Tony A. Smith

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Our Girl

baby-girl-light

We had the opportunity to visit with our daughter at our house this past weekend, who will soon be having a daughter of her very own.  While she was here we happened to come across an old box with some of her papers from when she was younger that had something I had written about her when she was only about 3 or 4 years old.  Here is the original paper I had hand written those so many years ago.

our-girl-poem-1

Our Girl

“She came into our lives as a blessing from above.  So tiny, so beautiful.  GOD blessed us with our little bundle of love.  At first she barely crawled, and now look at her run.  At first she could hardly talk.  Now look at her; she hardly stops talking!  Each day we grow to love her more.  Thank you LORD for our little blessing.  Thank you LORD for Valerie.  Brown eyes, brown hair, and that special warm caring smile.

 Each time I look at her, I hear GOD whispering in my ear.  Be good to her, and raise her to learn of me.  Teach her love, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, forgiveness, and train her in the way she should go.  Teach her right from wrong.  Teach her to love others, to give unto others.  Look at her now how big she is growing, changing every day.  Thank you LORD for our gift from heaven above.  May we love her and show her your ways each day. Thank you LORD for our Valerie.”

papa-sitting-with-grand-daughter

Valerie and Papa

The picture above is of our daughter Valerie and her own grandfather, my wife’s dad.  His name was “Papa”  I can’t wait to have a photo taken with my own granddaughter.  I know people say it often, but it does seem like only yesterday when our daughter was this age.  As a matter of fact, it still seems like only yesterday that I was carrying her to her first bed to lay in after being born in the hospital.  As the days pass, I pray that I will be able to be the grandfather that my granddaughter deserves me to be.  I pray that I will be able to show her the right road to take too, and that we will have many good years together.  If we are together, they can’t help but be good!

I promise again LORD that I will teach her just like I taught her own mother.  I will teach her the road to take, right from wrong, to love others, and to give unto others….. and I promise you I will love her every single day!

Family Time

around-the-dinner-table

Have you ever heard people say that the family who sits down to eat a meal together around the table sticks together through thick and thin?  Too often we are so busy being busy with work, running to soccer practice, or dance, or baseball, or football, or another meeting, or shopping, or playing on the computer, or talking on the phone, or texting,  or combing our hair, putting on makeup, or whatever, that we don’t take the time to sit down at the dinner table and reconnect with each other.  There are many who never sit down together and break bread due to overwhelming schedules of life.  It’s a pretty sad shame too, since there are many benefits to eating together as a family if you can fit it in your schedule.  Now I’m not talking about sitting around the television in the living room with a television tray full of food.  I am talking about honest to goodness “Pass me the potatoes please, and how was your day”? conversation.

There are so many benefits that result from being able to eat together and look one another in the eye and actually hear each other breathe.  There was a study done by John Sandberg and Sandra Hofferth entitled “How American Children Spend Their Time,” which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family which found that having family time meals on a regular basis results in fewer behavioral problems.  According to an article published in 2006 in “New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development”, family time dinners are even more important from a vocabulary standpoint than being read to.  It was found that young children learn 1000 rare words at the dinner table in comparison to only about 145 words from parents who read books out loud to them.  It only makes sense that there is more focus at the dinner table and obviously more comprehension.  No television, no phones, no computers, no noisy noise for a few minutes…. Sounds too good to be true……..but something you might get used to… right?

Being able to sit down and eat together as a family gives you a sense of belonging, and reminds you that you don’t have to face this old world on your own. It’s important especially for young children to give them that sense of security as often as we can.  So if you want to do something good for your family that will last and last, encourage everyone to try to sit down at the table at least for a few minutes, at least once or twice a week if you don’t already. It will make all the difference in the world. Children will remember those times for years to come, as they try to instill the same values, and quiet times in their own families that they were taught and can recall made a difference in their own lives and upbringing. Bind the family together and wrap them with the minutes of together moments forever. “So that’s what breathing sounds like?” Honest to goodness!

 

 

Grandpa Days

Arkansas City Kansas

I recently visited my cousin in central Oklahoma over the weekend. While I was there she gave me this old photo. This is a photo of my Grandpa Smith who worked for a company in Arkansas City, Kansas.  I never met him and this is the only photo I have ever even seen of him.  Dad never knew him very well since he died when he was only 5 years old.  

I wonder what he would have been like?  I wonder what he would have told me about life and the things that are really important?  I am sure I would have learned a few things from him about how it was in his day.  I know things have certainly changed since his time.  

 

How about you?  Do you have any favorite stories of your own grandpa that you might want to share here.  I wish I had some to tell about my Grandpa Smith but I never knew him… 

 

My Letters From the Heart

Ponca City Times

Yesterday I spent traveling to the north part of the state of Oklahoma to a small town called Ponca City which is located approximately twenty miles to the south of Kansas.  Ponca is the city where I was born and I was there to do some research for a few of my books.  This little city has a lot of interesting history associated with it and oil has been in the center of much of the history.

Pioneer Woman Statue

The statue above was dedicated in 1930 by E.W. Marland who was a millionaire oilman who pretty much put Ponca City on the map in a lot of ways.  The theme of the statue was based upon the settling of the american west.  It was dedicated on April 22, 1930 on the 41st anniversary of the land run of 1889 which opened Oklahoma territory to settlers. More than 40,000 people attended the unveiling of this 17 foot tall bronze statue weighing in at 12,000 pounds that cost more than $350,000 at the time.  In today’s dollars it would have cost about 4.5 million dollars.

The plaque below that first step reads ” This monument was erected by E.W. Marland in appreciation of the heroic character of the woman who braved the dangers and endured the hardships incident to the daily life of the pioneer and homesteader in this country.”

Marland Mansion Side View

This is a photograph of the home of E.W. Marland, the millionaire oilman who went on to become a U.S. Congressman and the 10th Governor of the state of Oklahoma. This mansion is listed on the National Register of Historical places and has almost 44,000 sf.  It is roughly 80 feet by 185 feet and has four levels.

Marland Mansion Back of House

The mansion was built from 1925-1928 at a cost of 5.5 million dollars which in today’s dollars would equate to approximately 77.5 million dollars.  There are 10 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, 7 fireplaces, and three kitchens and was designed by architect John Duncan Forsyth.  The mansion has come to be known as the “Palace on the Prairie”.

Marland Mansion Front Entry

E.W. Marland came to Ponca City pretty much broke and was living in a local motel.  He used some of the last bit of his money to lease land from a Ponca Indian where he started to drill for oil.  Things went really well for E.W. after that when in 1911 he hit his first gusher, and continued to find oil everywhere he drilled.

EW Marland Outside Marland Mansion

By 1922 E.W. was one of the richest men in the United States and controlled more than one tenth of the world’s oil resources.  More than 1/3 of the population of Ponca City worked for Marland Oil Company.  Mr. Marland was always very kind to his employees and pioneered employer paid insurance, eye care, and dental bills.  He even built homes for many of his employees.  There is a movie about the Marland story entitled “The Ends of the Earth” that is in production now staring Jennifer Lawrence.

Poncan Theater

This photo was taken of the old Poncan Theater which is still operational today.  It was built in 1927 at a cost of $280,000 dollars which in today’s money would equate to approximately 6.5 million dollars.  It is also listed on the National Register of Historic places and started out as a combination vaudeville/movie theater house.  I used to go to this old movie theater as a young boy.

My dad tells a story of how when he was a teenager, they were giving away a bedroom set in a drawing and he ended up having the winning ticket that day.  It turned out to be a pretty nice set complete with bed, mattress, night stands,  and dresser drawers,  that would probably be worth 4 to 5 thousand dollars today.

My day in Ponca City turned out to be a great day.  The weather was fantastic and I got to take my mom and daughter with me. We also got to have lunch with a few of my cousins who I had not seen in a long time.  I don’t believe it could have been a more enjoyable day!

Rough Characters

Fort Gibson Funeral Area

Fort Gibson National Cemetery

800px-Patriotguard

I had an opportunity to have breakfast with my mom at a local McDonald’s restaurant yesterday. It was good to catch up with mom who I hadn’t seen in some time.  We decided to go inside rather than go through the drive-thru and rush through a meal on wheels.

Just outside in the front there were some rather rough-looking characters with beards and straggly gray hair that had on motorcycle jackets that said “Patriot Guard Riders.”  There were nine men and one lone woman.  Some were seated at the plastic table and chairs and some were standing drinking coffee shooting the breeze.  I asked mom what she thought these guys might be doing and she said she believed that they were the motorcycle riders who went around to different funerals for veterans and protected their family from protesters.  After a few minutes they stopped drinking their coffee, bowed their heads for a long prayer, and rode off on their loud thunderous motorcycles in single file.  Mom said she was sure that they were headed to the Fort Gibson National Cemetery which is located only about a mile north of McDonald’s.

Mom and I talked for a few more minutes and then decided to head on back to the house.  As we were driving home, I asked if her if she wanted to go by the cemetery to see if the Patriot Guard Riders were there.  We pulled in the front entrance and I could see they had placed several American flags on poles that were whipping in the wind all around the outdoor funeral ceremony area.  All ten of them were standing in a circle around the funeral area. It looked as if one of the members was praying out loud and all had their heads bowed again.  As we got closer I peered over and noticed that there were only two people attending the funeral under the covered area.  What a wonderful and thoughtful thing for someone to do for those who have served our country.  There are so many who die penniless, homeless, and without a family or friends to attend their funeral.  The “Patriot Guard Riders” are an outstanding group of men and women who give of themselves to honor the military families and those in the military who have served our country.

Today there are more than 220,000 members of the “Patriot Guard Riders” across the United States. The group was formed in 2005 and incorporated in the state of Oklahoma in 2006.  They not only attend and protect at funerals, but they also assist families in financial difficulties with travel, housing arrangements, visit military hospitals, offer encouragement to the wounded in the United States armed forces, do volunteer work at veteran’s organizations, and greet troops returning from overseas at homecoming celebrations.

I suppose my assessment of the characters I saw at McDonald’s was a bit off.  They were not rough characters at all, but some of the kindest people you could ever meet. They are the kind of people in the world today that make a real difference in the lives of others.

 

Happy Father’s Day GOD!

Happy Father's Day GOD

 

“What do you want for Father’s Day GOD?”  Don’t you know?  First – I want your love.  I don’t want for you to just say you love me.  I want for you to show me you love me and really mean what you say.  Your words can be so empty sometimes like your heart. I don’t want an empty heart from you.  

I want to hold you if you will let me.  Don’t push me away by always trying to do what you think is best for you or what you want to do.  You’re not even thinking of me when you do that.  Listen to my voice by reading my word.   But don’t just read the words!  Listen to what I say beyond your eyes and ears.  Let my words enter into your soul and rest there.  

Put the cares and concerns you have in this world on my lap.  Talk to me about them all.  I will listen.  I am always listening to you and for you.  I want and always do what is best for you.  You asked me today what I want for Father’s Day.  I want you to want me more than anything else in the world.  I could give you anything in the world you want.  I want you to want more and more of me and less and less of the world.  

Your life in the world will one day be over after you have fulfilled all I created you to do in this dominion.  You’ll be with me forever after that!  While you are here, continue to learn of me.  Yes, learn of me by reading my word. But also learn of me through the trials and difficulties, the hard times, good times, the ups and the downs.  I have put all of these in motion within your life to draw you ever closer to me.  There is purpose in every provision and in every lack thereof.  

As you journey through this life I created for you, call on me often.  I love to hear your voice.  Don’t go a single day without calling out my name my child.  I whisper your name every day.  I love you so much it brings tears to my eyes in rivers of delight. 

When you took your first step, I smiled.  When you held out your hands for me to pick you up, I did.  You fell down and I picked you up again, and again, and again.  Look beyond in the distance past what you can see and listen for more than you can hear.  That is where I may be found.  It is there you will hear me whispering your name and see me picking you up and holding you.  Holding you and whispering your name.  That is the best Father’s Day gift I could ever hope to have. 

Papa’s Family Recipes

Papa Family Recipes Cover Chair March 9 2015

Tomorrow, Monday May 25th is the last day you can get a free copy of my latest book on Amazon

“Papa’s Family Recipes.” 

Make sure you get a copy to read if you have not already and have a great Memorial Day!

Click on the Link below to take you to the site.

Papa’s Family Recipes – Free Book

 

Papa’ Family Recipes

Papa Family Recipes Cover Chair March 9 2015

With the upcoming Memorial Day Holidays I am making my latest book “Papa’s Family Recipes” available on Amazon from Thursday, May 21st – Monday, May 25th for a period of (5) days.

Papa’s Family Recipes is a true story about my late father-in law, Alberto Petrucci, the son of emigrant Italian parents from Detroit, Michigan. Alberto went on to become one of the largest contractors in the Midwest.  Alberto, known to those in his family as “Papa”, had a passion for cooking and loving his family.  Papa left behind a treasure trove of tasty Petrucci family recipes that you will love.  Have you ever met someone you liked the very first time you met them?  That is what people said about Papa.

Grab a free copy and have a great Memorial Day weekend!  I appreciate any reviews if you have time to leave one!

Click Link below to take you to Papa’s Family Recipes

Amazon – Papa’s Family Recipes Free Book

The Clock Isn’t Moving

I’m sitting here with hands on both sides of my black armchair this morning. The one with the fluffy arms and seat. Staring straight ahead at the oversize white-faced Grandfather clock sitting at the side of the fireplace.  I know time is passing since I see sunlight starting to burst through the drapes on the sides but the clock doesn’t seem to be moving.  Neither do I.

I can’t think anymore.  I’ve even lost that.  All I can do is stare straight ahead. My eyes feel moist at the corners with droplets of tears.  I raise my shoulder close to my eyes and grab a piece of shirt to wipe them dry.  Every time I start to think about what happened, that’s what they seem to do.

Last night my sister, Sarah, called me on the phone at 1:00 in the morning.  She never calls me late at night.  I go over and over in my mind , what’s left of it; that is.  I hope somehow by going over it and over it again and again it will somehow not be true.

“Ben, Dad just died of a massive heart attack.  The ambulance rushed him to the hospital but it was just too late.  I’m sorry little brother, our daddy is gone.”  I broke done crying on the phone like a little kid.  I know grown men aren’t supposed to cry, but do you mind telling me why?  I couldn’t stop crying.

Why? …………   Why did this have to happen?  I just talked to dad on the phone yesterday and we were making plans to go up north on our annual fishing trip to Minnesota. He was getting his camper all ready and I had just gone down to Hanks to pick out a few new fishing poles.

I’m sitting here all alone in this house.  I’m sitting here all alone in this world!  I never got married.  I have no kids or family to speak of outside of Sarah and her husband and kids.  Mom died a few years ago and Dad was all I had left.  I have friends at work, but they’re not what I consider true friends. More like acquaintances that I have to deal with.

I sure am going to miss you Dad.  Tell me it isn’t true.  You can’t be gone.  You are my best buddy… I mean were my best buddy.  It just isn’t possible Dad and I refuse to believe it.

The tears start up again and the clock still isn’t moving and neither am I. I’m not sure if I ever will! I am not sure I can go on in this life without my daddy.