We have no information on why they selected this place to live, in the neighborhood slightly north of the St. Louis—San Francisco Railway tracks and Union Station, what they paid for rent or what kind of furnishings they may have owned, although given their moves over the next few years, it’s doubtful they owned much more than could be carried in a suitcase. But once in Oklahoma, well-employed or not, they started rearing daughters, none of whom, it turned out, were the kind of model girls—obedient, devout, and quiet—that men like Edgar Locke anticipate springing from their loins, growing up undereducated, servile, and belligerently religious, and marrying men exactly like themselves.
In 1910, houses along West Frisco Street were simple frame structures with small rooms, cold in winter, sweltering hot in summer, and jammed against one another in shade-less neighborhoods patrolled by dogs and ice men riding horse-drawn wagons, because that’s what houses in that general part of Oklahoma City were like in the 1940s, although urban forest had grown up somewhat during those ensuing thirty years, and, except for ice wagons, are still like today more than a century after statehood wherever urban renewal efforts have failed to obliterate them. Thus when trying to unravel the mysterious origin of a supremely intelligent, liberal, and determinedly self-educated woman from the depths of a supremely disadvantaged and itinerant childhood lorded over by a religious fanatic, her physical environment—neighborhood and real estate—is relatively easy to reconstruct. It’s the mental and emotional part—the part that actually shapes us as humans—that must be built from scraps of evidence, knowing all the while that the result must be at least partly fictitious.
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