The area of the former Chapel displays a wide variety of objects from Laura’s and her friend’s personal history and tell a story about the life in Ryan. Click the first image to enlarge and see a slide show of all following.
This is my father’s barber chair. He became the barber of the Ryan nursing home, simply because he decided he can do a haircut. So he cut all the mens’ hair, for the women someone came in. The chair was in the barber shop of the nursing home when it closed for good. My nephew owned the building at the time and asked me if I wanted the chair. My dad had bought it used from someone in Bowie, Texas. It is from the 1920s, everything works just fine.
I used to paint a lot of signs, but I did not do that one. A ‘Redneck Woman’ is a country woman, I guess, who is a little on the shady side? In the photograph are Pawnee Bill and May Lillie, he had a big Wild West show and she was a sharp shooter. To me, they look like an outlaw couple in that picture, like Bonny and Clyde. The lifesize cardboard cowboy with the guns is Roy Rogers. He made movies when I was young, back in the fifties. That painting up above I painted when my son was in highschool, in it are my son’s hat, boots and spurs. His friend wanted to be part of the painting, too. He gave me his bandana to make it part of the painting.
My daughter Lana is fascinated with circuses. They used to come through Lawton in my young days. The poster has my dad’s birthday on it, so I really wanted it. It was on a storefront long after the circus had left town. I wanted to buy it, but the store owners let me have it for free. It is mine, the rest is Lana’s collection. Lana bought many of these items from a circus somewhere in south Texas, I arranged these things for display here in the Parlor. The picture of Marlene Dietrich I decided to add because of the Ferris wheel in it.
These paint by numbers sets I bought at a thrift store, remembering me first doing one. I wish I had started a collection of paint by numbers …
The wedding dress belonged to one of my good friends, Tana. She was way too young to die. Her husband gave me her wedding dress after she passed away. Tana helped me a lot in the Parlor. When we were painting together, she once told me around midnight: “When I’m laid out, I want to be put here.”
I asked: “What do you mean by ‘laid out’?”
“When I die, I want my body brought here. This is where I want my funeral. In here, in this room.”
I said: “Tana, I’ll die long before you. You’re 20 years younger than me, why are you telling me this? When you die, this place probably will not exist anymore, because I will be gone for a long time.”
But she kept telling me that. Tana was one of these people who would never see a doctor. Her husband Jimmy was older than her, they had cattle and a restaurant, so it was not a question of money. Tana simply was just terrified of going to a doctor. But one afternoon she called and said she wanted to go straight to the emergency room. When I came to pick her up on ordinary days, I went inside and had to wait for her. That day she was outside, got into my car, looked at me and stuck her tongue out. She had thrush on it, it came from trouble in her body somewhere. She was trying to make herself well by scraping it off–that’s how she was. Early next morning, Jimmy came by my house to pick up Tana’s purse. It had cash in it and I put her jewels in a plastic bag.
He said: “You know how Tana gets hot, she always sleeps with one leg out. But when I touched her leg, I was so shocked.”
I asked: ”What did it feel like, Jimmy?”
He said: “Real cold and real hard. I held her hand, I never felt a hand like that. Hard as a rock and cold.”
They did surgery the next morning at eight o’clock, but it didn’t work. She had had too many heart attacks. Some days before she died, we went through a box of pictures at her house and there was a small print of her wedding picture.
I said: “I want to have an eight by ten of it to hang in The Parlor. Do you mind if I borrow that and take it to Walgreens and make a larger print of it?”
So I did, and I’m glad I did. I had no clue I would loose her so soon after that.
That is a coffee table made of a guerney for caskets. My friend Lana had her TV on it. I made sure it fits the base of her TV set. It went from one end of the room to the other on that.
This quilt was donated to me, it is from 1939. Families paid to have their names embroidered on the quilt. Then the ladies of the Ryan women’s group who made it auctioned it off to raise money. So they made money twice. The winner was a lady living in Hobart, Oklahoma. She wanted to donate it to the Parlor, so it came to me. I love it. It is in such great condition, you cannot imagine it being on that earth for so long.
These are the graduation pictures of me and David, my first husband. I met David one night and he asked me to marry him that night. I told him I would, if he would stop drinking. His doctor had told him he had two years, if he wouldn’t stop. These days I was looking for a mate for the rest of my life, also for a reason to stay in Ryan apart from visiting city council meetings. I prayed every day for it and decided I wanted to meet people, but I did not want to join a church. So we drove through town every day. One night my friend Grace and I saw David on his porch drinking.
She said: “Oh, that’s David Jackson, we don’t wanna visit him.”
“Because he’s drinking too much.”
“He might like to have someone to talk to. Is he married?”
“Well, then he can’t have a wife that didn’t want us to go sit and talk to her husband. Lets go visit that man. I think, he needs a visit.”
She said “okay” and backed up the car, we already had passed his house. Grace knew David and introduced me to him. He was a real cowboy. After we talked that night he was arrested–right from his porch–for riding his horse on the sidewalk during the day along the stores here in Main Street, greeting everyone through the windows. The court ordered him to go to rehab. There he had time to think about what I told him that night. We married and it worked wonders for David, who never had a drink since. He says, he thinks about it every day, but knows if he has one drink he would become addicted again.
When this was still a funeral home, the dead body was placed here at the end of the room. Not the direction of the bed now, but 90 degrees turned. In the front of the boxes left and right in the walls there was wire to hang the funeral flowers on. The chandelier I found in an antiques store. My friend Loretta rewired it, she can do that with an entire house. She is very talented in making anything, building and repair work. The ceiling lights are original. They are for cosmetic purposes, shining down on the body during service. Each is of a different hue, making the skin color of the deceased look more pleasant.
I am a music fan. Willy Nelson is one of my favorite artists. I think he writes beautiful songs and has a great voice. I love everything about ihm.
Proceed to the Piano Room, leading deeper into the display and storage spaces.