If for some strange reason you’ve not already read Part One several times already and copied favorite bits onto sticky notes to post around your bedroom and kitchen, I there waxed adoring over Helen Churchill Candee and her first extensive article about life in Oklahoma Territory, published in The Forum, June 1898. She wrote at least three other articles about O.T. in the time she lived there, all very positive towards her temporary homeland but varied in style and focus.
Helen Churchill Candee came to Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.) in the mid-1890s, primarily drawn by its lax divorce laws. She brought her two children, Edith and Harold, and ended up staying for several years. I carried on at some length ]]last time about how fascinating I’ve come to find this enigmatic chronicler – particularly in terms of her empathetic pith and generous promotion of early Oklahoma.
It’s really quite unhealthy on my part, I’m sure.
History is full of people. I know, kinda self-evident – right? Like, obviously.
But stop and think for a moment about everyone you currently know or know of – people you love, people you envy, people you admire, even people you kinda wish would get eaten by aliens. Everyone. Now multiply that number by, oh… let’s say infinity. That’s essentially how many people have lived at some point, but who you’ll never meet.
I don’t know if this is a particularly good poem, but it’s certainly an educational one – if not in the way its author intended. Democracy itself is founded on the idea that we get what we deserve. So is capitalism. Both assume engaged, informed individuals, each seeking their own enlightened, long-term self-interest, thus producing the best possible political and economic results, which in turn makes for a peaceful and mutually beneficial society.
If you make good choices, good things happen. Make bad choices, and…
Good morning, class. Today begins the roughly three days we have allotted by our state-mandated curriculum to cover the causes, major events, and impact of the American Civil War.
There’s nothing more terrifying than finding out your district administrators have just returned from a conference somewhere, and they’re excited about something. You know because they suddenly smile too much, and now they want to come talk to your department or hold a special faculty meeting.
Many of us are returning without much idea what we’ll be doing in class this week. Maybe you feel behind again, and have big plans for getting things ‘back on track.’ Or maybe all that stuff you were gonna do better this year has already kinda fizzled, and you’re just hanging on until term ends. Some of you are excited about seeing your kids again – which is weird. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for you… but it’s still seriously weird.
So maybe you’re optimistic, or maybe you’re sad break is over, or maybe… Maybe you don’t actually know anymore.
My ELA comrades are fond of discussing ‘universal themes’ and ‘common plots’ in literature and in life. I can’t speak to every book ever written, but I will confess I have a much better idea of who’s going to die and who’s going to betray the hero in any decent sci-fi or superhero movie now that I’ve sat in on a few literature classes.
Between the first “land run” opening up the “Unassigned Lands” of Indian Territory in 1889 and statehood in 1907, Oklahoma filled up rapidly.
There were a variety of reasons, of course. The “frontier” was rapidly closing and Oklahoma Territory was the last hope of true homesteading on the continent. Early reports suggested fertile soil and cooperative climate – descriptions which would later be recalled in wry reflection by those who'd embraced them. Then there was the sheer newness and unpredictability of it all – in a nation built on restlessness and possibilities, that alone was sometimes enough.
Oh – and of course, it was a great place to get a divorce.