the air to the sea
Raper’s other love has taken him around the world and under the waves.
He and his wife, Sandy, recently returned from Alaska. Last year, they went to Costa Rica. They’ve also been to Europe and China.
“We like seeing so many different people and places,” he said. “Europe, as a whole, is so much older than this country. In China, we saw the terra cotta soldiers.”
The soldiers are an “army” of human and horse statues dating to 246 B.C.
“There are a lot of things you hear about but don’t get to see,” he said. “And we don’t take the planned tours.”
Venturing abroad without tour groups can pose challenges, such as the time they drove a Peugeot in the Alps.
“We got almost to the very top when I realized we were almost out of gas,” Raper said. “We just turned the car off and coasted down.”
While in Alaska, they flew over mountains in a 1930s model de Havilland Beaver airplane.
“A 1930s engine is round and real loud,” Raper said. “A lot of the noise is actually the propeller breaking the sound barrier.”
About 15 years ago, Raper added scuba diving to his travels. He said a friend had a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands, which has beautiful underwater scenes.
“There are many little islands there,” he said. “You can go swimming and see a shipwreck. You can dive and see an airplane in the water.”
He said the loveliest scuba diving is the reefs around Cozumel.
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“My father moved here about 1949 or 1950. I didn’t have any choice. I was in the sixth grade. After school, I assumed I had to leave Muskogee to get a good job, but a friend stopped me on the highway and said they were hiring at OG&E, and I got hired that day.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“Location, proximity to hills and water. Pretty country, almost pristine countryside. You can fly around and just see water everywhere.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“One big problem is the perception of the school system being a problem. The big part of it is a perception.”
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
Sell real estate.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“Work on old cars. Go flying. Take trips.”
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
“When you look at ‘Who do you admire,’ you think of an older person, not a younger person. I admire my son, Shawn. He came to work with me and helped me out a lot. I never put a job in front of him he couldn’t do.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“Getting married eight years ago, then the grandkids.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“Perfectly located because of the hillsides, lakes and so forth. Good size, yet we can be in Tulsa in 45 minutes.”