We reckon there is nothing that makes a Texan madder than the stereotyped image of a Texan—"the guy with the big hat, the boots and that damned diamond-studded belt buckle," as one of our Lone Star staffers says angrily. Odds are good that such a sartorial showoff just might happen to be a Texan, but classifying him as typical is as wrong as the old routine about white cowboy hats (the good guys) and black hats (the others).
The imagery of such people used to set off a natural reaction against Texans, says Associate Editor Dan Jenkins, who wears a button-down collar, a rep-stripe tie, an Ivyish suit—and shoes. Jenkins is, at once, a typical and an atypical Texan, whose hat, when he wears one, probably would not hold more than a gallon and a half. Other writing Texans on the staff (we also have some Texas editors, but all editors—or so every writer claims—are colorless individuals who could well come from anywhere or maybe nowhere) are Edwin Shrake, Liz Smith and Hamilton B. Maule, whose only betrayal of his background is his nickname, Tex. None of them looks or acts in the least like that stereotype, and all of them, typically, write about Texas with detachment and only an occasional needle.
In The Glory Game at Goat Hills on page 54 of this issue, Jenkins has one line that will send people from Pittsburgh right up the wall. But there also are several more lines that will unsettle a few Texans—which seems detached enough. In writing fondly of the good old days in Fort Worth, Dan demonstrates that Texas is a grand place to play golf ( Texas has produced more champion golfers than any other state). Golf, Jenkins-style, includes playing through downtown Fort Worth, where, if the ball bounces atop the oil pan of a 1937 Buick—as once happened to our man Shrake in one of those contests—it may take about 40 strokes to bang the cussed thing out of there. Neighborhood yards are natural hazards; one of Jenkins' party was nipped by a dog while trying to play a ball through a cyclone fence.
We said sometime back (SI, Feb. 1) that California might be the sportingest state, and a lot of people challenged that assertion. Especially Texans, who pointed out that 950 of their high schools turn out more football players than any other state; that the number of boats per family (one boat to eight Texas families) tops the national average, and that there is enough water in just one chain of Texas lakes to cover all of New Jersey half a foot deep. ( New Jersey would be glad to get some of it this summer.) Further, there is the widest variety of fish and game in Texas, the most liberal laws for netting and hunting them. There are more wild flowers, more snakes, more cactuses, more private planes per capita, and, as these statistics would indicate, more cheerleaders than anyplace in the world.
But before we start to sound stereotyped, it seems only fair to mention that Texas ranks ninth in the country in bowling establishments ( New Jersey, that floodable state, has a bigger bowling palace) and seventh in the nation in total number of golf courses.
Sadly, Fort Worth's Goat Hills golf course is gone. It was swallowed up by bulldozers, reports Jenkins, the only thing that could take a divot out of those hard fairways. But his glory game could have been played in almost any city, in any state. The characters are untypical, unstereotyped, just funny.