Column: Tidbits, lottery winners and steers from the grand state of Texas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

I traveled to Texas where the horses are smart and the cowgirls are good looking; and you know who to avoid by the color of their hats.

I visited our second biggest state in an attempt to become a cosmopolite. It was a time away from the familiar.

An escapade &045; as much as I still have escapades.

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As usual, I packed for the trip on the half-and-half plan. Half the stuff I pack, I don’t need and half the stuff I need, I don’t pack.

I had shrugged off the weight of my overcoat for a few days. It was good to see my shadow in the sun while my beloved home state was drenched in cold and snow.

Texas is hotter than a stolen habanero, drier than the heart of a haystack and windier than a fifty-pound sack of whistling lips.

No one in southern Texas should ever say, &uot;Brrrrr!&uot;

General Phil Sheridan, who was posted in Texas after the Civil War, said, “If I owned hell and Texas, I’d rent out Texas and live in hell.”

Texas covers 268,581 square miles.

That makes it as large as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts combined.

It runs 801 miles north to south and 773 miles east to west.

One county (Brewster) is larger than the state of Connecticut.

The state pepper is the jalapeno. The state mammal is the armadillo.

The armadillo is often seen on the road with its four feet in the air.

The rule is, if it grows in Texas, it will stick you.

If it crawls in Texas, it will bite you.

Texas tidbits

In 1839, the Republic of Texas Congress adopted the Texas coat of arms &045; a white star of five points on an azure ground encircled by olive and live oak branches. The state tree is the pecan.

Texas has more Dairy Queen Restaurants (more than 600) than any other state.

In 1912, First Presbyterian Church in Orange was dedicated. This magnificent marble structure was reputedly the first structure west of the Mississippi River to have air conditioning.

Odessa is site of the world’s largest jackrabbit.

Lottery winners

A boarded-up movie theater still displays a poster of Gary Cooper from when he starred in &uot;High Noon.&uot;

That was the last film to show in the movie house back in 1955.

This is Roby, Texas.

Population 600.

Roby was in the news back in 1996 when 43 Roby residents who visited the cotton gin pooled their money to buy lottery tickets.

They won.

$46 million.

Even buying a lottery ticket smelled of impropriety to many in this town where most of the people are members of either the Baptist Church or the Church of Christ.

Each winner got $1,085,162.

When taken in 20 annual installments, each winner took home, after taxes, about $39,000 a year.

It helps the winners support their farming habit.

Murder steer

On January 28, 1891, Fine Gilliland shot and killed cattleman Henry Harrison Powe during a roundup in Brewster County, Texas. Gilliland had been sent by the firm of Dubois and Wentworth to make sure none of the local ranchers had appropriated any of the company’s cattle. Gilliland became embroiled in a dispute with Powe over an unbranded yearling steer found without its mother.

Powe believed that the steer belonged to a cow with his HHP brand. Gilliland disagreed and a gunfight ensued. Gilliland killed Powe and fled on horseback.

Gilliland was killed a few days later in a shootout with the Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, cowboys had branded “MURDER” on one side of the yearling and “JAN 28 91” on the other.

Legend has it that the “murder steer” still appears whenever foul play has occurred. The incident inspired an episode of the television series &uot;Rawhide.&uot;

You may be from Texas if …

You have used the phrase “fixin’ to.”

You know exactly what calf fries are, and eat them anyway.

You know that the true value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door but by the availability of shade.

You have owned at least one belt buckle bigger than your fist.

If you have ever had the following conversation:

“You wanna Coke?”


“What kind?”

“Dr. Pepper.”

If you consider, &uot;I tell you what,&uot; to be a complete sentence.

If you say &uot;Jeet?&uot; and it means &uot;Did you eat?&uot;

Texas is larrupin’ good as long as you don’t squat on your spurs.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes a column for the Tribune each Wednesday and Sunday.