Friday, June 5, 2009

Anything Goes in Liberal

The Munchkin girls at the Land of Oz!

As a lover of words, I'm particularly fond of a good oxymoron now and then. Here's one of my favorites: Liberal, Kansas.

Now, that's not a di
g on this fair city. It's just the truth. You'd be hard-pressed to find many Obama-mamas in this agricultural hub of 20,000 in southwestern Kansas.

This is the home of International Pancake Day every Fat Tuesday, which includes a
friendly little competition between Liberal, and Olney, England, with women running down the streets of each town flipping pancakes. It's been going on for more than 60 years, and organizers say it's the only race of its kind on the planet.

Also, in Liberal you'll find the Land of Oz where a real-life "Dorothy" will take you on a tour of Auntie Em's farm house. (This was a big hit with Lyda and Willa and the big dude from Arkansas who was on the tour with us.) There's the Mid-America Air Museum (the fifth largest collection of civilian and military aircraft in the US), two massive cattle feedlots, and the National Beef Packing plant (the town's largest employer). Sorry, we ordered the vegetarian pasta.

And then today when I ordered two veggie burgers at the local Burger King, the guy at the counter asked, "So, are you a vegetarian?" But his bug-eyed face was screaming something like, "Wow, I've never seen one of you in real life!" When I acknowledged that I was, in fact, a functioning herbivore (actually pescatarian, 'cause I do like fish), he suspiciously asked, "Are you from around here?" When I told him I am from Kansas City, he sort of nodded as if that explained everything. And that ended our brief exchange.

I have driven through Liberal at least twice a year for the past 21 years. I've seen it add a few new hotels, but not change too drastically. That's why I like it. It's an oasis, and it's about half-way between Kansas City and Albuquerque -- two of my favorite places. And the kids here can rock with the best of them.

So, how did this glowing crimson beacon in a historically red state get it's blueish name? Legend has it that one of the early settlers, Seymour Rogers, was known to be "mighty liberal" with the water from his well to those passing through. (He sounds like a socialist to me.;)

Next stop: Hooker, Oklahoma -- Home of The Horny Toads. I'm not kidding!


Deanna said...

None of my family is currently vegetarian although both of my kids (now adults) have experimented with it in the past. I live in a small Oklahoma town (no, not Hooters) so I totally relate to the scenario you describe. Having grown up in Southern California it took a little getting used to but we do love it here.

Btw, thanks for visiting my blog (The Well-Groomed Hippie) and pointing out that the Starlight Theatre is not part of the zoo. It caused me to look up the Starlight and now I know more about a really beautiful venue.

Deanna said...

Oops. You mentioned "Hooker" Oklahoma, not "Hooters". Never heard of the former and doubt there is a latter. But you never know...