TEXUCATION...WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FROM TEXAS
By Elaine Padgett Carnegie
If you were born and raised in Texas, then you know that being a part of Texas… there is a little something … more. All native Texans know it, they can feel it. It cannot be explained and is easily misunderstood. Maybe it is just a birthright from those who came before… So, Bless ‘yer heart and pull up ‘yer boot straps because Texas is a wide and wonderful place! Here are some “just for fun” facts about our Great State! They call it “Texucation.”
Texas, The Lone Star State, is big! The nickname "Lone Star State" originates from the star on the flag of the Republic of Texas. The lone star signifies Texas as a former independent republic. 660 miles wide and 790 miles long, Texas is the largest of the 48 contiguous states; with sweeping deserts, high peaks, semi tropical valleys, clear rushing streams and dense, fragrant piney woods. Then there is the wide Rio Grande serving as the Mexico border and the muddy Brazos River of fable and song. The word Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies. Texans are a friendly lot!
The biggest city, Houston boasts the Museum of Fine Arts, while the Space Center offers interactive displays engineered by NASA. Austin, the capital, is known for its eclectic music scene and Johnson City for the LBJ Presidential Library, San Antonio has the "Riverwalk", Fiesta Texas and Sea World, a little further on up in the North and West is the largest oil deposit ever discovered as of 2016 in the Permian Basin near Odessa, TX, but you can see miles of oil derricks and working wells anywhere in Texas. Same goes for cattle. With 16 million head you can view vast herds of cattle by the side of most any thoroughfare in Texas. Herds of Buffalo and a variety of exotic animals you can see on any scenic drive in the exceptionally beautiful, diverse and rambling Texas Hill Country.
You know that the first suspension bridge in the United States was the Waco Bridge. Built in 1870 and still in use today as a pedestrian crossing of the Brazos River. Texas had the first domed stadium in the country, opened in April 1965, and Amarillo has the world's largest helium well.
You have heard that everything is bigger in Texas? Well, Texas is so large that it has more than twice as many square miles as all 10 of the smallest American states combined. Interstate 10, Texas's major east-west corridor, runs almost a third of the length of the nation and takes more than 14 hours to cross. The engulfing size of Texas means there is more room for farms, ranches, homes and businesses to be larger, and Texans love a "road trip!" El Paso is closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas.
Texans are also known for their state pride. Many consider themselves Texans first and Americans second, generating a collective pride in being Texan that contributes to the stereotypical Texas personality. Any Texan will tell you, "Our roots run deep and we like it that way!"
The Alamo is located in San Antonio. It is where Texas defenders, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and William Travis fell and the phrase “Remember the Alamo” originated. It is considered the cradle of Texas liberty, although not where the Revolution began... That was Gonzales, the site of the first shots of the Texas Revolution and the Legend of the “Come and Take It Cannon!” It wasn't the end of the Texas Revolution either...that came when that gentleman pictured in the top right corner, Sam Houston,soundly whipped General Santa Anna and sent his excellency "packing" out of the New Republic of Texas at the Battle of San Jacinto! The San Jacinto Monument is the world's tallest war memorial, standing 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument and honors all those who fought for Texas' independence.
Texas is the only state to have the flags of 6 different nations fly over it. They are: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States. Texas is the only state to enter the United States by treaty instead of territorial annexation, and was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845. By treaty, Texas is the only State whose flag may fly in equal height to the US Flag.
The King Ranch in Texas is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. More wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state in the United States, and the Edwards Plateau in west central Texas is the top sheep growing area in the country. Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other comparable area in North America, and the Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.
Sam Houston, (above) arguably the most famous Texan ever, was born in Virginia. A statue of Sam Houston called a “Tribute to Courage” is the world’s largest freestanding statue of an American. Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston in 1837. In 1839 the capital was moved to Austin and the current building opened May 16, 1888. The dome of the building stands seven feet higher than that of the nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C. Texas has the largest state capitol building among all the 50 states. The capitol building is made from Texas pink granite.
Texas has a hunting heritage and boasts the nation's largest herd of whitetail deer. More land is farmed in Texas than in any other state. More species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the United States. Caddo Lake is the one and only natural lake in the state, and Laredo is the world's largest inland port. Port Lavaca has the world's longest fishing pier. The worst natural disaster in United States history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Over 8000 deaths were recorded.
Texas is home to Dell and Compaq computers and central Texas is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of the south. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. In Dublin, TX 85 miles west of Waco is the only place in the world where Dr Pepper is still produced with the original secret formula! There is no period after the Dr in Dr Pepper. Jalapeno pepper jelly originated in Lake Jackson and was first marketed in 1978.
In Texas, the tea is sweet and the accent is clearly southern. Y'all is a proper noun and ain't is a word. Bar B Que is a staple food, biscuits come with gravy, and chicken is fried, and so are the pickles. (Some say macaroni and cheese is a veggie, but I'm not sure about that one.) We say "Yes Mam and No Mam" to our Mama's and we pull over out of respect to let a funeral pass. We wave a lot, call everyone Darling and we are a touchy-feely bunch. We're always hugging someones neck and blessing someone's heart! Our best memories are made on an old dirt road or a wide front porch. Catching lightning bugs and putting them in a Mason jar with holes poked in the lid is a children's Spring and Summer activity.
We run the Air Conditioning in January in the day and the heater at night out of self preservation. We ride the rivers or tube them, we drive fast and talk slow. Tempers are quick and hearts are big. We work hard and play hard, and we do love a rodeo!
The world's first rodeo was held in Pecos, Texas on July 4, 1883. We wear boots with everything and "Southern Hospitality" is more than a word. It's the way your Mama was and your Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw before her... it's roots, way down deep. It's our way of life.
Don't get me wrong now. We like to "cut-up." We love cold beer around the fire outside with good company... even in the summer. We can dance and shoot and ride a horse, and bait our own hook at the fishin' hole. We love to go muddin' anytime on anything, from an ATV to a big old 4 Wheel Drive Truck. We love football, Blue Bell Ice Cream, the woods and starry nights. (Especially with cold beer 'round a blazing fire. Did I mention that already?)
There is nothing like the smell of sweet Magnolia and honeysuckle drifting on the damp night air with the crickets chirping and the cicadas singing. Speaking of flowers, did you know the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world's largest rose garden.
Some people say we like to brag, and maybe so... maybe so, but Texas is a big place with a long and colorful history; in fact the first word spoken from the moon on July 20, 1969 was Houston.
AND… Just for fun you should know you can be arrested for milking another person's cow in Texas. Contrary to popular belief Cattle Rustling is not a hanging offense in the State of Texas... BUT if a Texan catches someone stealing their Cattle...it is legal to shoot them in defense of your property! You must believe in a supreme being in order to be elected to public office in the State of Texas. There's an old law on the books that makes it illegal to curse in front a corpse. You should also know it is illegal to shoot a Buffalo out of a second story window. Only in Texas, right? The official dish of Texas is chili. The armadillo is the state small mammal. The large mammal is of course, the famed Texas Longhorn. State Bird is a Mockingbird. The State tree is Pecan and the Flower is the Bluebonnet. The State Motto is Friendship… So y’all come on down and enjoy some Texas hospitality. Take a road trip through this enchanting State and visit us in the awesome Texas Hill Country!