Joanne Reynolds is an Okie transplant who made her way to Muskogee from her home in California.
Reynolds was born in Los Angeles and lived the first few years of her life in an area known as Monterey Park. But she grew up in a small town of about 1,000 near Fresno, Calif., where her family relocated.
“Where I grew up was more remote than here,” Reynolds said. “It was kind of like Fort Gibson — it was a small town, so I was used to life in a small town.”
Reynolds, 72, was one among about 50 seniors who graduated in 1957 from the small-town high school she attended. From there, Reynolds married her husband, Joe Reynolds, a Muskogee native whose family had transferred to California.
The Reynolds moved to Arkansas, where they lived for about a year before moving to Coalinga, Calif., where she went to college and the couple started a family. In 1967, the family moved to Los Angeles.
“That was a shock — it was just different, lots of cars and lots of people and more crime,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t have crime like that at other places we had lived. Like here in Muskogee, if you don’t read the paper you really don’t know there is a lot of crime unless something really big happens.”
Reynolds said she and her husband divorced. She stayed behind in California with the children. He made his way back to Oklahoma, where — one-by-one — the entire family eventually ended up.
Meet Joanne Reynolds
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles.
CAREER: Snow cones and bakery.
FAMILY: Divorced, three children, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren.
Tragedy led to
Joanne Reynolds’ move to the Muskogee area more than a dozen years ago was sparked by a tragic turn of events. She said her ex-husband’s move back to Oklahoma from California spurred the family’s slow migration east.
The couple’s youngest child, David Reynolds, later moved to Okay to live with his father. The Reynolds’ youngest daughter, Sandi Spiegel, joined them later in the Wagoner County community.
After a house fire claimed the lives of three grandchildren and a great-grandson in October 1998, Reynolds and her oldest daughter, Terri Mitchell, made the trek to Oklahoma a few months later.
“It was a hard way to get here,” Reynolds said about her move to Muskogee. “But you have to be near your kids when something like that happens.”