by Bobby Anderson, staff writer
Feisty. Funny. Fortitude. Those are some of the adjectives used to describe Norma Jean Schritter, the granddaughter of 1889 land run homesteader, John Krivanek.
She’s lived in Mustang most of her life thanks to her family tracing back to the Land Run of 1889.
The family farm, located at S.W. 44th and Sara Road in Canadian County, is state designated as a Centennial Farm.
To be a Centennial Farm, the property must be at least 40 acres and operated or owned by family descendants for at least 100 years.
James “Bud” Schritter was the love of Norma Jean’s life. They were married 60 years before he passed “to prepare their next home together” as Norma Jean says.
They met at Czech Hall in Yukon after he saw her dancing and told his friends he was “going to marry that girl.”
They courted three years before tying the knot. Once during a large snow storm, Bud drove his tractor from Wheatland, Oklahoma to see her.
He stopped and cut barb wire fences to forge a path to her home and then repaired them on his drive back to Wheatland.
It’s no wonder Bud was smitten by Norma Jean. Her radiant smile and smart wit is like a magnet to iron.
Norma Jean, age 83, is a fascinating resource of historic Mustang events and families. A grease fire burned down her family home in January 1951 when she was a senior in high school. Neighbors from miles around rushed over and started hauling things out of the house.
Two ladies carried out a refrigerator on their backs. Many of those same neighborly friends helped rebuild the house and returned again to plant and harvest the farm when Norma’s father was ill.
“Sharing and helping each other was a normal way of life for neighbors back then,” said Norma Jean.
The farm has also survived dust storms and the tornado of 1970, which took the wash house, hay barn, storage barn, machine shed, and several large farm combines.
Bud and Norma Jean grew wheat and hay and lived off the products of their land. Norma Jean cultivated a huge garden and became an expert canner. Her favorite items to can include possum grapes, strawberries, sand plums, blackberries, okra, and pretty much any Oklahoma vegetable.
She has always been an excellent cook. Her cousin, Louis Krivanek, lives nearby on land that has been in his family since 1917.
He recalls that for two decades at harvest time he helped drive farm equipment for Norma Jean. It was a demanding job. He says they “worked hard and ate really good.”
The Schritters loved the television show Hee Haw and didn’t let the long work days of harvest season stop them from watching it.
Long before today’s mobile devices, they found a way to rig a TV to run off the tractor so they could work their crop to the tunes of Buck Owens and Roy Clark.
Norma Jean has been a fan of the Days of Our Lives soap opera for 45 years and gladly admits she schedules her day around its viewing time.
After that, you may find the petite redhead driving around town in her bright red Chevy pickup. She has been going to the same Mustang beauty operator, Maxine Pierce, for 41 years.
Norma Jean and her husband also partnered as “pumpers” for a national oil company. They determined how much oil, natural gas, and salt water was produced daily for each well.
They measured and tracked more than 50 well sites for almost 30 years.
Norma Jean is an avid collector of sea shells. “Shelling” in the gulf is one of her favorite hobbies. She also plays the accordion and maintains an active social calendar. In her younger years, she was a Beseda dancer for parades, Czech festivals, and the 1957 state 50th year celebration.
She still enjoys dancing and says she has always felt she would rather dance than eat.
Recently Norma Jean moved to a new house at Whispering Creek Active Adult Retirement Neighborhood in the south Oklahoma City/Mustang area. She loves the country feel of the gated addition for people age 55 and better.
She says she is surprised how big the rooms are and that they seemed even larger when she added furniture.
“I’m thrilled to find this neighborhood and my only wish is that Bud was here to enjoy it too,” she said.