By Kathy McGilberry
We’re charging hard toward the end of The Big Read — much like Rooster on Little Blackie, trying to reach Fort Smith to save Mattie — but with any luck, we’ll make it with all our livestock and limbs intact.
You recognize those references because they’re part of the Charles Portis novel True Grit, and that’s the book the whole town has been reading for the past four weeks. We’ve heard from authors, poets, historians, community leaders, professors and storytellers — each with a unique perspective on this great American Western novel. We’ve watched both versions of the movie, plus a great documentary. We’ve enjoyed hearing about our local history — some of it mentioned in the book. We’ve re-enacted the murder that drives the plot. We’ve even wrangled young cowpokes in stick horse races!
Just a few events remain. If you haven’t yet attended a The Big Read event, now’s the time to mark your calendar. Saturday, two big events are featured at another True Grit in the Park lineup. First, author Brett Cogburn will be at Chadick Park’s Main Pavilion at 5 p.m. to talk about his book Rooster: The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit. Then at 6 p.m., Dr. Lewis Parkhill will present The Big Roundup, a scholarly look at the novel that brings together all the presentations we’ve enjoyed so far, and adds some extra zip. You’ll want to hear Dr. Parkhill — he’s an enthusiastic and engaging speaker. We’ll feed you some tasty vittles, too!
Then on Tuesday, please join us to hear Tom Wing, director of the Drennen-Scott Historic Site in Van Buren, and assistant professor of history at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. Before working for UAFS, Wing was a historian and interpretive park ranger for the National Park Service at he Fort Smith National Historic Site. He’ll be here to tell us about Hanging Judge Parker in a presentation called Hands Red with Blood: Judge Isaac C. Parker and the Enforcement of Justice in Indian Territory. Professor Wing was featured in the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary “The Real Story of True Grit,” and we’re excited to have him here for a presentation.
The final program before the big Keynote Event Nov. 16 will be a living history presentation by Omar Reed of the Fort Gibson Historic Site, who will appear in character as U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves, the legendary African-American deputy marshal who is thought to be not only one of the real-life inspirations for the character Rooster Cogburn, but the Lone Ranger as well. Reed has created a special presentation called Reflections of Bass Reeves that highlights the marshal’s many exploits that took place right here in Pittsburg County. That program will begin at 6:30 p.m., and will be upstairs in the Mezzanine Meeting Room, due to a board meeting in the Whiteacre.
We’ll tell you more about our Keynote banquet as it approaches. McAlester’s own Alan Crone of Channel 6 Tulsa has agreed to emcee, and we couldn’t be happier that he’s participating in The Big Read.
Here’s the schedule for November:
• Friday, Nov. 1 — History at High Noon, Ryan Spring of the Choctaw Nation presents History of the Choctaw Lighthorsemen, Whiteacre Room, chili and fixin’s are on the menu.
• Saturday, Nov. 2 — Brett Cogburn, 5 p.m., and The Big Roundup with Dr. Lewis Parkhill, 6 p.m., Main Pavilion, Chadick Park, (or at the library if the weather is bad), free meal.
• Monday, Nov. 4 — Arthouse Theater, 6 p.m., Whiteacre, movie sequel to “True Grit,” starring John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn, Rated PG. Free popcorn.
• Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Searching Native American Records, 1-4 p.m., Whiteacre Room, Steve Beleu of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, instructor. Spaces are limited, registration required. Then at 6:30 p.m., Tom Wing presents Hands Red with Blood. We’ll have punch and cookies, too.
• Wednesday, Nov. 6 — Frances Walker presents the final session of her six-week knitting class. She has scheduled a new, four-week class in How to Knit Socks, to begin in January. Call us at 918-426-0930 to register.
• Thursday, Nov. 7 — Dr. Kenneth Hada will present Twisted Perception by Bob Avey, the fourth book in a Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma reading and discussion series sponsored by the Oklahoma Humanities Council. Everything begins at 6 p.m. in the Whiteacre, and we’ll have our usual light supper and door prizes. If you’re one of the new participants in The Big Read, we’d love to see you at Let’s Talk, too!
• Friday, Nov. 8 — History at High Noon concludes with a performance by author Glenda Carlile, who will review True Grit in character as Mattie Ross. Carlile, the author of Buckskin, Calico and Lace: Oklahoma’s Territorial Women, will then present Hats Off to Territorial Women, portraying a number of real-life historic figures. After the meal and performance, The Bookies book club will meet in special session to discuss True Grit. You are welcome to join them, or just stay for the meal and presentation. Then at 2 p.m., the Adult Anime/Manga group meets for the second time.
• Saturday, Nov. 9 — Second Saturday Cinema features a John Wayne film thought to be among his finest. Jeffrey Hunter and Natalie Wood co-star in this PG-rated John Ford Criterion Collection classic. Free popcorn, as always.
• Monday, Nov. 11 — The library will be closed for Veterans Day.
• Tuesday, Nov. 12 — Reflections of Bass Reeves, with Omar Reed, 6:30 p.m., Mezzanine. We’ll have punch and cookies, too.
• Wednesday, Nov. 13 — The Free Crafts Workshop resumes, with a 1:30 p.m. session featuring horseshoe crafts. Spaces are limited, so call the library to register.
• Saturday, Nov. 14 — The Big Read Keynote, The Whistle Stop Bistro, Old Town, 6-8 p.m., details to be announced.
• Monday, Nov. 18 — Light Readers, 6 p.m., Conference Room, discussing Jesus Freaks by dc Talk.
• Tuesday, Nov. 19 — Friends of the Library Noon Luncheon, with Dave Cathey, author of The Culinary History of Pittsburg County. Then at 6:30 p.m., the Night Readers meet to discuss Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. We’ll be choosing which books we’ll read in 2014, too. Please join us and make your preferences heard. Also on Tuesday, a new three-day Computer Skills Workshop with Anthony Smart begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Whiteacre. Call the library to register.
• Thursday, Nov. 21 — The Oklahoma Private Investigations series concludes with a 6 p.m. presentation by Dr. Trisha Yarbrough of Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s The American Café. Food, drink, prizes and discussion — please join us.
• Friday, Nov. 22 — The new Adult Steampunk group meets in the Whiteacre at 2 p.m.
• Saturday, Nov. 23 — Documentary Matinee features a film about Timothy “Speed” Levich and a look inside the New York City bus tour business. It’s a fast-paced, PG-rated, entertaining film. Free popcorn.
• Monday, Nov. 25 — The Film Movement Indie Movie returns, with a 6 p.m. showing of the unrated Three Worlds, from France, with English subtitles. Free popcorn.
• Tuesday, Nov. 26 — Socrates Café meets at 10 a.m. in the Conference Room for brunch and philosophical discussion. Last month we considered the question “What is our attitude toward nature?” This month, join us and bring your own questions to the table.
• Thursday and Friday, Nov. 28-29 — The library will be closed for Thanksgiving.
Hope to see you soon.
Kathy McGilberry is an assistant librarian at the McAlester Public Library. Contact her at 918-426-0930.