An old rodeo cowboy from George West once helped W.F. Strong define the makings of a true Texan. He told him: “All you gotta do is ask a few questions.”
What kind of questions? Here are just a few:
- You ever seen the big Texas sun rise up over the oil derricks of the Gulf, turn ’em to gold – and found that beautiful?
- Do you feel a gnawing sadness when you leave the state – and a reborn joy when you make it back?
- Are you equally comfortable with hola and howdy?
- Is Southwest the national airline of the state?
- Do you love the smell of orange blossoms on the March wind, or purple sage after a thunderstorm?
- Do you see yourself as a Texan first, and just incidentally American?
If you can say “yes” to 10 or so of these things, then you may very well have the honor to call yourself a Texan.
W.F Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. And 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.
When he travels he says he always introduces himself as a Texan. If pressed, he will confess to being American, too.
This story was prepared with assistance by Jan Ross Piedad.