A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 27, 2008
“If all the Texas steers were one steer, he would have his front feet in the Gulf of Mexico…”

Texas author Boyce House (1896-1961) is best known for his short, best-selling Texas humor books published during World War II, providing a chuckle to Texans and non-Texans everywhere. House also wrote newspaper columns and had a radio show.

House opened his first humor collection, I Give You Texas!: 500 Jokes of the Lone Star State (1943), with a well-remembered joke about the large size of Texas:

“And if all the steers in Texas were made into one steer, he could stand with his front foot in the Gulf of Mexico, one hind leg in Lake Michigan and the other in Hudson’s bay and, with his tail, brush the Northern Lights out of the Alaskan skies.”

Boyce House did not originate the sentiment. A speech given in 1921 included much of the same words. Cited further back to 1908 (but not mentioning Texas) is the passage:  “If all the cattle we ship to market each year were one cow, she would browse on the tropical vegetation along the equator, while her tail was switching icicles off the North Pole.”


Handbook of Texas Online
HOUSE, BOYCE B. (1896-1961). Boyce House, author, humorist, and radio personality, son of Noah E. and Margaret (O’Brien) House, was born on November 29, 1896, in Piggott, Arkansas.
(...)
His weekly column eventually appeared in 130 newspapers, and his weekly radio show brought him celebrity status in Texas and an established national reputation.

House was twice a losing candidate for lieutenant governor of Texas in the Democratic primary, and he was strong in his support of the Democratic party and the political system.
(...)
During the last years of his life he worked for the Texas Credit Association; many of his personal appearances were as a representative of that group. House was a member of the Texas Folklore Society, the Poetry Society of Texas, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Texas Editorial Association.

Chronicling America
24 May 1908, Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), comic section:
The American Cow and Hog.
“I have carefully figured it out and find that if all the cattle we ship to market each year were one cow, she would browse on the tropical vegetation along the equator, while her tail was switching icicles off the North Pole,” says Home Hoch. “And by the aid of high branches of mathematics I have made a careful computation which shows that if all the hogs we slaughter annually were one hog, that animal could dig the Panama Canal in two roots and a half, and its squeal would be so loud it would jar the aurora borealis.”—Kansas City Journal.

18 May 1909, Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) Herald, pg. 4, col. 2:
Quoted from a recent prosperity speech: “Has it ever occurred to you, Mr. Chairman, that the cotton cloth made in South Carolina would make a sheet big enough to cover the entire face of America and Europe and lap over on the toes of Asia? Or if all the cattle she raises in one year were one cow, she could browse on the tropical vegetation along the equator, while her tail switched icicles off the North Pole, and that her milk could float a shipload of her butter from Charleston to New York? Or, if all the mules we market each year were one mule, it would consume the entire corn crop of North Carolina at one meal, and kick the spots off the sun without swelling its sides or shaking its tail? Or if the hogs we raise annually were one hog, that animal would dig the Panama Canal in three roots, without grunting, and its squeal would be loud enough to jar the cocoanuts off the trees along the Canal Zone.—New York Sun.

1 May 1921, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Texas Woman’s Oratory Sways Church Council,” part 3, pg. 12:
As delegate to the Methodist Missionary Council in Richmond, Va., Mrs. Nat G. Rollins of San Antonio distinguished herself as a Texas silver tongued orator. The winning of the 1922 council meeting for San Antonio is attributed to Mrs. Rollins’ “invitation speech” which was in essence an apostrophe to Texas including the following:

“Texas occupies all of North American except a small part for United States and Canada.”

“Texas is so big that Brownsville people call citizens of Dallas Yankees.”

“The chief occupation of the people of Texas is to keep from making all the money in the world.”

“U. S. with Texas lopped off would look like a three-legged Boston terrier.”

“Texas alfalfa, if baled and piled into a stairway, would reach to pearly gates.”

“If Texas hogs were one big hog he could dig the Panama Canal in three roots.”

“If Texas steers were one big steer he would stand with one foot in Hudson Bay, another in Arctic Ocean and his tail would brush mists from aurora borealis.”

1 May 1921, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 11A, cols. 3-4:
CONVENTION WON
BY ADDRESS OF
LOCAL DELEGATE

Clever Speech of Mrs. J. P.
Curry Makes Impression
at Richmond.


TELLS ABOUT TEXAS

Women’s Missionary Council
Will Meet Here Next
Year as Result.

A speech filled with clever epigrams and forcefully expressed facts about Texas and San Antonio, delivered by a San Antonio woman, Mrs. J. P. Curry, won for this city the next annual convention of the Women’s Missionary Council of the Southern Methodist Church, to be held in April, 1922.

Mrs. Curry, with other Texas women, presented Texas attractions so well that the conference held at Richmond, Va., last week, at once voted to hold its next meeting in San Antonio and the delegates were demonstrative in their appreciation of the speakers. Richmond newspapers printed lengthy excepts of Mrs. Curry’s address, which, in part, follows:

“Texas occupies all the continent of North America, except the small part set aside for the United States and Canada. Texas owns all the north of the Rio Grande, the only dusty river in the world; also the only one, with the possible exception of the Trinity, which is navigable for mud cats and pedestrians.

Texas is bounded on the north by 25 or 30 states, on the east by all the oceans in the world, except the Pacific and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico and South America, and on the west by the Pacific ocean, the Milky Way and the sidereal universe.

Rest on Fresh Water Sea.
“If Texas were chopped off loose from the rest of the United States and the Panhandle, it would float out into the ocean, as it rests upon a vast subterranean sea of fresh water.

“Texas is so big that the people in Brownsville call the people in Dallas Yankees, and the citizens of El Paso sneer at the citizens of Texarkana, Tex., as being big snobs from the effete East.

“It is 150 miles farther from El Paso, Tex., to Texarkana, Tex., than it is from Chicago to New York. Fort Worth is nearer to St. Paul, Minn., than it is to Brownsville.

‘The chief occupation of the people of Texas is trying to keep from making all the money in the world. The chief pursuit of the people of Texas was formerly Mexicans, but now it is land buyers, steers and Texas crop records.

“The United States with Texas off would look like a three-legged Boston terrier.

“Texans are so proud of Texas that they cannot sleep at night. If a Texan’s head should be opened the map of Texas would be found photographed on his brain. This is also true of his heart. Unless your front gate is eighteen miles from your front door, you do not belong to society as constituted in Texas. Mrs. King’s gate is 150 miles from her front door, and she is thinking of moving her house back so that she will not be annoyed by passing automobiles and peddlers.

Own Mountain Ranges.
“Other Texas landlords have whole mountain ranges and rivers on their ranches. One Texan has 40 miles of navigable rivers on his farm. If the proportion of cultivated land in Texas were the same as in Illinois, the value of Texas crops would equal that of the 47 other states.

“Texas has enough land to supply ever man, woman and child in the world wit ha tract of five feet by twenty feet, and have enough left over for the armies of the world to march around the board five abreast.

“Texas grows enough alfalfa, which, if baled and built into a stairway, would reach to the pearly gates.

“We’re distressed about the livestock.

“If all the hogs in Texas were one big hog, he would be able to dig the Panama canal in three roots.

“If all the Texas steers were one steer, he would stand with his front feet in the Gulf of Mexico, one hind foot in Hudson bay and the other in the Arctic ocean, and with his tail brush off the mist of the aurora borealis. Some state.”

19 January 1922, Moberly (MO) Weekly Monitor, “Suppose All The Texas Steers Were One Steer” (Roy K. Moulton in New York Mail), pg. 6, cols. 1-2:
Texas Tells The World.
Texas has prepared a brief which proves the state believes in advertising. The brief was written in Laredo, Texas, and is being circulated in a perfectly cold blooded manner by an official body. It runs along as follows:

“Texas occupies all the continent of North America except the small part set aside for the United States and Canada. Texas owns the north of the Rio Grande, the only dusty river in the world; also the only one, with the possible exception of the Trinity, which is navigable for mud cats and pedestrians.

“Texas is bounded on the north by twenty-five or thirty states, and on the east by all the oceans in the world except the Pacific, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico and South America and on the west by the Pacific Ocean, milky way and the real side of the universe.

“If Texas were chopped loose from the rest of the United States at the Panhandle it would float out into the ocean as it rests upon a vast subterranean sea of fresh water.

Strangers in Its Own Fold.
“Texas is so big that the people in Brownsville call the Dallas people Yankees and citizens of El Paso sneer at the citizens of Texarkana as being big snobs from the effete East.

“It is 150 miles farther from El Paso, Texarkana, Texas, than it is from Chicago to New York City; Fort Worth is nearer to St. Paul, Minn., than it is to Brownsville.

“The chief occupation of the people of Texas is trying to keep from making all the money in the world. The chief purpose of the people of Texas was formerly Mexican bandits. But now it is land buyers, steers and Texas crop records.

“The United States with Texas off would look like a 3 legged Boston terrier.

“Texans are so proud of Texas that they cannot sleep at night. If a Texan’s head should be opened the map of Texas would be photographed on his brain. This is also true of his heart. Unless your front gate is 18 miles from your front door you do not belong to society as constituted in Texas. Mrs. King’s gate is 150 miles from her front gate and she is thinking of moving her house back further so that she will not be annoyed by passing automobiles and peddlers.

Mountain Range Ranches.
“Other Texas landlords have whole mountain ranges and rivers on their ranches. One Texas has 40 miles of navigable land on his farm. If the proportion of cultivated land in Texas were the same as Illinois the value of Texas crops would equal that of the forty seven other states.

“Texas has enough land to supply every man, woman and child in the world wit ha tract 5 by 20 feet, and have enough left over for the armies of the world to march around the border five abreast.

“Texas grows enough alfalfa, if baled and built into a stairway, to reach to the pearly gates.

“If all the hogs in Texas were one hog he would be able to dig the Panama Canal in three roots.

“If all Texas steers were one steer he could stand with his front feet in the Gulf of Mexico, one hind foot in the Hudson Bay, the other in the Arctic Ocean and with his horns punch holes in the moon, and with his tail brush off the mist from the Aurora Borealis.

“If all the cotton made in Texas annually were made into one mattress all the people in the world could take a nap at one time.

“Texas is rightly named the Garden of the World, and if the Bermuda onions grown around Laredo were made into a necklace it would encircle the globe.”

18 August 1939, Amarillo (TX) Globe, pg. 2, col. 3:
I believe it was a Mrs. Collins of Texas who once said: “Texas occupies all the Continent of North America except that small part set aside for the United State and Canada. Texas owns all North of the Rio Grande, the only dusty river in the world; also the only one, with the possible exception of the Trinity, which is navigable for mud-cats and pedestrians.” Anyway, very few people realize that Texas is so big that people living in Brownsville call the people living of Dallas Yankees, and the people living in El Paso call the people of Texarkana big snobs from the East. If you tell a man it’s 150 miles farther from El Paso to Texarkana, Texas, than it is from Chicago to New York, or that Fort Worth is nearer to St. Paul, Minnesota, than it is to Brownsville, Texas, he wants to call you a liar, if he’s the biggest. I believe Mrs. Collins also said: “If all the hogs in Texas was one big hog he could dig the Panama Canal in three roots.”

Google Books
I Give You Texas!
500 Jokes of the Lone Star State

by Boyce House
San Antonio, TX: The Naylor Co.
1943
Pg. 2: 
If all the mules in Texas could be made into one mule, he could kick the “man” out of the moon. If all the bales of cotton grown in Texas could be made into one stack, you would have a stairway reaching to the pearly gates. If all the hogs in Texas could be made into one hog, he could dig the Panama Canal at a single root of his mighty snoot.

And if all the steers in Texas could be made into one steer, he could stand with his front feet in the Gulf of Mexico, one hind leg in Lake Michigan, the other in Hudson’s Bay and—with his tail—brush the Aurora Borealis out of the Alaskan skies.

And that’s no bull! 

22 July 1945, Port Arthur (TX) News,"Mighty Texas,” pg. 22, col. 5:
Boyce House, Texas author and humorist, who was here for a couple of talks recently, isn’t the originator of the following thumbnail sketch of the Lone Star state, but he streamlined it:

Texas occupies all of the North American continent except for the small part set aside for Canada, Mexico and the 47 less fortunate states.

Texans are so proud of their state that they can’t sleep at night and if you could examine the head of a Texan, you’d find a map of the Lone Star state printed thereon.

The chief pursuit of Texans used to be Indians. This was way back in the days when the state was so wild that not even the law of gravitation was obeyed. In fact, the Texas legislature had not enacted the law of gravitation at that time.

Texas owns the north bank of the Rio Grande, the only river in the world navigable for pedestrians.

Texas is so huge that if you used the northern line of the Panhandle for a hinge, you’d flop Brownsville so close to the Arctic Circle that the hot tamale peddlers could swap their wares with the Eskimos for polar bear steaks.

In fact, Texas is so titanic that it is bounded on the north by the Aurora Borealis, on the south by the invisible lines of the equinox, on the east by primeval chaos and on the west by the Judgment Day,

If all the bales of cotton produced in Texas in one season were made into a single stack, you’d have a stairway reaching to the pearly gates.

If all the hogs in Texas could be made into one hog, he could dig the Panama canal at a single root of his mighty snoot.

And if all the steers in Texas were made into one steer, he could stand with his front foot in the Gulf of Mexico, one hind leg in Lake Michigan and the other in Hudson’s bay and, with his tail, brush the Northern Lights out of the Alaskan skies.

I give you Texas!

1 July 1995, Daily Register (Oelwein, Iowa), “‘Texas Siftings’ gives readers humor, history” by Mike Cochran, pg. C2, col. 6:
“If all the steers in Texas were made into one steer, he could stand with his front feet in the Gulf of Mexico, one hind leg in Lake Michigan, the other in Hudson’s Bay, and with his tail brush the Northern Lights out of the Alaskan sky.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Friday, June 27, 2008 • Permalink


So I looked up the “Fort Worth is nearer to St. Paul, Minn., than it is to Brownsville.”

One needs to only look at a map to see this is just a myth and perhaps a funny sentiment with no truth.

Posted by Tommy Gober  on  01/04  at  07:49 PM

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