1909 a group of Texas women living in New York, homesick for their
native land and tired of rattling around in the penthouse all day,
formed the Texas Club. In April the ladies threw the first of many
parties to celebrate the victory of the Texas army at the battle
of San Jacinto in 1836. The San Jacinto Day celebrations, held
in the spring at the swankiest ballrooms in Manhattan, became yearly
events and raised thousands for charities and scholarships.
The Texas Club was no ordinary social circle but a group of rich
and sophisticated ex-patriots who knew which fork to use. And yet
the Texas Club parties never reached the top tier of the Manhattan
social scene. New York's social elite could never accept nouveaux-rich
westerners, who sometimes confused flamboyance for taste, as equals.
As time would show, New York Society's judgement of Texans was accurate,
but the Texas club forged ahead giving little thought to snubs from
New York's upper class. Texans went their own way as Texans are
prone to do.
One of the founders of the Texas Club was Clara
Driscoll Sevier. Clara, the daughter of a wealthy Texas family,
had just moved to New York from San
Antonio where she and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas
saved the Alamo. Clara's
husband, Hal Sevier, was a newspaperman (founder of the Austin American-Statesman)
and diplomat, but Clara, wealthy and cultured, was a social force
apart from her husband. She attended finishing school in France
and was fluent in four languages. The New York Times, when writing
about the Texas Club, identified the other married women by their
husband's name. Only Clara Driscoll Sevier was mentioned by her
first name and maiden name.
Clara served as president of the Texas Club from 1910 to 1913, and
she set the tone for club activities in the early years. On April
21, 1910, the Texas Club held a banquet at the Waldorf Hotel at
5th Avenue and 33rd Street. Exactly one year later Clara organized
a cotillion (a French country dance) at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
In 1913 the Texas Club conducted an auction at the Plaza Hotel with
proceeds to aid victims of the recent great flood in the eastern
United States. The club wanted to show its appreciation to the country
for helping Galveston
after the hurricane. Tickets to the event sold for $1.25.
The Texas Club held a military and naval ball at the Plaza Hotel
Grand Ballroom in 1919. The officers of the Battleship
Texas were guests of honor.
On April 19, 1941 the club held a tea dance at the spectacular Rainbow
Room on the 65th floor at 30 Rockefeller Center. Proceeds from ticket
sales went to university scholarships and Greek war relief.
In 1944 Texas Senator W. Lee O'Daniel was the guest of honor at
the Texas Club gathering at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park
Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. "Pappy" attacked FDR's bid for a fourth
term as president and accused New Dealers of "smothering taxpayers
in public debt." Many New Yorkers thought Pappy was a clodhopper
but his message resonated with members of the Texas Club.
On April 24, 1964 the Texas Club held its San Jacinto Day celebration
in the Grand Ballroom at Hotel Delmonico at 502 Park Avenue (now
Trump Tower). Angus G. Wynne, Jr., developer of Six Flags Over Texas,
was the guest of honor.
For 60 years the Texas Club tried to show it belonged in New York
Society, but sometime in the 1970s the Texans affirmed what New
Yorkers suspected all along; that Texans were, deep down, tacky
and uncivilized. The San Jacinto Day celebrations took a western
turn and a rowdier tone. By 1975 a genteel and refined event began
to look like a Saturday night at Gilley's.
On May 2, 1976, the Texas Club celebrated San Jacinto Day at O'Lunney's
Irish Pub near Times Square. The party was loud and colorful. Guests
dined on ribs, bar-b-qued chicken, Texas chili, and corn-on-the-cob.
The drink of choice was Lone Star Beer in a long neck bottle. After
dinner the Texans danced the night away to Delbert McClinton (born
raised in Fort Worth)
and his band, The Victims of Life's Circumstances. Guests included
Phyllis George - Denton native, television sportscaster, and former
Miss America, Chet Flippo - a Fort
Worth country music journalist and associate editor of Rolling
Stone Magazine, Joe Armstrong - Fort
Worth native and publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, (who insisted
the shirt he was wearing once belonged to Roy Rogers), Larry L.
King - attended finishing school at Putnam
fluent in West Texan, journalist, and playwright (The Best Little
Whorehouse in Texas), and Morgan Fairchild (born Patsy Ann McClenny)
- an actress from Denton
then in her third year on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. She
moved to Dallas in 1978
and became a star. Another guest, Janet Scudder, formerly of Spur,
had just launched a new monthly newspaper called The New York Texan.
The Texas Club assessed a $5 surcharge from each guest to help the
new publication with printing and mailing costs.
At the party a New York reporter tried to find out why transplanted
Texans felt a need to stick together.
"We're clannish people," Larry L. King explained.
"Once Texans get here," Janet Scudder added," they find a need to
keep in touch - like any other ethnic group. And there's something
about being this far from home and needing to hear another Texas
The Texas Club has kept a low profile for the last 30 years, but
it still exists as a non-profit organization in New York.
© Michael Barr
21, 2015 Column
New York Times, March 6, 1910, p 3.
New York Times, April 16, 1911, p.5.
New York Times, April 3, 1913, "Texas Club to Return Benefits,"
New York Times, April 12, 1941, "Texas Group to Celebrate," p.20.
New York Times, April 23, 1944, "O'Daniel Pledges Fight on 4th Term,"
New York Times, April 24, 1964, "Texas Club is Planning Dinner Dance
New York Times, May 3, 1976, "In New York a Big Party for Texans,"
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