The Rambling Boy: Stories About Texas is a weekly look at regional history, hosted by Lonn Taylor of Fort Davis. The show is broadcast Monday evenings after the 7 PM newscast.
Rambling Boy Previous Episodes
What is Christmas without a Christmas tree? The U.S. did not celebrate with trees for the first 250 years of it’s history. On this episode of the Rambling Boy, Lonn talks about the history of Christmas trees in North America. He says that the first National Christmas Tree was the result of a lobbying effort by a special interest group. The Society for Electrical Development was trying to popularize the use of electric Christmas tree lights and their lobbyist, Frederick Feiker, persuaded President Calvin Coolidge that a National Christmas Tree, lit by 2,500 red, white, and green electric bulbs, would be a good idea. At dusk on Christmas Eve, 1923, President Coolidge pressed a button that lit the tree. A crowd of 9,000 people sang Christmas carols to the music of the Marine Band until midnight.
On this episode of the Rambling Boy, Lonn talks about the history of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It all started nearly 500 years ago, on December 9, 1531, when the Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian named Juan Diego on a hill called Tepeyac. The Virgin spoke to Juan Diego in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, telling him that she was the mother of God and asking that a church be built on the hill in her honor. But, as Lonn notes, the Virgin of Guadalupe has visited Marfa too. And people still visit a local shrine.
Finland is a small country. It covers 130,666 square miles, about half the size of Texas, and its population of 5.5 million people is about a fifth of that of Texas. On this episode of Rambling Boy, Lonn celebrates the centennial of Finnish independence from Russia, which was declared in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution on December 6, 1917.
Lonn has a personal tie to the country. His wife’s mother’s uncle, Karl Wilhelm Kankkonen, immigrated to America in 1879 from the coastal town of Kokkola, Finland to Astoria, Oregon. Lonn and his wife will fly the Finnish flag all weekend long.
On this episode of The Rambling Boy, Lonn Taylor hypothesizes about why Americans, and especially Southerners, are so fascinated by all things Scottish, including kilts, tartans, and bagpipes. Lonn references an article which appeared in Harper’s entitled “How Walter Scott Started the American Civil War” by Scott Horton. Horton argues convincingly that the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), is responsible for the popularity of all things Scottish in the American South. Scott invented the historical novel and during his lifetime published 21 novels and 12 books of poetry. Most of the novels were set in Scotland and most dealt with chivalry, knights in armor, feudal times, or Scottish patriotism. Scott is also credited with reviving the wearing of the kilt, which had been banned after the Jacobite rising of 1745.
As children, we were taught that the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But some historians theorize that the first Thanksgiving meal may have happened elsewhere…including the Lone Star state. On the day after Turkey Day, Lonn fills us in on some of the other “first Thanksgivings.”
One such story, comes from Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá’s Historia de la Nueva México. Villagrá’s account of the Mass of Thanksgiving takes place on April 30, 1598, when the colonizer of New Mexico, Juan de Oñate, and his five hundred colonists held a meal on the north bank of the Rio Grande. Villagrá, who was an eyewitness, described how the Te Deum was sung, fanfares sounded on trumpets, muskets fired, and a formal act of possession read, followed by a feast on fish, ducks, geese, and cranes.