Between classes, I got the news. Big Tex is gone.
My initial reaction? "Nooooo!" Then I saw the photos, the website slideshow that began with that familiar face, ended with an iron skeleton and had lots of flames in the middle.
And I was so very sad.
Oh, there are already plenty of good jokes ("The food's not the only thing 'fried' at this year's fair!" and "Big Tex was packin' heat!"), and yes, it's just a statue, a big ol' prop. But as an icon, Big Tex is so much more, and I'll miss him.
Since my college days, Big Tex has been our North Star, the focal point of 25+ Texas-ou gamedays. Those October Saturdays have always begun with breakfast at the Fletcher's corny dog stand in Tex's shadow. Just six days ago I posted this photo:
The caption: "Nothing like breakfast with an old friend."
And he was just that: a familiar face with a friendly (albeit slightly creepy) smile to welcome us back to the hallowed Fair Park. His jaunty wave and well-known "Howdy, folks" greeting signaled autumn as much as pumpkins and changing leaves.
Forget Reggie Jackson; Big Tex was the REAL Mr. October.
Of course, it didn't take long for me to associate today's loss with my mom. Gone for eight weeks now, my mother LOVED all things Texas, from historical places like San Jacinto and the Alamo to traditional icons like armadillos, cowboys and yes, Big Tex.
There are certain traveling rituals that we McCoys always observed, such as spotting the Tower and Capitol as we drove into Austin, looking for the Goodyear blimp in its hangar on our way to Houston, and walking straight to Big Tex when we visited the State Fair.
When I was a little girl, Mama and Daddy made sure we used our Columbus Day holiday as a "fair day," making the two-hour drive from Tyler most years to watch the cow-milking demonstrations, grab samples in the Food and Fiber building, peruse the car show, see all the ribbon-winning arts and crafts. Saying howdy to Big Tex was a given.
|Meeting up with my parents at TX-ou 1989
|Big Tex's legs showed up in many a photo!
But most likely, the greater reason for my angst is the reminder that nothing is permanent, not even a giant cowboy who wears a 75-gallon hat.