I was raised in Lawton and moved to Tulsa in 1972. I always have wanted to tour Mattie Beal’s house in Lawton (Her White House,” January/February 2009), but can’t ever seem to make it to Lawton when the tour is scheduled.Mrs. Esther Thurman Powell was my teacher too, and I've never forgotten how she helped me through a difficult year. She was my teacher when I started third grade the fall of 1942. Shortly after school began my family moved Frederick, Oklahoma, then to Doheny Park, California, and back to Cotton County, where I found myself back in Mrs. Powell's third grade class at the end of of my third grade year. By that time she had the class doing addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. These were arithmetic problems I didn’t understand, and was too shy to ask for help at school or home. I was extremely worried that I would fail third grade. Mrs. Powell passed me. I was relieved and forever thankful to her for saving me from the humiliation of failing.
My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Esther Powell, taught all about Mattie Beal and Mr. Rogers, the two winners of the land lottery. She wrote books about Oklahoma history and was the most wonderful teacher I ever had in Lawton. I have loved and admired her all these years. --Sharon Zimmerman Mercer, Tulsa
Many years later I told Esther about my stress about not knowing arithmetic and fear of failing. She replied, “Harold I knew you were smart and that California was way behind in teaching arithmetic.”
By the way, Mrs. Powell was a relative by marriage -- she married my dad's first cousin, Paul Powell, in 1941. She is 92, a dear, and lives with her daughter, Barbara, in Oklahoma City.