Pick A State


Looking for Oklahoma
by Rick Vanderpool

Nearly every summer of our young childhoods, I recall our grandmother loading my younger brother, baby sister and me into a succession of Buick Roadmasters to travel from Flat River, Missouri to Oklahoma to visit our granddad’s sister and her family – first in Claremore, then Vinita in later years. Grandmother did love to drive…

The actual trips – for three youngsters, at least – were mostly a blur, given Grandmother always drove anywhere very fast. Besides, about all we saw were treetops, clouds and sky from the rear windows of those cavernous conveyances, so we passed the miles (many of them along Route 66 – before it was “Old…”) on that soft acre of back seat, doing what juvenile siblings do in a situation like that; we teased and tormented each other, prompting threats of stops and great bodily harm from our driver. What memories…

So it was, nearly 50 years later, I began another series of trips, Looking for Oklahoma. While I photographed the state name, wherever I could find it, the real reason for my spending a couple of weeks, driving just over 5,000 miles to visit all 77 counties was to imagine a bit of what captured my grandmother’s imagination in “Native America…”

“Looking for Oklahoma” is part of a unique project in which 20 photographers are photographing the 50 states’ names in all 3,067 U.S. counties and parishes. Each state’s photographer may be contacted and their progress viewed – more narrative and images coming soon – at www.stateart.net.