Yale Teachers Retrace Steps Of Abernathy Boys

Saturday, June 20th 2009, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Two young Oklahoma boys traveled nearly 10,000 miles cross-country, on horseback, all on their own.

It sounds impossible, but it happened a century ago and made a big impression on some Green Country teachers.

Nine-year-old Bud Abernathy and his 5-year-old brother, Temple, captured the hearts of America in the early 1900's.

"I read this book in the summer of 2007 and I just fell in love with these boys," said Melody Aufill.

Melody Aufill teaches elementary school in Yale.

Her students are the same ages Bud and Temple were in 1909 when their adventure began.

The first was a round trip on horseback from their home in Frederick, Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The next was more ambitious. Back on their horses, they rode from Oklahoma to New York City.

They abandoned the horses for the trip home and bought a car, a Brush Runabout. Not even teenagers, the boys drove the car back to Frederick.

The third major trip was back in the saddle for 61 days, from New York City to San Francisco.

"I think there are some people that don't think it really happened," said Donna McChesney.

Donna McChesney teaches with Aufill in Yale.

They were so inspired by the Abernathy boys they set out to follow in their footsteps.

"We're always telling the kids they can do anything they want but, really, when you stop and ask yourself that same question it's... you don't really practice what you preach," said McChesney.

Last summer, the two teachers traced the same path blazed by the Abernathy boys more than a century ago.

"I ask my students to do that every day, to do things they're not comfortable with. So now, I think I have a better appreciation for how they feel," said Aufill.

McChesney and Aufill hope their story brings back the memory of two turn of the century Oklahoma boys and inspires a new generation.

"If they really want to do something, there shouldn't be anything to hold them back," said McChesney.

Up next for Melody is a plan she calls the Bud and Me Challenge to encourage kids to follow their dreams and make the impossible, possible.