When New York City author Ginger Strand passed through Tulsa, we sat her down and asked what she thought about our state. The wind, of course, impressed her. Our hand-fishermen, the ever fascinating “noodlers,” made her jealous. But it was the character of our people, humble and reserved, that most starkly contrasted her life on the east coast. This segment features music from local Tulsa bands, The Doldrums and Grass Crack.
Abby Wendle: Have you ever been noodling?
Ginger Strand: Noodling? No. What is noodling?
AB: [laughs] So, noodling is when catch catfish with your hands.
AB: You’ve never heard of noodling?
GS: No. I’ve never heard of noodling. [laughs] Now, I’ve got a good reason to come back. [laughs] I definitely want to catch a catfish with my hands, a really big one.
GS: Hi, I’m Ginger Strand and I’m just passing through. I live in New York City. I was really happy to come out because I’d never spent time in Tulsa before. I’ve driven through Oklahoma and that was when I was in college and I had this boyfriend who had a Volkswagen van and we used to spend every summer driving around the country in his Volkswagen van which was just like a great part of my life. I remember just sitting in the ladies’ room of some truck stop off the interstate and just listening to the sound of the wind in the vents and being like, “Wow. Oklahoma is totally living up.” It really is. And I love states that are what they’re supposed to be. You know, there are some states that are so boring. I think of – I don’t know, I’ll get in trouble. But like Ohio, you’re driving through Ohio, you could be anywhere, you could be in Florida. You could be in Minnesota, you know, it’s just kind of generic in a way. You can tell you’re in America. But that’s about it. Oklahoma, I think, kind of, you know, it looks like you expect Oklahoma to look and it sounds like you expect Oklahoma to sound.
The people have been really friendly in that Midwestern way where you can’t tell at first if they’re being friendly.
You know, I imposed myself on some fish biologists yesterday for quite a while. And when I first walked up I thought, “Oh, this isn’t going to go well because they’re not – they don’t want to be interviewed.” And they’re not really open to this and they’re suspicious of me and then after a while I realized, no, no, no, no, that’s just their Midwestern reticence. They actually turned out to be incredibly forthcoming and had a lot to say. But, Midwesterners don’t put themselves forward. There’s a kind of fundamental modesty. They don’t really sound off as quickly and as, you know, readily as people on the East Coast who always, you know, want to tell you their 10 opinions about everything. You kind of have to draw people out more here.