There's a bumper sticker a lot of us have on our pick-up trucks. It reads: "I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as soon as I could."
I'm one of those folks. A transplanted New Yorker.
The history of Texas is filled with people who ran from bankruptcy, bad love affairs and the law to make a new life for themselves.
Its big and brash, filled with exuberance and excess, and utterly unashamed.
Its also welcoming and friendly.
When I first came to Texas a few years ago, I wandered into Stan's Blue Note on Greenville Avenue in Dallas. Within a few minutes someone asked "where y'all from?" I said that I had just moved to Dallas. "Hey everybody," my interogator announced, "We got us a New Texan." "Let me buy you a beer," he said.
That's what Texas is. A place that says no matter who you are or where you're from, you're one of us, no further questions asked.
Actually, as with most things here, the bigger, the better. Belt buckles are awarded to top Cowboys and horsemen, some of whom make a living doing what they love. It is a badge of courage and skill, if you will. Often if you look carefully, and quickly unless youre um, otherwise interested in said person, you will read the name of the competition, event, and sometimes the placement results (4th overall, Saddle Bronc, Mesquite Championship Rodeo, 2004). Feel free to ask the story behind the buckle...it may have been won by a favorite grandfather (if somewhat dated), he may have ridden an "unridable bull" or what not. Generally referred to as a "trophy buckle".
It's easy to remember which is the Texas flag - it's the one with the single star. Some people say it was originally because Texas was the lone state of Mexico which was attempting to uphold its rights under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. Others say that the star represented the wish of many Texans to achieve statehood in the United States. A flag with a single star was raised at the Alamo (1836)
The flag was adopted as the state flag when Texas became the 28th state in 1845. As with the flag of the United States, the blue stands for loyalty, the white represents strength, and the red is for bravery.
The picture shows an iron star in a circle which my daughter and SIL had made for their family room. The pictures on the wall were painted by a medical illustrator who used to work for my father. The pencil drawing in the reddish frame was done by my daughter's paternal aunt. The picture of the steers over the fireplace was done by my grandmother.
The story goes that back in the 1950s, when Alaska was campaigning for statehood, Texas objected because it didn't want to become the second biggest state in the Union. Alaska responded by threatening to make two applications, for West Alaska and East Alaska, which would have pushed Texas into third place. But even if it no longer exists as the biggest state - or as a separate country, which the Republic of Texas was between 1836 and 1845 - Texas still excels in other areas. It has the biggest steaks, coldest beer, purtiest wimmin, biggest mouths. Oh no, better delete that last one. But let old Cliffie offer one parting shot: never ask anyone if he is from Texas. If he isn't, he'll be offended. If he is, he'll already have told you.