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Hand Shaking for Civic Pride (1936)

On June 18, 1936, the Daily Oklahoman published the details of a proposal for boosting civic pride in Oklahoma City that had been put forth by Roscoe E. Dickson, which involves a daily mass hand-shaking event. The plan suggests that at an unspecified time every day, all of the city’s fire sirens would sound at once, prompting citizens to stop what they’re doing, turn to the nearest person, and shake their hand enthusiastically while proclaiming, “We’re living in the finest city in the United States.”

Despite its simplicity, Dickson believed that his plan, would work wonders for the city. However, it was felt that some citizens may not be so receptive to the idea.

Some examples of how Dickson’s plan were offered up:

Let’s suppose a truck driver gets into an altercation with a taxi driver, “You big mug. Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”  The cab driver would then reply, “Listen louse. I’m gonna punch you one, you dirty lug”—then the siren goes off—”We’re living in the finest city in the United States.” Would they then still want to keep arguing?

Or, let’s suppose that a young boy comes home with ripped pants, no shirt, a black eye, and mud on his face.  His mother is furious.  “Young man. I’ve something to say to you.” And just as she is about to yell at him, the local fire alarm sounds.  She quickly changes her tone. “We’re living in the finest city in the United States.”

If the plan had been implemented, there was the possibility that some citizens may not have anyone nearby to shake hands with. In that case, the rules could have been modified to allow for monologues.

Dickson, worked for G. A. Nichols, Inc. and sold bungalow lots in Nichols Hills, was a professional civic booster and gave lectures about the city’s virtues every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at the then new lecture hall in Nichols Hills.

I think we should bring back this simple idea, except worldwide.  Every day, at a chosen time, the sirens should go off in towns and cities around the globe.  And then we would all stop what we were doing and say, “We’re living on the finest planet in the entire universe.” And everything would be just great after that.

This AI image of people shaking hands was created using the Bing Image Creator powered by Dall-E.
This AI image of people shaking hands was created using the Bing Image Creator powered by Dall-E.
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