First you are flown over parts of Southern California, Nevada,

Utah and Colorado, and then you walk and trot for a mile or two through

the Denver airport, and then you are flown on down through TX and OK

panhandles (right over my birthplace of Tipton, OK), and suddenly you’re

there, in Dallas Dadgumtexas.
Or you can drive it, but you probably don’t want to do that.

Driving, you are immediately aware of how big TX is. Driving across it

east and west isn’t quite as far as driving the length of CA north and

south, but it’s almost as far, and there’s a lot less to look at.
Or you can just “go east till you smell it and south till you step

in it.”
TV’s Charles Kuralt, a good ol’ boy if there ever was one,

interviewed a West Texas rancher who said “Everthang out here sticks,

stings or stinks, but it’s home to me and Ah lak it.”
My earliest memory of the West Texas plains was my parents

stopping in Amarillo for, as Lynbdon Johnson called it, a “bowl o’ red,”

usually called chili. Chili is a staple food in much of Texas.
More important, the LBJ Library in Austin, the state capital, is

not to be missed. The Kennedy assassination material, and LBJ’s transition

into the White House, is a tear-jerker. Nor should the LBJ ranch be

missed. It’s near Johnson City, not far from Austin. I got a chicken-fried

steak as big as the average doormat in Johnson City one time. I recovered

later and went on to dine again.
A sign atop the restaurant said “More than 35 served.” A little TX

humor.

And then suddenly we were in the highly civilized environs of

Dallas (there’s an excellent art museum downtown) and its many sprawling

suburbs, the A/C is working perfectly and an Ethiopian cowboy drove our

shuttle bus and a Persian clerk made us happy to be in the over-priced

Holiday Inn Express for an auspicious beginning to our short journey.
But the A/C was not working upstairs at my daughter’s house, and

as the sun set on an 88-degree April day I was reminded that this place

would be HOT soon! (It’s at least 90 degrees in the afternoon at this

writing.) No problem — yet. How natural, how healthy to have a fan over

the bed gently turning, keeping the sweat under my chin to a minimum.
Mustn’t forget that Dallas is a splendid reminder of the Old West.

Cowboys in bronze with a magnificent sculptured herd of wild mustang

horses crash through running water in a display in Las Colinas, a

development between Fort Worth and Dallas. There are major developments in

all directions here. Splendid to look at, even if some are almost empty

due to the recent business downturn. Good times will return.
And huge longhorn steers in a small herd welcome folks to The
Stockyards in Fort Worth. Cowboy stuff and steakhousres all over the place

in old downtown Fort Worth, the beginning of many a cattle drive north.

The Chisholm Trail started here, I was told. Cowboy and cow-herding lore

abounds. Tough, colorful guys, those cowpokes.
A museum placard read,
“Grandma, do cowboys eat grass?”
“No, dear, they’re part human.”

There’s the flip-side to the gunslinging Wild West. What other

city would paint a huge black X on the spot in the road where Pres. John

F. Kennedy was slain? (The museum in the adjacent building is a good stop

too. Very interesting, and it brings back the stunning shock of that day

in 1963.)

Speaking of animals and tough guys, there are more football

players in Texas than there are people in the Dakotas. Watch “Friday Night

Lights” for an enjoyable introduction to this strange – to some of us –

western land, and perhaps the highest-level of high school football in the

country.