Iconic Texas A&M hangout Dixie Chicken shows off history on new website

The new Dixie Chicken website.
The new Dixie Chicken website: http://www.dixiechicken.com

In Austin, if you ask a dozen Longhorns to name the main hangout for college students to grab a few drinks and maybe meet some friends or someone new, you’re likely to get at least half a dozen different answers.

In College Station, there’s no such confusion. The Dixie Chicken is king of all it surveys in the Northgate district across the street from Texas A&M University. The Chicken was created in 1974 and immediately described as “a relic of yesteryear” in a listing in that year’s College Station visitor’s guide.

In the 40-plus years since, the music played there has switched labels from “progressive country” to “classic country” — but not much else has changed.

Recognizing  the inherent value of its history, the Dixie Chicken has emphasized that in its new website. The site features a “Stories” section that shares tales submitted by loyal customers, enthusiastic customers and customers so dedicated that they might not have finished their studies on time. Or at all.

Bill Morgan (right) smiles in disbelief as son Willie Morgan (center) explains the rules of Domino's game 42. Both Chris Cailey (left), and Willie are current students at Texas A&M and frequent the Dixie Chicken which holds tournaments on Monday and Tuesday for the game 42. John C. Livas/American-Statesman.
Bill Morgan (right) smiles in disbelief as son Willie Morgan (center) explains the rules of 42. a dominoes game. Both Chris Cailey (left), and Willie are current students at Texas A&M and frequent the Dixie Chicken. 2007 photo by John C. Livas/American-Statesman.

Among the story snapshots featured:

  • A class of ’75 Aggie, who admitted to fishing for enough change (35 cents!) in a campus fountain to buy a beer.
  • A surprise wedding in 1993, complete with the wedding march on the stereo system and champagne for everyone who happened to be in the bar.
  • Expert trolling of the Alabama fans checking out the local nightlife before their game in College Station in 2013.

Related: Ten great Aggie things for Texas A&M’s 140th birthday

A look back in photos: The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ visits Austin

Elephants from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus cross Congress Avenue at Fifth Street on their way to the Erwin Center in June 1996. Photo by Larry Kolvoord
Elephants from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus cross Congress Avenue at Fifth Street on their way to the Erwin Center in June 1996. Photo by Larry Kolvoord

This week, Feld Entertainment announced that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will shut down after more than 130 years on the road.

Feld, which has owned the circus since it bought it from the Ringling family in 1967, cited high operating costs and declining ticket sales in announcing the closure.

Austin was one of the more than 100 cities the famed circus visited annually, most recently performing shows at the Erwin Center at the end of summer.

While many see the end of the circus as a victory for animal rights, it is an end of an era as well — an era that many children and adults will miss. Here’s a look back at some photos highlights from the Ringling Bros. circus’ visits to Austin …

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Joe F. Whitlow waits as the Ringling Bros. circus train arrives in Austin in July 1980.

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By 1986, neither the train nor the scenery had changed much. Horses are unloaded from the train in mid-August. Photo by Ralph Barrera.

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Lonna Paska practices from a trapeze hung from a football goalpost near the where the circus is set up in this Nov. 1979 photo. Her parents work with the elephants in the circus. Photo by Ed Malcik.

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If you’re a parent, at some point you’re going to invest some effort and money into something for your child that doesn’t work out. This is Holly Hendrix at the circus in September 1976 with her sleeping daughter Erica. Photo by Ed Malcik.

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Young Amy Chamrad is much more excited about the circus in July 1980, watching from the front row. Photo by Zach Ryall

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Elephants cross Lamar Boulevard along the railroad tracks just south of 5th Street in June 1997. They left their rail cars at the AmTrak depot for a long walk to the Erwin Center. Photo by David Kennedy

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants make their way east on Red River Street to the Erwin Center in June 2006. Photo by Ralph Barrera.

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Elephant handler, Hicham Basllam watches as an elephant waves a Longhorn flag during the Ele-Punt Kickoff Brunch outside the Erwin Center in August 2009.  In an effort to show support for the upcoming Longhorn football season the Asian elephants feasted on their own type of pre-game brunch then one of the elephants kicked a large football to a waiting Bevo mascot. Photo by Deborah Cannon.

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Members of the Texas Cheer Squad have their photo taken with a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey elephant in August 2009. Photo by Deborah Cannon.

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Human cannonballs Tina Miser and her husband Brian Miser get in the cannon at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2010. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Highwire performer Jonathan Lopez performs while carrying Taylor Kimball, 7, of Lakeway, during the pre-show at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2010. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Ringmaster Alex Ramon performs a magic trick for Jenna White, 6, of Leander, during the pre-show at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2010. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Jocelyn Eddie Constant Jr., 2, wears a clown nose at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2015. Photo by Jay Janner.

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Kelly Ann, a 19-year-old Asian elephant, walks away after a news conference at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Erwin Center in August 2015. Photo by Jay Janner.

This day in Texas history: Hard living kills an English noble in a cowboy town

The town of Big Spring as it appeared in 2005, 120 years after the death of one of its most unusual residents. Photo by Joshua Scheide, Odessa American
The town of Big Spring as it appeared in 2005, 120 years after the death of one of its most unusual residents. Photo by Joshua Scheide, Odessa American

If you looked around Big Spring, Texas, in 1885, you probably would expect to see cowboys, strong and serious. Maybe a preacher, sober and stoic. Perhaps a few farmers. A saloon owner. A banker.

What you wouldn’t expect to see was English nobleman Joseph Heneage Finch, seventh Earl of Aylesford, three sheets to the wind, two weeks into his last party.

But there he was. And then he was dead.

Before he died on this day in 1885, Finch had lived a lifetime’s worth. In England, after marrying and having a couple of daughters, Finch entertained the prince of Wales at his estate outside London.

Finch became fast friends with the future Edward VII, accompanying him on a tour of India, before returning home in 1876 to an unfaithful wife, a scandalous divorce and, ultimately, exile from English high society.

After laying low for awhile, he emerged, of all places, in the West Texas town of Big Spring, where he bought a 2,500-acre ranch and populated it with neglected cattle and empty whiskey bottles.

If you’re thinking an English nobleman and West Texans weren’t likely to hit it right off in the late 1800s (or now, for that matter), you are right. But Finch spoke a universal language …

“Though initially unable to gain the acceptance of the local cowboy-cattleman fraternity,” the Handbook of Texas Online says, “the earl won them over in time by his generosity with his liquor, by his being introduced formally at roundup by a prominent cattleman, and by his pleasant personality. He spent his waking hours partying, drinking, and hunting.”

The website texasescapes.com says that Finch, nicknamed “The Judge,” was quick to buy a drink (or ALL the drinks), set up a butcher shop (where else would his personal butcher work?) and bought a hotel as a home.

Finch was only 36 when he died, but his liver was counting the miles — or perhaps the gallons. The doctor that prepared his remains for shipment back to England, according to texasescapes.com, said his liver was as hard as a rock.

116 years ago today, Spindletop changed course of Texas history

The Spindletop oil field quickly became crowded after the Lucas gusher in 1901. Photo from Library of Congress.
The Spindletop oil field quickly became crowded after the Lucas gusher in 1901. Photo from Library of Congress.

The men had spent three months south of Beaumont, drilling on a hill formed by an underground salt dome.

It was the end of 1900 and the Texas oil industry was in its infancy. There were wells in Corsicana and outside Nacogdoches, but the amounts of oil they were bringing in were relatively small (as little as 25 barrels a day) compared to what was found in the East.

Then on Jan. 10, 1901, just as the men had passed a depth of 1,020 feet, everything changed. What would be called the Lucas gusher shot up 150 feet in the air spilled out 100,000 barrels of oil a day — more, according to history.com, than the rest of America’s oil wells combined.

The Texas oil boom was born, re-setting the course of the Lone Star state and the world.

The Spindletop oil field. Photo from the Library of Congress.
The Spindletop oil field. Photo from the Library of Congress.

Here are three quick facts about Spindletop …

  1. The Texas oil fields gave birth to companies such as Gulf Oil (later Chevron), Texaco and Humble Oil (later Exxon). These companies helped pry the oil business from the monopoly held by John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Co.
  2. The practice of using mud to pump out what was displaced by the drilling was invented at Spindletop — necessitated by the fine sand they were drilling through. The practice is still in use today.
  3. The population of Beaumont jumped from 10,000 to 50,000 in just a few months after the oil strike and Spindletop become the epicenter of wild speculation. The Texas State Historical Association tells of “one man who had been trying to sell his tract there for $150 for three years sold his land for $20,000; the buyer promptly sold to another investor within fifteen minutes for $50,000.”

The inspiration behind a ‘Lonesome’ black cowboy died in Austin 88 years ago today

When former slave Bose Ikard died of the flu at Austin’s Seton Infirmary on this date in 1929, his body was shipped back to his home in Weatherford for burial.

Bose Ikard
Bose Ikard

A brief newspaper obituary just identified him as “one of the old-time negroes of Weatherford” and said his age was suspected to be between 85 and 90 years.

And that’s all anyone would have ever heard of Bose Ikard … except for one thing: He was an old-time friend of iconic Texas cattle rancher Charles Goodnight. And, as described in the book “Black Cowboys of Texas,” when Goodnight found out about his old friend’s death, he decided Ikard needed a proper monument.

By June of 1929, the Weatherford newspaper had published a new obituary for their now-famous departed citizen. In it, the printed the words Goodnight had inscribed into granite marker for Ikard:

“Bose Ikard served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches, splendid behavior.”

Sounds familiar, right?

In Larry McMurtry’s book “Lonesome Dove,” here are the words Captain Woodrow Call etches into the grave marker for black cowboy Josh Deets:

Josh Deets
Served with me 30 years, Fought in 21 Engagements with the Comanche and Kiowa. Cheerful in all weathers. Never shirked a task. Splendid behavior.

Yes, just as Charles Goodnight and his partner Oliver Loving were used as models for Call and Augustus McCrae in McMurtry’s Western masterpiece, Ikard was an inspiration for trusted employee Deets.

Though Ikard spent a fraction of the time with Goodnight that his fictional counterpart spent with his employer, it didn’t take long for Goodnight to consider Ikard a trustworthy friend and particularly able worker. Like Deets at the beginning of the novel, Ikard was trusted to carry large sums of cash for Goodnight while on the cattle trail.

A free man after the Civil War ended, Ikard first rode for Loving, then Goodnight from 1866 through 1869. Afterward he became a farmer in Parker County, living near Weatherford for the next 50 years.

His friend Goodnight never forgot him, visiting occasionally, bringing gifts of money.

A look back at Lady Bird Johnson on her 104th birthday

Claudia Alta Taylor was born on Dec. 22, 1912, and her nursemaid quickly declared her as “pretty as a ladybird” — giving her a nickname for life. Born in Karnack, the future Mrs. Johnson would become “an author, a businesswoman, a champion of education and conservation efforts,” according to her American-Statesman obituary.

That obituary, written by Janet Wilson, begins:

Her marriage to a larger-than-life Texan thrust a shy, small-town girl named Lady Bird Johnson into the national spotlight. A love affair with the great outdoors kept her there.

And though nationally, she was best known as the wife of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president, Mrs. Johnson was very much a figure in her own right. She mixed Southern graciousness with a quiet, cast-iron fortitude that not only won admirers but allowed her to steer a large business enterprise and help forge a national environmental movement.

Here’s a look back in photos at a little of her remarkable life:

Lyndon B. Johnson

This 1934 photos shows newlyweds Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson at the Floating Gardens in Xochimilco, Mexico. Mrs. Johnson was a graduate of the University of Texas and had studied art and journalism, thinking she would be become a reporter. Photo from the LBJ Library

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Lady Bird Johnson holds a movie camera during her husband’s U.S. Senate campaign in Central Texas on June 19, 1941. Photo from the LBJ Library.

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U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, poses with his wife, Lady Bird, and waves farewell before flying to their home in Texas from Washington’s airport in this Aug. 25, 1955 file photo.  Associated Press photo.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office as the 36th President of the United States in Washington DC as Lady Bird Johnson holds the Bible and Chief Justice Earl Warren administers the oath. Photo from the LBJ Library.

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Lady Bird Johnson at Big Bend National Park on April 2, 1966. Photo by Robert Knudsen/ LBJ Library.

 

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Lady Bird Johnson, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and dog Yuki sit near the Pedernales River at the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall in September 1967. LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto.

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Lady Bird Johnson and President Lyndon B. Johnson are shown during the signing ceremony for the Interior Department Appropriation Bill at the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC,  July 26, 1968. Associated Press photo by Yoichi Okamoto.

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Lady Bird Johnson in a 1987 photo from the LBJ Library. Photo by Frank Wolfe.

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Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson sits in a field of wild flowers in the Texas Hill Country on May 10, 1990. Photo by Frank Wolfe.

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Lady Bird Johnson, accompanied by her daughters, Lynda Johnson Robb, left, and Luci Baines Johnson, right, and her Secret Service detail, is wheeled to a reception following a memorial service for retired U.S. Rep. J.J. “Jake” Pickle in this  Wednesday, June 22, 2005 file photo, in Austin, Texas. American-Statesman photo by Ralph Barrera.

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Lady Bird Johnson died on July 11, 2007. Among the many dignitaries to attend her memorial service were, left to right, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, former President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Laura Bush, former President Bill Clinton, and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

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The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is among the ways Mrs. Johnson is remembered today in Austin.

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Also honoring Lady Bird Johnson is the former Town Lake, which was renamed Lady Bird Lake shortly after her death in 2007. American-Statesman photo by Ralph Barrera.

 

 

 

 

The most popular TV show set in Texas is, well, a surprise

Justice for “Dallas.” Vengeance for “Friday Night Lights.” Blood for “King of the Hill.” According to TV Guide, the most popular show set in the great state of Texas isn’t any of these small-screen institutions. And if you can’t trust TV Guide about what people are watching, who can you trust in this post-fact world?

Linda Gray and Larry Hagman portrayed Sue Ellen and J.R. Ewing on the hit television show  Dallas.  Credit: CBS
Linda Gray and Larry Hagman portrayed Sue Ellen and J.R. Ewing on the hit television show Dallas. Credit: CBS

According to the TV programming experts, the most popular show set in Texas is “Game of Silence,” an NBC drama set in Dalton that was cancelled this year after one season. The pick is part of a countdown for each of the 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.).

READ: You can now download your favorite Netflix shows to watch offline

So, that begs the question: What does TV Guide mean by “most popular”? The programming experts say that they analyzed data compiled from TVGuide.com users who use their “Watchlist” feature. There’s probably more than a little recency bias at play, considering that the big three of Lone Star TV shows listed above have been off the air for some time.

Also a surprise: The most popular show set in New York is “Blindspot.” Sorry, Rachel, Ross, Jerry and Elaine.

READ: Would Matthew McConaughey reprise his role on ‘True Detective?’ He says ‘yeah’

Which celebrity made a surprise appearance at Lupe Fiasco’s Austin performance?

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, actor Bill Murray attends an NCAA college basketball game between Xavier and Villanova, in Cincinnati. Murray was the first and last guest on David Letterman’s late-night show, and Letterman will return the favor by making a rare public appearance when Murray is presented with the nation’s top prize for humor. On Tuesday, Se[t. 14, 2016, The Kennedy Center announced the lineup of performers for next month’s celebration of Murray, who’ll receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, actor Bill Murray attends an NCAA college basketball game between Xavier and Villanova, in Cincinnati. Murray was the first and last guest on David Letterman’s late-night show, and Letterman will return the favor by making a rare public appearance when Murray is presented with the nation’s top prize for humor. On Tuesday, Se[t. 14, 2016, The Kennedy Center announced the lineup of performers for next month’s celebration of Murray, who’ll receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
How do you get Lupe Fiasco to perform an encore? According to Lupe Fiasco, be Bill Murray and “force it.”

Bill Murray might be among the last people you’d expect to see at a Lupe Fiasco show, but if you made it out to his performance at the Belmont last night, that’s exactly who you saw (khakis and all).

Several concert-goers tweeted out pictures of the actor dancing along to what was apparently a show good enough to warrant a demand for an encore. Lupe Fiasco himself took to Twitter to excitedly announce that Murray made an appearance.

https://twitter.com/cmcgreggor54/status/804199159624597504

https://twitter.com/AlecAndSoul/status/804192861113765888

Check out our A-List pictures from the show here.

The Internet is reacting to the election with Joe Biden memes

As the Internet is wont to do, it isn’t too long until a big cultural event is turned into a meme.

As for this year’s election results, one Titter user has turned his frustration about Donald Trump’s win into an opportunity to communicate his frustration through Joe Biden memes.

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The memes, which you may have seen pop up on your Facebook and Twitter timelines this week, involve President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. They often portray Biden plotting some sort of prank for president-elect Donald Trump, while Obama jumps in as the voice of reason and rebukes him.

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As of three days ago, the posts now have their own community on Reddit: r/bidenbro.

Many of them appear to be the work of one man, Josh Billinson, who started tweeting the memes Nov. 10. The first one is an homage to “Step Brothers,” the 2008 Will Ferrell comedy.

https://twitter.com/jbillinson/status/796749305096835072

Since that tweet, Billinson has created several Biden-related memes, an activity that he said was a great honor for him.

https://twitter.com/jbillinson/status/798207806801379329

Biden, who decided to not run for president in 2016 after the 2015 death of his son Beau Biden, has often been the subject of Internet fandom. His hot mic moment where he called the Affordable Care Act “a big f—ing deal” and a recent interview where he said he was “not a big fan” of former congressman Anthony Weiner are just two such moments.

 

Whataburger launches mobile app, promises mobile ordering in 2017

It’s only Nov. 1, but this is probably going to be the best news we’ll hear all month.

This Thursday, July 9, 2015 photo shows a Whataburger restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. The iconic Texas restaurant chain will not allow the open carrying of guns on its properties, taking a stand against a new law legalizing the practice. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
This Thursday, July 9, 2015 photo shows a Whataburger restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.

Whataburger launched a mobile app Tuesday, complete with a rewards program and barcode payment option.

Mobile ordering isn’t available, but Whataburger executives promise that feature will be up and running by late 2017.

For every five visits to the Texas burger chain, you earn one free reward: a medium fry, a cinnamon roll, a small shake, a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit or a taquito with cheese.

Now maybe all those dollars spent getting Whataburger breakfast might be an investment.

Read more: Whataburger engaged in friendly beef with DC Comics over Wonder Woman logo

“Today’s digital world is all about efficiency and easy connectivity, and our mobile app is designed to make life a little more convenient for our customers. It also gives us a great opportunity to engage customers in a new, different way in an effort to provide the best service possible,” senior vice president of restaurants Rob Rodriguez said in a news release. “Most importantly, the Whataburger app allows us to show some love to our loyal fans with our new rewards program, and we think our customers will especially crave the chance to earn free food.”

The app is available for free on Google and Apple devices.