March 2008 - Posts
Jan Triplett observes that picking up a rock in Texas provokes one of two likely consequences: "there is going to be a snake under it" or "oil is gonna gush out from under it" (Texas in Her Own Words, p. 166). Acknowledging extremes of good and bad fortune, we may concede that the harsh, tragic, reptile-producing end of the spectrum is what ultimately molded the Texan character.
Clint Lynch, Director of Research for Texas State Cemetery, concurs: "I always thought Texas was founded in failure" (p. 170). He lists Houston's alcoholism, Travis' marital troubles and debt, Crockett's lost re-election bid, and Bowie's land fraud charges as proof of the alchemy that has often wrought dignity out of disaster. Sarah Guerra (p. 161) offers a more recent example. Recalling earlier times when she was denied service in restaurants and segregated from Anglo children at school, she reflects, "That love that I didn't get from white people when we were growing up, that probably gave me the courage to love everybody."
Consider this ongoing character-building opportunity: the controversy over Austin's Barton Springs. The first program in Round Rock Reads! 2008 series, a screening of The Unforeseen, showcases the conflict between real estate developers and advocates for the environment. Director Laura Dunn's award-winning film not only chronicles the battle between land investors' interests and the Save Our Springs alliance but also foreshadows the aftermath of unimpeded development.
Film critic Kenneth Turan labels this 2007 Sundance Film Festival selection a "whodunit, with the Earth itself being the victim of the crime." Mark your calendar for 7:00 P.M., Monday, April 7, when Round Rock Higher Education Center will host this special presentation of The Unforeseen. Could the lessons of Barton Springs produce yet another Texas triumph over impending failure? Watch and decide for yourself.
Any discussion of what makes Texans Texans should include David Crockett. Perishing at the Alamo just a few weeks after his arrival, this newcomer martyred himself for Texas independence. However--loyalty and sacrifice aside--Crockett's actions upon leaving Tennessee already signaled his suitability for Texan-hood. Having lost re-election for Congress, Crockett reportedly declared, "You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas."
I don't mean to suggest that contentiousness is the defining Texan characteristic (some would argue), but the desire for re-invention probably is. Many of Tweed Scott's interviews in Texas in Her Own Words note the allure of the second chance. Mike Harris observes, "Even Davy Crockett was looking for a new start" (pg. 15). Paul Andrew Hutton agrees that one of Texas' greatest charms is that "you have the possibility of becoming something new" (pg. 10).
Many of us claim Texas ancestors who required fresh starts--and right away, too--following illegal duels, horse-trading incidents with fatal outcomes, or other such events occurring in more settled areas of the nation. These hurried transplants, along with others chasing adventure or prosperity, would likely have supported Vonceia Reece's judgment that "To be a native Texan means you are adaptable" (pg. 52).
In April, Round Rock Reads! will sponsor three events: a film, a panel discussion/ice cream social, and a book discussion. These features were chosen to portray the history of the Texan identity. Come join us in an exploration of the past, the personalities of the Lone Star State, and a bit of modern controversy. You'll see why the late Marge Mueller, mayor Luckenbach, reflected, "I agree that with opportunity comes the struggle. This is Texas" (pg. 152).
...that when up-and-coming Round Rock Public Library staffer Eric T. nominated Texas in Her Own Words for this year's Round Rock Reads! ballot, I joined in the chorus of committee approval, all the while asserting confidently, "Of course, it'll never win." Oh, but I wanted it to! A fourth-generation native Texan, I was obliged to live in other states for many years due to my husband's career. He was the only person who regretted that development more than I. A fifth-generation native, he describes himself as "a Texan of American descent". And now, nearly three years after finally achieving Texas repatriation, we still can't view a bluebonnet or the capitol dome without getting misty.
We claim zero objectivity where Texas is concerned.This was the issue-the assumption that recently transplanted Round Rock folks who cherish their own loyalties wouldn't choose to read a book apparently tailor-made for people like us. As it happens, I was wrong twice. Area residents voted decisively for Texas in Her Own Words, and the book has much to offer anyone who has noticed (and who hasn't?) that Texas is a unique sociological and political phenomenon. Author Tweed Scott collected more than sixty interviews attesting to Texas' vivid, romantic past and continuing influence. We hope you'll pick up a copy at the bookstore-or check out one from the library-and join us in (these words are Kinky Friedman's) "searching for the soul of Texas".