Saturday, 9 May 2009

Just like you pictured it

Longhorn cattle: an enduring symbol of Texas

TEXAS. I can't help but be aware of the myths, sometimes the stereotypes, that most people of this world conjure up when they hear the word Texas. That is because People are always asking me where I am from, and then sharing what they imagine that place to be: a desert, with cowboys, and the Alamo, flat, and BIG.

I tend to dispel those myths, although I'm not sure why, as it always leads to disappointment. For many years, "my Texas" has been Houston -- and like big cities everywhere, it is cosmopolitan and full of immigrants who bring their food, language and culture; inevitably, the "native" culture gets watered down quite a bit. Also, Houston is semi-tropical and less than an hour from the coast. It is green all year round, and heavily forested in places. The density of population and all that green make it look and feel really different from "mythic" Texas. (Although its massively sprawling size and wide highways might make a non-Texan dispute that claim.)

Here's the truth, though. As soon as you drive out of the cities, Texas looks a lot like the myths. Although the land varies -- and can range from mountains to true desert to prairie -- it is mostly big, flat, empty and dominated by the vast sky. There are lots of small towns, most of them none too prosperous, lots of cows, and fields -- some of them green, but a lot more brown and dusty.

It is not a landscape that comforts me, and I don't find much beauty in it, either. And yet, and yet -- when I am in other places, I long for that wide-open feeling. I will never forget visiting Spain, after a long wet year in England, when I was in my early 20s. When I got off the train, and saw that huge blue sky, I remember thinking: This feels like home.

My feelings about Texas can be characterized by the word "ambivalence."

My accent is a strange one, difficult to pinpoint or typecast. I still carry traces of my Texas roots -- in the way that a "t" sound becomes something softer, more like a "d;" "a" is more like "ah;" and I still sometimes say "ya'll," although less and less as my years in England mount up. I could never pass as English, but Texans don't recognize me either. (They ask me where I'm from, too, at least if I'm in a small town.)

In the past year, it has struck me that my exile from Texas might be a permanent one. For years, we moved back and forth between Texas and England; but my husband has tired of that rolling stone kind of life. America, the land of opportunity that once beckoned to him, no longer appeals. He prefers English humour, English radio, English beer, English countryside. We are in the process of selling our house in Houston right now, and so we continue to cut our ties there. Although my recent visit to Texas was mostly pleasure, there was also that particular business to attend to.

Perhaps this explains why I became obsessed with the family history during my annual trip to my parent's home in central Texas. I spent hours going through old family albums, taking notes from my father's study on our genealogy, inspecting old census records on, and cajoling my parents into taking me on sentimental journey fact-finding road trips.

Our family is pretty typical of a certain kind of American migration. In a twenty year span before and after the Civil War, (which ended in 1865), all of the various branches of my family tree migrated from various Southern states (Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina) to Texas. All of my great-grandparents were born in Texas, bar one, and most of my great-great grandparents. too. This might not sound like much to brag about, but you have to put it into a certain historical perspective and remember that Texas wasn't even a state until 1845. Even more importantly, there was no air conditioning. I'm not being funny; forget the oil boom of the 20s and 30s, the population of Texas didn't really begin to expand until air conditioning came to our punishingly hot state. Summer temperatures go from May to October, but the temperature can shoot up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in any month of the year. Before the 1960s, you had to be tough as a boot to live in Texas.

All of my family settled in a swathe of central Texas that spans the north-south artery of Interstate 35. From the tiny town of The Grove (officially a "ghost town" now) to the big city of Ft. Worth, you can cover the entire territory in two hours of driving. Believe me, that's nothing on the Texas map. For a hundred years, everyone mostly stayed up -- barring the inevitable dislocations of World War II, when my farm-boy grandfathers went to war. And yet none of my parents' four grandchildren were born in Texas. Neither of their children live there now.

Texas garden: limestone, cedar, cactus, rusted wheel and skull
Is this meant to be humorous?
Or is it a matter of doing the best with what you have?

Starting with the old Cox cemetary, which is only 30 miles from my parents' home, my father and I spent a long day driving from one family graveyard to the next. I was on a fact-finding mission, but I also had some emotional need to match the photographs with a place that I could see and make sense of.

I wanted to see the farm that my grandfather grew up on in the small town of Cranfills Gap. I had seen it once, when I was a small child, but it wasn't a place that my grandfather ever wanted to revisit. My grandfather was born in 1920, and his parents divorced when he was five years old. His sisters went with their mother to the more properous side of the family; my grandfather was handed over to his widowed grandmother on his father's side. He had to help work the farm, and it was a hard, lonely life. My father took down an oral account of my grandfather's life before he died, and among many other poignant facts, he shared that he was the only non-Norwegian boy in the local Mustang school. A neighbor, Mr. Knutson, loaned him a horse to ride to school. He ran away to join the Army when he was 16.

Cranfills Gap: Population 358

Cranfills Gap is still a small farming community; I don't think it has changed much since the 1930s when my grandfather lived there. I suppose that the price of agricultural commodities is affected by all sorts of larger world factors that touch upon that tiny town, but it seemed like a timeless landscape when we drove through it. The land is pocked by cedar, and it looks hard and scrubby. There was something heavy and suffocating about the atmosphere there, but perhaps it was just the sky -- choked with dust that day. There was a crazy-making wind, too.

I had been reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, late into the night before, and a description of the gray sky as the "onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world" kept running through my mind.

Cranfills Gap feels terribly remote. It is at least 20 miles away from the county seat of Meridian, and that town only has a population of 1500. There is a large county courthouse that dominates the town, and not much else. These are the features of a small Texas town: the church, the filling station, the saloon, the Dairy Queen.

A Lutheran church
on the Texas prairie

The Lutheran church is one of the few establishments to be found in Cranfills Gap. I think that people need God, or even more so the sense of community, when they are in the middle of nowhere. Every small town has a church -- or even several churches. The church which is pictured above has always fascinated me because it just stands alone in the empty landscape. It is about 20 minutes from where my parents live, and when I see it, I know that we are getting close to "home."

This courthouse is a typically ornate example. It dominates the square of a town whose fortunes have declined, along with the cotton industry, for decades now. One of my great-grandfathers used to have a cafe in the square, but we couldn't pinpoint the exact spot. My father and I spent hours poring over records -- looking for information on the Grizzle and Page families who were his mother's relations. We found the Death Certificate for my great-great grandfather, Jasper Simeon Grizzle, but it was mostly uninformative. "Not known" was the disappointing response to most of the questions that we wanted answered. Texas did not start recording deaths until 1903 -- which gives you a sense of how recently it was a wild, lawless sort of place.

The Horny Toad is a recent addition to Cranfills Gap
It was too early for dinner,
so we passed it by

The Koffee Kup in Hico, Texas
This is where we did eat dinner that day

When in Texas . . .
You need to eat chicken fried steak with cream gravy
onion rings are a nice embellishment,
but mashed potatoes are more typical

The Koffee Kup is one of those restaurants where the waitress calls you "Hon" and keeps the coffee pot constantly circulating. After this highly caloric meal, which I almost never ate when I actually lived in Texas, my father and I sampled the pie: coconut cream and chocolate, both with meringue about six inches high. When I took out my camera, to take a picture of my dinner, it made the other patrons indulgently amused. I could tell that they thought I was a visitor to that place, which I suppose that I was, and you could see the pleased "Only in Texas" expression on their faces.

The Dairy Queen in Gatesville

When I was a child, you could find a Dairy Queen in every small town -- and in many cases, it was the only game in town. My mother grew up in a small town in central Texas called Gatesville. It is one of the few small towns that has grown in size, mostly because it has a growth industry in the form of prisons. It has the largest women's prison in Texas -- a fact that I find extremely symbolic because small towns do feel like prisons to me.

Although it has been renovated, my mother spent a large portion of her teenage leisure hours at this Dairy Queen. Despite my crack about the prison thing, it is a friendly place -- and a group of elderly women were playing bridge in a private room when we arrived there. As my mother and I ate lunch -- and I had the steak finger basket, by the way -- she reminisced about how she and her friends used to pile in a car and go to the DQ for Cokes. Apparently, you could get a driver's license at age 14 back then. (Having a 14 year old myself, this bit of trivia horrified me.) However, out in the country, it is still not uncommon for little kids to learn how to drive the family pick-up truck and every 16 year old thinks a car is their natural birthright.

There is a song by Nanci Griffith, the chorus of which is: Texas back in '69 was drive-in movies and dashboard lights. Apparently, that was true of '55 as well. Larry McMurtry's Archer City was not the only small Texas town to have a drive-in "picture show."

You can still see a drive-in movie in Gatesville

It is in my teenage daughter's nature to criticize everything I do at the moment, but she was particularly exasperated by my interest in delving into my Texas past. "You are obsessed," she kept saying to me. At 14, she cannot imagine why I would be interested in anything "old" -- and she really cannot grasp why I think that understanding where I came from provides some key to understanding who I am now.

Even if I never live in Texas again, I am keenly aware that the prairie, the sky, the small town is a part of me -- ambivalence or not. And of course, as long as my parents are still there, it is still, and will always be, home.

And really, this is a love letter to both of my parents . . . but especially to my mother, for Mother's Day.


Beth said...

A beautiful love letter – and such a marvelous undertaking to delve into your history. It does help to know “from whence we came.”
I’ve been to Texas a few times (visited Archer City!) and found some of its vastness overwhelming – much like our prairie provinces.

(Just finished The Road this week – my choice for Book Club. I loved it.)

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Fabulous post. And write down the family stories and oral histories. It's the only way they survive. (p.s. I have an Ancestry subscription and can look things up for you if you don't have one.)

Chairman Bill said...

I'm afraid that Texas always conjures up images of the Texas Board of Education and their dogged attempts at pushing the Creationist agenda in science lessons, rather than philosophy or religious education, where it rightly belongs.

That and the TV show Dallas.

Went to Houston once. One of our crew got murdered. An unfortunate incident which coloured my view of the place.

Catalyst said...

Loved this post. I lived in Austin for less than two years and loved the town but not the humidity. (Can't imagine living in Houston!) After decades of sneering at Texas, I found it a charming place that really felt like an independent (very) nation rather than one of the states.

Dick said...

Totally absorbing, Bee. What a good read. It fed directly into my life-long fascination with things 'frontier'. Thanks so much for this wonderful account.

blackbird said...

Thank you for taking me along on your trip through Texas and your family memories. I have never been to Texas and I'm not sure what might take me there. The closest that I've gotten is New Mexico and Colorado.

I've been working on my family history- beyond what I already knew. And I, too, wish that I'd asked more questions when I had the chance but several grandparents saw no point in looking back, only forward.

Good luck in your search- your daughter will thank you for it when she's older.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Bee, your words and pictures are a paeon to the beauty of the State of Texas Longhorns. Thank you most sincerely, and thank you for loving the UK enough to choose to live here too x

Bee said...

Beth - I'm so intrigued that you've been to Archer City. Good grief, it's one of the ugliest places in the world to my eye. I don't know how those farmers didn't go crazy. I was amazed when McMurtry moved back there, but he didn't stay. Did you go to visit his bookstores?

The Roadwas scary, touching, beautiful. They've made a movie of it.

Meri - You are so sweet to offer me use of your Ancestry membership. I have one, though; thanks. As for oral histories, there are so many things that I want to know about my maternal grandmother -- and no one who can fill in the blanks is still alive.

Chairman Bill - Your experience of Houston does sound pretty vile. Guns and Jesus; philosophically they don't seem to go together, and yet they are usually an inseparable pair in TX. There have always been abysmal Texas politicians, unfortunately. At least we used to have Molly Ivins to help laugh about it. The Creationist movement is alarming, I agree.

Catalyst - Austin isn't humid! That ain't nuthin'. Austin is a funny place because it is so completely Texan in some ways -- and so anomalous in others.

Dick - Thanks for reading. Are you one of those who watched The Alamo (John Wayne version) too many times as a kid? I went to college in San Antonio, and the Alamo looks exactly how you think it will (kind of like Stonehenge), only it is small and right in the middle of downtown SA.

Blackbird - Thanks so much for this feedback. I know for a fact that some of my grandparents had very hard lives and didn't particularly want to think about the past. I hate to think of their stories being lost, though.

A Woman of No Importance - Yes, England suits my temperament much better . . . but there must be a bit of hidden longhorn in there somewhere.

linda said...

this was a fascinating read, although i don't like texas! my son lives in the small town of pflugerville, outside of austin by about 15 miles, and so i've been there a few times and i have yet to like the place....everything excepting some of the people, who are very nice compared to here in CA, is brown and hot, arid, burned to a crisp or blown away...i really don't even like the airport because I can actually "smell it"....there is a smell to texas and i think it's in the dust of the place....who was interesting to read your history there, see the pictures, read how you see's always fascinating to see how others see, is it not?? ;)


Travis Erwin said...

I can't imagine living anywhere but Texas, though I love to visit other places.

Elizabeth said...

I read this with great interest as you can imagine.
A very, very different world for me to try to understand.
I think it is really good that you have started this delving and questioning with many years to go....
Beautifully written and such photos.
I found the church one very haunting.

Bee said...

Linda - California is so beautiful; I don't think TX can compete with that at all! Ever since I was a small child, I wondered why I lived there . . . it didn't seem to fit me right. And yet, all of those generations in Texas! (I wonder why they didn't keep moving west?)

Travis - You are a true Texan, with all of the humor and best tall-tale-telling qualities.

Elizabeth - Thanks for your kind feedback; it means a lot. I can't tell you how poignant it was to visit that horrible, empty place and think of my grandfather's childhood. I saw two children playing baseball in a field and I desperately wanted to take a picture of them . . . but didn't feel comfortable asking.

Delwyn said...

I really enjoyed your trip and research around your home town. As you know I have just returned from my home town and that feeling of ambivalence always prevails.
When we left NZ for adventures afar it was with a feeling of great relief and escape. The country and especially the small town we had been living in seemed parochial and cloying, conservative and sapped my soul.
But no matter where you go you can never escape your roots and the influences of those early formative years - so like you I enjoy knowing about my past heritage but I love where I am living now and who I have become in this very different place.
Thanks for the journey around Texas, I have never been but my husband has often scoured the state for old mopars which he restores as a hobby.
Happy Days

herhimnbryn said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Bee. I felt as though you had taken me with you.

I remember being 14 and moaning at my Dad for taking us to yet another ancient building or going for a walk where he grew up. I treasure those moments now and have told him so. I suspect your daughter will do the same one day:)

The pic. of the rock/rust and skull garden bed reminds me of many outback gardens here. Something to do with the climate and like you say, making do with what you have.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Have not been to Texas or the States at all. But I can understand your ambivalence for your small hometown. Both my husband and I come from the small town, Taiping, Perak, Malaysia. Both our parents have passed away but some family ties are still there.So we're still visiting and enjoying what the place has to offer.
Lovely post to mum!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Bee, what a journey home it was for you this time. And what a lovely, lovely post. Your photos are beautiful and make me miss the big Texas sky.

I can't wait to hear more about your quest to learn more about your family. I tend to ask a lot of questions when I am with my parents too. I wonder if that comes from living apart from them? Or maybe it's just where I am in my life.

Bee said...

Delwyn - As I was reading your comment, it occurred to me: NZ is as "commonplace" to you as TX is to me; and yet how exotic each place seems to a stranger! I'm also intrigued by "mopars" . . . what are they?

herhimnbryn - Thanks for your kind comments. I suppose that the desert garden has a humorous charm, but for me, it can't really compare with the herbaceous border in full bloom!

Keats the Sunshine Girl - I guess that small towns are somewhat suffocating no matter where you go. But don't you think that some landscapes are just bleaker than others? Thanks for visiting.

JAPRA - An interesting question: maybe it is where we are with our lives. I always had a bit of that interest, though, and used to love to look through the old photo albums when I visited my grandmother. I found my mother's great-grandparents on . . . she didn't even know their names, even though she grew up very close to where they had lived. The past can be lost very easily . . .

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

I just happened on your post today and enjoyed it very much. If you visit my blog type in "Texas" in the Search Blog area at the top of the page for other Texas mentions.
I was in Bosque & Hood counties last weekend & took some courthouse square photos. I hope you enjoy them. I'll be back for a visit!

Expat From Hell said...

Great post - I came here because of Lizzy F's commentary. Loved the post about Texas. So much of life is captured and challenged by this place, isn't it? Your story is interesting and compelling, as is your history. I will be back again.


Anne said...

Beautiful post, Bee. I love the description of your family's history.

I spent most of my Texas time in Houston, which doesn't always feel like Texas Texas. But every once in a while I'd see or experience something that would remind me, yes, I'm definitely in Texas.

Bee said...

Lizzy - Thanks for visiting! I looked at your courthouse pics, (and I've got one of the courthouse in Meridian as well). Those fancy courthouses in the middle of unpopulated, dusty counties have always fascinated me.

Expat from Hell - I'm so intrigued by your moniker! I shall investigate shortly.

Anne - Yes, there are definitely bits of Texas in Houston . . . but probably less so all the time. And yet, you can go to a small town and feel like you are in the 19th century . . . except for the pick-up trucks, of course.

Jay said...

Creamy gravy?
I'm frightened!

Regina Dwarkasing said...

Hi Bee,

Just came along your blog this morning and have read, with pleasure and admiration, your long post about Texas. I think it really gives insight in these empty American countryside places. My only similar experience is driving through Arizona and in a few weeks Montana will follow and I do'nt think this will be much different from Texas (apart from the geographical circumstances of course) in the sense of very small communities. Thanks for allowing us to have a closer look!

St. Maarten DWI

CashmereLibrarian said...

An incredible post. I lived in Texas just after I was married; the outskirts of Dallas. I lasted about two months. But I loved the music! That was the era of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the radio stations played a lot of it.
Since then I've driven through west Texas several times, generally along Route 66. One morning we stopped in a small dusty town like you described, grabbed a yogurt at the tiny market, and discovered a store-front museum in an otherwise abandoned Main Street. A little old lady showed us around. There was some great cowboy paraphernalia as well as photos and documents from WWII--apparently there had been a German POW camp nearby! Amazing history, Texas.

ArtSparker said...

I think Texas convenience food could give Anglish convenience food a run for its money.

ArtSparker said...

Oops, I meant English.

Lisa said...

What a delight to read! As you said to me earlier - there is so much here to comment on.

I grew up in a small Ohio River town and so the small town experience is very familiar to me. I watch movies like Dazed and Confused (set in TX, BTW) and it's like a time machine.

Anyway, Indiana is not Texas and I want to tell you that I know exactly what you mean about the sky. My first trip "out west" was eye opening in how big the sky could be.

I hope you had a wonderful mother's day and that you got a chance to speak to your mother.

Nimble said...

Hi Bee,

You packed a lot into this post. I wanted to offer that my parents swore by county courthouses as good places for picnic lunches on family trips. Usually there's grass and shady old trees, esp. in the midwest.

Your graveyard visits reminded me of going to visit my husband's father's grave in Pendleton, Texas. (Pronounced Pennulton.) The town is a little ranching remnant. The graveyard may be the best kept bit left. Very dusty and away from civilization although it's just north of Temple and not far from I-35.

My husband's mother has lively connections to the families represented there. I am not sure that anyone else in the family will take the same interest. Her grandmother's family raised sheep in that town when she was a girl.

Bee said...

Jay - Don't be frightened; but do eat sparingly.

Regina - You're right; I think that AZ and MT are fairly comparable in terms of their emptiness. It is an almost indescribable feeling to be "stranded" in all of that vast landscape. Some people love it; I find it frightening and overwhelming.

Cashmere Librarian - Wow, you lived outside of Dallas, too? I remember the Stevie Ray Vaughan era well. I was working an all-night shift at an Austin restaurant the night that he died and it was like an impromptu wake in the place. Thanks a lot for the good feedback.

ArtSparker - Are you referring to the DQ or the chicken fried steak?

Lisa - I was living in Austin, working as a waitress and taking college classes, when they made Dazed and Confused. It wasn't exactly my life, but let's just say that I was acquainted with the type! p.s. Indiana was a clue in the crossword puzzle that Sig was doing last night. I had to spell it for him.

Nimble - I know Pendleton. I also "know" it. If you've only lived in TX cities, I think that it can be startling to discover just how rural the countryside/small town scene actually is . . . even now. We saw lots of goats, too, on our travels. Not so many sheep. Don't they need richer grass? It's so dry in central Texas right now.

Dave King said...

It was patently obvious all the way through that your post was a love letter, and a beautiful one at that, but I didn't know until the last who or what to. It is one of the most charming I have read, with all the true sentiments and all the genuine tugs, not least the nostalgia, of the genre. Exquisitely done, a joy to read.

Bee said...

Dave, that was a truly generous compliment. You've made my day.

JaneyV said...

Bee - what a gorgeous and moving post. I often think you get the real insider's point of view on a place when the "insider" has been outside for a while. The perspective of living away from home seems to draw the focus in to what makes a place special. Not only can you see its idiosyncrasies from a new angle you have the added advantage of being able to describe them from the heart. This truly was a beautiful love letter.

As a complete outsider one of the things that I have heard about Texas is that there is a Texas mindset. It's been described to me as hardheaded, tough, stubborn and with a unique brand of justice. Texan first American second. Does this exist? Or is it just another myth that grew up alongside the cowboys....

imbeingheldhostage said...

Great post! Do you ever find yourself reading through someone's post thinking "me too!" I did this all throughout here.

I'm in England and came here from AZ (we were stationed near El Paso for five years prior). My family all migrated from Tennessee and Kentucky to... Kentucky, except for us-- we're the pioneers in the southwest, but it's here that I stepped off the plane and said "I'm home" and now the Hubby is going to have a hard time getting me back to the states.
Fun reading today, thank you for the virtual trip :-)

Sarah Laurence said...

Bee, this is a beautifully written tribute to your home and family. You haven’t dug up your roots but transplanted them to your blog.

I had no idea that Texas was so varied in terrain. I’ve only been to Dallas, but you’ve given me a glimpse of so much more.

Bee said...

Janey - I've given quite a lot of thought to what you wrote, and I think that you are right about the perspective. Perhaps until you see other places you can't really even judge (or notice?) the qualities of your own original home. As for the Texas mindset, yes, it does exist. I didn't really have it, but plenty do! A lot of people think it could have been (should have been) its own country.

I'mbeingheld hostage - Yes, I often think, "Me, too!" I know exatly what you mean about England, too. The first time I came here, when I was 15, I had the thought: This is where I'm meant to be.

Sarah - Thank you so much for your kind words. Texas IS quite varied, but it has a quality that makes it always recognizable, too.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

This was lovely. I loved hearing about where you come from and your feelings about it. I got a sense of sadness that you are feeling your ties nearly severe with your native land, though you make it clear that you don't prefer the Texas terrain. Do you, in some ways, wish to return to the U.S.?

I'm glad you have gotten into genealogy. I've been fascinated by genealogy since I was 11 or 12. Such amazing stuff. It has always helped me know myself better, if that makes sense.

Bee said...

Alyson - I'm starting to realize that I'll always be torn. The first time I came to England I can clearly remember thinking, "This is the place for me!" (I guess that's why I find it so cool that most of my ancestors were originally from England.) For natural beauty, England wins hands-down. But still . . . there is so much about Texas that I love!

I'm brewing another genealogy post. Looking forward to talking more about this subject with you . . .

Pam I Am said...

Lovely, lovely post, Bee.

While I haven't moved an ocean away, I no longer live in the place where I spent my early childhood (Illinois) or grew up (Maryland). Just as you describe here, both seem very familiar and foreign at the same time when I revisit...which I'm about to do in a few weeks. (Going to MD to get my mother and taking her to IL to see her brothers and other relatives.)

I plan to video record whatever I can get these relatives to talk about regarding the past. (I've done some of this previously, but I feel a real sense of urgency now due to the age of some of the parties involved and the likelihood that I'll never again sit down with all of them at the same time.) This is a family that came from farmers. In a parallel to your grandfather's story, my abandoned-by-her-husband grandmother sent her oldest son (one of the aforementioned uncles) to live with her parents on the farm during the depression to help them and herself (a farmhand for them; one less mouth to feed for her).

Well, I could ramble on about my family history, but that's not what your comments are for! Let me shorten this to say that I absolutely concur with your conclusion that the more intimate histories are lost frighteningly fast if we don't get them recorded and also concur with those commentors who said that your daughter will later cherish your attempts to create this record. My (now adult) children are fascinated by these things.

Bee said...

Pam I Am - Thank you so much for your comment . . . there is no such thing as "too long." I've been involved in all sorts of research these past few weeks -- including finding some relatives (long-lost and never-knew-I-had-them). I hope you enjoy your own back-home journey. xx

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

You do certainly know Texas, Bee, and you have captured it perfectly. Although I am from the east coast, I've lived in Texas for nearly 20 years or so and I have always had one foot out the door. When I do leave someday I will take my chicken-fried steak recipe with me! And memories of some of the most lovable characters one could ever imagine!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about your visit to Texas. I did something similar with my mom a couple of years ago (south, south Louisiana) and I know my mom went with my grandfather to east Texas to find out more about his family history. I want my kids to know about that one day. I'm sure your daughter will eventually appreciate that you went, and more importantly, that you documented it so beautifully.

Bee said...

Catherine - I'm so intrigued! I've never pictured you in Texas, that's for sure.

Julia - Well, I've gotten my brother on board at any rate. As for my daughter, I tease her that the genealogy interest suddenly rears up when you are about 40. (Of course she can't really believe that she will ever be 40.)

An Uncommitted Pundit said...

Bee, it makes my heart a little sick for home. I think Austin is somewhere in my future (again.) I remember when we were kids we went with Grandma and Papa to the Old Cox Farm Cememtery (which for Nimble is in Eddy -- quite close to Pendleton.) It was blazing hot, and we couldn't find it. Grandma suggested we ask the "colored fella" for directions, and I remember looking with interest for the person in question, whom I visualized possessing the hues of a rainbow, since I didn't know what "colored" meant! As I recall, there was a rattlesnake in the cemetery, and I don't remember getting out of the car!

Bee said...

There WAS a rattlesnake. I'm really intrigued by your memories . . . they often have more detail (or just different details) from mine.

I hope you end up living in Austin . . . and we will go eat barbeque and listen to Robert Earl Keen again.

take good care in that other dusty place you are going to . . .xxxx