Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Happy Anniversary Oklahoma!
Today marks the anniversary of Oklahoma's great Land Run of 1889. It all started with a bang, then thousands of people charging off full-tilt boogie into the wilderness to claim a 160 acre chunk of land for their very own. To be sure, the event still stirs up controversy now as then, but this is the crown jewel of our State's creation mythos.
In my travels I've fielded many questions about Oklahoma. So, I'll try to answer a few of the more frequently asked questions about Oklahoma here. By all means, if you have a question, ask away and I'll get an answer back to you.
1. What is a Sooner?
Did you ever see that 1992 movie "Far and Away" by Ron Howard? In that picture Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman came to Oklahoma for the Great Land Rush of 1889. In the famous Land Rush scene, Tom and everyone else went to all the effort of lining up, playing by the rules and starting the Run at the appropriate time. Well, there were a few people who left a little "sooner" than they should have. These dirty rotten cheaters staked their claim to the very best land and water resources they could find. Those cheaters and their descendants survived the Dust Bowl and Great Depression because they got the best land. Another thing they've got is THE stupidest beer, wine and liquor laws on Earth. Yet another thing is the title "MOST teenage pregnancies in the Nation". Without the oppressive burden of scientific proof, one might just assume the pair are somehow related ...
2. What is a Boomer?
Have you ever looked at a neighbor's vast, empty property and ever thought about just ... maybe parking your boat there rent free ... maybe going ahead and just building a house there and moving in? Most HONEST people wouldn't think that way, but way back in 1880 a group of people in Kansas looked south into Indian Territory and didn't see any Indians. but they did see lots and lots of land ... glorious land ... so they thought maybe they should go ahead and move down there, smack dab in the exact geometric middle of nowhere, build houses, graze cattle, plow up the prairie and plant crops ... all on the down low of course because it was ILLEGAL. Sure enough, these land jumpers DID make the Indians (and everyone else involved) upset. The Boomers that "moved" into the Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) eventually were found and then removed by US Army. Sound strange? Well, there is a modern equivalent. They call the places these modern-day Israeli Boomers build "settlements."
3. In Oklahoma do you have ... (x) ...?
a. Paved roads? Yes, we even have a Turnpike Authority to pay for the ones that your federal Highway dollars don't cover.
b. Electricity? Someone actually asked me this when I was in California in 1988. No, it wasn't the same guy who had that marijuana leaf T-shirt that said "Thank God for Adair County, Oklahoma".
c. Problems with the Indians? This conversation actually happened on a KAL flight to Seoul, South Korea. The Korean businessman who said this was perfectly serious.
Him: From Oklahoma, huh? Still got problems with the Indians?
Him: You know! I've seen it in the movies. You can't deny it.
Me: OK, feather or dot?
Him: Whaddya mean?
Me: Indians from here or Indians from India? We've got both kinds you know.
Me: Oh yeah. We're THAT cool.
I suppose it's a little quaint to say that you love your State, even dangerously sentimental in these Postmodern times, but it's true ... even if no one else believes it.