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My Tell

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

I am so very glad I spent the day at the Great Western Cattle Trail Association conference last week and heard the 4 excellent speakers. I learned so much; the food was good and the company even better. The last speaker encouraged us to reflect on the concept of “True West.” Dr. Rosebrook also advised us, that if we’ve told story more than 10 times, it’s time to write it down. Here’s one:
When I was about 20 years old I decided to move to California and go to art school. There was some disapproving discussion about this, as I recall, mostly because I was the first woman in my family to leave Texas since my ancestors first settled here in the early 1800s. That fact seemed to be of greater consequence than letting go of a full scholarship at Trinity University, the value of which was never discussed with me.
So I loaded up my Honda Civic with a few belongings — a spinning wheel and great enamel pot, a turntable and a couple of dozen record albums, and a Pentax 35 mm camera, which I rarely could afford to use. I headed west. I went so far west that I had to head east to find The West again! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I arrived at a melting pot that exceeded my imagination and I loved it. I had read about the great American melting pot in history classes, but had never really seen or experienced it first hand — until then. And I was part of it!
One day soon after I arrived, while sitting around a big round table playing poker for laundry money, a new acquaintance soon-to-be-good friend asked, “What part of the South are you from?”
I replied comfortably and without any hesitation, “I’m not from the South. I’m from Texas.”
Everyone sitting at the table erupted in laughter and I had absolutely no idea why they were laughing — which made them laugh even more. Finally, my new friend explained that my identity as a Texan seemed to supersede all other descriptors and that it demonstrated a Texan exceptionalism that was staggering to behold. He said that I didn’t fit the Texas stereotype at all. Yet while playing poker, my “tell” revealed that I was truly Texan. There were no half-way, sort-of, any kind of qualifications about it. Bev = Texan.
Over the next 3 decades I traveled back and forth between the West Coast and Texas many times, exploring The West off the beaten track. And like the countless numbers of sojourners before me who found their way to real destinations by heading toward navigational points on a compass or in the night sky, I too have found a sense of purposeful direction while searching for my True North — or True West — as the case may be.