FRIDAY NIGHT LITERARY
Lorena G. Males
Robert Small age 18 and his family, had come into Oklahoma Territory with The Run, April 19, 1892.
Rose Trent age 17, had just moved here with her family from Kentucky. They were waiting for Oklahoma to become a state in 1907.
“How about coming by in the buggy and taking you to the Literary tonight? I’ll take you home too.”
“What do they do at a Literary?”
“Oh, they say pieces, sing songs, say declamations, make speeches about Oklahoma, the new state, and the older people are big on duet. Sometimes they have ciphering matches and spelling bees.”
“What is a debate?”
“They have a question and speakers argue to prove a point. Tonight they’ll debate the subject: ‘Resolved that fire is more destructive than water.’ If you agree with the subject you’re on the affirmative; if you disagree you’re on the negative.”
“I think fire is more destructive.”
“Do they have any music?” Rose asked.
“More music than anything. It’s the custom here to have a singing teacher come and teach every one to sing by the Do-Mi-So method. It’s the shape note method. A little square music note, anywhere you find it is “Do.”
“I’d like to see how it works.”
“Sounds good. I took piano lessons in Kentucky.”
“The girls here like to have drills for the Literary program. We are all very patriotic. We love our homes and we’ve made a great sacrifice to get them. The girls wear beautiful homemade costumes – usually red, white and blue. They march in formation and it gives you a lump in your throat to watch such perfection in motion. There’s a boy who plays a Jews' harp so they can keep step. Sounds like an orchestra.”
“You know, I thought we were moving to a raw new undeveloped land but these pioneers are making a good place to live here in the wide open spaces. I’m glad my family decided to move out west.”
“I think I’d like to go with you to the Literary tonight but remember, no sparking!”
The basis for our cultural life today comes from these wonderful forerunners of who we are. They had no pianos, no money for private piano lessons, but they had a deep hunger for the beautiful. (Our grandmother made a rug out of gunny sacks. No walking on dirt floors for her).
The educated pioneers, who’d had an opportunity for higher learning, soon began to teach the other pioneers the refined ways of life.
They sang, they read poetry, they danced, they studied.
Dear pioneers, thanks for giving us the foundation you built on the rocks!
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