Stories from Texas

Jefferson Davis Highway: The Persistence Of A Confederate Memorial

By W.F. Strong On July 29, 1925 — a full 60 years after the American Civil War — Miss Decca Lamar West of Waco, Texas, wrote a strongly worded letter to Chief Thomas H. MacDonald, the head of what was then the Federal Bureau of Public Roads. Miss West was an influential member of the…

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How Texas Became A Desert

By W. F. Strong To much of the world, and to many people in the U.S. who have never been to Texas, the state is a vast desert. It is not the Sahara, but instead a high-plains arid region studded with rocky mesas, sweeping wall-like cliffs, dusty canyons, and sometimes adorned with thousands of Saguaro…

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El Rio Bravo

By W.F. Strong Ten years ago I was touring the great Catedral de Sevilla, in Spain, when I got into an unexpectedly informative conversation about Texas with an 80-year-old guide of that majestic church. When he discovered that I was from South Texas, he asked me, in perfect British English, “Did you know that your…

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The Hero Of Cinco De Mayo Was A Texan

My wife Lupita and I were celebrating Cinco de Mayo at home Tuesday. We had a couple – or so – margaritas in honor of General Zaragoza’s victory at the Battle of Puebla. Lupita said, “I wonder if Texans know what they’re celebrating when they party on Cinco de Mayo.” She’s originally from Mexico and,…

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Texas Cowboy Moves to Montana

by W. F. Strong (adapted from folklore)  I think we’re in need of humor more now than ever before. So I thought I’d share with you this bit of classic Texas folklore. You may well have heard it before and, if you have, I’m sure you won’t mind hearing it again. If you haven’t heard…

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Things ‘Redneck Dave’ Said to Me on the Drive Across Texas

By W. F. Strong A while back I had occasion to travel across 400 miles of Texas, about half the state, with my older brother, Redneck Dave. We call him that out of admiration for his unbending and unapologetic devotion to life as he sees it. He loves his nickname, by the way. Wears it…

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The Texas Polio Epidemic

The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, if there is one, seems to be that it spares children. The polio epidemic that raged off and on in the United States for about 40 years did the opposite. Indeed, it seemed to focus on children. Whereas there is hope that COVID-19, like the flu, will weaken…

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Jim Bowie: Timeless Influencer

A relatively new phenomenon in modern society is the rise of the influencer, a person on social media who is skilled at persuading followers to buy things. Some are influencers by design and some are accidental influencers, finding without trying that they have attracted an army of imitators. I wondered how many of these now…

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The Texas Coral Snake – Beautiful and Occasionally Dangerous

Twice in the last three years I’ve seen good sized coral snakes in my yard. Both times I relocated them deep into the woods nearby. Their presence troubles me because there are often young children playing in my yard. If any were bitten by a Texas Coral Snake, though they probably wouldn’t die, they would…

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Love Letter to Scarlett

Two years ago I introduced you to my then 3-year-old daughter, Scarlett. My Valentine. She was a late arrival in my life and particularly special because I grew up with all boys and had only boys, until she came along. She’s introduced me, for the first time, to the wonderful world of little girls. Scarlett’s…

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The Impeachment and Conviction of Texas Governor Jim Ferguson

It’s hard not to like the down-home folksy style that made Texas Governor Jim Ferguson so enormously popular 100 years ago. After all, he was known as “Farmer Jim.” He often said, “Civilization begins and ends with the plow.” Ferguson was a mesmerizing speaker and storyteller and was splendidly fluent in the dialects of rural…

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Three Texas Myths That Won’t Die

In my travels around the state I run into people now and then who have deeply held convictions about Texas that are simply untrue. They hold to myths that have been nurtured by well-intentioned souls since San Jacinto days, and it breaks my heart to tell them they are mistaken, but not for long. I…

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The Republic of Texas is No More

Later this year, way later this year, we’ll mark the 175th year of Texas statehood. That will be on December 29th. That’s the day in 1845 that Texas officially joined The United States of America, or, as the proudest of Texans say – the day the U.S. was allowed to join Texas. Though the 29th…

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The Man Who Led The Battle Against Yellow Fever

By W. F. Strong I’m walking on the veranda of the Gorgas Building at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. It’s named for the famous Army physician, William Gorgas, who was sent here to Fort Brown in 1882. This building was already here when he was. It was the hospital he ran. What he would learn here, and…

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The Distance In Smoots

By W. F. Strong Shakespeare told us that “some have greatness thrust upon them.” Such was the case for Oliver Smoot. He was born in Bexar County, Texas, and there was nothing in his formative years to predict the events that would push him into international prominence. Oliver was a fine student and his academic…

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101 Essential Texas Books

By W. F. Strong If I have an addiction, it’s definitely books. I read about two books a week and order two more I’m unlikely to ever get to. But I like them on the shelf as backup the way survivalists hoard food supplies. Admittedly, I’m often short of shelves. When you have more books…

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Sam Houston And Me

By W. F. Strong A couple of weeks ago I got into an argument with my stairs and I lost. The stairs insisted there were 12 steps and I thought 10 would do. I broke my tibia and fibula. The good news is that I ended up at the bottom of the stairs, conveniently located…

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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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