Categories
Texas History

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate the Mexican Army’s defeat of the French at Puebla, Mexico on the 5th of May, 1862.

The story begins after Texas won their independence from Mexico in 1836. The Mexican government was deeply in debt. They were unable to pay their national loans to England, Spain and France. The Mexican president, Benito Juarez, was able to negotiate repayment with the English and Spanish governments. However, the French refused to agree to terms and sent in an occupying force.

The French ruler, Louis Napoleon III, wanted to create a new empire in Mexico and Prince Maximilian (who was later excuted) was sent to rule over it. The Mexicans rebelled and gathered a small army to fight the French. The Mexican troops were led by Texas born General Ignacio Zaragosa and Colonel Porfirio Diaz. These Mexican patriots met and defeated the stronger French army about 100 miles from Mexico City at Puebla on May 5, 1862. The town was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza to honor the Mexican General.

Eventually the French did overtake Mexico and there were many more battles to be fought. After the US Civil War, the Americans put pressure on the French to leave Mexico and supported the Mexicans cause. The French finally left Mexico in 1866 and soon after President Benito Juarez was restored to power.

The Battle at Puebla de Zaragoza represented Mexico’s determination to remain a free and independent nation.

Today, Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Texas center on Mexican culture and ethnic pride.

Categories
Texas Travel

Port Mansfield Manatee

Port Mansfield, just north of Padre Island, has received a rare treat the past few years – a visit from a Florida Manatee!

These gentle creatures normally live in the warm waters of Florida and seldom venture to the Texas Gulf Coast. This Manatee is about 8 feet long and has been in Port Mansfield for about a month, playing and eating sea grasses.

Manatees live to be about 50 yrs and can get as large as 12 feet in length. Boats are the main threat to Manatees because of wounds from propellers. The problem is that there are too many boaters in the coastal waters that Manatee prefer. Loss of habitat, fragile sea grass being destroyed by boaters and water pollution are diminishing their numbers. Manatees are Federally protected and on the Endangered Species list.

US Fish & Wildlife officials will monitor the Manatee. They don’t want people feeding it or coming too close. “Our biggest concern is trying to keep the public from interfering with its movement, when Wildlife becomes dependent upon people, they quit being wild.”

The last Manatee to visit the Texas Coast was “Sweet Pea” who in 1995 made quite a splash at a water treatment plant in Houston. I was able to take my 2 boys to see her and we fondly remember her playing in the water. Sweet Pea had to be rescued when the temperatures got cold. Manatees get hypothermia in water below 68 degrees. “Mattress Mack” of Gallery Furniture volunteered one of his vans to help transport the Manatee to the cargo plane that flew her back to Florida.

Wildlife officers will also keep a close eye on the Port Mansfield Manatee when waters starting getting colder. We sure enjoy their visits but want them to be safe and go back to Florida when the Summer is over.

Categories
Texas Weather

Hurricane Season on the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Season on the Gulf Coast is June 1st to November 30th each year.  Those of us along the Texas Gulf Coast keep a watchful eye on the nightly weather report.

Before this season gets into full swing, make sure you have needed supplies on hand. Don’t wait until the last minute to stock up as shelves empty fast when a hurricane is coming!

Here are a few tips to make sure your family is prepared and some handy Hurricane Supply Lists.

* Before a hurricane approaches, gather important documents like insurance policies, personal documents (birth certificates, etc..), household inventory, car titles, deeds, leases, and tax information. Make an inventory of personal property, household furnishings and equipment. Take pictures of your home, inside and out to document your valuables for the insurance company. Place these in a safe deposit box or other safe, dry place.

* Make sure you have your prescriptions filled and at least a 2 week supply on hand. Drugstores will be very busy so as soon as you think a storm is coming, have those prescription refilled.

* Store at least a week’s worth of water for your family and pets – have at least one gallon per person, per day.

* When shopping be sure to get enough nonperishable foods to sustain your family for two weeks. Don’t forget treats and comfort foods for children.

* As the storm approaches and well before the lights go out, fill plastic containers and freeze them. Fill your coolers with ice. You can also fill the washing machine with water for washing hands, etc..

Hurricane Kit Supplies:
Flashlights
Battery-operated radio
Battery-operated lanterns
Extra batteries
Toilet paper
Matches
Wind up Clock
Plastic garbage bags
Working fire extinguishers
Scissors
Rain gear
Map of the area to assist in evacuations

Stock Up on the Following Foods and Beverages:
Bottled water
Ice
Canned and powdered milk
Beverages (powdered or canned, fruit juices, instant coffee, tea)
Prepared foods (canned soups, beef, spaghetti, tuna, chicken, ham, corned beef hash, fruit cocktail, packaged pudding)
Canned vegetables and fruits
Dried fruits
Snacks (crackers, cookies, hard candy, nuts)
Snack spreads (peanut butter, cheese spreads, jelly)
Cereals
Raw vegetables
Sugar, salt, pepper
Bread
Dry and canned pet food
Extra formula, baby food
Diapers and Wipes

Medical Supplies:
Prescription drugs
Insect-repellent sprays
Feminine hygiene items
Sunscreen
Soap
First-aid kit and first-aid handbook
Extra over-the-counter medicine (for colds, allergies, cough)
Children’s medicines
Adhesive tape
Cotton-tipped swabs
Antiseptic solution
Sterile rolls, bandages
Ear drops
Thermometer
Tweezers
Needles
Disinfectant

Categories
Texas Travel

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

Mercer Arboretum
Mercer Arboretum<br>Bluebonnets

Just north of Houston is the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Set along the banks of Cypress Creek, the park offers 250 acres of native woodland trails, color gardens, koi ponds and more.

Thelma and Charles Mercer purchased the original 14 acres with dreams of establishing a public garden. They later sold the property to Harris County and more acreage was added to the park.

Upon entering the park you will be greeted by a koi pond and the beautiful color beds surrounding the original home site. There you will always find flowers in bloom throughout the year, with an ever-changing display of annuals and perennials. Further into the park are endangered plants, old fashioned gardens, herb gardens, tropical plantings as well as native wildflowers. Stroll along the pathways to natural plantings under a canopy of trees. Across the road are picnic areas, outdoor classrooms and nature trails.

Mercer is a perfect place to just stop by for a morning stroll or all afternoon nature walk. There are wonderful monthly programs and guided tours.

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is just a mile north of FM 1960 on 22306 Aldine Westfield Road. Admission is free!

Stop by anytime, something is always blooming!!

Categories
Texas History

One Ranger : A Memoir by Joaquin Jackson

One Ranger : A Memoir
One Ranger : A Memoir

The great book begins with the Texas legend of a single Ranger sent to restore the peace in a rowdy boomtown. The story goes, it only takes one Ranger to stop one riot.

“That’s one story. There are countless others that belong to the hundreds of men who are part of a proud tradition close to two centuries old. I am only one Ranger out of those who came before me and those who will ride on ahead. Only one story belongs to me.”

Joaquin Jackson shares with us his story and those of the “Desperadoes and Dumbasses” he encounters along the way. The personal accounts range from amusing burglars and horse thieves, to dramatic and tragic stories of criminals in the Big Bend Area.

Considered to be one of the best books about the Texas Rangers, One Ranger is flying off the shelves – as well it should!

Categories
Texas Travel

Texas Gulf Coast

The Texas Gulf Coast has miles of beaches, state parks, historic sites, Wildlife Refuges, NASA’s Space Center and even tales of pirate treasure. There something for everyone from water sports and fishing, shopping to bird watching and cultural events. Warm tropical waters, delightful seaside communities and numerous venues make the Texas Gulf Coast a perfect place for a fun vacation.

From the Sabine river to the Rio Grande river valley, there are over 600 miles of beaches, bays, harbors, bayous and a chain of barrier islands that forms the Inter-Coastal Waterway. For those who love fishing and water sports of all kinds, the Gulf Coast is perfect for exploring the warm waters, tidal dunes and pristine beaches.

Galveston Island is full of fun things to do and see. Play on the beach or go running, cycling or walking along the beach front and seawall. Take a leisurely ride in a horse drawn carriage or trolley to the numerous shop on The Strand and tour the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa. Attractions include the Moody Gardens Aquarium and Rain Forest Pyramid, Lone Star Flight Museum and Rail Road Museum, etc. There are beautiful homes to tour – 1859 Ashton Villa, 1886 The Bishops Palace, 1895 Moody Mansion and more.

Further inland is the home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Visitors can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock, land a shuttle, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA.

Port Lavaca marks the center point of the Texas Gulf Coast. Favorite area attractions are the Half Moon Reef Lighthouse and beach, Formosa Wetlands Waterway and Matagorda Island State Park. Indianola is the town site of a fort built by French explorer, Robert LaSalle. It is here that he shipwrecked in 1684 and artifacts from on of his ships, La Belle, can be seen at The Calhoun County Museum in Port Lavaca.

Corpus Christi has many visitors attractions including the USS Lexington Museum, the Texas State Aquarium & Dolphin Bay, Museum of Science and History, South Texas Institute for the Arts, Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, and more.

Nearby Padre Island and Mustang Island State Park boasts 113 miles of beautiful beaches. South Padre Island was named one of the top ten best beaches in the world and as as a top fishing destination. Padre Island was home to pirate Jean La Fitte and it is rumored he may have buried gold and treasure there.

The Texas Gulf Coast is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Swampy bayous, hardwood forests, coastal prairies, marshy wetlands, mud flats and sandy beaches makes a perfect habitat for many species. There are bobcats and coyotes, mink, nutria, raccoon, rabbit, opossum, skunks, river otter, muskrat and even alligators.

Bird watching is a favorite activity year round due to the numerous local birds as well as migratory visitors. Species of waterbirds such as the Whooping crane, whistling duck and roseate spoonbill – birds of the prairies include the Atwater prairie chicken, White Tailed Hawks and Crested Caracara – shore birds along the beach, gulls and more.

For wildlife viewing on the upper Gulf Coast visit Big Thicket National Preserve, Sea Rim State Park and Anhuac National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors to the lower Gulf Coast are will want to visit Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Matagorda Island, Padre Island and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande area.

Categories
Texas History

Gone to Texas

Gone to Texas, also known as GTT, was a common phrase in the 19th century utilized by Americans moving to Texas, which at the time was part of Mexico. The phrase was often written on the doors or posted as a sign on fences just before abandoning their property. Gone to Texas was particularly popular as americans were looking to escape debt incurred during the Panic of 1819.

The phrase was made famous after Davy Crockett said “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas,” when he was narrowly defeated for re-election in Tennessee. He soon followed through on that pledge.

The Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development has recently been utilizing the “Gone to Texas” slogan as part of its plan to attract businesses to Texas.

Categories
Texas Facts

Texas State Symbols

Texas traditionally has recognized natural resources and wildlife commonly found within the state as tangible representations of both the state’s proud spirit and its vast and diverse natural heritage by proclaiming them official Texas State symbols.

Categories
Texas Culture

Barbecue: A Texas Love Story

Here in Texas we love our barbecue.  Each weekend Texans all over the Lone Star State start  firing up the grill.

To some, BBQ is serious business. And now there a documentary called Barbecue: A Texas Love Story. It is a fun journey through the Lone Star State to visit BBQ cook-offs, the Salty Dawg cookers at the Mosquito Festival, a church that raises money from the sale of their “Holy BBQ” and more.

The film is narrated by Ann Richards and features commentary by famous Texans such as Dan Rather, Kinky Friedman, Liz Carpenter (chief of staff to President Johnson) and Cactus Pryor (Austin radio host). But the real stars of the movie are people of Texas who shared a laugh and a meal.

From small towns to family reunions, roadside BBQ pits to restaurants, cook offs and festivals – one thing is sure, all over Texas we are cooking and eating barbecue!

Categories
Texas Culture

Famous Texas Quotes

“You May All Go To Hell And I Will Go To Texas”
Davy Crockett

“Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called ‘walking.’ ”
George W. Bush

“I’ve traveled all over the world, but I don’t think there is any place better than Texas.”
Red Adair

“Football is to Texas what religion is to a priest.”
Tom Landry.

“I worked around cattle all my life and I guess I learned all there is to know about it, and I think I can sum it all up in one thing: You can’t drink coffee on a running horse.”
Samuel Brenner

“I done drew the line. Just like the Alamo. You’re either on one side of the line or the other. I don’t want to ever leave Texas again.”
Bum Phillips, Former Houston Oilers coach

“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans.”
John Steinbeck, Author 1962.

“All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, But Texas was absolutely overrun by such men.”
Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas

“I’d rather be a fencepost in Texas, than the king of Tennessee.”
Chris Wall Texas Singer-Songwriter-Austin.

“A born Texan has instilled in his system a mind-set of no retreat or no surrender. I wish everyone the world over had the dominating spirit that motivates Texans.”
Former Texas Speaker of the House Billy Clayton.

“I thought I knew Texas pretty well, but I had no notion of it’s size until I campaigned it”
Former Governor Ann Richards

“Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas”
Senator William Blakley

“If you’ve ever driven across Texas, you know how different one area of the state can be from another. Take El Paso. It looks as much like Dallas as I look like Jack Nicklaus”
Pro Golfer Lee Trevino.

“I love Texas because Texas is future-oriented, because Texans think anything is possible. Texans think big”
Senator Phil Gramm.

“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word”
Author John Steinbeck.

“Texas will again lift it’s head and stand among the nations. It ought to do so, for no country upon the globe can compare with it in natural advantages.”
Sam Houston

“Deep down, I’m a Texas girl looking for that big romance every girl dreams about. Biologically, I look forward to being a cornerstone of a family.”
Renee Zellweger

“Texas will again lift it’s head and stand among the nations. It ought to do so, for no country upon the globe can compare with it in natural advantages.”
Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas.

“I must say as to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and the best prospects for health I ever saw, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country here to settle.”
Davy Crockett, 1836.