By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2018, The Oklahoman
Every year at this time, I think about my grandparents — about how different their world was from ours today, and about how much about it, happily, is still the same.
I had two sets of grandparents growing up. On my dad’s side, we go back to the Land Run. My dad’s dad and mother and their families helped settle Western Oklahoma. My dad’s great-grandfather built a sod house outside of Clinton and lived in that house made of prairie grass and mud with their 12 children.
His mother’s family established banks across Western Oklahoma and lived in the old “big houses” on Broadway in Elk City.
I was the fourth generation to be a lawyer in our family’s law firm in Clinton (which dates back to 1920) and ended my time in Western Oklahoma as the CEO of our family bank in Elk City which was founded in 1901, about six years before statehood.
My mother’s family also goes back multi-generations in Oklahoma. My great-great granddad on her side was the first sheriff of Oklahoma City and his grandson, my granddad, served as Oklahoma City manager on two different occasions. We typically spent family Christmases at his and my grandmother’s house.
Not to slight my grandmother, who got high marks for taking us to Kimberling’s grocery where there was a tiny movie theater just for kids and generally spoiling us every time we saw her, Granddaddy’s version of Christmas had everything beat. He was like a big kid — at least as excited about Christmas as my brother and I were.
Granddaddy’s spirit was infectious. Everyone in the house caught it. He arranged for Santa to come on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning after we opened our gifts, he cooked breakfast for all of us. He was a big hunter and he would fry up some dove or some other delicious Christmas treat.
Say the word Christmas to me, and I’m immediately in touch with those memories — of times with my family, of our Oklahoma roots, and of all the people I’ve come to meet and know in this state over the years both personally and professionally.
As an attorney, as a banker, from my time as State Treasurer and Secretary of Finance and Revenue, and now as a venture investor, I’ve been fortunate to have relationships with all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances. I can say with some experience that Oklahomans are a great people. And there are no greater Oklahomans than the tenacious entrepreneurs and innovators who have and had a passion for building businesses in our state that both made us who we are today and will make us who we become in the future.
From the Sooners of the 1880s, to two of my favorite Oklahoma innovators, Carl Magee who invented the parking meter and Sylvan Goldman, inventor of the grocery cart, to Oklahoma’s entrepreneurs of today, the seeds of making, building, and bootstrapping ourselves is in Oklahoma’s DNA. We all can feel good about that.
I wish you and your family the very best in this holiday season with these traditional words:
Silent Night. Peace on Earth. Joy to the World
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.