Hello, Frank here.
We received an interesting comment on our post, “I Can’t Think of a Thing to Write”, which, by the way, was the post before this one. We’ve been receiving comments from N.W. Illinois for a good while now and I’m going to try to give an accurate assessment to his question. I really don’t know if it’s a him or a her, but I’m going to respond as if it’s a him. Then I don’t have to him-haw around playing semantics.
His question is, why did we move to southeast Oklahoma. But, here is his comment in it’s entirety.
“Hello Fern & Frank, For having nothing to say that was an interesting read. This is N.W. Illinois again, been a while. It’s too cold to plant anything in the ground here. A week ago the ground was covered in snow! Yuck. The weather has improved this week, 65 deg. on Mon. 3/30/15. On the note of something to write, how about telling us why you picked Oklahoma to retire in, what’s the advantages over say N.W. Illinois. Other than the fact our growing season is three months shorter or we have more snow.”
There are a lot of parts to the answer here, as to why we moved to Oklahoma. So I’m just going to start.
Fern and I were both born and raised in Texas, but we didn’t know that about each other until we met in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She was
a normal aged junior, and I was about ten years older and trying college again on a full time basis. What brought us both to Oklahoma State University? Well, Fern’s dad passed away when she was a young child, and in about ninth grade her mother married a man from Oklahoma. His wife had passed away a couple of years earlier. So her mom left her college teaching position and moved to southeastern Oklahoma where her new husband lived. That is how Fern ended up going to Oklahoma State University.
My case is a little bit different. I’m a big city boy, born and raised. I have pulled two tours in the military, both of them short tours. I had been researching major universities, not located in major cities. Oklahoma State University, OSU, was kind enough to offer me about 36 hours of good solid credits for my military training. So that’s what brought me to OSU.
Fern and I met in Biology 101, and just about two years later we got married. A couple of years later we completed our education we started looking for jobs. That started our teaching career in Oklahoma. We worked in Oklahoma for six years, not anywhere close to southeastern Oklahoma. We took jobs in Alaska for one year, came back to Oklahoma, and worked for nine more years. We are still not in southeastern Oklahoma. Then we moved back to Alaska and taught there for eight more years.
During our sixth year in Alaska ten acres of land became available that was in the vicinity of Fern’s family. It was a nice, pretty, square ten acres, and each summer when we would come down here to visit her folks, we would look at assorted pieces of property. We really didn’t plan on living on this land some day, it just seemed like it was a good investment. Even after we bought the ten acres, we still continued to look at other pieces of property.
Now, what brought us here? Well, let me back up a little bit. We had also very casually looked at locations in Washington state, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Oregon. But there was nothing that ever really flipped our switch. And upon doing a little deeper research, not all, but most of these states have restrictive water rights, and that’s just not something we were looking for.
But the major reason for not moving to any of these states just mentioned, was the snow and the cold. We had just spent eight years in some climates in Alaska that were, to say the least, extremely bitter and harsh. As a school principal, I had to shovel snow on a regular basis. Then, about my fifth year, I injured my lower back, which I still suffer from that injury today. I knew that I never in my life wanted to shovel snow again.
Now I’m going to back up one more time. The last couple of years in Alaska, I started noticing some very dangerous trends in the
economy. This was about 2006. Now, I’m by no means an economist, but some things I saw going on in the financial world started to give me grave concerns. I started educating myself about the financial world, and to me it became apparent that the economy was in a death spiral. I did not want to be in remote bush Alaska when things spiraled out of control. So, in 2008 we quit two successful administrative positions, sold our condominium in Anchorage, rented two big UHaul trailers, and made our last trip down the Alaska highway.
Which, on a side note, cell phones don’t work on the vast majority of the Alaska highway. So we purchased two GMRS handheld walkie talkies, and that’s how we communicated while we were driving down the Alaska highway. That was the beginning of my jump into ham radio.
I’m going to back up one more time. A really interesting thing happened about four months before we left Alaska. There is only one house that bordered our ten acres, and the lady that owned the house happened to know Fern’s mom. She mentioned that she was going to sell the house, and asked Fern’s mom if we would be interested. The day that we got here from Alaska, the next day we picked up the keys and the house was ours. I can’t help but believe that we had some divine help there. We already owned the ten acres, and now we had one acre with a house that attached to it. That’s how we got here.
Now, let me share some benefits of being here. A lot of folks don’t know this, but southeastern Oklahoma is a mountainous area. Ok, ok, they’re not the Rocky Mountains and they’re not the Appalachian Mountains, and some folks would just call them big hills. But whatever you want to call them, they are what they are. And they are beautiful. There is one medium sized town about 30 miles away. There is a fully functional town about 60 miles away. And there are two big towns, or what we call big towns, in different directions about three hours away.
Taxes overall here are less than most other states, and that includes income tax. There is an income tax here in Oklahoma. We have crime here, but it is less than the national average, especially out in the rural areas. The schools here are as good as they are anywhere. Yesterday I was out in my backyard sighting in a rifle. About two miles away is a huge national forest. About a mile in the other direction is a large wildlife refuge. We can grow things successfully about seven months a year. And there are some things that will survive year round. It’s hot in the summer, it’s humid in the summer. I know most folks think of Oklahoma as the dust bowl, but not the southeastern part. We are heavily treed, with mountains. It says so on the map.
It can get cold in the winter, but on average it normally doesn’t get any colder than 20 to 25 degrees. We get snow, but you can normally sweep it off of your porch. On occasion we get ice storms which shuts everything down. We do have tornadoes and some violent thunderstorms. But these are things you learn to live with, because you have violent thunderstorms just about everywhere. Most states have the occasional tornado. But we don’t have hurricanes, we don’t have mud slides, we do not have tsunamis, but we do have wildfires.
Something that some people will find probably a little surprising is that not one precinct or district or polling station had a majority vote for Mr. Obama in either election. You read that right. Not one. You can take that for what it’s worth. So, if you think that Wyoming is conservative, welcome to Oklahoma.
We also have more churches than we do bars. That means that church has a significant influence in everything that happens here, especially in the rural areas.
This part of Oklahoma has a higher unemployment rate than the national average, and it has for many years. There’s just not a lot of wealth in this part of the state, if you judge wealth by the amount of money someone has. But you will see a man driving a tractor with his child sitting on his lap. And you will see a family fishing together. I guess you can judge wealth by other values also.
Okay, I’ll try to get back on topic now. When Fern and I left Alaska and moved here, we did not have jobs lined up. At first things didn’t look like they were going to pan out. Fern would get an offer at one
little school and I would get an offer at another little school, but our entire married life and teaching career, we’ve always worked in the same district. Maybe not the exact same building, but very close by. Then one day we interviewed at a school and the superintendent there offered us both teaching positions. That was around July 4th. It was starting to look like we might need to apply in Alaska again. But, again, the good Lord was with us, and He gave us two teaching jobs, me at the high school and Fern at the elementary. I taught there three years and retired. Fern taught there six years and retired. You see, God has been very good to us, and for that we are truly thankful. And I really believe that, too.
Okay, let’s review. Why southeast Oklahoma? It’s beautiful. The winters are survivable even if we didn’t have heat, as long as we had shelter. There aren’t many folks here in this area. We can grow food almost year round. If need be, we can harvest game. The climate is not harsh on our livestock. The water laws and rules are easily livable. The folks are ultra conservative. The vast majority of people are Christian. The folks here are just decent, hardworking people for the most part. The taxes are kind to retired folks, and to everybody for that matter. No national politician is ever going to retire in my neighborhood. That’s another thing to be truly thankful for.
On a serious note. If there is a collapse, and for whatever reason there is no electricity or power, this part of the world is survivable. Those states I talked about earlier. If you live inland, away from the major population centers, the winters are not survivable without external assistance. Maybe a few very young and very hardy might be able to, but the majority will not. And I’m sorry to say that, but these are facts. A lot of folks may think that with -20 degrees below zero temperatures that they are going to be okay. Well, they’re not. That is an illusion.
So this is why Fern and I settled in southeast Oklahoma. There is going to be a collapse in our society, because it is already starting. It’s a big ship and it takes a long time for it to stop. The economic and social trends that I seriously started following in 2006 have not halted or reversed, if anything, they have accelerated. This big ship is grinding to a halt. If you can’t see it, I’m sorry. But this area is survivable.
N.W. Illinois, I hope this answered your question. I want to thank you for the comment, and I want to thank you for reading. But first and foremost, I want to thank God for giving me the ability to see what is happening. And I want to thank my wife of 32 years for always being by my side. I am truly blessed.
We’ll talk more later, Frank