Days 11-17: Leander, Texas, 2856 miles, 13 states
There’s a land I know where the bluebonnets grow that is paradise to me,
From Amarillo skies down to Mexico, from the Pecos to the seaKenneth Threadgill, “Coming back to Texas”
Fifty years ago, I heard Kenneth Threadgill and the Hootenanny Hoots perform “Coming back to Texas” at the Split Rail in South Austin. This was in the “land that gave me birth.”
I went with good friends to share pitchers of beer, enjoy fried onion rings, and listen to great music performed by Threadgill, George McLean, and other notables. I should retract that. The music wasn’t always “great,” especially when folks like me chose to sing along.
“Fraulein” was a favorite and we weren’t awake enough to see that the term might be sexist. We were transported by lines like
Far across deep blue waters, lives an old German’s daughter
By the banks of the old river Rhine.
It was easy to ignore the fact that the actual subject of the song was a German-American living in Houston. If the singer had really meant
By the same stars above you, I swear that I love you
You are my pretty fraulein
he might have put more effort into just making the relationship work, not dreaming about the old river Rhine.
The Lone Star and Pearl longneck beers were cheap, there was no cover charge, no dress code, and no paving in the parking area. Hippies, cowboys, and graduate students mingled with little concern for status or political beliefs.
This was the Old Austin, near its end. Today, the streets around the Capitol and the University are just a tiny eye of calm in the middle of the hurricane of highways, suburban developments, and booming tech industry that characterize the New Austin.
But the real purpose of our stop in Austin was not to reminisce, but to see family, just a few of whom are shown here in a photo from dining out. The family time has been far more precious than even the memories of the Split Rail.