Fall in Texas, Surfing Steve and Chief Caddo

It’s starting to look and feel like fall in North Central Texas. I took this photo on a footbridge over Cottonwood Creek in Allen on my morning walk today. The colors are hardly the stuff of New England but the view isn’t bad for this part of the country.

I’ve always joked to my friends who have seasons that Fall is the two weeks between summer and winter in Texas. I am not that far off. But some great Fall colors are to be found in Texas, especially down east from where I hail. I say down east. It’s a variation on the theme of what I tell folks in these parts about my origins and my schooling. When people ask where I went to college, I tell them “back east.” “Oh did you go to an Ivy League school?” they ask. “No,” I reply. “I went to Surfing Steve U.”

Surfing Steve is what some call the statue of the “daddy” of Texas — otherwise known as Stephen F. Austin — on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus which is back east in Nacogdoches.

Just in case you are interested, legend has it that the name of Nacogdoches came from some kind of strange Caddo tribal ritual in which a chief set his sons off in opposite directions from the Sabine River on a day’s walk. One son, named Nacogdoches, walked west and the other, Natchitoches, went east.

Where Nacogdoches stopped is now Nacogdoches and Natchitoches landed where the city of Natchitoches, La., now sits. Natchitoches is home to Northwestern State University, which is not surprisingly the rival of SFA.

Each year the two football teams play for Chief Caddo who, as Hank Williams once mused about another Native-American icon, “was a wooden Indian standing by the door.” Well, at least Chief Caddo quite often stands by the door because he’s one big wooden Indian.

Politically correct, or not, Chief Caddo stands 7-feet 6-inches and weighs more than 320 pounds. And yes, I know someone who once helped steal Chief Caddo in order to keep the big fellow from being returned to Louisiana.

So in just this short time that you have paused to read this you have learned about:
a. Fall in Texas
b. Who is Surfing Steve
c. Why Nacogdoches is Nacogdoches and Nachitoches is Nachitoches
d. Why Chief Caddo moves rather slowly

Aren’t you glad you stopped by? No? Maybe even a little glad?

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