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Great State: ‘A Paean to Pocasset’

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POCASSET, OKLAHOMA -- To drive down Washington Street in Pocasset with Frank Heaston in the car is to plunge into the human history of this small, Oklahoma town.

"That was a mansion when I lived here," he says of a house he spies from the passenger seat.

He grew up here, of course.

Frank's father owned a grocery store and this inquisitive boy heard all kinds of stories cross the countertop.

"I lived in that white house there," says Heaston as we pass another wood frame house, now abandoned.

He lived in various houses around town.

He went to school here.

The old WPA gymnasium built in 1940 still stands, but the old 'haunted house' his friends used to dare him to enter is long gone.

"We boys would dare each other to go in at night," he recalls.

He knew, for instance, about the extremely tall boy in his third grade class, how he missed a few years of school to help with the harvest.

Frank can point to the house where the KKK tried to run a Catholic family out of town.

It didn't work.

The homeowner, says, "He opened a window on the third floor and stuck a shotgun out the window, and said, 'we're Catholics. what are you going to do about it' or words to that effect. The crowd disappeared."

So many stories.

Heaston wrote some down for a high school reunion twenty years ago.

Then he kept writing.

After more than a hundred such tales were on paper, he bound them in a book called 'A Paean to Pocasset'.

"Not only was there a closeness," says Frank, "But there was an appreciation of each other."

Retired from a career in advertising, and teaching at OU, Frank still comes back to see old friends and remember.

Towns change over time, but through the sometimes distorted prism of memory they live on.

If the memories are good, those memories can last longer than a single lifetime.

'A Paean to Pocasset' is available through Tate Publishing of Mustang Oklahoma.

Frank now lives in Norman.