Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Land-Run Celebrations

I have several faded memories of parades in the Ford. Once I rode on the First Christian Church float (in a big wagon with all the other Sunday School kids, if I remember right) while my cousin rode her cute little kiddie car. (I wonder if her legs hurt from pedalling when it was over?) And another time I rode with my cousin, Randall, on his horse, Randy. Both parades were to celebrate The Rodeo! We loved those rodeos!

When my family moved to C-Town, there wasn’t a rodeo, so no rodeo parade. Instead, C-Town celebrated the opening of the Cherokee Outlet on September 16th of each year. (Or maybe it was the closest Saturday to that date.)

Over six millions acres had been up for grabs that day in 1893.

I’m sure there were people around when I was a kid who’d made the run, but I didn’t know any.

Doesn’t the land run look like it was exciting?

 We’ve all seen the movies, watched the experience through the TV screen. But imagine actually being there for that adrenalin rush. Whoa!

Photographer William S. Prettyman learned that the opening of the Cherokee Strip was going to be the biggest land run of all, so he built a tower at the edge of the run, put three cameras there with three photographers. He took the above picture himself, then ran to get in the race.

I read several accounts of people trying to sign up to be part of the run. Hot, dusty, discouraging days with water costing a nickel a drink and standing in line from can’t see to can’t see and still not getting a certificate to run must have been disheartening. And even when they’d signed up, they weren’t guaranteed to get land.

The people were strong hearted gamblers, for sure!

Back when I was a kid and we had a celebration, but we DIDN’T have a landrun. Not even a pretend one. (Maybe the memories were still too fresh.) Instead we had a parade.

This picture must have been taken at a parade before we moved to C-Town. I don’t remember them calling it Old Settlers Day, but I do remember the Otasco Store and drug store being there.

And I remember Bayouth’s being next door to Ben Franklin. 🙂

We had street dances to celebrate the opening, beard growing contests (for men only) and free (!) delicious (!!) barbecue sandwiches!!! (I remember standing in line for those. YUM! Wonder if they came from Dari Diner?)

Sometimes we had a pet and bicycle parade. I wanted to take our toy Manchester Terrier, Tiny, in the parade one year, but she wouldn’t walk on a leash. I didn’t think it would look very good to drag this little five-pound black dog for six blocks on the end of a chain, so I decided to carry her in a baby’s bath tub.

When I was in the garage finding the tub, I noticed a box of crocheted baby clothes someone had given Mom, so I dressed Tiny in a frilly little pink jacket and bonnet.

That stubborn little mongrel won Best Dressed Pet (could have been ONLY dressed pet) and I won a dollar!

For a while after Keystone Lake was built, C-Town stopped having Pioneer Day and started have Jolly Roger Day. After several years, though, we reverted to PD. A much better way to celebrate our heritage.

Besides, I got tired of walking around in an eye patch and saying, “Arrrrrr!” 😉


Cocklebur Games

Dale, darlin'...

Image by Jeep Novak! via Flickr

When I was just a little girl, before my family moved to C-Town, we all lived at the Ford. Much of the time, my sister, Dad, Mom and I lived in a house with Grandmother and Granddad.

I remember it as being a wonderful place, probably because most of the people I knew there were related to me. And the ones who weren’t acted as if they were. 🙂

For some reason, Mom thought little girls should have long hair with lots of finger curls. With my naturally curly hair, I had them . . . in abundance.

Our big backyard had a swing set to play on and clothesline poles to climb. Behind the yard was a pasture with a hen-house and several old hens, then ran down to a tiny creek that was dry most of the time. Just past the creek was a little hill that curved along with the creek and to a little girl, just learning her letters, it looked like a monstrous U.

I had lots of cousins to play with, and most of them were boys. Do I need to mention that I wasn’t a girly girl? To be real honest, I was a tomboy. Big time.

I loved building roads in the dirt with the head of a broken hoe and driving little cars on it. Baseball was one of my favorite pastimes, and every year for Christmas I asked for (and received) a pair of six-guns like Dale Evans wore on TV.

I’d also get a doll. (I guess Mom kept hoping.) I climbed trees, ran races and had a great childhood.

Sometimes I played cocklebur games with my cousins. It’s an easy game to learn. Just pull up the whole weed and try to whack the others with them while not getting smacked. By the time we were through, my hair was totally tangled with cockleburs. The game was fun, but Mama had a horrible time getting them out. Especially when she was short on time. Luckily, she had a load of patience and very little temper.

With all my long hair, all I can tell you is it hurt anyway. A lot!

So did Mama cut my hair? Nope. She just told me to stop playing with cockleburs. I didn’t quit completely. I just started swinging and getting away faster. And having your oldest cousin on your side never hurts. 😉

A while after we started playing that game, my family moved to C-Town. The Ford moved not long after that, and the place where I grew up became the Ford State Park, and several years later closed altogether.

I wanted to take my son in to show him where we’d lived back in the day when we saw the gate was open once, but a state official said we couldn’t make it in our low slung car because of all the junk people had dumped over the years, which was why they had to close the park in the first place.

Who ever did the dumping deserves to have cockleburs tangled in their hair and a mean, short-tempered mama to get them out.


What’s Up With That?

Adapted from Wikipedia's OK county maps by Set...

Image via Wikipedia

Terminally Curious posting today.

Back when Baby Boy was just a year-and-a-half old (or so) we bought a pharmacy in Pryor Creek (don’t you love that name?) and moved our family seventy miles away to that town on the other side of the Big City. 

We loved the people in PC, and especially loved our church there. The people we were friends with were very loving, kind, and good to us. I still count many of them as dear friends. As much as I adore C-Town, it was hard to leave PC and come home.  

But we joined two of my sisters 

(In the picture–One of my sisters and various nieces and a nephew.)

and my brother in C-Town after many years of everyone (eventually parents AND kids) working at the store. #1 son had started college by then, so he stayed in Pryor Creek. 😦

We moved into Grandmother’s house, next door to Dad.  Two or three years later, Sister Cindy and her crew moved in with Dad. (He had four bedrooms–plenty of room for Sister C, her DH and her brood!)

A year or so after that, Pops moved to The Ford.

So check this out. Dad has six kids. Five are living near him, and he moves away? 

Terminally Curious is wondering, What’s up with that???

Okay, yes, he moved back to the town where he was born and grew up. 

Yes, he remarried and moved in with his wife.

And yes, he only moved twenty or so miles away. And he still comes to work (where most of us spend our time) nearly every day.

And comes back every week for church.

But I’m still wondering why he moved.

What’s up with that?     

Looks like he’s keeping a secret, doesn’t he?