Stories from Texas

Stories from Texas > All Episodes

March 24, 2021

High Security and Low Security Texas

By: W.F. Strong

By W. F. Strong

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of neighborhood cultures in Texas: high security and low security.

My wife is high security and I’m low security, by tradition. She was raised in Mexico, in a compound surrounded by the classic 12 foot walls with shards of glass embedded on top. I was raised in rural Texas, in a house, with an acre of yard and no walls or fences. We locked our doors at night, if we remembered. 

These childhood influences carry over. My wife loves these new, inexpensive security cameras. She has six that cover the outer perimeter and four pointing inward. I told her it feels strange having four cameras watching me in the house. She said, with a smile, “Four that you know of.”  She says, “It’s not about watching you or the kids; it’s about knowing where everybody is. It’s a mama thing.”  

This is an interesting contrast to my life as a boy in small town Texas. There, nobody I knew locked their doors, except maybe at night. My mom’s idea of locking up for the night was to latch the screen door. You know, put the metal hook through the eyelet. She liked leaving the heavy inner door open so the night breeze could flow through the house. “Air vitamins,” she called it.  

Everybody in my neighborhood would lock all their doors when they went on vacation. Yet we all knew that the key to the front door was under the doormat. And any number of neighbors would use that key to put the gathered newspapers or mail into their foyer so passing strangers wouldn’t know they weren’t home. One neighbor down the block, Mr. Jones, kept his key near the back door, third pot to the right, pushed into the dirt. You’d have to dig a bit to find it. Some around there thought that was excessive, said, “Mr. Jones was a bit paranoid.”  

People also kept their car keys conveniently stored above the driver’s visor or in the unused ash tray or glove compartment. I remember a farmer, who lived nearby, calling me once and asking if I’d go over to house and drive his 3500 GMC out to the farm for him. He needed some tools that were in it. I asked if the keys were in the truck and he said, “Of course. Right there above the visor. Where else would they be? That’s how come I never lose ‘em.”  

That was true. People never much lost their keys then. They were always where they ought to be, under the mat, above the visor. I can remember my mom saying, “One of you boys didn’t put the key back under the mat. Find it and put it back.” It did seem odd to go to the trouble to have a lock on a door and leave the key in such an accessible place. Might as well tape it on the door.  

After all these years, I’ve drifted into a more high-security life, myself. Everything is locked and double-locked. Even if I go outside during the day for more than five minutes, I’ll find my wife has locked me out and I’ll have to knock to get back in. Wouldn’t be surprised if she soon asks for the password-of-the-day for re-entry.  


Episodes

February 14, 2024

Bonnie and Clyde: Star-synced lovers

February the 14th may be one of the more divisive days on the calendar. Though Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate love — many find it cheesy, commercial, or downright depressing. Others, lean into the holiday. In the latter camp, it seems, were a pair infamous lovers from Texas. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong has […]

Listen

January 3, 2024

New Year’s Eve on Houston Street

Champagne toasts, fireworks, making resolutions, fancy meals… those are just some of the many ways Texans chose to to ring in 2024. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong, however, decided to welcome the New Year by reflecting on the past.

Listen

December 20, 2023

The Gift of the Tidelands

Texas Standard commentator W.F. Strong has a little holiday tradition. Every December he likes to count our collective blessings as Texans by highlighting a great gift to Texas. He says the tidelands were special because the giver didn’t realize how much goodness would continue to flow from them.

Listen

December 6, 2023

La Pitada

554 miles from AT&T Stadium you will find a Dallas Cowboys celebratory tradition that is unique in Texas. You might expect it in Dallas or Arlington, but to find this three decade tradition thriving in a Brownsville neighborhood, is both surprising and heart-warming. It is called La Pitada. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong has more.

Listen

November 9, 2023

Found in Translation

For those with a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, traveling Texas becomes more interesting because the Spanish names of places reveal, or hint at, their histories. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong has some examples.

Listen

October 25, 2023

On Censorship

A look at the headlines might sometimes give you a sense of déjà vu — haven’t you read or seen this before? Fights over government shutdowns… a looming presidential race that may pit the same candidates against one another. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong has been thinking about this while watching another political debate.

Listen

October 11, 2023

The Legend of La Llorona

All through October, the Texas Standard team is tracking Texas cryptids. As we’ve dug into some of these legends, we’ve noticed a few patterns. First of all, many of the cryptids associated with Texas have roots in Mexico. And there are also some similarities in the back stories of these creatures or characters. Ayden Castellanos […]

Listen

September 27, 2023

‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ is an Oklahoma story with Texas ties

There’s a much-anticipated film coming out next month. It’s the latest from Martin Scorsese and stars Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. Texan Jesse Plemons also has a big role — playing a Texan from history. Commentator WF Strong profiled the story when it was told in a bestselling book with the same name as […]

Listen