2018, W. F. Strong, popular broadcaster and Professor of Communication
and Culture at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, published
his first volume of STORIES FROM
TEXAS: SOME OF THEM ARE TRUE. His book, comprised of numerous
vignettes from his beloved public radio show, enjoyed significant
praise. For instance, Glen Dromgoole, writing in the ABILENE REPORTER
NEWS, declared that "Ever' Texan oughta read this book." And the
HOUSTON CHRONICLE asserted that Strong's volume "is stocked with
enough information that even the seasoned Texas enthusiast might
learn a thing or two." Lone Star history buffs will be delighted
to know that the author has returned with a second informative and
entertaining collection of stories.
Dr. Strong, who proudly brands himself a "Texologist," divides his
new book into thirteen sections: Classic Texas; Cowboys and Lawmen;
Winners; Just Passing Through; Texas-Legally Speaking; Medical Matters;
Legends, Myths, and Folklore; Social Media and Texas; Texas Geography;
Texas Outside of Texas; Texas Lit, Lyrics and Language; Snakes,
Reptiles, and Vultures; and A State of Mind. Containing more than
seventy vignettes, this excellent volume covers such diverse and
intriguing characters as Sam Houston; Jim Bowie; Tom Lea; Lyndon
B. Johnson; Dr. William Gorgas; D. H. Snyder; Teddy Roosevelt and
the Rough Riders; Barbara Jordan; T. Boone Pickens; Mary Kay Ash;
Jack Johnson; Governor Jim Ferguson; Bill Wittliff; and Don Pedrito.
Strong also discusses horny toads; coral snakes; vultures; armadillos;
El Rio Bravo; and El Llano Estacado. And that just scratches the
In one of his most touching stories, Professor Strong eulogizes
Texas-born writer Larry McMurtry, author of such classic novels
as HORSEMAN, PASS BY (1961), THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1966), TERMS
OF ENDEARMENT (1975), and LONESOME DOVE (1985), who passed away
in the Spring of last year at the age of eighty-four. According
to Strong, "March 25, 2021, will always be the day I realized, to
my exceptional sadness, that no more perfect novels, or insightful
commentaries on Texas, would come from that singularly profound
mind." He continues: "Of the thousands of mourners who posted their
goodbyes and gratitudes to McMurtry across all media…there was one
stand-out theme in them all. It was to thank McMurtry for LONESOME
DOVE. Most seemed to consider it his premiere gift to them personally,
a gift that had immeasurably enriched their lives… To many, LONESOME
DOVE is a book of proverbs, with advice such as: 'The best way to
handle death is to ride on away from it.' Or 'Yesterday's gone on
down the river and you can't get it back.' In fact, LONESOME DOVE,
the day after McMurtry died, rocketed up into the top 100 bestselling
books on Amazon and became the #1 bestseller in Westerns that day."
As a fan of rock-n-roll, I found Dr. Strong's piece on the King,
"Elvis Presley: The Texas Connection," exceptionally fascinating.
"It is my belief," Strong observes, "that Texas was largely responsible
for launching Elvis Presley's phenomenal career." When the singer
first began, Presley toured ceaselessly, creating in the mid-1950s,
"a relentless fanbase of screaming, unruly girls. He sometimes begged
them to settle down so people could hear the music." While he certainly
visited the larger cities of Houston,
Fort Worth, and San
Antonio, Elvis made numerous appearances in such smaller Texas
towns as Gladewater
and Paris, and he was particularly
popular in the western portion of the state. "I owe a lot to Texas,"
Presley once contended, "they're the ones who put me over the top.
I've covered a lot of territory, mostly in West Texas. That's where
my records are hottest…in San
As a matter of fact, eighty-six of the entertainer's first two hundred
concerts were held in the Lone Star State.
The second volume of Professor Strong's STORIES FROM TEXAS: SOME
OF THEM ARE TRUE is just as terrific as his
first, and thankfully, he is already planning a third book in
this superb series. I can't wait!