Hopscotch: My Memoir
by Donald Ball

"I, too, felt that it was a dangerous time for them, but I secretly hoped the navy would activate us so we could go off to war."

Roy Diamond had been "messing around" with the wrong woman. It was no secret that Gay Woodward had taken a shine to Roy and had been involved with him for a year, but she was also married to Billy, a local storekeeper. In addition, money from the cash register in the Woodwards' store had somehow been making its way into Roy's pocket. On Saturday, July 28, 1928, Billy walked out of his store toward Roy's car in which his wife was sitting chatting with her lover. Billy told Roy to "arm himself" or he would kill him. When Roy refused, saying that Billy would be shooting an unarmed man, Billy shot him four times, killing him on the spot. Yet Billy walked away a free man; an impromptu jury declared Roy's murder a justifiable homicide. This obscure vignette from local history, while only a side note in the author's overall story, is an example of what makes Ball's book truly exceptional.

Ball chronicles his life well, setting the stage first by offering some background on his mother and her parents before moving on to his Oklahoma childhood. As the narrative progresses Ball recalls the various high points of his life such as living for a time on an estate once owned by oil millionaire C.F. Urschel, college and ROTC, marriage to Elaine, the birth of their children, Navy life, and becoming a teacher. But what really makes this book appeal to a wider audience are the rare tidbits of information he inserts almost haphazardly about early Oklahoma and its oilfield history. Ball's well-written memoir succeeds not only as a personal narrative but also as a window into the naval and oilfield subcultures. Students of Oklahoma history especially will gain much from reading it.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home