I am a descendant of the famous Oklahoma Land Run. A clever film, “Far and Away,” centers on that event.

It can’t tell the whole story but it is thought provoking. So is a visit back to that land where I grew up. I have recently returned to Texas with some old and new insights. I went home again and found things I liked—reunion with sister and old high school friends. I found things I did not like.

Things I liked: the nostalgic trip to our Grandparents’ farm, the 160 acres to which Samuel Huston Mounce (yes, named after THAT Sam Houston) had staked his claim in 1893. It was a bittersweet trip. Visions of hard work flashed by: slopping hogs, plowing wheat fields, damaging my lungs (before tractors came equipped with A/C and WiFi).

My sister and I joked about wishing our Grandfather’s Kentucky thoroughbred, old “Dolly,” had lost a shoe.  Slower racers had to take the rocky ground to the north. But some lucked out and became “Boomers,” finding oil under their soil. The “Sooners” (illegals) claimed his land, but he won in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Not until the New Deal did we have electricity. Democrats President Franklin Roosevelt and Texan LBJ brought the welcome Rural Electrification.  Before that, we survived with kerosene lamps, a real “ice box” and, of course, an “out house.”

Samuel Huston helped build the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in a small town nearby. He and Daisy, his wife, had been “Campbellites” in Kentucky, devotees of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, the first American-born Protestant Church (“No Creed but Christ; No Law but Love”).  I found remnants of that open, loving attitude. But I also found an Oklahoma far removed from the one in which I grew up in.

Things I didn’t like:  Oklahoma is the “reddest” state in the nation. It ranks 50th in health care; Texas, 46th (Commonwealth Fund Scorecard). Oklahoma’s Governor, Mary Fallin, supported by a majority of legislators, is against the Affordable Care Act and refuses to expand Medicaid. In both Texas and Oklahoma, the effect of those refusals has been devastating in rural areas (Kai Wright, “Life and Death in Red America,” Nation, June 22/29, 2015).

Fallin is a female version of Greg Abbott. The legislature, under Fallin’s control, forbade cities to forbid fracking. Cities which want to control contamination and prevent earthquakes cannot do so now. In the last few days fracking water has led to 4.5 earthquakes (U.S. Geological Survey). The Oklahoma Corporation Commission just shut down four wells (Scott Finch, Daily Kos, July 2015).

Both Fallin and the legislature are trying to dominate the Oklahoma Supreme Court, destroying its independence, as they cave in to very strong fundamentalist religious pressure for resisting the recent federal ruling (Oklahoma Observer, May 2015). Both political branches refused to continue support for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.

This latest insult had a special effect on me.  I was schooled with students from many tribes—Ponca, Tonkawa, Osage, Otoe-Missouria (who held wonderful pow-wow ceremonies while I was home). My Mother taught at the famous Chilocco Indian School. The tribes are doing better now, at least those with thriving casinos, but many of our first Americans still need help.

The state I grew up in has changed, and not for the better. In other “sins of commission and omission” (yes, you can see teachings of that little church stayed with me), the Governor and legislature in Oklahoma have cut spending for deteriorating infrastructure. Both branches attack teachers and their unions.

Right-wing, regressive policies continue. Even after an infamous, botched execution (that of Clayton Lockett) in 2014, Oklahoma politicos move on with other, untested drugs. There is no consideration of Nebraska or other conservative states as they end capital punishment (Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty). Expensive, religious-backed privatization of schools and prisons proceeds.

All sound familiar? Are they trying to “out-Texas” Texas? They may have done so. Or maybe it’s a tie? In nearby Texas, Gov. Abbott vetoed a needed mental health bill under pressure from Scientologists and anti-vaxxers (Walter Einekel, Daily Kos, July 29, 2015).

However, in Oklahoma, amidst the right wing atmosphere, islands of development appear. I ate comfort food, after requisite Flag Salute and Lord’s Prayer, with retired Oklahoma farmers at their new Senior Citizen Center. (I also gained three pounds.) The old community spirit flourishes. Other things I liked: The state welcomed President Obama; at least the Choctaw tribe did, but not the Confederate flag-wavers who jeered him.

The President spoke at a Federal Prison in El Reno. That city had been damaged by tornados, but restored with Federal funds. He made a strong statement about the wrongs of unfair sentencing and over-incarceration. That is, he practiced Christian forgiveness.

There were other respites from the red state’s meanness. I met with a valiant, hard-working, democratic mixture of farmers, business-persons and members of the Creek tribe, who joked they “haven’t been thrown off the island” yet by conservatives. But painful thoughts returned as I passed the downtown Murrah Federal Building, leveled by terrorist bomb blast from anti-government right wingers.

The novel says “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Yes, you can. I did. But you might not like some of what you find. I saw my childhood past. We were not part of the Civil War. We were “Indian Territory.” That saved us from some of the more awful aspects of racism. Schools were integrated before the Supreme Court ruling. I joined African American, Native American and Mexican American students. That was my heritage then. Now, that rich heritage is vanishing.

Still, other likeable, even laudable facts remain. I liked that federal funds helped restore the part of Oklahoma City a right wing “survivalist” group tried to destroy. I murmured a special prayer of thanks for the exquisite, moving exhibit there, “The Field of Empty Chairs.”

The translucent chairs sit starkly on green grass, a rippling stream flowing by. The powerful art honors the children, veterans and government employees killed by anti-government, inhuman ideologues. I went home. I didn’t like the powerful right wing forces and their hard-hearted changes. They don’t do honor to Oklahoma’s past and present. I did like what Oklahoma had meant to me and what it could mean again.