Folklore in Motion
Texas Travel Lore
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of North Texas Press
We’re all travelers of some kind. Many of us have traveled great distances, roaming all across this nation or even to foreign countries to come from faraway places to get to where we are. Americans in particular are travelers—this country was founded by people from other places. The history of our state was written by adventurers who came...
I. Folk Travel in Texas
Texans on the Road: The Folklore of Travel
If the interior world of our minds reflects the exterior world in which we live, the American mind must look like a road map. Or better yet, if we could peer into the national mind, it would look like a road. It would be Interstate Highway 95 from Maine to Florida along the East Coast. Or it would be Highway 101 from ...
People just can’t stay put. As much as we love hometowns, or Texas, or America, curiosity and horizons summon us to adventures beyond the seas. Texans, no less than Connecticut Yankees, wander the world with itchy feet and wide eyes at the wonder of it all. I joined the caravan late. Apart from occasional excursions ...
Red River Bridge War
On Thursday, December 6, 1995, the old three-truss bridge spanning the Red River north of Denison was destroyed with 750 pounds of dynamite strategically placed by the Texas Department of Transportation. The blasting of this structure, which in 1931 became the most famous public free bridge across Red River ...
Wagon Train Experience
Nineteen-eighty-six was the Sesquicentennial of Texas—a mouthful to be sure—but a year in which our State attempted in a variety of ways to celebrate, memorialize, discuss, and make all sorts of tributes to all our Texas ancestors and the history of all that’s “Texan.” One of the more unique events of the year was the ...
Farm and Ranch Entrances in West Texas
In Elmer Kelton’s novel The Man Who Rode Midnight, the grandson of the old-time rancher and protagonist Wes Hendrix thinks about city folks moving to the country and pretending that they are ranchers. Kelton writes: ...
II. Back in the Day
Legends of the Trail
The following happened in August of 1886 on the Camino Real de los Tejas, where the Trail crosses Onion Creek southwest of Austin. 1886 was the drouthiest year in over a generation, and the wells had dried up, and the black land on Tobe Pickett’s farm had cracks in it wide enough to swallow a jackrabbit. María, who with ...
The Passage of Scotland’s Four/El Pasaje de los Cuatro de Escocia
De lejos, muy lejos de aqui, far from the land of the Gaelic accent, came the vessels across the challenging waters of the Atlantic to America’s different ports of entry. The vessels carried immigrants whose uncharted destinies would be remembered for many generations en la tierra de el nopa, de el mesquite, and mammoth trees...
Gone to (South) Texas
The lore of the nineteenth century Texas frontier includes many stories of pioneers leaving their homes in the North to seek new homes in Texas, and of their difficult journeys and more difficult lives after arrival. Regardless of the motivation, it took great courage to leave the known—families, friends, homes, businesses, ...
Fannie Marchman's Journey from Atlanta, Georgia to Jefferson, Texas—by Railroad, Steamboat, and Horse and Wagon, in 1869 and Beyond
Fannie Franks was born to Amanda and George Fowler on Amanda’s mother’s plantation, near Holly Springs, Mississippi, on the 19th day of September, 1851. One year after the family returned to their own home in Holly Springs, George Franks went to New York City to buy goods for his store. He died there of ...
Walter Henry Burton’s Ride—Bell County to Juarez, Mexico in 1888
Walter Henry Burton was the first of seven sons born to John Henry Martin Burton Jr. and Cynthia Priscilla Pass Burton. He was my maternal grandfather. He stood about 5′7″ tall and probably weighed 150 pounds—boots, hat, longjohns and all. But to me, he was a giant of a man, from my first recollection of him until ...
The Galloping Gourmet; or, The Chuck Wagon Cook and His Craft
The trail drive of the American cowboy is well known to the reading and viewing public of the entire world, thanks to the influence of television and movies and their enormous capacity for education. As is also well known, unfortunately Hollywood is not always careful with its facts—indeed, a new folklore might well be said to ...
The Language of the Trail Drivers: An Examination of the Origin and Diffusion of an Industry-Oriented Vocabulary
There exist in this country, and quite likely throughout the world, numerous examples of industry-oriented vocabularies. It can be argued, for instance, that the defense industry in the United States has a unique vocabulary oriented toward specific goals and projects. The baseball and football industries, both professional and collegiate,...
III. The Modern Era: Tales of Rails and Highways
Rail Remembrances: The Train in Folk Memory and Imagination
Without question, the coming of the railroads was one of the most revolutionarily transformative events in the history of the United States and the American people. Seen as a prerequisite to both the conquest of the Far West and the realization of the national goal of industrialization, privately owned and operated railroad companies ...
Safe in the Arms of Trainmen
She was Lana Turner and I was Hedy Lamarr when the train went by. The rest of the time, we splashed about, with hopes of getting properly wet in her twelve-inch-deep concrete swimming pool, née watering trough. The pool was at the foot of her long sloping backyard, a kind distance from her mother’s ears but not out of ...
Tales of the Rails
252 miles in 252 minutes. That was the schedule of the Sunbeams, No. 13 and No. 14, when the Southern Pacific Railroad began running streamlined passenger trains between Dallas and Houston in 1936. The streamlined cars were swank, uptown. The coaches had comfortable seats instead of the old padded benches. There ...
The Ford Epigram
A unique form of American folk-lore is the Ford epigram. It may be defined as a short saying, witticism, epithet, or slogan written on the side, fender, cowl, hood—indeed anywhere on the “Model T” Ford.1 Although truly folk-lore, its first notable characteristic is that it is written, a characteristic which it shares, I believe, only with the ...
Watch the Fords Go By: The Automobile Comes to Old Bell County
Richard Lee Strout and E.B. White gave verbal immortality to Henry Ford’s tin lizzie in an essay which once helped freshmen struggling to become literate learn how to string colorful anecdotes together to make sense. Their celebrated essay, “Farewell, My Lovely,” focused primarily on the wonder of Ford’s inventive ...
“Driving Across Texas at Thirty-Five Miles Per Hour”
Progress. That’s what they call it. True, travel is easier and faster than it was when I was a child, but trips across Texas are not what they were during the 1930s and 1940s. Expressways and interstate highways now speed travelers to their destinations. The wonderful little towns, the cities full of amazing sights, the courthouses, many ...
IV. Still Movin’ On, Any Way They Can
High Flyin’ Times: Adventures in a Piper Cub PA-12 Supercruiser and a Piper Tri-Pacer
Our High Flyin’ times were good years, the late 1950s and early ’60s, a healthy, optimistic, happy era. Even with the Cuban Crisis and Kennedy’s death, this ten-year folklore period seemed less complicated and stressful than the ensuing decades of the Vietnam War and national turmoil. Perhaps, to the young, obstacles are ...
Back in the Saddle Again: Riding the Chrome-moly Horse
“I’ll never complain again,” he said in a voice so low it sounded more like a moan. “Now I know the real meaning of pain. I wasn’t sure I could get off that horse. I had so many saddle sores.” As the cowboy continued describing his pain, the after effects of having ridden 150 miles in a two-day journey from Texas into ...
Iron Butt Saddlesore
Three-thirty A.M.comes early to a city boy working nine to five.That was the meet-time to join a group of motorcyclists trying for a Saddlesore 2000. The ride was to start at 4:00 A.M. on the Summer Solstice 2003 and cover over 2,000 miles in less than forty-eight hours. This entry-level jaunt for joining the Iron Butt ...
The Unspoken Code of Chivalry Among Drag Racers
At a typical race among “outlaw” pro mod drag racers, spectators see relentless competition among perennial rivals. During warm weather months, fans gather at local drag strips to see the show put on by Texas Outlaw Racing, an organization of pro mod racers. To the observer, it appears that a racer is single-minded in his or her ...
Eating Up Route 66: Foodways of Motorists Crossing the Texas Panhandle
From the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s, U.S. Highway 66 served as a major thoroughfare for motorists traveling between the Mid-west and the Pacific coast. In the mid-1920s, the U.S. Bureau of Roads began designating highways in the forty-eight states with identifying numbers. In 1926, the agency gave number 66 to a ...
There’s Life Beyond the Sonic: Growing Up Cruising
On Friday and Saturday nights in Snyder, Texas, my high school friends and I cruised the strip—what we called making the drag. We bought gas with dollar bills and change so that we could drive our chromed trucks and dirt-caked cars around the strip’s mile-long, imperfect loop. We turned around at the Sonic Drive-In on ...