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Sprinkled among the tantalizing recipes in Café Oklahoma are historical vignettes reflecting the colorful past of the Sooner State.  I hope you enjoy these glimpses into Oklahoma history.


If there’s a touch of larceny in the Sooner soul, we come by it, well, honestly. Since this part of the country was set aside early as a place where the Indian tribes came to be resettled – our founding fathers’ thinking was a little hazy on exactly how that was to be organized – it was by definition outside the jurisdiction of white lawmen. In other words, it was a tough place. Which is why Oklahoma’s past is peopled with the likes of Bill Doolin, The Dalton Gang, Belle Starr and Pretty Boy Floyd. The Panhandle was so full of them, they called it “Robbers Roost.” Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the Territory, was “Robbers Cave,” where Belle Starr’s gang hid out. Belle Starr. While there’s no real record of her having actually killed anybody, she sure had the reputation. It started early – by age 16, she was riding with the Jesse James Gang, which is where she met and romanced Cole Younger (which is another story entirely.) She was no doubt the best-dressed horse thief America ever produced – she loved velvet gowns with ostrich-plumed hats, and always wore a pair of matched Colt .45s to complete the ensemble. The National Police Gazette styled her “The Petticoat Terror;” she herself said simply, “I regard myself as a woman who has seen much of life.” Later, in the 1880s, the Dalton Gang operated out of Oklahoma Territory, robbing trains in the neighboring Indian Territory well into the 1890s. It was a way of life that was fast vanishing, though, because the law was making inroads into the outlaws’ haven. As far as the Daltons were concerned, they just bit off more than they could chew – most of the gang got gunned down in Coffeyville, Kansas trying to rob two banks at once. Still later, the 1930s produced its own crop of Oklahoma outlaws. At about the same time Bonnie and Clyde were going on raids into Kansas and Missouri and returning to hide out in Oklahoma – nothing new there: the Plains Indians had founded the practice years before – there was Charles Arthur Floyd. Everybody new him as “Pretty Boy” – he loved fast cars, flashy clothes, flashy women and a good steak. He was from the northeastern hills in the old Cherokee Nation, and he always took care of his own. In 1930, when the Oklahoma governor put a $7,000 reward on his head, he responded with a postcard saying, “I have robbed no one buy moneyed men.” His poor neighbors in the Cookson Hills would agree, because he shared much of the proceeds of his bank robberies with them (consequently, no one tried to collect the reward.) Somehow, Oklahomans a have soft spot for a desperado, especially one as generous as Pretty Boy Floyd. That’s part of the reason 20,000 people came to Pretty Boy’s funeral to pay their respects. He was one of their own. The Law caught up caught up with all of them who once hid out here – Bonnie, Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, the Daltons, the Youngers. But all those legends still echo across Oklahoma. You can still visit Belle Starr’s grave, with its elaborate headstone. Alongside the carving of her pistols, it has a carving of her favorite horse. A beautiful horse it was, naturally; she only stole the best!

Sooner Salsa
Oklahoma Crude Cake
Pawhuska Potato Salad
Hickory Ribs

A Tradition of Outlawry
  If there's a touch of larceny in the Sooner soul, we come by it, well, honestly...

First Wedding in Oklahoma
  It was a brilliant day, November 16, 1907, and the ceremony was lavish ....

Maybe Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
  And line up they did, weeks in advance...