OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On the surface, Jeff Provine might look like a guy waiting for a bus in the wrong spot, getting ready to meet a friend or just finishing up an outdoor lunch.
But not being satisfied by appearances is his specialty.
“I always wanted to tell the rest of the story,” he says.
What is he really doing?
He’s slowly peeling back the onion on Oklahoma City, one landmark at a time.
Provine insists that, “No matter who you’re talking to or what you’re looking at, there’s always another level that you can dive into and say, ‘Oh. that’s kind of cool.’”
Let’s take the new 1889 Land Run monument just south of Bricktown.
By the way, it’s the world’s longest free-standing sculpture.
But did you also know that it celebrates quite a few cheaters.
A good percentage of those original land runners jumped the starting gun in April of ’89 by at least a half-day.
“A few folks didn’t wait until noon,” he says with a smile. “Oklahoma City and Kingfisher are said to be tied for the greatest percentage of Sooners in their population.”
This lovely canal cutting through the bronze statues has history, too.
It’s the city’s second attempt at canal building.
The first in 1891 was a dismal failure.
“The water all drained out through the sand bottoms along here,” he points out.
Or were you aware the Overholser Mansion was Henry Overholser’s challenge to the city’s upper crust to build bigger and better around his place north of downtown?
“And it worked,” cites Jeff. “It gave us the Heritage Hills neighborhood.”
Provine did a little dredge work on the huge anchor of the USS Oklahoma, removed from the mud of Pearl Harbor after the ship sank on December 7, 1941.
“They wouldn’t let it go,” he says. “They managed to salvage a lot of things.”
His notebooks filled up with this information until publishers Reedy Press asked him to contribute to their series of books about other American cities.
They asked him if Oklahoma City had any secrets.
“By your definition,” queries his tour guest, “there are secrets everywhere you look, right?”
“Absolutely,” he responds. “You just have to peel back a little bit and you’ll be totally surprised at what you find.”
Jeff did his digging with paper and pen.
The results of those excavations are brought to light in ‘Secret Oklahoma: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure’.
For more information on the book or to order, go to www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-oklahoma-city-jeff-provine/1139776749.
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The façade and what’s underneath: an OKC author pens ‘Secret Oklahoma City’