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Monday, March 23, 2015

Busy Week Filled with True Grit Activities

Grab your cowboy boots and hat, as well as your calendar. The upcoming week will be the busiest yet for “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads True Grit.” “True Grit” book discussions start this week throughout town and tons of events are packed into this week’s schedule.

To start things off, this Friday, the Student Union will hold a reception at 6 p.m. for the Western Heritage Art Exhibition. The event gives you a chance to see the artwork celebrating the West and to meet some of the artists. The art is on display in the Student Union’s Cowboy Underground through April 20.

At 7 p.m., right after the reception, head to the Student Union Theater for a screening of the 2010 version of “True Grit” directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen and starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. The film is rated PG-13 and lasts 110 minutes.

About the movie, Ethan Cohen said that his 2010 version would be more faithful to the Portis’ book than the 1969 version, including more of its humor, as well as more of its violence. The 2010 version was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best acting roles for Bridges who played Rooster Cogburn and for Steinfeld who played Mattie Ross.

We had a huge turn-out for the 1969 film and Dr. Hagen gave us some fascinating insight into the filming of the movie. He will provide commentary again for the 2010 version. The Student Union Activities Board is sponsoring the program and they will be selling refreshments during the movie. An ASL interpreter will be present.

The next day, Saturday, March 28, RoundUP Stillwater will be holding a square dance for adults and high school students with developmental disabilities. The event includes dinner, games and contests including roping and pig calling. Jim Howard & the Highway Home will provide the music, square dance calling and square dancers who will help participants with the different steps. Prior to the dance, Cosmetology students form the Meridian Technology Center will doing make-up and hair styling for women. For more information, email me at or give me a call at (405) 372-3633 x8124.

To round out the busy week, we will have Pistol Pete related activities at the Territorial Plaza in Perkins on Tuesday, March 31. Beginning at 6 p.m., you can take a tour of the Frank Eaton home, as well as some of the other historic buildings in the area. Afterward, the OSU Library’s David Peters will discuss Eaton and highlight some of the amazing historical items housed in its Frank Eaton Collection.

There is still plenty of time to get involved in this community-wide reading event. Just go to our “True Grit” webpage at to sign-up for a book and to look at the full schedule of remaining events.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Roping and Shooting in the Old West

Next week, our “True Grit” programs really take a turn to exploring the history of the Old West. On Sunday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m., the Sheerar Museum will present “Gun That Won the West.” David Kennedy from Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid will be talking about the firearms that were used during the time period when True Grit took place.

One of the firearms David will be discussing is the famous Winchester ’73. It was the favored firearms of Old West giants like Billy the Kid and Jesse James. In fact, the one authentic image of Billy the Kid is an old tintype showing him in his daffy-Pharrell Williams-like hat and leaning on his ’73 (BTW, the tintype should for $2.3 million a few years back).

In more recent news, the Winchester ’73 made headlines when a park employee at Nevada’s Great Basin National Park came across the weathered rifle leaning against an old juniper tree. The internet was abuzz with speculation of how it had come to have been left there. Was it just forgotten by a roaming cowboy? Could it have been abandoned by an owner who had met his death on the trail? It is quite a fascinating mystery, and Kennedy will fill us in on the details about this firearm and many others.

We are incredibly lucky to have David here in Oklahoma. Prior to his move to Oklahoma, he was the Curator of the Cody Firearms Museum of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. He also is the author of “Guns of the Wild West: A Photographic Tour of the Guns that Shaped our Country’s History” and he was the content adviser for Katherine Brevard's “The Story of Guns: How They Changed the World.” The man really knows his stuff!

After the discussion, be sure to stop in downstairs at the museum to see its excellent display about outlaw activity in Payne County. The display covers many facets of local outlaws, murders and lawmen, and I don’t mind saying that it was inspired in part by a series of Osher Life Long Institute classes by your truly.

At any rate, this event is free and open to the public and will be fascinating for history and gun buffs, as well as anyone interested in the Old West. Also, an ASL interpreter will be present.

The next day, on Monday, March 23, 4 p.m., here at the library, we are having an after school program for the whole family. Marty Tipton, a.k.a., The Oklahoma Kid, will be doing a trick rope presentation that includes roping and tons of history.

The Kid has been roping for 30 years and was trained at the 101 Ranch where many famous performers got their start. The Kid will be doing some of the hardest roping tricks in the world like the “Texas Skip,” the “Wedding Ring,” and the “Butterfly.” He also will be teaching kids about the Old West including the history of the Wild West, Wild West show characters like Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill and the story behind the 101 Ranch.

You can visit for more info about Tipton. His performance is free and open to the public.

If you are planning to attend the “Western Writers’ Colloquium” on March 28, please do so now, as registration is closing soon. To sign-up go to The program, featuring four top Oklahoma western writers and historians, includes a $10 fee for lunch.

For more info about our True Grit series, visit our webpage.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Henry Hathaway's 'True Grit' by Stacy DeLano

We are into a busy second week of “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads True Grit.” Over 100 people have already picked up their free books. You can get yourself registered and have a book held for you by signing up online on the library’s webpage.

Spring Break includes “Lost Skills of the Old West” on Saturday, March 14, 1-5 p.m. at the Multi Arts Center. Registration ends today, so if you want to attend call 405-747-8084 or emailing as soon as you can. The Oklahoma WONDERtorium will hold its crafting series March 16-20 when families can make Old West crafts like sling shots and cornhusk dolls. For more details, check the webpage at

On Thursday, March 19 at 6 p.m., the Stillwater Public Library will present a viewing of the 1969 version of the film “True Grit.” The Western classic will be shown on the library’s big screen and will include popcorn and drinks. It is rated G, so the whole family can attend. In addition, an American Sign Language interpreter will be present at the film, and we are excited that we are offering ASL interpretation at most of the events this year.

The 1969 version of the film stars Wayne, Kim Darby, and Glen Campbell and was directed by Henry Hathaway. Hathaway directed a substantial number of Westerns including “Rawhide,” “Shepherd of the Hills” and “North to Alaska.” The director was, as author Charles Portis put it, “a gruff old bird” who was exceptionally hard on the actors.

Originally, Mia Farrow was asked to take the role of young Mattie Ross, but she refused after actor Robert Mitchum warned her how tough Hathaway was. The role of the 14 year old Ross ended up going to Darby who was 21 years old at the time and had just become a new mother. Hathaway screamed at her so much the first day of filming that she fled to her trailer and wouldn’t return until Hathaway promised not to yell at her again.

Portis was also wary of some of Hathaway’s other directorial decisions. Hathaway had been taken with a particular stand of yellow aspens in the mountains near Montrose, Colorado. The director was determined to film his next movie there, regardless of what the script called for. When Portis pointed out that there were no such settings in “True Grit,” the director said he didn’t care---that Westerns were fairy tales that demand a majestic landscape.

Hathaway did help John Wayne create the role that would bring the Western legend his only Oscar. Portis, who was on the set of the film for several days, was especially impressed with the famous actor, saying that Wayne was even larger than he appeared on screen. Portis was also impressed with the actor’s kindness, having witnessed the actor give his undivided attention to an early morning, bumbling fan.

“A gentleman at four o’clock on a cold morning is indeed a gentleman.”

More history and analysis of the film will be given by Dr. William M. Hagen, a retired English professor from Oklahoma Baptist University. Hagen is a bit of a “True Grit” expert, having presented multiple library programs on the novel and having written on its two filmed versions.

The “True Grit” film is free and open to the public. For more info on the “True Grit” program, visit

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lost Skills of the Old West by Stacy DeLano

I am so excited about an upcoming “True Grit” program that when I think about it, I feel like a jubilant five year old. When I was little, my family went each summer to Silver Dollar City, an 1880s themed park in the Ozarks. We always started by watching the peanut brittle demonstration where I’d sit up on my dad’s shoulders because I couldn’t see past the big kids. The old-timey lady would smash up the candy and place it in a gingham covered basket for the crowd to take. I really, really wanted to take one of the big chucks, but never worked up my nerves enough to take anything but a little piece.

Next, we’d move on to glass blowing. Now mind you—these were the days before all the rides came. At that time, the park just had “Fire in the Hole,” the Mine ride, and the old Treehouse, so most of the entertainment was in watching the craftsmen demonstrating their 1880s skills-and we loved it!

After glass blowing, we’d wind through the shop where I’d pined for one of the delicate glass hummingbirds and tiny dolphins. I would try to pick up every single mini animal before my mother could catch up and scold me to keep my hands in my pockets.

We’d make our way around the park from demonstration to demonstration until lunchtime when we’d go to the Mine Restaurant and eat what seemed to be an exotically historic meal, but what I now think must have been something like KFC chicken and instant mashed potatoes. But we had been transported to a completely different time and place, so every bite was delicious.

I’ve missed those visits and getting to pretend that we lived in another time. But on Saturday, March 14, the Multi Arts Center is bringing a similar 1880s experience here to Stillwater. It’ll be your best chance to really get the feel of the “True Grit” era. The program, “Lost Skills of the Old West,” will have Dutch-oven cooking, a blacksmithing demonstration and time to try your hand at spinning and candlemaking.

“Lost Skills,” which lasts from 1-5 p.m., is $25, but you’ll be getting a delicious Dutch-oven meal and go home with swag from the candlemaking sessions.

Registration is required, so sign-up by call 405-747-8084 or emailing It is my understanding that they have to have registrations early to ensure the Dutch-oven cooking, so if you plan on going, I would encourage you to call now.

The Old West fun continues March 16 – March 20 at the Wondertorium. Anyone who has a membership or who purchases a regular ticket into the museum will also receive a pass for that day’s Hands-On History activity. Each day from 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., a new historic craft will be introduced, including Dreamcatchers on March 16, Cornhusk Dolls on March 17, Sling Shots on March 18, Basket Weaving on March 19 and Quilt Squares on March 20.

For more information, visit the Wondertorium website at or call 405-533-3333.

If you haven’t registered for “True Grit,” then dash over to our website (or the library) to get signed up and have a book held for you. And don’t forget the three performances of “Oklahoma Women with True Grit” coming up this week. The performances will be held Saturday, March 7, at 3 p.m. in the OSU Postal Plaza Gallery; Monday, March 9, at 4 p.m. in the OSU Library; and Tuesday, March 10, at 1 p.m. during the Osher Life Long Learning Town Hall held at Stillwater Public Library.

For more info on the “True Grit” program, visit