LAKEVIEWS • JOHN M. WYLIE II, Editor and Publisher
“And after it rains, there’s a rainbow, and all of the colors are black. It’s not that the colors aren’t there. It’s just imagination they lack. Everything’s the same, back in my little town. Nothing but the dead and dying, back in my little town.”
It has been 40 years since Paul Simon took his shot at the small town living in the song “My Little Town,” an anthem to how many big city folks view the lifestyle we love.
Oologah will offer a great rebuttal to his gloom and doom in the next few weeks.
We’re fortunate to have been the Birthplace of Will Rogers. He certainly didn’t lack imagination—he was the top columnist, top radio personality and top male film star of his day.
He and his fellow Oklahoman Wiley Post also had the imagination to see the future of aviation and promote it.
In fact, it was their love of aviation that led to their tragic deaths in Alaska on Aug. 15, 1935.
Ever since, both Claremore and Oologah have honored Will on the anniversary of the crash.
It started with relatively modest events, but in the past quarter century has grown as a wonderful opportunity to introduce a new generation to Will’s world.
What began as a small fly-in at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch Museum has grown to the largest annual event in Oologah, which last year drew 111 pilots and over 5,000 spectators.
This year, the program has been expanded to four days Aug. 14-17. A venue, the Circle Theatre in Tulsa has been added to the Birthplace and the Memorial Museum in Claremore.
That addition reflects a second theme for this year’s extravaganza, Will Rogers’ best loved films. A major fund-raising event (appropriately title The Event) will be Aug. 14 at The Circle Theatre, with a reception followed by a screening of “Steamboat Round the Bend.” Cost is $75 a person.
For those with smaller budgets, The Circle will host a showing of “Too Busy to Work” at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 and at noon of “In Old Kentucky.” Admission is $5/person for each movie, with proceeds also going to the Will Rogers Memorial Foundation.
Both events will draw new attention to Will throughout the region, and new attention to Will means new attention to Oologah.
Also Aug. 16 is the Dog Iron Dash, with 9 a.m. sign in and a 10 a.m. race from the Birthplace Ranch to the Oologah Lake Swim Area. There is a $15 entry fee to benefit the OASAS Animal Shelter, a no-kill facility that will benefit all the dogs, cats and other pets dumped here. That’s Just another example of the community coming together to turn a problem into a solution.
If that were all that was going on this month, we’d have easily refuted Paul Simon’s diatribe. But there’s so much more.
This weekend (Aug. 7-9) our Oologah FFA Booster Club will host the Second Annual Pre-Fall Fling at the Oologah High School Ag Building. There will be a meet and greet from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6 for the new FFA and Ag staff also at the Ag Building.
This is an organization that promotes rural and small town living and has put Oologah on the map with the achievements of its members.
In addition to the Fly-in next weekend, the Oologah Mustang Round-Up Club will hold an ACRA/IPRA Championship Rodeo—good food and family fun that will fill the arena both nights.
Oologah-Talala Schools are the glue that holds our community available, and there will be a whole series of events welcoming students back to school (and new teachers to the community).
Our school system is one of the finest in the state, and it certainly does not lack imagination (nor is it anything like the dead and dying schools in some small towns.)
This community has worked hard to build a vibrant school that provides an excellent education and quality graduates while being a vital part of the community.
Looking a little further ahead, into the first Friday in September, we’ll have the Urban Golf Tournament, a delightful event that draws teams from all over the area downtown to raise money to put newspapers in Oologah classrooms and promote reading.
The next night Oologah Parents and Teachers will hold the Back to School Bash downtown, another great community event. It gets better each year.
Memo to Paul Simon: Isn’t it about time to change your chorus line to something like
“Nothing but great and exciting in my little town.
“Nothing but great and exciting in my little town.”