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A Moving Story


Ben Franklin said that there are only two things in life that are certain, death and taxes. However, my experience has shown that there are several other things which are virtually certain. It is my aim to examine from my own experience, the unavoidable task of “moving”.

As a farm boy from rural Oklahoma, moving was something very foreign to me until I was almost 11 years old, when my family moved from the farm 12 miles south of Frederick, Oklahoma, into that county seat town where we had regularly shopped and transacted other business. I recall that during most of my early years I thought Frederick must be the largest city in the world, with two gigantic grain elevators and a five story hotel! My mother enrolled me in fifth grade at Central Grade School, which was the biggest school I had ever seen. There were four or five large classes of fifth graders alone, more fifth graders than the total in grades one through twelve at Victory High School, the rural school from which I transferred.

Needless to say, the “metropolis” of Frederick seemed to shrink as I grew older, so that, when I left Frederick for Oklahoma State University, Frederick’s size seemed just about right. Once again, as I enrolled as a freshman at OSU, I was overwhelmed by the vastness of it all. The University alone had over three times as many students as Frederick had inhabitants. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the grain elevators in Stillwater were not as impressive as those in Frederick. I know I am a country boy at heart, because OSU never seemed to shrink very much. I just learned to find my way around in order to survive.

The next move in my life was into a duplex in Stillwater with my new bride, Kay. Neither of us had ever lived away from parental or University supervision, so this was a brand new experience for us. We discovered that neither the plumbing nor the bed furnished with the apartment was up to the standard we were accustomed to. When we had the landlord remove the flea bag bed for a new one Kay’s grandmother had given us, we felt like we were sleeping on the clouds. I guess the bed was the first furniture we acquired, so this move was made in our car, rather than a moving van. Every move thereafter has taken at least a trailer and our car, and the last took two moving vans and countless car loads to complete.

The move from Stillwater took us to Redrock, Oklahoma; thirty miles form Stillwater, where Kay had taken a job as first-grade teacher. Our residence was an old teacherage only about 100 feet from the school, and its main selling point was that it was furnished free of rent. It still was not a great bargain, as it was without a heating stove, and the uninsulated north side of the house did little to stop the assault of the cold north wind. My dad loaned us an old Dearborn propane heater and Kay’s grandmother gave us a good electric blanket. Otherwise, we might have frozen to death. During the cold winter, we tried to balance the need to keep the pipes from freezing with the need to not operate an unvented stove all night. The electric blanket saved us from freezing, but it was common to have the water in the toilet bowl lightly frozen early in the morning.

Our next moves took Kay and me in different directions, as I had received my draft notice and was invited to reside in a barracks at San Antonio for basic training, then transferred to a barracks in Biloxi, Mississippi, all without my bride. She stayed with a girl friend in Redrock for several months, while I was in training. After a separation of about three months, we established residence in an apartment in Biloxi, and were barely settled in by the arrival of Hurricane Camille, the deadliest hurricane to ever hit the Gulf coast.

Although Camille did much to lessen the enjoyment of our stay in Mississippi, it did make us appreciate my reassignment, even though it was to California, which seemed halfway around the world. I will always remember the day we bid our family goodbye and headed west for a new and strange world. I was sure that I now knew how Christopher Columbus felt. When we reached California, I felt we were the new breed of Okies, in our Chevy Nova with, of course, a U-Haul trailer attached to the rear.

The next move came as a surprise, and took place when Kay was almost eight months pregnant with our first child. I was selected for an assignment to Abilene, Texas, but could not take it unless Kay’s obstetrician would sign a waiver to allow her to make the almost 1600 mile trip. He agreed, only on the condition that Kay travel by air, with me bringing all our stuff in the Nova and U-Haul (Which was now the next larger size, to accommodate all the baby stuff.) After delivering Kay to Los Angeles International, I drove all the way from Santa Maria, California, to Frederick, Oklahoma, stopping overnight only at Roswell, New Mexico. My only companion was a very large corduroy turtle, given to Kay at a baby shower by our friends at church. I still remember the funny look on the plant inspector’s face as I pulled up to his checkpoint at the Arizona border, when he took note of my traveling companion, buckled into the passenger seat.

The move to Abilene was accomplished quickly and we set up residence in our new home, just in time to welcome Kristin into the family. With a baby, the home furnishings and miscellaneous stuff grew and the two bedroom apartment was soon full of stuff, assuring that the next move would be even bigger. However, when the time came for David to get out of the military, he qualified for a move at the military’s expense. So, the relocation to Norman, Oklahoma required only that we point the movers in the right direction and try to remember where everything was packed. We realized how important it was to keep track of our stuff, when, upon unpacking our belongings in Norman, we found our blender lid in a large box, carefully packed all by itself!

After three years in law school, David was hired as a business law teacher at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and we began the move to Weatherford, to the first place we could really call our own! We were able to purchase a beautiful three bedroom home, with ample room for us and the two girls. (Melanie had joined the family while David was in law school.) We thought we would never outgrow this big house! However, in the next four years, after the additions of Jennifer and Stephen, we found the house had shrunk and we required more space. We began construction of a five bedroom, custom home, which we moved into when Stephen was about two months old.

We thought the second home in Weatherford would be our last, since David had now resigned from the University to keep up with his growing law practice. However, after living in our new home for eight years, another move materialized, as David had been selected by Governor Bellmon as a District Court judge in Tillman County. Thus began our last move to Frederick, Oklahoma. (Can you imagine coming more full circle than this?) The last move was surely the hardest, since we moved into a smaller house, and made the move on short notice and on a short budget.

Having now lived in the same house for almost seventeen years, we cannot imagine having to move again, but we shall not grow complacent, because we have learned that our next move may come at any time, since there are at least three things in life that are certain; death, taxes, and moving!

By David Barnett

Reach David Barnett by contacting Cheryl Orr at or 580-379-0588.


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