Thursday, January 22, 2015

Doing It Up Right

Yesterday we discussed historical aspects of the State of the Union address. Lost in all the hoopla over obama's lie-fest was that on Monday Texas inaugurated Greg Abbott as our new governor, replacing Rick "Good Hair" Perry.

The Abbott inauguration celebration was a reminder that Texas does everything bigger and better than other states.
When Greg Abbott (became) the Lone Star State’s first new chief executive in more than a dozen years, the festivities will be as monumental as the occasion — 4 tons of brisket will await hungry picnickers, six live acts are slated to perform at various events and more than 10,000 are expected to attend the huge celebratory ball at the Convention Center. Abbott’s team has raised more than $4 million to pay for the events, a record-breaking amount for modern times.
Impressive as that sounds, it's chicken feed compared to Pappy O'Daniels party back in 1939.
Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel changed the way Texans would look at inaugural celebrations. Before him, the events were largely stately affairs, marked by public oaths and stuffy balls attended only by politically connected elite. Pappy — a populist politician who listed bookkeeper, flour salesman and band leader on his resume — turned tradition on its head with his inauguration in 1939.

“A stiff-little top-hatted parade, a solemn swearing-in at the Capitol, a reception in the Executive Mansion and a dressy ball are enough inauguration for most governors. But not O’Daniel,” LIFE Magazine wrote in January 1939, an edition which devoted a five-page spread to the inaugural. “He put on the biggest show in Texas history.”

More than 60,000 people turned out that day, packing the stadium stands to watch, chowing down on nearly 10 tons of meat at the state Capitol before dancing late into the night in the streets of this city’s downtown.

It was called “the biggest show in Texas history.”
The biggest inaugural extravaganza of all occurred in 1939, at the tail end of the Depression, when W. Lee "Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy" O’Daniel took the oath of office at the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium. Nearly 60,000 Texans witnessed the Fort Worth flour salesman and popular radio personality take the oath.
News accounts remarked that 19,000 pounds of meat (including buffalo the governor claimed to have shot himself) were cooked in massive pits dug into the mansion grounds. O’Daniel, who built his stardom as a radio personality and band leader, also made sure a free breakfast was available.

O’Daniel considered the Capitol steps too small a venue for his oath taking. So he moved it to UT’s stadium, where supporters sang “Beautiful Texas,” an ode to his adopted state that the new governor had himself written. He then hosted a massive “full-dress historical pageant” of a parade up Congress Avenue that featured 37 bands.

If this wasn’t celebration enough, that night the governor halted traffic along six blocks around the Capitol so thousands could dance in the streets. The entertainment was of course provided by O’Daniel’s own “hillbilly band,” the Light Crust Doughboys.
If the  Light Crust Doughboys sound familiar, they should. That's the band that launched Bob Wills - the King of Western Swing - to stardom. Where else but Texas can you find a governor whose greatest claim to fame is as the leader of a band that popularized honky-tonk music?

Oh, and need I mention that Abbott's inauguration day was drop-dead gorgeous? Blue bird skies and temps near 80.

Today, however, is a different matter...


Bag Blog said...

It's funny how celebrations in the 1930's were often crazy big.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Don't mess with Texas.

CenTexTim said...

BB - I think it might have something to do with the Depression - either celebrating in spite of it, or because it was ending.

WSF - Amen, brother!

Old NFO said...

Tim- I think you're right on the last one...

CenTexTim said...

No doubt... :-)