It’s been a whirlwind seven months since we moved to east Texas and back to my ancestor’s old stomping grounds near Tyler. My husband Dan has been working on the future Official International World Headquarters of How Big Is Texas. The heat has made it a slower process than he likes but it’s getting there. It will be a similar design as the store my great-grandfather owned in Troup, located a little more than 20 miles from our home. We’re hoping to have it completed by September, if not before.
How Texan are You?
I was reminded of a list I came across a few years back, while perusing down the rabbit hole that is Facebook, entitled “How Texan Are You?” It was a list of 100 statements and yes/no questions for you to check based on what you’ve experienced in Texas. Since I was born and raised in the Lone Star State, I decided to take the quiz because knew I would ace that sucker. Instead, I only scored a 61 out of 100. I was mortified!
While I got over my initial shock, I was still disappointed in myself. I had some concerns about some of the questions. These were 10 of my favorites on the list:
- Have you been to the State Fair of Texas? – I have visited many times and eaten a variety of State Fair fried food options while visiting the fair in Dallas.
- Have you seen the Alamo? – Almost every single visit to San Antonio.
- Have you had Blue Bell ice cream? – I’ve had it at home and at the factory in Brenham. My favorites include banana pudding and blackberry cobbler.
- Have you been swimming at Barton Springs? – My dogs have even been swimming there in Austin.
- Have you gone with your family or taken your kids to Six Flags? – Bought season passes for me and my son back in the day so we could go to the park in Arlington as much as we liked.
- Have you taken your picture in a field of bluebonnets, the Texas state flower? – Many times across the state. Never saw or thought about a rattle snake being in the Texas state flowers.
- Did you ever go to the Astrodome? – It’s been a while but, yes, when I was in high school and college, I made my way to Houston for a visit.
- Have you seen George Strait in concert? – I even saw him before he was a big deal when I was in college in Tyler.
- Did you meet former Texas Governor Ann Richards? – I met her in an elevator when I was working at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth. She asked me and a colleague if we voted. She told us it didn’t matter who we voted for as long as we did. And, yes, her eyes were really as blue as they say.
- Do you know how to make a good breakfast taco? – I do but I seldom will in Tyler, since we have so many great breakfast tacos available all over town.
Why the Epic Fail?
So why did I score so low on the test? Candidly, I had not traveled as much of the state back then, so some of those same questions I would answer differently today. The main reason I scored so low related to Texas restaurants and musicians on the list. I have enjoyed many a culinary delight at Texas dining establishments and I have an entire How Big is Texas playlist featuring Texas musicians and songs about the Lone Star State.
Several questions on the list pertained to dining locations. Here was my beef with the restaurants listed, pun intended. Many were less than 20 years old and still are, as of this writing. Sorry, list creators, but why should those be included? I don’t consider them iconic. No offense to the newbies, but if you’re talking Texan, I prefer some of the more established places that are at least 20 years old. Maybe that’s because I’m a little more seasoned in age. The quiz did list Texas staples like the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, and the Czech Stop in West.
What the list didn’t include were the likes of Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap; Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market, or Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart; the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar in Gruene; Rosa’s Cantina in El Paso; or Mary’s Cafe in Strawn. Like many lists I read sharing “iconic” places in states, it included mostly locations in cities like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin, and hardly anything with a population under a million people. Yes, there are wonderful places to eat in these large cities but Texas is loaded with great grub all over the state. Give the rural diners and locations west and east of I-35 some love next time.
Then there were questions about some lesser known musicians (to me, anyway). Yes, King George and Willie were there. (True Texans and lovers of Texas know who I’m talking about without the last names.) If they hadn’t made the cut, I might have stopped taking the quiz altogether. I was also looking for names like Lyle Lovett, Buddy Holly, Selena, Janis Joplin, and ZZ Top. They weren’t even mentioned but some still up-and-comings were on the list. I think they still need to earn their Texas chops before they make a list like this in the future.
My List of “How Texan Are You?” Questions
As I thought about the list further, I decided to come up with a baker’s dozen of questions I thought could be included in future Texas quizzes. What do you think of these?
- What color wrapper is a Whataburger wrapped in? – I believe the first Whataburger I ever had came from Tyler, when we were visiting family. The distinct color of the wrapper stuck with me.
- Do you know how to play 42 dominoes? – I have played many a game with family and friends. Even when you haven’t played for a while, it’s kind of like riding a bike. NOTE – Did you know a 12-year-old Texan invented the game in 1887. His name was William Albert Thomas.
- Have you ever spray painted a car at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo? – I’ve spray painted the Cadillacs a few times. So fun!
- Have you ever driven over the Regency Bridge near San Saba? – Having watched Bob Phillips with Texas Country Reporter drive over the bridge for 50 years, I finally took the car over it a few years ago and again this in 2022 in celebration of TCR’s success.
- Have you visited the site of the first capitol of the Republic of Texas in West Columbia? – When I drove the Texas Independence Trail Region, I was blown away by the history in West Columbia. Definitely a Texan stop.
- Have you seen the Sam Houston Oak in Gonzales? – Maybe it’s just a tree to some, but for Texans, this tree played a big role as a place for Sam Houston to learn that the Alamo had fallen and its defenders killed, which lead to the Battle of San Jacinto.
- Have you seen the production of Texas Outdoor Musical in Palo Duro Canyon near the town of Canyon? – I saw it when I was 12, 45 years ago. It’s past time for me to visit again.
- Have you stood on the location of the Muster Oak in La Grange? – Located in downtown La Grange, the story of the muster tree and how the community has saved it over the years is powerful.
- Have you visited the Rio Grande Valley and brought back fresh oranges or grapefruit straight from the citrus trees? – In fact, I flew to the RGV for a conference and flew back with a box filled with delicious oranges and Ruby Red grapefruit.
- Have you stopped by the Tower Station & U-Drop Inn Cafe in Shamrock on old Route 66? – Having lived in the panhandle years ago, our team played Shamrock in basketball. I didn’t visit the U-Drop Inn until much later. It is truly iconic.
- Did you ever sit on the Porch at the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua? – I’ve had the good fortune to not only sit on the infamous Porch, but also to receive FREE counseling from the late Dr. Doug.
- Have ever driven to Noonday just for their onions? – My aunt has even shipped a couple of bags to me by UPS.
- Have you ever purchased birthday or Christmas gifts from a Buc-ees? – You bet. Beaver nuggets make great stocking stuffers.
Like school, at least when I was going, I thought I’d throw in a few bonus questions to help you out.
- Do you have at least one thing in the shape of Texas in your home? – My list is too long to show here but a few include a basket from Jacksonville, weathervane, necklace, fire pit, cast iron baking pan, mood ring, etc… (Add five points; if not, counseling is available and merchandise plentiful.)
- Do you have at least one Texas flag or item with the Texas flag on it in your home? – Again, too many items to mention but a few are an cowboy boots, planters, wooden signs, shirts, windmill, nightlight, wallet, etc… (Add 10 points; if not, I have no words, if you’re actually from Texas.)
- Have you ever driven the perimeter of Texas? – Okay, I wanted to add that one because I did it with friends, Morgan and Debra, in June of 2020 when I first started this blog. – (Add 25 points; I won’t hold it against you if you haven’t, but if you have, kudos for you.)
Despite the low score I got on the lame test I took a few years ago, I consider myself to be a true Texan. It has molded me into who I am today. I’m proud of that heritage and look forward to my continued quest across Texas, as I experience the wonders and go on adventures through and around this great state.
So, how Texan are you? And if you’re not from Texas, what makes you who you are in your state or even your country?
My FAVORITE Story about Texas Pride
A few years ago, I was talking with a young woman over the phone and she stated she was from Texas. As a Native Texan, I asked her where she was born. She told me she was actually born in Virginia but moved to Texas when she was three months old.
As we talked, I thought about the familiar bumper sticker on many a Texas bumper. “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” It’s certainly my husband’s motto, as a non-native. I felt sure this young woman owned the same bumper sticker, based on the pride I heard in her voice.
What made her story so special? Here’s the rest. You be the judge.
It turns out while the parents of the girl were preparing for her birth while they were in Virginia, her Texas grandmother couldn’t stand the thought of her not being born in the Lone Star State. So Grandma actually sent a plastic bag of Texas soil to her daughter so that when her granddaughter was born, she could put the bag under her during the birthing process and they could say she was indeed born on Texas soil.
Her birth certificate may read Virginia as her native state, but her family did what they could to welcome this young lady into the world. Some may think this is ridiculous, but I, for one, would love to meet the wonderful grandmother and thank her for being such a great Texan. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the young lady but I have no doubt she’s representing the Lone Star State well wherever she is. Texas!
Until next time from Texas … safe travels!