National Geographic : 1961 Feb
Old Trail Drivers Jog Past the Alamo; Lone Star Flag Flies in Mid-town San Antonio Taking its name from alamo, Spanish for cotton wood, the mission drowsed in the sun for a century before the fury of Texas' War of Independence exploded. Here, on March 6, 1836, Lt. Col. William B. Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and some 180 others died before the onslaught of thousands of Mexican troops led by General Santa Anna. Their example fired Sam Houston's revolutionary army to victory a month and a half later at San Jacinto (page 181). From 1836 until it joined the Union in 1845, Texas remained an independent republic. Each April San Antonio stages the week-long Fiesta San Jacinto, whose Battle of Flowers parade passes the Alamo. Veterans of cattle drives to Kansas founded the Old Trail Drivers Associa tion, and their descendants carry it on. informative and philosophical, and some times funny. Texans are often asked: If I visit Texas, what should I see? Where should I go? What time of year is best? How long should I plan to stay there? There are no pat answers. It depends on the person, and what he is after. If he is a statesman, let him go straight to Austin, the State capital, get a room at the old Driskill Hotel (the Texas equivalent of the famous Shepheard's in Cairo), and tell the leaders of the State government how to run their machinery without raising taxes. If he wants to go in business, there are many people in Dallas and Houston who can show him the way. If he wants to break into the oil busi ness- well, that's harder. How to Become a Texan If, however, he is merely an intelligent, curious, alert, fairly friendly human being who wants to expand his horizons and enrich his life, let him take six months or a year off from whatever he is doing and be off to Texas. Then let him get an automobile, which need not be a Cadillac, study a road map, and start out. He may tackle Texas from the north, from the Gulf, from El Paso, or from the Panhandle. He can hardly go wrong if he is looking for something interesting. But he must take his time. Nor is there any need for this hypothetical visitor to make any brain-fagging study of the State before he sets out on his pilgrimage. Let him learn more or less as he goes along. His equipment in books will be quite suffi 194 cient if, at the start, it includes Peterson's bird guide, the Texas Almanac, Dr. Rupert N. Richardson's competent one-volume history of Texas, and Dr. Walter Prescott Webb's The Great Plains. He might also pocket a pamphlet put out by the Game and Fish Commission, The Poisonous Snakes of Texas. He's sure to run onto one.