Monday, January 25, 2016

6 things you ought to know about Texas (with a bonus story!)

1. Texas is the second largest and second most populous state, with an area of 268,820 square miles and a population (as of mid-2015) of more than 27.5 million residents. The state also has the second highest gross state product (though I'm not entirely sure what that means). Texas has 254 counties, more than any other state, and it also has more farms than any other state. (Cattle, not surprisingly, is the most valuable agricultural product; cotton is the most valuable crop.)
More wind power is produced in Texas than in any other state. 


2. The Texas Rangers (not the baseball team; the law enforcement folks) were unofficially formed in 1823 by Stephen Austin (the Father of Texas, not the Six Million Dollar Man)

3. Six flags have famously flown over the state, representing the governments that have claimed the area: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, United States, and Confederate States of America. 

4. Surprisingly for those of us who watched or read a lot of westerns, less than 10% of the land area is desert. 

5. The state's name comes from the word for "friend" in the Caddo language.

6. The 1900 Galveston hurricane ("Isaac's Storm") was the deadliest natural disaster in American history, with between 6,000 and 12,000 people killed.

Bonus Story:
A former coworker, Spencer, used to work in corrections in Texas. A woman he worked with asked him to help create a resume for her husband, a Baptist pastor. Spencer says he spent about 45 minutes putting the resume together, then decided to go all out, taking the document to be printed on nice paper, getting a presentation folder, making the package look really good. The pastor was thrilled, and he and his wife invited Spencer to visit their church the next Sunday.

Spencer had been out late Saturday night and was running late Sunday morning when he pulled up to the church. The only parking space was right in front. He says he never felt so conspicuous in his life as he did parking his good ol' boy bright red Jeep with oversized tires in front of the crowd of African American Baptists gathered outside the church.

He got out of the car. "Rev. Moore invited me," he began.

"You're Spencer!" someone said. With that, he was warmly greeted by everybody, and they all went in to worship.

It was a broiling hot August day, and the service went on for a long time. Fans fluttered all around, but
the singing was lively and heartfelt. At noon, there was dinner outside, then church again all afternoon. Spencer said he got home around 6:30 that evening, and he'd never had such a good time.

But that's the last time he went to church. It's been twelve years.