For many, the moniker “Texan” brings forth images of big hats, leather boots, horses bearing fancy saddles and Spring roundups. Popular American TV, movies and songs have romanticized only a few characteristics of Texan’s ways and means. However, real Texans are even more colorful, diverse and genuinely impressive than the Hollywood model many people consider accurate. 

The authors of Growing Up In The Lone Star State, Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods; Gaylon Finklea Hecker and Marianne Odom are themselves perfect examples of why Texan’s take pride in their state’s fellow inhabitants.

Marianne Odom, Co-Author

This pair of seasoned Texas journalists, have revealed their personal grit and gumption through the ups and downs of their marathon, 30 year project. Withstanding a bevy of fits and starts, Hecker and Odom spent countless hours researching, interviewing subjects, curating and editing the stories resulting in this compendium of childhood memories as told by 47 notable Texans. A Herculean effort which produced a rare and poignant glimpse into the formative years of these handpicked, unique, widely known Texans who, through hard work and often sheer determination, saw them endure many hardships, disappointments, Illnesses, hunger, poverty, economic depressions, loss of loved ones and for some, racism and it’s first cousin, segregation. All the while dreaming 47 big dreams yet to be lived and success in each of their impressive careers waiting to be fulfilled.

Gaylon Finale Hecker, Co-author

Presented first person, in their own words and style, the stories seem to blend into one unified voice as if accompanied by a common soundtrack or synchronized in some special way. As you read, the individual stories meld into a clear description of similar experiences. With family, friends, teachers, employers, church and school all contributing their part, each of the 47 developed the fortitude, perseverance and character required to see them through the hardships presented to them by life. 

The 47 are from all walks of life. Examples are individuals such as Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jimmy Dean, Richard Overton, Dan Rather, Dr. Denton Cooley, Sandy Duncan and Jerry LeVias.  Each had separate paths and destinations. They all had or have the common thread of confidence and self esteem for which Texans are well known.  A certain pride in their upbringing no matter how poor or difficult. An attitude of success in spite of circumstances. 


It’s difficult to describe,

but you know it when you see it!


I could go into more detail regarding the stories included in this tome, however I’d rather not spoil the positive first impressions you will receive upon reading the collection for yourself.

So, get out your biggest hat (or biggest hair), pull on your boots, saddle up your remuda and prepare for a roundup of wonderful childhood memories, anecdotes and tales that will shed light on the real Texan residing in all of us who call the Lone Star State home.

By Steven Dickey Arnold

To order, click link below:

Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods

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