Sunday, February 20, 2011

Texas History - Normally Written

I was going to write an entry early yesterday morning except for the fact that my wife asked me fifteen minutes earlier, "What are you going to write in your blog?"

I answered truthfully, "I don't know". I rarely know. I somehow evolve into a subject once the keys start clicking. But then she said, "Why don't you write something normal. You've been way out there lately."

That ruined me. Normal. I sat at my computer and concentrated on being normal. To write normal I had to think normal and the more I tried to think normal the more abnormal I became. I finally left in disgust but the whole notion of normalness bounced in and out of my noggin all day. Did you know that you can go crazy trying to be normal? Finally I said, "Screw it" and decided to just sit and let the words of dead Pharaohs or someone equally dead to channel their thoughts through my fingers. Either that or I would make something up. Or even better, I could cheat.

Texas Monthly magazine has published 150 facts about the history of Texas...facts other than about the Alamo which I don't want to talk about because it would make everyone envious that John Wayne and Davy Crockett and Billy Ray Thornton died there. Instead I figure I will steal a couple or three or four notions regarding Texas history that you didn't know. And I figure that this would make this a pretty normal blog. Right?

- The hamburger was invented by Fletcher Davis, a Texan from Athens, Texas and he took his new sandwich to the World's Fair in St. Louis where a reporter from the New York Tribune called it a 'hamburger' -- and the name stuck. Now there may be disbelievers who mistakenly believe that the hamburger was invented in Seymour, Wisconsin or New Haven, Connecticut or Tulsa, Oklahoma or Hamburg, New York. I have proof of the true roots of the hamburger. In 2007 the Texas Legislature declared Athens, Texas the 'Original Home of the Hamburger' by unanimous vote! As Mayor Randy Daniel proclaimed, "Anytime you can get a group of the best politicians money can buy to agree on one thing, it's got to be true".

- In 1861 Marshall, Texas was the seat of government for Confederate Missouri. When Missouri's legislature refused to vote for succession, the state's Governor and Lieutenant Government got so gosh darn mad they left town and reestablished the state government in Texas. Sound reasonable to me.

- If you have watched Walker, Texas Ranger  you know that Texas has...well, Rangers. There is an unofficial motto related to the Rangers, and that is, 'One riot, One ranger' which, I suppose, speaks to the bravery and way too much confidence that Rangers have. It is said that this quote was made by Texas Ranger Captain Bill McDonald in 1896. It is sort of true. When he arrived in Dallas to take care of a mob, his anxious greeters asked where the rest of the ranger company was. Captain McDonald replied, "Well, you ain't got but one mob, have you?" There is a statue of Bill in the Love Field terminal in Dallas with the inscription, 'One riot, One ranger'. I guess it is more succinct.

- It was in 1958 that Jack Kilby had to stay at work while everyone else was off for two weeks at Texas Instruments. Engineers had been working on designing complex circuits, numbering into the thousands, to work with those new-fangled transistors. The result of all this designing meant that thousands of circuits had to be hand-soldered...and it just seemed plain stupid to Jack. So he figured out instead of everything working separately -- and I do not understand any of this -- he could combine it into one glob...and the integrated circuit was born. Thanks to Jack you now have a cell phone.

- And finally the most important fact of Texas history. Sheryl Leach was an elementary school teacher and decided to make videos for her students in 1991 in a small, plain studio in Dallas. She got a guy to dress up in purple and green dinosaur costume and dance and sing, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" and taped it. They called the character Barney. The kids liked it so much that they made multiple videos one of which eventually ended up in the hands of a Connecticut Public Television employee who got it for his daughter. He was so impressed with her reaction, he arranged for the video to be turned into a television series called Barney and Friends. Who says Texas doesn't contribute to our nation?

This concludes my lecture on Texas history as borrowed from Texas Monthly Magazine. I'm sorry you can't be a Texan, but I like you anyway.


  1. I'm not sure how anywhere else could ever provide such facts as these. Especially the Barney one. For that, the world is truly thankful.

  2. So Texas is the home of the infamous since my husband and I have always boycotted the purple menace, that doesn't mean we have to boycott Texas too does it? Man I hope not, I was sure looking forward to visiting that grand state someday! ;) I suppose though that if Texas really is the home of the hamburger, well then that makes up for Barney. After all, where would we be without the big juicy hamburger?? Most everybody loves hamburgers and we are no exception!

    I love history - so thanks for this mini lesson in Texan history. You rock as always and I love hearing from you. Have a great week! :)

  3. okay, first of all, I think 'normalcy' is highly overrated!

    Second: Not that I don't find Texas a facinating place (after all, some of my most favorite bloggers are from the grand state of Texas), but I like shall I put it...Your Less Than...noooo...I mean, Your MORE Than Normal posts better. Not that this one hasn't been delightful and all, but, well,,,I wasn't really feeling it, like ususal...
    ;) :)

  4. What?! Our fair state is to blame for the whole Barney-thing? Oh, the shame! The shame!

    But the rest of it kind of makes up for it.

  5. Jerry, like most non-Texans I used to hate Texas. (Except for those crazy Dallas Cowboys fans down in Phoenix.) But after living in Austin for nearly 2 years back in the early '90's, I grew to love it. And, most of all, to understand that Texas is really a nation unto itself. And I mean that in a good way.

  6. BARNEY...? I'm surprised! He seems like such a gentle soul to have begun in Texas... not that I have personal knowledge of his lineage. But WAIT--I forgot whom I was speaking with! Of COURSE there are gentle menfolk in Texas!

  7. That was interesting, informative, and aaah normal.... Can we go back to your regular un-normal style, now?
    Texas, is look'n better all the time when one is in California. Though if one moves that way one must say one is from Oregon....

  8. I'd to an expose' on Oregon but all we have are public accessible beaches and the right to physician-assisted suicide. We're not allowed to pump our own gas.

  9. I have never been to Texas, but when I think of Texas I think of the Bush family. And the death penalty. And the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And Don't Mess With Texas. Thank you for introducing me to a kinder, gentler state.

  10. Robert the Skeptic...don't tell anyone else but you have the best of things in Oregon: free beaches, great skiing, beautiful country,shakespeare, lakes, someone to actually give you service at the pump, summer meadows for the cows, and Del Rio Winery.
    I have learned to use my Oregon plates when I'm up there....

  11. Since your post included the quote by Athens Mayor Randy Daniel, digesting your version of normal was well worth the visit!

  12. Barney? Now I know who to blame! It's always been said that half of the little kids who see the show like him and the other half are terrified of him. I'm, er uhm, my grandaughter is one of terrified ones...