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Bromide Hill not the best place for prayer

Yes, there’s a feel-good-way-down-deep magic of Sulphur, Oklahoma around the first of July.

In the old days, it had the best preaching, the best singing, the best people around, and if all that were not enough, if you were in the teenage-stage of life you might find a pretty girl in a flowery dress who’d sit by you during the service and maybe even hold your hand by the third song — if you played it right. If “providence” smiled down on you that way, all of your buddies would shake their head, mumble under their breath, then cross out one of the names up near the top of their list. That would make your smile a bit happier.

You may wonder: What can a blessed young fella and pretty lady could do after the service was over? Oh, there’s plenty. Sulphur, you see, is a resort area, surrounded with mountains and streams and lakes and sightseeing trails and trees and waterfalls and  Bromide Hill.

Bromide Hill sits up as one of the highest hills on top of the Arbuckle Mountains, overlooking Sulphur and the surrounding cities. It just sits up there majestically, admiring what looks like a thousand specks of lights scattered for miles around. I guess one of the prettiest sights that I ever remember is looking over the city from Bromide Hill on a dark night with the stars shining ever so bright.

The stars up in the sky weren’t the only ones you could see, either, because if you had the right girl and could sneak a little kiss at the conclusion of some well-timed poetry, you could see other stars that’d make the ones up above tip their hat in appreciation. That’s the way it’s been for as long as I can remember.

But I have to say that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve found that some things seem to have changed about Sulphur. When I arrived at the church service several years ago, I ran into my teenage buddy Seth Johnson who was at Sulphur with his newfound love, Lindsey, one of those girls from the orange groves of California who he would go on to marry.

Just to make sure we gave him the benefit of our vast experience in this area, we asked him right off the bat if he were planning on taking Lindsey up to Bromide Hill.

“Aw, yeah, Coach,” he said, “we go every year.”

That really surprised me, because I never remember his asking me to dip into my encyclopedia of knowledge to give him a few tips.

“Oh,” I said, trying to hide my surprise, “how’d ya’ll like it?”

“Aw, Coach,” he said, “it’s one of the neatest things. A few couples go up there late at night on July 3, and we all hold hands in a circle and pray.”

When I heard that, for a moment I saw some of those stars that I used to see up on Bromide back 30 years ago. Pray? They go to Bromide Hill and pray? What’s becoming of this young generation, I thought.

I really admire all those young kids who have elevated this great scene to a loftier spiritual level. I didn’t want to burst their bubble, so I didn’t tell them what I’m about to tell you:

From my experience, praying doesn’t work on Bromide. I tried praying up there, back in the 1970s. It just didn’t seem to be best spot for the practice.

I had a date one night with one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen, took her up to Bromide; and the whole time I was quoting poetry to her I was praying that before the night was over I could sneak a little kiss.

I must have been in rare poetic form that night because every time I leaned over to get an answer to my prayer, she laughed and told me to stop it and asked me to quote her another poem.

But other than a few setbacks such as that, I’ve found Bromide Hill and Sulphur, Oklahoma to be one of the best places in the world. It has to be. After all, I did meet the amazin’ blonde there a long time ago. And, truth is, had it not been for Bromide Hill, I never would have known how much she loved poetry.

Steven Ray Bowen is a former Granger who lives in Red Oak Texas.