It's been ten years this month since I moved away from Texas. Every time I go home for a visit, Texas seems a little more foreign to me and I'm a little bit more amazed that I grew up there.
I was there for eleven days on this trip. I flew in to Austin and rented a car for the 100 mile drive south which is my usual plan. Near my home town is the small town of Luling, Texas, the Watermelon Capital of Texas. They had just finished with their festival, the annual "Watermelon Thump". They've recently painted their water tower to look like an oblong watermelon. See the pic? That a round
Luling also has a gazillion oil pumps all throughout the town which has always looked really tacky
(they smell bad, too). So, the good citizens got together and decorated them all, (probably after they finished having the water tower painted) in order to disguise them. Here's a pic of an oil pump decorated as Snoopy doing the Red Baron thing. I'll leave the judgment up to you.
If you think that town is strange, just go down the road a bit and you'll arrive in my home town. Turkey production is the main industry there, so naturally, there's the annual Turkey Fest. It used to be called the Turkey Trot because years ago, the local turkey farmers would herd all their turkeys down main street to be processed, sort of like the Running of the Bulls, but with turkeys. Hundreds of thousands of turkeys. I'm not making this up! (See the photo, circa 1956). They later attached a parade to it. I remember marching in the Turkey Trot every year when I was in the high school band. They d
on't feature turkeys in the parade anymore, but they do have turkey races which are called the Great Gobbler Gallup. There's also Turkey Bowling where contestants bowl with frozen turkeys. A real hoot. The high school mascot is, naturally, the Gobbler. My sister was a cheerleader; a Gobblerette. I'm not making this up!
My Dad is truly a Texan, very Republican, but we get along pretty great and I really admire the guy. He had recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where he did some politicking and was pleased as punch to have met George Bush. (Pic attached). For some strange reason, he wasn't as pleased to have met Nancy Pelosi which I would have much preferred over the
former. For some other strange reason, Dad neglected to inform Bush that his eldest son is a member of the Illinois Socialist Party. I don't know why. Dang.
Just to tell you how
Republican my Dad is, when I drove up, he'd just finished washing and
waxing his new riding lawn mower. That's
how Republican he is! Ya gotta love the guy. Many people do.
Like I said, we get along just fine. Dad got a good laugh from the look on my face when we were watching TV and he changed the channel to watch Bill O'Reilly. (We watched something else).Things I like about Texas:
1. The speed limit was just raised to 80 mph on Interstate 10. Pretty cool. Watch out for deer and loose moo-cows.
2. Blue Bell Ice Cream. Only sold in Texas and it really is The Best
ice cream you've ever tasted. You can have it shipped to you - - - four gallons for a hundred bucks. Really. http://www.bluebell.com/
3. Tex-Mex food. Mexican food might be served all over now, but Tex-Mex is way different. It's spicier, greasy, bold, and big. Just like many Texans. So good, "It'll make you fall on the floor and just holler," as my grandmother used to say.
4. Friendly people. Every time I go home, I notice right away how friendly everyone is. It's not something I really miss and I don't think people are un-
friendly in Chicago, but the easy way people will just smile and chat a bit is pretty refreshing.Things I don't like about Texas
1. The Heat and humidity. God! It's just amazing. From April through October, the temps and humidity are usually above 90.
2. The bugs. I'd forgotten about all the bugs down there. Giant mosquitoes, wasps, locusts, and chiggers. They also have these flying cockroaches that jump really high and then
fly up in your face.
3. High School Football. Why an entire town will turn out every Friday night to watch their youth to assault each other is beyond me.
4. The Heat and Humidity. Did I mention that?