Chances are if you grew up in Texas, you are quite familiar with the Texas Tall Tale. My father was a pro at spinning yarns and taking it to the grave without ever knowing… Dad did you really grow up with Hall Of Fame Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm? As it turns out, Texas Tall Tales are a time-honored tradition down there in the country of Texas.
Let’s start with the Texas Trinity Heroes of the Alamo, Davy Crockett, James Bowie, & William Barrett Travis.
We are all fairly familiar with the story of what went down at the Alamo. If you grew up in Texas, there’s what you learned from Texas history classes, or if you’ve visited the Alamo (and it’s basement) there’s what you’ve read and heard from Texas’ version of the history there, and then of course there’s John Wayne and the Hollywood version of the crushing defeat by the bad evil Santa Anna.
There’s a book above that redefines what we knew about the Alamo or at least have been taught. And like any new discovery in historical events it will be met with serious “revisionist history” resistance. Remember the adage that the Victors write the history. Think about that. When you delve into the actual history of warfare and conflict you’ll find it much more nuanced. So is the Alamo the biggest Texas Tall Tale? Who knows? Who cares? I’m betting a few Texans do and especially those on the state board of education. Here’s the book blurb from Amazon:
Three noted Texan writers combine forces to tell the real story of the Alamo, dispelling the myths, exploring why they had their day for so long, and explaining why the ugly fight about its meaning is now coming to a head.
Every nation needs its creation myth, and since Texas was a nation before it was a state, it’s no surprise that its myths bite deep. There’s no piece of history more important to Texans than the Battle of the Alamo, when Davy Crockett and a band of rebels went down in a blaze of glory fighting for independence from Mexico, losing the battle but setting Texas up to win the war. However, that version of events, as Forget the Alamo definitively shows, owes more to fantasy than reality. Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels–scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over. Forget the Alamo provocatively explains the true story of the battle against the backdrop of Texas’s struggle for independence, then shows how the sausage of myth got made in the Jim Crow South of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness.
In the past forty-some years, waves of revisionists have come at this topic, and at times have made real progress toward a more nuanced and inclusive story that doesn’t alienate anyone. But we are not living in one of those times; the fight over the Alamo’s meaning has become more pitched than ever in the past few years, even violent, as Texas’s future begins to look more and more different from its past. It’s the perfect time for a wise and generous-spirited book that shines the bright light of the truth into a place that’s gotten awfully dark.
Other Texas Tall Tales? How about the one where Jesse James lived on after faking his death and lived outside of Granbury, TX to the age of 103. Let this Texas Tall Tale spinner tell the tale. Top Jimmy Swag.
And here’s the history of the real Jesse James, along with the more interesting Texas Tall Tale of Jesse Woodson James burial in Granbury.
What other Texas Tall Tales are out there? Of course there’s the Chupacabra. From Texas Heritage Mag:
“Some are still unfolding, too. Eerie accounts of the bloodsucking, livestock-killing chupacabra have long circulated in Texas and Mexico, for example, and when Cuero rancher Phylis Canion came across the hairless remains of a strange animal in 2007, she insisted she’d found proof of the mythical creature.”
Did Texas’ San Antonio’s Chili Queens invent the taco? You be the judge.
“The Chili Queens of San Antonio were street vendors who earned a little extra money by selling food during festivals. When tourists started arriving in the 1880s with the railroad, these occasional sales started to become a nightly event. Tourists came looking for two things in San Antonio—the Alamo and the Chili Queens. Mexico was considered a dangerous place. The Chili Queens were a way of sampling that danger, but not at the risk of being robbed by bandits. The risk was that the food was hot—people described it as “biting like a serpent.” These women were also sexualized and seen as “available.” So the idea was that you would flirt with the Chili Queens. I think that image of [something] exotic, slightly dangerous, but still appealing has really persisted with Mexican food.”
You name a food & I’ll bet you can find some Texas small town that claims they invented it… the Hamburger, Pizza, Sandwich, Snow Monkeys…. hell even Dr. Pepper!!! No wait Texas actually did invent the Dr. Pepper either Waco or Dublin? Now there’s a story to be told.
Texas Tall Tales: good?? Texans would say they were the Biggest & Greatest of anywhere. Just ask a Texan they’ll tell ya.