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Oklahoma Memories

The Job of Being Governor

2011-01-24

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"There is something special about our wonderful state. We have always known that. Now America does. Now the world does."

That's the voice of Governor Frank Keating speaking to the nation at a memorial service following the Oklahoma City bombing.

From the Oklahoma History Center, this is Oklahoma Memories. I'm Michael Dean.

As our new governor Mary Fallon settles in, she may face a number of challenges, as did her predecessors.

In his third year in office, Governor David Hall had to deal with the largest prison riot in Oklahoma history.

"The prisoners are in three different areas. A little over 700 are in the yard directly by the main cell block buildings. There are a little over 600 that are in the industrial, burned-out industrial, area which is secured by the National Guard. There are a little over 125, 150 in the prisoner rodeo yard."

In the mid-1930s Governor E.W. Marlandfaced an energy crisis. Oil had been discovered in Oklahoma City, and when crews began drilling wells on the capitol grounds, the Oklahoma City council threatened to arrest the roughnecks for violating the city's embargo on drilling new wells. Marland called out the National Guard, but the city backed down.

"The City attempted to enjoin me in the lower courts, but the Supreme Court upheld my contention. So now everything's okay. The oil is ours. Soldier boys have gone home."

Governor David Boren also faced an energy crisis.

"In the intrastate market, within our state of natural gas, have gone - with our free market - reserves have increased 25% since 1969. In the controlled, government-controlled interstate market, reserves have declined by one third since 1969. Now if you're interested in increasing reserves and helping states like Illinois, what in the world makes sense? It's obvious, it ought to be clear to each and every one of us that the only way that we're going to solve their problem is to increase production, and the only way we're going to have production increases is to use the free market pricing incentive."

Our next governor, George Nigh became Oklahoma's tourism ambassador.

"Oklahoma's known for making strangers feel at home, but here's even more reason to welcome visitors. Tourism is our number three industry. Last year alone, tourists pumped over 2.5 billion dollars into our state's economy. They bought food, lodging, entertainment, and fuel for travel, and created 60,000 jobs - all thanks to tourists."

The challenges our governors have faced in the 103 years we have been a state have been varied, but all have been just a part of the job. Governor Robert S. Kerr talked something his father once told him.

"He used to say to me, 'Bob, you can do anything you want to do if you're willing to work hard enough for it. You can even be governor someday.'

These audio clips are a part of the oral history collection; the more recent ones were taken from the News Channel 4 collection at the Oklahoma History Center. Oklahoma Memories is a production of the Oklahoma History Center, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing our state's past. I'm Michael Dean.