Friday, September 28, 2012

Pass the Chips, Please

Thought for the day:  If you think the Twister ride at Universal Studios isn't nearly windy enough, you might be from Oklahoma.

It should come as no surprise that the movie Twister was filmed in Oklahoma, because those folks are blown around by more tornadoes than any other state in the country. But while researching this blustery state, I came across a most peculiar story. Not just once or twice, but many times. I'll leave it to you to judge its veracity:

In Ponco City, Oklahoma, a tornado allegedly picked up a house with a man and his wife inside. The walls and roof blew away, but the floor remained intact. It eventually glided downward...  and set the couple, safe and sound, on the ground.

I'm not so sure about that, either, but it's an interesting tale, anyway. Really gets the imagination a-whirling, and twists it all outta shape.

Okay, how's about some interesting tidbits before we move on to look at some pictures?

  • Boise City is the only city in the United States that was bombed during WWII. On July 5, at about 12:30 AM, a B-17 bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (~50 miles south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping city. (Pity the terrified schnook who picked that moment to get out of bed to go pee.)
  • Originally, the area now known as Oklahoma was simply called the Indian Territory. In 1889,  in what later came to be known as the Oklahoma Land Rush, the territory was opened to settlers for the first time, and on opening day, April 22, fifty thousand people swarmed into the area. To beat the crowd, some people jumped the gun on the noon starting time, and got there sooner. Ergo, the state nickname of the Sooner State.
  • Lots of states have official state songs, trees, birds, flowers, etc. But Oklahoma is the first I've come across with an official state meal: chicken fried steak, fried okra, squash, cornbread, BBQ pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, black-eyed peas, and pecan pie. (I wonder if they also have an official state antacid.)
  • Omulgee, which held an annual Pecan Festival at Dripping Springs Park up until a few years ago, holds world records for the largest pecan pie, largest pecan cookie, largest pecan brownie, and the biggest ice cream and cookie party. (Sweet!)
Ready for some pictures now?

Familiar with the Trail of Tears? This is one of the plaques marking that trail. The words in the center read: In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39. In a shameful chapter of our country's history, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced the relocation of all Indians from the Southeastern U.S. to the Indian Territory. (present-day Oklahoma) Many were mistreated on this forced trek, and many died. Today, Oklahoma still has the largest Native American population in the country, approximately 250,000, representing sixty-seven different tribes.

The Oklahoma Centennial Monument was built in Oklahoma City to commemorate its hundredth anniversary of statehood. All forty-six massive bronze sculptures were created by Oklahoman Paul Moore. (The cowboy on horseback at the top of this post is another piece of this monumental monument.)

The 101 Ranch Historic District, the birthplace of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show,  was founded in 1893 by Colonel George Washington Miller, a Confederate war veteran. It was the largest diversified farm and ranch in America at the time.

You might be surprised to know that the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame is located in Oklahoma. 

There's also a Toy & Action Figure Museum, a Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum, a Will Rogers Museum, and the National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame. Owned by custom car guru Darryl Starbird, this car museum has over 50 eye-popping custom-built, exotic vehicles. Hey! Wanta see them?

Ever hear of Red Dirt music? I've gotta admit, it's a new one on me. It supposedly got its name from the distinctive red soil found in Oklahoma, but I think they called it that because it's easier than calling it bluegrass-country-rock-folk-and-field-hollers. The sound is supposed to be a combo of all those things. Care to listen to a snippet?

Just when ya think you've got the state all figured out for being about all things cowboy, you come across something like this: Prague, Oklahoma holds an annual Kolache Festival. As the town's name suggests, a lot of the people in the area have a Czech heritage, and this festival celebrates it with polka music, dancing, parades, costumes, booths, a carnival, and of course, LOTS of kolaches. They sell approximately 50,000 of  'em every year at this gathering. Oh, not sure what a kolache is? It's a baked good made of sweet dough and various kinds of fillings. Mostly fruit, but some other goodies, as well. (Oh yeah, and since this IS Oklahoma, there are also some rodeo activities at this festival. Natch.) So, if you're ever in the area, go czech 'em out.

painting by Fredric Remington, 1905

Oklahoma City is home to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. (Surprise!) There, you'll find a massive collection of Western art, a bunch of firearms, displays depicting the history of cowboys, ranching, and rodeos, and Prosperity Junction, a turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. 

If you don't get your fill of looking at firearms at the Cowboy Hall of Fame, you can always visit the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum. Located in Claremore, this museum houses the largest private gun collection in the world. But it isn't ALL about guns. It's historical, too. You'll also find collections of spurs, saddles, local ranch brands, beer steins, WWI posters, military weapons, statues, and Western heritage artifacts. (And a LOT of guns.)

Ever hear of cow chips? Um, no, it isn't something you serve at a party with a bowl of onion dip. It's...  how shall I put this? Cow poop. Dried cow poop. And for some reason or another, once upon a time, somebody decided it would be fun to play with it. To throw it. To compete by throwing it.  Beaver, Oklahoma promotes itself as the Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World, and every April, the city holds the World Championship Cow Chip Throw. How 'bout that? How'd you like to see some folks throw cow poop? I'm sorry... chips. (Sounds much better.)

Ted Ballard never smoked, but somewhere along the line, he evidently got all fired up about lighters. He and his wife Pat own the National Lighter Museum, located in Guthrie, and not surprisingly, it's the only museum in the country devoted to lighters. With over 20,000 lighters and various antique fire starters on display, it's probably a good thing it's located right next door to the fire station.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is in remembrance of the 168 men, women, and children who lost their lives in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. The memorial is comprised of multiple elements,  including: the Gates of Time, which frame the 9:02 time of the bombing, and mark the entrance to the memorial; a reflecting pool; a field of 168 chairs; the Survivor's Wall, which is the only remaining section of the original Murrah building, and is engraved with the names of survivors; and the Survivor Tree, a 100-year-old American elm, whose leaves were ripped off by the blast, but in spite of dire predictions, miraculously grew back the following year. Life goes on.

The Pensacola Dam, built in 1940, is the world's longest multiple arch dam. It's 6565 feet long, and sits on the southern shores of Grand Lake o' the Cherokees between Langley and Disney.

Showing you a static photo of a tornado couldn't possibly give you an accurate idea of what it's really like to be in close proximity to one, just as showing you the aftermath of one can't impress upon you how devastating it is to see all those destroyed homes and ubiquitous blue tarps up-close and personal. So I found an awesome video.

Before I show it to you, a little background. Heidi, of tornado videos, who most kindly granted me permission to use this video, and called it their most extreme video, wrote: The vehicle was occupied by a team of university-backed researchers, driven by someone who was new to storm chasing; the passenger/videographer is a veteran chaser and meteorologist who had seen over 100 tornadoes to that point and was/is quite accustomed to observing tornadoes from very close range. The road they were driving on appeared to lead them due south, while the tornado was traveling generally northeast. Two very bad things happened as the meteorologist navigating instructed the driver to 'go south right now'. First, the tornado made a slight shift in direction, taking a more east-northeasterly path, rather than traveling directly northeast; this made the tornado head more directly toward the road on which they were traveling, cutting down on their time to safely pass in front. The second problem was that the road was not a straight shot south, and actually drifted to the west, cutting down on their time window even more. They absolutely realize how fortunate they were to escape unharmed, and would, of course, have done a number of things differently given the gift of hindsight. Incidentally, later the same afternoon, they found themselves in search and rescue mode from another violent tornado that occurred in Newcastle, OK.

   So, show the video already, you say? Okeydoke. Hang onto your hat...

That delivers quite a pucker factor, doesn't it? YOWZA! Okay, now that we've finished with our whirlwind tour, let's twist on over and take a gander at some of the crazy laws still languishing on the books in the fine state of Oklahoma.

  • It's illegal for a bar owner to permit anyone in his bar to pretend to have sex with a buffalo. (I guess they don't take too kindly to make-believe, huh?)
  • Females are forbidden from doing their own hair without being licensed by the state.
  • Dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate on private property in groups of three or more. 
  • It's against the law to take a bite out of somebody else's hamburger. (How about their fries?)
  • It's illegal to read a comic book while operating a motor vehicle. (Moby Dick it is...)
  • Whaling is illegal. 
  • It's against the law to have the hind legs of farm animals in your boots. (Um, with or without the animal attached to them?)
  • People who make ugly faces at dogs may be fined and/or jailed. (Their faces might freeze, too.)
  • Cars must be tethered outside of public buildings. (Especially Mustangs.)
  • It's illegal to wear your boots to bed. 
  • Fish may not be contained in fishbowls while on a public bus. (So ya put 'em on a leash?)
  • It's against the law to promote a horse tripping event or bear wrestling exhibition. (Okeydoke to have one...  just can't promote it?)
  • In Ada, you can be put in jail if you wear New York Jets clothing. (HA! Now, that's funny!)
  • In Bartlesville, no one may own more than two adult cats, and it's also illegal to cause annoying vibrations within city limits. (If that means no hopped-up leaf blowers, I'm all for this one.)
  • In Bristow, it's illegal to serve water to a restaurant customer unless one peanut in a shell is also served. Failure to comply can lead up to a five dollar fine.
  • In Clinton, it's against the law to molest cars or to lean against a public building. (But can you pretend to molest a car?)
  • In Hawthorne, it's illegal to put hypnotized people in a display window. (I'd love to know the story behind this law.)
  • In Oklahoma City, it's against the law to tip over a casket at a funeral, or to walk backwards downtown while eating a hamburger.
  • In Schulter, women may not gamble in the nude, in lingerie, or while wearing a towel. (Sheesh. Picky, picky, picky.)
  • In Tulsa, you may not open a soda bottle without the supervision of a licensed engineer, and you can't take your elephant into the downtown area. 
  • And finally, in Wynona, birds aren't allowed to drink out of birdbaths, and people aren't permitted to wash their clothes in them, either. 

The time has come for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  It isn't raining rain, you know; it's raining ... seafood??? Sound a little fishy? The truth is, no violets dropped from the skies onto Lazurnaya Bay, Russia this week, but plenty of clams, oysters, crabs, scallops, and fish did. The surprise windfall, courtesy of Typhoon Bolaven, had local residents licking their chops and scurrying around the beach to gather the delicacies. And what do you do when the heavens suddenly dump more seafood than you've ever seen in one place before? PAR-TY! As in, the biggest seafood BBQ of all time. This picture was taken by a local woman named Svetlana. Wanta see more of her pictures?

the current shed, donated by Tuff
***  When Bredo Morstoel's life ended in Norway in 1989,  his unusual journey was just beginning. His grandson, Tryve Bauge, who was living in Nederland, Colorado at the time, had gramps frozen and shipped to a cryonics facility in California. Then Bauge and his mother decided to start their own facility a bit closer to home, and moved the cold Pop-pop to Colorado. How close to home, you ask? Um, in their own back yard... in a storage shed. All was well, or as well as can be expected with a frozen body lounging  in the back yard next to the petunia patch, until Bauge was deported because of an expired visa. Before he left the country, he arranged for a monthly 1700-pound delivery of dry ice to keep the stiff ... er... stiff. Then, uh-oh! Bauge's mother received an eviction notice, and quickly expressed her concerns about the welfare of dear old dad. Turns out, the town didn't know about said frigid father or the DIY backyard mausoleum, and gave the whole idea a big cold shoulder. At first. Then they kinda warmed to the idea, and since 2002, the town has been holding a festival called Frozen Dead Guy Days, where the thousands of attendees enjoy such events as coffin racing, a hearse parade, a frozen salmon toss, snow beach volleyball, and a dance ... Grandpa's Blue Ball. (HA!) So, why am I writing about this now? Bo Shaffer, the fella who's been the official caretaker of the body, and deliverer of all that dry ice, says Bauge isn't paying him enough money to cover his expenses. Hopefully their relationship will thaw before grandpa does, but in case attitudes remain frozen, Bauge is planning to move his grand-popsicle to a cryonics facility in Massachusetts. The town, with or without their most famous, albeit deceased, resident, plans to continue with the annual festivals.

                                            Pssst. Care to take a peek inside of that backyard shed???

*** One last story, and it's about an incredible 102-year old woman named Margaret Dunning, who still drives the 1930 Packard Roadster she bought back in 1949. This car enthusiast first started driving at the age of eight, and got her first driver's license when she was twelve, so she's been driving for ninety years... and, she still changes her own oil and spark plugs! Just last week, she took her beloved (and gorgeous) Packard to a classic car show in Canton, Ohio. I couldn't find any video from that show, but I did find footage from another car show that was taken earlier this year. I hope seeing this amazing woman leaves you with a smile on your face. (I wanta be like her when I grow up.)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. That was so great!!!! I love th laws! Think most of them were passed while drunk!

  2. This was a packed post. Lots of interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing it :)


  3. As one who spent much time in Okmulgee --my mother's home town-- Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Sperry, Okfuskee, and heard much of Hugo, Ada and Enid where mom went to school and began teaching in the '30s, I was pleased to see some details and reminders of those distant days. My thanks.

  4. As usual, your post is fascinating and very informative. You actually had me singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" and imagining that I was Gordon MacRae.

    Oklahoma is damn windy - - almost as bad as West Texas (heck, it's a toss-up).
    I survived numerous tornadoes when I lived in Missouri. It's impossible to describe the feeling of absolute terror and complete helplessness unless you've experienced it firsthand.

  5. 'It's illegal for a bar owner to permit anyone in his bar to pretend to have sex with a buffalo.'

    Sus, please tell me you are making this stuff up.

    As for the couple in your opener, I'd really like to have seen the looks on their faces after the fact. Or perhaps they were so blown away by the experience, they just looked at one another and offered to refresh each other's coffee.

    Have a great weekend. :)

  6. Sooners... a celebration of cheating the Indians out of the land they were forced to move to. Disgusted, the Seminoles, encouraged by the Black Seminoles who were being picked off by slavers, picked up and moved to Mexico.

  7. Glad to hear whaling in Oklahoma is restricted. Things could really get out of hand.

    And I'll always remember where I was when the Oklahoma City bombing happened. Such a tragedy. I can still see the images in my mind from the television that day.

  8. Thank you for the explanation behind the state nickname! Sooner indeed.

    Love all the state trivia, too. Especially the laws--those always tickle me.

  9. So much weirdness in one DO you do it?

  10. Sign me up for an Oklahoma state meal, but I'm skipping the tornadoes!
    What a wealth of fun in this post!

  11. I'm thinking the gymnastics would come in handy for getting away from those tornados. Wow, and they call Chicago the windy city! That's nuttin'.

    Popsicle grandpa. LOLOLOL!

  12. Sylvia- HA! You may be right.

    Donna- Yeah, it was actually kinda OVER-packed this time. Sometimes I get a little carried away.

    Geo- Cool. I'm glad you were able to relate to some of the stuff on a personal level.

    Jon- I know what you mean. (Only I kept wanting to sing "OH-klahoma, where the wind...") I think tornadoes are terrifying, too. They have a way of making you realize you aren't REALLY in control of your destiny.

    Suze- Nope, sorry, but I don't make this stuff up; these laws are supposedly still on the books. Not enforced, (one can only hope) but still there. I think there's an unofficial competition between states over who has the most cockamamie law. "Blown away by the experience..." Good one. You have a super weekend, too.

    Mr. C- I love that you so often contribute additional info. Thanks!

    Cro- Good call. There'd be a fairly good chance that she wouldn't run for a second term, though.

    L.G.- It's funny how many of the landlocked states have anti-whaling laws, isn't it? In their defense, though, it could be that the laws were meant to be social statements against the practice in general. Kinda like the state plastering a giant "Save the Whales" sticker on their proverbial bumper.

    Linda- I was surprised about the derivation of the term "Sooner", too. Glad ya liked it.

    Delores- Easy. I'm weird.

    Liza- That's some meal. Sounds like they didn't want to offend anyone by leaving something out when they were devising that menu.

    Carrie- Glad the grand-popsicle made you laugh. (Not too irreverent, I hope.) I dunno how helpful gymnastics would be during a tornado... especially if your forte is the balance beam.

  13. Susan, you've totally outdone yourself. And I really, really like Red Dirt music. That's the old fashioned country music I loved when I was little. Thanks for that. And the freakin tornado, what were they thinkin??!! And the 46 statues- those I gotta see. Yes, Oklahoma's on the list. I'd like to know why the peanut, too...

  14. Wow, a lot of information here. I've been there a couple of times, but I would be too chicken to live in tornado country. Great post though and thanks for taking the time for all that research.

  15. Laura- Well, I may have outdone myself in writing the LONGEST post, anyway. HA! Glad you liked it. That Red Dirt music really IS catchy, isn't it? As for the peanut, maybe it's a ridiculous way to define an establishment by serving some kind of FOOD to prove it's more than a gin mill.

    Inger- Thanks for mentioning the research. I do a ridiculous amount of it to write these state posts. We do have tornadoes here in Georgia, but I don't want to live in the heart of tornado alley, either.

  16. I THINK I've been to Oklahoma. I MUST have been to Oklahoma. I believe we drove through Oklahoma more than once when I was a kid; I just can't remember it. But since I was from Kansas, I don't know how we could have avoided Oklahoma.


    P.S. Your comments are always hilarious and leave me laughing and smiling.

  17. What is it with these landlocked states passing laws against whaling? How big a problem can it be????

  18. We have actually been to the National Memorial in Oklahoma City twice, once shortly after the tragedy, at that time there was a chain link fence surrounding the area with flowers, messages, and stuffed animals covering it, the surrounding buildings had windows blown out and the emotions that you felt deep in your chest brought tears to your eyes immediately,

    Our last visit was to view the completed memorial, it is really beautiful and standing there looking at the chairs brings out those exact same emotions.

    Excellent Post Susan

  19. One has to wonder why people would have to pass a law preventing a bar owner from allowing a patron to pretend to have sex with a buffalo. Someone must have had quite a bachelor party at one time.

  20. Love the World Championship Cow Chip Throw! Cute story about the 102 year old driver. Although I really wouldn't want to be out on the road when she was behind the wheel! It would be really embarrassing if she passed me up! Julie

  21. I can't believe, even YOU, said "Czech them out!" ::laying my head on my keyboard and groaning::

    THAT is bad, really bad. giggle

    And is it just me or did anyone else think those children [the gymnastic statues] were tumbling through a barbed wire fence? It is just the way the pic' was taken, but the twigs look like barbed wire at first glance.

    Ah well...maybe the fact that it is way after 12:34 [closer to 4:56] that I may be seeing things.

  22. Janie- Speaking as someone who's always lived on the east coast, isn't living in Kansas almost the same thing as living in Oklahoma? (Just kidding!)

    Dianne- My best guess is that landlocked states may have passed anti-whaling laws as a means of taking a moral stance opposing the practice in general, kinda like if Pennsylvania passed legislation against killing baby seals.

    Jimmy- Wow, I can only imagine what an emotional experience it must be to see the memorial in person. Reading about it and looking at pictures of it allows a little bit of "distance", but when you're standing right next to the memorial, it kinda hits you right between the eyes. Kinda like it is for us every time we've visited the Vietnam Memorial in D.C.

    Arleen- HA! You could be right. Men have been know to do some mighty strange things at bachelor parties.

    Julie- That 102-year old lady could very well pass us both on the road. In one of the clips I watched about her, she admitted to having a lead foot, and said she's gotten lots of speeding tickets over the years. She said policemen always seem to feel about giving her the ticket... but she "doesn't mind."

    Skippy- Sorry. I knew it was a true groan-worthy pun, but I simply couldn't resist. No, you aren't the only one who thought the branches beside the tumbling children looked like barbed wire. I did, too, at first. Take care, kiddo. 12:34

  23. Hi Susan .. the gymnastics photo - looks as though they're behind barbed wire!! That's what I thought anyway ...

    Love Margaret Dunning .. amazing lady.

    Cheers Hilary

  24. Hilary- Hi-ya. The branches kinda look like barbed wire to Skippy & me, too. And Ms. Dunning is pretty darned amazing. I'd love to sit down and have a conversation with her... mostly to hear what she has to say about things. Cheers to you, too.

  25. Well dang, woman..... this is one information-filled post.

    The Dirt Rangers have a honky-tonk sound like all the Montana saloons.

    I wouldn't mind the oil-changing-Granni's car at all.

    Don't think the summer's gone by and I haven't been thinking of you. Whenever I read something about radios you pop into my mind. That was such an interesting A-Z.
    I wish you well....Manzi

  26. I sure hope people have a chance to wash their hands after they get done in the cow chip tossing contest, before they head over to the barbeque lunch...

  27. I feel quite tired after all that travel! Immensely entertaining :-)

  28. Manzie- Hi-ya! It's good to hear from you again, lady. I hope all is well in your little corner of the world, and you feel inspired to write a post again sometime soon. I've thought of you, too, and wondered if you're all settled in now, and how your greenhouse is, and how those cats are doing. Keep dancing, kiddo, and take care.

    Pixel Peeper- HA! I know what you mean. Spoken like a true mother.

    Lily- On the plus side, with THIS kind of travel, no car or gasoline is required. Thanks for stopping by.