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How To Tell You're From Kansas...UPDATED

Updated on January 22, 2012
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In a box from storage the other day I came across an old...really old...list of how to tell if you're from Kansas, aka the Land of Oz. Or as the Board of Tourism spelled it to their everlasting regret, the Land of Ah's (apostrophe theirs).

Having lived in Flyover Country most of my life, I'm now an ex-Ozzer - or Ah'ser - voluntarily transplanted to the current inferno called Central Oklahoma.

Seeing the list again, though, was a trip down Memory Lane, but it definitely needed updating. While doing that, I added a few personal observations on Life in the Sunflower State.

Some things haven't changed.

You know you're from Kansas if:

  1. You no longer associate bridges or rivers with water.
  2. Your school has ever cancelled classes because of the cold.
  3. Your school has ever cancelled classes because of the heat.
  4. You've had to switch from heat to AC (and back) in the same day.
  5. A tornado siren is your signal to go outside and look for a funnel.

The next three items will give you an idea of how old the list is.

6. You never met any celebrities. (Bob Dole doesn't count - he's your neighbor.)

Correction: The long-time U.S. Senator and presidential wannabe was only a neighbor of Russellites (Russellians?) for about 5 minutes before he went off to WWII. After that, Liddy's Little Pineapple only came "home" at election time...and only long enough for photo ops with a few select locals. And who wants to claim to have been a neighbor of the "Viagra guy" anyway?

Obama's future grandparents don't count either, because they weren't in the Augusta-El Dorado area all that long before they took daughter Stanley Anne off to Hawaii. Maybe they knew Eisenhower had a lock on the "President from Kansas" title?

7. "Going on vacation" means going to Hutch to the State Fair, to Abilene to see Ike's house, or Boot Hill to see Miss Kitty.

These days, by the time the State Fair opens, the kids have been in back in school for almost a month. So "going on vacation" more likely means going to Topeka for the races, then north to one of the Indian-owned casinos that has a hotel and live entertainment, and if Abilene is on the itinerary, it's for lunch or dinner at the Brookville Hotel, not to see where Ike grew up.

(Consider yourself in the "old geezer" class if you know who Miss Kitty was.)

8. A Mercedes-Benz is not a status symbol. A Ford F-150 4X4 is (except in Johnson County).

These days substitute Cadillac Escalade for the Mercedes and any crew cab pickup big enough to have its own zip code for the F-150 (except in Johnson County).

For those who "aren't from around here": Johnson County is an blanket term for the upscale suburbs on the Kansas side of KC. So the two main regions of the state are Johnson County and Everything Else (meaning the other 104 counties) in the same way England is divided into Greater London and Everywhere Else. Johnson Countians, btw, would happily secede from KS and become part of Missouri if they could get away with it.

On with the list...

9. You know everything tastes better with Ranch.

10. You know what the One-Finger Wave is and where you're expected to use it.

More importantly, which finger to use to execute it properly. (No, NOT that one...)

11. A traffic jam involves two cars staring each other down at a 4-way stop, each determined to be the most polite and let the other go first.

This is one of those situations where the One Finger Wave is expected. Another is when one vehicle meets another on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere.

12. You discover that in July, it only takes two fingers to steer your car.

This method of steering can be mistaken for the One Finger Wave. If so, just smile as if you meant it to be.

13. Your closest neighbor is a mile away, and you can still see him from your front porch.

This one only applies to those parts of Kansas south or west of Salina, but comes in handy when driving at night out around Liberal with a big storm coming at you. You can spot a farm's yard light from miles away and if need be, head for shelter there like a moth to a flame.

14. You call that smell coming from the

15. You can properly pronounce Salina, Basehor, Olathe, El Dorado and Kechi.

What. You thought I'd make it easy for you and give the correct pronunciations, thereby ruining the fun for locals if you're an out-of-stater dumb enough to get off the interstate and ask directions to these places?

16. You know the name of the state directly south of Missouri is pronounced "ar can saw" but the river and town are "ar KANSAS".

...and that anybody who calls the river "the Arcansaw" or the town "Arcansaw City" instead of Ark City definitely ain't from around here.

17. You know the difference between 3.2 and 6 point and have made beer runs to another state more than once.

Only if you're a complete idiot who likes to waste gas. You can buy 6 point at any liquor store!

I should add that Ark Citians are used to Okie tags at their liquor stores, because only 3.2 is sold in OK. But it all works out because the nearest casino on the KS side is a couple hundred miles north, so KS tags are a common site in the parking lot of the casino in OK a hair over the state line from Ark City.

18. The terms Sooners and Huskers cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up straight and your blood pressure to rise.

Actually, I was never into college ball, but did understand the wisdom of my friends and I not mentioning that we were on our way back to Kansas that Saturday in the restaurant in Lincoln during the Nebraska-Kansas game...and Nebraska was losing.

19. You've been in one of the 10 cars waiting to pass a combine on the highway.

Only if I forgot wheat harvest had already started and took the two-lane instead of going two miles out of my way to hop on the interstate.

20. You've seen people wear bib overalls to funerals and weddings.

And your point would be?...

21. You think people who complain about the wind in their state are sissies.

...or jealous because it doesn't blow hard enough to get 'em a wind farm.

22. You know exactly what calf fries are, and eat 'em anyway.

Well, I never heard 'em called "calf fries". They've always been "mountain oysters". The small ones are the most tender, go down like candy, and are best eaten while consuming pitchers of ice cold beer.

Real beer, that is, not the poor excuses for it with "lite" on the label or brewed in the back room of a trendy sports bar. Puhleeese...

23. You have owned at least one belt buckle bigger than your fist.

I personally have never owned one, but a cousin won one in 4-H for calf-roping or some such. And they were a common sight on Saturday nights in any bar offering live country music.

24. You have been asked at least a hundred times "Where's Toto?".

To which my automatic response is: "You ain't from around here, are you?". OR...(on a Saturday night in a bar that offers live country music) "Toto's outside, same as you'll be if my boyfriend with the belt buckle bigger than his fist sees you hittin' on me".

And finally...

25. You learned how to shoot a gun and/or drive before you learned to multiply.

No need to learn to multiply now - there's an app for that on your cell phone!


Submit a Comment

  • TolovajWordsmith profile image

    Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

    Thanks for good laughs! There is some kind of Kansas can be found almost everywhere in the world, isn't it? I think Google Maps is just about to incorporate it ...

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    LOL, Virginia...I have a bottle of Dorothy Lynch in the fridge right now! Got it to pour over lettuce wedges like they do (or DID) in smalltown cafes.

    Seriosly now...I'm on an earthquake alert email list, so I know how regularly quakes are hitting in the Andover area these days. Very odd for that part of the country, but I suspect they're connected to the fracking going on everywhere. OF COURSE, the energy companies here in OK swear there's NO connection between fracking and the "swarms" of quakes that started when the fracking did. "Just a coincidence", they claim. right... I do hope, though, that your sister has adopted the same attitude we Okies have - that's there's nothing to worry about unless the quakes are above 4.0. (Never mind a 3.8 gave me a terrible fright at 3 a.m. a couple of weeks ago...)

    I couldn't help but chuckle last weekend when a bona fide tornado hit south L.A. Mother Nature's little joke, I think - OK has become the unofficial earthquake capitol and Southern Calif gets tornadoes. After the monster twisters that kept everybody on high alert here two years ago, they're welcome to 'em.

    Sunflowers are your favorite? Then you would've been in heaven when my next door neighbor grew them as a "privacy fence" around his patio...AND for shade. Darn things were - I kid you not - 10 to 12 feet tall! When they get that high, of course, the blossoms are so big and heavy that they droop over like a canopy. Perfect shade!

    Have a great day! ;D

  • Virginia Allain profile image

    Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

    Having spend my school years and first 2 years of college around it, I do know how to pronounce El Dorado. I know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning siren.

    Everyone I knew preferred Dorothy Lynch dressing for their salads.

    As for the earthquakes in Oklahoma, my sister in Andover tells me they are getting regular tremors now.

    I've elsewhere for the last 35 years, but the sunflower is still my favorite flower.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Brett.Tesol, feel free to do a hub on "How To Tell if You're from England" (or London...or Manchester...or the Midlands, etc)! I'd love to read it. Most of my ancestors were British and I consider the UK my true "home", but I wouldn't dare try to write such a hub myself!

    sgbrown, you're most welcome for the first-thing-in-the -morning smile! And I'm flattered this hub was the reason! As for living in OK's Tornado Alley, I don't mind it so much AS LONG AS the power stays on and I can watch where funnels are forming and where they're going. Mike Morgan of Channel 4 deserves a medal for staying on the air as long as he did Sat evening and into the wee hours of Sunday before and after the tornado hit Woodward! (And considering how long he was warning people there to take cover before it hit, there's really no excuse for the 6 deaths that resulted...) As for earthquakes, after the first of last fall's "big" quakes, I signed up for email alerts for any activity in Central OK. Like you, earthquakes scare me wayyyy more than tornadoes! Nobody told me when I moved here from KS 18 months ago that OK is #3 in the U.S. behind Alaska and California for active faults! At least with tornadoes, the stormy weather will be a warning that one might form and be headed your way, but there's NO warning whatsoever when the earth shifts! I was literally a basket case after a weekend of quakes last fall!

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    Wonderful hub! You are right, some of these would fit here in Oklahoma too! Yes, I remember watching Ms. Kitty and Matt. My mother-in-law introduced me to calf fries, they are good as long as I don't really thing about what I am eating. There is nothing like living in Tornado Alley, be it Kansas or Oklahoma. The earthquakes need to stop because they scare me more than the tornadoes. Thank you for making me smile first thing this morning! Voted up and funny! Have a wonderful day! :)

  • Brett.Tesol profile image

    Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

    Very funny! A few were beyond me, as I'm a British boy, but I can definitely related a few to towns over here lol.

    Thanks for SHARING, up and funny.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    WD, I'm pretty sure you'd fit right in in Kansas and no one would ever suspect "you ain't from around"! As for Miami, maybe I've seen too many episodes of CSI: Miami, so was under the impression it was a suburb of Havana. But now that I think about it, it IS a suburb of NY! Thanks for clarifying that. lol!

  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

    I guess you would fit in around here after all. Miami is not really Florida. It is a suburb of New York.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    WD, glad I could brighten your day! But now you know two reasons I've never been to Florida: those hurricanes and names of towns I'd never be able to pronounce. (MY AM ME is even too hard for some Kansans and a LOT of Okies, even ones who live in Miami, OK. There's no "a" after "Miam", right?...) Oops, make that THREE: no pizza. lol!

    As for gauging wind intensity, you think KS fellows don't use the same method??? And KS gals don't learn early on the wisdom of staying UPwind from whatever bush Dad or a brother disappeared behind? ;D

  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

    Alright, you had me cracking up. However, "You think people who complain about the wind in their state are sissies." We have hurricanes in Florida. Okay? We guage the intensity by how far the stream travels before hitting the ground when you go outside to pee.

    You know if someone is from around here . . . they know how to pronounce Eau Gallie, Kissimmee, and Immokalee. They know the Indian River is really a lagoon, have never seen snow, "ain't skeered" of gators, and they don't complain that, "You can't get pizza down here."

    Fun read and I got caught up in the spirit.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    agaglia, since Swedes and Germans settled large portions of Kansas, I'm guessing there are a lot of similarities to the small towns and cultural traditions of rural Minnesota. Thanks for visiting and pointing this out. Glad you enjoyed the humor, same as Kansans "get" Garrison Keillor's take on Minnesotans! ;D

  • agaglia profile image

    agaglia 6 years ago

    Funny! Yes, this list is similar in lots of small towns - in Minnesota, anyhow. I suppose we are that far from you all.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Looks like going to be heat/AC/heat again here in Central OK, that is if the earth doesn't open up and swallow us. Five more small quakes in the wee hours last night. Something we NEVER had in Kansas that would've put a whole different meaning on "the earth moved" in Lovers' Lane on a Friday night! ;D

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    This reason...

    "4.You've had to switch from heat to AC (and back) in the same day."

    ...the same could almost be said for where we live in Houston. Came back to revisit and have some fun. :))

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    robie2, OF COURSE mountain oysters would NOT have been on the menu at the 'sa LINE uh' Country Club when you visited your grandparents as a child. But rest assured they're much tastier than the version served in Iceland. ;D

  • robie2 profile image

    Roberta Kyle 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

    How did I miss this one? Of course I identify with numbers 5,10 and 15 oh yes and number 22. I'm with you-- never heard em called anything but mountain oysters and never ate one myself, but then it's not surprising considering that in Salina( not Saleena) I am known as " Glenn Bramwell's granddaughter from back east"

    Fabulous hub-- definitely up to your high standards Jama

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Story, it could've been oil OR gas. Both were plentiful near Garden City in the 80s. No, you no longer have to be a member of a club to buy an alcoholic drink. Ironically, except in totally dry counties, one could always buy booze at a liquor store, and was part of the reason liquor-by-the-drink was finally made legal. As for driving through Kansas at night on I-70 with the headlights off, I've never tried it but am sure it's quite possible on clear nights when the moon is full!

  • Storytellersrus profile image

    Barbara 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

    Love it! Now I know what I missed, moving from Kansas at age 2 and a half. I do drive through the state on my way from Colorado to Minnesota- where I dropped the Keeansas accent, I am told.

    And my husband made a big oil discovery near Garden City in the 80s- or was it gas? All I remember is a delicious Belgian Waffle Brunch and having to be a member of a club to buy liquor. Has that changed?

    Beyond that, a friend from Colorado used to drive the Interstate through Kansas at night with the lights off, following a silver trail lit by the moon.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thank you, Earnest. Glad to have contributed a wee bit to your knowledge of rural America. Least I can do after the "enlightenment" I've received from you and other residents of that misnomer "Down Under"! ;D

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia


    I just learned a whole mess o stuff here and had a good laugh to boot.

    A great fun hub, beautifully crafted

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, Karen. Many of them also apply here in Oklahoma! ;D

  • Karen N profile image

    Karen N 6 years ago from United States

    Very cute, I've heard some but not all of these before.

    It does seem like many of them only apply to certain parts of the state.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Happy to help start your day with a smile, vocalcoach! ;D

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Sooooooooo very funny. I love wak'in up to a piece of joy like this! Big thumbs up!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

    I caused a bit of hassle in the hire shop! ha ha I decided, in my wisdom, to date one of the guys working there, it didn't last that long, caused a scandal as he was quite a bit younger than me, and then I left! oops! lol

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks again, Husky! Headed to YOUR hubs now! ;D

  • profile image

    Husky1970 6 years ago

    Wow, two ridiculously funnt hubs in the same morning. I am making a point to remeber where to go on hubpages when I want a good laugh, need an uplift, or just plain want to read something extremely well written. Voted up and funny again. Go Jayhawks!!!

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Or you're old enough to have faithfully watched "Gunsmoke" every Saturday night! I'm as well as can be expected in this unrelenting 105-110 degree heat, so I stay inside in the AC and track my friend's lost cousins. (It's looking like there are hundreds she never knew about.) Hope all is well with you too!

  • Tom Koecke profile image

    Tom Koecke 6 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

    I guess not owning a really big belt buckle, and not wanting to try calf fries or mountain oysters, proves I'm not from Kansas! I do, however, know about Miss Kitty and Dodge, so I must be an old non-Kansian!

    I hope you have been well!

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, drbj. As always, my aim is to educate as well as entertain. ;D

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

    Very funny, JamaG, I can especially identify waiting behind a long line of cars to pass a combine, tractor, plow, whatever. And thanks for educating me on the proper pronunciation of the Ark river and city. Indispensable information.

  • profile image

    sync life 6 years ago

    Great entertainment; loved the article.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Be aware they won't be on the menus of large, chain restaurants, and they are somewhat seasonal. In the Midwest U.S., they'll be a "special" at small-town bars or at a food booth at local fairs and festivals.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Nice to know! Haha! I am quite adventurous with my eating and like to try new and different things, so if I am ever in a restaurant that serves mountain oysters, I will know what to expect. Thanks!

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Nell, glad you found this as funny as I did writing it! I just visited your Marlow hub, and I can tell you that *your* native village was (is) infinitely more interesting than mine! haven't written a hub about the hire suit shop? Sounds like a perfect subject (with the names and other identifying features changed, of course)!

    Peggy, not only do I know who Miss Kitty was, my dad's cousin used to take us to Dodge City nearly every time we visited her when I was a child. Oddly, though, we never went into the saloon in "Front Street", only the Boot Hill Museum. As for what wine goes with mountain oysters, whatever you'd drink with deep-fried mushrooms. The two are very similar in taste and texture. Really. ;D

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Loved this hub! I qualify as one of those old geezers who knows who Miss Kitty was. As to the calf fries or mountain oysters...have never tried those "delicacies" but good to know that the smaller ones are the ones to enjoy. Ha! Wonder what wine would pair well with them? Merlot? Cabernet? :)))

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

    Hi, this is hilarious! lol I live in a small town and yes I do get to see celebs! they seem to have taken over my small town, or village as it used to be, by storm, we have the England football squad training just over the bridge, the England rugby team, (oo-er!) just down the road, and loads of other sportsmen and women too! I used to work in a hire suit shop and loads of TV people came in to hire a suit! why on earth they did that I couldn't understand! lol I could tell a few stories about this place....! lol great hub, cheers nell

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    So did I, DG, so did I. Nice to see you! ;D

  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 6 years ago from UK

    I miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiised your humor ;-)

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    And the same back to you for *your* Sarah Palin hub! ;D

  • JerryTillotson profile image

    JerryTillotson 6 years ago from Montpelier, VT

    Hilarious!!! Thank you for giving me an incredible lift this morning.



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