´True Grit' events aim to unite community members through reading

webform(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Feb. 2, 2015) ––For the past year, communities across Oklahoma have been reading the book “True Grit” by Charles Portis. This spring, the western classic will mosey through Stillwater, courtesy of a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant awarded to Stillwater Public Library.

In partnership with the OSU Library and the Sheerar museum, the next community-wide reading event, “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads True Grit,” will take place March 2-April 17.

“We were delighted to have won this very competitive grant,” said Lynda Reynolds, Stillwater Public Library director and series coordinator. “We think we’ve put together one of the best reading series our community has ever had.”

“True Grit” was published in 1968 and was quickly made into a silver screen classic starring John Wayne.

“Readers across the world fell in love with this story about a young girl who teams up with an old codger to avenge her father’s death,” said Lynda Reynolds, Stillwater Public Library director and series coordinator. “The book takes place during a great time in Oklahoma history and provides a perfect back-drop for discussing the true grit displayed every day by the people in our own community.”

The seven week series includes scholarly presentations, book discussions, films, exhibits, old west crafting and theatrical productions.

The programs kick-off Monday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. when Dr. Clarence Benes will present an introduction to “True Grit” in character as the very colorful Rooster Cogburn. Cogburn was made immortal by Wayne’s portrayal of the tough-as-nails protector of Mattie Ross.

Before and after the event, audience members can sign-up for any of the following community book discussions to receive a free copy of the book:

  • Monday, March 16, 6:30 p.m, at Stillwater Public Library’s Sewing Circle. This session will include readings from the book and general discussion as participants sew. 
  • Tuesday, March 24, 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by Nicole Sump Crethar
  • Wednesday, March 25, 10:30 a.m. at Senior Center led by Pat Jaynes
  • Thursday, March 26, 2 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by Lynda Reynolds
  • Tuesday, March 31, noon at Sheerar Museum led by Pat Jaynes
  • Wednesday, April 1, 6 p.m. at McAlister's Deli led by Helen Clements
  • Monday, April 6, 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by Mary Larson
  • Friday, April 10, 10 a.m. at Panera led by Lynda Reynolds
  • Sunday, April 12, 2 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by David Oberhelman
  • Tuesday, April 14, 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by Barbara Miller
  • Friday, April 17, noon at Sheerar Museum led by Judy Hoberock

Following the Kick-off event, the calendar is jam-packed with “True Grit” related activities. According to Reynolds, this series provides more family friendly programs than any of the library’s past reading events.

“I am most excited about the number of programs for children and families,” said Reynolds. “From Omar Reed portraying Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves at all of the elementary schools to a roping performance and old west craft activities, kids will be able to share in our community reading event like never before.”

Copies of “Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves,” will be distributed to teachers and librarians at the elementary schools courtesy of a donation from the Frontier Masonic Lodge.

Other programs on the schedule include:       

  • March 7, 3 p.m. at OSU Postal Plaza; March 9, 4 p.m. at OSU Library; and March 10, 1 p.m. during the OLLI Town Hall at Stillwater Public Library, Julie Pearson Little-Thunder presents “Oklahoma Women with True Grit,” a Reader’s Theatre featuring inspirational stories from real Oklahoma women.
  • March 14, 1-5 p.m., Multi Arts will host "Lost Skills of the Old West" with Dutch oven cooking, blacksnithing, candle making and spinning. Registration and a $25 fee is required. To sign-up, call 405-747-8084 or email multiartscenter1@gmail.com.
  • March 16-20, the Wondertorium Historic will include a new hands-on western craft activity to paying visitors each day during Spring Break.
  • March 19 at 6 p.m., Stillwater Public Library will show the 1969 version of the film “True Grit” with commentary by Dr. Bill Hagen, retired Professor of English, Oklahoma Baptist University.
  • March 22 at 2:30 p.m., Sheerar Museum presents “Gun that Won the West,” a history of the most popular “True Grit” era firearms, including the Winchester ’73, a favorite of Old West giants like Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Presented by David Kennedy, curator of the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center.
  • March 23, 4 p.m., at Stillwater Public Library, the “Oklahoma Kid” (www.theoklahomakid.com) will entertain children and families with trick roping and science.
  • March 27 at 6 p.m. in the OSU Student Union Basement, western artwork will be featured in “Western Heritage,” juried art show of contemporary art works. Adults interested in submitting work may contact Brandon Mitts at mitts@okstate.edu.
  • March 27 at 7 p.m., the 2010 film version of “True Grit” will be shown with commentary from Hagen.
  • March 28, 9:30-3:30 p.m., authors and historians Michael Wallis, Dr. Patricia Loughlin, Dr. Bob Blackburn, and Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will present a western writing workshop at the Stillwater Public Library. Pre-registration is required and includes a $10 fee for food and beverages.
  • March 28, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Jim Howard & the Highway Home will hold a Square Dance and dinner at the Stillwater Community Center for adults with developmental disabilities and their caretakers. Interested participants may email sdelano@stillwater.org for information.
  • March 31, 6:30 p.m., at the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza in Perkins, participants can tour Frank Eaton’s home, and then attend a presentation on OSU’s Frank Eaton Collection by David Peters, Special Collections & University Archives.
  • April 7, 4 p.m. at OSU Library and 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library, Ryan L. Spring, Historic Preservation Staff of the Choctaw Nation presents “Choctaw Light Horsemen and Culture,” an overview of the hard fighting men charged with protecting their people and lands in Indian Territory.
  • April 11, 7 p.m. at the Stillwater Community Center, Les Gilliam, the “Oklahoma Balladeer,” will entertain the audience with western music, stories about their origins and a tribute to Oklahoma musicians.
  • April 13, 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library, Leslie Higgins, Education Director of Fort Smith’s U.S. Marshals Museum presents “We Were There: U.S. Marshals Museum Past & Present.” 

Besides these events, readers will enjoy visiting “True Grit” inspired exhibitions, including:

  • “Notorious Payne County” at Sheerar Museum (March 2-April 17) which examines the romance and startling reality of outlaw history of the area before statehood.
  • “Western Heritage” in the OSU Student Union Basement (March 23-April 20).
  • “What Represents True Grit to You” at Stillwater Public Library (March 23-April 13), a display of artwork by local young adults.
  • “On the Trail of True Grit” at Stillwater Public Library (Feb. 15-April 15), a visual journey of the trail Mattie, Rooster and LaBoeuf took from Arkansas into Indian Territory.

“One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads True Grit” is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Other funding partners include Stillwater Public Library Trust, Friends of Stillwater Public Library and Friends of OSU Library.

Community Partners include Oklahoma Territorial Plaza, Oklahoma Wondertorium Museum, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Stillwater Public Schools, Stillwater Community Center, Stillwater Parks and Recreation, and Stillwater RoundUP.

OSU Partners include Center for Oklahoma Studies, Allied Arts, Oklahoma Oral History Research Program, OSU Library, Special Collections and University Archives, Native

American Student Association, Native American Faculty & Staff Association, Student Union Activities Board, History Department, English Department, and Gender and Women’s Studies Department.

For more information, visit the Stillwater Public Library “True Grit” web page at http://library.stillwater.org/TrueGrit.php, email askalibrarian@stillwater.org or call 405-372-3633.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.).