Photographed in Deep Ellum, Texas
Photo Credit- Sherry B. Flores
Let this be the third installment of "I am the South and the South is me: Southern portraits." Portrait three: A 7th generation Texan I call "fran."
""... So! I'm a 7th generation Texan too!" The conservations begins. "Well, that does me no good unless you start a blog, get famous and then have your photography published in Southern Living or Texas Monthly," I respond. Months back I sat in a Houston Hotel room, textin' about my encounter with one of my all-time favorite bloggers (who happens to be a 7th generation Texan) at my only attended blog conference. The conservation with a fran of 14 years leavin' me inspired. Weeks later the conservation takes a turn-again.
"Wait, you want my life story? How much room you got?" he says in hopes that I will give up on my quest to hang out with the homeless people of Dallas in favor of anything else he considers to be a safer activity. It works. My focus is pulled back in. All I really wanna
know is how many generations Texan he is. He tells me he's six or seven. I smile knowin' this will set his fingers ablaze so I reply with. "I'll say seven" and ask if he's related to any famous Texans. He jokes that he's related to all of them but when I ask for names he elaborates on his most famous relative-James Pinckney Henderson
"Some that fell at the Alamo, Bonnie Parker...more whose names I can't remember right now" , he says when I press for more details. So I ask how he is related to James Pinckney Henderson and he replies that he is his great-great somethin' grandfather's brother. When I tell him that I can make that work he wants to know if I had to google to find out who he was. I respond that I was to bust watchin' Swamp People to be bothered but that I thought I remembered him from a Texas History class. I sat waitin' and imaginin' him to sayin' "to the googles!" -a phrase I've heard him utter often in our 14 years of friendship - as I await for his reply.
I knew who James Pinckney Henderson was but I wanted to heat it in his words. He laughs at himself for not bein' able to spell "Pinckney" and tells me of his first Texan ancestor's accomplishments. During the Republic years he was Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Special Minster to France and the Court of St. James. He was also fundamental in securing recognition of Texas' independence and later negotiated our annexation to the United States. My fran then goes on to say that after annexation JPH( as we call him) became the first governor of Texas and when his term was up went to Washington to be our US Senator. Oh and at some point in between all that he commanded a troop of Texas Rangers.
After first declaring that JPH didn't have any children he finishes with "Oh wait. He totes had kids. Like 5. Wtf I'm lost lol." Immediately followed by "Oh they were all girls and moved to Europe after he died."
But hidden among all the gems of face palm worthy conversations is this poem. A poem written in his words. A poem that can tell this story better than I ever could. But really I think it's the story of all of us. It's the story of Texas...in brief."
"I am Texas"
By: James O'Hearain
(Original - "I am the Nation" by Otto Whittaker)
I am Texas.
I was born of war on March the 2d, 1836 and my flag is baptized in the blood of all those who died in my name.
Six nations have ruled over me and yet here I remain - one Lone Star, one People, and one Nation.
I am the Red River and the Rio Grande. I am the Big Bend and the Trinity Valley.
I am the Battle of San Jacinto and I am the surrender of Santa Ana.
I am the piney forests of the East and the windy plains of the Panhandle.
I am the chalk field of Austin and I am the deserts of Ft. Worth and Abilene.
I am a line in the sand and the ghost of every man who stood behind it knowing death would be his fate.
When they demanded my freedom or my life I answered them with a cannon shot and dared them to "come and take it".
I am Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker; Nolan Ryan and Tom Landry.
I am William Travis an Jim Bowie; James Pinckney Henderson and General Sam Houston.
I am the bikers and hipsters of Deep Ellum and the cowboys and roughnecks of Odessa.
I am Galveston Island and Corpus Christi Bay.
I am the smog and chaos of Houston and I am the calm and quiet of Nacogdoches.
I am a Czechstop in West and drive-through daiquiris in Killeen.
I am NASCAR and the Red River Shootout; the Dallas Cowboys and the San Antonio Spurs.
I am Big Tex, fried Oreos, and sweet tea.
I am high school football on Friday nights and cotillion dresses in the Spring.
I am the Baylor Bears, the Aggies of College Station, and the Longhorns at UT.
I am St. Patty's Day on Lower Greenville and I am Mardis Gras on the Riverwalk
I am Cinco de Mayo and I am Juneteenth.
I am Raytheon, TI, and NASA.
I am Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus, and Dr. Pepper.
I am Mirabeau Lamar, Cynthia Parker, Doris Miller, Walton Walker, and Willie Nelson.
I am Ma Ferguson, George Bush, and Bill Clements.
I am Carly Patterson, LeAnne Rhymes, and the Ross Sisters.
I am Dorothy Scarborough, Walter Cronkite, and Eugene Barker.
I am Carl's Corner, Tiki Island, and Colorado Springs.
I am Lubbock, Llano, and Mexia.
I am King Ranch and Enchanted Rock.
I am German, Polish, English, Mexican, and French. I am Irish and Spanish and I am Native American.
I am many cultures and many tongues. I am both a breadbasket and a melting pot.
I have borne presidents and businessmen; writers and thinkers; actors and singers; humanitarians and outlaws.
I am 26 million people and I am 51 million firearms.
My Capitol stands taller than Washington and my People claim me first.
I am Freedom itself. I am Independence and I am Liberty.
And every time I was threatened my People fought for me. They came from border to border, river to river, and from the mountains to the Gulf.
And should I sound the call again they will answer me.
I will remain forever free.
Every inch of me is hallowed ground and on my sacred dirt flies the brightest flag of freedom that ever met the wind.
Yes, I am Texas. And these are the things that I am.
I was conceived in freedom and God willing in freedom I'll spend the rest of my days.
May I possess always the integrity, the courage, and the strength to keep myself unshackled, to remain a citadel of freedom, and a beacon of hope to the entire world.
I am Texas.
I am James
I am the South and the South is me
Photographed in Deep Ellum, Texas
Photo Credit- Sherry B. FloresSouthern Potraits: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7