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SCBWI Prompt: Exhausted

I Have Never Been To Heaven

But I’ve been to Oklahoma

Never Been to heaven by Rasheed Hooda

I was returning from Palo Duro Canyon, aka Grand Canyon of Texas, driving eastward on I-40. I was tired and exhausted. I had been driving for hours.

As I crossed the State line between Texas and Oklahoma, the Three Dog Night song Never Been to Spain started playing in my head. There is a line in there that says,

Well, I’ve never been to Heaven, But I’ve been to Oklahoma.

I thought to myself; there’s got to be a view around here that I can capture to depict that line. Half an hour later, there it was. You see it at the top of the page as the featured image.

I came to the United States in January of 1974 to attend the Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma. I loved the small college town culture of Alva for two years while I was there. I have returned to it a few times since then.

“Castle on the Hill” mural, photo by Rasheed Hooda

The last time I was there was in 2015. It’s not the small town I remembered, but it’s still tiny. The University is always the same, but the place has had a facelift since I attended college. There are murals all over town. The one above depicts the first building of what was then Northwest State College.

Alva Water tower by Rasheed Hooda

The water tower on the west end of town now sports a mural of horses. The college mascot is The Ranger. The Pizza Hut, where I worked, is still there, but McD has replaced the Sonic and DQ. On the east end of town, next to the only car dealership stands the giant box store of Wally’s world. Life is never exhausted of changes.

OKC National Memorial by Rasheed Hooda

I lived in Oklahoma City for three years after leaving Alva. When you think of Oklahoma City, you wonder about the unfortunate incident of OKC bombing and all the innocent children that died in that senseless massacre.

It was here that I met Barney Paradise, who dubbed me Ratshit. He was also my trainer and mentor, who recommended me for a promotion to be a GM of a Pizza Hut.

And there was that summer when I didn’t work at Pizza Hut. Instead, I worked at a gas station where my roommate was shot.

At that time, I lived on the corner of Classen Blvd. and NW 22nd Street, not too far from the famous Milk Bottle Building, which is at Classen and 25th. It’s a National Heritage Landmark on the historic Route 66.

Milk Bottle Building by Rasheed Hooda

I can never get exhausted talking about Oklahoma or Route 66. In case you didn’t know, four years ago, I walked the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, more than 2,500 miles.

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum by Rasheed Hooda

I never get exhausted talking about Oklahoma and Route 66. Did you know that there is a working oil well on the property of the State Capitol of Oklahoma? Yup.

And before OKC, Guthrie, 29 miles to the north, was the Capitol. Legend has it that folks from Oklahoma City snuck into the old Capitol in the middle of the night and stole the State Seal and brought it to The City, as the everyday folks call it.

I visited Guthrie in 2015. It is a quaint little town with all its charm. Here is a selfie I took in the old downtown Guthrie.

Tipsy Artist, by Rasheed Hooda

And this one was taken on the outskirts of town. I call it “New Life.”

New Life by Rasheed Hooda

Did I mention that I don’t get exhausted talking about Oklahoma and Route 66? I met this wonderful centenarian lady in Miami, Oklahoma. It is in the North-East corner of the State. She operated a shoe store that her dad owned, and she worked there for 85 years. It burned down last year. Hey, Helen Cassidy Page, here is something to keep you going.

And one more story from Oklahoma and Route 66. It happened in El Reno, Oklahoma.

While I haven’t lived in Oklahoma since the end of 1978, it has always lived in my heart and thoughts. Indeed, I’ll never get exhausted talking about my life connected with Oklahoma. Here is one of my favorite stories that I have included in my book. It is also one of my earlier stories on Medium that was double curated.

Am I exhausted yet? Hell no. But you might be, so in all fairness, let me tell you that this was my response to the daily SCBWI prompt for May 19th, which is exhausted.

Thank you, Amy Marley, for inviting me to play along. Also, thank you, Indra Raj Pathak and Saloni Joshi, for always tagging me in your stories. I enjoy reading them.

Oklahoma sunset by Rasheed Hooda

(I can turn any of the photos in this story into beautiful decorative art on stretched canvas for your home or office. If you’re interested, respond with a note below, and I will get in touch with you with details.)

As always, thank you for reading and responding.

More about me:

Rasheed Hooda is a published author and a regular contributor to ILLUMINATION, a writers’ community on Medium where writers support each other.

He is a self-proclaimed weirdo who lives a Freedom Lifestyle and writes about related topics — Travel (a top writer), Personal Growth, Freedom, and entrepreneurship. (Get the Newsletter)

You can let others tell you what it means to be successful, or you can decide it for yourself.”



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Rasheed Hooda

Rasheed Hooda


Self-proclaimed weirdo. Jack of Many Trades, Master of Some. Author, Speaker, Photographer. He walked on Route 66 Chicago to L.A.