Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

A piece of my heart's in Texas

Wick's World

 


I’ve spent a small amount of time with West Texas cowboys and oil field workers. The most recent is a two-week stay with my sister while she mends her twice-wounded heart. A few months ago, her husband of 54 years broke her heart when he passed away. A few weeks later, life took another little piece of her heart when she had bypass surgery.

I can honestly say I left a small piece of my heart in Texas a long, long time ago ­— 45 years ago to be exact. My wife and I hitch-hiked to New Orleans and attended the final Mardi Gras allowing glass drinks in the street. Several nights we remained awake until the wee hours of the morning for the sole purpose of watching the cleanup crew fill their garbage trucks with glass and beads. The following year, by ordinance from Orleans Parish, Mardi Gras glass was replaced by plastic. Fortunately for revelers, the law that allowed the imbibing of alcoholic beverages in public, anytime, anywhere, remained unchanged.

All good things must pass, as did Mardi Gras, so we headed to Texas; Austin, Texas to be exact. We arrived about the time Rock and Roll married Country Western. Rednecks Waylon Jennings and Kinky Freidman and his band, The Texas Jewboys, joined liberals like Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson to create Outlaw Country. Jerry Jeff Walker was the house band at The Armadillo World Headquarters and The Broken Spoke was home to Marcia Ball and her band Frieda and the Firedogs.

Texas was a musical paradise for me. However, the hot summers were a dry, dusty Hades for my wife. We compromised by spending six months "Up North" and the cooler half of the year in the Texas towns of Austin, San Juan, Pharr and McAllen. Then a major life change occurred.

“First comes love, then comes marriage; then comes baby in a baby carriage.”

Also comes the decision regarding where to live.

My wife and I are South Dakotans, both by birth and in our hearts. We grew up enjoying four distinguishable seasons. Politically, we preferred to live in the more liberal Midwest than the redneck state of Texas. I always said, “Texas isn’t just a state. It’s a state of mind.” Texans truly have a love/hate relationship amongst themselves. Austinites claim they live in “The People’s Republic of Austin.” The rest of Texas lovingly refers to them as “The damn hippies in our capitol.”

With no regrets, we chose the progressive state of Minnesota to put down our roots. Maybe we did have a small regret. We failed to ask the question, “Just how cold can cold get?”

Early in life we were Winter Texans, albeit still in our 20s. We never have lived in West Texas, although we traveled there several times. The first trip was the most memorable. We were hitchhiking to El Paso to see my friend, Hank Evans. At times, Hank was the drummer for Bob Seeger and The Silver Bullet Band. On the outskirts of Austin, we were waiting for our first ride when a large, black Cadillac with tinted windows pulled over. The driver was decked out in a Texas Ranger outfit.

He rolled down his window and said, “Ya’ll can hop in the back. Where you fixin’ to go?”

When I replied, “El Paso,” he said, “I can get you to Johnson City.”

He not only revealed he was LBJ’s personal driver and was heading back to the LBJ Ranch, he could have passed for President Johnson’s twin brother. He spoke more about Lady Bird than he did the president. He was very proud of her lifelong dedication to the beautification of Texas roadsides. When you see all those bluebonnets and other wildflowers as you travel through the huge state of Texas, give a shout out to one of our finest first ladies.

Tomorrow morning, I will be leaving Kermit, Texas, a small town named after President Teddy Roosevelt’s son, Kermit. On the way to the Midland Odessa Regional Airport, I will pass what was the 1955-59 home of two other presidents, George Herbert Walker Bush and son, George Walker Bush.

"You ask me what I like about Texas. It’s another burrito with a cold Lone Star in my hand.”

Jerry Jeff Walker

 

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