Friday, April 22, 2011


On April 22, 1889, folks lined up to race for their new home. The Oklahoma Land Rush.

Just read that bit of trivia in the online New York Times. So much bad news in the rest of the paper. I had to skim through the majority, because reading too much bad news makes me depressed about things I cannot change. So I pray for those horrible situations across the world, then see the little line at the bottom of the headlines, What happened today, 122 years ago?

Reading that little bit of trivia brought back a flood of childhood memories. When I was an elementary student in Prague, Oklahoma, we would have pioneer days. And on April 22, we girls would wear our bonnets (special-made for the occasion by better moms than me!) and who knows what the little boys would wear. The teachers would tell the story, then we would line up on the playground to reenact the land-staking.

I don't know why that activity pleased me so. Perhaps a little country girl would like any school activity that involved being out on the playground during school hours, given permission to imagine and run and compete. Perhaps the springtime air was so intoxicating, it made the teachers eager to go outside themselves and the positive vibes of sunshine and happy kids made for great attitudes.

Perhaps even then I was attracted to story. Racing on the hard red clay playground with wind rushing through my bonnet made me feel connected to another group of children, long, long ago. I was attracted to the thought of adventure, fresh starts, and the ability to endure to overcome hardship.

The Oklahoma Land Rush. That simple little line in the New York Times headline brought me many pleasant memories. I can just see my little sisters and me, with our bonnets and little braids, imagining ourselves to be something like Laura Ingalls (since the TV show depicted her with bonnet askew and similar braids and freckles, just like us.) Racing to find the perfect little home site, next to a sweet stream, with some oak trees offering shade.

But enough reminiscing. I look out the front window and see sheep grazing in our front yard. Appears they had their own land rush this morning!

PS As a child, I really had no idea or at least any understanding about the story behind the story. The Trail of Tears hadn't yet impacted me. I couldn't comprehend that the land rush came about because all of a sudden the white folk realized that the land they gave (or rather, forced the Native Americans to live on while they took over other valuable property) was desirable. Isn't life crazy like that? Stories, behind stories, behind stories. But for this eight year old, back in the early 70's, it was all about the adventure. Later on came compassionate tears shed for the folks who were driven off that land.


Chris said...

Sheep in the yard reminded me that ..... At one time I bred and raised royal (large) standard poodles. I really didn't have sufficient facilities for keeping that many dogs contained, happy and safe. It was a bit of a madhouse at times. So much so that I am so grateful to have sold the bulk of the dogs and have my sanity back. :) I now have two of the smaller standard poodles and, really, that is just right for me now. Anyway, as sad as it sometimes is to see those lovely animals go.... Here's hoping all the moving goes well.

morebutter said...

i used to love playing pioneer when i was little. i had kirsten, the pioneer american girl doll, and i dressed up in bonnet and apron and prairie boots to lug buckets of water...across the well-manicured lawn in front of my house in suburban new jersey. hm. not quite the picture you paint, but my imagination made up for what the scenery lacked.