Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oklahoma Land Run, circa 2008

Child: “Mom, do you know what a Sooner is?”

Me: “Well, yes, it’s the mascot of Oklahoma University.”

Child: “But do you know where that name came from? About how Sooners were the people who snuck across the starting line at the Oklahoma Land Run to claim their land early? And how they went SOONER than they were supposed to?”

Me: “Yes, I knew that, too.”

Child: “So my teacher said basically, Sooners are big fat cheaters.”

Me: “Well, um, I guess technically, yes, that is correct.”

Child: “So Dad is a cheater because he is a Sooner.”

Me: “Uh, your dad graduated from OU, but that doesn’t make him a cheater. Let’s just say that nowadays, being a Sooner might be more like someone who really wants to win, or who really wants to accomplish their goals.”

Child: “No, they’re big fat cheaters.”

Me: “Ok, you know, I think you’re not quite getting it. Back *then*, a Sooner was a cheater … it doesn’t mean that anyone who graduates from OU is a cheater.”

Child: “Yep, Sooners are cheaters.”

Me: “I'm telling you, being a Sooner now isn’t the same thing as being a Sooner then.”

Child, in a sing-song voice: “Dad is a cheater, Dad is a cheater!”

Me (tired sigh): “You do understand that your father didn’t actually PARTICIPATE in the original land run, don’t you???”

And with that, so marks the annual 4th grade re-enactment of the Oklahoma Land Run.

All kids had to dress the part of a pioneer. (And you KNOW how much I love costumes!! Actually, this was much easier to put together than the 70's outfit Brayden needed last week ..... man, I love costumes.) {please note heavy sarcasm} The only overalls I could find at Goodwill that were skinny enough to fit him were Ladies XS from the Gap. Please don't tell Kellen he was wearing ladies overalls. We borrowed the hat (thanks, Stephanie!) and personally, I thought the metal pail for his lunch was an extra-special touch. Explaining to him that it wouldn't be authentic if he carried a Lunchable and a Powerade in it was another story.

The kids were grouped up in "families" and made to keep journals chronicling their Land Run experience, including their preparations. And don't try to adjust your glasses or monitors .... I blurred Kellen's family faces since I didn't ask permission to post the photos on the internet. Kellen's group named themselves the "Johnson" family, and they had quite an elaborate plan of attack to ensure they would get the lot that they wanted.

If you'll notice, apparently that plan included Kellen and one other "family members" running like crazy to the lot after the principal fired the starter pistol, while the rest of the family got stuck hauling all the gear, including their "homestead".

Then, once you had the lot number, you had to run back to the surveyer's table and be the first to claim it. There was an ugly scene involving Kellen's family where three different families were trying to claim two lots .... the family next to Kellen's got bumped, and were NOT too happy about it. Plus, the teachers let a small group of kids sneak in early (hello, SOONERS!) and they totally snagged the lot my nephew wanted. Considering in the original land run, there was only enough land for one out of three who were trying, this was probably a pretty close re-enactment, but it made my stomach hurt because I want all the kids to be be happy and they WERE NOT. Even the Land Run scene in Far and Away makes my stomach hurt. But my sister told me that two years ago, my older nephew wound up in tears, so at least it wasn't that bad.

The Johnson Family with the deed to their land. My brother-in-law, who is an actual surveyer, marked off the land, plotted it with stakes, and notarized all the deeds. It was really pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Then, of course, the best part of the day, LUNCH. Kellen took a bread and butter sandwich, an apple, and an oatcake. One boy in his group brought beef jerkey, one brought root beer, and one brought a pan of the most delicious cornbread I've ever eaten seen in my life. No, no, I definitely didn't eat any. And really, do you think they had Little Tykes wagons back then?? Or plastic bags from Wal-Mart?

Then they played games, and even played impromptu baseball with the apple that I so lovingly packed, and called it a day. A very successful day, in my opinion.

This event takes place on the college campus near our school. As we were setting up (I tied the red flags to the stakes ... aren't they beautiful?) some of the college kids walked by and asked what we were doing. When I replied, "Land Run for the elementary school" one of the college boys paused, got a nostalgic look on his face, and said, "Ahhh, the Land Run. That was one of the funnest days in school" which prompted some of the other parents to talk about how much *they* enjoyed the Land Run when they did it.

Um, hello? I grew up in Oklahoma and attended this VERY SAME ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, and *I* never got to do a Land Run! What's up with that????

So my question is, has anyone else done this? And even more unlikely, has anyone who attended school in any other STATE ever re-created the Oklahoma Land Run?


Cate said...

Grew up in Georgia, and I'd never even heard of it until today.

Thanks though. I always wondered what the heck a Sooner was. There are a lot of Texans who would agree with your child's impressions of all Sooners.

Lisa from Texas said...

I went to school in Georgia and we did not do a land run. However, as a teacher I think the idea is wonderful. Those kids will never forget that. I did not know what a Sooner was (never actually thought about it) so I also learned something ELSE new from the blog. The knowledge is limitless here!

Anonymous said...

That looks like so much fun. I grew up in Missouri and we never did anything like that. And, my kids went to elementary school in CT and I don't think they would even know what a land run was. Of course they know things that I have no idea how they learned so I'll be sure to ask them tonight.
I loved the conversation at the beginning of your post. I laughed out loud because I could just imagine having a conversation like that with my son.
Thanks for sharing.
Lisa C.

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of it either. But it looked like a lot of fun for the kids. A good way for them to learn about it.

I never knew what a Sooner was before today either.

Karen in Texas

lizinsumner said...

{{cough, cough}}...born, raised, publically educated and still STUCK in Washington state, and - (hanging head in shame) have never, EVER heard of a land run, let alone that one ever happened in Oklahoma. On the plus side, you have totally educated me today on something that I absolutely NEVER knew before, not to mention the fact that I have always wondered, my entire adult life, just exactly what a "Sooner" is - I kinda thought it was an OK version of a hoser (remember, we're close to Canada up here!!). So, thanks!!!!!!!!! And definately don't tell Kellen about the girls overalls - he'll be scarred for life!

Anonymous said...

I never knew what a 'Sooner' was either but knew what a land run was. Our kids went to elementary school in Arizona and every year the second graders did a 'Pilgrim Simulation' around Thanksgiving. They pretended to be coming over on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria or whatever the heck the Pilgrims landed in Jamestown on. They had to decide who got kicked off the ship (mostly the boys kicked their sisters off but kept their moms so that we could cook).
And yes, this is one thing that my high schooler and college kid really remember from elementary school. Kellen will have GREAT memories.
Susan in MN

Anonymous said...

Born and raised in Minnesota and I've never head of a land run.


Elaine said...

that is very cool!

Melessa said...

I did this each year at school growing up in Norman and now I work at an Oklahoma City museum where we are re-enacting it every day this week (except today, obviously). Needless to say, we all enjoyed this post. (And I enjoy your blog daily, but I'm not sure if I've commented before now.)

Dianna in Louisiana said...

Great Pictures Kristie---- Call me a dork, but I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE if my daughter's school had costume days. How neat it is that your kids are learning at a whole different level.

Today was the first I've ever heard of a land run. I do, however, know that the song, "You are my Sunshine" was written by a former Louisiana Governor and includes lyrics about Louisiana that most people have never heard. I, on the other hand know every word because it is a song that my daughter will be singing at her kindergarten graduation in three weeks. OMIGOD..... my daughter is graduating from kindergarten.... Can someone please stop the clock now!!!!!!!

Dianne said...

Well, way out here in Californee, in 4th grade, we have Miner's Day. You know, the '49ers, as in 1849, the year gold was "discovered." Sounds along the same lines as the Land Run. They pan for gold, eat cornbread (what *is it with cornbread), put up "Wanted" signs for those unscrupulous gold diggers (sepia pictures of the kids disguised as bandits).

Rachel said...

I'm from California, we learned about land runs but didn't act them out. It looked really fun though! Maybe its just an Oklahoma thing as part of your state history.

We Californians mined for gold and made models of one of the missions!!

Leeann said...

I want my kids to go to school there with your kids. Honestly, I think it is the most awesome school I have ever seen!


Kelly said...

Nothing like that going on in California!

My Dad graduated from OU. My parents are big Sooner Fans. I'll have to tell them the cheater story. FUNNY!!

Shannon said...

Considering I grew up in Texas, I knew all about you "Sooners," but no, we did not have land-runs.

Being a Longhorn fan, I must admit I love your kid's version of a Sooner.


Some People Call Me Mom said...

That had to be so much fun. I grew up in California - but I too seem to have missed out on the "cool stuff" that was done in my elementary school.

You have imparted great wisdom today (I had no idea what a Sooner was either).

Sara said...

Does Kendrie sing in a child's choir? I'm sure that is a long shot...but there is a picture on Pioneer Woman's page today. Second picture, front & center...looks like Kendrie. I figure you live in OK and she lives in OK...maybe, possibly, possibility? But I'm sure you would have already figured this connection out if it indeed was true.

Jeanette in GA said...

I guess us Georgians will have to re-enact something else...Running from Sherman's troops as they burned everything in the March to the Sea? Ooooh, sounds fun to me.(Ditto on heavy sarcasm)

Marie said...

Somethings missing in their reenactment, the Cherokees standing there watching their land being given away.

The Running Girl said...

No Oklahoma Land run for us here in Texas, but the fourth graders at the school my kids go to get to go to the Alamo since that is such a big part of Texas history. One of my best friends is a Sooner. I'll have to kid her about being a cheater! Just kidding.

Trisha in Leesburg, VA said...

um... actually we did. In southeast Pennsylvania no less. But it wasn't nearly as cool as what Kellen just did! We had ours in high school during 11th grade history class, and it was in our auditorium.

Lisa L said...

Thank you for that post Kristie - I'd never heard of Sooners (I am from Australia, so ..yeah..even though we learned all about America...Sooners wasn't one of our topics :)..However what an amazing thing to re-enact it! I love your school. Here in Hawaii there is a great emphasis on HI history, and the kids all learn HI songs, language, tradition. They learn how to make gourds into vessels and to dance Hula. How to turn kui kui nuts into beautiful shiny to make flower leis. Different from a 'Mainland' education, but very cool.

Stacy from Minnesota said...

I'm from Minnesota and must have skipped the Oklahoma Land Run in history. I have definately learned something from your blog today!


This is great! As a former teacher I love activities like this that make history come alive. And I learned what a Sooner is. How cool is that! Kellen is so cute!

Perhaps you don't remember doing it because your Mom hated making all those costumes too and you were "sick" that day?


Grandma J said...

We never did that in CA, but we did the Gold Rush thing...looking for the Mother Lode so to speak. Pretty much the same...dress in period clothes similar to the Sooners.

BTW, I never knew what a Sooner was either. My kids were Trojans and Gators. I live in Texas now and I don't know what an Aggie is either. Maybe some blogger will have an Aggie reinactment.

I'm sure the real Sooners didn't have plastic Walmart bags, but they didn't wear coveralls from the Gap either. Just saying.

What a great day you guys had.

Cindy in Yukon said...

We DID reenact land runs in Yukon (Oklahoma, not Alaska for those of you wondering)! We constructed schooners (cardboard and sheet attached over regular wagon??), dressed in bonnets and pioneer clothes. The part I remember most was each child brought a lunch. At lunchtime the lunches were auctioned off. You had to buy a lunch with "money" you earned (can't remember what we had to do to earn the money). I remember getting stuck with a summer sausage sandwich which I thought was absolutely disgusting! Amanda and Justin did it too but I don't think they had to buy a "mystery lunch" at an auction. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

cindy in yukon said...

We DID reenact land runs in Yukon (Oklahoma, not Alaska for those of you wondering)! We constructed schooners (cardboard and sheet attached over regular wagon??), dressed in bonnets and pioneer clothes. The part I remember most was each child brought a lunch. At lunchtime the lunches were auctioned off. You had to buy a lunch with "money" you earned (can't remember what we had to do to earn the money). I remember getting stuck with a summer sausage sandwich which I thought was absolutely disgusting! Amanda and Justin did it too but I don't think they had to buy a "mystery lunch" at an auction. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Donna said...

Child: “So my teacher said basically, Sooners are big fat cheaters.”

I believe said child may now be eligible for a full-ride scholarship to the University of Kansas, where this fact is known to all who ever watched a Billy Tubbs team play basketball.... And we won't even discuss Kelvin Sampson.

I kid!!!

Anonymous said...

I feel so much wiser now! Thanks for the education. I had no idea what a Sooner was. I figured somebody got drunk and came up with "Sooners" about the same time they came up with "Hoosiers". We have many theories, but I don't think anyone ever can agree on its origin. Sadly I agree with Marie about the Cherokees watching their land being given away. I still feel guilty about that and I wasn't even involved.

Claire in Indiana

Melissa said...

When I was living in Norman and subbing in the public schools I subbed for a 1st grade class on "Land Run Day" one year. It was pretty cool! It was the 4th graders who did the land run and set up homesteads but each family had to sell a product of some kind (tied OK history into math and economics)so they had to research what would be appropriate and stuff and then the younger grades came out in the afternoon to "partake of the services". The little kids were given play money to buy goods and services. It was way cool! Also, there was lots of candy (not sure why. It was one of my favorite subbing days!

Now, growing up on the east coast I'd never heard of the land run!

Sue said...

Sorry, no Sooner Days in Illinois! Could you let me know when the next one is, and I'll airmail my kids to you? You don't mind making 2 extra costumes, right?

Seriously, that sounds like a ton of fun for the kids!

Anonymous said...

At my kids small school in western Nebraska they had to pick a "homesteader" and dress the part and also write a report about that person - took a field trip to visit a sod house, mormon and oregon trails, etc. They even had to make their lunch boxes (ours was a covered wagon). One fun thing we had them do was make individual ice-cream in a tin can.

Our kids had to have costumes for everything also! My daughter, in college now and working part-time, still volunteers me for stuff (3 hrs. away)....including Halloween costumes - pirate outfits - for all her co-workers last year!!

There's a book - it's fiction - but could be very true - "Slogum House" by Mari Sandoz. It took place in the 1800's during our homesteading years. This family would move the survey stakes and fences during the night to gain more land. They even had their kids steal building supplies from other homesteaders at night.

guess I like that stuff since I'm a surveyor too!!

Jennifer said...

No Land Run for us out here in Oregon - but in 4th grade, when we learned Oregon history, we sure did a lot of Oregon trail re-enactment stuff! Nothing quite as cool as making a homestead and covered wagon - but similar stuff!! Just a lot of years ago!!!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Kentucky and we didn't have a land run, but we did have Pioneer Day. That was the first thing I thought of when I started reading about Land Run. We dressed up as pioneers, had army style tents and actually started a fire and cooked our own lunch. I think they stopped letting the kids have fires soon after that, though. Thanks for the memories!


Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say that I've never even heard of the land run, and always wondered what the heck a Sooner was. I grew up in SW Washington State, and we were too busy studying Lewis and Clark. Talk about BORING! Haha.

Gayle in AL

Stefunkc said...

Nope, no Land Run when I was in school there either. How wrong is that?
Glad the hat worked out. He looked cute! Hmmmm...I mean handsome! Boys do get off easier for that. I have to have a girls costume next year:( Should probably start shopping for that now.
P.S. I learned what Sooners were from the movie Far and Away. Didn't learn it in Oklahoma History!

Anonymous said...

We did the land run every year. Went to Rollingwood Elementary, OKC.

Megan E

Hyzymom said...

1. Born in OK - until today didn't know what a Sooner was.

2. Also didn't know about the Land Run.

3. Although I must admit the Land Run does look fun.

4. Hate costumes - maybe more than you Kristie!

Stacie from MN said...

Never done a land run, or anything like it that I can remember.
I still cannot get over all of the costumes your kids need! At most, my kids have had one a year! And I can barely get that one together!

Anonymous said...

I'm from Ohio and we never did a land run. I learned something today - I never knew what the Sooners stood for. You big fat cheaters!
Diane in Cincinnati

Anonymous said...

Hey Sara - I thought the same thing about the picture on PW's site - it sure does look like Kendrie!
Diane in Cincinnati

Tracey in Calgary said...

That is an absolutely fantastic and fun way to teach children about history and as demonstrated by the young college lad, something that will stay with them all their lives :-) Looks like the kids just had a great time! (yes, beautiful red tape, Kristie!) lol I am a big fan of using art and reenactments and teaching in a creative way :-) Good job!

rosie in texas said...

I live in Texas just south of the Red River, about 20 miles, and we don't do the Oklahoma Land Run, but my kids school did a Spirit of Texas play on Monday, which was San Jacinto Day.

M, Ms. R, Mom, Auntie M, Marey said...

No land run- but here in CA my kids all got to go to Sutter's Fort- yes, near where GOLD was discovered!!!! The costumes had to be authentic...and the lunch also- wrapped in a bandana and all the food wrapped in waxed paper. For the entire day you had jobs to the cooking in the 1840 kitchen, candle making, carpentry where each kid made a foot stool and branded it, basket weaving and horse shoeing....then just for the heck of it we slept in the barns in our clothes!! But we did get to use 21st century sleeping bags. That's about all the costume making we did but the entire school year was spent planning and fundraising for the trip. I went to the fort THREE times...and I am glad I did. 9No cheaters there though!)

Cindy said...

I grew up in CA, and no...we didn't do the land run.

But I have to say, I love the way you described it. What a great lesson plan! I'm really impressed!

Kathryn said...

I didn't participate in it, but guess what? My paternal grandmother's parents were in the real one! They stayed in OK until my grandmother (who was born there) was six, then moved back to Kentucky so she could go to school.

Anonymous said...

Well, Kristie...we went to Ponca City schools and I never did a land run! In fact, the first time I remember hearing about the landrun was in jr high (you know...way back when!) and taking Oklahoma history. BBBOOOOORRRRRIIIIINNNNNNGGGG

But this mock land run makes it sound so fun!! Now, of course, the irony of it all....I am fascinated with the run and what family members of mine who ran (my Grandfather was a child and his father ran) in it and I wish that I had all that enthusiasim about learning about it when my family were all still alive. But such is the irony of life! Oh well!
Patricia, GA

Kim said...

Loved reading not only your version but also the comments left here.

Born and raised in GA and somehow I knew what a "Sooner" was, but I'm sure it wasn't due to my excellent public school education...Loved Kellen's cheater analogy!

Just yesterday when trying to explain to my 5th graders about the "alliances" that enabled WWI to involve so many different countries, one of my students said,"So it is like in a gang. When you attack one gang member, they react as if you are attacking them all, right?"
Yup, you have the idea. But what is this world coming to?

Kellen looked great as a "Sooner." And I agree...what is it with all the costumes????

Thanks for sharing!