"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain


An Accidental Arranged Marriage

I have no excuses. School has been out for a week. I have had the time, but I have not used it to blog. I was kind of in decompression mode. Kinda getting back to normal mode. December and May seem to be crazy busy in education. If you have children, you realize that. It is nice to have some time off. I also tell myself each day, "Who really cares if I write this blog or not?" Now I am not saying that to get responses, but I really mean that. So, I talk myself out of writing. Again and again. Now here it is 2 a.m. and I am writing. Go figure.
Today's post involves my hometown of Cleveland (as in Oklahoma, not Ohio).
For years there was an oil refinery just west of town.
It was owned by the Johnson family.
When I was in grade school we moved across town
(you realize this is a small town, so moving "across town" is just another 5 minutes or so)
and our new neighbor across the street was
Mrs. Johnson
of the Johnson Oil Refinery.
She was old. Somewhat frail. And very reclusive.
She hired my brother and I to mow her enormous yard (with out push mower).
She spoke if we spoke to her. 
There seemed to always be an air of mystery about her.
She lived in her big old house alone.
Fast forward 15 or so years and my dad and I were out and about and we came upon a 
Johnson Gasolene
 (yes, that is the correct spelling)
sign and I knew I had to have it.
I had to have that sign despite it was orange in color.
(NOT my favorite color!)
It is a big porcelain sign.
Old school heavy.
For years I have carted this sign around to each of my houses.
It has hung in three different states.
Notice I said 'hung'.
I always hung it somewhere in our previous homes.
In addition, I have moved this round table to each home I have lived in. The table, in its first life, was Early American  maple (??). It was not my style, but I liked the lines, the top spins, (which makes it a great game table),
and it had been my grandparents since I could remember.
Long ago I painted the table black and distressed it....
(much to my mother's chagrin!!!!)
When we moved back to Oklahoma several years ago,
my boys were unloading the U-Hauls ( yes, multiple).
The table was sitting out in the grass waiting for its 
new room assignment.
One of the boys unloaded the sign and just
randomly sat the sign on top of the table.
Oh my gosh.
Why had I never thought of that?
The sign and the table have been married ever since.
I have since painted the table with 
Annie Sloan gray and distressed it again.
I am not sure I will keep it that way.
I might put 
Annie Sloan old white over it.
We'll see.
In the meantime, the old 
Johnson Gasolene sign and my grandparent's table
continue to be happily married.
I mean they should....they fit perfectly together.
(So does that make this an 
arranged marriage....or
a happy accident?)
Every day I see that table I am reminded
of our neighbor,
Mrs. Johnson,
and the scary stories my brother and I were
convinced went on in her house!
By the way,
the sign is a double sided sign....(meaning it is 
exactly the same on the front as it is the back.)
the Johnson family sold their refinery to
Kerr-McGee Oil back in the 60's.
So on the other side of the sign you can still see the 
Johnson Gasolene embossing,
but the whole sign has been painted over in gray paint
and it has 
Kerr McGee's blue and yellow logo in the middle.
I guess if I ever hate the orange too much
I can always turn it over and have the 
gray side....
But then I wouldn't think of 
Mrs. Johnson and all those mysterious thoughts!
(Actually, there are enough stories about Mrs. Johnson and her family and 
Kerr McGee and their company to write a book...or make a movie! Wait. Both have been done!! I will have to tell you more about Mrs. Johnson and her family one day.)
Now that I think about it, maybe I should turn off all the lights and see if my sign
"glows" in the dark from its Kerr McGee days!!
Just kidding Kerr McGee...(and Mrs. Johnson)!


  1. I've missed you! I hope that you are spending lots of time with your granddaughter!!!

  2. And Abe is so handsomely posing for the picture!! :)

  3. Anonymous5/30/2012

    I love this post! I love this sign. Please will it to me when you die.
    Yes, yes, yes! I want to hear more about the Johnsons.
    I'm going to message you about this post. Watch for it on FB.


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