The topic of commerce at Christmas makes for an interesting story at the Oklahoma History Center

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Trader and explorer Pierre Choteau would have been your man for 'made in Oklahoma' products for Christmas in the 1700's.

He traded with the Osage and Wichita Indian tribes.

"Money makes things go doesn't it," prompts a visitor to a new exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center.

"Yes it does," replies historian and tour guide Larry O'Dell.

Such is the start of an interesting exhibit on money and commerce through our history.

Fred Severs and J.J. McAlester came here to trade in the 1800's.

Posts became mills which became stores.

O'Dell says those early mercantilists didn't even need U.S. currency to do business.

"Since there weren't many banks out here they would use their own scrip," he says.

Agriculture drove commerce too.

Wilson Company lard helped bake a lot of fruit cake.

Schwab's had your sausage or holiday hams.

Flying to see relatives for the season, early air travelers got a good view of Oklahoma City through the windows of Braniff Airways based in Oklahoma City.

"Moving people," prompts Larry. "Not just goods but people."

Speaking of transport, there are still people who remember Lee Way Motor Freight, which carried Christmas presents to stores like Anthony's or T, G, and Y, both national chains in their day.

"Wal Mart has Oklahoma ties too doesn't it?" checks the visitor.

"Sam Walton is from Kingfisher," says O'Dell.

If you drove to see family think of all the places there were to stop along Route 66 or any Oklahoma highway.

Think of how many people bought gas from Tom Love over the years, or the people who invented stuff to get oil out of the ground.

An awful lot of state commerce came from below.

Businesses did their advertising in television.

Thank you Linda Soundtrack and B.C. Clark.

The visitor comments, "We don't like to talk about money this time of year but there it is."

O'Dell agrees, "It's an important story."

Oklahoma companies made products we buy at Christmas.

When the Thunder play on Christmas day that's commerce and work too through history and holiday at the Oklahoma History Center.

The History Center's new exhibit is called Crossroads of Commerce: The History of Free Enterprise in Oklahoma.

It opened just before Thanksgiving.

For more information go to www.OKhistory.org

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