Have you ever heard of Stecker, Oklahoma?
I didn't think so. Stecker is not a town. It's more of a smattering of old houses and abandoned buildings over a few square miles of Oklahoma farmland.
There's no school. No post office. No bank. No chamber of commerce. No businesses at all.
It's practically a ghost town.
There's no sign for Stecker off the highway. If you find yourself there, you either a. live there b. are completely lost or c. you are visiting my family.
My dad was born in 1947, the oldest of five children to a farming and ranching family near Stecker in southwestern Oklahoma. At the time, Stecker was an actual bonafide town. A small town, but an official town. It had a post office. You could buy and trade at Tripp's Country Store. You could worship at either the Methodist church or the Baptist church. And there was the Stecker School, grades K-8 only. If you went beyond the 8th grade, you had to attend high school in the nearby town of Apache. The families that lived in the area were farming families. Kids worked hard, rode horses everywhere and swam in Hog Creek to cool off in the summer. In Stecker, everyone knew everyone. Either you were related or you went to school together or you had neighboring farmland.
As the oldest, my dad spent a lot of time out in the fields helping his dad work the land and tend to the animals. Because of this, my dad has SO MANY stories to tell. One of my favorite stories is a Christmas story that he has told me and my kids many times. They always think it is funny.
When my dad was in elementary school, the kids in the school put on a Christmas play for the parents and other members of the Stecker community. The play was a scene out of Santa's Workshop. All the kids were elves, busily working and hammering on new toys. The boy picked to play Santa was a big, country boy who had a bit of an accent. You see, people from small towns down here in Oklahoma have a little twang to their talk. If you're not used to it, it's a bit like understanding a foreign language. Santa's big opening line was to walk into the workshop and declare, "What is all this racket for?"
But here's how he would say it, "What is all this racket fer?"
In country speak, "fer" equals "for."
Every day in practice, he would say his line with the word "fer" and every day the teacher would correct him and say, "No, it is FOR not FER!" Dad says the poor guy really did try his best. But when the big night came and the performance was in full swing, he walked on stage and declared, "What is all this racket fer?"
And without missing a beat, all the elves on stage looked up and said in unison, "IT'S FOR!!!!!"
Dad says it was the best, and funniest, play ever put on in the great town of Stecker. And you can take that to the bank. If there was a bank in Stecker.