INTERVIEW — TAPE #10, SIDE #1
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)
M: Maxine Mc Wethy
P: visiting neighbor
M: I didn’t get Bill back until nine o’clock. We went out to visit my daughter in Lula last night.
P: You have to bring him back before midnight.
M: I wanted him to go somewhere before he had to go back. I wish he had never got in there now.
P: You probably miss his check?
M: Well, he’s getting a raise on it, see?
P: That isn’t going to do you any good. They’re getting the raise. Are you drawing on Social Security or what do you —
M: Uh-uh. He’s getting that too. I’m fixing to get by on the side. In fact, I’ve got to go up to my sister’s in the morning to get calls from them. And then that’s all I have to do until I start getting my checks. (“OH GOOD”)
P: Well, you need that because the nursing home gets all that they make once they go into it.
M: I’m supposed to see that VA guy in the morning too. Bill’s been talking to him.
P: So you may be able to get some pension plan for your family.
M: I look like going somewhere. (laughs) (“YEAH” “REALLY”) I’ve done just as much good for him here as they’ve done for him down there.
P: No doubt. They’ll keep him clean too.
M: I’ll still give him his medicine. That’s all they do.
P: Yeah. They tell you to do that, you know, because of all the time you did it (“RIGHT”) they didn’t do it. (“YEAH”) You’d be just as good.
Q: Recently, I saw a news segment on praying and they said there was scientific evidence that praying helps.
P: Yeah. (“DRUG FRESH BLOOD”) Being out — being allowed to spend some time with the family — it just feels right. People that are really down and out can’t wait on themselves, can’t do so much — you’ve got to empty their bed pans —
Q: Well, he has a good attitude about it, though.
P: Yeah. And, you know, they need to be here. Somebody like Bill — he’d get up and walk in here and sit down and he’d drink coffee and —
M: He’s walking better. Like I told you a while go. (“YEAH”)
P: Well, he had a lot of infection and stuff. He just needed to get over that. (“OH”) The body—after you get over something like this—starts healing itself, you know? God put that in our body — that healing process.
Q: After the stroke?
M: He took him on a drive yesterday. They went way up in Rock Creek. Bill wanted to show him some country.
P: You saw some country, didn’t you?
M: I told him to go. (laughs)
P: Yeah. He needed to get out some. Somebody needs to pick him up and take him riding for the day.
M: I had to check him out the other night. That’s stupid.
P: They can be checked out for the weekend.
M: I had to wait on him even then.
P: But they have to be back by midnight Sunday night. As long as they’ve got them back there by midnight.
M: Well, I’ll do that too then.
P: I’m sure you can go down and get him during the day and bring him up here, maybe.
M: You’re daggum right I’ll do that.
P: Let him stay around and move a bit and be home a little bit.
M: I told them I’d bring him back yesterday evening.
P: As long as you get him back before midnight, they can count him for the day. It don’t matter, anyway.
Q: That’s what it all comes down too, doesn’t it?
P: Yeah. As long as they get counted for and that’s all they’re after, anyway.
M: He checked himself in, anyway.
P: You know, he can check himself back out. If he checked himself in, he can check himself out any time he wants to. That may have been why he done that. That way nobody put him in there.
M: I sure wouldn’t have. I tried to get him out —
P: Well, they wouldn’t put me in there because I don’t want to be there. Of course, I know if they put me in there it’s to live. They don’t put you in there to die. They put you in there to live.
Q: What’s the name of the facility?
P: Coalgate Nursing Home. And, you know, we’re put in those places to live. It’s a lot easier. One guy over there was so bad — his head wasn’t real smart; he suffered pinched nerves. Of course, he had enough sense to know that before that he was a sinner and he needed to be saved and asked the Lord to save him. But when they put him in the nursing home, he thought usually about a year later you die. He had nobody to take care of him and they put him in there. His eyes looked pretty scared and he said, “So did they put me in here to die?” I said, “No, Raymond, they put you here to live.” (“OH”) “Oh. Okay.”
M: That’s the last place you go, though.
P: But that’s what he thought. Well, he got more to enjoying it. And I talked to him and he was able to walk. I said, “Can Raymond, you know, he’s used to walking — can he go downtown or do anything?” They said, “Yeah. As long as he’s back here in time for meals and stuff, he can go walking.” Well, he started going walking down there and he’d go downtown to eat and come back to eat lunch there. He’s getting fat as a pig — eating twice, you know. And he’d come back, go to bed and have his bath and everything. He’d just do whatever you told him to do. He’d do it if you asked him to. I could get him to do anything. If I’d ask Raymond, “Would you do this?” He’d say, “Yes. Yes, sir.” And he’d do it. That’s what I told him. I said, “You’ll do anything you’re asked.” Well, now I found out how to escape from a nursing home. Some old man didn’t know what he was doing.
P: Raymond walked by that old man and he got up and slapped Raymond in the face and started hitting him.
P: And Raymond pushed him. Just getting him out of the way, he pushed him and the old man fell backwards. Well, the nurses thought Raymond was fighting him and they come over and said, “Raymond, go to your room. Raymond, you have to go to your room.” He said, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” You know, he didn’t want to fight with anyone. He just pushed the old guy back to get him to quit hitting him and those nurses tried to make him go to his room. He just backed up and pulled his belt off and just whipped the tar out of three of the nurses with his belt.
P: They started beating him and he whipped all three of them back with the belt.
P: So then they called the guy that was his third cousin, the provider, and said, “You’ll have to give him an apartment.” So they got him an apartment out there and he’s still living out there in the apartment there. In those new ones that they built there in case your brain goes. He goes downtown and eats and the provider—Raymond’s his third cousin—set it up so he goes to a certain restaurant. He can go in and eat breakfast, lunch and supper and then they bill the provider and he pays for it out of Raymond’s check — what’s left after the rent and everything. He pays the rent and pays for his food and everything. It’s set up for his meals that way. Raymond is the type that, if you sit down and buy him a meal, he’ll just eat again. He’s a big eater. He still runs up and down the streets. He gets around at a good speed.
M: I’m going to go and put this tape recorder up before I forget.
P: But at least I’ve learned one thing about Raymond. Raymond’s not very smart but he taught me that if they put me in there and I don’t want to be in there, I’ll take my belt off.
M: Oh my.
P: They’ll kick me out. (laughs)
Q: We all have to think about it, sometime. It’s good for me to know. (small laugh)
P: I think people go into there to live. It’s different than going there to die, you know. (“OOH”) And that’s what I tell him. “Well, they didn’t put you here to die. They put you here to live.”
Q: Right. It gets better.
P: And you can talk to them. You use a little bit of thought in the thing. They’re used to doing their own thing and they don’t like to be told what they’re going to do. But if you sit down and explain it to them and ask them to do it, it’s different. So that’s when I told him he was in there to live. He wasn’t scared any more. He thought he was just ready to die any time. That’s what he associated with it but it helped him. He did get out. He escaped the nursing home so now I know how to do it. Raymond taught me that.
Q: (small laugh)
P: Put me in there and I’m going to get out if I’m able.
Q: If you’re lucky.
P: Because I don’t want to be in there.
Q: You’ll probably go to a different place where they don’t let people wear belts.
P: If Raymond doesn’t know you, he won’t ride with you. He used to walk to the river nine miles every Saturday evening.
P: He’d come and he’d sleep in the church house and go to church the next morning in Milbourne.
Q: That would make a great movie, you know.
P: On Sunday morning, he’d leave at daylight and walk to church. And we stopped to give him a ride one day — we forgot something and were coming back to town there — and he said, “That’s okay. I’m in a hurry. Don’t have time.” He didn’t recognize us, so, anyway, by the time we got on out there three miles up there and got back he’s sitting there at church. He got to church before we got back up there. But after church he’d get in and ride with us. He wouldn’t get in and ride with strangers. I guess he was protecting himself.
Q: I’m from L.A. where you can’t hitchhike.
P: Well, right here, you can still stop and help people. Some of them. The way I do it is if I feel comfortable I stop. So I rely on the Holy Spirit to lead me. If I feel comfortable I stop and help. And if I’m at all uneasy about it I go on. And there’ve been a few places I’ve been more than uneasy about it and I just drove right on.
Q: Well, if it’s some, like, biker, I mean —
P: Two or three rough-looking guys. (“RIGHT”)
Q: I would drive on too.
P: If a guy’s walking along a road with a lunch box, you stop and pick him up because a thief’s not going to carry a lunch box. Crooks are not going to be working. They’re not going to be carrying a lunch box. They just don’t do that. All I can say is I’ve gotten by this long helping people and it has worked because life’s just different here. You can help people here and you don’t worry about them cutting your throat. Very few people get killed here in Oklahoma. There were a couple guys that escaped from somewhere who were taken into custody in Oklahoma after they killed two people who stopped to help them. They killed them to take their car and money and go on but then their car broke down.
Q: They don’t even need a reason to kill somebody. So what do you do for a living around here?
P: I’m pastor up here.
Q: What church are you from?
P: The Baptist church right up here. The gray rocked one right here. I’ve been there two years as of September.
Q: So we have Church of God?
Q: Any Methodist?
P: No Methodist around here. There used to be a long time ago but they closed up. There’s another church although I don’t even know what the name of it is. It’s a non-denominational Catholic church up here on the hill.
Q: So it’s not very popular?
P: No. They just started here two months ago.
Q: So Baptist and Church of God are the main denominations in this area.
M: My daughter cleaned house for me this morning.
P: She’s worth having around. Well, I better get and let you all go out to eat. I’ve got to get up there. We’ve got a missionary from Brazil coming on Saturday night and I think one from New Mexico tomorrow night. We got a Southern Baptist worker. And Wednesday night we got one from, I think, Iberia.
P: We’re having a world mission conference within the Association of Baptist Churches.
Q: That’s surprising.
P: When there’s a bunch of you working together you can do more than just maybe one little church by itself. You can have things like that. And what we do is take up an offering every night and send it in to the association and it’s all put together and paid for — the airplane tickets and all the expenses. Then, whatever’s left they split it up, you know, but it’s a blessing that way to be able to even have stuff like that. We’re not a large church but we can have this because all of the churches work together. Where are you going to eat? Ada?
Q: Probably Coalgate. What’s nice in Coalgate?
P: Well, there’s The Brandin' Iron.
M: The Brandin' Iron.
P: They have good food. They have lots of air.
Q: Okay. That’s where we’ll go. I had lunch there.
P: If this was during the week, you could go to Tupelo Grocery with Fanny Couey. They’ve got some good food. She serves a good plate once you’re there.
M: She’s great to me.
P: She is.
Q: Was that the market where that went on?
M: Yeah. When I left down there all that toilet paper fell one day.
P: (laughs) (“I FEEL PRETTY NOW I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING”) But, yeah, The Brandin' Iron. They’ve got good food.
M: That’s where LMNO ordered their food and brought it out here when they were here.
P: When I go out to eat I usually go over to Ada to Bandanas. Are you staying in Ada?
Q: That’s where I’m staying.
P: I like Bandanas.
Q: I’m at the Holiday Inn. They have decent food.
P: Try Bandanas. They serve good steak.
Q: Where is that?
P: Do you know where Pizza Hut is? (“YEAH”) It’s right across the street on the other side of the street. It’s down before Wal-Mart and Holiday Inn. Bandanas — that’s good food.
M: He’d have to drive back here from Ada if we went there.
Q: I would have to make two long trips.
P: Like I said, if you go back to Ada, simply as you go up Mississippi there, it’s right out there (“IT’S RIGHT ACROSS”) before the Pizza Hut.
Q: Maybe on my next visit here.
P: Now we went out yesterday to Pizza Hut.
Q: You can’t go wrong with Pizza Hut.
P: But I’m going over to Bandanas. You eat there and we had a salad with our pizza. I think it was a large — the cheese and the crust pizza. It’s supposed to be $9.99 and the salad bar is something like $2 — I think $2.59. For the meal, that’s ridiculous.
M: Yeah, it is.
P: And the funny part about it was I had a small salad and plate and Debbie even had only this little bit in there and ours was $2.59 apiece but he went back for seconds. He’d been up twice. He’s fourteen. The bitch turned fourteen. And these teenagers — they eat more.
P: He really scarfed up the salad and his cost less than ours. That’s the funny part about it. If I were to take two trips to the salad bar it would be different but to eat just a little bit of salad on the plate and pay $2.59. I said, “Wow.” So for $7 or $8 more I can go to Bandanas. They’ll bring you a nice steak, baked potato, loaf of bread, —
M: (small laugh) A loaf of bread.
P: — a salad and all the stuff out there and you owe the same money. (“YEAH”) It has a good atmosphere. You sit there and enjoy your food — good food — and you get treated with respect. If I’m going to pay that price, I’m going to enjoy it with steak, you know? Why eat pizza when you can eat steak? You sit down there and they bring you steak just about as quick as how long it takes for pizza. Sometimes, if you’re in a hurry you better not go to Pizza Hut. They take forever.
Q: Isn’t that the way it always is?
P: At Von’s sometimes they’ll lower the deal. That’s the slowest fast food restaurant in the world. You go in and order sausage and biscuit in the morning and it takes thirty minutes by the time you get it.
P: Yeah, it’s slow.
Q: That’s real slow.
P: People just went out to shop and stop in there because they’re in a hurry. Well, you all take care. The Lord bless you. If you stay down here, stop and come up and see us.
Q: How often do you have services?
M: He has to leave tomorrow.
P: Well, we’re only allowed to have the World Mission Conference every four years. We have Sunday school at ten, worship at eleven, Sunday night at seven and Wednesday night at seven. (“OKAY”)
M: Well, thanks, Pastor, for coming by.
P: So take care. Good seeing you. I was supposed to come by and see how you’re doing.
P: I like to check to see how everybody’s doing, you know.
M: I’m okay. My sister and brother-in-law came over last night while I was gone.