Harold Keith

American children's writer

Harold Verne Keith (April 8, 1903 – February 24, 1998) was a Newbery Medal-winning American author. Keith was born and raised in Oklahoma, where he also lived and died. The state was his abiding passion and he used Oklahoma as the setting for most of his books.

Never hurry. Do everything quietly.

QuotesEdit

 
Boys everywhere are quick to recognize and respect any kind of talent in each other.
 
Remember this, Benjamin, and it will keep you on an even keel. In this life the world changes. The good times always give way to the bad. But the bad times move again into the good. Learn to expect change, and to ride with it. When good times come, don't get too proud because good times won't stay around forever. And when the bad times come, don't get the mullygrubs, like you've got them now, because things will soon get better. So fight hard. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Stay brave. Jesus stayed brave with danger all around him.
 
Never change your tactics when winning. Likewise, if you are losing try something new even though it may be foreign to your usual style of play.
 
I am going to refer frequently to Ty Cobb in this chapter because he was the greatest baseball player who ever lived.
 
Few Americans know how savagely the Civil War raged or how strange and varied were its issues in what is now Oklahoma and the neighboring states of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. Rifles for Watie was faithfully written against the historical backdrop of the conflict in this seldom-publicized, Far-Western theater.
 
They were nearly all frowsy-headed, boot-shod, and lonely-looking, fresh from the new state's farms, ranches, and raw young prairie towns. Before the war ended, Kansas furnished more men and boys to the Union forces in proportion to its population than any other state. And all of them were volunteers.
 
Eighteen hundred miles just to see some flowers. Jeff stole another look at Noah. If anybody would do it, Noah Babbitt would be the man. Jeff said simply, "I believe you. Did you get to see them?" Noah nodded solemnly. "Shore did. An' they was worth every foot of the trip."
 
Then Jeff recognized General Blunt. Dumbfounded, he wondered what this was all about. In a bass voice sonorous as a bell, Blunt began reading from the document in his hand: "...for gallantry beyond the call of duty... distinguished themselves conspicuously at the risk of life... voluntarily assisted a battery that was hard pressed, although it was their first experience with artillery and they had already participated intrepidly in the infantry charge... the Medal of Honor, presented in the name of Congress."
 
Jeff rode north up the military road. It was a cloudy morning in June, 1865. The war was over, and they were going home.

Will Rogers, A Boy's Life (1937)Edit

 
One of the first boys Will saw was John Payne, also part Cherokee, whom he had met and known at Tahlequah when their fathers went there to the Cherokee Council, years before. "Why hello, John," Will drawled, beaming because he had found someone from home, "they got you here, too?" "Yes," laughed John, "I'm servin' time same as you."
New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. Republished in 1991 by Levite of Apache, Norman, Oklahoma. All quotes are from the 1991 hardcover publication.
  • Mary and Clem were the very soul of hospitality, and the Rogers house was seldom without visitors. It was Mary's custom to bring some family home from church with her for dinner each Sunday- and in those days when people came for dinner they stayed all day and often all night as well. Mary always fed them bountifully, kept them as long as they would stay, and when they departed, they did not go away empty-handed. Perhaps it was apples or peaches from the orchard, a basket of grapes, or a bit of Mary's own baking that her guests took home with them. But it was always something.
    Clem often invited neighbors to go fishing with him, and when they did, these neighbors would come the night before so that a good early start could be made. Whole families would go in wagons to Four Mile Creek, where the perch and bass were so thick that they would strike not only at the baited hook, but also at the colored cork on each line. The catch would always be taken back to the Rogers farm where a big fish dinner would be served. An atmosphere of such friendliness could not fail to leave its impress on the child, Will Rogers, and it implanted in him an open-hearted generosity that was one of his chief characteristics throughout his life.
    • p. 12-13
  • Will's early years were much like those of other children in ranch houses or on farms. He rarely went to town because there were no towns near. Vinita, thirty miles east, was a straggling Indian village on the prairie, Old Claremore was a tiny cluster of stores on the stage route from Vinita to Albuquerque, and Tulsa was then only a switch. But Will was not interested in towns, and cared only for ranch life. There were so many fascinating things to do on his father's farm that the days were not long enough to get all of them done.
    • p. 13
  • Those were stirring times out on that wild frontier- rough, dangerous times in many ways. But to young Will Rogers, growing up on his father's range, that frontier was the garden spot of the world. He had a comfortable home, kind parents, jolly playmates, and the whole country-side for a playground. But above all, he was happy because he was learning to rope and ride, the two things he cared for most in all the world.
    • p. 30-31
  • From his earliest childhood Will Rogers had strongly defined characteristics. He was by nature affectionate and fun-loving and, though he loved to tease and play pranks on his friends, there was no malice in him. Underneath his love of fun and his careless ways, there was a great sensitiveness which, in his early years at least, sometimes caused him unhappiness. But he was quick to forgive those who hurt him as he was to ask forgiveness when he himself was in the wrong, and this, as well as many other lovable traits, made Will Rogers a great favorite among his classmates at Willie Halsell.
    • p. 78-79
  • Just behind the school there was a one-hundred-and-sixty acre blue grass pasture, and Will and Charley and some of the other boys conceived the brilliant plan of leaving the gate of this pasture open, so that the strange cattle that ran at large might drift in to feet on the grass there. When they had lured the cattle into the pasture they would close the gate and ride and rope to their heart's content.
    This was an exciting game and they might have gone on with it indefinitely, but one day at round-up time, "Doc" Frazier missed some of his cattle. After looking all over the country for them, he found them at last in the pasture being ridden and roped by a crowd of shouting boys. "Doc" Frazier was furious at first and threatened to take the boys' ropes from them. Will, realizing how serious this would be, decided to try to save the day by diplomacy. "Aw, Doc," he said with a disarming grin, "we didn't mean any harm. Anyhow you ought to be proud of them cows now. We've got 'em all gentled and broke to ride!" The boys kept their ropes but they had to abandon the school pasture as a roping place.
    • p. 83-84
  • Boys everywhere are quick to recognize and respect any kind of talent in each other, and one of Will Rogers' best talents was talking.
    • p. 100
  • Clem Rogers had not given up on his determination to have Will acquire an education. He still believed Will could get some good out of schooling if only a school could be found that would hold his interest. After a good deal of thought Clem decided on Kemper Military Academy at Boonville, Missouri. The school had a fine reputation and in those days many well-to-do ranchmen sent their sons there, not only for the academic training the school offered, but also that they might acquire poise, learn obedience, manliness and how to be orderly in personal appearance. There were the sons of many prominent families at Kemper when Will Rogers went there, among them Burton Mudge, son of the president of the Santa Fe railroad; Alden Nickerson, whose father was president of the Mexican and Central railway; Norris Beebee, son of a well-known Boston leather manufacturer; R. D. Williams, son of a judge of the Missouri Supreme Court, and many others.
    Will arrived at Kemper on January 13, 1897, wearing full cowboy regalia, a short Stetson hat with a braided horsehair cord, red bandana handkerchief around his neck, a richly colored vest and high-heeled red-top boots with noisy spurs. He must have looked strange to the Kemper boys, clad in their trim uniforms.
    One of the first boys Will saw was John Payne, also part Cherokee, whom he had met and known at Tahlequah when their fathers went there to the Cherokee Council, years before. "Why hello, John," Will drawled, beaming because he had found someone from home, "they got you here, too?" "Yes," laughed John, "I'm servin' time same as you."
    • p. 107-108
  • The Kemper authorities outfitted each cadet in beautiful gray-blue uniforms with braid down each side of the trouser legs and around the collars and sleeves. The caps were blue with heavy patent leather peaks and gold braid initials KS on the front. They had smart looking dress uniforms with "spike-tailed" coats and round brass buttons. They wore these uniforms to church and it was one of Will's favorite tricks, when a boy started to sit down in the pew in front of him, to kick his studded coat tails under him and then look innocently at the preacher as the uncomfortable cadet rose to readjust his coat tails and scanned the seats behind him for a guilty face.
    • p. 110

Sports and Games (1941)Edit

New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. All quotes are from the original 1941 hardcover publication.
  • Several years ago Ty Cobb, the veteran manager of the Detroit American League baseball team, put on his gray uniform and walked on the field at Yankee Stadium, New York City, an hour before a scheduled game between Detroit and New York. He was alert, aggressive and keen-eyed, nearing forty years of age. He had to walk past the New York dugout where the World's Champion Yankees were sitting. "Howdy, gentlemen," said Cobb. "Howdy yourself," retorted the Yankees. Then Urban shocker, Yankee pitcher, decided to have a little fun. "Isn't it time to take that uniform off, old man, and quit kidding the public?" he razzed. Cobb laughed tolerantly at this sally and went to the plate for hitting practice. "Hit one into left field," one of the Yankees shouted, and thereupon innocently precipitated an exhibition of baseball place-hitting that old-timers still talk about.
    "All right!" said Cobb. He promptly faced the hitting practice pitcher and drove a terrific liner into the left field stands. "Now one to center!" the Yankees yelled. "O.K.," replied Cobb, and timing the pitch beautifully, shot a grass-burner over second base. "Let's see you hit the next one to the right!" the New Yorkers dared and quick as lightning the Georgia Peach whipped a fast ball to the desired locality. "Now foul one into your dugout," the New York players called, jokingly. With a grim smile, Cobb fouled the next delivery, not into the Tiger dugout, but straight among the Yankees themselves, who tumbled over one another to avoid being hit by the ball. "Is that all for today, gentlemen?" Cobb asked.
    • p. 14-15
  • The incident illustrates a batting skill that every boy can acquire with practice- place-hitting. Place-hitters, also called choke hitters because they choke their grip on the bat, snap the stick with their forearms and punch the ball through any opening in the diamond which the infield may leave them. Cobb was probably the greatest place-hitter of them all with the possible exception of Willie Keeler, diminutive marvel of the old Baltimore Orioles, a star of an earlier era. I am going to refer frequently to Ty Cobb in this chapter because he was the greatest baseball player who ever lived.
    • p. 15
  • Swimming probably ranks close to running, jumping and throwing as the oldest sport of all. We know that even the overhand swimming stroke was practiced by the Romans. Their paintings and mosaics show swimmers cutting through the water overhand, and others swimming with their faces in the water, which suggests the speedy crawl of modern times.
    The Greeks and Romans knew a great deal about swimming and diving. Plato declared that in Greece, a man who was not able to swim and dive was as uneducated as one who was ignorant of letters. Caesar was a good swimmer, and Cato showed his son how to cross dangerous gulfs, and the Emperor Augustus taught his nephew to swim. In more modern times, Charlemagne was noted for his swimming stroke, King Louis XI of France often swam in the Seine at the head of his courtiers, and the swimming couriers of Peru traversed hundreds of miles of the South American continent swimming day and night down the rivers. They were aided only by a light log of wood, and their dispatches were enclosed in turbans on their heads.
    • p. 195
  • Never hurry. Do everything quietly.
    • p. 197
  • Despite an undeserved reputation for effeminacy, probably caused by its etiquette, tennis measures up to any sport in its demands upon skill, speed, stamina and gameness. The etiquette of tennis is more rigid than that of any other widely-played American sport. A tennis crowd sits dignified and sedately, applauding only at correct intervals and then with a pleasant patter of handclaps. The spectators do not raise parasols at matches, nor move around during actual play, nor boo players or officials. Tennis players always wear white clothing. In England, player and spectator conduct is even more conservative. While the English have a decided sense of humor, they will not tolerate comedy in tennis if it conflicts with the sport's conventions.
    • p. 208
  • Never change your tactics when winning. Likewise, if you are losing try something new even though it may be foreign to your usual style of play.
    • p. 226
  • Without plenty of sleep, at least three hours of it before midnight if possible, no boy is going to go far in athletics.
    Overstraining is simply trying to do too much. A boy's constitution will not stand nearly as much physical effort as a man's in spite of the fact that a boy's competitive spirit flares just as brightly. No boy under sixteens should attempt to run farther than one mile or compete in more than two hard races in one meet. Younger boys do not have to go through the rigid training program intercollegiate athletes undertake because a boy's muscles are naturally more supple and his body in better general physical condition, thanks to the surprising amount of out-of-door walking, running, jumping, swimming, pulling, pushing and stooping boys do every day. Boys under sixteen should concentrate on acquiring form in their events rather than gaining razor-edge physical trim. A short period of special drill and speed sharpening is all they need before a meet.
    • p. 241
  • Boys should not be afraid that running will give them a weak heart or shorten their lives. Statistics prove that longevity has favored the athlete.
    • p. 241
  • In the old days, an announcement by a boy that he wanted to try out for a distance event on his school track team brought a gasp of horror from his parents and his friends. But Tom Jones, veteran cross-country coach at the University of Wisconsin, recently announced that only one man had died of the ninety-two Wisconsin runners who had lettered at the four-to-five mile distance since 1905, and that one was killed in an automobile accident! In 1910 an old-fashioned doctor advised Clarence DeMar, the marathon runner, that he would die from heart trouble if he kept on running. Two years later the doctor himself died from a heart attack and today DeMar, over fifty years of age, is still alive and healthy and running marathons. So any normal boy can expect to improve his health by running. It is important, however, to undergo at first a careful physical examination, and then not to overstrain after he has started running.
    • p. 242
  • Track and field events get you outdoors, improve health, are not as dangerous or as expensive as other sports, require very little equipment, and can be indulged in any time of the year one wishes. Moreover, running is the basis for nearly every other sport on the calendar and therefore part of the training routine for each.
    • p. 245
  • It is wise to know the course thoroughly before running it. If possible, go over it in an automobile or walk it the day before the race, studying it carefully. Try to keep a map of it in the head and have the short cuts figured out. Always run in as straight a line as possible and you will save as high as 40 or 50 years in a single race. If you are to race on a foreign course, adapt your training to it. If it is a hilly course, do a lot of hill running in your own country. If there are no hills there, run up and down your stadium. The same thing applies to flat running, or to races held on grass or asphalt. You should practice running on the flat the week before the race.
    • p. 256-257
  • In a race, the ambitious contestant will want to stay fairly close to the leaders. He should be careful not to kill himself off at the start. He should let somebody else lead if the course is wet or the wind is blowing against him, and should watch the ground for good footing and keep a wary eye on his opponents to prevent being spiked or boxed. However, if the pace is too slow, he will want to take the lead. When fatigue strikes, the runner will want to call upon all his pluck. He must forget weariness by thinking of form and concentrating upon running as effortlessly and relaxed as possible. When the pace whips up at the start of the last half-mile, he remembers that he can always go a little farther and faster than he thinks he can. Mental fatigue comes before physical fatigue; in fact more races are lost through inability to resist mental fatigue than for any other reason. How many times have you heard a defeated runner ruefully exclaim after a race; "I could have run faster. I just didn't put out. I didn't know I had so much strength left."
    • p. 257
  • There are many reasons for the popularity of the sport. It is not only a good game for boys of all ages, but it is a sport a boy can play until he is seventy. Even dubs who never played it before get fun out of it. Volleyball is not expensive, for a ball and net compromise the only equipment needed. It is a year 'round game and can be played either indoors or outdoors. Since there is no personal contact, it offers very little chance for bodily injury. Not only can it be played on a small court surface, but since the ball is not allowed to touch the floor, the surface of the court doesn't need to be especially prepared. In fact, the game is played on the beach in the mild climates of Southern California and Brazil.
    • p. 259

Oklahoma Kickoff (1948)Edit

Oklahoma Kickoff: An Informal History of the First Twenty-Five Years of Football at the University of Oklahoma, and of the Amusing Hardships That Attended Its Pioneering. Self-published as a hardcover by the author in Norman, Oklahoma. Republished in 1976 by the University of Oklahoma Press. All quotes are from the original 1948 hardcover edition.
  • Some of Norman's old-timers still remember what the interior of Risinger's little shop looked like in early September, when the sun fried the Oklahoma prairie, meadowlarks sat around gasping with their bills open and cicadas chirred maddeningly in the dog-day heat. On the east wall swung a one-by-twelve-foot mirror where customers startledly beheld themselves emerging from furry anonymity into pale recognizability. On the west wall dangled an arresting picture of a barber innocently about to lop off a customer's ear with his shears while watching a dog fight across the street. There were three red plush chairs, a gallery of ornate shaving mugs for the town's more progressive merchants, and a large, white queensware bowl on a shelf. Only cold water shaves were purveyed. It was too hot to heat the precious water Risinger obtained for five cents a bucket from the softwater cistern back of what is now the City National bank. It was in this tiny crucible in September, 1895, that long-haired Jack Harts first proposed, "Let's get up a football team," and football at Norman was born.
    • p. 1
  • The town had been named for Abner Ernest Norman, a Kentuckian. Norman, a government engineer, in 1871 had headed a surveying party north from Red river. They always camped, when they could, near a spring that bubbled up invitingly from a shady spot about a quarter of a mile south of where the city water tower now stands at the intersection of the railroad and Lindsey street. This spot became known as Camp Norman but was later called Bishop's Springs, after a settler who homesteaded it. The surveyors carved the name Camp Norman on several large cottonwood trees growing near by, so they could locate the pleasant spot during future visits. After the railroad came through sixteen years later, a box car was set out near the Santa Fe section house now stands and the words "Norman Switch" were painted on the car. The name stuck.
    • p. 3
  • A team of soldiers from Fort Reno came to Norman for the next game. Wearing their blue army uniforms, they were the first visiting aggregation ever to attend chapel exercises the morning of the game. In their warmup session that afternoon, the visitors caused a ripple of apprehension among varsity fans with an open rehearsal of their intricate formations. However once the game began, the varsity had no trouble. Clapham kicked off, a soldier was downed on his three-yard mark, the varsity held for downs and McCartney cleared right end for a touchdown. As the Norman Democrat-Topic proudly declared, "The university team everlastingly paralyzed the Fort Reno eleven last Friday, 79 to 0. The longest run made by the soldiers all afternoon occurred at the end of the first half when they rushed to the sidelines in a body and lit up several shuck cigarettes. They had just come along for the trip.
    • p. 49
  • And so passed the first quarter century and one year besides of football at the youngish University of Oklahoma, from the time beloved President Boyd had founded the old territorial school on the grassy prairie south of the raw little town of Norman, until President Brooks had rescued it from the politicians, expanding and raising it to new respectability on the same site many years later. The game had become solidly rooted since Jack Harts had planted the first tiny sprig in Bud Risinger's Main Street barber shop in 1895. It would grow even more phenomenally in the second quarter century ending in 1944.
    • p. 393-394

Rifles for Watie (1957)Edit

New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. All quotes are from the original 1957 hardcover publication.
  • Few Americans know how savagely the Civil War raged or how strange and varied were its issues in what is now Oklahoma and the neighboring states of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. Rifles for Watie was faithfully written against the historical backdrop of the conflict in this seldom-publicized, Far-Western theater.
    • Author's Note, p. xi
  • "I jined up fer a frolic," laughed a tall fellow from Republic County with warts on his face. He turned to his messmate, a blond boy from Fort Scott. "Why did you come in?" "Wal, by Jack, because I thought the rebels was gonna take over the whole country." "I joined up because they told me the rebels was cuttin' out Union folks' tongues and killin' their babies. After I got here, I found out all it was over was wantin' to free the niggers," complained another, disgustedly. "I decided I'd jest as well be in the army as out in the besh. Now I'm about to decide I'd druther be in the bresh," snorted another. They were nearly all frowsy-headed, boot-shod, and lonely-looking, fresh from the new state's farms, ranches, and raw young prairie towns. Before the war ended, Kansas furnished more men and boys to the Union forces in proportion to its population than any other state. And all of them were volunteers.
    • p. 22
  • Jeff smiled to himself and went on eating. He had heard his father discuss the issues so often that he knew them forward and backward. But he saw no need for injecting himself into the conversation here. Besides, he was too busy with his supper. The food was good, and there was lots of it. In bed that night in the barracks, Jeff turned on his stomach and sighed with satisfaction. At last he was in the Army.
    • p. 22
  • "What's the farthest you ever walked on one trip?" Jeff asked. Noah gazed distractedly at the parched ground passing beneath their feet. Then his white teeth flashed briefly in his tanned, leathery face. "I guess it was two years ago when I hiked from Topeka, Kansas, to Galveston, Texas. Why?" Jeff shrugged. "Oh, no particular reason. I just wondered." They tramped fifty yards more in the broiling sunshine. "How come you walked clear from Kansas to Galveston?" Noah turned his somber face seriously toward Jeff. "You probably won't believe me, youngster, but I wanted to see the magnolias in bloom." Jeff caught his breath in surprise. Estimating fast, he reckoned it was roughly about nine hundred miles from Topeka to Galveston. If a fellow could stand all that walking, it would take about a month and a half to hoof it down there and another month and a half to hoof it back. Eighteen hundred miles just to see some flowers. Jeff stole another look at Noah. If anybody would do it, Noah Babbitt would be the man. Jeff said simply, "I believe you. Did you get to see them?" Noah nodded solemnly. "Shore did. An' they was worth every foot of the trip."
    • p. 43-44
  • When one of the surgeons motioned him outside, Jeff was glad to leave. "So long, kid," the sandy-haired man called after him. Then noticing Jeff's stricken face, he added apologetically, "I don't care, kid. I never could dance worth a darn anyhow."
    • p. 71
  • The day before the army left Rhea's Mills, Jeff was surprised to hear his name called while the company was lined up at a morning inspection. Noah's name was called too. Obediently each took two steps forward and saluted. With a measured stamping of feet on the drill ground, half a dozen officers approached. Out of the corner of one eye, Jeff spied Clardy among them. Recoiling, he felt his insides tighten. What had he done now? The tramping stopped. A big man with black whiskers and two curved rows of brass buttons on the front of his blue dress coat, ambled up to Jeff and Noah. He was short and heavyset, with a thick neck and sloping shoulders. He walked with a roll, swaying his hips and planting his feet carefully, like a sea captain. In one hairy hand he carried a piece of paper. Everybody saluted. Then Jeff recognized General Blunt. Dumbfounded, he wondered what this was all about. In a bass voice sonorous as a bell, Blunt began reading from the document in his hand: "...for gallantry beyond the call of duty... distinguished themselves conspicuously at the risk of life... voluntarily assisted a battery that was hard pressed, although it was their first experience with artillery and they had already participated intrepidly in the infantry charge... the Medal of Honor, presented in the name of Congress."
    • p. 141-142
  • Then the general stepped so close that Jeff could smell the pomade on his thick black hair. Leaning forward, he passed a ribbon around Jeff's neck and underneath his collar. Suspended from the ribbon was a tiny piece of red, white and blue fabric. And dangling from the fabric was a shiny bronze star and eagle that flashed more brilliantly in the sunshine than even the general's gold shoulder bars. Noah got one, too. Just as Jeff began to realize that he and Noah were being decorated, the general was shaking hands stiffly with each of them. Jeff couldn't hide the embarrassment and the unbelief in his face. Somebody had made a mistake. He hadn't done anything in the battle but follow Noah. If this was the way the army handed out decorations, then something was wrong with the system. "Shoot, General," Jeff blurted in protest, "all we did was load her and swab her."
    • p. 142
  • Jeff rode north up the military road. It was a cloudy morning in June, 1865. The war was over, and they were going home. It was hard to get used to being out of the army. He had traveled so widely, learned so much, and had so many things happen to him that it seemed he had been gone fifteen years instead of nearly four. He wanted very much to see his family. And he wanted very much to see Kansas, now that peace had finally come.
    • p. 317
  • Restless, he climbed through the open window to keep from awakening his family and spread his blankets on the Bermuda outside. Sleeping outdoors on the ground was a habit he would have for many years. He settled back comfortably upon the blanket. The Kansas sky was spangled with blazing stars. They shone so brightly that he imagined he could almost hear the crackle of their fires. Down in the corral a cowbell tinkled faintly. He felt a slight movement at his side and saw that Ring had joined him and was lying close by, his head upon his forepaws. Reaching over with his hand, Jeff gave the big dog a couple of pats. Then he closed his eyes. Soon he began to breathe deeply and regularly.
    • p. 332

The Runt of Rogers School (1971)Edit

Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company. All quotes are from the 1971 first edition hardcover.
  • Remember this, Benjamin, and it will keep you on an even keel. In this life the world changes. The good times always give way to the bad. But the bad times move again into the good. Learn to expect change, and to ride with it. When good times come, don't get too proud because good times won't stay around forever. And when the bad times come, don't get the mullygrubs, like you've got them now, because things will soon get better. So fight hard. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Stay brave. Jesus stayed brave with danger all around him.
    • p. 29-30
  • And he had to face something else, too, his own paralyzing fear of being hit in the scrimmages. The whole squad had seen it. There was no way a boy could hide cowardice in football.
    • p. 31

The Bluejay Boarders (1972)Edit

New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
  • A newspaper story in the Daily Oklahoman of July 12, 1969, aroused my interest. It told about two boys, Gary and Larry Alexander, aged thirteen and eleven, who became foster parents to a family of baby bluejays after a stone from Larry's slingshot had accidentally slain the mother. Reporter Jack Jones wrote it. Gary and Larry lived in Dallas, Texas, but the incident occurred at Bethany, Oklahoma, where the boys were visiting their grandmother, Mrs. Ruth Lucille Cook. I located the Alexander brothers by long-distance telephone at Bethany. I talked to Gary, the elder. He told me in detail of the boys' heroic struggle to keep the young birds alive, although all had died within a few days of their adoption. I decided to write a book about it.
    • Author's Note, p. ix

Go, Red, Go! (1972)Edit

Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. All quotes are from the original 1972 hardcover edition.
  • His full name was Terence F. Rafferty, and I guess the "F" stood for fiery because that's the kind of fellow he was. Fiery and speedy and tiny and tough. And emotional. When the coach wouldn't start him, his freckled face would go under a cloud and he'd start blinking, and big tears would come rolling out of his eyes until it would get so wet in our dressing room that everybody wished they had fins instead of feet. We called him Red. You couldn't have called him anything else.
    • p. 11
  • Red Rafferty was a rugged little eighth-grader who weighed only 114 pounds. But each pound was a fighting pound, as we soon found out. His parents had moved in from a ranch near Buffalo Springs, and you could see that Red had lived around horses. He even smelled like horses. He wore a big Western hat and a pair of fancy-stitched boots. His legs were bowed as a hoop. He would have been a starter on any school's rodeo team, I'll bet. But basketball was his love. He worshiped the sport. In fact, he took it so seriously that he had the weird notion that it was a disgrace not to start a game, and that's what this story is about too.
    • p. 12
  • But Pop just shook his head in his kindly way. "Today, he played only offense," he said. "You've never seen him on defense. No little guy can guard a big kid, or take a rebound away from him. We'll work with him; let's see how he comes along. But right now it would be suicide to throw him in there against a good team- like Bancroft." Bancroft! Slim winced. He always winces when somebody mentions Bancroft. We've never beaten them. Bancroft is the biggest junior high school in the state. It sprawls all over one side of a hill in Sun City, where the state university is located.
    • p. 19
  • Later, while I was picking up wet towels, Red Rafferty came busting out of the shower, naked as a jaybird and wet as a hell-diver. His freckles glistened in the eerie glow of the gymnasium lights. The first thing he did, even before he toweled himself, was reach inside his locker for that big hat and jam it on his head.
    • p. 19
  • It's hard to change a coach's mind once he makes it up a certain way.
    • p. 24
  • The starting players are the ones the fans and sportswriters talk about. Nobody pays any attention to a sub.
    • p. 72
  • I admired Red's honesty. He was human. He was thinking about getting to dribble out into the spotlight with the other four starters in the introduction ceremony. And he was thinking about playing the full twenty-four minutes with his team instead of only the last five. Pop nodded and his blue eyes gleamed queerly. "I thought you'd feel that way," he said. "Know what? I'm going to start you against Bancroft Friday. You've earned it."
    • p. 72-73
  • An athlete is the shiniest target of all.
    • p. 96

Susy's Scoundrel (1974)Edit

New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
  • Reddy, crouching in the corn, was saddened by the loss of his friend. He dropped his head between his front paws, his green eyes darting vigilantly at all his enemies- dogs and men- standing triumphantly around the pickups. They wouldn't catch him. Nothing on four feet could catch him.
    • p. 151
  • All the human characters in the story are fictitious, but most of the coyotes and hounds are not and this is no coincidence.
    • p. 208

Forty-Seven Straight (1984)Edit

Forty-Seven Straight: The Wilkinson Era at Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Bud Wilkinson was a big, blond, articulate man with a soft, modulated voice and a smile that would charm the birds out of the trees. When he was standing talking with somebody, he would sometimes shuffle his feet, bob his head, and, clasping his hands in front of him, rub them softly together. You felt comfortable in his presence and drawn to him even before you were introduced.
    • p. 16

Chico and Dan (1998)Edit

Austin: Eakin Press. All quotes are from the 1998 hardcover publication.
  • A glad look came into the old man's eyes. "Throw yore gear right thar in thet south bedroom," he invited, pointing to its door. "It's all yores," he added. "Purty cool in thar. You can look out the west window into the pony pasture an' see yore hoss. Then come on in the dinin' room. Tonia's gittin' supper ready."
    • p. 109-110

Quotes about KeithEdit

  • Harold Keith grew up near the Cherokee country he describes in Rifles for Watie. A native Oklahoman, he was educated at Northwestern State Teachers College at Alva and at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a long distance runner. While traveling in eastern Oklahoma doing research on his master's thesis in history, Mr. Keith found a great deal of fresh, unused material about the Civil War in the Indian country. Deciding he might someday write a historical novel about it, he interviewed twenty-two Civil War veterans then living in Oklahoma and Arkansas; and much of the background of Rifles for Watie came from the notebooks he filled at the time. The actual writing of this book took five years. Since 1930, the author has been sports publicity director at the University of Oklahoma, famous for its national collegiate championship football and wrestling teams. Mr. Keith is married and has a son and daughter. He was awarded the Newberry Medal for 1957 for Rifles for Watie.
    • About the Author, Rifles for Watie (1957) by Harold Keith. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, p. 334
  • Harold Keith grew up in rural Oklahoma, and writes with sympathy and understanding about this part of the country. He has always been keenly interested in nature study, and spent much of his time as a youngster pursuing this hobby. Mr. Keith's first story was published when he was fourteen years old, in a magazine called Lone Scout. He was graduated from the University of Oklahoma at Norman, where he also earned a master's degree in history. For many years he was Director of Sports Information at the University of Oklahoma, but now he devotes his full time to writing. He has published a number of books, among them Rifles for Watie, winner of the 1958 Newbery Medal; Komantcia, Sports and Games; and Brief Garland.
    • About the Author, The Bluejay Boarders (1972) by Harold Keith. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, p. 225
  • Harold Keith won the 1958 John Newbery Medal for his Rifles for Watie, a young adult novel about the Civil War. The Oklahoma native received a master's degree in history from the University of Oklahoma and became the university's first sports publicity director. He remained at OU for thirty-nine years, introducing many innovations to that office and establishing himself as an institution in the field. In 1951 he received the Helms Foundation Award as outstanding sports publicity director in the nation. Keith was the author of sixteen books, as well as a noted historian, long distance runner, and barber shop quartet singer. In 1997 Keith was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Oklahoma Center for the Book.
    Just before the publication of Chico & Dan, Mr. Keith died at the age of ninety-four.
    • About the Author on the back hardcover of Chico & Dan (Austin: Eakin Press, 1998) by Harold Keith.
  • My father would have loved this book as Mr. Keith interviewed every person who was important in Dad's life and then wove their memories of him into a story that is timeless and easily read.
    • Will Rogers, Jr., on the front cover of the 1991 republished hardcover of Will Rogers, A Boy's Life (Norman: Levite of Apache, 1991)
  • We are grateful to Mr. Keith for writing this wonderful story of the childhood of Will Rogers and for consenting to have it reprinted. Since the research was done in 1936, Keith was able to personally interview the folks who knew my father best and that makes this biography truly unique. We are especially glad this book will again be in schools and libraries so that it can be read and enjoyed by generations who were not lucky enough to know my Dad.
    • Will Rogers, Jr., on the back cover of the 1991 republished hardcover of Will Rogers, A Boy's Life (Norman: Levite of Apache, 1991)

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