Friday, April 21, 2006

Land Run of 1889


Today, I was trying to think of my favorite school memory. This is a difficult thing for me as I attended a great number of schools. It is not a spectacular memory, nor is it particularly favorable in any normal sense of the word. Perhaps favorite is not the word for it. Perhaps a better word is memorable. Anyway, there are two. In the third grade I was tossing my pencil end over end up into the air (while the teacher wasn't looking). The very last time I ever attempted this, ever, I caught the pencil with my left hand. Well, sort of. I actually caught it with my left ring finger. Okay, I caught it in my left ring finger. The tip of my pencil stuck gloriously into the tip of my left ring finger. To this day there is graphite still in that finger.

The other memorable moment of my school years was in the fifth grade, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I remember our school turned on the newly purchased room televisions and we watched the footage. It was disturbing. I remember feeling infinitely sorry for the students of the teacher who was on board.

There you have it. My most memorable moments in school . . . That is until today. While I am not in primary school now, I can say that I experienced the very best of my primary school moments today. It was the 5th grade project on the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. President Benjamin Harrison declared 2 million acres of government land open when Illinois rep. William Springer amended the Indian Appropriations Bill. Suddenly, those folks who wanted 150 acres of free land lined up and at noon (although, some were litigiously confused whether it was high noon or meridian noon) on April 22, 1889, the gun fired and they were off.

Much like this historical moment so many years ago, the 5th grade students, with on looking parents, grandparents, teachers, and a children's pastor, lined up their make-shift covered wagons and supplies. When the powder musket fired, the kids ran, wagon in tow, for a pre-placed stake of land. Once they had staked their "family" name on their land, they had to put up a tent, gather food and water, and then return to "town" for the deeds to their land.

I spoke with a few parents of the children involve who were both excited for the run and relieved that they no longer had to help with the building, cooking, and creation of things for the run. One parent, who had participated when she was in 5th grade said, "This was my favorite school memory." I turned to her and said, "It's mine too, now."

1 comment:

Evan and Julia said...

I know this is my blog too, but I'll comment, since I didn't get to go to the land run today . . . I, being at the same school for all 12 years remember several memories very fondly. . . I remember Clayville (anyone around central Illinois might know what I'm talking about) in third grade. It was one of those villages that recreated the old homestead, blacksmith, farmer, etc. What I remember more, however, is more familial -- particularly my mom dragging me all over Havana trying to find seeds for my kindergarten show-and-tell seed collection. I ended up with 50 seeds, from poppyseed to cockleburr. I ended up showing it around my entire school. I think I set the bar pretty high at that point, and I've been trying to meet it ever since. Peace, Jfr.