Oklahoma became a state in 1907. This weekend, I spent 30 minutes on the phone with my mother listening to her describe the Oklahoma Centennial Celebration. Imagine, if you can, the following description in my mother’s Wisconsin accent.
… Oooh! Everyone was there. Garth, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Amy Grant. (Mom, I think Amy Grant is from Tennessee.) Oh, she is, but she married Vince Gill so she performed too. And then there were these Native American dancers and fireworks and Carrie Underwood sang that “God’s Driving” song (Jesus Take the Wheel?) Yeah, I think so … I don’t know … and there was a press conference and Carrie Underwood was nervous because Garth Brooks was there and I thought, “These people aren’t friends? I thought Garth and Carrie would hang out.” and they talked about Will Rogers and Ron Howard talked about Far Far and Away with Tom Cruise and I am so glad I wasn’t in the audience because I would have cried it was just so beautiful. Then your father wanted a sandwich so I turned the volume way up and I made a sandwich while still watching the TV. And they had a sad song about the bombing and Carrie Underwood said her favorite restaurant was Sam and Ella’s which sounded like Salmonella’s – you had to be there – and the finale was of course, “Oklahoma!” and everyone came out for the finale so Garth, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Amy Grant were out there … I am so mad at myself that I didn’t remember to watch it in HD … and I picked up a Oklahoma Centennial T-shirt for you. They had black, white or ugly blue so of course I got you a white one …
In all honesty – I love my hometown. Edmond, Oklahoma isn’t exciting or flashy. But it’s the breadbasket-salt-of-the-earth-snow-in-the-winter-100-degrees-in-the-summer-red-dirt-white-picket-fence place I call home. Oklahoma’s still the place where Sooners and Cowboys are the topic of most conversations and the stuff that makes up weekend entertainment. You can gamble in Oklahoma. Every fourth-grade class still performs Roger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Every fourth-grade class also still dedicates an entire day to a Land Run Re-Enactment.
Here is how the Oklahoma Classroom Fourth-Grade Land Run Re-Enactment works:
1. You show up to school in your best pioneer attire.
2. Your parents bring your red Radio Flyer wagon to school.
3. You pack up your “family’s supplies” (read: lunch) into your “covered wagon” (read: red Radio Flyer wagon with a cloth-and-wire covered-wagon-like apparatus you spent about three weeks making at school)
4. You go out to the elementary school field (which is now a Super Target for those of you who were wondering)
5. You take your little hammers and wooden stakes and plot your land after the school Principal fires the gun shot into the air.
6. Hammers? Wire cutters? Guns? I doubt this still happens in a post 9/11 America.
Happy Birthday, Oklahoma!