Until last year, in all my travels, I had never visited south Texas or most of Texas except for an airplane transfer at Dallas and a memorable occasion on a troop train from Neosho, Mo. when we briefly stopped in Texarkana, Texas, on our way to New Orleans. A conductor wearing a cowboy hat ordered some of our guys out of the Pullman berths where they were sleeping because the Army hadn’t paid for them. Our soldiers quickly went back into the berths as soon as we crossed the Texas border. No one bothered them again.
Last year I came here for about a week during Christmas with my aide Minerva (Minnie) Rodridguez. It was a nice visit except for the fact that the temperature averaged about 41 degrees. We went from here to West Palm Beach, Fla., where it was also 41 degrees.When we came home to North Salem it was 1 degree Farenheit. It was a cold winter. Believe it or not, it sometimes gets really cold in the south.
The land in south Texas is unusually flat. I haven’t seen any kind of hill or natural elevations since we arrived here. There are some artificial hills created by the piling up of dirt. The land seems ideal for growing large crops of fruits and vegetables: grapefruits, oranges, tomatoes, melons etc. But I haven’t seen many crops growing since we arrived in late December. Maybe it is the wrong season.
We are in an area of south Texas north of the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande is mainly the southern border of the United States and, of course, the southern border of Texas, our largest state. The Texans also call the Rio Grande, El Rio Bravo del Norte. The brave river of the north. There’s a John Wayne movie called Rio Bravo but I don’t remember the story.
One fact about the Rio Grande I love to point out is where the water goes after it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Believe it or not it eventually goes to Russia. To Russia? How does it do that, you may ask. I’ll start by explaining I was told in West Palm Beach, Fla., where we took winter vacations for many years that the Gulf Stream was about 30 miles off the Atlantic coast of Florida.
The Gulf Stream flows steadily north along our Atlantic coast and for some reason it turns somewhere near New England and flows east across the entire Atlantic Ocean almost 4,000 miles to Lands End in Cornwall, England. There it flows north again but splits in two with one branch flowing off the west coast of Ireland and the other branch flowing north through the Irish Sea. We visited Ireland in the fall and it was delightfully warm.
The Gulf Stream water must be incredibly warm because I remember when we crossed the Gulf Stream in January, 1946, on our final Army voyage home. Some of our guys took their shirts off. The Scottish grandfather of my friend Bill McDonald is able to grow a palm tree on property he owns near the Irish Sea.