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7 untruths about Oklahoma people accept as fact

by Richard Hall Modified: May 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm •  Published: May 16, 2013


Oklahoma is known for many things, from inventions to historical footnotes. But how many of them are legit, and how many are complete falsehoods?

Here are seven widely accepted “facts” about Oklahoma that range from “OK, this has some truth to it, kind of” to complete lies. “Facts” like…

 


7. The twist tie was invented in Maysville, Okla.

Know what this is? A BOWL OF LIES!
Know what this is? A BOWL OF LIES!

The “fact”:

Where in the world would we be without the twist tie, and how in the world would we keep our bread fresh?

Forget bread boxes. Forget rubber bands. Thanks to the ingenuity of one Oklahoman in Maysville during the 1930s, the twist tie was invented, and it ushered in years of pet owners freaking out because furkid Rufus got one stuck in his throat.

The truth:

Except it wasn’t an Oklahoman that ruined so many lives, because an Oklahoman never invented the twist tie. It was invented by a California company in the late 1930s and were originally called Twist-Ems.

To be fair, the first twist tie machine was invented in Maysville. So, an Okie saw the horror pet owners everywhere were going through and decided it’d be a good idea to mass produce the culprit.

The verdict:

OK, so it’s not factually correct, but it’s not far off. Thus, it’s not a complete lie, just a case of mistaken identity.

 


6. The aerosol can was invented in Bartlesville, Okla.

The “fact”:

I’ve no idea how the invention of the world wonder known as the aerosol can ever got attached to Bartlesville, but it did. Google about it and you’ll find a good number of sites sharing this fact like it’s Gospel.

The truth:

Really, the aerosol can is a Norwegian invention. It was invented and patented by Erik Rotheim in 1926 in Oslo, and a United States patent for the invention was granted just five years later.

And, thanks to him, spiders don’t stand a chance, kids are getting high in dad’s garage and talented artists are creating works of art all around the world.

Then there's this: The Cadillac Ranch, also known as the only redeeming thing about Amarillo, Texas.
Then there's this: The Cadillac Ranch, also known as the only redeeming thing about Amarillo, Texas.

The verdict:

Complete and utter lie. And it’s not even a good one.

But, seriously, if there is a B’ville connection, I’d love to know.

 


5. WKY Radio in Oklahoma City was the first radio station to transmit

west of the Mississippi River

The “fact”:

I remember hearing this fact when I was in high school, and since I was in high school I didn’t think much of it because I didn’t really care.

But now that I’m older and things like this interest me (am I becoming boring?), I decided to check the validity of the claim that the first radio station to transmit west of the great Mississippi River was WKY Radio in Oklahoma City.

The truth:

What I found out shocked me to my core. It rattled my belief in nearly everything.

I found out WKY was the third licensed radio station to broadcast west of the Mississippi, just behind WEW in St. Louis and KGU in Honolulu. It's also definitely not the first station to broadcast, period, west of the Mississippi. A good number of stations, including those in California and Texas, beat WKY.

The verdict:

I guess coming in third is better than coming in last? Maybe. But WKY is the 28th-oldest radio station in the nation, so there’s that.

 


4. Oklahoma is the birthplace to more astronauts than any other state

Whenever I see pictures of space, I think of David Bowie.
Whenever I see pictures of space, I think of David Bowie.

The “fact”:

Astronauts are awesome, right? When you were a kid, you probably wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up. Not only did they get to go into space, but they also got all the ladies (or men, ’cause space doesn’t discriminate).

Plus, if you’re about my age, you remember watching “Apollo 13″ in theaters in 1995 and thinking, “If Forrest Gump can do it, I can do it.”

And now, well, you’re not an astronaut and you realize life isn’t always fair.

The truth:

Oklahoma is the birthplace for a grand total of five astronauts. You know who beats us at this game? Twenty-one other states!

Four other states (Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina) tie us. That means Oklahoma isn’t even close to the top astronaut-producing state. That honor goes to New York.

The verdict:

Ugh. Lie. A big fat black hole of a lie.

 


3. Oklahoma has the most tornadoes per square mile than any other state

You might find it hard to believe which state beats out Oklahoma.
You might find it hard to believe which state beats out Oklahoma.

The “fact”:

Tornado Alley is sometimes a pain to live in, but many Americans know they give up some comforts when living in it. If you’re lucky and a one percenter, you have an escape home located far, far away from the Alley. If you’re normal (thanks, Obama!), you likely have a handful of ways you react to the bad springtime weather we see.

But does Oklahoma really see the most tornadoes per square mile than any other state?

The truth:

Nah, we don’t. Florida wins this round, but most of its tornadoes are pansy tornadoes in the EF0 to EF1 range. Still, they beat us when it comes to the overall number.

The verdict:

Don’t get too bummed out, though, because Oklahoma sees the highest number of intense twisters in the nation. Which I guess you can get bummed about, because tornadoes, for the most part, suck.

 


2. Oklahoma has the largest Native American population in the nation

and has more than 230 federally recognized tribes

A fancy dancer dances during the annual Red Earth Festival parade in downtown Oklahoma City. Photo by Ashley McKee, The Oklahoman
A fancy dancer dances during the annual Red Earth Festival parade in downtown Oklahoma City. Photo by Ashley McKee, The Oklahoman

The “fact”:

Oklahoma has a rich and interesting history, and much of it centers on how the state became home to many members of many different tribes after they were expelled from their homes and forced to relocate.

But to say Oklahoma has the largest Native American population is false. It’s also false to say Oklahoma has more than 230 federally recognized tribes.

The truth:

Truth is, California has the largest self-reported Native American population in the nation, which neared 700,000 in 2005 which more than doubled Oklahoma’s count. And, if you want to go by percentages as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Oklahoma ranks fourth overall.

Also, there are 38 federally recognized tribes that have headquarters in Oklahoma, and even have tribal jurisdiction in the state.

The verdict:

Sorry, but if you hear or read these two “facts,” you’re being severely misinformed.

 


1. Boise City, Okla., was the only place on U.S. soil bombed during World War II

Someone done goofed when they bombed Boise City.
Someone done goofed when they bombed Boise City.

The “fact”:

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll hear two wordings when it comes to this fact: Boise City was the only place on U.S. soil bombed during World War II; and Boise City was the only city in the continental U.S. bombed during World War II.

One of these is false, and the other is technically correct simply because of semantics.

The truth:

Boise City might not be a big place, but the events of July 5, 1943, turned it into a historical tidbit and embarrassed a couple U.S. military pilots.

That’s because the pilots mistook the lights of Boise City (of which there were a great many, I’m sure) as their target. And away the bombs went. They were just practice bombs, no one died, and that was that.

But the truth is Boise City wasn’t the only place on U.S. soil to be bombed during WWII. Anyone who knows a thing or two about our nation’s history will immediately call bull on that and exclaim “What about Pearl Harbor?!” Yeah! How can you forget Pearl Harbor?

Other parts of U.S. soil bombed during the war: Mount Emily near Brookings, Ore. and Dutch Harbor in Unalaska, Alaska, for example. And then there are the incidents of Japanese Balloon Bombs landing in the U.S.

Really, that’s just insane. To attach a bomb to a balloon, then launch it from Japan, and have some of them reach the continental U.S., and be seen as far east as Michigan and Iowa? Daaaaaang.

Also called a Fu-Go, about 300 fire bombs were spotted or found in North America. One bomb landed in southern Oregon but didn’t immediately detonate. A pregnant woman and five children came across it while on a picnic, and when they got near it, the bomb exploded. They were the only deaths in the continental U.S. as a result of an enemy attack during WWII.

The verdict:

To say Boise City is the only city in the continental U.S. to be bombed during the second World War is technically correct. Mount Emily isn’t a city. Like I said, semantics, but them’s the rules. (Also, Pearl and Dutch Harbors aren’t cities, and aren’t in the continental U.S.)


 

Do you have any untruths about Oklahoma to share? Discuss them below in the comments.

by Richard Hall
Newsroom Developer
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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