Sunday, February 17, 2019

Elizabeth Warren and the World's Largest Peanut

By Fred Owens

 Elizabeth Warren and the World's Largest Peanut

It's very possible that Senator Elizabeth Warren will become our next president, and whether that pleases you or not, you might want to learn more about where she comes from -- Oklahoma.

She was born in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1949 in middle class circumstances, but her father had health problems and lost his job and lost his medical insurance and their family was soon in dire straits. Elizabeth went to work at her aunt's restaurant at the age of 13 to help out.  Many young girls -- like my sisters -- made decent money babysitting at that age. I worked as a golf caddy at the age plus doing yard work for neighbors. But Elizabeth made her money to help with the rent and buying food, so that's a little harder. The money I made was to be saved for college tuition or to buy a tennis racquet or something fun.

Elizabeth Herring, her birth name, was poor. And humble. People from Oklahoma are humble, and speak not much of themselves, although you better take that with a grain of salt when you hear an Oklahoma attorney lean back in his chair and say, well I'm just a country lawyer....

The peanut is a humble tuber and grows underground in the red soil of Oklahoma. The peanut monument in Durant, Oklahoma,  is three-feet across and carved of solid limestone, sitting on the courthouse lawn on a pedestal, and carved into the pedestal are these words, "The World's Largest Peanut."

But there is a much bigger peanut on the courthouse lawn in Floresville, Texas, six-feet tall and formed of fiberglass. I have seen both of these peanuts with my eyes. I have actually been to Durant and been to Floresville and that is how I know this.

That qualifies me to make this judgment. The Durant peanut, carved of limestone, will last for hundreds of years. It is solid and heavy and will some day sink to the ground, and the humble earth will take it home. The Floresville peanut, made of fiberglass, is hollow and will shatter when the next tornado comes. The Durant peanut is the most enduring -- perhaps that should be its epitaph.

The peanut is a humble fruit and it grows with the humble people of Oklahoma and this is where Elizabeth Warren comes from. Being the Senator from Massachusetts and being a professor at Harvard Law School is only a veneer. That's not who she is. She is from Oklahoma. And she is part Cherokee.

There has been a great deal of intermarriage between members of the five tribes -- Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole -- and the European settlers in Oklahoma. So it is common to know a neighbor who is a small part Native American.

A Choctaw Wedding Dress

Susan Semple was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1949, being the same age as Ellizabeth Warren. I married Susan Semple in Chicago at City Hall in 1976. She wore a Choctaw wedding dress -- a simple black sheath with colorful geometric embroidery. I don't know where she got it.  I was way past asking dumb questions like Why are you wearing a Choctaw wedding dress? ... Because I'm part Choctaw......I did not know that. What part of you is Choctaw?....Well, on my left arm from the elbow down I am all Choctaw and the rest of me is not. My Daddy is more Choctaw than me and my Granddaddy looks like an Indian.
That's what it is like in Oklahoma, which is where Elizabeth Warren comes from -- saying she is part Cherokee and why should she bother to prove that to you. Everybody in Oklahoma is one umpteenth Native American. You can just tell when you go there and meet the people. They look like white people and they are white people, but not quite.
Susan and I lived with her parents in Durant after the wedding in 1976. That's where I met the peanut. Her father put me to work on his small ranch, doing things like picking up rocks out of the pasture. I got bored and I didn't like it and I didn't like living in Oklahoma either -- too hot and humid and too redneck. But in retrospect, looking back at that time -- her father didn't like me very much either and all I had to do was to work hard enough and long enough, like for a few months, and he would have given me the old red truck and the trailer it hauled. Susan and I could have taken that old red truck and trailer to Colorado or California and had a better start with our lives.
But I didn't like picking up rocks, so we just left. It doesn't matter. The point is that the Semple family, Susan, her two brothers and sisters, and my own two kids, are all part Chocktaw. They don't claim it or need to prove it.
Likewise, Elizabeth Warren is part Cherokee. She doesn't need to claim it or prove it. It doesn't matter. She might make a good president.
That's All. Did you notice how I cleverly combined a political statement about Elizabeth Warren along with a personal recollection of my marriage and family? It's all connected. Next week let's talk about the GND, which has been buzzing the Internet. Or let's talk about something else. Shoot me an email and tell me what's on your mind.
take care,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

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