History at the State Fair of Texas

October 1, 2006

Mr. Fletcher and the Fletcher Corny Dog site

Care for a corny dog? Fletcher’s State Fair Corny Dogs are the original cornmeal-wrapped hotdog on a stick — invented in 1942 for sale at the State Fair of Texas, by Carl and Neil Fletcher, and still a mainstay. This year you may also purchase deep fried Snickers bars, and deep fried Coca Cola from other vendors. (Photo from BigTex.com)

This is the third day of the 24-day run of the State Fair of Texas. State fairs are loaded with history, generally — but it’s not easy to extract it from some of the fairs. Looking over the program for the Texas Fair, it’s difficult to find something that a Texas history teacher might recommend as a site students ought to see. Oh, the life-size sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, in butter, is a great achievement as temporary art in dairy products goes, but it’s not something that particularly edifies students on the stuff they need to know for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

An alert kid might learn something about ranching in Texas, which is part of the TEKS. The State Fair features the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor. “The Hall recognizes individuals distinguished by their significant contributions to agriculture and ranching in Texas,” the website says. Since 1992 inductions have been made to honor people significant in agriculture and ranching. 44 people have been inducted, including those who assembled some of the great, legendary ranches in the state.

There are several museums on the fairgrounds — the African-American Museum, a railroad museum, the Dallas Museum of Natural History and the Dallas Science Museum, the Dallas Aquarium, the Texas Women’s Museum, and a spectacular water garden.

Are there other sites Texas history students ought to see? Please note your favorites in comments. Or tell about your own state fair, please.

Anti-First Amendment propaganda infects MSM

October 1, 2006

Conservatives complain constantly that “mainstream media” (or “MSM” as it is usually abbreviated in right-wing blogs, derisively) are biased to the left. That’s much contrary to my experience, as a reporter, as a PR flack, and as a consumer of news.

I do expect a striving for balance, however. So I was surprised to find, in an on-line test of American history and government at the site of Newsweek Magazine, that conservative misinformation about religious freedom had crept into “MSM.” A poster, Bernarda, pointed to the poll in comments to an earlier post.

When I saw this question, I rather expected Newsweek might have made the turn to the right — but I answered as the law is anyway. As you can see from what I copied off the answer screen, below, Newsweek’s poll said the legal answer is wrong:


2. The idea that in America there should be a “wall of separation” between church and state appears in:


The Constitution is not correct.
Thomas Jefferson’s letters
—Percentage of seniors who scored correctly: 27.2 percent

The idea that there should be a wall of separation between church and state was rather carefully and ambitiously developed in law by George Mason, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in Virginia, starting in 1776 with the Virginia Bill of Rights, and perhaps climaxing in 1786 when Madison engineered the passage of Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom (one of the three things Jefferson thought noteworthy for his tombstone, above even his two-terms as president), and continuing through the adoption of the Bill of Rights. Read the rest of this entry »

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