"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Oklahoma Icon--success and friendship, a professor's thoughts

Minute to Midnight, Icon--8 by 10 watercolor
This old prof has weathered the years and thousands of students, most of them  within sight of Old North, the first building of higher education in what is now Oklahoma at what is now the University of Central Oklahoma. 
In recent years I've begun painting it, usually in night time snow scenes for Christmas cards and a few other efforts. I don't know what drew it to me, but it became a recurring theme, and it has gradually dawned on me why.
The old building--vacant for years because of safety concerns--is now undergoing extensive renovation and could possibly be open this fall. It is an icon for education to generations of people in this state, but for me, it's more than that.
The blessings of my years at Central center on the friends I've made and the students I've encountered. I've said many times that "Our students make us look good."
As a prof, the greatest satisfaction comes when students  stay in touch after graduation, when they become friends--you've become a part of them, and they of you. It's gratifying when they surpass you in whatever they consider success and joy in living. And there are many who are just smarter and more talented than you.
So to me, Old North is an icon of success and friendship. 
That was brought home recently when one of those smarter, more talented graduates commissioned a watercolor of Old North to be framed with her degree. Thank you, Lauren Vargas of Boston.

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