Salt of the Red Earth: A Century of Wit and Wisdom from Oklahoma's Elders

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9781885596598: Salt of the Red Earth: A Century of Wit and Wisdom from Oklahoma's Elders
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Alexander has found gold inthe hills and plains of Oklahoma with a portfolio of 100 luminous portraits of elders born in or before 1907. The Centenarians within these pages radiate beauty and strength, grit and grace, showing 100 different ways to be 100. Their copper-washed portraits are elegant in their simplicity. Alexander traveled nearly 4,000 miles of Oklahoma's highways, main streets, and dirt roads. Along the wasy, she discovered America's last pioneers including Trail of Tears descendants, a World War I widow, Land Run children born in sod houses, squatter's cabins and dugouts, early pilots, wildcatters, and Dust Bowl farmers.

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Review:

Art Linkletter used to say that kids could say the most amusing things. Oldsters are no slouches at it, either.

Proof is found in "Salt of the Red Earth: A Century of Wit and Wisdom from Oklahoma's Elders" (Oklahoma Heritage Association, $39.95).

Photographer and writer M.J. Alexander interviewed 100 Oklahomans born in or before 1907, the year of statehood. Her photographs tell most of the story, but she included a short text on each, giving the date and place of birth and other background information as well as a quotation.

Contrary to expectations that 100-year-olds would be feeble and inarticulate, many of those pictured in the book are frisky and forward-looking. Wit is another evident ingredient in the lives of dozens of them...

Allen Marshall Cox of Tulsa, who was photographed June 19 at age 100, said, "I told the doctor I never smoked. I never did get drunk. Never ran crazy with women. I didn't have much fun, but I lived a good long time."...

Some think a daily toddy helps extend life; others tout exercise, eating chocolate, and positive thinking. Character can be seen in all the faces -- wrinkles and all -- and in the expressive hands.

Alexander is to be commended for excellent work. -- The Oklahoman, May 27, 2007

It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Now, it should come as little surprise that many of us who work in radio would say that hearing the undoctored human voice is about us intimate as you can get. Oklahoma City photographer M.J. Alexander's stunning sepia-toned portraits of Oklahomans over 100 years old and there's a certain timeless quality that seems to capture the essence of who these people are for all eternity. -- Scott Gurian, Oklahoma Public Radio

Viewing these photographs is like spending time with old friends. You feel enriched by the encounter and are glad you got to know these amazing people. -- Deborah Baker, collections manager, International Photography Hall of Fame

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