Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baptisim in the Brazos

It was the spring of 1982 and I had just moved to Texas to start a new job as Director of Operations for a company in Dallas. One sunny Sunday afternoon I was invited to a good old fashioned Texas Barbecue being held at a park on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco.

Upon arrival the "Texas Atmosphere" was as thick as pea soup. Everyone was dressed in cowboy boots, Levis with big buckled belts, long sleeved shirts and, of course, the ever present cowboy hat. It is easy for those of us from other states to poke fun at this attire but in actuality all of those things serve good functions. The Levis, long sleeved shirts and wide rimmed hats are important in the Texas sun and cowboy boots are designed to fit stirrups when riding a horse (trust me, a good firm footing in the stirrup is absolutely necessary to ride properly and will save a lot of saddle blisters on your butt). It was a beautiful little spot right on the bend of the river and was the home of the Texas Ranger Museum, a place packed with displays of local history. There were ribs sizzling on the barbecue, roast/baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and, of course, Lone Star Beer in both kegs and chilled long neck bottles. The Texas drawl (yaw'll come try this, hear?) was in the air and people were having a great time.

As the afternoon wore on I became the target of some good natured teasing because I was from California. At some point I made the mistake of saying how much I liked Texas and that I wished I had been born there. At this point three of my larger friends came up and said they could grant my wish to be a Texan. I was escorted to the edge of the river and told to raise my right hand. They then asked me if I swore allegiance to the "Sovereign State of Texas" and to the memory of Sam Houston. As soon as the words "I do" passed my lips I was thrown, fully clothed, into the Brazos River. Emerging from the water to the sound of roaring laughter, I was given an ice cold Lone Star Beer (in a long neck bottle, of course) and a cowboy hat was placed on my dripping wet head. I was then told that I was now a naturalized Texan and, when asked, I could say I was a 'Texan from San Fransisco'. To finish off my initiation I was given the nick name "The Frisco Kid" (which was mercifully forgotten almost immediately).

Just a quick piece of friendly advise about cowboy hats. Although they are not worn nearly as much these days they are still quiet common in Texas. A cowboy hat comes in a wide variety of styles and shapes reflecting the individual tastes of the owner. They range from the more functional straw version, usually sweat stained as a show that it is owned by a working cowboy, to the more expensive "Stetson", which can easily run $200 or more with a hand tooled hat band. One thing that many people who do not know better like to do is "try on" another person's cowboy hat. Not a good idea. Trying on someone's hat without permission is kind of like kissing another guys girl friend without asking - and it can get the same results. So, if you are ever tempted, be sure to ask first.....

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