Talking Fences and the Stories They Tell

By: Elizabeth Conner, Circulation Manager 

Book signing 82215

August 22, several people attended a book signing at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The book If the Fence Could Talk is written by one of Rose State’s own, Brad Robison.

The book tells the story of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in the heart of Oklahoma City. Robison took a different twist on the story however, he told the story through the “eyes” of the chain link fence that was put up around the devastation. He first conveyed this message through lectures, but after being encouraged numerous times to write a book, he finally sat down and wrote one. Now, the story of the fence has reached a larger number of people.

Robison was accompanied at the signing by the illustrator of his book, Margaret Hoge, a local artist. Also with him, were former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and his wife Cathy Keating. Keating was the state’s governor when the bombing occurred.

The book signing lasted for two hours, all four sat and signed book after book. Occasionally, Robison would stand in acknowledgment of individuals. There were many survivors that attended the signing. He would tell stories, and joke with people who stood to get his signature. The event’s guests were treated with refreshments, as well as opportunities to speak with the signers.

Robison spends his spare time volunteering at the OKC National Memorial. He’s seen the site change over time, and has seen the effect the fence has had. It began as a barrier, put up to protect the site and the search and rescue groups, but as time went on, it became a place for memories.

People would leave different kinds of things around the fence – letters, pictures, wreaths, stuffed animals, banners, etc. People came from all over the world, not just Oklahoma, to view the site and to leave their condolences to the 168 lives that were lost that day, as well as those who were affected.

When asked why he chose to write a book about the bombing, Robison responded, saying, “It is that love I wanted to describe to readers: that even in something dreadfully tragic as the bombing, there are also many acts of care, concern and compassion that far outweigh the senseless hatred and violence left by the bombing.”

Robison was asked what the fence would say if it really could talk. He said these three things, “Will this violence ever stop? People should be caring, be compassionate, be peaceful, and be tolerant. And finally, violence does not change government, participation does.”

If the Fence Could Talk is available for purchase at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and on Amazon.

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