How Did This Elephant Get In Here?

The “elephant” in this “room” has grown so large it seems to be blocking out the light. It’s nearly impossible to even see around it, or to have a conversation about it; or anything else for that matter. It might be good to move on, if only we could find the door.

Back in the early 70s, I was campaigning for George McGovern and playing drums in little coffeehouses that were opening up across the land. Our band was riding the wave of the Jesus Freak movement, playing a new genre of music called “Christian Rock”—an oxymoron to most church-goers. We were funded by a group of benefactors interested in “reaching out” to the youth culture.

One of those was a man named John Frank. Mr Frank was a kind, generous soul, a potter and successful business man. He was a ceramics professor at Oklahoma University and founded an earthenware business called Frankoma Pottery.

Our band was playing at a gig where Mr. Frank was speaking. After the event, he came up to me as I was packing up the drum set, and told me thanks for what we were doing. I was surprised that he had listened, saw the opportunity, and was financially supporting what we were doing. We talked for a while and then he offered me a job.

I took it and began working in his fascinating business. Each day after class at the University of Tulsa, I would drive to the Frankoma plant in my VW with the “McGovern” sticker on the back. If Mr. Frank resented my politics, he never said so. He could have. He was a staunch Republican. In 1968, he designed and produced a ceramic GOP elephant mug to help raise funds for the Republican Party. Every year he did a special edition elephant mug.

After he died, his daughter Joniece Frank took over the operation and introduced a DEM Donkey mug in 1975.

Not long after that, the enterprise failed. (No doubt some will say, “Of course it did!")

But this isn’t just a story about the donkey. It’s about this big huge metaphorical elephant in the room. There, I’ve acknowledged it. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with elephants in rooms? Can I move on now? Or do we need volunteers to shovel up after it? Just kidding… where’s our collective sense of humor?