Saturday, February 12, 2011


During my customary Saturday morning in the car listening to my driving companion, National Public Radio, I fell upon a discussion of "the heartland", and whether the term is a pejorative one. The speaker referenced a 1976 New Yorker Magazine cover which showed an illustration of the U.S.A. in which 90% of a map is New York City and the other 10% is everything west of the Hudson River. It's that 10% that many Easterners consider the "heartland".I remember that cover well. I've been collecting New Yorker covers for years, and have every single one of them from May 1968 to present. And although I'm a huge fan of New York Magazine, I'm no longer a fan of New York. The attitude expressed in this illustration is substantially the reason for my falling out of love with the Big Apple. I was born in the "heartland", lived in New York City environs for 30 years, then came back to my beloved heartland about 10 years ago. I get downright ugly with those who put down the beautiful, serene, sensible, unassuming, intelligent, thoughtful populace here. I get even uglier with people who marginalize the heartland's existence.
Some who know my liberal political leanings would question whether I am sincere in my professed love of life in a red state. Yes, I am. But I'm also not saying that everything is bad back East. I have some wonderful friends back there, and life was good. It was just different. Just as an example: In Oklahoma when one confronts a four-way stop, it can be a problem. Why? It's NOT because everyone is competing to be first through the intersection as often happens in New York, but instead because folks wait politely for everyone else to go first, meaning it can take a while before someone finally gives up and proceeds sheepishly. In Oklahoma, if I hear one horn honking a week, that would be a lot. People just don't honk at one another here except as a last resort.

Most of Route 66 wends its way through this heartland of America. Maybe that's why I like it so much. It really has nothing to do with "values" (although I do have some), or fear of fast-paced living (surely you jest!), or inability to compete with those on the fast track (been there, done that). It has to do with nice people, and beautiful expanses of land. And of course, cows.

All this rambling is just to say that I'm a proud resident of the heartland, and I plan to stay here for the rest of my life. Bring on the cows.


Susan Yates said...

Beautifully said, Laurel and thank you for saying it.

Beth said...

This made me smile.

I love visiting New York, but I know that I couldn't live there. I love the Midwest, and despite some frustrating people and attitudes, it's more than decent here. I can speak my mind just as much as they can!

Trevor Hilton said...

Jeff Foxworthy once said that Sourtherners aren't really as dumb as Yankees think. We just act that way so they won't move here.