I'm a Texan by birth, and though I call the Lone Star State home, there's just something about Oklahoma that calls me out. I don't know what
it is, exactly. But whenever I cross the Red River into Oklahoma, I end up breathing a little easier and feeling a little freer.
In my life I only spent one year in Oklahoma - in Durant, to be exact. After my husband and I got married, we lived in tiny garage apartment
along with big bugs and a broken fridge, eating Taco Casa tacos night after night. I worked at the Sonic as a carhop and some-time fry
cook. I also went to Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where I developed a lifelong taste for learning and exploring - a pursuit that
eluded me in high school. Oh yeah, and it was in Durant when I learned how to drive and bought my first set of wheels (a 1978 Ford LTD we
named "Lulu"). So maybe that's why I love Oklahoma - it's a memory bank of firsts for me.
But its history and geography fascinate me as well. Oklahoma is a crossroads of all sorts of cultures and the resulting culture clashes.
European, African, and Native Americans all share strong histories throughout the state. Some of American history's biggest tragedies
have played themselves out on Oklahoma soil, too, such as the Trail of Tears, Dust Bowl, and the Oklahoma City bombing. However, most
of what makes America America has roots in Oklahoma as well, like the cattle trails, the buffalo hunts, Route 66, Will Rogers, and the Joads.
Oklahoma sits smack-dab in the middle of Tornado Alley, and has the scars to prove it. Its cities and towns can make one nostalgic, as the
pace and look reflect those by-gone days (providing there's no Super Wal-Mart in the area). And the landscape, with rusty red earth jutting
out from beneath rocky hills and sweeping prairies, paints an amazing picture.
I live an hour's drive south of the Oklahoma border. Driving to cross the river is not that difficult, and I do so at least twice a month.
Sometimes, however, just visiting doesn't do it for me, and I have to camp out a while. When I do, I make sure to take my camera along so
that I can share the beauty that I discover with you. Maybe you will see what I see in the photos I've posted here. In any case, enjoy the
pictures, as they are my own little ode to Oklahoma.
|Sallisaw, where the Joads came from. By Dorothy Lange, Library of Congress
|Clearing the road after a dust storm near Guymon, Oklahoma. By Dorothea Lane, Library of Congress.
|Cotton gin mules at the turn of the century in Durant. Photograph by historian Grant Foreman.