A father addresses his newly deceased 24-year-old son in this lyrical, wrenching essay.
According to the cruel logic of the state Crime Victims Compensation Board, victims in Oklahoma can be deemed responsible for their own murder, making their families ineligible for victims compensation benefits.
The strange saga behind The End of the Trail, one of the most recognizable sculptures of Western art, and the “odyssey of chutzpah and horse-trading” that brought it to Oklahoma’s National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
We’re proud to present a new Longreads Exclusive from Kiera Feldman and This Land Press.
A new Longreads Exclusive from This Land Press: Russell Cobb on Native American identity and the story of Iron Eyes Cody.
Our recent Longreads Member Pick, now free online: Gordon Grice’s devastating essay about the loss of a child:
That was my daily routine. Sometimes the woman I loved would come with me. I envied her. She seemed to know how to grieve. To let herself feel things, to take time. She wrote letters to our stillborn daughter. She ordered photographs from the hospital and put them in a scrapbook. She talked. Most of these activities were strange to me, though I clumsily tried to emulate her for the sake of my mental health. I wanted to have my private scene at the cemetery, unwitnessed, and be cured for good, or at least for a little while.
Thanks to Longreads Members’ support (join us here), we’re able to bring you outstanding stories from publishers and writers around the world—including today’s Member Pick from This Land Press, which is doing some incredible work out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and whose story by Kiera Feldman, “Grace in Broken Arrow,” topped our Best of 2012 list.
Today’s story is “A Stiller Ground,” a devastating piece from Gordon Grice about the loss of a child. The story will be featured in an upcoming issue of This Land, and we’d like to thank them for sharing it early with Longreads Members.
The story of a sex abuse scandal inside a Tulsa Christian school, where church leaders were in denial and where the crimes shattered the lives of victims and their families:
“No more sleepovers. No more babysitting, or car rides home. No more being alone with children or ‘lingering hugs given to students (especially using your hands to stroke or fondle).’ Aaron Thompson—Coach Thompson to his PE students—sat in the principal’s office at Grace Fellowship Christian School as his bosses went through the four-page Corrective Action Plan point by point. It was October of 2001, the same month Aaron added ‘Teacher of the Week’ to his resume.
“Grace’s leader, Bob Yandian—’Pastor Bob’ as everyone calls him—wasn’t there: no need, he had people for this kind of thing. Pastor Bob’s time was better spent sequestered in his study, writing books and radio broadcasts. His lieutenant, Associate Pastor Chip Olin, was a hardnosed guy, ‘ornery as heck,’ people said. Olin brought a USA Today article on the characteristics of child molesters to the meeting. At age 24, Olin explained, Aaron was acting immature and unprofessional, and someone might get the wrong idea.”
As you walk the main hallway, a culture of inclusion unfolds. Hair styles change to reflect the ideal of glamour for a young black woman of a bygone era. In the 1970s, the afro suddenly asserts itself, loud and proud. In 1979, the first Asian face appears: a young émigré of Vietnam. That’s a good story. A few steps beyond and a white face appears among more black ones. In the last decade, the pattern portrays an explosion of diversity: South Asian, African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic. A reflection of the new America? Perhaps. Then the last face: a smiling young woman, her hair covered in a resplendent white hijab. Welcome to Booker T.