panhandle

The latest on the Smokehouse Creek Fire in the Panhandle

The Smokehouse Creek Fire in the Panhandle, already the second biggest wildfire in Texas history, is so far 0% contained. We’ll talk with an evacuee and officials with the Texas A&M Forest Service to get the latest.
With increasingly unpredictable rainfall and extended droughts, you may be thinking about what to plant to survive our new weather reality. The Standard’s Alexandra Hart has ways you can cut water use without letting your lawn die.
Plus: Director Richard Linklater and filmmaker Alex Stapleton on the new HBO three-part series based on Lawrence Wright’s recent book “God Save Texas.”

Everything you need to know about cedar fever

Arguments are set for today in a challenge to Texas’ near-total abortion ban. Eleanor Klibanoff of the Texas Tribune with more about a major abortion case before the state Supreme Court.

A securities case before the U.S. Supreme Court could destroy the U.S. government, according to some critics. We’ll try to sort the hyperbole from the facts.

A Texas-based international relations expert weighs in with more on the extended ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

They call it cedar fever season – only there’s no fever, and for some, the suffering lasts more than a season. Top tips for dealing with a Texas scourge.

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‘Flamin’ Hot’ shares the spicy story of a snack food phenomenon

Legislation on the governor’s desk known as the “Death Star” bill takes aim at local ordinances statewide. Will cities strike back?

In a place known for years of drought, heavy rain has forced evacuations in Amarillo and Hereford.

We’ll meet Houston’s Benchawan Jabthong Painter, winner of the James Beard Award for best Texas chef. Her secret recipe? Cooking with grandma in Thailand.

The new movie “Flamin’ Hot” tells the story of a janitor at Frito-Lay who set the snack world on fire. We’ll talk to the film’s director, Corpus Christi native Eva Longoria, and stars Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez.

Plus the week in politics with the Texas Tribune.

Texas Ice Fishing

It’s unlikely Texas will see a major freeze this winter like we did last year. At least that’s what forecasters are saying right now.

The extreme cold of last February reminded Texas Standard commentator W.F. Strong about a bit of folklore he once heard about a Texas winter.

Texas Standard: October 11, 2021

The 5th circuit court of appeals lifts a lower court stay on Texas new abortion law. What comes next? Doctors who performed abortions in the state during a court-ordered stay on the new Texas abortion law could be subject to lawsuits. We’ll have the latest. Also could the Woodlands become Texas’ newest city? Why the developer opposes an upcoming vote to incorporate. And what this coming winter spells for energy demand in Texas. We’ll hear a forecast. Plus, pregnancy during a pandemic: new insights from a Texas study. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 6, 2020

The impeachment drama is over… Or is it really? And where does it leave us? We’ll take a look at the implications of the Senate vote for Texas. Plus, a pair of markers erected in Rio Grande City. What they say about an historic workers strike that left a deep impression on the Texas landscape. Plus- how a robot could help save the Gulf of Mexico from the rapidly reproducing Lionfish. And our go-to tech guy on the return of “gaming” the low-tech way. Plus why lots of Texans won’t stop talking about a certain halftime show. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 22, 2017

Known for taking a stand on abortion rights and a gubernatorial race that won her national attention, Wendy Davis gets back in the game. In an announcement early Monday, former state Senator Wendy Davis made it official, announcing a challenge to a republican congressman, we’ll have details. Also, where the Texas GOP might be the most vulnerable? The answer might surprise you. Plus a prominent Texas university opens its doors to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 15, 2018

Harris County’s bail system treats the rich differently from the poor. An appeals court affirms that ruling. We’ll have the latest on what’s next and what it could mean for taxpayers. Also, a Texas lawmaker is leading an effort to roll back some requirements aimed at helping the disabled. We’ll explain. Plus, two native Texans are part of a suit that wants the feds to drop marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. What a ruling could mean. And we’ll explore technology as it’s being used in groundbreaking ways at the Olympics. Plus, LBJ did not like his presidential portrait. We’ll tell you why and what he did about it. Those stories and a whole lot more on todays Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 31, 2017

You know about the looting as Harvey struck Texas? You sure about that? We’ll explore why the numbers and the narrative don’t match. Also, With Joe Straus not returning as house speaker, social conservatives in the Texas GOP are cheering, but some politics watchers out west wonder if that’s not premature. Why some think a race in the panhandle could reverberate across Texas. And veterans from the fighting in Afghanistan blame military open burn pits for health care issues, but their options for seeking relief are closing. Also, a fix for hackable voting systems developed in Texas and why it may never be deployed. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Musicians From Lubbock

What’s in the air up there? Why has Lubbock given us so many wonderful Texas musicians? That’s the question pondered in this week’s Typewriter Rodeo poem.

Texas Standard: March 14, 2017

An assault. Evidence gathered and then nothing. Now a grassroots effort to get a backlog of thousands rape kits analyzed, we’ll explore. Also whose info is it anyway? What’s behind a spike in the number of denials for open record requests in Texas. And machines that do the work of humans, and sometimes look like us too. As high tech talk in Texas turns to robots, a danger the conversation’s on autopilot. Plus help wanted: thousands of border and immigration officials. But if the idea’s to boost security, why are there plans to cut vetting of new recruits? Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Sure, Texas Is Big – But It Used to Be Even Bigger

Texans have a kind of proverb that goes like this:

“Driving across Texas isn’t a trip; it’s a damn career.”

Texas is big, no doubt about that. But it used to be a lot bigger – about a fourth bigger. When Texas joined the United States in 1845, Texas’ borders (and shape) were quite different.

The northern boundary of Texas in those days stretched all the way up into what is today southern Wyoming. It´s true. In those days, the northernmost town in Texas was not Dalhart, it was Rawlins. You think it’s a long way from Brownsville to Dalhart now – at 860 miles – try 1,400 miles to Rawlins. In 1845 a trip like that would have been measured in seasons, not days. We’ll leave in early spring and get there before winter sets in.

Texas used to have a panhandle for the panhandle. It stretched north of the present day border and passed through prime Colorado Rockies real estate (including Vail) into Wyoming. They called that the stovepipe because that is what it looked like – a long skinny stovepipe, snaking northward. You can still find vestiges of Texas up there in that part of Wyoming. For instance, there is a creek up there named Texas Creek.

Texas used to include what is today the panhandle of Oklahoma. That territory is comprised of three counties. One of them is still named Texas County. So some Oklahomans still live in Texas. Well, Texas County, anyway.

The southwestern tip of Kansas was claimed by Texas. Dodge City was in Texas. Glad to know that. “Gunsmoke” always seemed like a Texas series. We know that Marshal Matt Dillon was born in San Antonio. His father was a Texas Ranger. It’s all coming together.

New Mexico used to be about half its current size because Santa Fe and Taos and all the eastern part of the state was Texas. Texas was so big in 1845 that if you had put a hinge on the northernmost part and flipped it northward, Brownsville would have been in Northern Canada next to Hudson Bay. Don’t think those Brownsvillians would have liked trading the tropics for the tundra, but that would be the result.

If you had flipped Texas southward, the people of Rawlins would have been in Peru. The East-West boundaries would have been about the same as they are today. Still, flip Texas eastward and you will have the El Pasoans trading their margaritas for mint juleps in Georgia. Flip it westward and the Beaumantians will be hanging ten with California surfer dudes.

So what happened to all our land? The U.S. government bought it in 1850. For $10 million they bought our claims to our Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma – it came to 6.7 cents an acre. Seems like we sold out cheap, but we desperately needed the money then. And remember that $10 million in 1850 is $300 million in today’s dollars, which is almost enough to buy a nice vacation home in Vail.

But, as I said, we really needed the money. We had a state to build and the only true assets we had in those days were land – and a tough, hardened people made of unbreakable spirits. So we sold the land and paid off debts and got a much more appealing shape to the state, a shape that fits nicely on t-shirts.

So even though we sold off our lands, we are nonetheless no slouch of a state, especially when we drive it. We still measure distance in time. We still feel like we are crossing an enormous frontier when driving I-10 through West Texas or I-69 to the southern border. And this old Texas saying is still valid:

“The sun has riz; the sun has set; and here I is in Texas yet.”

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.