The Lone Star State
Texas, albeit located in the south, is another story entirely. It was first a Mexican territory, subject to Mexican law before it became a Republic. It only reluctantly petitioned for Statehood after it relinquished its independence. One of the great internal cultural debates in history resulted in the ultimate decision Texans made to join the United States, which they did partially out of fear that Mexico might mount an armed attempt to take it back again.
In capitulating to the idea that there is definitely safety in numbers, the Great Sovereign Sate of Texas did sign on to join the Union. But to emphasize the point that they are historically singular, unique, and also in perpetually reserving the right to secede, Texans still fly the Lone Star flag. Ironically in today’s illegal immigrant influx, Mexico might as yet successfully expropriate Texas anyway, at least figuratively if not literally; which might result in creating the new Great Homogenized State of Texico.
Native Texas was largely a vast, arid, undesirable place to live, until oil, or “Texas Tea” was found beneath the surface. After this, everything changed forever.
These may be only some of the reasons why Texan’s see themselves as entities unto themselves, being indigenously not as hard-core about Southern tradition as the rest of their east Southern brethren. They had a different cultural history, followed shortly thereafter by staggering wealth, based on oil and cowboy driven livestock.
Personally I think Texas made a mistake when it joined the Union, because if it had remained a Republic, it would now be a wealthy independent oil emirate; and a major secondary exporter of everything from Stetson hats, Rodeo, and fine filet mignon all the way down the food chain to McDonald’s suet laden beef scrapple.
Texans are however notoriously hard core about Texas history and traditions, always being quick to let you know they are the biggest, bestest, firstest and mostest on just about anything or any topic you can think of; except for having their egos reigned in a bit when Alaska signed up to be a State too. Even that did not put much of a damper on it.
- Alaska? Shit. Let’s just wait around and see how much land they really have after all that god-damned ice melts.
For years my second cousin Harold, the family historian, did not even want to trace the family back prior to their arrival in Texas. He said:
- What’s the point, and who really cares? All that really counts is when they came to Texas and what happened to them after that. I call it: 1T-A.D. on my personal calendar.
Aunt Jeanie used to say that Harold was not really bigoted but rather only “highly biased” when it came to Texas history or virtually anything else you might bring up in polite conversation.
Apparently, Harold might have also been highly devious. Whether true or not, my mother always maintained that he had made part of his fortune by “slant drilling;” a practice whereby a person leases property next to one with a known oil repository, then slants his own drill sideways into his neighbor’s underground liquid bank vault. It’s the old saw about weather a good fence makes a good neighbor; or more acutely the technical legal point of how deep a fence line is valid underground; meaning a good fence can still make for a bad neighbor.
Although one does own the topsoil, as well as the mineral rights below, slant drilling theoretically puts the under-soil up for larcenous grabs. Thus, the back door practice of slant drilling for oil is still considered a more heinous and less chivalrous crime than pulling a second-story job to straight-drill your neighbor’s wife; and becomes one more item added to the long list of activities serving as reasonable cause for justifiable homicide. Dogs, on the other hand get considerably more leeway. If they see a fence they don’t like, they simply dig underneath it and innately go ahead to nonchalantly shit whereever they don’t eat. Then they kick up a little topsoil over what may be proto-petrol manure and happily run back home.
The real problem was that my hypocritical mother and Aunt were both highly biased themselves; making anything they said, especially about kin-folk heavily discounted because of their jealousies and perpetual sniping. Personally, I never found my second cousin to be anything other than a perfect gentleman and an inspiration to my own genealogic researches. It was a brainwashed bias that took me half a lifetime to un-do.
My mother, on the other hand debunked genealogy. She once received an unsolicited call from a member of the Daughtes of the American Revolution. They had independently researched her heritage and thought she might qualify to be a member. But unlike my father who needed desperately to bond with his ill-defined opaque origins, she told them that she was “of the impression they were nothing more than bunch of self serving elitist snobs” and asked never to be contacted again. It was the 1950s version of being placed on a No-Call list.
I will never understand why she did not pursue this opportunity to apply for her official “Original American” credentials; except once again for the fact of her cognitive bigotries and her socially incapacitating xenophobia. Perhaps if she had done so, it may have eventually offset the vowel at the end of my name for which she eventually developed a certain distain herself, as well as ensuring an automatic entrée for me into southern fraternal society at Duke.
Most people would have given their eye-teeth to be a member of such an exclusive and revered historic genealogic society. They would have ecstatically bent over backward to piece together the tedious genetic paper trail of proof. But, God forbid, not my mother. They actually found her first, laid the pedigree out in front of her and she told them to “fuck off.”
Maternal brainwashing led me to believe that throughout my life people would have a bona-fide prejudice toward me because of my last name, that doors would shut in my face because of it, and that I would be much better off instead if my last name was her own maiden name. At one time I even considered officially changing it to Cooper, but I knew that “abandoning and disgracing my Italian heritage” would have caused my father to suffer a massive stroke or a lethal heart attack.
My mother was correct that on one level arbitrary bias did turn out to be true, for example, in college fraternity recruiting. But what she could not know was that on another level, and also because of its very presence, that little vowel on the end of my name would eventually open just as many other doors instead; those revolving doors of the: a, e, i, o and u reverse bigotry.
Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton.
Old times there are not forgotten.