Literature in My Hometown: Tulsa and The Outsiders

Morgan Jackson, Assistant Arts Editor

            When I was younger than I am now, growing up as a literary person in Oklahoma seemed to be a dead end. I dreamed of being able to read stories that seemed plausible in my suburb of Tulsa. Everything changed in the eighth grade.

            S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” notably set in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma was a major force in creating the young adult literature scene, and personally, in showing me that there was much hope to be had for the literary girl in the middle of the nation. The novel, published in 1967, launched Hinton into literary success. The book was wildly popular among young people at the time of its publication, and still is today.

            “The Outsiders” was made into a movie in 1983. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and served as a launching pad for many young actors in the film. It was shot on location in Tulsa and in other parts of the state. This year I finally set a day aside to visit The Outsiders House Museum. The house sits in the middle of a Tulsa neighborhood. It is filled with wonderful volunteers who know the rich history of the house, as well as “The Outsiders.”

            It was an emotional day for me as I walked in the setting of one of my favorite books, looking at the place I lived in a completely different light. The house reminded me of my own. The floorboards creaked and the bathroom seemed small, but it was a place I loved.

            Toward the back of the house there is an Outsiders gift shop filled with fun merchandise as well as some manuscripts and memorabilia from the movies.

            When I spoke to one of the volunteers, I was reminded of the spirit of “The Outsiders.” He grew up in my hometown of Sapulpa, just about twenty minutes away from the house. He went to high school with my parents. When I chose to look at the place I lived through a different lens, I began to see one of the wonderful things about where I live: people love literature. They have preserved the house so that people can experience the story through their own eyes, giving lovers of “The Outsiders,” both the book and the film, a place to visit.

            S.E. Hinton said, “The Outsiders is definitely my best-selling book; but what I like most about it is how it has taught a lot of kids to enjoy reading.”

            “The Outsiders” surely helped me to enjoy reading, but also inspired me to love and explore my hometown that is rich in love.

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