Deep in the spleen of Texas

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Now and then a person’s ears need some loving, so this week I took both of them to Texas for a vacation. They are now happier than a dog with a dead skunk. Everywhere I take my two ears, I hear people using Texas’ most personal pronoun, “y’all,” which like the humdrum pronoun “you” can be either plural or singular. (Note to you grammarians  and punctuationists out there: I know some of you write the possessive for Texas with an extra “s” as in “Texas’s most personal pronoun.” However, I don’t like it and if I see it I’m likely to ask you to move your “s” elsewhere.) My heart’s been soothed hearing people speak proper and without those accents the Yankees are so fond of.

 

I have been traveling with my daughter and grandchild visiting family in Houston, basking in hot and humid weather and enjoying every minute of it. That’s what Wisconsin’s 9-month winters will do to a person.

Bayou_Scene,_Houston,_Texas_(postcard,_circa_1907)

 

Houston is a great big old city built on a bayou. Unless you are from the South, you may not know that “bayou” is a fancy name given to rivers and ditches to make songs more interesting. Just imagine if the refrain in Hank Williams’ song Jambalaya “Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou” were “Son of a gun we’ll have big fun at the ditch.” It just don’t sound right and kind of makes your toes stop tapping right in the middle of the song. And yes, that “don’t” is there on purpose, thank you very much.

 

Our last few days of vacation, we have been staying in Katy, Texas which is just down the road from Houston. We were able to make a run up to San Antonio, but we never made it to the heart of Texas, which approximately 5500 people swear is Brady, Texas. (That’s the population of the city and please don’t tell their mommas about the swearing.)

 

Houston has set up home near the Gulf of Mexico and southeast of the heart of Texas, so I believe it’s appropriate to consider it the spleen of Texas. Spleens store and filter blood, and Houston does the same with oil, which is pretty much the blood of our nation, so the analogy seems to fit.

 

I have never lived in Houston myself, but if I did and if I had a son, I would name him Billy Rueben just because it would tickle me every time I thought of my sweet Billy Reuben living in the spleen of Texas.

 

Today we return north. I sure do hope they didn’t have summer while we were gone. I’d hate to miss it.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.

24 thoughts on “Deep in the spleen of Texas

  1. I hope you heard a lot of “Y’all come back now, ya hear?!”
    We lived in Spring Texas way back when – your post brought back memories of a good time in our lives.

  2. So clever. Your son Billy would be a hit in pun-lovin’ gatherings.

    And I’m with you on the “s’s”-es. It just looks wrong. Feels wrong too.

  3. Before I met the Mister freshman year in college, I thought no one drawled out words more slowly than someone from Tidewarter (spelled the way we pronounced it). His Texas drawl proved me mistaken. Just this week I stumbled across an interview with Maggie Cousins (1905-1996), who had one of the most distinctively deep voices I’ve ever heard. Maggie lived in New York City during much of her illustrious career including time as editor of Good Housekeeping and McCall’s and at Doubleday Publishing; yet years in the Big Apple failed to tame her Texas accent. In the March 24, 1974, edition of the San Antonio Express-News Mildred Whiteaker wrote, “Authoress Edna Ferber used to visit Maggie to get the flavor of the dialogue for ‘Giant’.” With so many migrating to Texas from other parts of the country, that accent is an endangered species. Surprised you could even find it in Houston.

    • I admire Maggie and her ability to keep her distinctive Texan accent. I surrendered during the short time we lived in California. I am a natural mimic and tend to pick up whatever accent I am around. I know can say Wisconsin just like the natives here.

      Everyone in my family is native-born Texan and most have lived there all their lives. Between us and the in-laws there are a variety of accents, some purtier than others. 🙂

  4. I loved the little I saw of Texas when I was visiting that country years ago… but even so, it’s more fun tagging along with you. The way you tell it makes my ears relax. Thank you.

  5. But when I visited Texas for a short time, my ears had to work very hard to be able to understand the language there. Like a full immersion language course, I eventually did pick up a bit of Texanese. Otherwise, it was completely unintelligible to me. Glad you enjoy the humidity with your hot weather. Wisconsin must feel like home in August.

  6. Somehow English sounds more melodious in the South, at least to me.

    We are having nice weather here in Wisconsin. August should bring some hot & humid weather. You never know.

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