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Oklahoma - Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
15 November 2011
There were really only two things I knew about Oklahoma.
Firstly the musical. You know the one:
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends,
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough,
The other likes to chase a cow,
But that's no reason why they cain't be friends. Oklahoma O.K.
Yep there are still cowboys and farmers but these days agriculture comes third in the State’s economy to natural gas and oil. Not that this stops the male population of Oklahoma City gadding about in fancy cowboy boots and huge hats.
It’s not exactly a tourist destination. So why I am here?
The Womens’ Alliance (TWA), the umbrella group for organisations like Fitted for Work, is holding its annual conference in Oklahoma City. The night I arrived, Fitted for Work’s Dear Gladys online store went live so I could show off our beautiful site and great products at www.deargladys.com.au/ Fitted for Work was applauded for leading the way, the first organisation to have an online social enterprise.
The TWA conference is always hosted by a local organisation, in this case Suited for Success founded by Susan Walton.
Here’s the other thing I knew about Oklahoma City - the 1995 bombing of the Federal building by right-wing fanatic Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 people and injured 680.
One of the injured was Susan Walton, making a deposit into her account at the credit union. She nearly died from a fractured skull, nerve damage to her eyes, multiple jaw fractures, a broken nose, a ruptured spleen, and two crushed legs.
What followed was weeks in hospital, 15 operations, years of physio, and months of terrible pain with metal braces pinned through her flesh into the bones of her legs.
On waking in hospital and being told what happened she said, “Good will come out of this.”
She says, “I tried to focus on getting well and moving on with my life and helping others and paying back the society for the help that was given to me.\"
In 1997 Susan founded Suited for Success, which has since served thousands of Oklahoma City women. Truly a woman of valour.
Our last night and the hotel starts rumbling and shaking. No, not another crazy letting off explosives. This time it’s an earthquake.