Monday, January 30, 2012


At the end of my first grade, my parents told me we had to move west. My father was to be transferred to Clinton, Oklahoma. I screamed and cried and said I wasn’t going to leave my beautiful neighborhood with large green trees and singing birds.  I just knew it wasn’t going to be nearly as nice out west. I was sad and shed many tears.  I was pretty young to have this premonition. Or was it my psychic vision of its sad early history and for things that were to come?

Clinton is a little over 80 miles west of Oklahoma City, in the middle of Indian Territory. Indian Territory was its name before statehood. President Andrew Jackson ordered the Indians to move west of the Mississippi.  They left their homes in the southeastern states of Georgia and Florida, during the coldest of winter, in the late 1830's. The trip was by foot, with nothing more than blankets on their back and whatever they could carry. Thousands died along the way. The  Cherokee alone lost about a third of their population.There are many sad stories about the Indians' forceful  move to the west. Hence the name, "Trail of Tears."

The US government historically pushed Indians westward, away from their lands that the European settlers desired, to lands less desirable.  Was it unconstitutional to do such an evil thing? Yes, The United States Supreme Court said it was. But Jackson defied the decision and said, "Just let them enforce it."The heart of what was once Indian Territory, is where Clinton is and where we were to move. The land was some of the last to be settled by white settlers in Oklahoma. The temperatures in that part of the state have been some of the most extreme and much of the land is  barren and flat. 

Clinton is also known for the famous Route 66 that provided easier transportation for people traveling west.It runs right through there. In the early 1930's, the  highway,  Route 66 was built to extend across Oklahoma for 400 miles and continue west, all the way to Los Angeles, California. Interestingly, it was barely finished in time for Oklahoma's devastated people of the Great Depression to travel  on their westward  migration, to the state of California in the depth of those most difficult times. Oklahoma tenant  farmers lost their land, homes, crops and all their money from the long drought that turned their lands into "dust bowls". They left Oklahoma in large numbers with only what they could pack into and on top of their vehicles.  They headed for California, looking for a better life. The event was so significant that shortly after,  John Steinbeck wrote his story, "The Grapes of Wrath"(1939).   It was such a sad relevant story, it was called a  social commentary of its time, although it was a  novel. So well written, it won the Pulitzer Prize. Shortly after, a highly acclaimed movie was made of the story and directed by John Ford.  It won an Academy Award.

I didn't know anything about the sad history of the land which we were traveling west to.  But I knew in my heart it would be no comparison to Oklahoma City. But now looking back, I know it wasn't as bad as those poor Native Americans(I prefer to call them now) had it,  who were forced to leave their homes and travel west. And I  know I didn't have it as bad as the poor "Okies" who were destitute and went west looking for a better life. It was just another chapter in my life.


  1. Looks like you've got this "blog" figured out! Pretty background, & interesting story!

    1. Thanks Cindy. Coming from an accomplished writer like you, that is a real compliment.You inspired me to do it. xoxoxoxo Still need to learn more, but waiting for my experts(GS)to help me.