The new preacherman at the Christian Church of Apache Oklahoma, looked me up after he’d been in town a while and invited me over to his place. Turns out he was interested in becoming a mission-nary to Africa and wanted to meet one of the real-deal Africans he’d heard and read so much about. Maybe suss out just how much we needed saving?
A HUGE man, six feet and nine inches tall in his socks, Ron Elrick wore a string tie, a 10 gallon stetson and cowboy boots, making him damn near eight feet tall fully dressed as he stooped through doors and bent down to shake people’s hands. I met his tiny little wife who was seemingly half his height, and his two lil daughters in the small house next to the church.
He was an ex-Canadian Mountie and a picture on his mantelpiece showed him towering over John Wayne, when Wayne was in Canada to film a movie. Of course, in the movie they made sure they used Mounties and fellow actors shorter than Wayne!
Soon he invited me to join him on a men’s retreat to “God’s Forty Acres” in NE Oklahoma. The yanks are way ahead of Angus Buchan in this “get away from the wife and come back and tell her you’re the boss” shit. I mean, this was 1973! He learned his scam from them. I had made it known from my arrival in Apache that I would join anybody and go anywhere to see the state – and get out of school – I mean I’d already DONE matric!
So I said ‘Sure!’ and we hopped into his church-owned muddy pinky-brown woody station wagon, I remember it something like that ’53 Buick Roadmaster in the pic, and roared off from Caddo county heading north-east, bypassing Oklahoma City and Tulsa to somewhere near Cherokee county – towards the Arkansas border, anyway. Me n Ron driving like Thelma and Louise.
Non-stop monologue on the way. He didn’t need any answers, did Ron. I just had to nod him yes and he could talk non-stop for hours on end. At the retreat there were hundreds of men & boys just like him, all fired up for the Lawd, bellowing the Retreat Song at the drop of a hat:
♫“In Gahd’s Fordy Yacres . . !!”♫ We musta sang it 400 times in that weekend. If I was God I’d have done some smiting.
We left at last and headed back south-west, wafting along like on a mattress in that long slap ’53 Buick Roadmaster wagon, when Ron suddenly needed an answer: Had I ever seen a porno movie? WHAT? I hadn’t? Amazing! Well, jeez, I mean goodness . . , he felt it as sort of like a DUTY to enlighten me and reveal to me just how evil and degraded these movies could be.
So we detoured into the wicked and depraved city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Maybe he regarded it as practice for the mission-nary work he was wanting to do among us Africans? We sat through a skin flick in a seedy movie house. It was the most skin ‘n pubic hair ‘n pelvis ‘n wrinkly organs this 18yr old boykie from the Vrystaat had seen to date so it was, after all, educational. Thin plot, though.
I s’pose you could say I got saved and damned all on one weird weekend road trip.
Ron did get to Africa as a mission-nary. He was posted to Jo-hannesburg. Lotsa ‘sinners’ in Jo-hannesburg, I suppose. I’m just not sure they need ‘saving’ by a Canadian Mountie.