My father died in March 25, 1969 at the age of 79, one day after my mother's 76th. birthday. I took my son, Douglas, with me for his funeral. The next year, I was driving (with my two other sons, Stephen and Jeffrey) from our home in Cleveland, Ohio to San Diego, California so they could meet my mother and I could check on how she was getting along. We were driving on Route 44 southwest out of St. Louis and planned to stop overnight at Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I had worked and lived for almost a year.
In early 1941, after President Roosevelt had convinced congress that America should increase it's air force to 50,000 airplanes and become the "Arsenal of Democracy" for Europe, I had been transferred to Tulsa from Santa Monica, California by Douglas Aircraft Company. I was to be the B-24 Project Tooling Engineer and work in a new plant Douglas was building to construct Liberator bombers. They would be built at an unheard of rate of one bomber every hour. In fact I was living in Tulsa on December 7th, 1941 when WWII started. I wanted to see the plant again and tell my sons about my work.
It was a late Sunday afternoon, when I noticed that the town of Porum where my mother was born was about 95 miles south of Route 44. With an unexpected but characteristic impulse, I decided to drive through the town and take some pictures to show my mother where she was born. She had never been back to Porum since she was a very small girl. I thought with some luck we might find other information, maybe even the grave of my grandfather, William Freeman Keith.
Porum, Oklahoma was a typical small western town that hadn't changed much since the devastating dust bowl years of 1930s. It had survived the dust bowl migration, but little else could be said for the town. One main street with some old stores on each side of the street, and of course, mostly closed on Sunday afternoon.
Main Street of Porum, Oklahoma about 1970