Tal Oden (left) with Judge Richard Darby (right).
When Tal Oden was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar Association, Harry Truman was President of the United States. Oden gave guests a mini-history lesson at a reception held Monday, April 23 to commemorate his 60 years in service to the Oklahoma Bar. The reception was held in Oden’s honor on at the Jackson County Courthouse. Many friends and well wishers came to greet him. Cake and punch were served.
Oden said that the Jackson County Courthouse large courtroom on the third floor, where the party was held, used to have windows all around. Back in the day, if a person became bored, one could always watch some of the various species of pigeons flying around, Oden quipped.
Oden was admitted to the bar March 25, 1952. He’d taken the bar exam early in hopes of becoming a legal officer in the military during the Korean War. He graduated from law school and earned his law license and then Korean War ended. He came back to Altus to help his father with his law business. Oden worked half-time with his father and half-time at the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.
During that time, the community lobbied, with Oden’s help, to get Altus Air Force Base reopened. In 1953, it was reactivated as a training base. With that, came law enforcement challenges, Oden said. Oklahoma was a dry state until the early 60s. That presented problems with young airmen and for those who wished to serve cocktails at social gatherings, Oden recalled.
Add to the exciting mix of things here in Jackson County, the process of racial integration. Oden said they began with first grade and worked their way up gradually to give everyone time to adjust to the idea. Oden partnered with his father from 1952 to 1978 when his father retired and the younger Oden kept the law business. From 1960 to 1970, he had Larry Derryberry as his junior partner.
Oden is a wealth of stories regarding local history. Judge Richard Darby, who presented a plaque to Oden for his faithful service to the Oklahoma Bar Association, joked that Oden always came to court with stories regarding founding families and the wagons in which they rode coming to Altus.