Stories from Texas

Stories from Texas > All Episodes

May 18, 2016

The Mysterious Texan and the Ranchers’ Convention

By: W.F. Strong

The story goes that there was a convention of landowners – mega farmers and big ranchers – up in Denver. There were four men sittin’ around in the bar there in the fancy resort, enjoying happy hour. Three of them were swappin’ stories about their farms and ranches and generally braggin’ about their land holdings. A fourth man, a Texan, was off to the side a bit. You knew he was from Texas because of the Lone Star hatband on his Stetson. He was not much involved in the conversation, just readin’ the paper and half-listenin’ to the others.

One of the talkers said, “I have about 8,122 acres of land along the Western Slopes of the Rockies here in Colorado. Have over 1,000 horses, I bet, if I could ever manage to count ‘em all. Probably the highest ranch in the Western U.S. – we call it El Cielo Ranch because it’s so close to Heaven.”

Next man said, “Sounds real nice. I have kind of the opposite. I own El Diablo Farms in Southern California’s Imperial Valley. Always hotter then the Devil down there. But we have over 9,500 irrigated acres. It is a desert, but just add water and watch the miracles happen. We grow produce faster than you can harvest it. Like a license to print money!” he said, laughing loudly.

Third guy said, “I don’t have nearly that much land. I have about 6,000 acres in the fertile Willamette Valley. Have the largest dairy operation in Oregon. Over 3,000 registered Holstein cows. Scottish Dairies it’s called. Supply milk to half of Portland. Only problem is the Willamette River runs right down the middle of my farms and makes navigating my own property difficult. It’s a beautiful problem to have, though.”

The Texan was still sittin’ quietly and then one of ‘em says, “Hey, Tex, how about you? How much land do you have?”

He said, “Well, down in Texas it’s considered unseemly to ask a man how much land he owns or how many head of cattle he runs. We talk about land in terms of sections, not acres, but, since you gentlemen revealed your cards, I guess I can oblige your curiosity. I suppose, all told,” he said, looking up at the ceiling, as though mentally counting, “I have 200 acres.”

The three men burst out laughing. The Californian said, “200 acres! What the hell you doin’ here at this gathering of big ranchers and farmers? What do you call your little ranchito, Tex?”

And the guys laughed some more.

“Well,” drawled the Texan, “I don’t have a name for it myself, but people all round Texas like to call it – Downtown Dallas.”

Things got mighty quiet. You could hear minds bein’ blown. You could hear jaws droppin’ – hittin’ the metaphorical floor.

The Texan drank the last bit of his Shiner Bock, got up and said, “Any you boys want to sell your land, let me know. I’ll dip into my petty cash account and buy you out.”

With that he tipped his Stetson politely and said, “Y’all have a nice evenin’, now.”

W.F. Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.


Episodes

May 8, 2024

An AI Experiment

There’s been a lot of talk lately about artificial intelligence — what it can do and what its limitations are. And if you’ve been keeping tabs on it at all, there’s no doubt that it seems to be getting better — and fast. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong wanted to find out for himself just […]

Listen

April 10, 2024

Counting Cattle With the Fathers

Longtime listeners may know — Texas Standard is fast approaching a milestone birthday. We’re turning 10 next March. With us almost from the beginning have been signature segments including the Typewriter Rodeo and Stories From Texas — these bi-weekly commentaries from WF Strong. He says he has a goal beyond entertainment.

Listen

March 13, 2024

The Other Hill Country

Over the next couple of months, many will set off for the Texas Hill Country to enjoy the splendor of the wildflowers celebrating spring. Many of the tourists are flatlanders, who not only love the kaleidoscope of colors but also driving the hilly roads that snake through billions of blossoms. Texas Standard Commentator WF Strong […]

Listen

February 28, 2024

The mystery of the Texas box

We’ve all heard the proverb about one man’s trash being another’s treasure. Well, for generations of a family now living in Texas, the treasure in question was an old box found discarded many years earlier. Texas Standard commentator W.F. Strong has the story.

Listen

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