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Religion in rural America

   Part of my heritage can be directly traced to Oklahoman's gathering at the church house. Not just for religious services, but for all kinds of fellowship within the country community. I use the word "community" loosely because things were spread out more in those days and a team of horses and a wagon (buckboard) was the normal mode of transportation for most, although, automobiles were around and eventually, my grandpa did have one. The 1920's and early 1930's is when I am speaking of. The church building was used for a number of different "get togethers" including singings, pot luck luncheons and more. Gathering there was integral to the social interaction of the local people. It was where it "all happened." (There, and at Joe Bob Watson's store, across from Ryal school. He also did some "Judge" work there). As well as housing the religious services, the church building served many purposes that defined the community, such as bringing them all together in a common cause, a defining of morals and working relationships and a place to meet with friends. An important place. A Modesto friend, Dave McCain, once jokingly told me that when he was little, they were "so poor they couldn't afford to have bad morals. We needed each other too much." What a great comedic perspective that, obviously, has a large element of truth in it. It certainly did then.

   My dad, Fred Allsup was such an authority figure to me that I just knew I would never, ever, be the man he was or wanted me to be. Not such an uncommon feeling among young boys. He was stern, much like his own father, but with the most wonderful sense of humor. In retrospect, my dad's humor shaped and molded me as much as any of his personal attributes. Wonderful, full blown, belly laughs from his pranks and jokes throughout the years. A mere smile from him was a reward that stuck and he was not stingy with them, either. He was what he had to be. 1) The final solution. 2) The buck stops here. 3) If you need it defined for you, I'm just the man who can do it. 4) You can fool your mom, but I know bologna when I hear it. That was Dad. No profanities. Even "darn" was looked upon with shaming eyes. "Darn" meant "Damn" and we don't use that kind of language. "Jeez" meant "Jesus" so that was out. "Gosh Darn it" was really "God Damn it" in disguise and we don't take the Lords name in vain. Now, "Dad Gummit," which was a clever turn around of syllables, WAS okay. "Dad Burn it" was way aboveboard and socially acceptable, too. "Shit fire and save matches" was about the closest I ever heard to vulgar slang in my family. A country metaphor of the highest caliber, to be used only when you've hit your thumb with a hammer or stubbed your toe. But that was funny. Funny was semi-safe ground with us and seemed to bring with it a welcomed sense of acceptance. Funny was good. I even remember my brother threatening to sock me on the arm, the first time I learned how to give a "bird" with my finger. I thought it was funny and wanted to share it with him, though I didn't have a clue what it meant. I just knew the boys at school were doing it and it was cool. He straightened me out on that very quickly, as only an older brother can do.

   In recent years, my father has come into his own, concerning compassion. (That sounds a bit like the old joke he told me about the young man who said, "When I was sixteen my parents were so dumb. When I turned 21, I was absolutely amazed at how much they had learned in just 5 years!) Not until I reached about the age of 40, was I able to talk comfortably with my Dad, as a man. My early life was spent being consumed with not disappointing him, which got in the way. I withdrew, as many young people do, from their parents. Not in my heart, but in physical location. Probably, because I had disappointed him so many times. I loved and respected him as a child, wanting to emulate him in almost every way, save maybe, his "John Wayne sternness" at times. I have now found him to be much more than just the task master of my youth. He is my friend, my best friend. I love my Dad. We have a wonderful relationship. As common place and obvious as it may sound to you, I'm so glad he's my dad. I couldn't have picked a better one if I'd had a choice. If the truth be known, my dad has saved my "behind" many a time. Moms and dads are not just for your childhood, they're for your entire life .... and den some.

Below are pictures of some of my family.


My dad's six sisters and my mom, Effie, before I was born. Aunt Vera was to be the mother of my cousin, Andy Crowe. Bonnie (Allsup) Parrish had just given birth to my cousin, Ed Parrish, 2 months before. As kids, my mother and father had actually laid on a pallet together, taking a nap. Their parents knew each other and she lived just about a mile and a half from him. He had 3 brothers: Robert (older by 2 years), Bill and Glen.. There were a total of 10 kids.

   Below: Great Grandfather, Bill Allsup, who died from pneumonia after crossing a creek in winter time. A group of Indians had once tried to hang him. I have been to his grave site which is in an old overgrown burial field in Pierce, OK. We found it, only with my dad's help and a lot of driving and looking. While there, my nephew Mike and I refurbished the small rock head stone that had deteriorated and broken over the years. This picture was from a "Tin Type" photo.

My great grandmother Fanny McVay Allsup,

wife of Bill.



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