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: This year a Texas player won football’s famed Heisman Trophy. I have heard the trophy is somehow associated with Texas. Is that true? – Football Fan
Yes, that’s right. The trophy was named for John William Heisman. He was the athletic director and coach at Houston’s Rice University, serving from 1924-1927.
Heisman later become director of Manhattan’s Downtown Athletic Club, which began awarding a trophy for best football player east of the Mississippi River. It was named the Heisman Memorial Trophy after Heisman’s death in 1936, and honors the nation’s outstanding collegiate football player each year.
B-Frog: It seems the words “Texas” and “cowboy” go together. Was there any single person who made the cowboy popular in American culture? – Western Guy
Charles Siringo helped shape this folk hero in the American psyche through his rousing memoir, A Texas Cowboy, or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony.
Siringo became a cowboy at age 15, working with several legendary cattlemen driving herds up the Chisholm Trail.When he retired at age 29 he began writing his memoirs, which would later become A Texas Cowboy. The work became wildly popular, since it was one of the first books about cowboys written by one!
Siringo went on to work with the Pinkerton Agency, the precursor to the FBI, and produced a second book titledCowboy Detective. This title helped Siringo launch into a successful book writing and Hollywood career, and he would help shape the movie industry’s portrayal of the cowboy up until his death.
You can read more interesting folklore about Texas in Lonn Taylor’s Texas, My Texas: Musings of the Rambling Boypublished by the 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.