Fun With Red Flags

The topic of flags has caught my interest recently. One in particular. This interest was not necessarily spawned by watching “Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags” on the Big Bang Theory, but that can’t hurt.

My curiosity was with the first version of Oklahoma’s state flag, which at one point became known as the “Red Rag of Sedition”. You have to admit that sounds weirdly intriguing and somehow, today, even apropos. This flag became official in 1911 and flew until 1925 when according to the Red Dirt Report website: “reactionary elements in the state began to see the red flag in a negative light, associating it with Bolshevism and Communism and the red flag used during the Russian Revolution in 1917. This was also around the time the Socialist Party - once quite strong in Oklahoma - began to fall out of favor, particularly during the final year of World War I.”

Also, there was the fact that apparently, in Oklahoma, flying a red flag could land you in the state pen for 10 years or so. Check out this discussion of red flags in Oklahoma on Wikipedia. Oh, and there’s this: the 46-star flag was also not popular due to the association with red flags hung on homes to indicate quarantines for smallpox and Spanish influenza. Talk about “Fun With Flags”!

This first state flag was a red field and in the center was a white star with the numerals 46 in blue; because Oklahoma was the 46th state and thus the 46th star on the star spangled banner. “Kentucky native Ruth D. Clement, who moved to Oklahoma City shortly before statehood came up with the simple, straightfoward and brilliant design. Two years later, in 1913, the red 46-star flag was delivered to Washington D.C. aboard a train to be present during the inauguration of Pres. Woodrow Wilson.” — The Red Dirt Report.

As fellow Okie, Paul Harvey used to say on his radio broadcast: “And now you know (pause for dramatic effect) the REST of the story.”

You Too Can Join The Club

In my last post I wrote about becoming a hat-wearing guy. I have to tell you about the man that has helped me with the whole journey. I wish you could meet him.

First let me offer an opinion: I know that sometimes we have to buy our stuff at Wal Mart or Sam's or GAP or Target... you get the idea. And that's fine for everyday stuff: toilet paper, bologna, Q-Tips, etc. But whenever you can, buy from a shop owner, artist, or craftsman. Here's why:

Lemmel Fields has become a special person to me. Lemmel owns the hat shop where I've bought my hats. Lemmel calls me by name; he calls my Amazing-Missus "Shorty." If you go to Lemmel's shop and tell him you're looking for a hat, he will quietly take a look at your head, then turn to the vast selection of hats on his wall, choose one and place it on your head just so. He may snap the brim, then stand back and look you over.

Maybe he'll say, "That's not the one." You don't know why, but you trust him, because this is what he does. He just knows. If the hat meets his approval he'll say, "Have a look in the mirror." You can continue to try on hats as much as you want, but from my experience you will buy the one Lemmel picked for you the first time.

Lemmel Fields, hat shop owner and Pops' friend. This man obviously knows how to wear a hat.

Lemmel Fields, hat shop owner and Pops' friend. This man obviously knows how to wear a hat.

Sure you can buy a hat cheaper a lot of places, but you will not find a fit and an experience like this.

Let me tell you about Lemmel's shop. I love Tulsa. It is my home. There are so many things to love about it, but there is a horrible, tragic, ugly event in the city's history. In 1921, there was a race riot. An area of Tulsa which was known as "Black Wall Street" for its highly successful Afro-American business district was burned to the ground and many people died. No one knows the count for sure. The area centered around Greenwood on the north edge of downtown and was the wealthiest black community in the country.

Today some of the area has been restored and Tulsa's minor league baseball team plays at a new stadium that back's up to Greenwood where Lemmel's shop is.

Whether you need a hat or not, if you are ever in Tulsa, visit the historic Greenwood district. Stop in Lemmel's hat store and tell him Pops and Shorty said HELLO.

Halo Amok



Last night we heard and watched Wayne White at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.  Wayne is an artist. Which always seems to bring up the question--who gets to say who's an artist and who isn't? With Wayne that question would come to the mind of any skeptic who sees his work. But don't judge too quickly. Sometimes you just have to spend time with the artist and their work. You may have spent time with Wayne's work and not even known it. Maybe your kids watched "Pee Wee's Playhouse." Wayne was a set designer, puppeteer, and creative. But, as I said, don't judge too quickly.

By the way, Wayne is one of us (Baby Boomers)--born in 1957.

If you're not familiar with Wayne, start with the film "Beauty Is Embarrassing." It's available on Netflix® and when you decide to add it to your library you can purchase it at Amazon®. (see below)

Interesting note for us Okies: The film is the brainchild of Neil Berkeley from Moore, Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University.

Oh... the title of this post, "Halo Amok?" That's the title of Wayne's amazing exhibit open now through October 6, 2012 at the OKCMOA.