Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 6
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Parting Words Fromn a True Texan
By Kelly A. Rushing
My second and final term as president of
the Texas Historical Foundation ends on
June 30 of this year. It is with a sense of
elation and some regret that I note that
this is my final "President's Message."
Readers of our magazine have been kind
enough to either make favorable comments
about my column or say nothing at
all. In truth, I normally skip over that portion
of an organization's magazine written
by its president, knowing that the "real"
writers have penned the main articles.
This is certainly true of HERITAGE.
Although I have gone to considerable
effort to remind, inform, and amuse our
readers interested in Texas history, I have
done so without the slavish devotion to
authenticity that our other writers maintain.
This is not to say that I make this
stuff up; the facts supporting our state's
history are so extraordinary that it is sometimes
difficult to distinguish between truth
and myth. Texas has had more than its
share of legendary characters, and it is
human nature to embellish the exploits of
In keeping with the "collections" theme
of this issue of HERITAGE, this final column
attempts to examine one of the
mythological aspects of our Texas legacy.
Specifically, we will abandon any semblance
of good taste and go "lower than a
snake's belly" to review the "collections"
of Texas sayings and expressions.
You may wonder how I got this piece
past our editor. Well, "This ain't my first
rodeo." I handed it in at the last minute
when I knew she would be "busier than a
one-armed paperhanger." I feel certain
that when she reads it she will be, "nervous
as a cat in a room full of rocking
I believe that many of the so-called
Texas sayings immigrated here from some
of the lesser states. Many of these expressions
are corny and even stupid, as you
may have noticed. The good ones probably
originated here. I will let you judge
which is which.
Being a city boy, I find it difficult to
understand some of these expressions and
even harder to know when to use them.
For example, "Just cause you put a boot
in the oven don't mean it's a biscuit" may
have something to do with cognitive dissonance,
but I would need schoolroom
instructions in colorful sayings to know
when to use that phrase. "We've howdied
but we haven't shook" has a pretty clear
meaning, but it would be difficult to break
the habit of saying, "We have not been
Many of these colorful metaphors are
charming ways of insulting or putting
someone down. "He's all hat and no cattle."
"He don't know come here from sic
um." "She looks like she's been rode
hard and put up wet." And then there's
my personal favorite, "I can explain it to
you, but I can't understand it for you."
There are also those Texas sayings that
are a "whole nuther thing," in that they
do really aid communication. "Used to
could" flows so much easier off the tongue
than any phrase that might have the same
meaning. "Over there" might refer to
something on the table out of reach, while
"over yonder" distinctly refers to a place
out of eyesight. As for "blue norther,"
well there's no confusion there if you're
from Texas. At Thanksgiving we have
turkey and all the "fixens," and everyone
knows what that means. Now, I'm "fixen"
to wrap up this article.
THF president-elect is Hal Jackson from
Dallas. As an officer of Frost Bank, Hal
knows that "Texas ain't the jumpin' off
place, it's where you land." And he is
authentic. "If he tells you he has a chicken
that dips snuff, look under that chicken's
wing, and you'll find a little round
May God bless Hal Jackson and his
leadership of the Texas Historical
Foundation and may God bless Texas.
Send comments to Kelly Rushing, P.O. Box
50314, Austin, TX 78763.
A slate of new officers of the Texas Historical
Foundation will begin their term of service on
HERITAGE Volume 2 2008
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/6/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.