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Federal Drought Loans / Labor Day Celebrations

September 6, 2000

Historian's Notes

What a giant change our holiday celebrating has taken!

Resources for "Federal Drought Loans":

The Angie Debo Papers are held at OSU's Special Collections & University Archives.

Resources for "Labor Day Celebrations":

The Labor Day story came from the Tulsa papers of 1927.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

During the 1930s Oklahoma and much of the western plains states experienced searing heat and very little rainfall. The severe drought conditions caused many of the states to seek help from the federal government in the form of capitol for long term loans. In this week in 1930, Oklahoma was the first state in the country to receive such financial aid from Washington. It was September 3rd, 1930 that over $1,500,000.00 was made available to the state's drought stricken farmers. During this period Oklahoma was one of the hardest hit states in the region. Heat, drought and high winds seemed to be centered on the panhandle of the state, leaving farmers there with little hope of profit.

Conditions in the thirties were so terrible that for one entire year Cimarron County, Oklahoma reported that no crop had been raised in the entire county. Due to the advanced conditions of the drought in Oklahoma, the state's relief commission was considered the most efficient and well organized of any such agency in the nation. The period of drought and heat continued in the area for almost a decade, and the federal aid that farmers received in September of 1930, while much appreciated, proved to be just a drop in the bucket compared to what would be needed in the coming years.

In this week in 1927 Oklahomans across the state were celebrating Labor Day. Rather than spending the day at the lake, citizens in 1927 participated in parades, speeches and other events honoring those who spent their days laboring for the betterment of society. On September 5th, 1927 it was the city of Tulsa that held, arguably, the largest celebration in the state. Thousands of people poured into the oil capital from all over the state, including two special trains filled to capacity coming from Oklahoma City just for the event. The special day started off with a parade featuring dozens of unions and organized locals from around the state, and later, speakers and special guests paid tribute to the American Federation of Labor, and everyone was treated to a free lunch at noon where over 15,000 pounds of barbecue and 1,000 pounds of watermelon was distributed. At the Tulsa county fairgrounds a Labor Day queen was elected and the evening ended with a fireworks display...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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