Published: Sat, April 1, 2000 12:00 AM
Oklahoma's Strangely Named Towns with Gary Horcher
Seven Shooter, OK: Air date April 1, 2000
Note: This whole story started out as Gary's April Fool's Day joke, but our newsroom was flooded with calls after it was broadcast. Apparently there really was a Seven Shooter, Oklahoma. From what callers told us there isn't much left of the town, just a cemetery. Now as for Clarence Stickney, well, there is no such person as far as we know. So April Fools from Gary!
Today the land is silent, hiding memories buried by old winds. They used to call this place Seven Shooter. It was a land settlement where desperados and farmers lived side by side.
These days, there's nothing left in Seven Shooter except for one thing: an old homestead where a country music legend was born. And, ultimately he disappeared leaving a strange, mysterious legend behind.
Some say Clarence Stickney was the greatest musician the world has ever know. Clarence Stickney was born April 1, 1922, the son of poor dirt farmers. While Ma and Pa Stickney tried to teach Clarence how to farm this land, Clarence's only interest was picking an old guitar he found in the wreckage of a car crash that killed an entire bluegrass band.
The black blizzard of the 30s buried Seven Shooter and the dreams of the folks who lived there. The same choking blackness that drove everyone else away from Seven Shooter somehow convinced Clarence to stay right there.
The people who headed West thought Clarence was quite demented, but he was convinced they'd eat their words. Musicologist Loo Flirpa says that if you take Hank Williams, Buddy Holly and the earthly lyricism of Woody Guthrie and put them all into one person, you'd have Clarence. "He could have been a legend. But instead he just stayed here."
In 1964 Clarence disappeared, never to be heard from again. The question remains, "Whatever happened to Clarence?" Flirpa says he likes to think that Clarence is still out there somewhere. That, as a man ahead of his time, he is just waiting for the money when the world is ready to hear his music.