Home OKC History Books Biographies Country Boy Odyssey

Main Menu

RSS Feed


What is the most historic building in Oklahoma City?
Country Boy Odyssey PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 28 August 2008 03:18

By Roy P. Stewart Oklahoma Heritage Association, $24.95  

Review: A decade after the death of legendary Oklahoma newspaper columnist Roy P. Stewart, the Oklahoma Heritage Association has released his autobiography.

Stewart was an editorial writer, city editor, Washington correspondent, roving feature writer and columnist for The Oklahoman for three decades. He retired in 1970 and died in 1989. Stewart's autobiography was revived by his daughter, Judith Stewart Shank, a literature and philosophy professor at the College of Saint Thomas More in Fort Worth, Texas.

At the middle of the 20th century, Stewart's "Country Boy" column appeared for the first time in The Oklahoman. His incredible gift of telling common stories in an uncommon way won him a great following. Former Oklahoma Congressman Lyle H. Boren once said that he began each morning with one thought: "What's Country Boy's take on the world today?"

Stewart's autobiography is much like his daily columns. It is filled with historical facts but reads lightly, as if the Country Boy himself was sitting in an easy chair in the corner of the room, spinning yarns of his childhood, visits to war zones and of his beloved Oklahoma.

Stewart's account of his arrival in Oklahoma in 1910 is so realistic you can close your eyes and relive his detailed description of western Oklahoma: "Tepees were all over the hillside just southeast of town, smoke curling up lazily and dogs barking."

His writing is so vivid I felt like I had seen the cheap hotel in Oklahoma City where Stewart and his family first stayed, "over a Chinese restaurant, with a coiled rope for a fire escape." Stewart especially loved two very different venues of life: soldiers and livestock. He once wrote of terrible sacrifice of Oklahoma soldiers in World War II by pretending to be a pair of combat boots lying neglected in a soldier's closet.

Stewart and former Oklahoman editor Walter Harrison started the 45th Division News, the first division newspaper of World War II. Among others asked to work on the News was Bill Mauldin, who became the best-known cartoonist of the war.

Stewart wrote of a thousand topics in daily columns, newspaper features and five books, including his collaboration with historian Pendleton Woods, "Born Grown," the definitive history of Oklahoma City. However, his favorite topic was his adopted state of Oklahoma. In 1957, in celebration of 50 years of statehood, Stewart told his readers, "As the sands move slowly down the Cimarron, so have the sands in Oklahoma's life glass poured. We have been impulsive and often crude; gentle and harsh; considerate and unyielding. None can say we have not been picturesque."

Roy P. Stewart's life, in his own words, makes wonderful reading. He could discern the unique characteristics of almost anything happening anywhere and translate the scene into near-poetic language. The autobiography should be required reading for anyone who lived through the 1950s and 1960s in Oklahoma.

- Bob Burke, The Oklahoman, January 9, 2000

Do you want to share a review of this book? It's easy! Simply register with an email address on the main page, then log in and leave a comment. It's that simple.


Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2008 03:26