A look at the culture of The Lone Star State
By Lauren Williamson
Ambassadorial Scholar 2009-2010
Rotary District 5790
A Glance Back in Time…..
Between 1519 and 1865, Texas was claimed by six countries
including Spain, France, Mexico, the Confederate States of
America, the United States of America, and itself. It was its
own country for a time, called the
Republic of Texas. This history led to
the naming of the popular modern-day amusement park, Six
Flags Over Texas.
Texas was first explored by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda
in 1519. It wasn’t settled until many years later, but became
popular because of its cotton and cattle ranching industries.
In 1901, oil was found deep in Texas soil, permanently changing the economy of the
Cowboys and Indians
Cowboys, or vaqueros in Spanish, were “hired ranch hands” who rode
horses, tended cattle, and often led cattle drives across the U.S. The
character gained popularity during the 1800s,
particularly during the time when settlers were
having serious problems with Native
American Indians, though the problems
started in the 1600s when settlers began encroaching on Indian
Oliver Loving is the Texas Cowboy who inspired the
famous Pulitzer-Prize winning novel-turned-TV series
Only a small number of Texans consider themselves
“cowboys” today. Most don’t own horses or drive cattle, but they do typically like
cowboy hats, enjoy the outdoors, and many practice shooting and hunting.
Howdy = hello, greetings, hi
Y’all = you all, you guys, you people
Ain’t = am not, is not, are not
Fixin’ to = about to, going to, getting ready to (do something)
Take a gander = look, glance, gaze
Not my first rodeo = I’ve been around a while, seen this before
Heavens to Betsy = expression of exasperation
Give him the boot = get rid of him, show him out or to the door
Twang is usually described as a very
nasal tone of voice; the speaker often
draws out the vowels of his words.
Texas Country Music originated in the late
1960s. The style combines acoustic and
electric guitars, often incorporating bluegrass
style. Lyrics usually contain an underlying “common working
man” theme. Popular artists of today include Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Kevin Fowler,
Eli Young Band, Tanya Tucker, and Kelly Willis.
-Texas- The name comes from a Caddo Indian tribe named the “Tejas,” or “those who
are friends.” Because of the flag, it’s called the Lonestar State.
-State flower- Bluebonnet; State bird- Mockingbird
-State mammal – Armadillo, also called “Texas speed bumps” since they’re often hit by
cars on the roads
-State tree- Pecan tree; Texas is known for pecan pies
-Battle of the Alamo – In 1863 almost 200 Texans unsuccessfully defended the Alamo
against thousands of Mexican soldiers in the fight for Texas Independence. The structure
still stands in San Antonio, TX.
Texas Two Step
For the gentleman, who leads the
dance, the basic steps are left-right-
left, to a rhythm of quick-quick-slow,
during two full beats of music. The
pattern repeats, right-left-right.
The lady reverses the feet, but keeps the rhythm
Another variation of the two-step is stepping
quick-quick-slow-slow, to three full beats of music.
This is easier to master and allows the dancers a
little more rest time.
This is usually danced to country music in 4/4
time, but sometimes 2/4, or cut time. The dancers
proceed counterclockwise along the dance floor. This
dance style was inspired by Mexican fandangos and
German and Hungarian traditional dances from the
Texas, the United Kingdom, & Europe
Texas is roughly 696,200 square km. Nearly three United Kingdoms could fit
inside the state, or more than five Englands.
-35.5% of Texans are Hispanic, largely due to the Spanish occupation of Texas
1716 to 1821
-10.9% of Texans are of German descent – Tejano music is a mix of polka and
Hispanic music with accordion instrumentation
-Yearly rainfall in England=700-2,000mm; Texas=200-940mm
-UK population 60,943,912; TX population 24, 326,974
Everything’s bigger in Texas. Women’s hairstyles often are;
everything is more spread out
geographically so it appears
bigger; food portions are
Texas is God’s country. TX is in the Evangelical
Protestant Bible belt;
predominantly Christian and
Everyone’s a cowboy or There are ranchers and
cowgirl. plenty of ranch land, but that
is a small % of the population
Texas has extremely hot, dry It’s very humid along the
weather. coast and in N.Tx. Snow is
common for winters in the
panhandle. It can average 25
to 98 F or -4 to 37 Celsius.
N.Tx often has 100+F
temperatures in summer.
Texans are friendlier. Old-fashioned Southern
courtesy, especially toward
women, is still taught, but it’s
fading quickly from the
Texans ride horses. Some do; it’s an expensive
hobby and usually done only
at specific riding stables or
on ranch lands.
People are uneducated, 26% of entire population
backward “hicks.” holds bachelor’s degree or
Texans talk with an accent. Many do have a “twang,” but
that is less true of people in
more urban areas.
Black-Eyed Peas or Texas Caviar
*Said to bring good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day
*If diced jalapeno is added during cooking, we call it “Hoppin’ John”
3 cups dry black-eyed peas
3 pounds smoked ham hocks (10 small)
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 (10 ounce) pkg. frozen cut okra
Rinse black-eyed peas. Place in 6-quart Dutch oven. Add 12 cups water and
soak overnight. Stir in ham hocks, onion, celery, bay leaf, salt and cayenne. Bring
to boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer until ham hocks are tender and beans
are done (about 1 1/2 hours). Stir in okra. Cook until okra is tender (about 10
minutes). Remove bay leaf. Season to taste.
*Often called “soul food,” commonly paired with black-eyed peas or pinto
beans for a complete meal
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups cornmeal
1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 8 or 9 inch square pan. Combine dry
ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg until moistened. Pour into pan or pour into
individual muffin tins. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut and serve
with butter or honey spread on top.
Southern Collard Greens
*Southerners often add bacon to
1 bunch collard greens
20 strips bacon
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut up and wash greens thoroughly. Cook 10 strips of bacon in oven until crispy, reserve.
Place remaining 10 pieces in a pot with about 4 cups of water. Put greens in the pot.
Add drippings from the oven cooked bacon to the pot. Cook until greens are tender (up
to an hour). Add salt, pepper and water as needed. Serve the greens with crumbles of
the crispy bacon on top.
Chicken Fried Steak
*Typical “comfort” food,
smothered in gravy
2-4 beef round steaks
2 cups of all purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups milk
Pure vegetable shortening/butter/oil for frying
Place the round steak on a cutting board, trim and discard bone and excess fat. With a
meat mallet, pound each piece on both sides, going over meat twice in opposite
directions. Set aside. Combine flour with salt and pepper and sugar. Place a 10 inch,
skillet over a medium flame and add shortening to start heating. Dip the steaks in milk,
then cover both sides in the seasoned flour, patting to work in the flour and seasonings.
Test temperature of shortening by sprinkling a few drops of milk into it. The milk should
sizzle. Add steaks, taking care not to crowd them, and cook until golden brown on both
sides and fully cooked. This will take 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve with cream gravy.
3 cups milk
2 to 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 to 5 tablespoons pan drippings or ¼ stick of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
In pan where you fried the steak, gradually add flour and pan drippings or butter. Slowly
add milk, stirring constantly until desired thickness is obtained. Remove from heat and
add salt and pepper to taste. Serve Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and
*Official state dish
*Invented in mid 1800s
in San Antonio
*Originally made from
native South Texas
ingredients: meat, chili
3 pounds cubed beef
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons boullion, Beef granules
1 teaspoon boullion, Chicken granules
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 split jalapeno chili pepper
Briefly sear meat and then add chili pepper tied in cheese cloth sack, paprika,
onion powder, cayenne pepper, boullion granules, tomato sauce and water to
cover. Simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 hours or so. Add cumin, garlic powder, salt,
black pepper, and chili powder. Cook for another 30 minutes or until meat is
Remove cheese cloth sack with jalapeno pepper and serve.
Pinto beans and bell pepper can also be added to the dish. Serve in a bowl
and top with cheddar cheese, onions, etc. Another variation includes serving on
top of Frito corn chips for a Frito pie!
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup Karo light or dark
1 cup sugar (can do half
2 tablespoon butter,
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup pecan halves
1 unbaked (9 inch) pie shell
In large bowl stir first 5 ingredients until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie shell. Bake in 350
degree F oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes
out clean. Cool. Serves 8.
Chocolate Pecan Pie: Follow recipe above. Melt 4 squares (1 ounce each) of semi-sweet
chocolate with the butter.
*Commonly done with peaches, cherries,
apples (and cinnamon), or blackberries
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar + 3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick butter
3/4 to 1 cup milk
1 lg. can sliced peaches (or 10 ounces fresh)
Melt butter in a 2 quart casserole dish in 375 degree F oven. In separate dish, combine flour, sugar,
and baking powder. Add milk to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Arrange peaches and
juice in melted butter. Drizzle batter back and forth over fruit. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons sugar on top.
Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a scoop of ice cream!
It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.
It is illegal for one to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.
One can be legally married by publicly introducing a person as your husband or wife 3
It is illegal to milk another person's cow.
One must acknowledge a supreme being before being able to hold public office.
Americans consider themselves cousins of the United Kingdom, particularly England. After
disagreements on taxation and government representation, the 13 original colonies of America
won their freedom from British rule during the American Revolution in 1776. However, it wasn’t
until World War II that America forged a strong political alliance with England.
“To have the United States at our side was, to me, the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I
knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck, and in to the death. So we had won after
all!” Prime Minister Winston Churchill, regarding the bombing of Pearl Harbor
My grandfather, Leroy Williamson, is a Texas native and was a 1st
lieutenant in the Army, Company H. He arrived on the Queen Mary
in Shiptam, Northern Norwich, England in 1943 to fight in World
War II. In 1944, his plane was shot down by Germans and he
remained in a Prisoner of War camp near Barth, Germany until the
war ended. The BBC recently included him in an article during a
commemorative ceremony for pilots who flew in food and supplies
to the Germans during the Berlin Airlift.
Rotary District 5790
Located in North Texas, USA
Includes 64 clubs, 3,300 Rotarians
2009-2010 District Governor John Miller
2008-2009 PDG Jerry Parr
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Gainesville, TX
Counselor: Jan Russell
Rotary District 1130
Ealing Club of London, UK
Counselor: Helen Cox
• World’s largest privately-funded international scholarship
• started by the rotary foundation in 1947
• More than 38,000 scholars froM 100 nations
• past scholars
o bill Moyers- proMinent us journalist
o sadako ogata- past un high coMMission of refugees
o bill ferris- past head of the us national endoWMent for
• Mission of scholars:
o spread goodWill, international understanding
o engage in service, “service above self”
o use the 4-Way test in education and future career (is it
true? fair? build better friendships? beneficial to all?)
• in 2009, trf had to cancel cultural and Multi-year
scholarships…. tfr desperately needs donations froM
rotarians like you
• aMbassadorial scholars = toMorroW’s coMMunity and World
• More info at WWW.rotary.org
I am blessed with a wonderful family! My parents live in Highland Village,
Texas, which is about 30 minutes north of Dallas and 45 minutes south of
My dad is a banker for Capital One. My mom used to teach Spanish for 1st
-12th grades. My sister is married and works as an environmental
interpreter at a nature conservation site. She and her husband live in
Jacksboro, Texas, which is about an hour and a half west of Highland
The WILLIAMSON CLAN! From left to right: my mom Carol, sister Erin, dad Roy,
and me, Lauren.
As for me, I am working on my Master’s in International Studies
and Diplomacy at the University of London School of Oriental
and African Studies. I previously received a Bachelor’s in Radio,
Television, Film from the University of North Texas and graduated
from the Honors college. I have worked as a reporter for NBC in
Corpus Christi, TX, an anchor/reporter for an ABC affiliated
radio station in Arlington, TX, a producer for FOX in Dallas, TX,
and an anchor/news director for the radio station affiliated with
On a personal level, I enjoy playing piano, learning guitar, attending live theatre and
music theatre shows. I also enjoy dancing and used to dance competitively through
high school. I love traveling and learning about new cultures and trying exotic foods!
I’m a huge fan of coffee and tea, wine, poetry, and outdoor adventures like hiking.
I hope to improve the quality of journalism in the United States. I am very interested in
humanitarian issues and believe American coverage needs to be stronger, more
balanced and more ethical. I am interested in using media and journalism as
educational platforms and resources to promote international
understanding and goodwill. Political and travel journalism pique my
interest, as well. In another decade I could see myself becoming a
professor and teaching the next generation of journalists. I’d also like
to lend my time and talents to Reporters Without Borders, an
international non-profit organization that works to defend journalists,
fight against censorship, improve journalism safety, and offer aid to
imprisoned journalists and their families.
During my year abroad, and for the rest of my life, I will strive to value service above self
and improve the quality of life for every person I meet. The opportunity to further my
education would not have been possible for me without Rotary. I am forever grateful to
Rotarians for their generosity and impact on my life. I’m eager to give back to the next
generation in the same way.
Gainesville Club, my sponsor
25% US Oil Reserves
in the U.S (also cotton)
Top wind-power producer in US
14.2% of US cattle
Gulf of Mexico, tourist spot
My former employer
Big Bend National Park
Shiner beer, made in Shiner, TX
Caddo Lake, the only natural The Alamo in San Antonio, TX
lake in TX
Big D, or Dallas, 2nd biggest city in TX
1.2 million people
Comanche, Caddo, Cherokee,
Kiowa, Lipan, Shawnee, Wichita, Waco North Texas is part of “Tornado Alley”
Dallas Cowboys, popular American
football team Austin, state capital
Waco, birthplace of Dr. Pepper soda