(Thanks to good ol' Cheri, whose flash never disappoints, for the photos)

My friend Scott Hardigree pretty much nailed it when he described Texans as “southerners without the guilt.” Texans do in fact exhibit most of the traits that mark white southerners at their best, especially a “never met a stranger” friendliness and charm and a relaxed, down-home manner that would put even the most tightly torqued Yankee at ease. What they also possess more abundantly than most of us Deep South types, it seems to me, is an unapologetically exuberant sense of themselves. Although the racial history of Texas isn’t exactly pretty, it has not received the critical attention focused on the southeastern portion of the old Confederacy, and when the snotty northeastern elitists want to elevate themselves by casting aspersions on the backward country folk, Mississippi or Alabamians are much more vulnerable and inviting targets. There is a long-standing debate about how “southern” the Lone Star State really is, but most folks agree that the farther west you get in Texas, the less southern it becomes. My favorite effort to identify the precise spot where the South ends in Texas locates it at the first honky-tonk where the fights occur inside rather than out in the parking lot.
The Texas lifestyle is so appealing that newcomers sport bumper stickers explaining “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as quick as I could.” For enterprising entrepreneurs, Texan-wannabees represent a rich orchard ripe for the picking. As one of those wannabes, I can attest to this firsthand. Last weekend, several of us journeyed out to visit a former classmate from the Hart County High School Class of ’65, (You’ve heard of us, no doubt.) who lives near San Antonio. An excursion into the Texas hill country near Fredricksburg led us ultimately to Luckenbach, where Texan-ness has been perfected into a marvelously appealing commodity. Many of you will doubtless remember Willie and Waylon’s rendition of “Luckenbach, Texas,” which invited us to get back “to the basics of life” by going to this tiny paradise where everybody wears faded jeans and cowboy boots and sips away on longnecks until “ain’t nobody feeling no pain.” I can truthfully say that no one I saw in Luckenbach appeared to be feeling any discomfort whatsoever, and by the time we left, neither was I. After being mistaken for the band when we pulled up beside the dance hall, we made our way into a wonderful multipurpose facility, the Luckenbach Post Office/General Store/Bar. (That’s me outside the place beside a statue of Hondo Crouch, the irrepressible poet, visionary and promoter without portfolio who made Luckenbach a far bigger spot on the cultural map than it is on the geographic one.) After getting incredible deals on bumper stickers, a shirt, and a souvenir belt buckle, I made it back to the bar where, as luck would have it, an ol’ boy just happened to be cranking up on “Luckenbach, Texas.” In much same way that the girls all get prettier at closing time, as I mowed down the longnecks, he got to sounding and better and better, and I bought a copy of his CD after he promised to saying my favorite song, “Waltz Across Texas.”
By the time my traveling companions finally succeeded in dragging me out of the bar, I was totally sold on Luckenbach’s official slogan, “Welcome to Luckenbach, where everybody is somebody.” The next day, as I pondered about $150 worth of expenditures, I realized that its real charm lies in being a place where, briefly at least, everybody can be somebody else.

Monthly Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jim Cobb published on February 9, 2007 1:06 PM.

If It Quacks Like Apartheid, It Probably Isn't a Duck. was the previous entry in this blog.

IF YOU DON'T TELL, I WON'T ASK is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.