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New book 'Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond' traces 60 years of local music history

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Anita Arnold
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
Oklahoma History Center
2401 N. Laird
www.okhistorycenter.org
522-0765

Anita Arnold had already written a couple of books about legendary jazz guitarist Charlie Christian and the Oklahoma City jazz scene in the Deep Deuce neighborhood as fundraisers for Oklahoma City's International Music Festival. She had already done research for Oklahoma author William Welge, whose thankful publisher then gave her copies of Welge's book for an additional fundraiser.

When those sold out, Arnold politely declined Arcadia Publishing's offer to provide additional books for fundraising. But some time later, an Arcadia representative called her again, offering copies of a new Arcadia title.

"They told me it was about Springlake Park," Arnold said, noting that the sales rep was unaware that Springlake Amusement Park had for years been a painful point of contention for many black city residents, who were excluded from the park as a result of lingering segregationist attitudes of its owners.

"I absolutely lost it and said, 'No, absolutely not!' and the guy was shocked and said, 'Well, I thought that was historical,'" Arnold said. "I said, 'It is, but the people I know do not want to conjure up any negative memories, and that was negative.'

"They were stunned that I blurted out how I felt, and then I said, 'I need to write a history book.'"

Much to her surprise, the sales rep told her that an editor would call to discuss just that.

"I was stunned. I thought they were talking because I was ranting," she said. "So I thought that ... the least I could do is look at the proposal."

Arnold was reluctant to get caught up in writing another book, and she dragged her feet returning the proposal, hoping Arcadia would lose interest.

"I finally filled out and sent their proposal back, and they got excited, and I thought, 'I was supposed to be getting rid of them,'" she said with a laugh. "Each time I sent them something, it went from 'good possibilities' to 'this is really pretty good' to 'this is good' to 'this is excellent.'"

Arcadia, which specializes in publishing photo-heavy local histories, informed Arnold that 180 to 240 images would be needed.

Having already tapped many local resources for illustrations for her previous books, Arnold asked friends and acquaintances to search scrapbooks, attics and basements for previously unpublished images. To her relief, many were uncovered.

"I went from one person, and they referred me to someone else, and on and on. I got several pictures from the Oklahoma History Center," she said. "This is new stuff " these are pictures a lot of people haven't seen before."

Titled "Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond," Arnold's book traces 60 years of local music history, moving from the early days of jazz to the present day, including a full chapter about Christian, who went from Deep Deuce clubs to playing with jazz legends Count Basie and Benny Goodman before his tragic death at age 25 in 1942.

In conjunction with the 25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival, running through Sunday, Arnold will sign copies Saturday at the Oklahoma History Center. "C.G. Niebank

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