A reader writes:
This is an eternal argument, man. Is Oklahoma in the Midwest, or is it a Southern state, or maybe Southwestern? The answer is: it depends on what part of Oklahoma you’re talking about. Oklahoma is at a crossroads in this country, in a number of ways. If you’re from Ponca City, not far from Wichita, that’s pretty heavily Midwest. If you’re from Idabel, down in the southwestern corner, you probably have more in common with Louisianans than you do with Iowans. If you’re from Gage, out in the panhandle, you’re within spitting distance of New Mexico and Colorado. And folks down by Lake Texoma … well.
And it’s not just cultural; it’s geographic, as well. I was just the other day messing around with a map of North American biomes. To illustrate a point to a friend, I overlaid a US map with state outlines over this map [see above]. Sorry, my bastardized version is on my home computer, but I figure you can tell pretty clearly that the big crossroads right in the middle is, in fact, right in the middle of Oklahoma. There are, like, ten colors on the map that fall within the Oklahoma state line. So, yeah, we’re a little bit of everything; we can provide you with just about anything except for tundra and oceanfront property (to my everlasting sorrow).
My favorite definition of the Midwesterner:
If you call a carbonated beverage pop or soda pop, you are from the Midwest. Hence, Pittsburgh is in the Midwest. Being about a 7+ hour drive from the Atlantic Ocean, Pittsburgh should not be called an East Coast city. A related definition: If you call all carbonated beverages Coke, you are from the South.
I’ll proffer the great Pop vs Soda map (the one by county is almost older than the Internet, but I think still the best). According to these maps, the dividing line between pop and soda country runs between Syracuse and Rochester. So Syracuse is in the east and Rochester in the Midwest. Of course, while it seems to get the outside boundaries pretty well (other than the western boundary), Saint Louis and eastern Wisconsin call fizzy drinks “sodas” unlike the rest of their midwestern brethren. Tulsa, which is in pretty-southern Oklahoma, must be midwestern (pop) while Indianapolis, in very-Midwestern Indiana, calls it Coke. So it must be in the South.