Stories from Texas

10-and-a-Half Frightening Facts About the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Originally aired: Oct. 31, 2016. Texas is number one in a great many things: oil, ranching, rodeo, cotton. But you may be surprised to know that we are also number one in horror. That’s right, our very own charming little low-budget film, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, is considered by many critics to be the best…

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Wit And Wisdom From T. Boone Pickens

By W.F. Strong Even before I knew much about T. Boone Pickens, I loved his name. Has there ever been a better name for an oil man than T. Boone Pickens? It’s just right as rain. And the man behind the name was so perfect for it that it disproved Shakespeare’s claim that any other…

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What Elvis Presley Owed West Texas

By W.F. Strong It is my belief that Texas was largely responsible for launching Elvis Presley’s phenomenal career. Texas, perhaps as much as Tennessee, gave him a vital push onto the national stage and empowered his rise to the eventual undisputed title of “The king of rock and roll.” Now, I’m not claiming that he…

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The Modern Tall Tales Texans Tell Kids

We Texans have long had a reputation for tall tales, for stretching the truth in entertaining ways. I wondered to what extent this cultural DNA has survived. So I asked this question of Texans on Facebook: What is the most outrageous white lie you ever told your kids? I got several hundred responses and chose…

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How Ingersoll, Texas Lost Its Name

Go east of Dallas on Interstate 30 until you reach Highway 67 near Mt. Vernon. Take that on east and about 30 minutes before you reach Texarkana, you’ll arrive in a little town of about 1,000 people named Ingersoll. Well, it was called Ingersoll when it was founded around 1875. But the name was unofficially…

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Remembering The Summers Of My Youth

Now that we’re in the dog days of summer, I’ve been thinking about the long summers of my youth. We had longer summers then. It’s not just an idealized memory. Schools would dismiss us in late May and we wouldn’t return until September 2nd or so, generally the day following Labor Day. What I remember…

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Gunsmoke & Texas

By W. F. Strong Ever heard of the Gunsmoke Rule? It was created several years ago by TV ratings guru Bill Gorman. He noticed that sports cable channel shows like ESPN’s “First Take” were being beaten by Gunsmoke reruns. In fact, Newsday found in a sample a few years ago that all but seven of…

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The Texas Crutch

By W.F. Strong I like that Texas is so famous for certain things that those things carry the Texas brand all around the world. Like Texas toast, for instance. Or Texas Hold ‘em poker. The Texas two-step. Texas-style brisket. And even within the specialized world of backyard chefs, the brisket has a sub-specialty technique known…

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Teddy Roosevelt’s Texas Campaign

By W. F. Strong The Menger Hotel in San Antonio may boast of hosting more U.S. Presidents than any other hotel in Texas. George H. W. Bush stayed there. Clinton stayed there, as did Reagan. Nixon stayed there. So did Truman and Taft and McKinley. Even Ulysses S. Grant slept there. The most important name…

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Remembering ‘Beneficent Genius’ Bill Wittliff

When I hear the great musical theme of Lonesome Dove, I am immediately grateful to Bill Wittliff because I know we wouldn’t have the deeply treasured miniseries if not for him. We would have Larry McMurtry’s novel for sure, but we would not have Wittliff’s equally brilliant adaptation of that masterwork if not for his…

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On Mother’s Day: Remembering Nonnie

On Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother, too, because she was also my mother. She was, and this remains true for many kids today, my second mother. She lived with us and was my back-up mom – my safety net of sanity when life got crazy. She was a grand-mother. Her…

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The Lady In Blue

One of the most important figures in Texas’ religious history never set foot in Texas at all. She never in her life traveled beyond her tiny village in Spain, yet she stirred religious fervor from the Concho River to the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Our story begins in 1602 when Maria was born in…

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What Siri Can’t Tell You

The navigation apps so accessible in our cars and on our phones are to me, magical. Siri, Google Maps and the like save us collectively from hundreds of thousands of lost hours each day by saving us from, well, being lost. Siri also may have saved a few relationships by sparing couples from arguing about…

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What’s In A Name – The Rio Grande Valley

When some people first arrive in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas they often ask, “Where are the mountains?” It’s natural. Generally a valley is between mountains or at least hills. But the Rio Grande Valley is most accurately a delta region, as level as Lubbock. The highest roadway point is the 80-foot summit…

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The Mystery Of The Osage Murders

One of the best books I’ve read this year is “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” I was late to this literary party. This nonfiction work has been a super-bestseller for well over a year now. It has been on the Paperback Nonfiction bestseller list for 49…

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The Luckiest Letter in Texas

This is the story of what was luckiest letter ever mailed in Texas. It took about six months to reach its destination, which was Louisiana. But to say it was mailed is a bit of a stretch. It was handed to some people to be given to others and it bounced around a while, sat…

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Picturing Texas

Over the past decade I’ve seen more breathtakingly beautiful photographs of Texas than I saw in all the decades before, combined. This is thanks to social media where many photographers share their exquisite work online daily. I’ve made it a point to befriend these great visual artists so I can enjoy Texas in all its…

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Ranch Words In Urban Life

The other day I was trying to pull out on U.S. Route 281, and the traffic was so steady that I had to wait about three minutes for an opening. As I was waiting, my father’s voice came into my head and said, “Somebody left the gate open down there.” Dad’s been gone 30 years…

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D.H. Snyder – Cattleman And Philanthropist

At Christmas time each year I like to tell the story about a great gift given to Texas. My favorite Christmas stories of this kind concern seeds planted long ago that are still producing abundant harvests today. You may not know the name D.H. Snyder, but you will certainly recognize his influences on Texas history….

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Time-Traveling With Frederick Law Olmsted

If I could have any wish I would choose to be a time-traveler. Some say time travel will be possible one day, and some say it is the stuff of fairy tales. So, I guess until Elon Musk invents that mythical machine, books will have to do. Books give us the next best thing. They…

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