Little Giant from Little Dixie: Carl Albert (1908-2000)
Born in a mining camp near McAlester, this tiny boy in worn overalls became the first high school graduate from the Bug Tussle community. He wound up being the highest elected official of any Oklahoman in history.
Albert scattered vibrant pearls of his youth throughout his autobiography, including:
“In (our) backyard stood the universal and indispensable instrument of life in rural Oklahoma: a huge, black iron boiling pot, its three short legs resting on rocks. In the summer, it heated water for shoeless children to wash their feet nightly. In the fall, it converted ashes and hog fat into lye soap. Year round, it boiled our clothes, which my mother then washed with the lye soap on a scrub board set in a No. 3 washtub.”
While still an OU college student, Albert won a national oratorical contest on the U.S. Constitution. He earned his law degree at OU, then another as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in England. When he took his Congressional seat in Washington in 1947, two fellow freshmen with whom he would become lifelong friends approached him.
That morning, Richard “Dick” Nixon complimented him on that 1927 oratorical triumph, and joked about his own quick exit in a later contest. That afternoon, John “Jack” Kennedy asked was he the Rhodes Scholar from Oklahoma, and expressed his honor at meeting him.