Storytelling

In Praise Of Vultures

I go for walks in the country often this time of year here in the Rio Grande Valley. This is our Goldilocks season. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.

We have a perfectly warming sun in the crisp, cool air of winter mornings. I like to walk along a dirt road that has freshly plowed farmland on one side and a deep motte of mesquite and huisache trees on the other. A committee of vultures watches me from atop  the tallest of these trees, far away from civilization. That’s the official name for a group of vultures. A Committee. Sometimes they are also called a venue of vultures. I like that. Based on what I’ve seen of committees and their venues I can see the salience of the metaphor.

In Texas, these birds are often mistakenly called buzzards. This is common but it’s technically wrong because buzzards are completely different birds. We don’t have buzzards in Texas, though I will admit to calling them that myself growing up. I don’t recall referring to groups of birds by their correct labels, either – such as murder of crows or covey of quail or flamboyance of flamingos. I still don’t. I tend more toward my brother “redneck Dave’s” lexicon which is pretty much reduced to the word “bunch.” He says, “You got a bunch of ducks in your yard.” And if there’s more than that he says, “You got a whole bunch of ducks in your yard.” More still are covered by, “You got a mighty big bunch of ducks in your yard.”

Back to the vultures. This committee of vultures – turkey vultures in this case, are perched high up in the trees, like undertakers –  eyeing me – sometimes stretching out their wings to display their impressive six-foot span. But mostly I’m a curiosity, not a disturbance. They don’t fly away. I’m sure I would be much more interesting to them if I were dead.

Turkey Vultures don’t have a lot of fans. Many people see them as disgusting birds that eat disgusting things. They have red heads. They’re mostly bald, with faces that only a mother could love – a mother vulture, that is. On the ground picking through road kill, they look ungraceful and ragged and ungainly. But in the air, they are, to me, transformed into graceful, heart-stirring masters of the wind. On the ground they are called committees, but in they air they are called kettles of vultures because in their swirling ride upward on the thermals, they look like bubbles rising in heated water. Ornithologists, bird experts, tell us that it is by riding high on the thermals that they hunt for carrion, or dead things. But they don’t do it  by sight. They do it by smell. The smell of the decaying animals is carried up by the thermals and the birds track that smell to the source. Tests have shown that they always arrive on the upwind side of corpus delicti and that’s how experts know that smell is dominant.

Yes, the process is gross to us, but if you consider the scientific name for the turkey vulture – Cathartes Aura – they sound noble.  It means cleansing breeze. They swoop in on the wind and clean the earth. And they are disinfectors too, consuming anthrax and cholera bacteria and safely removing it. In this sense they are hazmat teams. But my admiration of these magnificent creatures is fully realized watching them in flight. I can sit in my backyard and watch hundreds of them ride high up in the sky like an avian tornado. They’re having fun up there. They’re not all about carrion, I’m convinced. They’re windsurfers fully elated by this vulture sport they collectively love. The winds do not conquer them. They ride them high into the vaulted blue, cloudless skies. Some, pilots tell us, go as high as 20,000 feet and they rarely have to flap their wings. They just soar and glide, at one with the wind.

You can find them all across Texas, along with their slightly smaller cousins, the black vultures, which prefer the eastern part of the state. Together they are our cleaners, our sanitizers, the avian, last line of defense for our most famous slogan:  “Don’t mess with Texas.”

The Queen’s Royal Welcome to Texas

By W. F. Strong and Lupita Strong

February 2021 will mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 69th year on the British throne. In all of those years during which she witnessed some of the world’s most pivotal events, one can say — if one is a Texan — that we deserve an honorable mention amongst those events from her majesty’s life.  Specifically, her 1991 two-day visit to the Lone Star state.  She was the first British monarch ever to visit Texas and we gave the Queen a Texas-sized tip of the ole Stetson. She loved it. She asked her U.S. chief of protocol, “Why didn’t I come here sooner?”  During her visit she gave Texans one of the finest compliments we’ve ever had, but I’ll save that until the end.

Texas has long had a special relationship with Great Britain; it was one of the first European nations to recognize the new Republic of Texas.  We actually flirted for a while with the notion of becoming part of the British Empire in the 1840’s, but the U.S. had other plans.

Five years before the Queen came here, her majesty’s son, Charles, the Prince of Wales, came to Texas to help celebrate the Texas Sesquicentennial.  He cut into the 45 ton, world’s largest birthday cake with a three-foot sword. I mean, it was Texas, what else was he supposed to use?

At the capital the Prince was given a giant gavel. He laughed and said that it was the biggest he had ever had and “extremely appropriate coming from Texas.” While touring San Jacinto later that week. It was February but warm. He asked, “If it’s as hot as this in the winter, what is like in the summer? ”

Texas has had fourteen kings, but it was a queen celebrated  by Texas  May of 1991. Queen Elizabeth visited Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston with an itinerary jam-packed with visits to the River Walk, NASA, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, and the Alamo.  She even took a ride on the San Antonio River on a beautifully decorated barge.

When she arrived at Love Field Airport, she was greeted with strains of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” The words to “God Save the Queen” were recited before the playing of it so that the mostly Texas audience wouldn’t sing My Country Tis of Thee to the familiar tune.

While in Dallas, she knighted Cecil Howard Green, British-born founder of Texas Instruments and co-founder of the U-T campus there.

Accompanying her majesty on the visit was her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Sitting next to him at the Hall of State dinner commemorating the 150th anniversary of Dallas was Louise Caldwell, president of the Dallas Historical Society. Of the experience, she remarked, “It was very hard to find anything that he didn’t know more about than me . . .  including Texas history.”

The Queen delighted the audience there by recounting the well known Texas story by John Gunther in which a man tells his son: “Never ask a man where he’s from.  If he’s from Texas he’ll tell you.  Otherwise no use embarrassing him by asking.”  

At the State Capitol, Gov. Ann Richards hosted the Queen.  Eight-thousand people gathered to catch a glimpse of her majesty.  The queen  declared, “No state commands such fierce pride and loyalty. Lesser mortals are pitied for their misfortune in not being born Texans.” And she, the most travelled monarch in the world, knows what she’s talking about.

Norfleet: The Texas Rancher Who Kept On Coming

By W.F. Strong

The year was 1919. J. Frank Norfleet, after two years of pursuit, finally slapped the handcuffs on Mr. Stetson in Florida. Stetson – real name: Joe Furey – had swindled Norfleet out of $90,000 in Dallas and Fort Worth two years before. Stetson was shocked to see him and paid him a backhanded compliment. He said, “Well, you old trail hound. I never expected to see you out here. … I thought we left you flat broke in Fort Worth.” Please don’t take me back to Texas, Norfleet … your “damnable hounding” has already cost me “as much money as I have made” off of you.

Stetson’s surprise at having Norfleet slap handcuffs on him is equal to the surprise that most people have when they first hear the incredible story of  the old rancher’s dogged and ultimately successful pursuit of his swindlers. I’m not spoiling the story by telling the ending because the joy of this story is in the chase.

Norfleet had no experience in law enforcement, big city life or sophisticated cons. He was a cowboy and a hunter, a man who had always lived on the edge of the Texas frontier. So when he made up us his mind to pursue the band of bunco men who conned him, he used the only tools he had, which were unfathomable patience, cutting for sign, following the trail no matter how faint, employing camouflage in the way of disguises, always being well-armed, and being willing to withstand all nature of hardship to win in the end. Norfleet out-conned the con men. He seemed to be operating under the motto of  Texas Ranger Capt. Bill McDonald: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right who just keeps on a-comin’.”

Norfleet was born in Lampasas and grew up on the Texas plains. He was a working cowboy trail herder in his early days and later managed to buy his own ranch out near Plainview. At 54, he had finally accumulated some real wealth. So he went to Dallas and Fort Worth with the intent of selling his ranch to buy a bigger one. It was there that con men ensnared him in their sophisticated  plot. It went like this:

Norfleet got into a  seemingly casual conversation about mules in the lobby of the St. George Hotel in Dallas. He said that “to one of his upbringing, the most lonesome place in the world is a large city.” So he was happy to find someone of similar tastes and interests. This man, Hamlin, upon hearing Norfleet had a ranch to sell, said he just happened to know someone who might be interested in his land. That interested party,  Mr. Spencer, magically appeared and said they would need to go to the Adolphus to see another man. When they sat down in the lobby to wait, Spencer cleverly steered  Norfleet so that he’d sit in just the right place to discover a man’s pocket book “lost” in the crevice of the couch. The pocket book had “$240 in cash and a cashable bond for $100,000 dollars.” Mr. Stetson was the name on the Mason’s card inside. Spencer and Norfleet inquired at the desk for a Mr. Stetson, got his room number, and returned the pocket book to him.

Mr. Stetson – AKA Joe Furey – offered them both $100 reward. Norfleet refused.  Stetson told him that he was a stockbroker with the Dallas exchange and said, “Would you mind me placing that money on the market and would you accept what money it might earn?” Later that day Stetson gave Norfleet $800 as the amount his $100 earned. And that is how the hook was set. From there, much more money was made and eventually cash guarantees required by the fake exchange. When the con men cleared out on the last round, absconding with all of Norfleet’s money, he was left repeating to himself in a stunned haze, “Forty-five thousand dollars gone; $90,000 in debt; 54 years old.” If it happened today he’d be saying, “Seven-hundred-thousand-dollars gone; $1.5 million in debt; 54 years old.”

Most swindled people keep quiet about it. Some report it to police but just suffer the loss and go about rebuilding their lives. Furey, who conned many an Englishmen said that the British always handled the loss with such poise. But he resented Norfleet for taking it so personally.

So here is where you will want to pick up the book and get on the trail with Norfleet. He logs 30,000 miles pursuing these con men. Its’a great adventure and demonstrates an old cowboy’s enormous creativity and grit. He just wouldn’t quit. You can read his own telling of the story in his fast-moving autobiography, “Norfleet,” published in 1924. Or, you can read a more modern version historically contextualized by Amy Reading in “The Mark Inside.” Whichever you choose, cinch up your saddles nice and snug.  It’s gonna be a wild ride.

72 Hours In Newport – Houndmouth “Some Paradise”

Our final episode of “72 Hours in Newport” features alternative blues band, Houndmouth! This week our confessor shares a story of his death-defying sailing trip from Hawaii to California, ultimately pushing him to propose to his then-girlfriend. Later, Walker sits down with Matt Myers of Houndmouth to discuss how the music industry can adapt post-Covid, Houndmouth’s secret band member, and how Matt is unintentionally romantic.   

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72 Hours In Newport – Jake Lloyd “My-Polar”

Episode 3 of “72 Hours in Newport” features Austin-based alternative R&B crooner, Jake Lloyd! In this episode, our confessor shares an intimate story of discovering her bi-polar diagnosis while traveling through China and opens up about how she’s dealt with it since. Later; Walker hashes it out with Jake about some of the ways they manage their own mental health, mutual love of Nate Dogg, Bootsy Collins, and if the Austin music scene is rising up to be actively more inclusive for black artists.

For another episode dealing with mental health, revisit our Husky Loops episode here. Also check out Genomind, the experts starting point for your mental health.

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72 Hours In Newport – Band of Heathens – Black Cat

Episode 2 of 72 Hours in Newport features Austin-based Americana troubadours, Band of Heathens! In this episode our confessor recounts some of his grandfather’s best stories – from coming to America in a barrel to wrestling a panther – Are they true? Are they false? Does it matter? Walker and Gordy Quist (of BOH) discuss the power of family origin stories and the making of “Black Cat.”

For a deeper dive into Americans’ origin history, check out this episode of Code Switch on how projects are using DNA tests to talk about race in America. Listen Here.

 

 

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72 Hours In Newport – Kat Edmonson “Where I Am”

Episode 1 of the “72 Hours In Newport” mini-season features vintage pop singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson and her endearing track, “Where I Am.” Kat’s song was inspired by a confessor that shares her story of falling in love and managing her significant others’ mental health. This episode deals with intense topics related to mental health. If that might be triggering for you, we suggest not listening to this episode and checking back in next week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line – text TALK to 741741

Veterans Crisis Line – text 838255

AFPS.org American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

 

 

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Love in Quarantine – Royal Teeth “Things That Make Me Happy”

Episode 5 of the “Love In Quarantine” mini-season features indie-pop outfit Royal Teeth and their bitter sweet song, “Things That Make Me Happy.” You’ll hear the confession that inspired the song as well as Zac’s interview with lead singer and head songwriter Gary Larsen. Later, Zac and Walker reflect on what we’ve learned about romance throughout our mini-season, Love In Quarantine.

Support NIVA to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promotes throughout the United States. Support here. #SAVEOURSTAGES

 

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Love In Quarantine – 1. Announcement

The Song Confessional Podcast returns after many months in quarantine. Back in March, the SC put out the call for confessions about people’s pandemic experiences. Turns out people are still falling in and out of love while staying inside. The Love In Quarantine mini-season features original songs from Kam Franklin (The Suffers), GGOOLLDD, Esme Patterson, and Royal Teeth as well as a brand new theme song from Walker & the crew.

 

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Don’t You Go Forgetting About Me Now – Har Mar Superstar

Episode 8 of the Song Confessional features the provocateur Har Mar Superstar, a multi-talented scantily-clad crooner who’s toured with The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Lizzo and has written songs for J-Lo, Kelly Osbourne, among others. We’ll hear the debut of Har Mar’s “Don’t You Go Forgetting About Me Now”, the song inspired by a young women’s confessional of a late night Valentine’s Day encounter with a Magic Mike tribute show. Har Mar and Walker sit down to discuss strippers and hook up culture.

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This Song: King Princess

In this episode, Mikaela Mullaney Straus aka King Princess describes how  listening to “Cosmic Dancer” by T. Rex as a kid made her feel seen. And she explores how anthemic rock bands, along with artists like Prince and Tina Turner helped her understand her gender and showed her how music could transport the listener to another place and time.

“It’s about throwing people into a world. It’s about putting people into something that’s like completely separate from reality.”

📸 Greg Noire

Listen to This Episode of This Song

Check out King Princess’s Tour Dates

Listen to the New King Princess album Cheap Queen

Listen to Songs from this episode of This Song

 

On Mother’s Day: Remembering Nonnie

On Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother, too, because she was also my mother. She was, and this remains true for many kids today, my second mother. She lived with us and was my back-up mom – my safety net of sanity when life got crazy. She was a grand-mother.

Her name was Nonnie, which my mom told me was short of Eunice. Nonnie was my nanny until I reached first grade. To the extent that I have any talent as a writer I attribute to her. She taught me to read and write early. She was a role model as a disciplined writer. When she was 70 she bought a Smith Corona electric typewriter – a beautiful shiny blue work of art with chrome trim. To me, it seemed like a sports car for writing. In six years she wrote four novels at the kitchen table during my nap time. The tap, tap, tap sound of the keys was my lullaby most afternoons.

She wrote under the name Sylvester Wimberley. Sylvester because she guessed a man was more likely to get published than a woman. Wimberley because she so loved that Hill Country town.

I wish I could tell you that Simon & Schuster discovered her and she had a couple of best-sellers, but that was not the case. When she died at age 82, in 1969, we found the four novels – and journals and diaries – in her chest of drawers, neatly stacked in manila envelopes beneath the many tablecloths she had crocheted over the years.

They were all moved up to the attic with many of her memories where they were out of sight, but not fully out of mind. When I was in graduate school ten years later, I went up there and found her manuscripts in an old suitcase behind Christmas decorations. The pages were yellowed and brittle, but still quite readable. Over the next few days I read them all. I had hoped to find an Atwood in the attic, but, truth is, Nonnie was more of a diarist than a novelist; more Aurelius than Atwood. She was, perhaps, like her grandson: good in short bursts, but not as skilled sustaining the long narrative.

One journal entry especially moved me; it focuses entirely on her lifelong relationship with her hair:

From my earliest memories my hair has been a subject of conversation. My father was the first to make me conscious of it. He thought it was beautiful. It was long and straight and heavy with a gold cast to it. My father would not let it be cut. Even as the younger girls were getting theirs cut, my father would not let me cut mine because he liked the length of the braid.

My grandmother was on her deathbed and mother had to take time about with her sisters caring for her. So my father took care of us and he had his say about how I should wear my hair. When I went to school the boys would make fun of it saying it was the color of molasses candy that had been pulled. I am not sure the golden tint was still in it then. The boys delighted in sticking the ends of the braids into their ink wells which earned them my angry retaliation.

When I was twelve I went outside with my grandfather McGee one summer’s day. I went out on the front porch with him just after sunup. He turned to talk to me and he stopped and said, “Eunice, I didn’t know that your hair was such a pretty red.” I laughed and said that it was just the sun shining through it and lighting it up like that. I never forgot that moment. I had had so few compliments in my life and I was to remember that one always. My grandfather would sometimes pass behind me at the supper table and run his rough hand over my hair. He didn’t say anything, but I found it as comforting as a compliment.

Many years later, after I had married, I still kept my hair long and braided. It had become strawberry blonde. I wore it as a braid wrapped around my head. I took the pins [out] of my hair and wrapped the braid around my neck. It was as wide as a collar. Once I was wearing it that way when I went to call on Betty Graham and she asked me where I got a collar that so closely matched my hair. I told her it WAS my hair. She had to take it down to see the length of it and was surprised by its weight, too. I suppose that was the longest, and heaviest, it ever was.

Once when my niece Guy Ann was five years old and she and I were standing out in front of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio waiting for my husband Fred, a strange woman came up to me and said, “Lady, did you know that your hair and that child’s hair are exactly the same color?” I had not thought about it but when we got home Guy Ann wanted to see for herself. So she pulled my hair down and laid hers over it. Sure enough, you could not tell where mine ended and hers began. As the years went by Guy Ann’s hair got a little darker and mine got ever lighter until it was both blonde and white.

In 1963, when I was in my late 70s, I ran into Sam Black, a man I had not seen for fifty years. He greeted me with these words, “Well, Eunice, you have lost some of the gold in your hair!”  Indeed I had.

Now that I am 80 years old, my hair is all white. White like new cotton. And I think it is just lovely.

My grandmother wanted all her life to be published. I am happy to know that, now, by quoting her here, she finally is. Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma.

What’s In A Name – The Rio Grande Valley

When some people first arrive in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas they often ask, “Where are the mountains?” It’s natural. Generally a valley is between mountains or at least hills. But the Rio Grande Valley is most accurately a delta region, as level as Lubbock. The highest roadway point is the 80-foot summit of the causeway bridge that goes to South Padre Island.

So how did a delta become the Valley? Marketing. Back in the early 1900s when developers were selling beautiful orchard acreage to northerners in New York and Chicago, they found that naming the area the Rio Grande Valley was a powerful selling strategy. It was also marketed as “the Magic Valley” – and I have no problem with the magic part. After all, there are dozens of varieties of exotic birds and butterflies that migrate through here each year. Some species winter here, too.  The vibrantly colored birds and butterflies do make it a magical. And there are the crops, too. Early on, visitors saw that sugar cane and cotton and citrus orchards, irrigated with plentiful Rio Grande water, grew like magic in the Magic Valley.

The strategy worked. Hundreds of thousands of people came to the RGV from northern states last century for the subtropical climate and relaxed living. Some came just for the mild winters they were called “Winter Texans” (and still are). “Winter Texan” was another successful PR term that seemed much more warm and personable than the slightly pejorative, “Snowbird.” From the point of view of a Texan, there could be no greater compliment than to crown visitors a “Texan” for the time they are here.

The Rio Grande Valley is comprised of many small and medium-sized cities.  Many have interesting name origins. South Padre Island translates to “Father Island.” It was named for a catholic priest – Padre José Nicolás Ballí. He inherited the island from his grandfather who received it as a land grant from King Charles III of Spain in 1759.

Brownsville could have been called Texasville if the original fort built there had kept its first name, which was Fort Texas. The makeshift fort was quickly constructed in 1846 to lay claim to the Rio Grande as the southern border of Texas.  The Mexican army bombarded the fort and Major Jacob Brown, originally of Boston, was killed. He was the first casualty of the Mexican-American war. So the fort was renamed Fort Brown in his honor and the town that grew up around the fort was named Brownsville.

Harlingen was named for the town of Harlingen in the Netherlands. Its founder, Lon C. Hill, thought the town’s river, the Arroyo Colorado, could be a commercial waterway to the sea, and Harlingen a city of canals, similar to its namesake in Holland. It’s pronounced differently. The Harlingen in Holland has a different “g” – Harlingen.

Weslaco is almost an acronym. It was founded by W.E. Stewart, owner of the W.E. Stewart Land Company, which was a real estate development company. So you take Stewart’s initials and the first letters of “land” and “company” and you get “Weslaco.”

Edinburg was named for Edinburgh, Scotland. Well, technically named in honor of John Young, a businessman from Edinburgh, Scotland. Both are university towns, but are spelled differently and pronounced differently, too. The Edinburgh in Scotland has somewhat of a silent g and h at the end. The one in Texas has no ‘h” but does pronounce the “g.” Edinburg. Don’t know the reason for spelling and saying it differently, but this is Texas – it’s what we do. We take the names and make them our own.

The Mystery Of The Osage Murders

One of the best books I’ve read this year is “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” I was late to this literary party. This nonfiction work has been a super-bestseller for well over a year now. It has been on the Paperback Nonfiction bestseller list for 49 weeks. Dave Eggers writes in his New York Times Book Review that author “[David] Grann has proved himself a master of spinning delicious, many-layered mysteries that also happen to be true. … It will sear your soul.”

I won’t spoil this book for you by revealing any part of the whodunit. I’m more interested in the who pursued ‘em.

You have three levels of tension here. First, there is the Osage tribe – the richest people per capita on Earth at the time, around 1920. They were the only tribe that owned mineral rights to the worthless land they got from the federal government as their very own reservation in Oklahoma. Why not? It was worthless scrub-brush land that was mostly sandy and rocky with random clumps of grass. When oil was discovered, though, they became, collectively, unfathomably rich. J. Paul Getty, for instance, was in a bidding war Harry Sinclair for Osage oil leases. Soon after the money started piling up, the Osage started dying, mysteriously, and in large numbers.

The second level of tension is that they were being murdered, seemingly randomly. “Serial killer” was not yet a term in the crime lexicon, but as a reader, you arrive at that conclusion quickly. You feel it must be a serial killer. But not one singular method was used. Some Osage were shot, some poisoned, some blown up in their homes with dynamite. Sixty had died by the time that J. Edgar Hoover took the case for the feds. It was up to him to find the killer or killers.

Here’s the third level of tension. Hoover was just acting director of what was called the Bureau of Investigation at the time. He was only 29 years old. The case was a blessing and a curse. If Hoover could solve it he could elevate the this new agency to a formidable and powerful national police bureau. If he failed, he would be pushed out; his career hung in the balance. Hoover was wanting to create an FBI that was modern, full of smart college graduates skilled in the use of the latest scientific techniques like fingerprinting, but the last agents sent to solve the mystery either made no headway, or were themselves killed. To solve this case, Hoover needed to send to Oklahoma the kind of agent he wanted the agency to shed.

Now, at this point you might be saying, as my dear sister-in-law said to me when I told her this story, “Why are you, Mr. Texas, talking about Oklahoma?” I’ll answer you as I did her: “Hold your horses, I’m fixin’ to get there.”

Hoover had to bite the bullet and bring in the cowboys. He sent for Tom White, his bureau chief in Houston, who was an ex-Texas Ranger, to take charge of the case. As Hoover said, “He needed a man who could handle men.”

It wasn’t exactly a “one riot, one ranger” situation, but it had elements of it.

Grann describes him this way: “Tom White was an old-style lawman. He had served in the Texas Rangers near the turn of the century, and he had spent much of his life wandering on horseback across the Southwestern frontier, a Winchester rifle or a pearl-handled six-shooter in hand. He was 6 feet, 4 inches and had the sinewy arms and eerie composure of a gunslinger.

Years later, a bureau agent wrote that he was as “God-fearing as the mighty defenders of the Alamo. He was an impressive sight in his large, suede Stetson. … He commanded the utmost in respect and scared the daylights out of Easterners like me.”

Of course, it was a white Stetson he wore.

Hoover explained to White that he needed him to direct the investigation without a hint of scandal, and as quietly as possible. He told him there could be “no excuse for failure.” Hoover told him to call in as many agents as he needed, and so White called in those men that Hoover considered the cowboys (two were ex-Texas Rangers) – men who were good at “infiltrating wild country, dealing with outlawry, shadowy suspects, going days without sleep, maintaining cover under duress, and handling deadly weapons if necessary.”

So there you go. The plot is set. The characters are in place. A great Texas story awaits, even though it’s set in Oklahoma. If you don’t care to read the book just now, you can wait for the movie, which, rumor has it, will be directed by Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio. De Niro is said to be in talks for a role as well.

I’m W.F. Strong. These are Stories from Texas, by way of Oklahoma. Some of them are true.