Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’


What It Was, Was Football

Originally Published July 11, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – “What It Was, Was Football,” a monologue by Andy Griffith credited with launching his career, remains one of the biggest-selling comedy records of all time. And it IS funny. “Deacon Andy” thinks he is going to a tent revival when he stumbles into a college football game by accident. He doesn’t understand why they keep kicking a little pumpkin around. “And they was fightin’ each other for it!” he exclaims.

“Kicking the pumpkin” nowadays has soared far beyond sport, entertainment, or even tradition to become the biggest revenue producer for many a university. At the University of Texas, for example, 70% of its revenue from athletics comes from football.

Football funds NCAA sports and provides scholarships for college athletes. Football provides college athletes the opportunity to compete for a championship, and the fame and fortune that entails. Football helps to fund Association-wide legal services, communications, business insurance, and the list goes on.

Now it’s time for me to confess: I myself am not a football fan. My claim to fame is being at the University of Alabama the year Bear Bryant came to town. During his first year, I’d grab a hamburger after work and park the car by the fence to watch the magic on the practice field. I understand the love for the game. I understand that football is a force, a magnetic force pulling in a fan base whose loyalty is unexplainable. If you are born in Alabama, for instance, you are pledged at birth to be a lifelong Alabama or Auburn fan, and that loyalty is simply a way of life, even if you never set foot on a campus.

The ten most powerful fan bases in college football last year were, by one pick: Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A & M, Texas. From Roll Tide to Hook’em Horns, don’t get in their way when it’s game time.

If you’ve been keeping up with the impact of COVID-19 on sports, you are aware of some serious shakeups about to happen to fall college football schedules. The Power Five – the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC) have made shattering announcements this week, with more to come, as football fans everywhere wait to hear the news.

Yesterday it was announced that the Pac-12 Conference is canceling all its non-conference games for the season; just after that it was revealed that Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, is battling COVID-19. Impact for the first game of the season: no USC vs Alabama on September 5. Financially for Alabama, that is a loss of $6 million.

That’s just one example, for one school, on one football weekend.

The shoe had dropped the day before, as The Big Ten was first to announce a “conference only” schedule for this season; this impacts all sports, details are still in the making as conversations take place between the Big Ten Council of Presidents, Directors of Athletics, staff and medical experts. But Ohio State and Oregon, September 12, canceled for sure.

Two Conferences decided; three to go.

ACC Commissioner John Wofford: The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and administrators remains the ACC’s top priority…..The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey: We are running out of time to make a decision. What do we have to do to get back to activity? The direct reality is not good…we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be.

Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby: The ideal situation remains a full 12-game schedule that starts on Labor Day weekend.

The Power Five Conferences are not the whole of it. There are 10 conferences and 130 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and I can’t count beyond that. The point is: “kicking a pumpkin” is part of the American scene. Yes, there is a great deal of money to be lost if COVID-19 knocks a hole in this season’s football schedules. But the sheer fun of the game for millions of fans is an even bigger loss.

What it WAS, was football – is that what fans will be left saying this fall on Saturday afternoons? That’s not funny.


What Did Tennessee

2016.02.choochooLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, ArkansasWhat did Tennessee, boys, what did Tennessee? Remember that old Scout song? Entertainment around the campfire, roast a weinie, toast a marshmallow, sing nonsense till you pass out in your tent. What did Delaware? What does Iowa? Where has Oregon? These and other intellectual questions (What does Mississip?) kept me smiling as I sang my way across Mississippi into Tennessee and then back to Arkansas this month (she saw what Arkansas.) My turnaround point for a little vacation was Chattanooga, where I lived when my children were growing up, and again later 2016.02.betty and linda pwhen I became “Ms Chattanooga,” a spokeperson for a beautiful city; so precious to me I wrote a guidebook about it (Chattanooga Great Places) and a second guidebook about the surrounding area (SE Great Trips). And then (it follows) a weekly travel column for the Chattanooga Times entitled “Here or There” which focused on things to experience in and around that lovely town. (Me, left, with books and illustrator Betty Harrelson, Books A Million in Chattanooga, 1996.)

Those were very happy days, living in a place I loved and then pointing out to everyone how wonderful it was! That’s what we all should do, I believe. Just think, if every single person in the US of A really cared about their homeplace, and bragged about it, and worked to make it the absolute finest place in their part of the world, then – well gee! No urban blight, no rural downtrod, no crumbling infrastructures; you get the idea. So here’s my message, wherever you are. TODAY, do these three things: » read more


Am I Blue?

00.0.Box.cLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – When is the best time to put a jigsaw puzzle together? A rainy day seemed right, when Brother was visiting during Thanksgiving week. I pulled out the State Flags and Capitols box I’d been saving for just such a day and dumped all one thousand pieces onto the card table. Brother raised an eyebrow and shook his head. I let tiny puzzle pieces filter through my fingers, trying to think of a working plan. 00.27.Puzzle Pieces“What strategy should I use?” I asked. “Colors,” was his reply. Now, generally speaking, that is good jigsaw strategy. But when the picture is 50 state flags, well that’s when you discover that most state flags are blue. In fact, only four state flags don’t have at least a touch of blue in them – Alabama, California, Maryland, and New Mexico.

The puzzle pieces sat in a pile for several days, as I half-heartedly tried to sort blue from blue from blue. After brother left, I raked everything back into the box and headed for my sewing basket. Being heavily dependent on Excel spreadsheets to help me organize almost everything in life, I grabbed a spool of thread and the scissors and with a little Scotch tape turned the 02.Puzzle. Stringscard table into Columns and Rows. Then I put Post-Its into each section marking which state fit where. Aha! I dug into those thousand pieces again looking for words. “Mon” went into the Montana section, “sas” into the Arkansas slot; I was on a roll! How many flags have outspread eagle wings? Just two – Iowa and North Dakota. Plop plop. The palm tree went to Hawaii; the horses to Pennsylvania, the bison belonged to Wyoming. The challenge began to be fun, and (with magnifying glass in hand) I began to notice the details within the flags. I didn’t expect to have a learning experience, but that is exactly what happened. In my two-year Journey to 50 states, I didn’t pay much attention to the state flags. But suddenly I realized that flags are the story-telling devices of the state. And I love a good story! » read more


Song of the South

11.Sam Arriving AtlantaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.

I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, Scott1stSteps66subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more


A New Pencil Box

25 Linda schoolLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A new pencil box and the first day of school. Who is old enough to remember the fresh wood smell of newly sharpened pencils? I’m thinking about that as I put on my hat and head out the door for my first day of classes at Henderson. The American West and Arkansas History; that’s my course of study this semester. Why? On the Journey I explored almost every inch of the “western” states but was left with more questions than answers by the end of it. I want to learn more about the legislation that opened those vast lands for settlement, the many treaties with the natives who were already living there, the creation of the new states; in other words, the expansion of our country throughout the 19th century. All to make this site more useful for everyone who accesses it. The Arkansas History class will help with that too, and additionally will provide insights about the emigration of my ancestors who died here in 1849 on their move from Alabama to Texas. Ancestors. A little family talk now. And “how I spent my summer 25 group at pianovacation.” Since I’m settled in one place with plenty of room for visitors, I invited, and they came! Grandson Andrew arrived June 21; grandson Sam July 12. Andrew left July 16; son Mike, and his Brenda, and her grandson Michael arrived July 31. Granddaughter Kayla and son Rick arrived August 2. Mike and Brenda and Michael left August 3; Sam left August 6. Rick and Kayla left August 16. Did you notice? There was a perfect alignment of planets on August 2. » read more


The Road Less Traveled

21 dark fields grassesLinda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – “I took the road less traveled by,” is a line from one of my favorite Frost poems; it came to mind today as I made my way to my next stop. I was on the freeway from Springfield to the Missouri state line, but I-72 qualifies as a road less traveled; traffic was light as I headed west through Illinois farmland; flat land, rich and dark and ready for the spring planting; or maybe that has already happened and the seeds are in there, waiting to pop up. Side-of-the-road grasses were already thick and bugs were already waiting; the wipers couldn’t stay ahead of the windshield splats. I watched the sky; sometimes blue, sometimes gray; 21 tree flattenedhopefully the line of storms predicted to come through in late afternoon would stay to the south. All over the country minds were reeling from the events in Oklahoma last night; an F-5 tornado cut a mile-wide swath through the town of Moore, wiping out two schools and killing children; destruction was incomprehensible. Moore is just south of Oklahoma City where cousin Jayne lives; I remembered seeing signs from the freeway when I was there. My plan today was to get from Springfield to Jefferson City during the lull between storms, with a quick 21 mark twainstop in Hannibal. I began to notice something amiss as I approached the Mississippi River, giant oaks with trunks twisted and flung to the ground; patches of trees with limbs ripped away. Something wicked this way has come, I thought, as I crossed the long bridge that took me into Missouri. The road curved up between limestone cliffs; on the hillside to my left the face of Mark Twain welcomed me to Hannibal. » read more


Out Of The Ordinary

Linda Burton posting from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – There are two out-of-the-ordinary things about the Oklahoma state capitol. No other state capitol once had a working oil well on its front lawn named Petunia. And no other state capitol sat without a dome for 85 years, and then added one. It was designed to have a dome, but budget overruns forced a change of plans. “How can we save money?” became the pressing question; postponing the dome was the most logical answer. When the capitol was officially opened for business June 30, 1917, ten years into statehood, it had an almost flat roof. Inside an inverted bowl-shaped construction decorated with a painted plaster seal did faux-dome duty. Fast forward to 2001. With private donations in the coffer, the time for the doming of the capitol had arrived; workers removed the two million pounds of brick and concrete that made up the old flat roof. Because the original plans called for a dome, the existing building was ready to carry the new five-million-pound construction; it was completed in 2002. Outside, it looks the way it was always meant to look. Inside, everything above a narrow purple ring is new construction, offering a visually stunning upward-sweeping view to a state seal now surrounded by shimmering glass. Beautiful! Now, about that oil well named Petunia. » read more


Afternoon in Paris

Linda Burton posting from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – “No, we have a house,” was the deadpan answer. The young Dad held his little boy mid-air over the stroller while the Mom re-arranged jackets and diaper bag. She laughed, and I did too, amending my question from “Do you live here?” to “Do you come here often?” The Mom affirmed that they were frequent visitors to this beautiful park. The mood was light and why wouldn’t it be – we’re in a magical place where a fairy-tale lake disappears beneath a curving crystal tube that’s filled with jungle orchids; outside it’s Paris. Indeed, parts of this 17-acre oasis were inspired by the Tuileries Gardens of Paris, where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded, and relaxed. Which is what I’m doing this afternoon in downtown Oklahoma City. If I were designing a place for people to gather in the heart of the city I’d do it just like the Oklahoma City planners did. I’d start with I M Pei. And I’d wind up with something like the Myriad Botanical Gardens. » read more


Here’s The Beef

Linda Burton posting from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – “Just climb those steps and walk the walkway over the pens. The auction is in that red barn over yonder.” Those directions were followed by a good squirt-through-the-teeth spit onto the ground and a nod towards a large red barn. Way over yonder. I climbed the steps as high as the walkway, but vertigo took over then. A small group of handsome black cattle stood penned below me; ears tagged; beyond them more cattle in brown; and way beyond that, the red auction barn. They stared at me and I stared back, each of us wondering where they were headed next. A man approached the steps wearing a long pony tail and a high-powered camera; I asked what he was planning to shoot. “Cows and cowboys,” he answered. “I’m just looking for something interesting.” He proceeded along the walkway over the cattle pens, headed for the red barn. The morning auction went on without me; I more sure-footedly explored Stockyards City from a ground-level view. Later I caught up with the crowd at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, where cowboys and cattlemen have been going since 1910. » read more


Divide and Conquer

Linda Burton posting from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Divide and conquer. An old expression, still good advice. There’s an Oklahoma windstorm going on outside, promising a temperature drop from 80 to 30 degrees, so I’m reading up on Oklahoma City and making my list of Things To Do when the weather calms. I don’t know much about OKC; is it a cowtown of the west, or a modern metropolis? Or both? I do know it’s the 8th largest capital city with a population of 580,000, and there’s an oil well on the capitol lawn. The literature I picked up at the Oklahoma Welcome Center includes the 2012 OKC Visitor Guide, titled Bold & Beautiful and subtitled Cool & Warm (published by the Convention & Visitors Bureau). Inside I read, “Over the past two decades we’ve transformed our city through more than $5 billion of public and private investment in quality-of-life improvements….There’s an energy here….It’s the kind of place you want to be.” The letter from Mayor Mick Cornett suggests a perfect day in Oklahoma City: start at the OKC Museum of Art to see Chihuly Glass, stroll through the Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge, lunch at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, afternoon at the Plaza District and then head to Classen Curve for shopping and dinner. End the day with a sunset at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. I can’t do all that in a day! Divide and conquer to see it all, that’s my plan. » read more