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A spin through Texas to clear the head, now it's time to focus on hoop

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  March 30, 2011 04:28 PM

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HOUSTON --- One thing I've noticed in my travels: everybody thinks their town is dripping with history.

I'd love to know how many municipalities in the United States bill themselves as "Historic So-and-So." It must be in the thousands. And the one I really love is "Historic Downtown."

For example, I was pointed to the "historic" downtown Del Rio, Texas, which is where I spent Tuesday night. If it is truly historic, someone ought to consider sprucing it up a bit. That's all I can say.

Where were we? OK, if the reason for all this is getting from Point A to Point B in the NCAA Tournament, what more appropriate place to have your morning coffee than Brackettville, Texas? Hard to make this stuff up.

Breakfast was in the town of Uvalde, which is about 40 miles east of Del Rio on U.S. 90. Turns out Uvalde is the hometown of colorful one-time vice-president John Nance Garner. There is a John Nance Garner Museum, but not much anyone can do about that at 7 a.m. He is buried here.

History buffs know that he is credited with one of the great lines in American political history. Referring to the aforementioned vice-presidency, he is alleged to have said that the office "isn't worth a bucket of warm spit." Sorry I couldn't stick around to see the museum.

Dined at the Sunrise Restaurant. If you're ever in the neighborhood, do have the ham and cheese omelet. It ranks with the best I've ever had, and I'm a serious afficionado of two things:veal parm and ham and cheese omelets.

Passed through the town of D'Hanis. Would love to know where, or after whom, it got that name. Not much there, except that there are two places boasting of "Steak and Saloon" within a block.

Blew through Sabinal (pop. 1586). Chagrined to know that I missed last weekend's "Wild Hog Festival." But there's always next year.

Now the town of Hondo, Texas, should mean something to any serious baseball history buff, for Hondo was the hometown of the legendary Clint Hartung, who had such a phenomenal spring training for the Giants in 1947 people were already making room for the inevitable plaque in Cooperstown. He was a slugger who also had a 95 mph fastball, or so they said. But he never really made it, his everlasting claim to fame being that he was on third base as a pinch-runner for the injured Don Mueller when Bobby Thomson hit the most famous home run in baseball history.

Barry Field, home of the Hondo Owls, is very impressive. It definitely has that "Friday Night Lights" feel to it. Made me want to come back. I was struck by the large number of trucks and just plain large vehicles in the school parking lot. Yes, I know where I am. People drive trucks. It was the other stuff that amazed me.

Now you know I had to check out the town of Katy, home of Roger You-Know-Who. It's farther from Houston than I thought (25 miles west). The high school is pretty impressive. And, of course, I was referred to the "historic" downtown.

Truth is, not much has happened there. The town was basically settled in 1895. The hurricane of 1900 leveled all but two buildings, forcing them to rebuild from scratch. It wasn't incorporated until 1945. The 1950 population was 849. The 1970 population was 3,800. That's as much information as I was able to glean. If there's a sign claiming Roger as a homeboy, I didn't see it.

No, I didn't ask anybody where Roger lived.

The only other thing of interest for me today were two billboards. One said "YES WE CAN SECEDE! TAKETEXASBACK.COM"

The other said "WE SUE LAWYERS."

I'm going to miss driving out here. We don't get too many opportunities to hit 75 to 80 on cruise control. And, yes, I did hear "Are You Gonna Kiss Me, Or Not?" Had to go all day Tuesday without hearing it once.

Began in Anaheim and ended in Houston. Total mileage: 1,675. That includes a few minor diversions.

My head's clear now. I can turn my attention back to basketball.

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