Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dissin' Da Factoids and Gettin' Caught Up Along The Way

A few days ago, the Baboon Pirate had a bit of fisking with Acidman's definition of a Southerner. Yesterday, I received an compelling yet somewhat distorted and partially incorrect list of INTERESTING TEXAS FACTS from Stomps With Foot's cousin Lonnie. I was so taken with those "facts" that I spent hours researching them and decided that I had to spend the time and resources necessary to compile a correct and verifiable list of Texas facts. And to think I owe it all to Lonnie! Thanks,man.

This exercise took me all over the state. I deleted the ones that made claims that were either just flat wrong, or were probably just made up to make the fact list sound better, then corrected those which contained minor errors or omissions. Texans are known for telling tall tales, after all. So to the edification of all, herewith is my stab truth tellin', Texas-style.

State Citizenship Designation: The people of Texas call themselves Texans. However, Texian was generally used in the early period of the state's history.

State Motto: The state motto of Texas is "Friendship." The word, Texas, or Tejas, was the Spanish pronunciation of a Caddo Indian word meaning "friends" or "allies." (Acts of 1930, fourth called session of the 41st Legislature, p. 105.)

Continuing to dig into the history of the Great State of Texas, I found that there is a recognized state tartan: Now this is one that has my interest piqued. The Texas Bluebonnet Tartan was named the official state tartan by the 71st Texas Legislature in 1989. I need a new kilt, so this will be the tartan of choice for this old pirate.

The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. Yep, sure is nice to hear the surf breaking beneath the creaking floorboards.

The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the first full time coach for Rice Institute (now University), Houston. I grew up in Southwest Houston, went to Robert E. Lee High School, class of '68 and we used to hear a chant from UT students, "What comes out of a Chinaman's ass? RICE! RICE! RICE! Back in the 60s we weren't really into being politically correct, you see, and it was funny as hell at the time. No offense meant to those of Chinese ancestry.

Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.

Jalapeño jelly originated in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1978.

The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900 caused by a hurricane in which more than 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.

The first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was "Houston." I was courting Stomps With Foot back then and distinctly remember being on the road from Dallas to Houston when those words were uttered.

El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas - well, maybe if you are flying. if you are making the trip in a car, or on horseback, it just ain't so. There really is no more open range in Texas.

Laredo is the world's largest inland port. WTF? Well, I checked it out and no kidding the City of Laredo is at the center of the primary trade route connecting Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is located at Mile Marker 1 of IH 35. The Port of Laredo is the largest inland port on the US-Mexico border. The Port consists of four international bridges that were built and are owned by the City of Laredo. These consist of two passenger-vehicle bridges and two commercial bridges, the World Trade Bridge and the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge, which handle more than 40 percent of all overland trade between the United States and Mexico. On a daily basis there are more than 9,000 commercial crossings at the two commercial bridges, and more than 10,000 trucks driving through the streets of Laredo entering from the interior of the United States and Canada. Yep, the old song "Out in the West Texas town of Laredo," never brought a port scene to mind. Whodathunkit!

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world' s largest rose garden with more than 38,000 rose bushes with 500 varieties situated on 22 acres of land. When I was growing up in the 60s there was always a guy on any street corner selling a dozen Tyler roses for $1.

King Ranch is larger than Rhode Island. Yep. It ain't braggin' if'n it's true.

Tropical Storm Claudette brought a U.S. rainfall record of 43" in 24 hours in and around Alvin, Texas (near the Gulf Coast) in July, 1979.

Texas is the only state to enter the U.S. by TREATY.. This allows the Texas flag to fly at the same height as the US flag, and the treaty allows us to secede from the Union or even split into four separate states - in addition to Texas, so that makes five.

The "Big Tree," named State Champion Coastal Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) in 1969, is thought to be one of the largest in the nation. Estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, the "Big Tree" has a circumference of 35 feet, is 44 feet in height and has a crown spread of 90 feet.

Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.

Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period after Dr in Dr Pepper.

Texas has had six capitol cities.
1. Washington-on-the-Brazos
2. Harrisburg
3. Galveston
4. Velasco
5. West Columbia
6. Austin

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its "significant contribution to American history," the Texas Capitol is an impressive example of late 19th century public architecture. The largest in gross square footage of all state capitols, it is second in total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Texas Capitol in Austin is the only dome in the United States to surpass the National Capitol in height, rising almost 15 feet above its Washington counterpart.

Photo copyrighted by R.L. Sadler.

And, oh yeah, The San Jacinto Monument is taller than the Washington Monument!

The first domed stadium in the U.S was the Astrodome in Houston.

The State mammal is the armadillo. An interesting bit of trivia about the armadillo is they always have four babies! They have one egg which splits into four and they either have four males or four females.

I took this photo on I-20 between Dallas and Tyler last year. Bradzilla and I were on the road again and noticed it as we were headed east. We looked at each other and immediately decided to take the next exit (one-mile ahead), make a U-turn, go back a mile or so for the next on ramp going east and drive slowly to look for this perfect speciman of Texas roadkill. I have no doubt that you will agree with my assessment … the U-turn was worth it. These shots are priceless fodder for that age-old question of what makes the best roadkill chili … armadillo or deer.

State Song:
Texas, Our Texas
Texas, our Texas! all hail the mighty State!
Texas, our Texas! So wonderful, so great!
Boldest and grandest, Withstanding ev'ry test;
O Empire wide and glorious, You stand supremely blest.

God bless you, Texas!
And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth,
Thro'out the ages long.

Texas, O Texas! Your freeborn Single Star,
Sends out its radiance To nations near and far.
Emblem of freedom! It sets our hearts aglow,
With thoughts of San Jacinto And glorious Alamo.

Texas, dear Texas! From tyrant grip now free,
Shines forth in splendor Your Star of Destiny!
Mother of Heroes! We come your children true,
Proclaiming our allegiance, Our Faith, Our Love for you.

Cowboy Church

Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved. Permission was graciously granted to use it here by Mark Williams. If'n ya need a good shooter, he's yer man.

The classic Ten Commandments are posted in a little sign on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas. But all the "shalt" and "shalt not" biblical dictates are delivered with a cowboy twang:

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma &Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Now that's kinda plain an' simple don't ya think?

… and there is not one mention of "Southerner" in this missive. We aren't Southerner's, we're Texans.

God Save the Republic.