Thursday, October 03, 2013

An interesting reception with a focus on Texas History

Tonight I went to a large reception honoring longtime friend Ron Tyler, former Executive Director of the Texas State Historical Association and Director of the Amon Carter Museum. Held at a local country club, it was a posh affair with a band, elegant hors d'oevres, and 250 people. I was glad to be there to honor Ron and his wife, Paula, but I don't much enjoy such affairs. I no longer have a need to schmooze with people, reminding them of the good work the press is doing, hoping for a contribution from one or two, congratulating authors, and, always, prowling for manuscripts. How quickly they forget--a couple of authors were there I'd worked with or at least corresponded with, but we didn't speak. I saw no need to introduce myself and was shy about it, which I wouldn't have been when I had a "position" and a reason to be there. Two of my close friends were there, but you can't really visit in a crowd like that, and I, with my challenged hearing, can't hear what the person next to me is saying, let alone the person across the table.
There was a 45-minute program, with too many acknowledgments and introductions, a witty and brief speech from the honoree, and a forceful talk about the importance of Texas history.
The speaker traced our history in terms of battles and heroics--until he got to the cattle drives and the oil industry. It struck me rather like the time I toured Edinburgh, the center of Scotland's intellectual history, one day and Stirling Castle, the site of so much of Scotland's bloody history, the next. I'd seen two sides of Scotland. Tonight I saw one side of Texas' history, though the speaker did praise Texas women at the end. His choices were strange to me: Jane Long, "the mother of Texas," Pamela Mann, who demanded her oxen back from Houston and got them at gunpoint, and another woman who drove 2500 head of cattle up the trail. For contemporary women, he cited Kay Bailey Hutchinson (who was in the room), while I would surely have added Ann Richards and Wendy Davis as examples of the fighting spirit of Texas. Much of it was material I'd studied and written about, and when he mentioned the cowboy, I wanted to stand up and shout that I am teaching a course in the myth of the cowboy right now. But I don't think he believes there's any myth to it. Still, he was a good speaker, and I enjoyed it.
Now I'm glad to be home, Sophie inside, and I'm back at my desk.

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