This story originally ran on VeloCityOKC.com.
If you’re reading this article on the day it’s published, then today is Ralph Waldo Ellison’s 106th birthday. Despite being famous for “Invisible Man,” few Oklahomans have been as visible as Ralph Waldo Ellison—a man who the New York Times once said is “among the gods of America’s literary Parnassus.” In fact, speaking of New York, here’s another fun fact about him you can bring to your next trivia night: he’s the only Oklahoman to have a sculpture dedicated to him in New York City. The sculpture can be found in Riverside Park in Manhattan, not far from where Ellison once lived. But before he moved to New York to eventually become the great literary pillar we know him as today, he was a soda jerk in what’s now called Deep Deuce in Oklahoma City.
Ellison’s formative years in Oklahoma City would stick with him his entire life. There’s evidence of this in a lovely piece from the Oklahoman in 1993 where Ellison is quoted saying, "My early emotions found existence in Oklahoma City…In houses and in drugstores and barbershops and downtown, all of the scenes, the sights, the localities that are meaningful to me are in that city; my father's buried there, and of course all the people who were heroes to me as a kid, my role models.”
Read the full story on VeloCityOKC.com.