Memories of 
Old Clarita

(From one of Keith Robinson’s Journals of 1992)

It isn’t much of a place---people living 25 miles away never heard of it-but its home to me!

The school is gone, the blacksmith shop and the store are gone. The place where we swam and called it a lake is really a muddy pond.  The hills seem lower and not so distant, but its home.  And now the railroad is gone, the depot, loading dock, the rails and cross ties, the gravel has all been sold and hauled away.

To add insult to injury, a new post office is a prefab!  Gone is the red brick post office, the sense of dignity.  The post office boxes with brass works and your special combination to open it. The little windows you could look through to see if there was any mail—all gone.

The cheep, cheep of week old baby chicks in the spring of the year, the hills covered with trees, the dirt roads, muddy in winter and dusty in summer, gone. But its home!  It is what gives life value.

Even though the roads are no longer dirt, the trees that lined them mostly cleared out, something happens to me when I drive over them. I know more than any other time, who I am!  I know as I have never known before what is valuable in life.

I know very few people there now, but they are more like the same people I have always known. Love is more lovely when I have been home. Home is warmer.  There is a kinder, more gentle spirit comes over me, a sense of well being, a feeling of connectedness.  God is more real, life is more meaningful.

Horses are ridden for show, no one hoes in the fields or puts a bale of hay in a loft.  But its home.  The Blacksmith shop is long closed down and the school and the store are gone. The old road is paved now and the trees along its edges are all cut down.  A nice wide bridge crosses Delaware  Creek where the one-way crookwooden bridge once stood—but its home!

Has it changed so fast? Am I really getting old? The barn we built, the cistern we dug, the trees we set in the back yard---is that all that is left of my life that was?

NO! “your word is your bond.” That still remains, and “A day’s work for a day’s pay” still holds true. “Be a friend and a neighbor anytime you can and others will be a friend to you.” “Defend the weak, help out the widow, put in another man’s crop because he is sick and if you don’t help he will miss a whole year’s harvest, don’t fight or steal or get drunk or curse. Be a gentleman when you go on a date, pretty is as pretty does” –these were pretty good rules to go by. Go to church and worship your God, pay your debts when they are due, vote the way you think is best and fight for your country if you must. These things are still a part of the place where I feel most at home.
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Keith and Mary Robinson
    Welcome to Clarita Memories. We have a vast library of photos and stories we intend to share in the future. Please send your memories and pictures to share with us for publication. You can mail articles and high resolution photos to Winston Rice, P.O. Box 130, Clarita Oklahoma.  Have questions? Fill out the form to the right and click on the send button.

Keith Robinson was my uncle and best friend as a child. Then he left, got married and became a Church of Christ missionary in Italy for 15 years.  I think I saw him and Mary once in 15 years when I met up with him in Mainz, Germany while I was in the Army. I saw him more often after I retired from the Army and moved to Clarita in 1987.  We saw each other more often over the next 7 years. Sadly, Uncle Keith died March 17, 1994.  I have read his letter many times and I can remember having much the same thoughts during my military career away from home.  Keith was funny and fun to be around. I miss him. 

Winston Rice
Clarita Main Street (L) taken north of town.  
In Coal County
Clarita school building. The white building to the right was the gymnasium and auditorium. 
O'neal Store and bank building on the corner of O'neal street and Main Street.
Clarita Main Street taken from North main Street.
Schmelzer's Garage and Blacksmith shop