Columns for The Lufkin News

A Texan, West or East?

Posted Jul 02, 2013 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

I am a 4th generation Texan, born in Abileneand raised in Midland. Moving away from West Texas wasn't easy for many reasons, but mainly because I didn't want to take my kids too far from their grandparents. East Texans understand this well, because everyone is related! I was warned early on that you don't talk bad about anyone in East Texas because they are probably related to the person you are talking to. Can I get an Amen?

Tired of feeling left out of the "related-to" crowd, I told Rosemary Blackstock one time many years ago that I was related to a native Lufkinite. She got all excited and asked, "Who?" When I confessed it was my youngest daughter, Phoebe, she deflated a bit and quipped that it wouldn't really count to some old Lufkinites unless she had gone to Kurth Elementary. Of course, Rosemary is actually from San Augustine, which makes the whole "Who's from Lufkin?" joke even funnier. But that was another time, and no one really cares any more.

Anyway, when Catherine and I were considering moving to Lufkin, my mother - who wasn't too keen on us taking the grandkids so far away - engaged in just a tad bit of guilt tripping and manipulation. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: You know there are fire ants in East Texas.

Me: Yes, mother, I know.

Mom: You know there are roaches, too.

Me: Yes, mother.

Mom: It's so hot and humid. And, it rains all the time, and you can't see anything for all the trees.

Me: (Sigh.)

When none of that seemed to work to convince me not to move, she pulled out the trump card (or, in 42-playing West Texas, a domino): "You know, your kids are going to grow up speaking like East Texans..."

Well, that nearly did it, because the only East Texan I knew through my college years was a Baylor friend of Catherine's from Tyler, who had a syrupy, southern-in-the-excess whiney drawl that, luckily, I have rarely heard since.

Undaunted and unintimidated, we made the move. That was more than 20 years ago, and we never looked back.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the West Texas desert and its austere beauty. I love driving out to Midland into the expansive, color-swathed West Texas sunset. The pioneer, can-do spirit in West Texas is a big part of what fuels our economy. The bittersweet smell of an oil refinery is the smell of money. (Somehow, the odor from paper mill never had the same connotation to me.)

But I am an East Texan now. I love the trees. I think I appreciate the pine trees even more than many East Texans, who simply want to cut them down. The variety of hardwoods is astounding. And when spring comes around with its procession of pear blossoms, dogwood, redbud, and wisteria, there is no place I'd rather be. I told my mom I can kill fire ants and roaches. (She didn't know about copperheads, water moccasins, and love bugs, thank goodness!) Yes, the heat and humidity is awful. No way around that. But the people in East Texas are friendly, hospitable, incredibly generous, grateful, and loyal folk. I'm a Texan and Lufkin is my home. Oh, and my kids don't have TOO much of an accent... at least, not as thick as my mother's!

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Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

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