The countdown has started. Next year will be one of anticipation for the First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City, 1300 N Robinson.
A century chest was buried in the church basement on April 22, 1913. The Oklahoma City mayor, governor and other dignitaries were in attendance when the time capsule was sealed.
The church now has devoted a Web page to the century chest at firstlutheranokc.org/site/ks/editorial.asp?page=2 and it includes a countdown clock.
Next year, on April 22, church members and other dignitaries will gather to open the century chest, which is not an ordinary time capsule. It contains a treasure trove of items that will fill a future column on their own.
Today, I want to introduce the young woman who was credited with “perfecting the plans for the chest” — Mrs. George G. Sohlberg, president of the church’s Ladies’ Aid Society.
Virginia Bland Tucker was born and raised in Missouri. After frequently visiting local relatives, she and her mother settled in Oklahoma City in 1890, two years after the Land Run.
She taught school until 1898, when she met and married George G. Sohlberg, founder and president of the Acme Milling Co. and civic leader.
In 1966, Joan Gilmore, Women’s Editor of The Oklahoman wrote of Mrs. Sohlberg in conjunction with an Oklahoma Art Center Gala:
“At the time of her death in 1913, Mrs. Sohlberg was headlined in The Daily Oklahoman as ‘Active in Society’ and was esteemed ‘One Of City’s Most Queenly Women.’ ” The article about her describes her as “one of the best and most beautiful women … one of the gentlest, the most cultivated members of society; her influence has been widely felt.”
Another article said, ” … Never has she failed; as mother, wife, daughter and friend, she has always lived up to the noblest ideals of life. …
“She was brilliant and talented. … was a leader, not only in social circles where her hospitable home was the center of pleasure and enjoyment, but equally as much so in church, literary and charitable circles.”
Mrs. Sohlberg was almost single-handedly responsible for preparing the century chest, which was buried under the First Lutheran Church, commemorating the 24th anniversary of the opening of Oklahoma City. She gathered relics of value and simple annals from hundreds of people and scores of organizations in Oklahoma City and the state, which were buried in the chest.
Virginia Sohlberg died Aug. 10, 1913, of heart failure at 40 years old, less than four months after the chest was buried.
When the chest is opened on April 22, 2013, in celebration of the 124th anniversary of the Oklahoma Land Run, Virginia Sohlberg should be remembered and her work preserved so future generations can reflect on it.
It wasn’t that long ago that alpacas were an endangered species, at least in the United States.
In 1964, there were only 9 alpacas in the United States, and the Lincoln Park Zoo, now the Oklahoma City Zoo, was able to acquire one of those on permanent loan.
His name was Manco, and, according to a story in The Oklahoman announcing his arrival, the zoo’s director, Warren Thomas, hoped to selectively breed the alpaca with its larger cousin, the llama. His intent was to cross breed until the offspring were mostly alpaca and protect the animal from extinction in the United States.
No information exists on how successful Thomas was, but his preservation plan was no longer needed because in 1984, a 1940′s importation ban to protect against hoof and mouth disease was lifted.
Between 1984 and 1996, importations of alpacas were allowed from South America, until the Alpaca Registry closed the registration books to only American bred animals.
Margie Ray of Ray Farms, considered the founder of alpaca breeding in Oklahoma, acquired 3 imported alpacas in 1986.
There are now more than 170,000 alpacas in the United States, and, in 2009, there were more than 80 farms in Oklahoma.
Alpacas are raised for their hair or fiber. They come in 22 colors and two types: suri, which has long silky hair, and huacaya, which has soft fluffy hair.
Once a year, usually in spring after the show season, the animals are sheared to make them more comfortable during the summer heat and the fiber is processed for various uses, such as roving for spinners, thread for weavers, and yarn for those who knit and crochet, rugs, jewelry and more.
The Alpacas of Oklahoma, A-OK, are having their annual show Easter weekend, April 7 and 8, at Shawnee’s Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, 30 miles east of Oklahoma City and easily accessible from Interstate 40.
The alpacas are shown at halter, obstacle, public relation, junior exhibitor and showmanship. Costume classes also are presented.
The show is free to the public and offers an opportunity to meet alpacas and their owners and to buy alpaca fiber, yarn, jewelry and other alpaca related items. You might even buy an alpaca or two.
Here’s a story that The Oklahoman published Christmas Day 1921 that illustrates the change of thought in home economic education and baby care. In this case, a baby boy who had had a tough start in life was given the chance of a happy future.
“David, the orphan baby who was ‘adopted’ by Oklahoma A. and M. College in order to complete the ‘equipment’ of the school of home economics homemakers’ cottage, will spend his first Christmas in a home of his own.
When students left Friday, for the Christmas holidays, David was among those on out-going trains; he was to be formally adopted Saturday, into the home of a wealthy Oklahoma oil man. A younger baby will take his place in the home-makers’ cottage.”
David was 11 weeks old when he arrived at school, the orphan child of an abandoned mother who died ten 10 days after his birth. He first went into the care of the Oklahoma Children’s Home society until the college, the predecessor of Oklahoma State University, came up with the idea of borrowing a real baby for “the practice house, in order that girl students might gain practical knowledge in the feeding and care of babies.”
The idea worked in David’s favor.
“The publicity that David got at the time brought scores of letters from interested persons; the scientific care assured for the child made him attractive to babyless homes; more than a dozen definite offers were made for his adoption.
“Four groups of girls, eighteen in all, have lived in the homemakers’ cottage during the school year thus far, helping in the care of David. As a Christmas gift, when he left, they gave him a silver loving cup on whose side was inscribed, “David, Oklahoma A.& M.”
Oklahoma A&M continued the program the next school year with David II.
No other information was found about David I or David II with the exception that David II was being groomed for the 1922 State Fair baby contest. In the 1920s, the baby contest was more of how the baby was growing and meeting standards and less of a beauty contest. David II did not win.
An Internet search found that college use of “practice babies” was not unusual. In fact, Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., had a practice baby program from 1919-1969. The school stopped the program after concerns about what was best for the babies and changes that made the homemaking cottage outdated.
One hundred years ago, the week before St. Patrick’s Day was not all that different from 2012.
The newspaper carried advertisements for green carnations for a dollar a dozen, the stationery store offered St. Patrick’s Day postcards and the society page offered a break from Lenten abstinence with Irish-themed parties.
Oklahoma’s March weather was as changeable as ever, starting out the week with rain, proceeding to fair and colder, then more rain and winding up with a beautiful spring day with temperatures in the high 60s and a light breeze.
Political rhetoric was at full pitch for 1912, as it was also a presidential election year.
The candidates fiercely campaigning were incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft; Theodore Roosevelt, leader of his own Bull Moose Party; Socialist Eugene V. Debs; and the final winner, Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
On Monday, the day after St. Patrick’s Day in 1912, The Oklahoman offered this description of the day:
“The weatherman appointed a beautiful spring setting for St. Patrick’s day and while there were no parades or formal meetings in Oklahoma to celebrate the occasion, there were thousands of pretty shamrock leaves worn by the Irish of Oklahoma City and those with the blood of the Emerald Isle in their veins.
Appropriate references were made to the day and its significance in song and sermon at the church services, while at the Catholic services the usual religious forms of worship appropriate to the event were rendered.
It was a still day, full of beauty and sunshine, the first distinctly spring day of the season and the out-of-door world was particularly inviting. In the afternoon there came upon the streets the biggest crowd since the Christmas holidays, a great portion of whom were ladies and the spring hats and dresses were very much in evidence.”
Oklahoma City will be having its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday at 1 p.m., or you can join the Bricktown Block Party for a breakfast of green eggs and ham and stay until midnight enjoying food, green beer and some great Irish entertainment.
Come and celebrate the Irish in you.
Speed-dating is a phenomenon that, according to harvardmagazine.com, first came on the scene in 1999 in California.
A group of single men and women would meet, pair off and, for about 3 to 8 minutes, chat and get to know each other. Then, a signal would sound and the pair would change and start all over again with a new partner.
If a participant were lucky, perhaps he or she might find true love.
This excerpt from an April 19, 1964, The Oklahoman article by Helen Ford, still writing today for the newspaper as Helen Ford Wallace, sets the record straight.
In early-day Oklahoma, around the time of the Land Run in 1889, when young men wanted to meet young ladies, this is one of the ways it was accomplished:
“Visiting back and forth was the primary way of socializing in the town and country in those days and the main way for a boy to meet a girl. Socials came into the scene.
“A young man would ask a settler’s wife if a social might be held in her home and having secured her permission, after earnest urging, he would deliver verbal invitations to everybody. One of the favorite entertainments of these groups was the ‘set-to.’ Seats were arranged around the wall and as the young people assembled, the hostess seated them in couples. After a man had talked to a girl for 10 or 15 minutes, it was the hostess’ duty to bring up another man, take the first one away and give his place to the newcomer.
“The other man would then be seated by some other girl and so they were all shifted around until every man had been introduced to every girl and had talked with her for a few minutes. Many romances blossomed after those few minutes.”
Long before Midwest City and Del City were incorporated, the pioneers that laid claim to the area in the Run of ’89 and homesteaded their land created a community named Sooner.
Its center was at the intersection of Sooner Road and SE 15.
From an Aug. 24, 1955, Oklahoma City Times story, writer Mary Goddard gives this description:
“They built a little frame room, called Bowden chapel, on a (northwest) corner diagonally across the intersection from the present church. It was finished in time for the neighborhood Christmas program in December, 1889.
“The first few school terms were held there, too, until the territorial government could get Sooner school started across the road. Folks still remember the first schoolteacher, Charley Kirk, who suffered frostbitten feet while teaching in the chilly little chapel.
“That chapel gave the whole community its name. The story goes this way. Several “sooners” actually had pre-empted land before the ’89 opening, and feeling ran high about property rights.
“One night, a cowboy, possibly fired up by hard liquor, reeled by on his horse and scrawled the word “Sooner” across the chapel front. The name has stuck ever since.”
By 1906, the Sooner community had their school across the street from the chapel and in fact, the churchgoing folk were using the school for worship.
Sixteen women decided the community needed a new church building, so, to finance it, they organized a Ladies Aid Society.
After nine years of pie suppers and quilt sales, the group raised $2,000, and with a few donations and free labor provided by husbands and sons, in July of 1915, Sooner Community Church was ready for dedication.
The Times story said: “Their awed menfolk decided the women had earned full ownership, so the church was and still is — official property of the incorporated Ladies Aid.”
That one-story church with a basement stood on the southeast corner of the intersection until it burned in April of 1970. Still owned by the Union Ladies Aid Society of Sooner, it had served many startup congregations, as the first office for the Tinker YMCA, and had still been in use several months before the fire.
Because the church land was bound by a covenant that restricted its use to religious or educational purposes, the Ladies Aid, many daughters or granddaughters of the original members, decided to sell the land, and the money was used to establish the first scholarship fund at Oscar Rose Junior College, now Rose State College. This scholarship is available to help students purchase textbooks.
The early pioneers might not recognize the intersection now. The school, now Sooner-Rose Elementary School, is still on the northeast corner, but across Sooner Road on the west is now a gas station and strip mall. And where Sooner Community Church once stood, there is now a small shopping center with a Home Depot behind it. Across the street is a Walmart.
My, how times have changed.