This quiet but strong Oklahoma mother was my great grandmother, the woman I am named after and well, she was the first Oklahoma Mother of the Year. I had no idea about that recognition until I read it in a book about Mothers of Achievement in American History. At the end of the anthology, which contained stories of famous women in every state, it also contained a list of every Mother of the Year since 1935 – which by itself, was a pretty cool listing. Naturally, I flipped to the state of Oklahoma and there was my great grandmother’s name – listed as the first Mother of the Year named in Oklahoma by the American Mothers Committee of the Golden Rule Foundation.
At the time, she was the biological mother to 5 children but also the mother to an entire college community. Her husband of 30 years was the President of Oklahoma A & M University (now Oklahoma State) and they lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Both Vera Connell and her husband, Henry G. Bennett, were educators. They met when he was the Superintendent of Schools in Hugo, Oklahoma and she was applying for a teaching position in Boswell. Both were big advocates of the public library system and believed the library should be the focal point of every college campus. This certainly applied at Oklahoma A&M. Anyone who has walks on that campus today would agree the library holds an enchanting presence on the lawn and quietly encourages a love of learning. We have taken lots of family photos over the years on that campus by a statue of my grandad which overlooks the Library Lawn. Here are a few of them.
Vera Connell Bennett is described as being of strong character with an independent mind. She made lists for Henry G. and the kids every morning which most likely was her quiet way of pushing them toward the high aspirations and goals she had set for them. I write of this only because I am a list maker too and since I share her unusual name, I smile knowing this trait has successfully been passed down albeit skipping a few generations!
History has recorded the close partnership that Henry G. and Vera Connell Bennett maintained throughout their marriage until their untimely death in a plane crash in Tehran, 1951. Henry G. was serving as the Undersecretary of State under President Truman and overseeing the 4 Point Program to help build nation states post WWII. They had been in Ethiopia and traveling to Iran when their plane went down. The State Department records indicate their bodies were found next to one another, having been ejected from the plane when it crashed into a mountainside, unable to find the runway in a snowstorm.
Just a little bit of history about an influential, Oklahoma mother.
Back in 2016, I had the unique opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.I had never been to a political convention before, nor had I been involved in party politics, but the Senator was a delegate at the convention and I tagged along for the ride.
When I wasn’t acting as Cliff’s personal photographer, I became starstruck by all the members of the media we had rubbed shoulders with in the convention hall.
During the opening ceremony that first evening, I sat up in the rafters and decided to follow the media on Twitter. I figured it was the place where all the cool kids were hanging out and it would be helpful to follow what was going on down below on the floor.
I was also curious about how Twitter was being used for political messaging. Trump had recently pioneered the platform for this purpose and I remember sitting up there, following what was being said in the arena and reading what was being reported on Twitter and thinking, huh? Is this for real?
What was actually happening on the floor and what the media were tweeting as a result were night and day! So much of the commentary seemed clouded in personal bias or twisted to fit a narrative being promoted, but it certainly wasn’t an honest or accurate depiction of the event. It was a fascinating experiment to watch live and read about it simultaneously.
I still follow the media on Twitter and it has become like a sport for me. It is a place where I get my news and fake news. I can tell when the narrative is damaging to one side of the aisle based on the twitter feed of various “reporters” or if Twitter censors a certain story or individual. I read about all the current trends, polling data, and mini dramas on my Twitter feed. This may or may not be a healthy habit, so if you know about a Twitter 12 Step program, I am probably a good candidate.
Last Saturday evening was the Speaker’s Ball in Oklahoma, an event that signals the Legislative Session is drawing near. I penned a few reviews of past Speaker’s Balls we attended while Cliff was in the Legislature. You can read about those HERE, HERE and HERE. The theme, venue and beneficiary of the proceeds changes with every Speaker of the House, which keeps things interesting.
We did not go this year because I was in charge of another event benefiting the Oklahoma Contemporary Museum of Art. So, still had a chance to play dress up and momentarily feel like a princess just at a different venue! It was fun and my Senator in a tux did not disappoint.
If you read this and attended the 2020 Speaker’s Ball, please send me your pics!! Dying to know what I missed!
The official start to the legislative session in Oklahoma begins next week and the Governor appears to be on a goodwill tour speaking about his agenda and providing people with a glimpse of his goals for our state. Honestly, he needs all the goodwill he can get considering he is still in a dispute with the Tribes…but, I’m not gonna go there. And, it’s also rumored that his Senior Advisor, (Donelle Harder), the individual who is writing the State of the State is resigning. Oy!
My Senator will have an opportunity to hear the Gov. speak at Rotary today. Did you know, that Rotary Club 29, located in Oklahoma City, is the largest Rotary Club in the WORLD!? Who would ever guess that to be the case considering the size of our City…unless you know the people who live here and their dedication to serving others. Can’t wait to hear about today’s meeting and kinda of bummed I didn’t get the invite to go as his guest haha.