Monday, 8 February 2010

Oklahoma - OK

It's time to say goodbye to Oklahoma and I feel it's getting harder to say goodbye, as there is always so much more to learn. My learning journey wouldn't have been complete without watching Oklahoma! the musical, which is a classic, scarily triumphalist, it recklessly promotes taking the law into your own hands, but it's such an iconic movie that I had to overlook all of this and sing along.

I wanted to find an Oklahoman version of Bayan-Olgii, the remote province of Western Mongolia (see blog about Mongolia) and found it in the Oklahoma panhandle, which comprises three counties in the far west of Oklahoma and looks like, well . . . a panhandle!  There are quite a few states with panhandles, Florida, Alaska, Texas etc.

The Oklahoma panhandle sounds remote, a place where even other Oklahomas may not have been, it has a large Hispanic population and is a complex accident of history, being given up by Texas, so Texas could become a 'slave state'. After some years of confusion, as a kind of no-man's land, the Oklahoma panhandle tried to enter the Union as a separate state known as Cimarron, which might have brought more people and opportunities to this remote corner of the USA, but this dream never materialised, hence the panhandle wallowing in obscurity ever since.

I also learned:

- that Oklahoma is known as the 'Sooner' state, a legacy of the landgrabbing era and illegal occupation of Indian lands.

- Oklahoma is the same size as Cambodia

- Brad Pitt and Garth Brooks were both born in Oklahoma

- the first parking meters were introduced in Oklahoma in 1935

- Tulsa is a corruption of the word Tallahassee, which comes from the Creek language and means 'old town'. There are also Tallahassees in Florida and Georgia, where the Creek nations originated.

- In the 1950's, Time magazine described Tulsa as America's most beautiful city.

- There are 6,000 Muslims in Oklahoma

- For some reason, Americans buy books in drug stores.

I also learned some new words like; piki, obsidian, cacique, larkspur, arbor, fetlock, vigas, matate and Kaolin.

I'm not a big fan of country music, however I do have a soft spot for one song by Garth Brooks and that's what I'm going to leave you with. 



Image Credits

The image of the billboard with Brad Pitt was made available by flickruser p22311919 under the Creative Commons license. 
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