I had the wildest conversation yesterday with someone from Lawton's East Side that had me giggling all evening. Here goes...

With Memorial Day coming up, I decided to use my lunch hour to go grab some steaks for a weekend cookout. A quick trip to pick out what ended up being some fine-looking strip steaks and straight back to work. It all went as planned, but it led to a conversation about it.

A coworker, who happens to live on Lawton's east side, asked me about my steaks and where I got 'em. I said, "From the meat market in Elgin." I'm pretty partial to their meat. It's delicious and local, but Eastside responded "Oh, you mean the ghetto?"

What is even that?

While this conversation could have ended right then and there, it just kept going. I admit, I poke at bears for a little fun once in a while, but I really wanted to see how deep this rift went.

I responded "No, Elgin" to a similar response in kind... "Oh, yeah, the ghetto..."

Now I've long known that Lawtonians that hale from the east side feel somewhat slighted by humanity and its unwillingness to treat it as part of the city, but it was a good opportunity to see how far down the hole this rabbit could go.

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha...

My coworker sort of went on about how Lawton's east side is just 'better'...

MacArthur is the best high school in Lawton...
It's quieter on the east side...
It's safer on the east side...
It's nicer on the east side...

Her plea was even more passionate when the conversation delve into what the east side should be these days. More businesses, a Chick Fil A, sidewalks, etc... Which I think we agree are all valid points.

Well, the MacArthur being the best high school thing can be chalked up to pure passion for the community since it's currently ranked #2 just behind Eisenhower, but I digress. The east side would be a lot nicer if it had more things in it, but that's a different conversation we've all had a dozen times.

It's always the same conversation and a great reminder of how perception becomes reality. Is the east side better? Well, it depends on how you look at it.

When I first moved to Lawton, the east side was booming. It was THE place to live in Lawton toward the end of the 20th century... but the development that way seems to have stalled since then.

That's not to say our east side hasn't steadily grown over the years. The per capita dollar store statistics are probably higher out east than in any other area of Lawton. The sad reality of the east side is that Lawton continued to grow on the west side during the course of this century, and as that has slowed too, homes and neighborhoods are expanding now to the south.

Is the east side of Lawton nice? Absolutely. At the same time, having to drive across town to enjoy a non-fast food meal is just the price you pay for the quiet life I suppose, and it tends to be a sore subject for those east of I-44. So much so I'll likely get angry emails about the one east side eatery that isn't fast food in the academic sense of the word, but it is regardless.

I'm just really sort of shocked to learn the east side vs west side debate has now included outer-lying areas like Elgin and Cache now. It was a mind-boggling conversation that reminded me of middle siblings. It's not good enough to succeed, all others must fail-type of thing.

It's important to note this probably isn't the average perception of all east-siders, just likely of the few that still live in 1996.

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