The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Like most children of the Depression, Frank Heaston learned to stretch a dollar, enjoy simple pleasures and save what he could for later. Fortunately, he saved a bookload of memories about growing up in rural Oklahoma.
His book, “A Paean to Pocasset, A Tribute to a Small Town” was published this summer. It chronicles his upbringing in the small, Grady County town nestled on Highway 81 between Minco and Chickasha.
Although the setting is defined, it could have been any small town in rural America. The morality and the values learned there stuck.
He views the community through three seminal periods — the Depression, Dust Bowl and World War II.
“It was a simple life and I’m glad I experienced it,” says Heaston, now 87 and a retired OU journalism professor. He writes of church revival meetings, working in his family’s grocery store and dedicated teachers who didn’t think twice about slapping kids who got out of line.
His book came about after his 50th high school reunion in 1993. He had penned some memories of the Class of 1943 to share. Stories like the spiked punch at the junior dance, keeping stats for the basketball team, day-long dirt-road hikes, late-night movie runs to Chickasha and porch time with neighbors.
“Later on I started looking at it. I wanted to put on paper the things that really shaped my life. I kept putting it in the computer and one day a friend of mine said I ought to make a book out of this. It’s about Pocasset but really it could be any small town.”
At a signing in Pocasset, he saw few of his generation. More likely, he saw their children and grandchildren who wanted copies. Some of the older folks bought multiple copies to send to their children. Lots of book buyers had questions about the town’s history.
A signing is planned 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 at Hasting’s in Norman.
His nostalgic trip down memory lane also reminds readers of the loss of the small town way of life where a child’s upbringing was more of a community responsibility. It’s a slice of Americana that is losing out to the homogenized suburbs along the interstates.
“I’m not a real supporter of Hillary Clinton but she was right when she said it takes a village to raise a child,” Heaston said. “We seem to have lost that. We’ve lost the family influence.”
Heaston thinks more of us should write down our memories to share with family and friends.
“At all of these book signings I tell people to get a yellow pad and start writing down their memories because when we’re gone they’ll be gone, too.”