We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Every Wednesday and Friday one of our Life List Club members posts a blog on the LLC Website. Today, Sonia G. Medeiros will post on that site. After you read my post, be sure to come back up here and click on the LLC Website so you can read hers also.
What is it about Texas and Texans? What sets us apart from other states or provinces and their residents?
George “Gabby” Hayes, a great character actor in old Westerns, used to use the expression “. . . the whole United States and Texas.” As if Texas were a complete entity separate from the rest of the United States.
Tanya Tucker sings “They may not let me go to heaven . . . [but] just let me go to Texas . . .” I wouldn’t provoke God by equating Texas with heaven as a final destination, but her song illustrates the strong feelings our native sons feel for our state.
There’s no Hollywood or Nashville in Texas. But we probably have as many big-time entertainers with Texas roots here as any other state. College football coaches from all over the country come here to recruit players. Like ‘em or not, two of our last four Presidents came from Texas. That’s just how we are. We always say everything’s bigger and better in Texas.
Very few people call themselves former Texans. Like Marines, there are no exes. We’re just Texans. My little brother lived in San Francisco for many years as a part of the gay community there, but he wore his Texana proudly—from his drawl to the boots he frequently wore to his love for country music.
Why is that? I frequently wonder. Is it because of our history? We do have a unique and interesting history, but other states have their own claims to fame in that department.
After all, we have some of the worst weather on the planet. We have four seasons here: winter, hot, hotter, and still hot. Why are we so proud of that?
Name the ten biggest natural lakes in Texas. You can’t? That’s because most parts of the state are so dry we have to build our own. And our rivers . . . the Rio Grande in most places runs somewhere between a trickle and a dry bed, as do many of our other ones. When Texans see the Ohio or the Mississippi or the Columbia—or even a lot of mountain streams—we’re blown away by the amount of water they carry.
We used to be known for our wide open spaces. Well, we do still have a lot of wide open space in West Texas, but from Denton—north of the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex—to somewhere south of San Antonio, a distance of well over 300 miles, I-35 is basically an urban freeway. These days, it’s unusual to traverse those 300 miles without incurring bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic somewhere along the way. Often more than once.
So what makes us love this piece of real estate? Why do we Texans brag on our home state so much?
Is it our size? It’s a little over 920 highway miles from Brazos Island State Park on the Gulf of Mexico near the Mexican border to the New Mexico border near Texline and a bit over 880 miles on I-10 from the New Mexico border north of El Paso to the Louisiana border just east of Beaumont. Pretty impressive, but Alaska’s 586,412 square miles make it nearly 2.2 times Texas’s 268,820 square miles (although Alaska’s population would just about fit in my neighborhood).
Is it our scenery? Very few states go from the verdant woods of East Texas to the arid desert of far West Texas. From coastal plains to mountain peaks of nearly 9,000 feet altitude. But our mountains are admittedly not as pretty as those of Colorado or Montana. And our coastline lacks both the ruggedness of the Pacific coast and the white sands of the Mississippi coast.
Maybe it has to do with the fact we’re the only state that was its own independent nation before becoming a state. Our original borders would run up into Wyoming and would include most of Albuquerque and all of Santa Fe. All east-west transcontinental interstate highways south of I-90 would have to cross Texas.
This is definitely a source of pride to Texans. So is the fact that we’re the only state that had to fight for its independence from a foreign country. We remember the Alamo and Goliad and other symbols of that fight.
I don’t believe any one of these things accounts for feelings Texas have for their state and their heritage. But each of these, along with 1,000 other things, goes into the pride we feel as Texans. That’s as close as I can come to explaining it.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx