GUTHRIE — Eddie Lou Halsey is like royalty in Guthrie.
At 86, she's the oldest living 89er Queen, a title she received in 1939. She was the second 89er Queen named and served during the golden anniversary of the city's 89er Days festivities.
The festivities are held each year to commemorate the Land Run of April 22, 1889. They continue this year, today through Saturday.
“I was just a babe in arms,” Halsey said of the spring she was named queen. “I was green as grass, I can tell you that.”
She was just 14 in 1939, but as a horseman's daughter and a member of the Guthrie Round-Up Club, she could ride horses — the main requirement of an 89er Queen in the early days.
“Back then everybody had a horse,” she said.
She also could square dance on a horse, something called a quadrille. And she'd been riding in the city's parade since she was a much younger girl.
“I think I was 5 or 6 when I rode in my first parade,” she said. “I rode in a buggy, then on my little horse.
“It's just been a part of my life,” she said, “a part of my family's life.”
Even though she's known as a queen, Halsey's second nickname is “button lady.”
She said after serving as queen, she started working on the committee to design and sell the buttons that were sold each year to raise money for the annual parade.
The first buttons were called “shaving permits,” she said. They were sold to men who wished to attend the parade clean-shaven. If you were caught clean-shaven without a button, you might be fined, she said.
“It's a moneymaking venture,” Halsey said. “We put a different button out every year to raise money for the parade floats.”
The buttons were first sold for $1, but now go for $5.
No one in town seems to have a complete collection of the buttons — not even the American Legion, which hosts most of the 89er Day events.
“I tried to put a set together,” Halsey said. “I was working with a woman, a fellow legionnaire, but darn if she didn't die on me.”
This year, Halsey's picture from 1939 is on the 89er Day button and on commemorative T-shirts. The picture also graces a plaque that will be auctioned off to help pay for the annual parade.
Halsey also will be the parade marshal this year.
“I won't be riding a horse though,” she said.
She guessed it has been about 40 years since she's been on horseback.
Instead, Halsey said she'll be riding in a bright, sparkling new sports convertible that belongs to her hair stylist.
Festivities continue today through Saturday, including:
• A carnival from 4 to 10 p.m. today through Friday and from noon to midnight Saturday.
• An old-timer baseball game, played with 1889 rules and authentic uniforms, at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Squires Field, one block east of Division Street on Springer. Concessions will be available.
• A parade at noon Saturday, traveling down Oklahoma Avenue to Second Street, then south to Harrison Avenue and east to Broad Street.
From Staff Reports