PRAGUE, OKLAHOMA, EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Prague, Oklahoma, was the town closest to the place where Jim Thorpe grew up. This photo shows it as it was during his childhood, a wide dirt street flanked by wooden sidewalks, with horses and wagons drawn up before storefronts that look much like those in the sets of the Western movies Thorpe would act in years later. Like the other white towns in Oklahoma, it had grown up almost overnight after the land runs of 1889 and 1891.
Thorpe's mother, Charlotte, did her shopping in Prague, coming into town with a wagon, often accompanied by Jim and his older half-brother Frank. On one such summer shopping trip, Charlotte gave Jim a coin to buy something for himself. "Why don't I get one?" Frank asked. "Because you can't do this," Jim said. Then he took a short run and did a full somersault in midair.