O is for Oklahoma

*This nickname for Oklahomans stems from those who jumped the homesteading starting gun in 1889
*It’s Oklahoma’s leading crop & is especially big in the north, near the Kansas border
*Tahlequah, Oklahoma is the tribal capital of this Native American nation
*This humorist & native son lends his name to Oklahoma City’s main airport
*The National Weather Service’s storm prediction center is in this city, also home to the University of Oklahoma
And here’s a Daily Double I got right when I was on the show:
PUT ‘EM IN ORDER: Oklahoma statehood, California statehood, Nebraska statehood
(Answers at the end)

I’ve long had an almost irrational affection for Oklahoma. Maybe it’s because, when I put together my states of the Union jigsaw puzzle when I was a kid, the piece for the state looked like a deformed sauce pan. Or maybe it’s that odd history of being Indian Territory for a long period which fascinated me.

I have referred to my first wife, who I married in college, as the Okie because she was born in Durant. I had a difficult time connecting with her father until he realized that I was on the OK side when the University of Oklahoma, or Oklahoma State played teams from Texas, and ESPECIALLY the Longhorns of Texas.

I’ve been to Oklahoma only once, in 1995, to speak with the state Small Business Development Center program and explain the reference services NYS SBDC was then providing for other SBDCs.

There was a woman I knew who worked for an SBDC in Oklahoma City. Her building was right across the street from the Murrah Building, which was blown up on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people. She suffered severe injuries from flying glass and other items that acted like shrapnel. She wrote a very moving story about her recovery the following year, which I published in a newsletter; I need to find that again.

The tornadoes in Oklahoma, especially those in 1999 and 2013, saddened me greatly.

Here’s a song about Oklahoma from a British band, the Kinks, Oklahoma U.S.A. [LISTEN] from the Muswell Hillbillies album. Oklahoma USA is a little gem about a lonely spinster who avoids the harsh realities of post-war Britain by losing herself in Hollywood movies like “Oklahoma.” “It namechecks Rita Hayworth or Doris Day, Errol Flynn (‘But in her dreams she is far away/ In Oklahoma U.S.A./ With Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae’).”

And speaking of Jones and MacRae, here’s the title song to certain Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II musical [LISTEN].

Finally, here’s Oklahoma Hills by Jack Guthrie [LISTEN], written by his famous cousin, Woody Guthrie, both Guthries coming from the state.

the Cherokee
Will Rogers (more on him soon)
California statehood, Nebraska statehood, Oklahoma statehood (not until 1907, which I actually knew because of the musical)

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

25 thoughts on “O is for Oklahoma”

  1. I have a running fantasy about rewriting the musical “Oklahoma.” The story, as we all know, is about the older generation passing the land to the new generation. But the old generation in the musical is the one that carried out the land grab from the Indians, and the new generation is the one that would be destroyed by the Dust Bowl. My revised musical wouldn’t be very positive about either the past or the future like the original is, but it would be more realistic.


  2. Yeah for Oklahoma. I was conceived in Oklahoma but born in California 1941. So I do have those Okie Roots. Also have some of that Cherokee blood. Just visited my cousin who treated us to what we call an Okie dinner. Fried okra, black eyed peas, cornbread. She added a steak and asparagus and peach cobbler for dessert. I was in Okie Heaven.


  3. It helps to have a sense of humor here in Soonerland: why else would we name our largest airport after someone who died in a plane crash? (The general-aviation airport is named for Wiley Post, who died in that same crash.)

    I’ve been here almost 40 years — the last 20 consecutively — and I was close enough to the Murrah building to hear the bomb. Storm season, for the moment, is over, for some (not all) values of “over.”


  4. I knew “Sooners,” but I was woefully inadequate with most of the rest. First thing that came to me was the musical, Oklahoma! I have a vinyl LP of the movie score, with Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, and Roy Steiger (amazing as Judd, especially with MacRae on “Poor Jud is Daid”).

    As for the questions, well, you are the Jeopardy champ. Now, if the category had been “Films of the 1930s,” “Sinatra Sings,” or “Barbra Streisand,” I would have KILLED!! Amy


  5. Oklahoma OK! – a song I learned to sing by listening to college mates sing it over and over… “you know we belong to the land… and the land we belong to is grand…”


  6. I’d not heard the Kinks song before. I’d wouldn’t be able to point to Oklahoma on a map but now after seeing that distinctive shape and your saucepan comment I’d been in with a chance. Love those county names.


  7. I’m ashamed to say that my knowledge of American History is sadly lacking. The years when I should have been doing more learning I was too busy working. I did manage to pass my citizenship test! I have been making a concerted effort to be able to identify each state on the map. I think I’ll set my newly acquired granddaughter to teach me American History. She may enjoy being a student teaching a teacher.


  8. Great post Roger!
    I am a So Cal Okie, my Dad’s folks and all their people are from Oklahoma, Idabel to be pinpoint but they have shirtails all the way up into Beaver County. I also am a Sooner fan although I am doing a traitorous thing at the moment…I have a painting of BEVO the U of Texas mascot in the house!! It is a vintage 1970 view of Bevo and I am selling it on ebay but it still feels like the eyes of Texas are upon this Okie girl!


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