TEXAS IN HER OWN WORDS
Genre: Texas / Texana / General Interest
Publisher: Tejas Publishing
Date of Publication: June 16, 2016
Number of Pages: 336
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Texas in Her Own Words is a peek into the Texas psyche. It explains why Texans are the way they are . . . where all that attitude comes from. This work is the result of a statewide search for what author Tweed Scott calls the “T-Chromosome.” Texans are different but why? Scott went statewide to find the answers to three basic questions. 1) What makes Texas special? 2) Why is this place so different than anywhere else on the planet? 3) If and when it applied, what does it mean to you personally to BE a native Texan?
Scott shares some remarkable answers with you throughout the book. In the end, he learned that all Texans share four traits or attributes. When you finish this book, you will understand why Texans are the way they are. IF you are a native Texan, chances are you will find some of yourself between the covers of this book. It’s a fun read.
Praise for Texas in Her Own Words
“Searching for the soul of Texas, Tweed Scott has done a great service. People and places and the cowboy poetry of the heart — Texas in Her Own Words is chockfull of all of these things. It deserves a special place on your bookshelf. Say right between Larry McMurtry and J. Frank Dobie.” — Kinky Friedman, author and entertainer
“It’s a Texas thing, you either have it, or you don’t. Few people can define such an emotion, a feeling, a pride that is embedded so deep. This book made me cry and smile at the same time. Texas in Her Own Words helps to explain what ‘Lone Star state of mind’ is. . .” — TJ Greaney, Publisher, Countryline Magazine.
“I [Patricia Spork] very highly recommend Texas in Her Own Words (Second Edition) by Tweed Scott to Texas researchers and historians, to any hopeful “wannabe” Texan or to any yee hawin’ boastful Texan, like me (a transplanted didn’t-know-it “wannabe”).”
— Patricia Spork, freelance writer and artist
Birthplace: Temple, Texas
Hometown: Kopperl, Texas
Career: Musician, Actor, Texas Poet Laureate
I became a fan of Steven Fromholz in the early 1970s when I was in college in Beaumont. I loved his music. It was whimsical and just plain fun to listen to. This man could paint pictures in your mind with his words and his voice. The other unmistakable trait was how Texan he was. He loved Texas deeply and it permeated throughout his music. When he sang about Texas, you not only saw it, but you would feel it, too. His Texas Trilogy is truly a window of Texas in the 1950s or 60s. It is a Texas classic.
By the time I graduated, I had already established a career in radio. One thing about that line of work, you certainly get exposed to all kinds of situations and interesting people. I had seen Steven in concert a few times, but I never met him until I went to work in Austin. By the time I did meet him, I was a huge fan. He had deeply touched my heart through his music.
For example, my father and I had always had a strange relationship. Let’s just say we were never close. We were estranged for many years. As I became an adult, we talked and reconciled. We never became really close, but for lack of a better description, I’d say we had an “understanding.” We would stay in touch infrequently through short letters—more like notes. My father passed away a month before my daughter, Whitney, was born. I was somewhat shocked and saddened at his passing.
As I recall, it wasn’t long after that I heard the words in a Steve Fromholz song called “No Regrets.” I was given permission to share the lyric with you. That lyric was seared into my memory forever.
Like the time I cried, when my daddy he died.
Such a common thing, the tears it brings can be hard to hide.
I hadn’t seen my dad and I was feelin’ bad ‘til I heard him whisper in the wind.
“Son, no need to fret. You owe me no debt. Only have no regrets in your life.
I remember how I broke down and cried upon hearing those words. It was the first time I grieved for him. It was, perhaps, the first time I ever bonded with him as father and son. Steven Fromholz made that happen through his words.
One day, as I passed through the lobby at KVET/KASE, I saw him sitting there, waiting to talk with one of my radio colleagues. I took the opportunity to approach him and tell him what his song meant to me. As I thanked him, he in turn, in a humble sincere voice, looking at me straight in the eye the entire time, told me that he was happy that one of his songs had touched me so deeply. Our friendship grew out of that moment. I got to interview him a few times for various magazines over the years and saw him at several concerts—the last one at Poodie’s Hilltop Café, in Spicewood. He was engaging and just plain fun to be around. I remember talking with him at the bar at El Rancho in Austin one day. Just a couple of guys enjoying a cold one. He loved Texas. That was obvious. He was a Texan to the bone. I was so happy and proud for him when he was honored as the Poet Laureate of Texas. I could not think of a worthier person for that honor.
I, like the rest of his friends and fans, were shocked to hear of his passing in a hunting accident. Although I had corresponded with Angela, his sister, several times before his death, I have had the opportunity to become closer since his passing. She is a great lady in her own right.
It was important to me to include him in this volume. I have kicked myself several times that I didn’t interview him for the first volume when I could have while he was alive. I know he would have gladly shared the time with me. After speaking with Angela, I asked if she would provide some insight to add to this volume. She graciously agreed.
Photo credit, George Brainard, Austin, TX
STEVEN FROMHOLZ. . .
. . . IS, not WAS, my brother. Yes, he passed on January 19, 2014, but his spirit lives as surely as the sun comes up and sets in his beloved Texas. He was born in Temple, Texas, June 8, 1945, and when his father picked him and our mother up from the hospital a few days after his birth; I was the eight-year-old kid, sitting in the back seat with a pillow on my lap. They placed Steven on that pillow and he rode all the way home with me sitting in absolute awe. I think he became my first child from that day forward and remained so forevermore. As he always said, “Sis always has my back no matter what,” and that was true. He also always had mine!
Little did I know then, nor would I have ever dreamed, that tiny baby was to become a legend and icon in the music industry of Texas. I vividly recall the day Steven told me he’d decided on a music career. He was 18-years-old and carrying a new guitar. I’d had my fling in the music business and knew exactly what he was up against. I inquired as to what name he would use and he replied, “Steven Fromholz.”
I still smile when I recall my reply, “You’d better pick a stage name ‘cause no one is ever going to be able to spell ‘Fromholz’ much less pronounce or remember it.”
We had the same mother but different fathers. Steven’s dad was German/Polish and mine was English/French/Indian. Steven was always fascinated by my Indian heritage and over the years, he often used it when we were on the road to forewarn folks of my quick temper. His favorite answer was often, “Man, the only advice I can give you is don’t piss off the Indian!”
There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind—Steven was a Texan born and bred. He wore the mantle proudly from a very early age, studied Texas history, our family’s history (we’ve been in Texas since the 1850s) and wrote about it prolifically. During his long career, he not only wrote songs about Texas but promoted Texas music, and shared his love for Texas at every show he ever did. He was named Poet Laureate of Texas in 2007. Few people know that once a Texas Poet Laureate, you retain that honor forever, and Steven wore it proudly.
He always said his parents were, “party people,” which actually meant we spent most of our childhood with our Granny in Kopperl, Bosque County, Texas and grew up “country kids.” The population of Kopperl back then was 250 kind souls and it’s the same today. A lover of the outdoors, Steven always said, “God did his best work in Texas…and probably his best lick was in Bosque County, Texas.” He always claimed Kopperl, Texas as his home town and took great pleasure in making fun of our humble beginnings: “Y’all know what the word ‘Bosque’ means?” he’d ask his audiences. Obviously no one did and then he’d say “It’s an old Indian word that means ‘ain’t nothin’ shakin’” and his listeners loved it.
As the years passed, the name “Fromholz” (yeah, that name I thought no one could ever pronounce) became more and more synonymous with the State of Texas. He toured promoting Texas music and made many appearances for folks, running for State office—Democrat or Republican. He refused to publicly endorse anyone running for office in the State of Texas, except Kinky Friedman’s run for Governor. It was agreed between them that if Kinky won, he’d appoint Steven head of Texas Parks and Wildlife, which was a job Steven coveted. To tell the truth, I never knew if they were serious about that or not!
Steven wore many hats during his nearly half-century career, including singer, songwriter, playwright, humorist, actor (stage and screen) poet, river guide, educator…the list is endless. Throughout it all, despite his many talents, outgoing ways, quick wit, and definite social prowess, he never considered himself a “star” or “celebrity,” but would always refer to himself as, “an old Texas folk singer” and a, “wheel man,” which he said meant he drove for a living and just happened to entertain when he reached his destination.
After suffering a massive stroke in 2003, he stepped out of the music mainstream but continued to make a few, well-chosen appearances. On those rare occasions, the folks who enjoyed his music—and loved him dearly—would welcome him with an immediate standing ovation the moment he stepped on the stage. That never ceased to amaze him and his private comment was always ,“Well, I’m blessed they still like an old Texas boy who talks with a limp!” If there was ever an audience who loved him more than he loved them, I never saw it.
He announced his retirement when he moved to the ranch with his true love and it was there he was able to once again get back to the Texas roots he’d known as a child. He celebrated ranching, the outdoors, his faith, and the sheer joy of living as a “normal” (his word) person. He’d always compose a Christmas greeting and have me email it to his fans (whom he called “his friends”) and invariably would sign off on it by saying, “Keep loving each other and keep on loving Texas.”
The press was always kind to Steven as he was kind to and loved the press. Among the notable quotes written in obituaries there’s one that pretty well sums up who Steven Fromholz was, is, and always will be:
…But in 1973 pre-Austin City Limits, all that mattered was that Fromholz was already viewed as some elder statesman of our music and Austin’s rapidly developing scene. It wasn’t that he was an old graybeard, it wasn’t that he had a string of hits. It was that he combined in one person that hard-Texas gravitas and left-handed humor that is part and parcel of every Texan’s birthright. When he sang “There’s bacon to fry and there’s biscuits to bake/On a stove the Salvation Army won’t take,” it was like watching The Last Picture Show or Giant. It was as real as a scorpion bite.
The final time we encountered Fromholz was when he came to Anderson Fair to hear Mark Germino in 2008. Fromholz, who had driven over from Austin for the occasion, had recently been appointed Poet Laureate of Texas and he caused quite a stir when he entered the room. Even after some years out of the performing limelight, he was an instantly recognizable figure to the hip crowd at the fair that night. When he walked in, it was like Sam Houston had entered the room. So, it’s so long to the man in the big hat. Brother, you were real. (William Michael Smith/Houston Press/January 2014)
The day of Steven’s memorial service at Ft. McKavett, Texas; I was at the funeral home—just as the sun came up on a bitterly cold West Texas, January day and helped carry him to the vehicle that would transport him to his long-before-chosen resting place at Ft. McKavett Cemetery, 50 miles away. He had taken me there to view the site a year earlier, remarking at the time, “This spot is as close to heaven on earth, and still be in Texas, as I’ve ever found.” The hearse pulled out onto the highway and I followed it. It seemed we were the only two cars in the State of Texas that morning as the sun came out, shining down on us like a giant spotlight between the clouds.
When we arrived at the cemetery, and I’d helped carry Steven to his final resting place, memories overwhelmed me. I’d carried my brother home when he entered this world and had now carried him home again because he’d left it. We’d made our final road trip. It had been my great honor. As I turned to walk back to my car and get out of the cold, West Texas wind, a statement by an entertainer friend, made to a reporter in New York, came to mind:
“Hell, man, Steven Fromholz IS Texas!” All things considered—that’s the legacy he’d cherish most of all.
Tweed Scott is a laugh-out-loud funny motivational speaker and corporate entertainer. He retired from broadcasting after 31 years. His broadcasting accomplishments include operating the highest rated FM station in America and later the 5th highest rated AM station in America. Tweed is an award winning speaker and the author of the three-time national award-winning book, Texas in Her Own Words. His book is sold at the Alamo, the state capitol gifts shops in Austin, the San Jacinto Museum & Battleground, and the Sam Houston Statue & Visitor’s Center in Huntsville.
He is the past president of the board for the Writers’ League of Texas serving some 1,300 members. Tweed now writes for several magazines and has built his own writing and speaking company, Tejas Publishing, LLC. He is a graduate of Lamar University and a US Navy veteran. He continues to write and spread what he calls, “The Gospel of Texas.”
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