The decade that the author spent living in Oklahoma took her back in time at least 15 years.
It was a unique little town. There were no law enforcement agencies in Freedom, Oklahoma; without police, without judge and without jail. It seemed that the citizens who lived there made their own laws. Residents controlled themselves with resentment of any laws that got too close to their city. The voice quickly spread among residents when one of them spotted a state trooper or sheriff’s vehicle parked on a nearby highway.
Most of the people who lived in and around Freedom were farmers or ranchers who became frustrated and angry when their hard work and efforts in farming and ranching didn’t pay off. Even when they had a good wheat crop, that did not mean that they would receive a fair price for their time and effort. Much of the farmer’s financial success in Freedom, Oklahoma depended on how high the government valued the price of wheat that season.
Mother Nature continually took a heavy toll on local farmers who were always challenged by drought, wind, rain, and insects that occasionally vindictively destroyed their crops. The obstacles that people seemed to face in their daily lives sometimes destroyed the souls of those who had little hope or faith. Most farmers in northwest Oklahoma lived off a prayer and a shoelace. The new agricultural equipment was extremely expensive and only available to a select few. Many of the farmers could barely afford the seed needed to plant their crops, much less replace their old equipment. They relied on operating loans from local banks and government assistance to help them earn a living.
There was an extreme difference in the lifestyle of the people. Local politicians and thieves owned acres and acres of land and the best farm equipment money could buy; however, the poorer sharecropper farmers had little chance of making a living from farming.
There was a shortage of water to irrigate crops and most farmers did not have an irrigation system. They relied on Mother Nature for an occasional storm and deep rain. Things hadn’t improved much at Freedom since the 1920s and 1930s.
Farmers seemed limited in the crops they planted. The land was normally planted with wheat or grass and used for cattle grazing. Year after year, the farmer planted wheat, sometimes they had a decent harvest, and many times, depending on the elements, they had no harvest at all. Regardless, as the years passed and the seasons passed, the farmers repeated their efforts over and over again; Like it’s the only way they know
The author’s favorite time of year in Freedom was the beginning of spring, when the green fields of wheat looked like sprawling golf courses. From the road, the green wheat fields continued forever. She imagined farm families praying for their crops to be kept safe from the elements so that they would have a successful wheat harvest every year, and she prayed too.
Some concerned farmers drank too many beers from time to time at the Freedom Saloon, as if seeking to break free from the stress and anxiety of their daily farm life. It was rumored that from time to time they would bar the door and bang each other just to ease their frustrations with the world around them. “What didn’t kill you in Freedom only made you stronger!”
Gossip quickly spread throughout the small town; there were no secrets. In the good old days, nosy and bored citizens spread the gossip they overheard their neighbors’ phone conversations over old party lines. One family can have one ring and the other can have two, they always knew when their neighbors were on the line. They spent many hours silently listening to each other’s conversations on hand-cranked telephones from the confines of the farm living rooms.
Most of the people who lived in Freedom, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas appeared to be honest, generous, hardworking survivors who appreciated their old-fashioned lifestyle. They honored their neighbors and valued their family traditions.
The homeless people who occasionally passed through Freedom in hopes of settling there eventually moved on. It didn’t take long for an outsider to discover who made the rules. To survive in Freedom, a person had to be rough, tough, and moody, and open to the possibility of being taken advantage of.
There was a definite competition between the families who lived north of the Cimarrón and those who lived south of the lazy river. The attitude of the northern people had the potential and the power to destroy men, damage families and reputations.
God forbid if you needed to borrow money from the local bank to keep your farm and family alive. If you don’t come from one of Freedom’s wealthier families, you may be looked down upon and the city’s thugs proceeded to treat you accordingly.
Freedom had a cooperative where farmers bought their food and seeds at very high prices. Your local hardware owner could get you everything you need and have it delivered in two days, if you’re willing to pay the price. The corner store sold gasoline and groceries; at such high prices, a person would have been better off driving 30 miles to Woodward to do their shopping.
There were no traffic lights in the one-horse city. There was a school with grades one through twelve, a town hall, a post office, a legion hall, a small western museum, a sewing shop, two country cafes, a rodeo arena, a bench, and a lounge.
Tumbleweeds flew down the dusty main street of Freedom. The city could easily have been mistaken for a ghost town on a film set, but it wasn’t, it was all very real.
Webster’s Dictionary defined the word “freedom”, in part, as: “The quality or state of being free; and the absence of necessity, coercion, or restriction in choice or action; and, liberation from bondage or restriction or from power. of another; and, the quality or state of being exempt or liberated generally from something onerous; and, the quality of being frank, open or frank “.
The author understood the definition in Webster’s dictionary, but imagined that those visiting Freedom, Oklahoma, would find their own definition.
Freedom is a small, quaint, isolated town in northwestern Oklahoma; a place where some flee in search of their own personal freedom.
The city is located in a beautiful green valley located along the Cimarron River in northwestern Oklahoma. He is somehow protected by an unknown divine source. Freedom is located in the middle of Tornado Alley; however, very few tornadoes are rumored to have landed there. The population consists mainly of elderly people whose families settled in and around Freedom after the land rush of 1893.
Few young people stay when they finish high school. Most of them move to larger cities or towns to explore greater opportunities than those offered at Freedom. Most high school seniors leave for college, and few return, except for an occasional visit over the holidays or to attend a class or family reunion.
Residents of Freedom welcome tourists to their city on the third weekend of August each year, when thousands of rodeo fans arrive to attend their annual rodeo. The Freedom Rodeo tradition has endured in the small town for more than 75 years.
The city of Freedom was established eight years after the Cherokee Outlet Land Run of 1893. The land was originally purchased by the United States government in 1891 from the Cherokee Indians, and Freedom was established as a city in 1901. The Santa Railroad Company Faith built a railroad line between Waynoka and Buffalo, Oklahoma. Their lines run near the town of Freedom.
In 1928 the city prospered. Freight trains made daily stops there. Several new businesses developed as a result of the railroad, and soon they had a grocery store, an auto repair shop, a pharmacy, a hairdresser, a lumberyard, a meat market, a hardware store, a produce store, a food court, a cafeteria, a hotel and a store. Bank.
In 1928 the population of Freedom was two hundred and fifty-one. When the author arrived in 1996, the population was two hundred and eighty-one.
The old western town’s main street features wooden store fronts and sidewalks and the town has great potential to be a popular Oklahoma tourist destination. However, many of the older citizens seem happy with the status quo. They are not interested in putting up with tourists or strangers in general, in fact.
Freedom has many meanings, the author’s definition is: “It’s a great place to visit if you don’t intend to stay long!”