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Instrumentally : Texas is just Texas

TI-99/4aMy first ever home computer, back in the the 1980’s when I was first becoming a geek was Texas Instruments TI-994a.

The ‘badup-blip!’ noise that you got, along with a fleeting map of Texas that you got on the TV screen (yes kids, we had to plug our home computers into our TV’s back in those days) are etched onto my eyelids forever as I can close them and go back to a simpler time of when 16K was considered a lot of memory.

Too geeky? Sorry. But I couldn’t help but hear that noise, and see that image, as I cut through the top right hand corner of New Mexico, and into the square ‘panhandle’ of Texas on Friday.

Stratford was my stop, yes a same-name-as-the-tube kind of town. And by ‘town’ I mean ‘intersection with two gas stations and lots of trucks’, and yet it also endeared itself to me as the ‘Pheasant Capital of Texas’, although I didn’t actually see any Pheasants (nor run over any) whilst I was there.

A quick thunderstorm later, and I was down in Amarillo, picking up my sixth and final companion for the journey, my friend Paul had flown in from England to join me for the last two weeks as we head west, and with his arrival I appeared get my zest back for the trip, the week down from Seattle having been rather tiring and not as much fun as I thought it was going to be.

Before we headed west, we headed a little east though to knock Oklahoma off of the same-name list, to the delightful Warren, which had two churches and a cafe. Then we turned around and headed back whence we came.

It was about this point that we started on the Route 66 trail, and quite at random (selected from my Route 66 Road Trip guidebook) we stopped in the almost-defunct town of Sayre, to discover that not all businesses had gone. In fact, we found one that had recently reopened! The delightful Robins Nest soda fountain shop served us with ice-cream and malts and the girls inside (complete in their 1950’s outfits) were delighted to engage us with our British accents, whilst I drew a map in their visitors book to distinguish London (where I’m from) and Lancashire (where Paul is from).

We stopped in McLean too, to go to the Devil’s Rope Museum. The what? I hear you ask … ah yes, a museum that was all about barbed wire – I kid you not, with hundred of variations of barbed wire on display, you’d never think or realise that there was so many,

And it was here that my Route 66 obsession (more on which tomorrow) really started to kick in as I started to spend money in the gift shop on 66-emblazoned items which I’ll probably regret buying one day, but right now it seems like exactly what I want.

Don't Mess With TexasOne thing that caught my eye though more than anything else though, as a postcard in the rack that had the Texas flag on it (with the star physically cut out, you could poke your finger through it), and the slogan “Don’t mess with Texas!” on it, which I really really liked.

And then it hit me. I started to sense what it was about this state that I like. I think that British people have that “Don’t mess with us!” attitude too. We’re an island, we do awkward things like … refuse to join the Euro … and generally perhaps think that there’s something just that little bit better about ourselves, justified or not.

And here was the state of Texas, basically saying the same thing. My previous companion J.J. is a Texan, and to this day I still smile where I hear him recall the geography of of America. “Well there’s New England of course, and then the South, the mid-west and the west. But Texas? Texas is just Texas!”.

I’m starting to see what he means, and I think I really like it.

4 responses to “Instrumentally : Texas is just Texas”

  1. leslie says:

    In case you didn’t know, Don’t Mess With Texas is an anti-littering campaign that started in the 80s, which was the first one that really worked here. It was in contrast to the PitchIn/Keep America Beautiful campaigns of the 70s. It was just macho enough for people to accept and stop throwing their beer cans in their truck bed and out of their car windows.

    Some ads:

    I don’t see the classic Willie Nelson ones.

  2. MumTina says:

    My Dad had a Texas Calculator in the 70’s which you plugged into the mains with a transformer. It cost about £8, quite a lot in those days. Previously we had huge chunky calculating machines as big as typewriters. According to Wikipedia: ‘Texas Instruments invented the hand-held calculator in 1967 (they were $2,500 a piece) and the single-chip microcomputer in 1971, and was assigned the first patent on a single-chip microprocessor’. They are still going in a factory in Stafford near Houston. You owe them a lot Geoff.

  3. Katie says:

    While I have to agree with JJ, Texas really IS it’s own little country, I must also point out, that JJ is only half-Texan. There is a huge divide between us full-blooded Texans, and those of us that are half-bloods, otherwise known as Aggies.

    And yes, I will take ANY opportunity as a Longhorns fan to talk trash about the Aggies. And if you don’t like it? Well screw you, I’m a Texan.

  4. geofftech says:

    my goodness – Longhorns/Aggies? i’ve started an inter-Texan-war, clearly. is your state so big that you have your own little north/south divide? 🙂

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