In 1952, Route 66 - the picture above is on the interstate in eastern Oklahoma - was dedicated as the ‘Will Rogers Highway.’ Why am I writing this on a bus on the I-44? Because Will Rogers was from Oklahoma.
Confess to meeting plenty of people I don’t like, but I’m intolerant and generally difficult. In Claremore, a museum is devoted to the famous humourist who once said, ‘I never met a man I didn’t like.’ Rogers was part Indian, a cowboy, movie and Broadway star, writer, speaker, comedian, and, in the Thirties, world figure. He’s buried here.
I admit - particularly here in the Bible Belt - to being taken with a Rogers’ quote on one of the museum’s walls: ‘There's no argument that carries the hatred a religious belief does'. It makes me see Rogers in a new light. He was a Methodist, but not a regular churchgoer.
Just down the road is another of Route 66’s restored delights.
The Blue Whale - you perhaps can see some girls fishing near his tail - is on a quiet roadside pond. He became a little shabby, but’s now looking much more presentable.
The bus passes Tulsa. Boring from the highway, so no pictures.
‘Twenty-four hours from Tulsa’ was a Burt Bacharach, Hal David hit for Gene Pitney. ‘I was only 24 hours from Tulsa … only one day away from your arms.’
Pitney’s death in 2006 led to an amusing exchange of opinions in the Guardian concerning exactly how far twenty-four hours from Tulsa would be. I thought the best answer came from the UK:
‘Since the song talks about what he got up to at a motel, let's assume Gene was driving. If he didn't take any breaks and he kept up an average 45mph, here are some major places he could have been in: Las Vegas; Jacksonville; Chicago; Winnipeg; Salt Lake City (though I don't know how much dancing in restaurants would be allowed in the latter).’
Am greeted in Oklahoma City by a violent thunderstorm.
Last week, a tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb killed twenty-four.
Have dinner with a ‘tornado watch in effect’ and ‘severe weather danger’ warnings for tomorrow.