1969 CHS Graduate
Don Long
cvilleok.com 1969 CHS (2010) Reunion page
Donald C. Long
Life Experiences
Fact Not Fiction

At this writing I consider myself a very fortunate person. Having grown up in the confines of a safe and friendly environment, I've been exposed to some very eye opening experiences. Since it's been a while since I've seen most of you all, I'll try to address as briefly as possible the major events of the last 41 years. You will have to understand that sometimes fact is more entertaining than fiction.

The first thing most folks want to know is family news. I must say this has been a trail that has ultimately turned out to be rewarding. Mom is still alive and lives in Collinsville (after a brief stint in Texas). Dad passed in 1991 creating a huge void in my life. My middle brother Fred passed a few years back but my baby brother Garry is still kicking and lives outside Claremore. My marital experience can best be described as fulfilling. My first marriage (married too young but its Shelby's fault) ended in divorce in 1989, but I did get the blessing of a son, Phillip. Once he grew out of immaturity (around 30) he's turned out to be a fairly good young man. Once I was single again, I was contemplating moving to Cypress or Costa Rica, when a bit of Divine intervention caused Mary and me to cross paths (ex-wife's fault- long story). It took a while but we ultimately realized we were very good friends and wanted to be partners. We were married in 1991 and I immediately made Brittany a "Long" through adoption. That created a little family of three that has been rewarding beyond my dreams. Brittany has since made Mary and I grandparents, which is a fun but challenging role. We don't get to Oklahoma often, but all are welcome to come by if they ever get down our way.

Since I left "home" in 1969 I have experienced things that one could only dream of growing up in our neck of the woods. I managed to get through college and go to work in the petroleum industry. This provided a vehicle to experience the world and make a good living doing what I considered an adventure. I have experienced the cultural differences of our nation while living and working in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Texas, California, and New Mexico. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance to catch 747's and explore the world. Having logged a few million miles chasing projects and dreams around the world, I realized it was time to throw out an anchor, and did just that in Welcome, Texas. You probably won't find it on a map because all that is left is the store that was established in 1867. We are physically located +/- 12 miles Southwest of Brenham Texas. I currently provide "adult supervision" to the industry as a consulting project engineer.

One of the unique experiences of traveling the world has been trying to share what I've seen or done. In the early days if I tried to convey a particular experience to anyone at home, I would get the "what has he been smoking" reaction of disbelief. I soon chose to quit relating experiences since it wasn't fruitful to share. The following are a few of the highlights of my international and domestic experiences.

Domestically, I must say we grew up in a very sheltered environment. Having spent the early years of my career in the Deep South, I will say we did not understand all of the issues related to the civil rights movement on both sides. I must say that both sides of the issue were misunderstood and misrepresented during the troubled times by the talking heads and the politicians. Of course, most of the mainstream Americans still believe the talking heads to this very day, and are worse off for doing so instead of trying to discover and understand the facts.

One thing that was very enjoyable about being in that part of our wonderful country was the people, the food, and the genuine hospitality. I had more fun, ate more interesting foods, and managed to stay out of trouble (mostly) while building an experience base in our industry that has proven to be invaluable to this very day. I have run oilfields, drilled wells, fought blowouts, and in general seen most anything that can happen from the mountains all the way to deep water. It's hard to single out any one thing that might be the most interesting, but I can admit there is nothing more interesting for someone that thought deep water was Oolagah Lake than trying to figure out how to do routine things in 10,000' of water. Needless to say, it's been a thrill all the way.

My international experiences are the hardest to convey since all of them were unique in their own way. I experienced enough of Europe to understand they are still a couple of decades behind us and will never catch up in our lifetime. The current national politics are rapidly pushing us down to their level, but hopefully the true American spirit will prevail and we will recover our lead.

I survived and worked through two civil wars in Africa. I was blessed to see many wonders of the world up close and personal on this fascinating and beautiful continent. I became close friends and gained more than a little respect for the cultures that are not understood outside its borders. I have watched as outside influences have destroyed local cultures, ways of life, and caused a lot of my very close friends to suffer, even die. It's amazing how we "civilized" nations think we know what is best for people that are cultural descendants of over 5000 years of recorded history. No matter how many National Geographics you read, you can't imagine the beauty of the animals, the natural wonders, the man made wonders (I subscribe to the theory that the pyramids were built by aliens), or the people of the different regions. Before Mary relates it, yes I do have 5 wives and 10 camels in a country in Northeast Africa.
I got to experience the world of the Japanese up close and personal as well. I must say it's amazing to me how they can survive on the things they eat and in such tight living conditions. Thank God for sake, it helps the food and smog go down. Having said that, the rural areas of Japan are as beautiful as anywhere on earth, and even though there is a genuine language barrier, the people are some of the most hospitable in the world. The countryside is full of beautiful shrines and mountains.

The last international experience was probably the most enjoyable. This was mostly due to the fact that Mary and B were with me (unfortunately most of my work was in "single status" environments) to enjoy the fascinating "Land of Auz". We had the opportunity to live in Queensland, Australia, for a couple of years while I was managing a start-up business in Brisbane. The people, the food, the drink, and the natural wonder of the countryside provided a bit of a fairytale experience. Eastern Australia is the only place I know you can go from pristine coastal beauty, to huge forests (both "rain" and deciduous), to pasture land, and desert all within one hundred kilometers.

All in all, I have lived and worked on five continents, in seventeen countries, and seen enough air miles and airports for six or seven lifetimes. I have what I consider dear friends in all of the places I have been. I have evolved to be what some may consider a cynic as it relates to my impatience with our spoiled population at home. I consider my views to be more than objective based on my experiences. I do believe God has a plan for us all, it's just not clear at all times.
As a bit of closing, for those who care to listen to factual tales (remember fact is stranger and more entertaining at times) from places far off, for a glass of single malt I will share the stories behind "What Cliff??!!!", the rodeo around the pyramids, finding Lake Funda, "we weren't shot at, just around", the time I threw the President's son-in-law out of the office, Good-bye Australia, or more. One day I might decide to write a series of short stories about "Marvin's Adventures" (totally different story) to capture some of the factual tales (I have living witnesses) if I can find a publisher. Whatever you do don't get Mary to talk about being the "Rambo" of Conoco Exploration, it really wasn't that bad.

It's been a long time since we've been together so I'm very anxious to see everyone. Hope we have enough time to get caught up and get re-acquainted.

(March 2010)

Forgot to mention both Mary and Brittany served in the Navy.

Just to avoid any further confusion ...
I am a competitor to the current day "Collinsville News" . After 88 years in my family my Dad sold the newspaper in 1987.
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By Ted Wright -- last update 6/19/2010
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