This weekend, I finally pulled together thoughts I had for a blog post about the Cherokee Strip land run. It was the kind of post I wanted to try and do right, because the inspiration for me was Tibbie Shades.
He was a great person and a teacher. As I wandered through the internet looking up pieces of information on the Cherokee Strip & Tibbie himself, I stumbled on an article in The Enid News & Eagle. The reporter (David Christy) had worked for the Waukomis paper and had the chance to get to know Tibbie fairly well it seems.
(Note: For friends who went to Phillips University, you may as well, just jump on over to the article cause it also includes a bit on Bill Snodgrass.)
The article captures Tibbie’s wisdom in such a way that I can see the smile on his face as he delivered a moment of philosophy. His wisdom is something that grips me. And it always seemed applicable to something you are experiencing or something you’ve recently experienced. That’s certainly the case with this.
You see, Tibbie had a way of making you feel smarter than you really were. Or, at least, that was my perception.
Back in 1998, I somehow talked the late English professor into penning a fairly short trivia column in the Waukomis weekly, centered around reminisces of his childhood and the area.
It was like a living, breathing history lesson every week.
Not that everything he wrote was earth shattering, but it reflected a rich wealth of knowledge he possessed, and a keen eye for the detailed minutiae of growing up in Garfield County, from the days of the horse and wagon through the Model-T and up to the end of the millennium.
But what I most remember about the man was his sage advice. And while he dispensed it on a regular basis, it always was subtle. He didn’t beat you over the head to make a point, but he pushed you to see another side of things that would allow you to make an informed opinion.
Wow, what a concept.
It’s too bad we have lost that in today’s world of instant news, blogs, e-mail, Twitter and entertainment shows trying to pass off as mainstream journalism.
Anyway, there was one day in particular I remember Tibbie stopping in to pay his yearly subscription. It was a hot, August day on Waukomis’ Main Street, no different than any other summer day on any other small-town street in America.
What made this day special was the wisdom Tibbie imparted.
After paying his bill, we began talking about a column I had written on a subject I since have been unable to recall. But the upshot was unforgettable. He told me he had read and re-read my piece, which I do remember was of a vaguely political nature on a topic of the day.
Tibbie said at first he pretty much had disagreed with the premise of my writing, but upon reading it again, was struck by the fact he had never looked at the issue from the perspective I presented.
He complimented me on my thoughtful management of the topic, and told me he had learned long ago to pay attention to other points of view.
“My mother always used to tell me,” he said in his best professorial voice, “always listen to what the other guy has to say, because he may just be right.”
I could really use a few more Tibbies these days as it seems there are more people who believe in absolutes and that their perspective is one, not the only one. I’ll love the “thoughtful management of the topic” as well because I’m positive that if someone was just throwing around an opinion with an attitude, Tibbie would call them on it — I saw him do it with great gusto several times! I hope people think I generally listen with an open heart and open mind, but I know there are times when I could do better. In his honor, I will make an extra point of listening to and understanding other perspectives.
Oh, and while I’m asking for more Tibbie perspectives, I want to add we could do with a few more bolo ties too — especially nice turquoise ones. Matter of fact, I think I may just need to get a couple out so they are real handy next time I’m getting ready to head out. May just wear one with a denim shirt & cowboy boots. Just seeing the turquoise bolo would be a reminder of Tibbie and his principles. I think I could use that and maybe you could too.