#418, July 30, 2006
GREENVILLE, Ohio: Do you remember Annie Oakley? Of course you do. A hundred years ago she was the best known woman in the world. She was known mainly for her sharp-shooting skills with a rifle. On his news program Thursday, Paul Harvey told how Annie Oakley used to shoot a cigarette out of her husband’s mouth, from thirty paces. Then he added, “He never forgot their anniversary.”
You might not know she was born in Ohio. Every year about this time they celebrate her life with “Annie Oakley Days” at the county fairgrounds and this year the Wild West Arts Club invited me to attend their competition and annoy ’em with a few comments at the awards dinner.
I got to meet Annie, and we talked a spell, mainly about old times. Took some pictures. Now, everybody knew she was there, but to see Annie Oakley and Will Rogers together caused a bit of a stir. They were wondering, who’s coming next? Maybe Hopalong Cassidy, or John Wayne, or Roy Rogers? (And two of those fellows were also Ohio bred and born.)
The way things are deteriorating over in the Middle East, what we need is a few thousand Annie Oakleys to go over there and pick off those terrorists one at a time. Those men have never seen anything like her and she could ride in with a rifle concealed under her long skirt, dismount and plug ’em between the eyes before they could fire their Kaytoosha.
All I know is what I read in the newspaper. Did you see where a group of Democrats announced they have come up with a new idea for weaning us off petroleum? They said if we play it right we can replace 25% of our gasoline with ethanol and other home-grown fuels by the year 2025. These Democrats may think it’s a new idea, but six or eight months ago I heard the same plan described by some engineers. They called it 25 by 25. So finally, the Democrats have caught up with the engineers, and if the Republicans, who still haven’t learned about it, get behind the plan it’s got a chance. Even the big oil companies might be amenable as long as they get a crack at the processing and distribution rights.
Last week I attended the annual convention of the National Speakers Association in Orlando. It was hot in Florida, but not as hot as it’s been out West. Now when you gather 1700 men and women who make their living by talking, well, let’s just say it puts a strain on any air cooling system. But the Marriott folks were prepared for us because they had installed the extra heavy duty industrial grade Carrier system in the convention hotel. There’s only two of that size, and the other one is in Washington at the Capitol.
But really, only about 50 did most of the speaking, and the rest of us were there to learn. I’ll leave out a bunch who deserve a mention, but it was good to get insights on presenting humor from Lou Heckler, Ron Culberson, David Glickman, and Lola Gillebaard. The top honor of the whole convention, the Cavett Award, went to Charles “Tremendous” Jones. He has been speaking since 1949 and his nickname is well deserved.
(“Annie” is Loretta Jones of Rock Island, Tennessee)
Historical quotes from Will Rogers:
“They are pretty bad, these big wars over commerce. But one over religion is really the most bitter.” WA #350, Sept. 8, 1929
[Annie Oakley was born in Darke County, Ohio, August 13, 1860, and died in Greenville, the county seat, on Nov. 3, 1926.]
“Annie Oakley… was the acknowledged headliner for years and years of the great Buffalo Bill Show. [from 1885 to 1902]
She was the best known woman in the World at one time, because when she was with the show, it toured everywhere. She was not only the greatest rifle shot for a woman that ever lived, but I doubt if her character could be matched, outside of some Saint.
I had heard Cowboys who had traveled with the Buffalo Bill Show speak of her in almost reverence. They loved her. She was a marvelous woman, kind hearted, most thoughtful, a wonderful Christian woman.
I went out to see her last spring in Dayton. She was in bed… had been for months… but she was just so cheerful. Just think of a little, frail, gray-haired woman who had spent her life with a Wild West show, remaining in your memory as being just about the most perfect thing you ever saw besides your own Mother.
So it’s what you are, and not what you are in, that makes you.” WA 206, Nov. 21, 1926