Saturday, October 17, 2020

Zela Trip Day 4

Zela Trip Day 4: Elk City to Joplin

Day ZeroDay 1Day 2, Day 3

Day 4

We drove from Elk city to Joplin today to visit Wee Nona Kukenydall. I made Zela and Martha accompany me on a small trip to Norman OK first. Their first football game was against Stanford and the “freeway” to campus as basically a long thin parking lot and the California plates caused a small stir. I ran into the student store and I think Zela was bemused by all the problems of parking.

Wee Nona is a kind, sweet and demented lady. She is Zela’s cousin. Her mother and Zela’s mother were sisters. Her husband recently died and a large part of the first evening was spent discussing dead husbands. I was sick the second day. I had been sick since we left California, but this was the first real stop where my body had a chance to fall apart.

Wenonah’s daughter (Donna) and son-in-law (Don) came over on the second day. She is beautiful and her husband is a crazy (funny) sicko who likes to dress up in masks.

First a bit about the drive from Elk City OK to Joplin MO, which manifest itself a few times. It was on a toll road, which in and of itself was novel for us from California (at least in 1984). We took our ticket and, at one point, stopped at a rest stop (also a novelty for us) and someone informed us we should eat breakfast here. Why? Because Oklahoma Police would check the time you got your ticket, and the time you left at the end of the road, and give you a speeding ticket if it was too fast and you were above 55 mph. This dissuaded lead-foot Zela from driving for a while.

I did make us stop off at University of Oklahoma. It was a Saturday and Oklahoma was playing football against (and I believed stomped) Stanford. Because I had gone to UCLA and visited a lot of other colleges, I had a T-shirt collection from schools I had visited. I was happy to grab an Oklahoma T-shirt. The California plates did generate a lot of looks from the people walking to the game, but the presence of Zela and Martha calmed them down. In fact, they let me park in a no-parking zone so I could run into the student store and by a T-shirt.

Digression. I did visit Norman again a few years later to watch UCLA get stomped by Oklahoma. We (at the time, Greg and I) visited Norman for the Oklahoma game and later Nebraska to watch UCLA play Nebraska. The people in Nebraska were more certain of a win and were a lot nicer. The people in Oklahoma were not nice. They kicked our ass and scored on us with ease. Every time they score, that little Oklahoma Sooner Schooner raced across the field. I grew to hate that little wagon. Also, isn’t it weird that the celebrate cheaters. A “Sooner” is a person that was lined up to grab land in Oklahoma (from the native Americans). The race was from the state lines at a certain day and time, but the “sooners” cheated and started the race early. Just sayin’.

We left Oklahoma and stopped for a few days in Joplin MO. Here we were hosted by Wee Nona (the birth certificate spells it Wee Nona, but she seemed to have lapsed into the more common “Wenonah” spelling later). She was Zela’s cousin. Zela’s mother and Wenonah’s father were siblings. I had met Wenonah once before in Anaheim. I think the girls in the family were all friends when they were children in Kentucky. Wenonah was a lovely woman, with a beautiful daughter and a goof-ass son-in-law.  I said demented at the time because she was obsessed with death.

Image 9: Wee Nona from Joplin (Zela's Cousin)

She lived in a typical home in Joplin. It was your nice suburban home and her family was lovely. I slept in the basement, which was very cool for me.

I know that for most of America, a basement is a totally normal thing. But at this point in my life, I hadn’t really traveled much out of California except to UCLA games and for those I stayed in hotels or at frat houses or dorms. And in Los Angeles, there are no basements. Houses tend to do very badly in earthquakes with a basement. It’s better to slide around on the foundation.

I loved spending a couple of nights in a basement, totally outfitted as a guest space (or in-law unit). It was an experience that I enjoyed. Weird, huh?

(Update) I also need to point out a problem I referenced in my notes at the time, but never really understood until Ed yelled at me for ruining vacations. It turns out, before I go on vacation, I normally work a ton. Double shifts if I could get them, and I clean like crazy. I tended to think it was a good thing allowing me to relax on vacation. Turns out, I usually burned through my entire reserves of energy and spent a day or two sick no matter where we went. I didn’t realize this pattern until Ed pointed it out (loudly and not happily). Anyway, back to our story.

Wenonah lived very close to her daughter, Donna and her husband, Don. Donna was a lovely woman - given the dates in® I think she was 49 in this picture. Martha really wanted a picture with Donna and her husband and was super annoyed they refused unless they were wearing Halloween masks. It was all very funny and very surreal.

Image 10: Donna (Wee Nona's daughter) in Joplin

Image 11: Martha with Donna and her husband (masked)

Image 12:Donna and Don - unmasked

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