Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Texas Brags, Buried Treasure, War Memorials

Sherrie S. McLeRoy has collected about 50 true Texas tales in her book, “Braggin’ on Texas” (TCU Press, $9.95 hardcover, part of the press’s Texas Small Books series).
Among them:

Mollie Bailey was the first woman to own and run a circus in the United States. Mollie lived in Texas at the time and flew the Texas flag over her circus tent wherever she went.

Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, for better or worse, is the largest producer of fruitcake in the world.

Daisy Dean Doolin of San Antonio invented the Frito pie.

Vern Dalhart, born Marion Slaughter in the Texas town of Jefferson, had the first country music hit to sell a million copies – “The Wreck of the Old ’97.

Cindy Walker of Mexia, who died in 2006, is the only American songwriter to make the Top Ten list in five successive decades.

The statue of Sam Houston outside Huntsville is the tallest statue of an American hero at 67 feet tall (77 feet counting the 10-foot base).

In 1929 a Texan, Bill Williams, became the first person to push a peanut up Pike’s Peak – with his nose. It took him 20 days and he wore out 170 pair of pants.

The Tyler Civitan Club was the first organization, in Texas and the U.S., to adopt a highway, and that was just 25 years ago.

Buried Treasure: Another book in the TCU Press Small Book Series is Patrick Dearen’s “Lone Star Lost: Buried Treasures in Texas” ($9.95 hardcover).

Dearen relates stories about a gold-laden wagon supposedly hidden in a lost cave, buried outlaw gold, Comanche jewels, and seven other tales of alleged wealth lost but not forgotten.

War Memorials: The Texas State Historical Association continues its series of small, informative paperback books on Texas history with Kelly McMichael’s “Sacred Memories: The Civil War Monument Movement in Texas” ($9.95).

McMichael tells the stories behind the various Civil War monuments in 60 Texas communities. Most pay respects to fallen Confederate soldiers, but a few also honor Union troops as well.

The book is divided into six sections geographically – East Texas, North Texas, Central Texas, the Panhandle and West Texas, South Texas, and Southeast Texas.

Taken together, the monuments relate the history of Texas and the Civil War. And you can take the tour without leaving home.