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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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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’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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Three Texas Pride Stories

I’ve been sad lately noticing how the oral tradition seems to be dying. Twenty years ago friends would often come up to me on the street and say, “Hey, I got a story for you.” But now they just come up to me and hold out their phone and say, “Seen this?” And laugh. Not…

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Texas Standard: February 13, 2017

Texas on ICE: for weeks they were unconfirmed reports, now evidence of immigration sweeps across Texas and 10 other states, we’ll have the latest. Also: mind the gap. Who’s gonna fill the hole between two competing spending plans, for Texas and what does it mean in real terms? And a price bubble in the middle…

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The Weird Connection Between Tony Romo and Tony Roma’s

When Tony Romo joined the Dallas Cowboys back in 2003, some people confused his name with that of Tony Roma’s, the restaurant chain. They thought maybe Tony Romo was related to the Tony Roma family, perhaps heir to the baby back ribs fortune, even though there was an important one letter of difference at the…

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What It Means to Be a Texas Gentleman

One of my favorite, but now largely unknown speakers in American history was Robert Green Ingersoll. Redwater, Texas was originally named Ingersoll – after him. He was a philosopher and a popular intellectual, the most sought after orator of his time. He left us many fine proverbs. One of my favorites is this: “The greatest…

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The Story Behind Texas’ Favorite Butter

Texas has a great number of Texas brands: Southwest Airlines. Texas Instruments. Lone Star Beer. Dell Computer. Imperial Sugar. The King Ranch. Now, The King Ranch is a brand that came, quite literally, from a brand. King Ranch even has its own brand of Ford Pickup. The King Ranch also helped launch another old Texas…

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Jack Sorenson’s Paintings Capture the Simple Joy of Christmas

This is the story of a boy who loved Christmas so much that he grew up to make it more magical for the rest of us. That is, if you have ever had the good fortune to see his paintings – and if you haven’t, I’m here to make sure your luck changes. The artist’s…

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Trying to Talk Texan? Let Your Words Lean Into Each Other

A nice lady wrote to me not long ago and said that she was happy to have a son with a good, solid, two-syllable Texas name. “His name is ‘Ben,’”she wrote. I loved that. We do that, don’t we? Well, many of us do, anyway. There are 30 million Texans so there are many dialects…

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The Queen of King Ranch

When Richard King, the founder of the King Ranch, was on his deathbed, he told his wife, Henrietta Chamberlain King “Don’t let any of that land get away from you.” At the time of his death in 1885, King’s famous ranch consisted of about half a million acres. He had amassed this land on the…

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Dr Pepper: The Story of Texas’ Favorite Soft Drink

My favorite snack as a teenager was a Dr Pepper with salty peanuts. You remember: you pour the peanuts into the Dr Pepper and let them float around and season the drink. Didn’t get much better than that. Dr Pepper is the oldest soft drink in America. Older than Coca-Cola, in fact, by a full…

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Sure, Texas Is Big – But It Used to Be Even Bigger

Texans have a kind of proverb that goes like this: “Driving across Texas isn’t a trip; it’s a damn career.” Texas is big, no doubt about that. But it used to be a lot bigger – about a fourth bigger. When Texas joined the United States in 1845, Texas’ borders (and shape) were quite different….

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The Real Texan Who Inspired Captain Woodrow F. Call

In the mini-series Lonesome Dove, Charles Goodnight was immortalized loosely as Captain Woodrow F. Call, played by Tommy Lee Jones. In truth, Charles Goodnight in real life was even more fascinating than the fictional Woodrow Call. Goodnight, who is the most famous rancher in Texas history, and the most ubiquitous Texan of his time, became…

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Homesick for Texas: Songs & Tributes to the Lone Star State

To my mind, the signature song about longing for Texas is this one: I wanna go home with the Armadillo; Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene; The friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever seen. That’s “London Homesick Blues” sung by Jerry Jeff Walker and written by Gary P. Nunn. But there are…

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The Texan Origins of the Word Maverick

This is a biography of a word. It is about a word that was essentially born in Texas, grew up to achieve success here, and eventually became famous the world over. It has now gone well beyond its modest roots as a simple noun and transformed itself into impressive, symbolic fame as a metaphor. The…

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Texas Demonyms: Dallasites, Victorians, and Everything In-Between

A demonym describes the inhabitants of a place. With so many cities and counties in Texas, it’s hard to keep track of who is what from where. Word scholar W.F. Strong has a helpful list to keep you on track. For places ending in “s”, add “-ites” Dallas – Dallasites Dumas – Dumasites For places…

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