OKLAHOMA CITY — She was so young.
Gyongy Laky was just a 1st grader when her family came to Oklahoma City in 1950.
After nearly six decades only a few memories stick on what is her first trip back.
“I still remember Mrs. Sharp, my 1st-grade teacher,” says Laky. “She must have made a big impression on me because I don’t remember the other two.”
But there is one thing in this now century old school that really strikes home.
“I have not been here since 3rd grade,” she exclaims.
It still exists on one of the walls in the cafeteria.
“A lot of good memories,” she continues.
To Gyongy, it’s a crystal clear window to one of the happiest parts of her childhood.
Laky explains, “I remember my mother painting this. So walking in and seeing it meant suddenly remembering my mother in a very strong way.”
Between 1951 and 1952, Gyongy’s mother, Zyla Laky painted a mural.
Gyongy thinks it might be the Austrian Alps or the Carpathian Mountains of eastern Europe.
The Laky family escaped from there in World War II.
“It’s a pretty harrowing story of how everybody got out,” she says.
“A true escape?” asks Galen.
“Yes,” she responds. “My dad got out in the trunk of a car.”
Oklahoma City became their first independent home.
Zyla painted her mural from a good place, looking forward instead of back.
“The color, the landscape, it’s very positive,” Laky observes. “And that also makes me think that must have been how my mother felt being here.”
She hadn’t seen this mural since her family moved in 1953.
Looking at it, touching it, knowing it was still here and that generations of young children grew up beneath its gentle light was as good a homecoming as she could ever hope to find.
A picture in a lunchroom is a true touchstone still bringing happiness in the city that welcomed them with open arms.
Wilson Elementary is celebrating its centennial the weekend of October 4th and 5th.
The school will hold a parade and assembly Friday afternoon.
A cake cutting, fundraiser, and alumni gathering are planned for Saturday.
Gyongy Laky is a well-known artist in her own right. She has a gallery showing and talk scheduled for Thursday, October 3rd at Artspace at Untitled in OKC.