afterwards. Sometimes the group would get together and sing, Bobo, a
Crow brought a base drum and we learned to make drumsticks and sing
those old pow wow songs and every once in a while a 49er to stir things

My first born was on the way and so when Turkey day came my wife, Merl
was in the hospital my son born the day before, so I made the salad and
told Curtis when I got downstairs that Merl was at the hospital, but he
already knew, Maxine had already visited her there seeing the baby boy
we had. I went in and we waited for David and it got toward noon. They
finally got there and we were hungry. The table was ready, and
everything was layed out. Gretchen brought in the turkey and set it
down. Maxine helped her and got a knife to carve it. It looked really
good, the juices were just on the skin, it made it look moist and you
could smell it. Ah, nothing like turkey at Thanksgiving.
She put it on the table and we said a simple prayer and then Curtis cut
the turkey. He reached over and picked up the knife and began to cut it
like they show in Betty Crocker's CookBook along the bottom of the
breast. He was having a hard time, it wouldn't cut. He tried to cut it
but it wouldn't cut. He looked at Gretchen, who sat there quietly
watching him. He peeled the skin back and said, I think this bird is
still frozen. Gretchen said I put it in the oven three hours ago and it
should be done. Maxine said, did you thaw it out last night all the
way? Gretchen said, I didn't know you had to do that. Being so far from
home and not having really cooked before she was still learning. We
laughed a good one and she started to cry, but we told her it was ok.

We called all over town and found one restaurant that was open and so
we had chicken for Thanksgiving, but it was good one and when we see
each other every once in a while we laugh about it. This was our turkey

Melvin from Hooshtah

Melvin Comes from Hooshtah...Rabbit Brush

Got to thinking about a friend of mine, if he would let me say that
about him. He is an easy going kind of guy and I run into him every
once in a while. I am not sure what tribe he is, his mother is from Fort Defiance
and his father is from somewhere up North. I really never thought to ask
him, but I know he might be Shoshone, or Cheyenne, maybe
even Crow. I just know he is an Indian. His hair is kind of going gray
and his face is wrinkled but there is always a friendly way about him.

When I see him he always has a kind word and I mean every time I hear
from him. Sometimes I ask him if he needs a ride here or there and he
tells me, "No  I got to keep these legs moving or they get stiff." He rarely
accepts a ride, except when it is really cold outside.

He took me to his place, a one room affair in one of those motels along the
Old Highway 66 in Gallup. He likes it not having much, but he is always on
the move. He showed me pictures thumbtacked to the wall. They show a young
man, strong, straight back and dressed in Army green. There are few
other pictures of his unit and group picture of his Army buddies.

He told me casually that he is the only one left. He never really talks about
his time there, he is a Vietnam vet. I think that it is that way with many
Indian folks who went.

He showed me a newaletter he gets and from time to time I see him in
camo green at the pow wows around. He carries the flag and to him he
stands just like he did in the pictures I saw. He doesn't say much, he is a
quiet man. He wanders around during the day, taking odd jobs here and
there. He likes it that way. Sometimes in the evening when I am in town
I see him on the street, standing with a group of skins joking and

When he sees me he comes over talks with me, he has face that is rough
looking but has an easy smile. It is that way with us. I have never seen him
brag, or talk about his service time and he doesn't really want to. It was
just something that happened and is a part of life and so he went. He goes
about life quietly, even now and finds the best part of each day, it is like
he holds a secret and those around can not touch him.

He spends a lot of time on the streets mixing with those that are
there. To look at him you wouldn't know it that he was Army Airborne,
served two tours in Vietnam, was wounded and came home to live a life
without fanfare.

We seem to share a kinship and it ok with us. I suspect that maybe by chance
he will take a moment to reflect on his time there. He is just Melvin, Army
Airborne. I suspect he has a family somewhere who may think about him.
He is doing fine, he is o.k., he may drink a little too much once in a while
but his heart is good and I guess that is about the best you can say about a
man. We know a little about each other, he is friend of mine. I sometimes
worry about him being alone but he seems to prefer that life, no attachments
and just lives day to day. Sometimes I think it is hard but then again, he said
to me I shouldn't be here I got lucky so I take one day at a time and see what
the next dawn will bring. I asked him about where came from Hooshtah
Rabbit Brush and he said that is where I was raised he turned and looked
over his shoulder remember that place and then said, that was a long time
ago and everyone has gone that I knew there...