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Oh, boy, I have got to say something, as a native Texan-especially as a native "East" Texan.
The problem is the stereotype. Here in East Texas, we do have ranches, but they are different than the ones in West Texas. Many places here the cattle business is either part of a more traditional farm, or people have cattle on the side as an investment. So, we do have a "cowboy" culture, but it's not the same as further west. We aren't the dry, open space area people always seem to think of when they think of Texas-and that's mainly because that idea is so firmly ingrained because it's been perpetuated for so long. It's kind of like assuming that everyone in California has a surf board stashed away in their garage, or go around with one attached to the top of the car. That's only part of the culture in California, and it's the same way in Texas, in terms of "cowboy" culture. Speaking of surfing, I imagine there are some people who don't realize that it's possible to surf here in Texas.
In this part of Texas, I think you would find that we have much more in common with our neighbors in Louisiana-and parts of Arkansas and Mississippi. We are much more "southern" culturally, than "southwestern." Just in my lifetime I can see our culture merging more and more with Louisiana's, in some ways. Topographically, we are part forest, part swamp-and that is a huge influence on "who" we are, in so many ways.
So, I have to admit that some of us do get annoyed by people thinking that if they stick some kind of animal hide or set of horns somewhere, along with some cactus and sagebrush, or some other dry, desert plant-that you automatically have Texas style.
We are a large state, and we have traditionally always had many influences. Historically, we, of course, had the native populations-then the colonization by the Spanish, which evolved into the Mexican culture. The next influx was settlers allowed in by Mexico, who came mainly from the southern part of the US. What evolved into what is now recognized as western or southwestern culture was the next phase after that, where the cattle industry evolved pretty much after the Civil War, where wild cattle were captured, or were taken from ranches to places like St. Louis, where they were then sent further east as a food supply. There was also the very strong German influence that is still apparent in parts of central and south Texas. So, to this day our culture is still a confluence of those-and we, of course, have others adding to the mix, as well.
Of course, this obviously doesn't just apply to Texas. I believe that influences are really more regional. Back to the California analogy, I'm sure that northern California, in some ways, has more in common with the northwestern states than it does with southern California-and southern California has more in common with Arizona, Nevada, etc.-though they still are bonded by their experience as residents of California.
So, if you want Texas "style," or any other state "style," I say look around and see what constitutes the "style" of the region you are in-and decorate accordingly. That concept certainly can also apply anywhere in the world, I'm sure.
August 9, 2014 at 12:08AM     
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