14 Jun 2013

More on Texas Lifestyles

Posted by Sam

June 12, 2013

Dear Friends:

We have missed the tornadoes, or rather they missed us (two of them by not much), and we’re now into hurricane or tropical storm season. I think we are far enough inland that we don’t have to worry much. The temps are rising; our first 100 degree day is expected this week. With heat like this, thunderstorms are always possible, and they are doozies. We haven’t seen softball sized hail, but apparently we are among the few who haven’t seen it.

It’s a busy time of the year for the family. Susie, Becca and Katie are at Girl’s Camp, Xander is taking Art Camp every morning this week, Jason and Jamie are both working and they are down to one car since Susie wrecked the second car, so we taxi when we can. Jamie will drive the kids to Santa Fe later this month, to meet her mother and hand over the kids for their month-long summer visit. Jamie will go to Utah mid-July for a visit and come home with the kids the end of July. The house they have rented for the past couple of years has been sold and they will move sometime in July. The new house is beautiful and still very close to us. They will rent with an option to buy (hopefully).

I just finished reading Michener’s TEXAS. It was most interesting now that I am living here. And I swear it answered a lot of questions about why Texans are the way they are. First, when Texas was settled, it was run by the Spanish and then Mexico. Settlers had to be Catholic to own any land. Land was free, which accounted for the settlers coming here in the first place; if you farmed you were given a “Labor” (lab-bore), which was 177 acres. If you had cattle, you could get a league of land, which was about 4,500 acres. Most settlers managed to farm and ranch, to get the most land they could. Of course, in some parts of Texas, a cow/calf unit was at least 500 acres, so you had to have a LOT of land! So folks gave up their religion and their traditions to become Texans. And the belief system they developed was based a lot on land. Even when the oil boom hit, the first thing a rich oilman did when his gusher came in was go buy land and a ranch.

Texas has spent twice as many years under Spanish or Mexican rule than it has as part of the U.S. And since it was so big and Mexico didn’t rule very well, Texans began making their own rules very early in their settlement.The fierce allegiance to Texas I suspect didn’t develop until the 20th Century. Prior to that, folks had a fierce independence. Not to overlook the Alamo, but it just seems like Texans worked to develop their land, for their families,and when the oil started coming in around 1905, money managed to change some attitudes. For example, I think Texans still believe that if a fellow owns something, he ought to be able to run it. If you have enough money, you should be able to run your county, your state or maybe even the federal guv’mint!  Call it the Jerry Jones syndrome. Jerry owns the Dallas Cowboys and he has been meddling in their losing football seasons since the day he bought the team!

Every day we read the paper and find some police, or judiciary official is accused of something: theft, DUI, sexual misconduct — it’s a long list. You wonder, how did they think they could get away with something like that? Because they have gotten away with it before, or for a long time, I think.

You may have read about the high school valedictorian in Joshua, TX who was cut off at the end of his valedictorian speech. He had to turn in his proposed speech to four school officials who, after suggesting changes, approved it. He was specifically told not to talk about God. When he gave his approved speech and then went on to talk about God anyway, they didn’t drag him off the stage, but they turned his microphone off. I can’t believe there is a school in Texas that truly believes in separation of church and state; the microphone was turned off because the kid didn’t do what he was told to do!

We are enjoying Texas the same way we enjoyed almost every adventure we had on the road (with the possible exception of Rawlins, Wyoming). People are generally very open and friendly, they all love Texas; we don’t meet a lot of natives; people moved here to make more money (doesn’t seem to matter if it’s 1806 or 1006); the country is beautiful; you still have to be creative to garden.

Dave and Preston were attacked by two pit bulls on May 24th. The neighbors helped Dave get the dogs off them (something that might not have been the case in our white North Carolina neighborhood), and 911 sent two cop cars, an ambulance, a fire truck and animal control. In the middle of the melee, a guy walked up to our neighbor across the street and asked if he had seen two gray dogs. Our neighbor said yeah, they attacked an old guy (!?) and his dog across the street. When the guy kind of laughed, the neighbor said something about it being a bad deal and the guy said “F— ‘im.” Then the guy collected the dogs and a car came by and picked them up and sped off. Another neighbor got the license plate and the police tracked it down to a woman in Mansfield who says her boyfriend owns the dogs and she won’t tell them who he is or where he lives. Our address is Arlington, even though we are in the same neighborhood, so you can imagine the back and forth and buck passing going on between agencies. Animal control told us that Texas police won’t do anything unless a human is injured. Dave had a bite on his hand, but not bad enough, I guess. Preston had $800 worth of surgery that night. If police took action for torn up knees, the dogs would have been put to sleep by now. Anyway, we have an attorney on it, to make sure we at least get the vet bill reimbursed. This is the third time the same dogs have been seen running in the neighborhood. They jumped me in the garage last August, not mean, but very aggressive. I would just get one off me and the other jumped up.

And the beat goes on, dear friends. We love each other, we love our life, and we love all of you!



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