Day thirty-five – People who make a difference

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Well. I have to say. This trip through Oklahoma has been a real experience. I have had the chance to visit some really tiny towns and to meet so many people whose lives really make a difference. What a day!

First stop of the day was to The Learning Ladder in Muskogee, OK. I was running late and missed meeting the owner, Susan, however, it was still great to see the store. I met with Julie a sales associate at the Learning Ladder who told me all about her travels around the world as part of ‘missions’ teams. This was an uplifting conversation so early in the day. It’s nice to see young people like Julie. The Learning Ladder has been a fixture on the main street of Muskogee for the past twelve years.

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Julie, Sales Associate [top left], Inside the store [top right] and Outside of the Store [bottom].

If one knows how to drive without getting lost, McGowan School Supply is only supposed to be an hour’s drive from Muskogee. The key is “not getting lost”. I had a great time though. I have never seen so many fields filled with cows, horses, llamas and goats. I almost drove by Clyde’s store, McGowan School Supply. I laughed and had to back track. Clyde’s store is surrounded by cows on all four sides. Clyde used to work for Oklahoma School Supply in Muskogee until it closed down. He then opened his own small company in Hulbert (fifteen years ago) which grew from one small room of 128 square feet to a combined space of 2700 square feet. It’s easy to see that the store is Clyde’s pride and joy. He enjoys being able to contribute to the community by being the only source for educational resources for miles around.

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Clyde, owner [top left], Inside the store [top right], Outside of the Store [bottom left] and one of Clyde’s neighbors [bottom right].

An hour or so further down the road I’d have the biggest surprise of the day.I was looking forward to staying with Lucille and her partner Clyde. Lucille seemed like a real character; and a character she was. This lady (who is almost seventy) holds down about six part time jobs including teaching and counseling at the local community college. It seems that she has a real knack for counseling and students seek her out. Every year at least 300 students (whether assigned to her or not) latch onto Lucille for guidance. It was nice to see that she was so active and involved in life. But the REAL SURPRISE was that Lucille’s home is a ‘foster parent’ shelter for animals and she shares her home with 14 cats and 3 dogs. When I expressed my surprise and concern (I am allergic to cats) Lucille poured me some wine and told me not to worry. She was right. I wasn’t affected too much. I think she keeps her home exceptionally clean. Lucille and Clyde both make an enormous difference in their community of Broken Arrow, just outside of Tulsa.

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Lucille and Clyde, my Bed and Breakfast hosts.

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