You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Through the years, I have spent a lot of time driving through Oklahoma on my way to Kansas or Texas. As a friend once said, it is not the end of the world but you can see it from here. I have always giggled at that idiom. However, Oklahoma is a magnificent state to visit and get to know. It has rolling hills and breathtaking views and a ton of museums. There’s the Museum of Women Pilots, the American Banjo Museum, the 45th Infantry Museum, the Toy and Action Figure Museum, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Will Rogers Memorial Museum & Birthplace Ranch just to name a few. Oklahomans are most proud of Will Rogers, they even named their airport after him. If you are unfamiliar with the name, Will Rogers was a radio personality and actor in the 1920’s and 1930’s and was beloved by all around the world.
Known as Oklahoma’s favorite son, Will Rogers was born in Oologah, Oklahoma (located just north of Tulsa) on November 4, 1879. After reading his biography, I noticed that it said he was born in Claremore, Oklahoma but that is incorrect. His birthplace is actually Oolagah. Apparently he used Claremore as his birthplace professionally because no one could pronounce Oolagah. Will’s young life was spent on the family ranch in Oolagah working as a cowboy and learning how to lasso Texas Longhorn cattle. He was a master of the Lariat and was entered into the Guinness Book of Records for throwing three ropes at once. As Will grew up, he became a famous trick roper of Vaudeville. By 1915, he was a Broadway star in the famous Ziegfeld Follies which led to him starring in movies. He was a man of many talents, most notably his sense of humor, wit and charm. During his life, he starred in over 70 movies, wrote more than 4,000 newspaper columns and travelled around the world three times.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rogers died at the age of 55 in a plane crash in Point Barrow, Alaska in 1935. He was briefly interred in Glendale, California but his final resting place is at the Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma. His wife, Betty, passed away shortly after and is interred in the tomb at the Memorial as well as three of their children. Initially the memorial held a statue of Will Rogers and not much else but over time, the museum has filled with paintings, sculptures and artifacts. The Will Rogers Memorial Museum houses the largest collection of Will Rogers memorabilia and includes his entire collection of writings.
Memorial Museum – 1720 W. Will Rogers Blvd, Claremore, OK 74017
Birthplace Ranch – 9501 E. 380 Rd, Oologah, OK 74053
You would be surprised what there is to see in this great country within 200 miles of where any of us live.