Sunday, March 1, 2015

Texas Birthday Bash

Tomorrow is Texas Independence Day, but Navasota celebrated this weekend with its annual Texas Birthday Bash in the courtyard of the city hall. We had two days of live country music and Texas themed fun.

The bands were loud, rowdy, and down home country. We sat on one of the bales of hay scattered in front of the bandstand, but many families brought camp chairs along with wool blankets or quilts to wrap around them. Good idea--wish we'd thought to do the same.

A winter blast from the north required layered clothing. Seriously insulated jackets (the kind that are worn in deer stands or duck blinds) were favored gear for both men and women. Ronnie and I don't hunt, so we bundled up in our Harley leather motorcycle jackets. My beautiful blood-red cowboy boots were new, but the ones on the other women were scuffed and weathered. They weren't wearing their boot-scootin' dancing boots in inclement weather. I'll know better next year.

The guys sported short haircuts and full beards--no skimpy soul patches for these young men. They smoked filtered cigarettes, drank Budweiser, and bought cotton candy, funnel cake, and kettle corn for their rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed children. And when the music moved them, they punched the air with their fists and danced with their women on the hard concrete.

Marsha's Petting Zoo had the little ones squealing with delight as they toddled after the llama, sheep,  and goats. I thought how my younger brother would have joined in the reverie because he acts like he's 6 when he's around children. But Dallas was being pelted with snow and sleet this weekend, preventing Mark and his wife from joining us.

A mechanical bull also attracted youngsters from 3 to 12. The ride's operator wisely matched the bull's aggressiveness to each rider, so all the 3-year-olds had gentle rides while the 12-year-olds were spun and bucked till only the best weren't thrown to the pillow-soft padded flooring. The line was long, with older kids, determined to stay upright, jumping back in line for rematches.

For $5 each, we could have judged the chili cook-off, and we wanted to, especially since our friend Mitch cooked the meat for the entry from Brookshire Brothers grocery store. But the cook-off was over by the time we moseyed over to that side of the venue. Unlike Houston, the cook-off must end at lunchtime instead of offering competitive vittles into the evening of the event.

We met a fellow named Jim from La Grange. He came over to thank Ronnie for his service when he spotted Ronnie's Vietnam vet service cap. Jim is three days from being mustered out of the Army after serving in Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He and Ronnie talked about the movie "American Sniper." We'd seen it last week, but Jim said he might have to wait to see it in video in the privacy of his home. He fought in Fallujah, and he isn't sure what emotions might come up. Ronnie nodded in understanding and said, "I was able to watch it with no problem, but that's because it wasn't my war." They discussed the differences between Vietnam and Iraq, jungle warfare versus house-to-house urban warfare, and the differences in the way they were welcomed home. They both agreed, as crazy as it got during their tours, they'd volunteer again. These two native sons are from the bloodline of the patriots who made Texas independence possible 179 years ago. They make me Texas proud.