The Corner

Talkin’ Texas

On the homepage today, I have some jottings about Ft. Worth (“Ft. Worth Journal”), and these have occasioned much mail. Thought you would be interested in some.

First is a letter from LaDonna Sprayberry. Tell me you’ve heard a better name today. She writes,

I worked in the glass building just on the other side of Barnes & Noble when the Bass Hall was constructed. My co-workers and I gathered at the windows to watch the majestic angels as they were hoisted into the air and attached to the building. What a magnificent sight — a literal bird’s-eye view. I love Ft. Worth. In my opinion, it is the friendliest city in Texas.

And a man describes what he considers “the ultimate Ft. Worth experience”:

The ultimate Ft. Worth experience is to pick a Saturday when the rodeo is in town and the orchestra is playing. Then you go to see the stockyards in the morning, then what’s on exhibit at the Kimball Art Museum in the early afternoon, then you go right across the street to the Will Rogers Memorial Center to watch a rodeo in the late afternoon and into the evening, then you catch the orchestra at night, then you get a late dinner at the Old South Pancake House, where you can see cowboys dressed from hat to spurs sitting at tables next to orchestra musicians in tuxedoes.

That sounds good. And this letter-writer has a coda: “By the way, as one who hails originally from North Carolina, I can tell you this: Texans have great brisket, but they really don’t get the concept of barbecue. But I would never say that to them.”

And behold the beauty of this next letter: 

I love people who love Texas — especially Ft. Worth, where my earthly journey started 83 years ago. I just had to write you and carry on about our home state. I have trimmed and trimmed this letter down from the novel it was.

Memories surged up from the depths . . . TCU, where my husband and I met. He was one of the “boys returning home” from World War II with GI Bill in hand. First Christian Church, where we were married. Austin, where we lived in veterans housing as he finished his EE degree at UT. Ah, good memories of being young, starting a family, and growing up in all kinds of ways — lots of energy and looking ahead.

Then (long, ominous pause for the drama of it all) RCA hired him. RCA in Camden, NEW JERSEY. Good grief! Of all places to take a young, naive Texas gal who had known only that wide-open state and culture. As in Oregon, where evidence of the Oregon Trail can still be seen, I’m sure that evidence of the two ruts in the ground where I “drug m’heels” through the whole South, on the way to Camden, still exists.

After living in Seattle, Wash., for over 40 years, I was sure my Texas roots had dried up and atrophied, even in all that rain. [What a beautiful line.] But ten years ago, we moved back to the Southwest — Tucson — and within the first week of being bathed in daily sunshine, and being again in a wide-open space, where you can see “three days down the road,” those roots came back to life.

Yes, you’re right: Texas is so big, it has all kinds of accents. The last time we visited our younger-generation relatives in Ft. Worth, it didn’t take me long to sink into that soft, gentle, kind, solicitous, friendly, genuinely friendly Ft. Worth accent. So comforting, like being wrapped in a soft quilt.

Let me lay just one more on you:

The First Christian Church is the oldest church in Ft. Worth. The current building went up in 1915. My grandfather, Harry Max Obeidin, was the sexton/janitor for the church for a few years, probably from 1918 to 1922. He was born in Salzburg, Austria, and spoke about five languages. According to my relatives, he was a great lover of opera. His wife’s first name was Alamo.

From Salzburg, Mozart’s hometown, to Ft. Worth, with a wife named Alamo. America, what a country.

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