A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Okemah OK’

Okemah (revisited) and Clearview, Oklahoma

Posted by graywacke on April 1, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2395; A Landing A Day blog post number 829.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (35o 24.897’N, 96o 9.579’W) puts me in central east Oklahoma:

A quick word about my use of the term “central east,” above.  “East Central” means the eastern part of the state and central from a north-south perspective.  “Central east” means in the central part of the state, but towards the east.

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Bad Creek; on to the North Canadian (19th hit); on to the Canadian (50th hit).

Not shown (but known by most readers) — the Canadian discharges to the Arkansas (132nd hit); on to the MM (930th hit).

Google Earth (GE) had no Street View shots of my landing worth anything, but I was able to get a look at the Bad, just south of Pharoah:

And here’s a not-so-bad shot of the Bad:

You can tell by the title of this post that I’ve been in Okemah before (my October 10, 2009 post), so I already knew that Okemah is the birthplace of Woody Guthrie.  Just because I’m lazy, I’ll borrow some from that post:

From WoodyGuthrie.com:

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. His father – a cowboy, land speculator, and local politician – taught Woody Western songs, Indian songs, and Scottish folk tunes. His Kansas-born mother, also musically inclined, had an equally profound effect on Woody.

Woody’s birthplace:

In 1931, when Okemah’s oil boomtown period went bust, Woody left for Texas. In the panhandle town of Pampa, he fell in love with Mary Jennings, the younger sister of a friend and musician named Matt Jennings. Woody and Mary were married in 1933, and together had three children, Gwen, Sue and Bill.

If the Great Depression made it hard for Woody to support his family, the onslaught of the Great Dust Storm period, which hit the Great Plains in 1935, made it impossible. Drought and dust forced thousands of desperate farmers and unemployed workers from Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgia to head west in search of work. Woody, like hundreds of “dustbowl refugees,” hit Route 66, also looking for a way to support his family, who remained back in Pampa.

Moneyless and hungry, Woody hitchhiked, rode freight trains, and even walked his way to California, taking whatever small jobs he could. In exchange for bed and board, Woody painted signs and played guitar and sang in saloons along the way, developing a love for traveling the open road—a lifelong habit he would often repeat.

If I’ve made you curious about all things Woody, there’s much more at the WoodyGuthrie.com website, which you can look up on your own.

As mentioned above, Woody moved to Pampa, Texas.  Guess where else I’ve landed?  Here are some excerpts from my July 24, 2015 post:

I found a NY Times article, (Aug 12, 2012 by Lawrence Downes) entitled “As Woody Turns 100, We Protest Too Little.”  Here’s the opening few paragraphs (after the iconic picture from the article):

In October the Kennedy Center will throw a centennial party for Woody Guthrie, a star-studded concert with tickets topping out at $175. It will be America’s ultimate tribute to a beloved troubadour. “Through his unique music, words and style,” the Kennedy Center says, “Guthrie was able to bring attention and understanding to the critical issues of his day.”

Poor Woody. The life and music of America’s great hobo prophet, its Dust Bowl balladeer, boiled down to this: He brought attention to the critical issues of his day.

Maybe that’s what happens to dissidents who are dead long enough. They are reborn for folk tales and children’s books and PBS pledge drives.

They become safe enough for the Postal Service. “For a man who fought all his life against being respectable, this comes as a stunning defeat,” Arlo Guthrie said in 1998, when his father was put on a 32-cent stamp.

Will Kaufman’s book “Woody Guthrie, American Radical” tried to set the record straight last year. The sentimental softening and warping of Woody’s reputation began early, even as he was dying, in the 1960s.

But under the saintly folk hero has always been an angry vigilante — a fascist-hating, Communist-sympathizing rabble-rouser who liked to eviscerate his targets, sometimes with violent imagery. He was a man of many contradictions, but he was always against the rich and on the side of the oppressed.

So for today’s post, I thought I’d feature his far-and-away most famous song, “This Land is Your Land.”  I’ll start with this, from Wiki:

On the typescript submitted for copyright of “This Land Is Your Land,” Guthrie wrote:

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

Here’s a 1944 version of Woody singing (of course) “This Land is My Land (lyrics below):

 

This land is your land, and this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I follered my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
All around me a voice was a-sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
A sign was painted, said “Private Property.”
But on the back side, it didn’t say nuthin,’
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun come shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Although not in the above version, here are some other verses that Woody periodically included:

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

From Wiki:

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940.  He used an existing melody, a Carter Family tune called “When the World’s on Fire.”

The song was written in critical response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” as Guthrie was becoming tired of hearing Kate Smith sing her rendition on the radio in the late 1930s.  Initially titled “God Blessed America for Me,” he renamed it “This Land Is Your Land.”

I didn’t realize that Woody didn’t write the music!  So, here’s the Carter family song (lyrics below):

 

Oh, my loving mother, when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

I’m going to heaven when the world’s on fire
And I want God’s bosom to be my pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

Oh, my loving brother, when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

Oh, my loving sinner, when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

Don’t you want to go to heaven when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

The line, “Rock of Ages cleft for me” rings familiar, but I had to go to Google to find out why.  It’s a hymn, which I now realize I occasionally sang in my father’s church when I was growing up. 

Here’s a rendition of the hymn by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  At least pay attention to the intro, where he explains the hymn’s history:

 

Here’s a Wiki picture of the original Rock of Ages, where Rev. Toplady found shelter in a “cleft” in the rock:

When I think about Tennessee Ernie Ford, I think about his most famous song, “Sixteen Tons.”  It struck me that this song (written in the 1940s)  was a song that Woody Guthrie might have sung.  A little bit of internet research showed that Woody did in fact sing it but I couldn’t find any audio.

Tennessee Ernie didn’t write the song; Merle Travis did, so I’ll present Merle’s version (lyrics below):

 

Some people say a man is made outta’ mud
A poor man’s made outta’ muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number 9 coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin’, better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you, then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

Moving right along.  You may have forgotten by now, but the town of Clearview is titular.  Here’s a short You Tube video about the town that tells all you need to know.

 

I’ll close with this GE pic by Gary Smallwood of downtown Pharoah:

 

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2018 A Landing A Day

 

 

 

 

 

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Okemah, Oklahoma

Posted by graywacke on October 10, 2009

First timer? In this (hopefully) once-a-day blog, I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  My slump continues, and I’m on a 1/7 run with my latest landing in . . . OK; 49/41; 3/10; 3; 152.5.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Clearview, Pharoh, Weleetka and Okemah:

landing

Here’s a broader view, featuring Okemah:

Okemah_OK

For the 13th time, I landed in the North Canadian R watershed; on to the Canadian (34th hit); on to the Arkansas (96th hit); on the MM (709th hit).

I quickly decided to feature Okemah (I’ll say why in just a minute).  This area was familiar to me, as this landing is close to my Henryetta OK landing (July 10th).  I actually mentioned Pharoh & Weleetka in my Henryetta post.  Anyway, once again, I’m not featuring Pharoh or Weleetka, but rather Okemah.  Why?  Because Okemah has quite the famous son:  Woody Guthrie.   From WoodyGuthrie.com:

650px-Woody_Guthrie_2

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. His father – a cowboy, land speculator, and local politician – taught Woody Western songs, Indian songs, and Scottish folk tunes. His Kansas-born mother, also musically inclined, had an equally profound effect on Woody.

woody's birthplace

Woody Guthrie House in Okemah

In 1920, oil was discovered nearby and overnight Okemah was transformed into an “oil boom” town, bringing thousands of workers, gamblers and hustlers to the once sleepy farm town. Within a few years, the oil flow suddenly stopped and Okemah suffered a severe economic turnaround, leaving the town and its inhabitants “busted, disgusted, and not to be trusted.”

Here’s a picture of a gusher (bubblin’ crude)  just outside of Okemah:

Gusher_Okemah_OK_1922

Back to Woody’s bio . . .

In 1931, when Okemah’s boomtown period went bust, Woody left for Texas. In the panhandle town of Pampa, he fell in love with Mary Jennings, the younger sister of a friend and musician named Matt Jennings. Woody and Mary were married in 1933, and together had three children, Gwen, Sue and Bill.

If the Great Depression made it hard for Woody to support his family, the onslaught of the Great Dust Storm period, which hit the Great Plains in 1935, made it impossible. Drought and dust forced thousands of desperate farmers and unemployed workers from Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgia to head west in search of work. Woody, like hundreds of “dustbowl refugees,” hit Route 66, also looking for a way to support his family, who remained back in Pampa.

Moneyless and hungry, Woody hitchhiked, rode freight trains, and even walked his way to California, taking whatever small jobs he could. In exchange for bed and board, Woody painted signs and played guitar and sang in saloons along the way, developing a love for traveling the open road—a lifelong habit he would often repeat.

There’s much more bio, but that’s enough for me.  Moving right along, Woody has some great quotes.  Here’s one:

A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it – who’s hungry and where the food is or who’s out of work and where the job is or who’s broke and where the money is or who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is. – WG

And here’s another:


woody_quote

Far and away, Woody’s most famous song is “This Land Is My Land.”  Here are the words (and I suggest you read them all):

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

You can readily pick up his wanderlust and his affinity for the common man.  I love the verse about the No Trespassing sign!

If you’d like to hear Woody singing the song, click here:

Every year, there’s a Woody Guthrie folk music festival in Okemah.  Here’s the poster for this year’s:

Woody Fest 2009

Here’s a shot of downtown Okemah today:

okemah_pic

I’ll close with a shot of three water towers in Okemah:

OKOKEhotcold_0834

Evidently, the “Hot” and “Cold” gag is not unique to Okemah (but one that I’ve never seen before).

That’ll do it.

KS

Greg

© 2009 A Landing A Day

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