Sometimes the gore tumbles from the cottonwood trees on the South Canadian River.
Those were squirrels, shot by dad with his .22 rifle, not for sport but for supper. Jerks of his pocketknife severed the head and loosened the skin, and our tug-of-war stripped the hides. A slit from neck to groin gave our hands room to scoop out the guts and toss them into the dirt for the coon dogs. Mom boiled the carcasses with dumplings or dipped them in flour and salt before browning them in a skillet.
Sometime in college I realized most classmates’ diets had never included squirrel and that Alpha Xi Delta girls didn’t want to talk about it.
Sometimes the gore appears as a wandering blind man from Mississippi.
Thomas Gore found his home state of Mississippi wouldn’t elect a “nigger lover.” Texas rejected the blind attorney, too. Oklahoma was kinder. At 37, the democrat was chosen by the legislature as one of the state’s first two U.S. senators.
But in 1914, a cry of rape hurt his re-election chances.
Minnie Bond filed a $50,000 lawsuit against the senator for assaulting her body and reputation. She testified that a rendezvous in a Washington, D.C., hotel room was simply to discuss the appointment of her husband to a job. But the senator groped and crawled on her.
Oklahoma’s first major sex scandal was born.
Had Gore earlier gotten a blind girl pregnant and urged her to get an abortion?
Had Bond really sold her affections at a Confederate veterans’ convention in Little Rock?
Had Gore offered hush money? Had Bond demanded hush money?
Gore’s attorney protested that political enemies had lured the sightless senator into a trap to smear his name. It took the jury less than three minutes to agree.
An historian wrote the case “attracted more attention in Oklahoma than any other political event since statehood. Beginning with the New York Times and extending to the lowliest Oklahoma weekly, the press agreed that Gore’s vindication was fully warranted.”
Gore carried 74 of 77 Oklahoma counties in his next election.
Sometimes in Gore you don’t let your chickens loose no more.
Gore. Population about 900. Sequoyah County.
Originally named Campbell, the town in 1909 became Gore, in honor of Senator Thomas Gore, who—as legend goes—was beloved for arranging a donation of baseball suits to the local team.
Just as Spiro Agnew campaigned in Spiro, Oklahoma, Al Gore (remotely kin to Thomas Gore) campaigned in Gore, Oklahoma.
August 2016: “Family Reports Bear Attack Near Gore Area.” A man showed a TV camera the scabs on his arm, left from a swipe of bear claws.
Victim: “I just ran like crazy. I didn’t even see it at all. It was gone. I was already by the porch inside.”
Brother: “…I heard a low, low growl, and I know it was no big cat. And all of a sudden I hear a ‘boom, boom, boom’ on the ground, so it made me do a back flip and I ran back to the house. I said, ‘open up the door, open up the door.’ ”
Mother: “The next thing I know I heard, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, what the? Somebody help me.’ And the next thing you know, I could hear like a… very low-toned bass growl. Now, we’re not feeding our dog outside. We’re not leaving our dog outside and we’re not letting out the small cats, and I’m not letting my chickens loose no more.”
Sometimes the gore can’t be ignored.
Gore Vidal, writer/commentator/intellectual, said that his grandfather, Senator Thomas Gore, was an atheist who didn’t like people. Vidal lost friends in Oklahoma when he became pen-pals with Timothy McVeigh and compared the Oklahoma City bomber to Paul Revere.
Vidal said McVeigh’s goal was to send out a warning that the U.S. government had been bought by corporate America and “its secret police, the FBI, were out of control. What McVeigh was saying was, The Feds are coming, the Feds are coming.”
McVeigh invited Gore Vidal to witness his execution, but he did not attend.
Sometimes the gore sneaks into a Catholic high school.
Blood Cult. Horror-exploitation. Gobs of blood, guts, and dying girls. The first direct-to-video film ever produced, maybe. Low budget, definitely. 1985.
Some scenes were shot at the boys’ dormitories at Cascia Hall, a private school in Tulsa. As a producer Christopher Lewis recalled to author John Wooley in August 2012:
The girls (actresses) were all in their little skimpy stuff, you know, and it was like heaven for the boys. They were drooling, looking through windows, all of that stuff, and word got around Cascia Hall that night that we weren’t on the up-and-up and maybe we were doing a porno film.
Filming was moved to another location.
Sometimes the gore spills onto a dark Seminole County road.
No one could find Silas Narcomey’s head. At sunrise in February 1978, they found his body and limbs, scattered on a road by a hit-and-run driver. Seventy miles away, lawmen tracked down the damaged Lincoln Continental Mark IV and its dazed driver. It had been dark. Memories fuzzy.
For the family of the 66-year-old Seminole Indian from Bowlegs, it was spiritual agony. His soul could not rest. It would wander the earth for eternity, looking for the head.
The mystery was sort of solved 14 months later. A skull was recovered by a farmer digging post holes about 10 miles south of the accident. Maybe the dazed driver had tossed the decapitated head from his car, and possibly a mongrel had buried it.
In June 1979, the family of Silas Narcomey gathered for a second ceremony at the gravesite. Praise Jesus. May the saints come marching in, they sang. His brother, who had refused to cut his hair until the head was found, was free to visit the barbershop.
The hit-and-run driver received a $1,000 fine and suspended jail sentence and was ordered to pay the burial costs.
Originally published in This Land: Fall 2016