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By Leroy Torres—
Being a recent arrival from the cold country up north, I have taken note of some differences in the cultural customs of the people who dwell in these two locales — Munday, Texas and Galesburg, Illinois.
For example, people of Munday carry an air of pride in them. Not arrogantly, nor superficially. It seems to be a part of who they naturally are; it sounds like something that comes from a settled place within them, maybe from that same place where their Texas drawl originates, somewhere way down deep.
Not too long ago, we had some major plumbing work done at the homestead (did I say that right?). A young man, let us call him ‘Manny,’ was down in a trench about 24 inches deep. I asked how old he was; his reply was nineteen years of age. Texas dirt was over most of his work clothes some of it wet, some of it drying, all of it red. I asked him if in any of his travels he had been up north. He thought I meant the panhandle. No, I told him, but way up north like out of Texas where the snow is measured in feet and degrees mean so much more than just a college education. He responded in the negative. I said, “You must really like Texas?” And from down in that deep trench Texas pride oozed out when Manny said to me, “Who wouldn’t like being a Texan?” I looked at him, no arrogance there. These were not hollow words spoken from him; it just seemed to make total sense to Manny, “Who wouldn’t like being a Texan?”
It was just a natural part of who Manny really was, and what settled it for me was what he said next. “Sir,” (that right there is another big difference between the north and south; up yonder, rarely was I a Sir), “I am a Texan first and a citizen of the United States second!” BAM!
Is it something one is born with around here, or was it in the red dirt that covered his body? I know not, but one thing for sure like Texas tea (oil), Texas pride was oozing from the ground that day.
Now here is another thing. When I came here three months back, I told myself I was going to be friends with everybody in town; they just didn’t know it because they hadn’t met me yet. I didn’t know that a Texas greeting takes time, not that Munday Texans are standoffish or hard to approach, they certainly are not that! What I mean is this:
Up north when greeting people while running errands, ‘Hey’ is not spoken as a conversation starter. Outside the wind blows too hard and the temperature drops too low to stop and chat about little nothings.
When ‘Hey’ is spoken through layers of clothing worn with the hope of keeping the cold winds out and the warmth in, ‘Hey’ means, “I’m not stopping, but we’ll catch-up five months from now, when the dirty snow melts and the scenery changes from white back to green again.”
The problem is with cold lasting so long, these quick wintery weather ‘Hey’ run-ins became customary even in the warm spring, summer and fall seasons, so one adjusts to life in cold country. I, too, became accustomed to the quick ‘Hey’ as a greeting.
So, expecting the same response when we arrived here one day as I was running the errand of checking for mail at the local post office and thinking that I should add a little Texan to my cold weather greeting as a person was coming out, and I was heading in, I said, ‘‘Howdy, how’s it going?” To my shock and surprise, this Munday Texan took my ‘How’s it going’ as a que to actually stop to let me know how it was going!
Maybe it was my unfamiliar face, maybe he already heard about a new family moving here, maybe because that’s just the way Munday Texans really are – proud, respectful, kind, goodhearted people.
Friends, my name is Leroy. You will probably rarely see me without my bride Carolina by my side (yes, I married a Texan).
When you do see us, be sure to stop and say, “Hey, How’s it Going?” And I promise you will get more than a cold wintery weather ‘Hey’ from us.
Leroy Torres is the minister of the Munday Church of Christ.