Bookish Frog – who lives at TCU Press – answers your questions about Texas and the Southwest. Write him at email@example.com, and he’ll add your name to his pad-to-pad e-mail list.
Dear B-Frog: What are the largest cities in Texas? – City Dweller
According to the 2010 census, the five largest are Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth.
Hey, B-Frog: What’s the story about a toad named “Old Rip”? – History Fan
This legend comes from the town of Eastland. It’s said that a horned toad accidentally got sealed in the Eastland courthouse’s cornerstone in 1897.
In 1928 Eastland built a new courthouse, opened the old cornerstone…and found Old Rip still alive!
Sadly, Rip died of pneumonia one year later. They placed him in a glass-front casket in the new courthouse.
B-Frog: I recently moved to Texas. I heard someone use the term “light a shock” the other day. Do you know what it means? -- Still Learning
To “light a shock” means to leave quickly.
“Shock” is referring to a corn shuck. Corn was a universal food in the old Southwest, and a cowboy would often come to another cowboy’s campfire and discover that it was surrounded by empty corn shucks.
If a cowboy needed to go from one campfire to another, he would light a corn shuck to guide his path. He would have to move as quickly as possible, since corn shucks tended to burn hot and fast.
“Lighting a shock” meant you had to go, because the shuck would burn out quickly.
You can learn more interesting terms from the west in the Dictionary of the American West, published by TCU Press.
We want to hear from you! Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find the books discussed in this column at your local bookstore or call 1-800-826-8911 to order.