Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please Don't Make Me Go To Jail

When Grams was about eight years old, we lived for an entire year with my Granny in a little house deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas. When I say "deep in the Piney Woods" I mean deep. Granny lived on a red-dirt road that was way, way, way off the beaten path. A trip to town meant going 15-20 miles to Naples or Atlanta, both little bitty towns in the early 1960s. But every now and then we would make the 50-ish mile trek to the thriving metropolis of Texarkana. In 1960 Texarkana, Texas (it's a twin city ... there is also a Texarkana, Arkansas) had a population of 50,000.

For us, a trip to Texarkana was an outing to the big city. There were a few major department stores in the downtown area. It was years before there were shopping malls or even strip centers. I think there was a Sears Roebuck, J. C. Penney, and Montgomery Ward. But the one I remember most was a store called Belk-Jones. The unique thing about Belk-Jones was that it had something we had never seen before, an escalator. While we occasionally went to Belk-Jones, Mom rarely shopped there. Honestly, I think she took us to ride the escalator which gave her a little break of sorts. Remember, she was trying to keep up with six kids. But, truth be told, Mom did most of her shopping at Bill's Dollar Store.

Like today's ubiquitous dollar stores, Bill's Dollar Store carried a little bit of everything. Most of our school shoes and many of our clothes came from there. A whole lot of Mom's shopping time was spent there. If we behaved, we were rewarded with choosing a small piece of candy or, occasionally, a very small toy. I don't remember for sure, but I'm sure the price range would have been 25 cents to a dollar. Certainly nothing more expensive than that. Again, there were six kids and Dad was an automotive mechanic. We didn't have extra money to waste.

I don't remember having many longings for things I didn't have. The fact of the matter is that I grew up in an age before the rabid consumerism that kids deal with today. There was no cable television with a thousand channels constantly hawking their wares to children. We had a black-and-white television that used an antenna mounted outside on the roof. And we lived so far out in the country that we usually only got one station. The only kids' shows I remember are Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo, and Top Cat. And some of those we watched when we lived in town; we didn't get them out in the country.

Romper Room image source
We played outside and we played with what we had. My Granny would give us cast off spoons to use as shovels to dig in the dirt. We played "store" with empty oatmeal boxes and empty cans from her kitchen. We used Monopoly money to pay in our own "store." Each of us girls had a doll and a teddy bear. And we made our own paper dolls by cutting out models and clothing from magazines and catalogs. And we loved it! We didn't know that there were kids who had play rooms and lots of store bought toys. It sounds hokey, but that's how it was.

But on one of our trips to Bill's Dollar Store in Texarkana, I fell in love with a little jewelry box that played music and had a magnetic ballerina that twirled on a mirror when you wound it up. More precisely, I fell in love with the tiny little ballerina with her tutu of pink tulle. I wanted it more than I had ever wanted anything in my young life. I had to have it. I asked Mom to please buy it for me. She said no. I begged. She said no. I cajoled, I pleaded, I cried. I had to have that box, but most of all I had to have the beautiful tiny little plastic ballerina. But no matter how nicely I asked or how nastily I demanded the answer was an emphatic "no."

Music box image source

At this point, owing to the title of this post, you can probably guess what I did. That's right ... I stole it. Not the jewelry box, just the little plastic ballerina. I looked all around and found that not a soul was looking at me. I reached up and snatched that little ballerina off of her glass mirror and stuck her in the waistband of my shorts for the long ride home.

I was so proud of myself. I gloated secretly all the way home. I had my ballerina in spite of mother's denial. I would take her home and play with her to my heart's content. I had my coveted ballerina and she was mine ... all mine. This tiny toy was not community property, it was my very own and I wouldn't have to share it with my sisters. Then I got home and reality set in. Yes, I had my beautiful ballerina. She was mine but I couldn't play with her. You see, I shared a room with my three sisters. If I took her out and played with her, they would know that I had stolen her. And ... they would TELL! If you have sisters, you know the truth. There was no way that any of us could know something like that about any of the others without running straight to Mom to tattle. In fact, I couldn't even set her on top of the chest-of-drawers, where I knew she belonged, because then I would be found out.

So, what did I do? I hid her. I lifted the corner of my mattress and tucked her safely between the mattress and springs to stay until I could figure out what to do with her. There was only one problem with my plan, one small little consideration that I did not foresee. The next day was laundry day.

Early the next morning when my Granny stripped the sheets off the bed for their weekly washing, out fell my little ballerina at her feet. My heart stopped! But Granny just picked her up, tucked her into an apron pocket, and went on about her business without saying a word. I felt a huge sense of relief. Granny didn't know ... she didn't know I had stolen her. I had gotten away with it. Now all I had to do was wait until Granny took off her apron and I could recover my ballerina and I wouldn't even have to explain. I could tell my sisters that I got her from Granny and she would be mine with no questions asked. So, yes, I was willing to add lying to thieving if it would help me get my precious ballerina.

All day that day I thought I had gotten away with my little bit of larceny. WRONG! Sometime during the day, Granny took that ballerina to Mom who knew immediately where it came from, who brought it, and how it had been gotten. Then came bedtime.

When I went in to say goodnight, Mom had my ballerina in her hand. She confronted me and told me that she knew I had stolen it. She went on the tell me that such a crime would have to be reported to the store manager who would ultimately have to report it to the police. She further told me that we had to take it back and I would have to confess to the store manager. There was no sleeping that night. I tossed and turned all night long, imagining the worst possible outcome yet hoping that by morning all would be forgotten if not forgiven. But early the next morning, while Granny took care of all my siblings, Mom and I made an hour-long, silent drive all the way to Bill's Dollar Store. We went inside and I handed my beautiful ballerina to the store manager, told him that I had stolen it, and said I was very sorry.

In accordance with what my mother had said, he explained that he would have to call the police who would probably have to arrest me and take me to jail. I was terrified and completely silent as tears rolled down my cheeks. I don't know if my mother had called him ahead of time and asked him to play along with her or not, but he was very convincing. After he played his role for a while he decided that, since this was my first offense, he might be able to avoid calling the police if I promised to never steal anything again. I was happy to comply and very relieved.

Anyone who knew my mom would be able to tell you that silent was not her usual mode of operation. So, needless to say, the ride home was the farthest thing from silent. She let me have it every which way for the entire hour it took to drive home.

A couple of years later, some of my friends and I were in a Winn's 5 & 10 Cent Store in Corpus Christi. They all decided to steal some candy by tucking it into the waistbands of their shorts and walking out with it. I politely declined to participate and ran all the way home without them. I had learned my lesson.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This post was inspired by the writing prompt "You stole WHAT!?! Spill it" and is part of Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Winner! Winner!

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! LaRue Across America!

Congratulations to Connie of I Started Out As A Child and to Elisabeth who are both winners of their very own copies of LaRue Across America.

Connie, I left instructions in a comment on your latest blog post. Elisabeth, your instructions have been emailed. 

Thanks to everyone who participated in Grams' first ever giveaway.

The family menfolk are headed to the hunting lease for a weekend of manly men things. 

Building fences is a manly activity

Another manly activity

Turkey hunting is manly too.

Grandad and his brothers, Gary & Danny

 I'm off to San Antonio for a girls weekend with my daughter, my sister, and Our Little Princess. There is sure to be at least one Tea Party and lots of giggling.
Bylinda, Our Little Princess & Katy

Our Little Princess
 Whatever your plans for the weekend, I hope it's filled with people you love and things you enjoy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Substitute Diaries - The Teacher Gets Schooled

My mother always told us that she had eyes in the back of her head. But I've learned that a substitute teacher must far surpass that standard, especially at the middle school level.

I've learned quite a few things since I started substitute teaching.

I can spot a teenage girl surreptitiously texting from her cell phone from way across the room. Honestly, do they think I don't know what they're doing when they sit with their hands in their purse?

The rattle of a candy or gum wrapper brings me to full attention. Likewise, I can hear a whisper all the way across a classroom.

I've learned which bells to ignore and which ones to heed. And I know where to go during a fire drill and what to take with me when evacuating the building.

I've learned that anytime a girl says she feels sick you should send her to the nurse's office as quickly as possible.

I've learned that it's okay to let a kid sleep through your class. It's the path of least resistance and sometimes that's the right choice.

I've learned that some teachers don't think substitutes are actually capable of teaching anything ... or they're just too lazy to put together a lesson plan.

During a test, I can spot a roving eye without even trying.

I've learned that, in the hands of a teenage boy, a rubber band is, at the very least, a huge distraction and, quite possibly, a weapon of mass destruction.

And pencils ... don't get me started on pencils. I could write volumes about pencils ... sharpening them ... coming to class without them ... breaking them ... stabbing people with them ... yes, I said stabbing. I once had a classroom of first graders who sharpened every pencil in the room (probably more than 40 total) down to less than two inches over a two-day period.

And along with pencils come sharpeners. Pencils and sharpeners are so abused and disruptive that I usually ban the use of electric sharpeners completely. If you must sharpen a pencil, you better be okay with using a small hand-held sharpener. That's all you're getting in my classroom.

And writing instruments in general ... I can't believe how many high school and middle school boys come to class without them day after day. Really, how do they expect to get any work done without anything to write with? Oh, I get it; that's the point isn't it?

There are things I say over and over again: Where are you going? Where are you supposed to be now? Do you really have to go? You're supposed to take care of your personal needs during passing period. Sit down! Stop talking! Turn around! Tuck in your shirt. I swear, some days it would be better for me if I just had a recording that would play these things continually over and over again. Sometimes I feel like the grand inquisitor.

I have also learned that the most powerful thing you can say to a kid is ... What is your name? Those four words, asked in a stern voice while making effective eye contact, strike fear into the heart of a kid. This is especially effective with boys ... for some reason they think you're going to leave the teacher a note with their name on it or write their name on a referral to the back office.

So, yes, I've learned a few things since I went "back to school."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grams Made Chicken Divan Pot Pie

Grams spent the day sewing and doing laundry. It was kind of a rough day. I started out by breaking my pinky toe. I banged it on the cedar chest that sits at the end of our bed. That's right, a huge cedar chest that has been sitting in the exact same place for, oh, 20 years or so. I felt stupid and I've been in pain ever since. I now have it taped to the toe next to it, but when I walk, if I move the wrong way, it hurts so bad that I feel nauseous.

So I was looking for something to make with leftover rotisserie chicken. The other prerequisite for the recipe was that I had to have all the ingredients on hand. I didn't want to limp to the grocery store. I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker web site. After a few alterations to their original recipe, this is what we had for dinner tonight. It was good and I will make it again.

Chicken Divan Pot Pie
Adapted from Betty Crocker

2 refrigerated pie crusts (like Pillsbury All-Ready Crusts)
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ cup diced onions
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz)
2 cups diced rotisserie chicken
1 bag (12 oz) frozen broccoli florets, thawed and well drained

Heat oven to 425°F. Line one 9-inch pie plate with one crust.

In 2-quart saucepan, sweat onions in olive oil. Add butter, reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in flour, garlic powder, and pepper; cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually add broth and milk, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.

Add cheese; stir until melted. Stir in chicken and broccoli. Pour mixture into crust-lined pie plate. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut slits in top crust to vent.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover edge of crust with strips of foil after first 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

* * * * *

I'm working tomorrow, but I'm hoping to have another day off later this week. I have sewing to finish and some alterations to do for some of my neighbors. Today, I made the cutest baby gown for Bubbles. I also have a cute little outfit cut out for Our Little Princess. I'll post pictures of some of the finished sewing projects later this week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bath Time

One of Grams favorite things is to help Our Little Princess with her bath. I actually helped her mom the first time she gave her a bath. Since then, whether at her house or ours, I love to give her a bath.

The bath always ends with a "baby burrito." I wrap her up in her towel and carry her around like a tiny baby while she giggles.

Last weekend, she was excited to show me her new bath toy, Munchkin Bubble Monkeys Bath Toy. This may be my favorite bathtub toy ever! The small green cup at the top attaches to the wall with a suction cup. You fill the cup with liquid bubbles and both of the monkeys are bubble wands. One for the child and one for the adult.

We've always loved bubbles. Katy was known to take them with her to high school track meets. I always have a couple of bottles of bubbles in Grams toy drawer. And, there are a couple of bottles of them sitting on Our Little Princess' front porch all the time.

When we were raising our kids, I never let them play with bubbles in the house because of the potential for a huge mess. I don't know why we never thought of playing with bubbles in the bathtub. Brilliant!
Just look how much fun we had! I was very impressed with her ability to blow bubbles already at two years old. I'm pretty sure our kids were older before they understood how to blow through the bubble ring.

The Munchkin Bubble Monkeys Bath Toy is only $8.99. I think this one came from Target, but you can also order one from Amazon.

This is an endorsement of a toy that Our Little Princess and I enjoyed together. I was in no way compensated for this product review.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LaRue Across America Book Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a free copy of LaRue Across America in exchange for writing this review. Two readers will receive a copy of LaRue Across America in a giveaway sponsored by Scholastic. The review is my own.

From the Publisher
Ike’s plans for a peaceful cruise with Mrs. LaRue are thwarted when their neighbor, Mrs. Hibbins, falls suddenly ill. Mrs. LaRue suggests that she and Ike care for her cats while Mrs. Hibbins is in the hospital, inviting them along on the cruise. But cats aren't allowed, and Mrs. LaRue decides to take them all on a week's vacation of road-tripping. Ike is beside himself and quickly takes up his pen to tell us why!

Join award-winner Mark Teague on this romping road trip across America. Readers can follow along on the maps of the U.S. that span the endpapers. Teague drives us to the story’s satisfying conclusion, and we are left with one profound question: Can cats and dogs really be friends?

My Review
Grams is a little bit in love with Ike LaRue! Ike is a wire-hair fox terrier with a distaste for the neighbor's cats. (To be honest, he reminds me of Minnie, my grand-dog, who is a Jack Russell Terrier.)

When a neighbor falls ill, Mrs. LaRue volunteers to take care of her cats. This forces a change in vacation plan as Mrs. LaRue and Ike embark on a road trip across America with Mrs. Hibbins' cats. The road trip turns ugly fast as the group visits such traditional American vacation spots as the Empire State Building and the Grand Canyon. No matter how hard LaRue tries to make sure that the cats enjoy their trip, most of his actions seem more designed to make them miserable.

LaRue Across America charmed me. I like that the story is told in a series of postcards from Ike. The illustrations are reminiscent of the books I loved as a child of the 1950s. The combination of color and black and white illustrations and the endpaper map of the USA are both beautiful enhancements.  I particularly love Mrs. LaRue's pink station wagon.

I think this would be a great book to take along on summer vacation, especially if you're taking a road trip. You could easily use this book to get your kids interested in writing postcards to grandparents and friends while away on vacation.

Giveaway Instructions
Scholastic will be giving two of my readers a copy of LaRue Across America. To enter simply leave a comment on this post. Please be sure that your comment contains either an email address or a link to your Google profile so I can contact you if you win. Entries will remain open until midnight on Wednesday, May 23, 2010. Winners will be determined by random drawing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Only Constant Is Change

Grams has had a couple of experiences lately that make me realize how different the world of today's teens is from the world I grew up in.

A few weeks ago I was subbing at the high school. We had finished the lesson and I was chatting about music with a student. I made a reference to The Beatles and he asked "That was a band, right?" WHAT! I explained to him that that was not A band, it was THE band. Good lord, I'm getting old!
My book club, The Book Snobs, is reading Pat Conroy's The Water is Wide this month. As I was reading today I picked up on a reference to the lack of telephones on Yamacraw Island where he taught for two years. I instantly wondered if no one had a cell phone on the island. Then I realized that the book is set in the 1960s. Duh!

In light of both of these facts, I started thinking about the world Our Little Princesses will know. Here's what I've come up with.
They will never have to drag the telephone extension into the closet to have a private conversation. Phones won't have coiled cords that you can twist around your fingers while you chat. In the rare event that they actually pick up a land line, they will probably think something is wrong with it. Their phones don't have dial tones. They will also never know the satisfaction that comes from slamming down a telephone handset in anger. Pushing a button just is not as fulfilling somehow.
Written communication is primarily written via email or text message. It's entirely possible they'll never mail anything using "snail" mail.
It won't be far-fetched to think of a person of color holding the office of President of the United States.
Women will always have been members of the Supreme Court.

Books will always come in electronic format.
It's entirely possible they will not learn to write cursive at school.
The Space Shuttle program won't be advanced technology. It will be obsolete.
They'll know who Princess Kate is, but not Princess Di!
They'll check the time by looking at their cell phone, not their wrist watch.

Video phones are not futuristic. All you need is a computer with a webcam and you can see and talk to anyone anywhere.
Cameras don't need film and pictures don't have to be developed.

Every year I look forward to Beloit College's Mindset List. It's a list they publish every fall to bring their professors up-to-date on what the incoming freshman class has experienced and what their mindset might be. I've linked to the list for the Class of 2014.

So what do you think. What else will be different about the world our grandchildren will grow up in?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Texas A to Z

Grams is proud to be a Texan. I was born in Texas and have never lived anywhere else. All students in Texas are required to have one credit in Texas History, usually in middle school. I'm embarrassed to admit that, when I was younger, I thought everyone studied Texas history. I mean, why shouldn't they? It's so interesting and exciting. It never occurred to me that people all over the USA didn't have to take a class and learn about Goliad or the Alamo.

You may not know that March is Texas History Month. Grams is a bit of a Texas history buff. March 2, 2011 was the 175th anniversary of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the day we declared our independence from Mexico and became a sovereign nation.

I thought I would use this as an excuse to celebrate Texas so I've put together a list of all things Texan from A to Z.

A is for the Alamo, the cradle of Texas liberty, where Texas heroes Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie along with about 180 other lesser known heroes died. It's also for armadillo, the official state mammal, commonly seen on the side of Texas highways as roadkill.

B is for Bluebonnets which are just bursting into bloom along Texas highways and byways. Bluebonnets are to Texas was fall leaves are to New England. There are entire web sites dedicated to following the annual blooms. And for Bluebell Ice Cream made in Brenham and considered by most Texans to be the best ice cream you can get without hand cranking it on your front porch.

C is for chili, the official dish of the State of Texas, invented in San Antonio. And, for the record, there are no beans in Texas chili.  C is also for Caddo Lake, the only natural lake in the entire state. According to a Caddoan legend, Caddo Lake was formed by an earthquake. A Caddo Indian Chief was warned by the Great Spirit to move his village from the low lands. The Chief ignored the warning and one day while he and his men were out hunting the ground shook. When they returned, their village was gone beneath the water of the newly formed Caddo Lake.

D is for Dr Pepper the oldest major brand of soft drink in the U.S., originally concocted and served at Morrison's Drug Store in Waco Texas. It's also for white-tailed deer which are abundant and widely hunted in Texas. The first day of deer season is practically a state holiday.

E is for Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg, a huge, pink granite dome, that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States. And, the view from the top is awesome. Hiking Enchanted Rock is one of my proudest accomplishments.

F is for the flags of six different nations that have flown over Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America, and United States of America. It's also for the Frio River, a beautiful, ice-cold spring-fed river that runs through the Texas Hill Country. A favorite destination for most Texans. Frio is the Spanish word for cold and, trust me, the water is always cold.

G is for Goliad where the first offensive action of the Texas Revolution took place and the original Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. It's also the site of the massacre of Colonel Fannin and 341 of his men when they were marched outside the walls of the Presidio La Bahia and shot. It was the largest loss of life in the cause of Texas freedom and "Remember Goliad, Remember the Alamo" became the battle cry for the revolution.

H is for Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the U.S. It's named for General Sam Houston, the first president of The Republic of Texas.

I is for independent. Texas is the only state that was ever an independent nation. The Republic of Texas existed from 1836 until statehood in 1845. And ... Texans are notoriously independent. As you know, everything is bigger and better in Texas.

J is for President Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States who is remembered for his Great Society policies including the passing of Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act. It's also for Lady Bird Johnson who led the effort to beautify America. She is responsible for the re-seeding of wildflowers across the State of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas bears her name.

K is for the King Ranch, located in South Texas and one of the largest ranches in the world. It's larger than the state of Rhode Island. And it's also for Kinky Friedman, musician, political satirist and gubernatorial candidate. He's definitely a Texas original.
L is for the Lone Star flag. It's blue for loyalty, white for purity, and red for bravery. The Lone Star stands for our unity ... one God, one state, one country.

M is for the Marfa lights, mysterious ghost lights that are visible year round. Native American's knew about Marfa Mystery Lights long before the first recorded sighting in 1883.

N is for Willie Nelson, a Texas original and living legend as famous for his run ins with the law as for his epic country music career. It's also for Nacadoches, the oldest town in Texas. It's so picturesque you might think you're in the Old South.

O is for oil, black gold, Texas tea. In 1901, the Spindletop gusher ushered in the 20th century and took Texas from an agrarian economy into the petroleum and industrial age.

P is for Palo Duro Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Texas and home to the production, Texas, billed as the most spectacular outdoor musical drama in the world, complete with horseback riders and fireworks.

Q is for Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanches, who never lost a battle to the white man. He was the son of a Comanche chief and Cynthia Ann Parker, a white captive.

R is for ranching which was born in the wide-open spaces of Texas. Texas boasts the Cowboy Capital of the World at Bandera. R is also for Rio Grande, the fifth longest river in North America which forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

S is for San Jacinto where General Sam Houston's army defeated Santa Anna. Now the site of the world's tallest war memorial, 15 feet taller than the Washington Momument.

T is for Tex-Mex, the regional cuisine which combines the best of Mexican and American cooking. Tex-Mex is noted for its usage of sour cream, cheese, meat, heavy use of Comino (cumin), jalapeƱo and even olives.

U is for universities ... Texas is home to some of the best. Texas A & M at College Station, the University of Texas, Texas Tech, SMU, Baylor, and Rice to mention just a few of the big ones. And Texas is home to one of the biggest and best sports rivalries anywhere between the Fighting Texas Aggies and the Texas Longhorns.

V is for Virgen de San Juan del Valle Shrine in San Juan, Texas (near McAllen) which is visited daily by hundreds of pilgrims seeking miracles, healing, and indulgences through the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Shrine was rebuilt after a plane was deliberately crashed into the original shrine in 1970. Miraculously, the image of the Virgen was unharmed and all 130 persons inside the church made it out alive.

W is for wildflowers which are just bursting into their annual springtime bloom along the highways and byways in Texas. It's also for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, the king of western swing.

X is for the XIT Ranch in the panhandle of Texas. It was once the largest ranch in the world "under fence." The land for the ranch, some three million acres, was payment from the State of Texas for the granite used to build our state capitol building. It's also for  X Marks the Spot a Texas Monthly article detailing stories of buried and lost treasure in Texas, everything from pirate ships to bank robbers' booty.

Y is for the Yellow Rose of Texas. Legend has it that a beautiful mulatto slave named Emily Morgan was entertaining Santa Anna when the Texians launched a surprise attack on a napping Mexican army at San Jacinto. She was the inspiration for the well-known song. And, although the Yellow Rose of Texas isn't actually a rose, Tyler, Texas is the site of one of the largest municipal rose gardens in the world.

Z is if for Antonio Zapata, military leader and wealthy ranchero, who was convicted of treason and executed because of his armed resistance to Santa Anna and loyalty to the Republic of Texas. And it's for ZZ Top sometimes referred to as "That Little Ol' Band from Texas." The rock legends, who have played together as a unit since 1970, are best known for their bearded, haggard look and reclusive mystique and for such hits as "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Gimme All Your Lovin'."

I love being a Texan!