When I was, oh, about eight years old my mother bought us a subscription to Arizona Highways magazine. I thought this odd at the time because, among other things, we lived in Indiana. What the heck did we want a magazine about dusty old Arizona for? However, as time went on and my mother spent many hours perusing the beautiful vistas captured by the photographers, I began to see why she might want that subcription.
Texas Monthly Magazine is all that and more. Texas Monthly captures the heart and spirit of the state of Texas in a very tangible way. Last month’s magazine had articles on the Moon Landings from the perspective of the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the astronauts/controllers who live here; The life and Philosophy of adopted Texan Ted Nugent (warts and all); and the best and worst legislators in Texas.
Excellent reading for only $18.00 a year, plus a free online subscription. Can’t beat that with a stick.
I mention all of the above to mention this: the article that really caught my eye was about Teddy Roosevelt and his stays in Texas; both as a game hunter while recovering from the death of his wife), and as a Colonel commanding and training the Rough Riders here at Fort Sam Houston. A snippet:
Roosevelt’s favorite haunt while in San Antonio was the Buckhorn Saloon. Opened in 1881 by Albert Friedrich—whose father made horn furniture of high artistic quality—the bar had a standing offer from day one: “Bring in your deer antlers, and you can trade them for a shot of whiskey or a beer.” Before long the Buckhorn had the finest collection of trophy mounts in the world. Men would actually collect an antler shed from the Hill Country, then ride into San Antonio for their free drink. In 1882, in fact, Friedrich acquired a record-making 78-point buck for $100; it was placed behind the bar, where it remains. Business was so good that Friedrich moved his operation to larger quarters at Houston and Soledad streets, just blocks from the Alamo. Even though Roosevelt wasn’t much of a drinker, he would wander in with his fellow Rough Riders, order a beer, nurse it, and listen to an old guitar picker sing about being a cowhand along the Brazos River.
The Buckhorn saloon is still there today, and almost impossible to imagine without it’s literal piles of antlers of every description..It’s a weird thing to walk into a building that looks exactly the way it used to when Teddy Roosevelt was here.
Try this one on for size too:
From San Antonio it was on to Fort Worth and Wichita Falls, where some of the largest cattle ranches in the world were found. Two “old style Texas cattlemen,” as Roosevelt described them—Burk Burnett and W. T. Waggoner—were going to lead the presidential hunt to the Big Pasture, near Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to exterminate gray wolves and coyotes as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Biological Survey predator control program. Taken together, the two pro-Roosevelt ranchers practically owned Fort Worth.
In anticipation of the hunt, Jack “Catch ’Em Alive” Abernathy, of Bosque County, scouted the most desirable places to camp in the Big Pasture. Abernathy’s specialty was leaping off a horse, tackling a wolf, and then subduing the animal by jamming his gloved fist into its mouth. He sold the canids alive to zoos or private ranchers. Realizing that he would be the entertainment on the president’s hunt, Abernathy found an ideal spot along Deep Red Creek, in the Indian Territory. A lot of chauvinistic Texans cursed Abernathy for not holding the wolf hunt on Lone Star soil. But the carping passed. Both Burnett and Waggoner did supply Texas “daredevil” riders—their hired ranch hands with the best equestrian skills—to impress the president. Ranchers from ten or fifteen counties tried to worm a slot on the hunt party. Every man under fifty wanted to be an extra. Roosevelt spent days wolf-catching and befriending the cowboys.
And he never stopped bragging on Texas.
And, frankly, no one ever should. There’s also a magnificent description of a javelina (peccary) hunt that you can just smell the burning mesquite brush as you read it.