Texas Culture Explained
The Difference Between East and West Texas
Actually I’m from North Central Texas, but I lived more than a decade in East Texas which is like a separate country within Texas. They say that the Ft. Worth is where the West begins. Well I grew up on the line. Ten miles either way I was in East or West Texas. I never fully appreciated that difference as a child, but on moving to East Texas, I learned that the folks over here are a bit different from the folks where I grew up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love East Texas. My ancestors all came from East Texas and the cultural influence was powerful, but then so was the Western influence. I’ve lived in West Texas and New Mexico, so I’ve experienced the life of the western plains as well as the piney woods of the East. I also spent a year in the Rio Grande valley as a student and in Houston as a teacher. To help travelers or folks who would like to settle in Texas, I’ve taken the liberty of delineating the difference between the Eastern and Western Texas Cultures and comparing them to the more familiar North and South (neither of which resemble East and West Texas, although East Texas does borrow some aspects of the Old South.
- The North has sun-dried toe-mah-toes,
- The South has 'mater samiches
- West Texas has chili peppers and beef.
- East Texas has tomatoes and onions named after small towns (Noonday Onions and Jacksonville Tomatoes).
- The North has coffeehouses,
- The South has Waffle Houses.
- West Texas has Barbecue stands and Steak Houses.
- In East Texas, Catfish Restaurants and Taqueirias.
- The North has dating services,
- The South has family reunions.
- In West Texas, you ride 100 miles to town and go to church to find a woman.
- In East Texas, you cruise Rose Festivals, Cheerleading competitions and Beauty pageants and be sure you have a recent financial statement with you in case the girl’s mama wants to review it.
- The North has switchblade knives,
- The South has Lee Press-on Nails.
- West Texas has Colt 45’s and Bowie Knives.
- East Texas has shotguns and subpoenas.
- The North has double last names,
- The South has double first names.
- West Texans know everybody’s name because there aren’t very many to remember.
- East Texans put their names on buildings.
- The North has Ted Kennedy,
- The South has Newt Gingrich.
- West Texas has George W. Bush,
- East Texas has George H.W. Bush, but liked Reagan better.
- The North has an ambulance,
- The South has an amalance.
- In West Texas, they toss you in the back of a pickup bed till someone makes a run to town.
- In East Texas three hospitals send 5 helicopters and a platoon of lawyers to the accident site.
The Criminal Element
- The North has the Mafia,
- The South has the Klan.
- East Texas has the Good Old Boy Network.
- In West Texas, if they don’t like you they just shoot you themselves.
- The North has Indy car races,
- The South NASCAR.
- East Texas has dirt tracks, drag strips and straight strips of country road.
- In West Texas, you just try to make it back to the ranch house ahead of the dust storm.
- The North has Cream of Wheat,
- The South has grits.
- West Texas has steak and fried potatoes.
- East Texas has the Southwest Breakfast Burrito!
- The North has Basketball
- The South has College Football
- West Texas has a religious version of high school football.
- East Texas has the fight in the parking lot after the football, basketball or baseball game.
- The North has green salads,
- The South has collard greens.
- East Texas has green jalapenos in the breakfast burrito.
- West Texans have hay to cut and bail for the cows.
- The North has lobsters,
- The South has shrimp and crawdads.
- East Texas has catfish.
- West Texas has.......cows – lots of cows.
- The North has the rust belt,
- The South has the Bible Belt.
- West Texas has the rodeo belt buckle.
- East Texas has the Rose Queen sash (or the Black-eyed Pea Queen or the Yam Queen or the Tomato Queen or the Onion Queen)!
- In the North, if you have a flat tire, you call the Triple A on the cell phone and wait for an irritable tow truck driver to come to your rescue.
- In the South, if you run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in a 4-wheel drive pickup truck with a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them, just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.
- In West Texas, the first truck that comes by will stop and tie you to the bumper and drag you to town. You may have to wait an hour or two, but someone will be along after a while.
- In East Texas, three guys will slow down and offer their opinion as to what you did wrong and then recommend a good lawyer to sue the manufacturer of your car.
- In the North you have movie rental stores and sporting goods shops.
- In the South, don't be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store.
- In West Texas, if you can’t get it on the satellite, you just can’t get it and you buy your bait in East Texas where there are actual lakes.
- In East Texas, you can buy both bait and movies from a vending machine at the dock and unless you have satellite, cable, a movie store membership AND one of those postal delivery movie services, you’re underprivileged.
The Second Person Plural
- Northerners call groups of people, “You guys”.
- In the South, remember, "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural, and "all ya'll's" is plural possessive.
- In West Texas it’s “Ya’ll” when they can gather more than two people in any one place at at time.
- In East Texas it’s “you all” – contractions are seen as somehow vulgar!
- New York echo – “Hello”... ”Shut the hell up!”
- Atlanta echo – “Hello”.... "You ain't from around here, are ya?"
- Tyler echo – “Hello”.... “Who gave you permission to shout?”
- Lubbock echo – “Hello”.... “_______________” (nothing for the sound to bounce off)
When Someone Makes a Mistake or Does Something Wrong
- Northerner – “What the *&^%$ is wrong with you.
- Southerner - "Y'all ought not do that"
- East Texan – “My attorney will be in touch.”
- West Texan – “It’s your funeral.”
- Northerners speak too fast, too high pitched and whiney.
- Southerners speak too slow and languidly and run three or four words together to economize on language. “Do you want to?” becomes “Yont to?”- Don't be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can't understand you either.
- East Texans speak with a more nasal accent and borrow heavily from Southern dialect. East Texas speech has common phrases like “sue yore ass” and “I’m gonna own this place when my attorney gets through with you.”
- West Texans talk to their horses more than they talk to humans.
- Northerners have Murder in the first, second and third degree. Pleas are either guilty or not guilty.
- In the South, you have Murder and “Takin’ care of bi’ ness”. You can plead guilty, not guilty or 'He needed killin ".
- In East Texas, you can plead guilty, not guilty or “Related to someone in the ‘Good Old Boy’ network”.
- In West Texas, “If you can’t find ‘em, you can’t prove they’re dead.”
Famous Last Words
- Last words in the North. “Hey, Guido, pass a' the canoli’s eh.”
- Last words in the South. "Hey, y'all, watch this,"
- In East Texas, “Look Mr. Cheney, quail!”
- In West Texas, “Where the hell’d the road go?” (Usually just as a dust storm or blue Norther hit).
- In the North, snow is something you endure
- In the South you shut down schools, churches and businesses for the slightest snow flurry and dig out inner tubes to use in sliding down icy streets (usually while shouting, “Hey, ya’ll watch this!”
- In East Texas, if there is the slightest chance of snow, you are required to run down to the local grocery store where by now the parking lot is jammed with pickups and there isn’t any more milk or bread. We aren’t sure why, but it’s some kind of rule even if you don’t really need anything. You just have to go.
- In West Texas, by the time you see the first sign of a blue Norther, it’s already too late to get to town for supplies, you’ll just have to make do with what you’ve got.
- In the North if you see a person driving down the middle of the road he’s probably doing 80 to 100 miles an hour and is either drunk or being pursued by a cop.
- In the south, when you come up on a person driving down the middle of the road, he’s probably doing 15 or 20 miles an hour and is 85 years old. Remember that most folks learn to drive on a John Deere, and that this is the proper speed and position for that vehicle.
- In East Texas a person driving in the middle of the road is in a Ford F-series or Dodge Ram crew cab and he’s decided the red light isn’t worth waiting for so he went around.
- In West Texas if you do meet someone on the road you probably know them so you stop and sit in the middle of the road and and talk for a half hour or so. If anyone comes along, they just pull around in the grader ditch and wave. Since they probably know you, they sometimes stop to see what you are talking about and join in.
- In the North people either own Saturday night specials or they are horrified at the mere sight of a gun.
- In the South your daddy gives you a 12 gauge shotgun when you turn 10. Their mamas teach ‘em how to aim.
- In East Texas, gun shows are what you do on Saturday when there’s no church.
- In West Texas deer rifles are popular and tend to be fitted with scopes. The terrain is flat, so they can see visitors coming a long way off. With the scope, it gives them plenty of time to decide whether or not they want you to come visit or not.
- In the North you lay sod in your yard to have a nice lawn and you don’t let the dog pee on it to keep it from killing the grass and making bare spots.
- In the South, you pour pea gravel on any spot where you want grass to grow, call it a driveway and park a derelict pickup or two on it. For some reason this practice never fails to grow, lush green grass.
- In East Texas you buy spray-on grass and threaten to sue your neighbor if he drives over it with his truck.
- In West Texas, it’s considered a courtesy to send your dog over to pee on the neighbor’s dried up lawn.
- In the North newcomers are ignored.
- In the South newcomers are welcomed if they are from somewhere in the South and put on the neighborhood watch list if they are from “up North” or California.
- In East Texas, you are welcomed to the community, but won’t be invited to help plan the Rose, Onion, Black-eyed Pea, Tomato or Yam Festival till you’ve made your first million or won it in a lawsuit.
- In West Texas they’re so glad to see anybody that’s a live human being, it don’t matter where you’re from.
- To be accepted in Northern Society, you have to learn to talk very fast and not take any crap.
- To be accepted in the South you have to live there for at least 3 generations. Just because your kids were born on Southern soil, don’t count on them being accepted as natives. “If the cat had kittens in the oven, we wouldn't call ‘em biscuits,” as the saying goes.
- To be accepted in East Texas, you have to get your name on a building.
- To be accepted in West Texas, you have to get there.
So what’s the difference between North and South Texas? Don’t even get me started! As for central Texas, we keep most of our Democrats and other assorted liberals there so we can keep an eye on 'em (There are some stashed away in parts of Houston as well - you know how those libs love big cities and government towns). But that's a whole different blog right there.
Just one man’s opinion…..
Questions & Answers
East Texas is far more southern in culture than you indicated. We all say y'all. Where did you live in East Texas?
I lived in Tyler, Texas and Flint. A more deeply southern culture you will not find in Texas. They have an honest to goodness cotillion with all the Rose Queen candidates dressed up in poofy dresses with thoroughly intimidated sons of wealthy Tylerites on their arms. And they say "you all" to differentiate themselves from the hoi poloi who, as you say, tend to use you all. I was a charity fundraiser so I spent rather a lot of time in the rarefied air of the Tyler upper class. It is a deeply southern plantation owner culture even though they don't own plantations anymore - just mansions and have their names on public buildings and hospitals.Helpful 2