Growing up in Texas in the '40's and '50's, I recall that we were indoctrinated early and repeatedly to the culture of the state. Until my senior year in high school, Texas was the largest state of the union and we reveled in that ascendant position. Everything was bigger here including our tall-Texas-tales (the mythical Pecos Bill dug our Rio Grande with a stick) and our ranches (especially the King Ranch).

You can't explore Texas history without coming across the opening line of Berta Hart Nance's poem, "Cattle": Other states were carved or born; Texas grew from hide and horn. It is a mantra here, a reminder of our cowboy culture and our cowboy poets. Many of them assembled at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine back in February and Cowboy Poetry Week is later this month, so I decided it was high time that I explored this art form.

It was Ft. Worth, Texas, in the 1930's, and fiddle music was not the only sound to be found in honky tonks and dance halls. There was the shag, the lindy hop, west coast swing and jitterbug, and my mother, Evalynne Fuller (soon to be McAmis) was beating out boogie-woogie on the piano, "eight to the bar."