Texas Quotes: The Encyclopedic Thread
Woodrow Call: ...and if that ain't bad enough you got all them Greek words on there, too.
Gus McCrae: I told you, Woodrow, a long time ago it ain't Greek, it's Latin.
Woodrow Call: Well what does it say in Latin?
[Gus blusters some gibberish]
Woodrow Call: For all you know it invites people to rob us.
Gus McCrae: Well, the first man that can read Latin is welcome to rob us as far as I cam concerned. I'd like a chance t' shoot an educated man once in my life."
----- dialogue between Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) in the television mini-series "Lonesome Dove"
"We have a saying in Texas: the rooster crows, but the hen delivers the goods."
----- former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower
"During the long Texas drought of the 1950's a joke ---- probably already as old as the state ---- was told again and again about a man who bet several of his friends that it would never rain again, and collected from two of them."
----- western author Elmer Kelton, who lived most of his life in San Angelo
"The first fictional Texas movie appeared in 1908. It was made in Denmark, of all places, and it had the ultimate Texas title, "Texas Tex." The Great Northern, a film company located in Copenhagen, used "genuine" American Indians, members of a Wild West show on tour, to add authentic color to "Texas Tex." Since Great Northern had offices in New York as well, "Texas Tex" was distributed in the United States and billed as an "American story for Americans."
"Texas Tex" mixed scenes of Western life such as capturing and taming wild horses with routine melodrama. A bad cowboy and his sidekick, a Sioux Indian, steal Texas's horses and abduct his sweetheart. In the woods the cowboy tries to kiss her, and she resists. Then the Indian kills his partner, hoping to have the girl to himself. He ties her to a tree, but Tex arrives just in time to coldcock the Indian and reclaim his sweetheart."
----- Don Graham, "Cowyboys and Cadillacs"
"I once punched cattle on the T-Bar Ranch. As we followed a long string of white-face cattle across the bed of an old alkali lake reflecting the moon's light, while the wind swept across the plains and the coyotes howled from the head of Laguna Rica, I wanted to answer the forces of nature, and did answer them, in wild-half maniac compositions of my own. In such times and for such reasons are cowboy ballads born."
------- R. L. Smith
"The story of the first Texas pardon is this: a woman was convicted of murdering her husband and was sentenced to be "erected [?] by the neck until dead, dead, dead. Sam Houston was President of the Republic and pardoned the woman with the chivalrous statement that 'when all the men in Texas that need hanging get hanged, then it will be time enough to start inflicting that punishment on the women.' "
----- Traces of Texas (me) around a campfire in Terlingua, 2012
"Of the world's four great cuisines ----- French, Italian, Chinese, and Texan ----- only the latter has a recipe beginning, "First, dig a three-foot-deep-hole ...."
----- Jerry Flemmons, writing in his column in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram
"The air was full of ice needles that drove into the exposed flesh and stuck, but did not seem to melt. The snow seemed to parallel the ground in its flight, yet the plains grass was covered by it in a few minutes and it rolled along the ground with the wind. That wind didn't turn aside ... There wasn't a hill between us and the North Pole and that wind must have come all the way ---- and gathering power at every jump."
----- J.C. Tolman, describing the 1887 Christmas blizzard in Palo Duro Canyon
"Whether your destination is heaven or hell, you always have to change planes in Dallas."
----- Kinky Friedman, musician, author, and former Texas gubernatorial candidate
"I must say as to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and the best prospect for health I ever saw is here, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here."
----- David Crockett, January 9, 1836
"When the Indians robbed houses they invariably took all the books they could find, using the paper to pack their shields. They knew, as well as we did, the resistance paper has against bullets. Paper offered more resistance to a bullet than anything to be had upon the frontier, unless it was cotton. The Indians knew this and stole all the books and paper they could find ...
Their shield was made by forming a circular bow of wood two or three feet across, over each side of which was drawn untanned buffalo hide from the neck of the buffalo, the toughest and thickest they cold get. They filled between the hide with paper. In times of action, the Indian had this on his elbow and always aimed to keep it at an angle between you and him. Very few of the old fashioned rifles would penetrate these shields. The rifle I carried then , and still have, would knock a hole right through them at any angle. I once shot an Indian down on the Quitaque. I did not kill him, but he dropped his shield. Between the folds of hide was a complete history of Rome, and the boys had considerable fun passing the sheets around and reading them.
----- Charles Goodnight, as quoted in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, 1928
"Texas is a den of thieves .... a rendezvous of rascals for all the continent."
----- Horace Greeley, 1850
"Any move in the direction of effeminacy or dandyism was put down by the boys. Once on a scout between the Nueces and Rio Grande, and above the road from San Antonio to Laredo, an unlucky ranger, troubled with sunburnt and blistered nose and lips, hoisted an umbrella .... a brisk fusillade was heard in camp .... The umbrella was shattered and torn into hundreds of pieces."
----- John Salmon Ford, "Rip Ford's Texas," 1896
"I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I travelled over them for more than 300 leagues ... with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea .... [T]here was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by."
----- Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in a letter to the King of Spain on Oct. 20, 1541, describing the Llano Estacado, somewhere on the southern great plains (i.e. the Panhandle) of Texas
"Just as I entered [San Antonio, June 18], the camels with their Arab attendants were coming in, causing a general excitement among the population, and a general stampede among all the horses within sight of the strange procession. It is not every town in the new world that can boast of having witnessed such a scene, and my own mind was carried away to Cairo and other cities of the East, where a caravan of some forty camels is nothing to stare at. The last I saw of the animals they were browsing among the mesquite trees near the San Pedro Springs, looking patient, contented, and apparently well reconciled to their new home."
----- George Wilkins Kendall, describes the U.S. Army's experiment with camels in Texas, in a letter to the New Orleans Picayune, July 6, 1856
"Her name belongs to Texas history. She cast her lot with the immortal heroes of the Alamo. After its fall, with the "Babe" in her arms, she carried the news to General Houston at Gonzales."
----- plaque on granite memorial for Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson in the Texas State Cemetery, Austin
"Its always good to spend some time in a town where the major concerns of the day are when and how much it's gonna rain, the Friday night football score, and what kind of price cattle are bringing down at the auction barn."
---- Bob Phillips, Texas Country Reporter
"Yes, siree," the Amarillo rancher said to the visitor, "We got them high winds blowing on us almost ever' day. You jes' learn to kinda lean into 'em. One day last November, I think it was, the wind jes' stopped, and all the chickens in the Panhandle fell over."
----- old joke
"In view of how Texas was later to become seamed by the trails of multiplied millions of Spanish cattle, ranged over by countless mustangs of Spanish blood, and dominated by men who rode those horses, it is fitting that the very first "civilized" human being to traverse it should have borne the name of Cabeza de Vaca."
------ historian and folklorest J. Frank Dobie
"The houses of early Texans were small, but their hearts were large enough to cover all deficiencies. No candidate for hospitality was ever turned away."
----- Noah Smithwick, pioneer Texas settler, on traveling through Texas in the early days
"John Hendrix, an old-timer friend of mine I'd always visit when in Fort Worth, before he died, used to tell me a story of a cowhand who declared that the best winter he ever put in was when he was sent out to an old abandoned nester shack to make a line camp. The shack was a one-room affair, papered with old newspapers and farm journals. The cowhand didn't read too fast and, accordin' to his story, he read the north, south, east and west walls durin' the winter and was jes' startin' in to read the ceilin' when they called him to headquarters."
----- Ramon F. Adams, "The Old Cowhand," 1948
"The shallow river looked so innocent, yet its mercurial essence belied immense forces forever beyond our control. All at once the folded walls soared up and narrowed down to a slender corridor against the Mexican shore, where I stopped as advised, to scout, and frightened a red racer in the dry champagne glass. I went to the edge of the battered block that chokes the whole river to a passage scarcely three yards wide at the "Tight Squeeze" and stared in disbelief.
It looked mighty tricky, but to portage single-handed over the breakdown was impossible. I drifted on the edge to the throat, turned to barely miss Texas, then pulled hard on the left, ascended a roaring pillow, and dropped down the other side on a breathless rollercoaster ride. I whooped and hollered like a fool ....
----- author and photographer Jim Bones, "Texas West of the Pecos", 1981
"Aerodynamically, the bumblebee should not be able to fly. But the bumblebee doesn't know it, so it goes on flying anyway.”
----- flamboyant cosmetics queen Mary Kay Ash
"The chief contribution made by white men of the Americas to the folk songs of the world ----- the cowboy songs of Texas and the West ----- are rhythmed to the walk, the trot, and the gallop of horses."
----- J. Frank Dobie, Texas historian and folklorist
"You know why divorces are so expensive? Because they are worth it."
----- Willie Nelson, who should know about such things.
"Mr. Holcombe was as old as he was foreboding. On the wall behind his desk was a handmade illustration of his disciplinary credo: "It they can't sit down, they'll stand up straight." I, like ever other student, was well aware of the vice principal's legendary "Board of Education." Tales of its size, shape, and color flew like paper airplanes whenever one of our own fell prey to the wooden lash. There was also the unconfirmed rumor that ---- for the purpose of raising welts on deadbeat backsides ----- he'd drilled fifteen holes in the thing. It whistled as it flew, they said. It was my first time to brave the wrath of the paddle."
----- Texas singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell writing in his poignant autobiography "Chinaberry Sidewalks"
"It's not enough to just swing at the ball. Sometimes, you've got to loosen your girdle and let her fly."
----- Babe Didrikson Zaharias, born in Port Aruthur, Texas, and considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.
"I have gone 3/4 of the way around my circuit and find nothing cheering, or encouraging. Many of the members have backslidden, and are spiritually dead ---- some have been going to dancing school, and some have joined the Baptists."
----- Reverend Oscar M. Addison, Texas Methodist circuit-riding preacher, in a letter back in 1834
"When we were upon the high table-land, a view presented itself as boundless as the ocean. Not a tree, shrub, or any other object, either animate or inanimate, relieved the dreary monotony of the prospect .... it is a region almost as vast and trackless as the sea ---- a land where no man, either savage or civilized, permanently abides; it spreads forth into a treeless, desolate waste of uninhabited solitude, which always has been, and must continue, uninhabited forever."
----- Captain Randolph Marcy, recording his first impressions of the Texas Panhandle in his diary, 1847
"When we hear a man say 'Texan,' we involuntarily look to see if he has the lock-jaw or if he has ice in his mouth. There is no excuse for a man to use such a word in a mild climate. The genius of our language requires generally the termination "ian," which is necessary to give a name to the inhabitants of that country. 'Texian' is the name for which we fought, and which shows ourselves independent of all foreign dictation. Let us stand up for the rights of the 'old Texian' against the ruthless Goths and Vandals who are endeavoring to deprive him of that which has blazed so brilliantly from the folds of his banner over all his battlefields."
----- From a debate over the etymological correctness of the use of "Texan" vs. "Texian" in the February 5, 1851 edition of The Texas Monument newspaper
"In some parts of Texas, the wind blows quite a bit, often kicking up a lot of dust. Why, once out in Lubbock the dust was blowing so hard I saw a rabbit digging a hole and he was six feet off the ground at the time."
----- Texan author Wallace O. Chariton
"When I'm on a course and it starts to rain and lightning, I hold up my one iron because even God can't hit a one iron."
----- golfer Lee Trevino, born and raised in El Paso
"We have dust everywhere. Dust in the street, dust in the air, dust in the houses. The streets are filled with dust. We eat dust, breathe dust, walk in dust, sit in dust. Dust rises in clouds on every puff of air, and floats about as if immune to gravity. It settles on everything. If never before, our dusty citizens can now realize the meaning of the words "dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return."
----- Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph newspaper, July 22, 1858
"We built these fake outhouses around the set of Lonesome Dove, and [Robert] Duvall would take a crap in them because he was in character."
----- Cary White, production designer for the "Lonesome Dove" TV miniseries, talking about how Robert Duvall maintained his edge during filming
"I admit to the richness and the softness and the luxuriance of the Panhandle landscape generally now, but not to a beauty superior to that I knew. For the landscape that moves a man most powerfully is the landscape in his mind, the country that comes back in dreams and unguarded reveries. It grew up in his mind when he wasn't looking."
----- Paul Crume, whose "Big D" column appeared in The Dallas Morning News from 1948 until 1975
"De vedder out here I do not like. De rain vas all vind, and de vind vas all sand."
------ anonymous German pioneer farmer in the Texas panhandle
"And so he sold out Sam and Barnes and left their friends to mourn,
Oh, what a scorching Jim will get when Gabriel blows his horn!
Perhaps he's got to heaven, there's none of us can say:
But if I'm right in my surmise, he's gone the other way."
----- Jim Murphy epitaph from "The Ballad of Sam Bass," anonymous author
"I am aware that in presenting myself as the advocate of the Indians and their rights, I shall stand very much alone."
----- Sam Houston
"I think that Texas is forever ruined unless the citizens make a manly, energetic effort to save themselves from anarchy and confusion, which are the worst of all evils. Let us march like a band of brothers."
----- William B. Travis
"Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."
----- Sam Houston
"Men talked hopeful of the future; children reveled in the novelty of the present, and the women bore their part with heroic endurance. Deprived of friends and former comforts, they had not even the solace of constant employment. The spinning wheel and loom had been left behind---there was as yet no use for them ---there was nothing to spin. There was no house to keep in order; the meager fare was so simple as to require little time for its preparation. There was no poultry, no dairy, no garden, no books or papers---and had there been, many of them could not read; no schools, no churches---nothing to break the dull monotony of their lives save an occasional attack from Indians, the howl of some wild animal or the stampede of a herd of buffalo or mustangs. The men at least had the excitement of killing game and hunting bee trees, roping mustangs, hunting buffalo, locating lands and watching for hostile Indians."
----- early pioneer Noah Smithwick describing how much harder life in early Texas was for women than it was for men in his memoirs, "Evolution of a State, Recollections of Old Texas Days" 1900
"Texas stands peerless amid the mighty, and her brow is crowned with bewildering magnificence!"
----- Temple Houston, dedication speech at opening of new Texas capitol, May 16th, 1888
"I am going to hell ....! The world is bobbing around me!"
----- alleged last words of outlaw bandit Sam Bass after being shot in failed bank robbery attempt in Round Rock, 1878
"This is the place where brilliant minds assemble to willfully pool ignorance with questionable logic in order to reach absurd conclusions."
------ hand-painted sign hanging in the Study Butte General Store, Study Butte, TX
"I have sworn to be a good Texan, and that I will not forswear. I will die for that which I firmly believe, for I know it is just and right. One life is a small price for a cause so great. As I fought, so shall I be willing to die. I will never forsake Texas and her cause. I am her son."
----- Jose Antonio Navarro, from Mexican Prison in 1841 Note: After being tried and sentenced to death, Navarro was imprisoned in Mexico. He was given the choice of freedom if he would simply renounce Texas but refused, languishing for several years in prison. Finally, with the help of sympathetic prison officials, Navarro escaped and, by 1845, was a member of the Republic of Texas Congress from Bexar County.
"The settlers who have recently opened farms near the source of the San Gabriel and Brushy creek find the country well stocked with a singular breed of wild cattle…
They differ in form, color and habits from all the varieties of domestic cattle in Texas. They are invariably of a dark brown color, with a slight tinge of dusky yellow on the tip of the nose and on the belly. Their horns are remarkably large and stand out straight from the head. Although these cattle are generally much larger than the domestic cattle, they are more fleet and nimble and when pursued often outstrip horses that easily outrun the buffalo. Unlike the buffalo, they seldom venture far out into the prairies, but are generally found in or near the forests that skirt the streams in that section. Their meat is of an excellent flavor and is preferred by the settlers to the meat of the domestic cattle. It is said that their fat is so hard and compact that it will not melt in the hottest days of summer, and candles formed with it are far superior to those that are formed with the tallow of other cattle."
------ Littell's Living Age describes free-ranging Longhorn cattle, January/March 1846
"Hound dogs and blowing horns. Blackeyed peas and hog jowl. Sausage with a flavor unrivaled, red-pepper-hot, solid pork-meat with some substance. Grits floating in fresh butter or redeye gavy. Hot biscuits and and mayhaw jelly. A poky mule turning a syrup mill. The land where "The King and I" means nothing but an old-time gospel hymn. Gray silvered shacks with bitter oranges and chinaberry trees near them, the yard a bleached sweep of hard-packed earth, an iron washpot turned over near a round white spot on the ground where the suds from strong yellow lye-soap wash water has been emptied for years. The broomstick used to punch the clothes down, boiled to the color and smoothness of old ivory. Grove's Chill Tonic and Slauughterine for Pains. Chrisper's Hot Shot Nerve Sedative.
The country where a midwife is a "granny woe-man"; one a 92-year old black woman with slender steely fingers who was said to have delivered a live baby from a dead mother. "White doctor say she daid, do I don't say she ain't." Signs saying "Wheels spoked." The stomping ground of a blind, toothless guitar player: "Play me some blues," "I don't play no sinful songs, lady." His gigantic wife, Billie, emerging from out back hollerin' "An' me lookin' like Who'd -a-Thunk-It!" Razorback hogs and hickory nuts. Light bread and sweet milk. English walnuts and Irish potatoes, and firecrackers at Christmas. The smell of fresh-made lye hominy and the lacquered cypress beams of a smokehouse. A hint of frost in the air, and the sweet mouth of a coon dog when he trees."
----- Mary Lasswell, "I'll Take Texas," 1958
"My companions were elated to be back in the desert. I was overwhelmed. My skin cracked, needles stuck me, and the sun forced me into shadows at noon. I thought it was inconceivable for someone to really love that hard country, unaware that it had already gotten through my tender hide and had quietly seized my heart."
----- Photographer Jim Bones, Jr., on his first real trip to west Texas
"The rest of the world is sweeping past us. The oil and gas of the future Texas is the well-educated mind. But we are still worried about whether Midland can beat Odessa at football."
----- Texas governor Mark White, 1986
"He would take a few steps and stop, turning his proud face toward us to discharge his shots; he fought like a true soldier. Finally he died, but he died after having traded his life very dearly. None of his men died with greater heroism, and they all died."
----- Lt. Col. Jose Enrique de la Pena, "With Santa Anna in Texas."
"Imagine ... men dressed in every variety of costume, except the ordinary uniform, armed with double-barreled shotguns, squirrel rifles, and Colt's six shooters, mounted on small, wiry, half-wild horses, with Spanish saddles and Mexican spurs, unshaven, unwashed, undisciplined, but brave and generous men, riding pell-mell along roads, over the prairies, and through the woods, and you will be able to form a correct conception of a squad of Texas Rangers on the march."
----- Willis L. Lang (1830-1862), planter, Texas Ranger, Confederate Army officer, writing in his diary
"The roads are full of errant thieves united with the Indians, and without a small force of mounted troops to clean-up and guard them, I cannot respond to the security of travelers .... If it is possible to permit me to continue in service the 14 men and augment them with 10 more and a Sergeant, I can respond to the security of the roads."
----- Stephen F. Austin, explaining to Mexican authorities why he needed to continue the employ of the first force of Texas Rangers, November 1823
"Like most passionate nations, Texas has its own private history based on, but not limited by, facts."
----- author John Steinbeck
"Turning, tilting, revolving in time, all seasons come to the earth as the equinox means and solstice extremes mark off great quadrants of the solar clock. While pears fall in the Hill Country, pear trees bloom in Argentina, and the same low sun that warms the dormant Hill Country rides high off Paraguay. Like the rustle of wind in dry leaves seasonal changes are always to be noticed and loved, but too seldom do I see open minded. More often I stroll about, thinking that because I know the names of a few things I know something. But knowing needs no name and can be gotten only by experience. This world is no armchair philosopher's world. It is real and unreal, momentarily joined in the solitary darkness behind all eyes."
----- Jim Bones, Jr., "Texas Heartland A Hill Country Year"
Ode to West Texas
The devil was given permission one day,
To make him a land for his own special way,
He put thorns on all the bushes and trees
And mixed up the sand with millions of fleas.
He scattered tarantulas along all the roads,
Put spines on the cactus and horns on the toads.
He lengthened the horn of the Texas steer
And added a foot to the jackrabbit’s ear.
He put three devils in every bronco steed
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito torments you buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer is a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the devil and too hot for men.
And all who remain in that climate soon bore
Cuts, bites, stings, scratches and blisters galore.
----- this has been done and redone and sung and resung a million different ways. This is only one version, as recited by J. Frank Dobie many years ago
"Nobody is ever going to make biscuits as good as a Texan's own mother."
---- Barry Schlachter, Fort Worth Star Telegram
"Beauty is only skin deep, but Texas is to the bone."
----- Me, Traces of Texas
"At times it seems that the people of the lesser states resent without reason the Texans' status as chosen people. They seem to blame the Texans themselves for this."
----- Paul Crane
The Texas quote of the day, July 3rd: "I have done all I can to keep Texas from seceding. Now if she won't go with me, I'll have to turn around and go with her."
----- Sam Houston, reluctantly agreeing to Texas' secession from the union, 1861
Thunder of hoofs over range as we ride,
Hissing of iron and smoking of hide!
Bellow of cattle and snort of cayuse,
Longhorns from Texas as wild as the deuce!
Midnight stampedes and milling of herds,
Yells from the cowmen, too angry for words!
Right in the midst of it all I would stay
Make me a cowboy again for a day!
"Bluebonnet time is the time when the sky falls onto Texas."
----- A.L. Walker
Of all the rich wine
Distilled by sunshine
and mingled with breath of the seas,
With thoughts of full bloom
From Isles of Perfume
Sweet Texas, my star, you have these."
----- D.S. Landis, published in "The Bohemian," November 1899
"In most of the unfolded canyons, the river travels through similar-aged layers of marine limestone, but at the far end of the great Big Bend, in narrowly compressed Mariscal Canyon, the river penetrates back in time to its dark depositional heart, then flows out again into the present on the other side. I entered quietly in the late afternoon, passed irregular barriers, and found myself in a moist cathedral filled with wildflower incense. Light fell snow-soft on smooth rocks, and a timeless patience pervaded the great hollow from which cubic miles of stone had been removed, a work incomprehensible except by being in the consequent void."
----- Jim Bones, Jr., "Texas West of the Pecos," 1981
"Anybody caught monkeying with any of my cattle will catch hell. Yours in Christ, Grizzley Caleen."
----- notice that appeared in The Tascosa Pioneer newspaper, June 12, 1886
"As I contemplate becoming a resident of Texas, I feel great anxiety about the nature of the population which will inhabit that country. The planters here have a most desperate opinion of the population there, originating I presume from such villains as have been driven from among them and who have taken shelter in that province."
----- Letter of January 31, 1829 from Thomas White of Louisiana to Texas colonizer Stephen F. Austin
"I didn't drive 13 hours across Texas just to watch my cholesterol."
----- Robb Walsh, author of "The Texas Cowboy Cookbook" and other cookbooks
"Texas has never lost but one war, the Civil War. And the way it happened was that a Texan who was delirious from fever ----- and color-blind besides ----- wandered into the Union lines, thought he was among his own comrades and turned and charged, single-handed, on the Confederates. And he wrought such destruction that General Lee had to surrender."
----- humorist Boyce House, 1951
"When one of the first windmills in the Texas Panhandle was installed and put into operation, the owner took his crew of riders out to see how it worked before acceptin' in from the contractor. When he saw the little trickle of water flowin' out he was as tickled as a cub bear with a honeycomb, and declared that the windmill would revolutionize the cow business. One skeptical cowhand eyed the small stream, and said, "Hell, Boss, I could get behind a bush and do a better job than that."
----- Ramon F. Adams, "The Old-Time Cowhand," 1948.
“I’ll wager they found no wounds in his back.”
---- Elve Bowie, on learning her son, Jim, was killed at the Alamo
"Ode to Blessed Rain, circa 1900:
"A short time since the cow was sad,
she scarce could raise her head, begad,
her hoofs were sore, her tail was limp;
her mane and bangs had lost their crimp,
and miles she tugged from grass to drink,
with scarcely strength enough to wink.
The owner, too, looked blue and glum
and cursed the cattle business some.
But since the rain the grass is tall,
the cow can raise her head and bawl,
her side is slick, no bones protrude,
she prances like a city dude.
Her tail is straight, her eyes are bright,
she snorts and dares the crowd to fight.
Her owner, too, digs up the chink,
and asks the boys to have a drink.
God bless the rain,
it makes a man feel young again.
He feels like tossing up his hat,
and howling like a democrat."
----- Attributed to an unknown "Western Texas Editor" of about 1900, printed in an undated clipping from "The Bryan Eagle," circa 1925
The Texas quote of the day for June 23rd: “I feel safer on a racetrack than I do on Houston's freeways.”
----- A.J. Foyt
"I am woman hear me roar ----- or is that my vacuum cleaner?"
----- the legendary Liz Carpenter, press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson and force of nature
"Texanness is next to Godliness."
----- Me, Traces of Texas
"And there were other changes. Along about the nineties a lot of people out here began to quiet down and start leaving off their guns. The country was getting so thickly settled then and the houses so close together they figured they didn't need them anymore.
But I wouldn't give mine up. A six-shooter's an awful lot of company. Suppose you break your leg, you can signal. If you're caught afoot, you can shoot a jack rabbit. If you're held up, you can defend yourself."
----- range cowboy Teddy Blue, talking about the changes as the 1880's drew to a close in "We Pointed them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher," 1939
"The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him."
----- Joseph Heller, "Catch 22"
"Lord God, You know us old cowhands is forgetful. Sometimes I can't even recollect what happened yestiddy. We is forgetful. We just know daylight and dark, summer, fall, winter and spring. But I sure hope we don't ever forget to thank You before we is about to eat a mess of good chili. We don't know why, in Your wisdom, You been so doggone good to us. The heathen Chinese don't have no chili, ever. The Frenchmens is left out. The Rooshians don't know no more about chili than a hog does about a side saddle. Even the Meskins don't get a good whiff of it unless they stay around here. Chili eaters is some of Your chosen people. We don't know why You so doggone good to us. But Lord, God, don't ever think we ain't grateful for this here chili we about to eat. Amen."
----- "The Chili Prayer" as recited by Bones Hooks, one of the first black cowboys in Texas, as recounted in "A Bowl of Red," Frank X. Tolbert's classic book on chili, and posted her verbatim, in Bones Hooks' vernacular language
"It was out in front of Salado's Stagecoach Inn on the eve of the Civil War that old Sam Houston, piqued at his fellow Texans for trying to take Texas out of the nation into which he had struggled so hard less than two decades before to bring it, stood before an audience of rednecks and spoke for the Union.
'But General Sam,' cried a frontiersman, 'we could whip them Yankees with cornstalks.'
'But,' fired back the elderly Houston, 'those Yankees wont agree to fight with cornstalks."
----- Richard Dunlop, "Great Trails of the West," 1971
“There’s a vastness here, and I believe that the people who are born here breathe that vastness into their soul. They dream big dreams and think big thoughts, because there is nothing to hem them in. Nobody ever tells them that they can't, so they grow up believing that they can. And they do.”
----- Conrad Hilton, hotelier extraordinaire
"Go get your man. Get him alive if you can, dead if you must, but don't come back until you get him."
----- Traditional slogan of the Texas Rangers
"There's a fine line between fiction and non-fiction, and I believe I snorted it in 1976."
----- musician, novelist, and former candidate for governor Kinky Friedman
"We have often heard of Nowhere, and supposed it somewhere in Texas."
----- Galveston Texas Times, December 7, 1842
March 25, 1843
I write to you under the most awful feelings that a son ever addressed a mother, for in a half hour my doom will be finished on earth, for I am doomed to die by the hands of the Mexicans for our attempt to escape the [illegible] Santa Anna [ordered] that every tenth man should be shot. We drew lots, I... was one of the unfortunates. I cannot say anything more. I die, I hope, with firmness. Farewell. May God bless you and may He in this, my last hour, forgive and pardon all my sins. Farewell.
Your affectionate son,
---- This letter was written in Mexico's Perote prison by one unfortunate member of the Mier Expedition, a band of 250 Texans. The infamous "black bean drawing" occurred there. The 17 Texans who drew black beans were executed. R.H. Dunham was one. His mother could not be located, and the letter was never delivered, but was lost and, years later, found in an early Waco post office building. The original now is in the Alamo museum.
"A hundred names of men I knew come back to me, and most of them, I suppose, are now dead. Hard lives, hard men, maybe ---- but they come back to me like murmurs of far-off voices sometimes, something soft, like a flute's sweet wine that has a message left to tell. Maybe I didn't see them so soft those days, bec...ause it was all too close. Life is something like a gun battle. A man doesn't know what he really thought until the shooting's over. That's the way I went through a lot of things down there. Never saw the danger then."
----- J.K.P. Langford, remembering his Texas Ranger life along the Rio Grande in the San Antonio Express, May 25, 1930
"Thirty five of the most beautiful white stallions were brought into Hollywood for the role of 'Silver.' None would do until one was found in Texas ---- perfect for the role."
----- Mario Demarco, "The Lone Rangers of the Silver Screen and Television"
"I'd rather have Texas at my feet than a Rolex on my wrist."
----- Me, Traces of Texas
"But then I moved to Texas, and my soul ran free among its vast prairies."
----- author O. Henry (William Sydney Porter), in a letter to a friend, 1904
"The drought in Texas is so intense that potatoes are cooked in the ground, and all the people have to do is dig and eat them. The workmen carry salt in their pockets and don't have to go home to dinner."
----- Bourbon News, Kentucky, August 2, 1886
"I can do it neater, sweeter, and more completer than anybody else in Lometer."
----- Attributed to a 19th century cedar chopper in the Hill country town of Lometa
"We in the Panhandle like to call Route 66 the mother road, because everybody just kinda fled to the road, hoping the road would take them to better times and better things in their lives."
----- Delbert Trew, Amarillo-Globe News
"Everybody thought I had a duster. Y'all thought ol' Spindletop Burke and Burnett was all the oil there was, didn't ya? Well, I'm here to tell you that it ain't, boy! It's here, and there ain't a dang thing you gonna do about it! My well came in big, so big, Bick and there's more down there and there's bigger wells. I'm rich, Bick. I'm a rich 'un. I'm a rich boy. Me, I'm gonna have more money than you ever "thought" you could have - you and all the rest of you stinkin' sons of... Benedicts!"
----- James Dean as Jett Rink in "Giant"
"I'm just tryin' to keep everything in balance, Woodrow. You do more work than you got to, so it's my obligation to do less."
----- Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) in the TV miniseries "Lonesome Dove"
"Back in about 1951 I was at the drive-in movie theater in Odessa. They were showing a Western picture and the wind was blowing so strong through the drive-in that it blew Gene Autry clean out of his saddle."
----- an old cowboy that I met in a dive bar in Monahans, Texas
"Although Texas was always as large as it is now, and even larger, yet somehow or other it was not discovered by Europeans until as late as AD 1665. It is a little singular that it was not discovered sooner, particularly as it was always left out of doors after dark. If Texas had been a woodpile or a chicken it would probably have been discovered much earlier."
----- Alexander Edwin Sweet, "Texas Siftings," 1882
"I was writing my life, what I saw around me. You've got to live the life. I don't think you can write those sort of songs otherwise, or even sing them. Ain't nobody that good an actor. And I was writing those songs from a dark, shady side, I guess. I was going into one relationship out of another, all kinds of domestic BS. Over the years, that life produced a lot of music, that's for sure, but it's a hard way to do it. In retrospect, though, it might be the only way, or the only true way."
------ Willie, talking about the songs he wrote in the late 1950's/early 1960's, songs like "Night Life," "Hello Walls," "Crazy," etc....
"The prosperity of Texas has been the object of my labors ---- the idol of my existence --- it has assumed the character of a religion to me ---- for the guidance of my thoughts and actions."
----- Stephen F. Austin
"I've come to believe that the morons, thieves, and cutthroats who, with their women, settled Texas, have passed on genetically a spirit of independence, courage, and tenacity which has given me an edge on these defeated, pessimistic, and cynical Easterners."
----- Betty Dooley, a Washington lobbyist, quoted in "Range Wars," 1989
"I think Texans have more fun than the rest of the world."
----– Choreographer (and Wichita Falls native) Tommy Tune
"What Texans can dream, Texans can do."
–--- George W. Bush
A Texas Bed and Breakfast, as described by Dr. Ferdinand Roemer in 1846:
"Supper consists of tea or coffee, warm cornbread and fried bacon. These articles of food are always found, but in the better inns biscuits are served hot in addtion to eggs, butter, honey and canned fruits. The hostess or at least some feminine member of the family, sits at one end of the table and serves the tea. This is done in the most dingified and solemn manner. The cups are passed in silence, and later repassed in the same manner to be refilled. No sound is uttered by her except the necessary question, asked in a quiet, indifferent tone of voice: "You take tea or cofee, sir?" "Do you take milk and sugar in your coffee?" In explanation of the latter question, I wish to remark that the milk and sugar are added to the tea or coffee by the hostess serving it.
The host urges his guests now and then to parkate of this or that food, but a conversation to his part does not take place during the meal. In eight to ten minutes the whole "operation" of eating is finished and the guests assemble on the porch for an hour, in order to enjoy the cool breezes and to chat before retiring. The sleeping quarters are usually confined to one room where two or three beds are found. Each guest selects his bed and if there is not a sufficient number to go around, the guests must share beds. On the followin moring breakfast is served. It is a duplication of supper in every detail, as far as the food is concerned. The journey is then resumed promptly after breakfast.
A lodging of this kind, including corn and fodder for the horses, can be had for $1.00 to $1.25."
"Our herd started from near Snyder, Scurry County. We went by the Double Mountains; 2700 was the biggest herd I had ever been on the trail with and they kept us busy. We had cold rains and the herd stampeded several times. Sometimes it would take all day to gather what we had lost the night before. For several nights in succession they ran. On Duck Creek there was lots of dead wood. Our boss decided to try a new scheme. We gathered a lot of wood, had some great big logs that took five boys on horses to drag them up to the fire. As it began to get dark we rounded the cattle up to within one hundred yards of that fire burning all night. They did not get up off the bed ground all night. So we all got a very good night's sleep. First we had for several nights. After that, we go along very well although we had lost some cattle …..
----- Rufe O'Keefe, “Cowboy Life,” 1936
"We have stationed mounted pickets on the summit of a neighboring bare hill whence they can view the country for many miles. This being on the direct path of Indian raids is a dangerous place and demands the above precaution.
It is truly a wilderness ---- no signs of human beings in any direction ----- it is indeed the limit line of civilization ---- where the scattered farmers labor with arms in their hands and others are killed or scalped or driven off ----- their females massacred or carried into captivity. This sad tale I hear from many who have once had homes upon this land [Palo Pinto County] ---- which is less inhabited than 20 years ago. Is it a humane policy to protect the savage and feed and arm him, whilst such atrocities are of common occurrence?
The hardy bold settler thinks not; and the question he will soon settle for himself. “Pleasant Cooley,” the young farmer here, is now sitting by me and giving me notes. His father was killed last year by a white boy --- and [the boy] was killed by some men from the farm as revenge. Cooley opened this farm last winter and the corn crop is finer than anything he ever saw. Corn is worth $2 a bushel at his door. It was he who killed the Indian whose bones graced the tree we passed yesterday. He (Cooley) had lost a mare and colt and in hunting the thieves came upon a body of Indians with the horses, among which he recognized his own. A fire commenced between the parties which resulted in the killing of tow Indians and capture of two horses. Cooley scalped one ---- the other was dragged off by his fellows.
The scalp was of long black hair, the scalp lock braided in with the beautiful locks of a white woman reaching to the waist. He took the scalp to as proof that Indians were really killed in the region, a thing doubted by legislators."
----- M.K. Kellogg, “Texas Journal,” June 27, 1872
"Texas women are like snowflakes. Individually they may be pretty, but put together they can stop traffic."
----- Cathy Bonner
Texanness is next to godliness.