The great state of Texas boasts many proud but curious traditions and trivia and, this third volume of my "Amazing America" series enumerates fascinating facts, entertaining tales, bizarre happenings, and historical oddities that give the Lone Star State its intriguing and distinctive character. Native Texans, history enthusiasts, curious travelers, and armchair aficionados of
Texas lore will be delighted by the unusual aspects and sometimes-obscure details celebrated
in these pages. Specific locations and visitor information make this a useful guide to further
explore the history, folklore, and folkways of this vast and diverse state, and I've even thrown in
some favorite recipes from some of my favorite Texans.
Governor Rick Perry liked this book so much, he wrote the back-cover copy. PUBLISHERS PLEASE NOTE: The third in my "Lacey's Amazing America" series, AMAZING TEXAS was originally published in 2008. It was well-reviewed in such publications as Southern Living and Texas Tripper, but in 2011 my financially-beleagured publisher was obliged to revert ALL rights back to me. All THREE "Amazing" books are for sale again--plus I'm working on AMAZING ALABAMA. Please contact me ASAP indicating your interest.
The following is an interview with travel journalist Paris Permenter of the Texas Tripper site.
She's kindly given me permission to reprint it here:
What can you tell us about the writing of Amazing Texas? What inspired you to add Texas to your Amazing America series?
I love the series I began some years ago, and Texas just seemed a natural for the next in the series. To be more specific, though, Texas as a state has a culture all its own. Visitors from all over the globe are touched by their visit to Texas, and seem to take a bit of the Lone Star State with them when they leave. There was so much to write about Texas--so many fascinating stories and historical tales, my problem was when to STOP! Finally, half my growing-up years were in Texas--I attended Belle Aire Elementary School in San Antonio--so I developed a love for Texas early on.
There are a lot of bizarre things in Texas--but what one especially stands out in your mind as a really unique and bizarre sight?
The lights in Marfa would be one, but my early years were colored with beautiful and fascinating adventures, like fishing in Galveston and camping in the Big Bend area. I grew up hearing stories of Judge Roy Bean and some of our family, Cynthia Ann Parker and Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie-and-Clyde), so these were starting places for me.
Also, I'd like to stress here that my "Amazing America" series isn't about merely the bizarre--you'll find no story of a two-headed cow. My books are what I like to refer to as "Tourable History." You can read about where something interesting happened, then go visit the site, since I also tell you what's there now.
I also like to capture the fascination of a culture--as a state, Texas has a charm like no other.
As you researched Amazing Texas, what was your biggest challenge?
Texas has such a unique history--that, and its SIZE! I was daunted by both! (But, since I WAS half-raised in the Lone-Star State, like every other person from Texas I took up the challenge like any proper Texan).
In talking to Texans and travelers very familiar with Texas, what facts that you uncovered in the writing of this book seemed especially surprising to them?
My editor was surprised by quite a few facts and tales as she read the book. Raised in Texas herself, and a Texas history buff, I think she was surprised to learn quite a few things she didn't know before.
A lot of Texans I spoke with were surprised to learn about stories of vast amounts of buried treasure in Texas. Others were surprised by the famous football player who donated an organ to another player so he could live a fuller life.
The stories that touched me personally were of disasters and how Texans coped with them. The Texas City explosion made world headlines, and decades later, the people of Houston helped reunite Hurricane Katrina refugees with their pets. The people of Texas have hearts as big as their state.
Amazing Texas sounds like a great armchair travel book for readers who might be watching the gas budget these days. What other readers will especially enjoy this guide?
Anyone who loves trivia would enjoy it, as I have created some little games within chapters, and have thrown in some Q&A for those who love quizzes. Chapters include those on the paranormal, the Civil War, prehistory, flora and fauna (as well as natural phenomenon), sports, etc. One of my favorite chapters, though, is on culture--in here, I have recipes indigenous to Texas, such as some great recipes for cooking cactus. My godmother gave me a few authentic recipes, and a friend from San Antonio gave me a great recipe for tamales. Southern Living hailed a previous Amazing America release as a gem. I think Amazing Texas will be a diamond.
First released in Fall of 2003, this book was re-released by another publisher in 2008 as part of my "Amazing America" series. Released in Spring of 2008, this is the second in the series. Written in the same style as AMAZING TENNESSEE, this book is full of anecdotes, short stories, Q&A, trivia games, and even recipes that are a reflection of the Tar Heel State. PUBLISHERS PLEASE NOTE: THIS SERIES IS FOR SALE. All of the "Amazing" books (3 plus one in the works--AMAZING ALABAMA--are available as a package deal, as my financially-beleagured pubilsher has reverted all rights back to me. Please CONTACT ME with your interest.
The people of North Carolina are so warm and welcoming. If you've never visited the state, it's so wonderful you may as well go ahead and pack up your house, because you'll either stay longer than you planned, or want to move there.
This book has a variety of great stories, from ghosts to golf, sports to war, politics to drama, and a chapter on lighthouse tales--my personal favorite. Like AMAZING TN, the book is indexed, full of photos, and with a section in the back for Internet users entitled "Virtual North Carolina."
This book has sold more than 13,000 copies since its initial release in 2003.
Here is a partial description of some chapters:
Chapter 1. THE TRULY BIZARRE, THE CURIOUS AND THE NOTORIOUS
The Unsolved Murder of Beautiful Nell Cropsey * “Just Hanging Around” in the Caswell County Jail * The Devil’s Tramping Ground * The Mysterious Origins of Judaculla Rock* Now You Can Feel Secure from Alien Abduction: the Alien Abduction Detector * Bath and the Mysterious Hoof-Prints * Pardoning the Legend: Tom Dooley * The Ghost-Ship of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” * The Original Siamese Twins—in Mt. Airy! * Before Viagra, There Was “Goat-Gland Binkley” * One Hair-Raising Venture * The Haunting of the Double-Wides in Chapel Hill * Bald-Headed Men of America Society in Morehead City * Dolly Death-Chairs in Charlotte * The Haunting of the Executive Mansion * The Story of Blackbeard the Pirate *
CHAPTER 2. POLITICAL, MILITARY, AND TRANSPORTATION TALES
Abraham Lincoln: A Tar Heel by Birth! * The Vice-President Who Never Was! * Before They Even Had Chads to Count! * The Story of the Revolution in Greensboro * Fifty-one (or Two?) for Tea: The Story of the Edenton Tea Party * Hail to the (Vertically-Challenged) Chief! * Doctor Richard J. Gatling and His “Life-Saving” Gun * America’s Smallest Town * When a Tar Heel Saved George Washington * The Tale of the Overmountain Men * Losing the Battle, Winning the War: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse * The Capital of Raleigh and Cherry Bounce (with recipe) * The
Story Behind the Bricks Surrounding the Executive Mansion * The Story of the Illiterate Tailor * Infamous Misadventures of “Nolichucky Jack” * One “Ferry” Tale * The Battle Against Mother Nature for Mattamuskeet Lake * Senator Jesse Helms’ Secret for Longevity? * The Story of the Comeback Train (and another railroad tale) * The War That Built a Dam * The Story of Warping, Rudders and Mosquitoes * How Technology Changed the Historical Accounts of the ‘First Flight’ * The Story of the Bumble Bee * Operation Bumble Bee * The Man Who Transformed Commercial Transportation * Wagons, Ho! The Story Behind Cherohala Skyway * The Road to Nowhere in Bryson City * Two ‘Rights’ and a Wrong Choice: Henry Clay’s Famous Letter * The Paul Revere of the South: Captain James Jack * Why the Name ‘Tar Heel’? *
CHAPTER 3. BEFORE “THE” WAR
An Accident Leads to an Invention: The Story of Sequoyah * The Old-Name Game * Town Names, Now and Then * Strange Town Names in North Carolina * A Tragic Page in History: The Trail of Tears * Some Early Settlers *
CHAPTER 4. FAMOUS NORTH CAROLINIANS
The Convict Who Became a Famous Writer * The Man Who Couldn’t Go Home Again * The Story of Thomas Wolfe’s Real Angel * “Good Night, and Good Luck”: Edward Murrow * The Story of the Battleship U.S.S. North Carolina * Elizabeth Dole * Governor Aycock, The Education Governor * A Match Made in Asheville: Andie MacDowell * A Mother Immortalized, Who Made Her Artist-Son Famous * Andy Griffith * Mt. Airy: The “Real” Mayberry * The “Barefoot Contessa,” Ava Gardner * Elizabeth Blackwell, First Woman to Become a Physician * David Brinkley * Charles Kurault *
CHAPTER 5. FROM THE HILLS OF NORTH CAROLINA
Some Things That Make Great Smoky Mountain National Park Unique * How Mount Mitchell Got Its Name * The Vanderbilt Legacy in North Carolina * The Re-Birth of a Nation: The Eastern Band of the Cherokee * A Moonshine Story * The Mystery Behind Eric Rudolph’s Fate *
CHAPTER 6. RELIGION AND UTOPIAN COMMUNITIES
The Church Moved by the Hand of God! * Cursed by a Man of the Cloth * Stories of Snake-Handlers * The “Christ-Figure of the Religion of the Lost Cause” * The Enduring Mystery and Legacy of Roanoke * How North Carolina Might Have Been Named Florence * The Serendipitous Utopia: Hot Springs * The Moravian Utopian * The Buddhist Temple in Bolivia * The Highland Scots of the Tar Heel State * Other tidbits about Billy Graham, the Quakers, Little Switzerland, and More *
CHAPTER 7. SPORTS
You Never Forget Your First—Home Run (Babe Ruth) * Jim Thorpe and His Foray Into Pro-Ball in the Tar Heel State * Michael Jordan * Sir Archie and the Culture of Horse-Racing * Arnold Palmer * Golfer Charlie Sifford * Holding Court: The Queen of NC State Basketball (Kay Yow) * Roman Gabriel * Enos “Country” Slaughter * Family Dynasties of the NASCAR Kind * Howard Cosell * Fishing Records in NC * and More
CHAPTER 8. THE CIVIL WAR IN NORTH CAROLINA
The Story Behind “First at Bethel, Farthest at Gettysburg and Last at Appomattox” * New Bern, Cover-Girl City of the War * When a Coincidence Saved a Spy From Hanging * The Civil War Meets Modern Archaeology * The Spy and the Missing Gold: The Story of Rose Greenhow * The Story of “Thomas’s Legion” * “Waterloo Teeth” and Civil War Dentistry * The Near-Death Experience of Zebulon Vance * The Brief Reign of the Smithville Home Guard * The Story of the CSS Neuse * The Bonnie and Clyde of the Civil War * The Tragic Story of the Harper House * The Story of “Lion-Hearted Flusser” * The “Gibraltar of the South,” Fort Fisher * The Strange Story of James Reilley’s Missing Sword * The Tar Heel Author Who Helped Abe Lincoln Get Elected President! * Fighting in the Buff * Hard Times in the Carolinas: Off-theWall Recipes From the Civil War * When “Even the Bravest Man Wept”: Surrender * Sunken History: The USS
Monitor * The Economy and the Blockade-Runners * Levi Coffin, Quaker Tar Heel and the Underground Railroad * Quakers in North Carolina: “Freedom’s Gate”*
CHAPTER 9. WHEELERS AND DEALERS
The Story of the “Chicken Competition”: Mast General Store * This Angler Caught More than Fish! Or, The First Documented Discovery of Gold in America * Making the Headlines: Josephus Daniels * “Cuppa Joe”: Tar Heel Expression? * Vicks, the Rub that Relieved (and Made) Millions! * The “Rose Buddies” of Elizabeth City * The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola * The Home of the World-Famous Krispy-Kreme Doughnuts * Lost and Found! The Queen Anne’s Revenge * Promoting America’s First Airplane (in Murfreesboro!) * The Dukes of Durham * Sunken Treasure, Avast! *
CHAPTER 10. FILM, MUSIC AND DRAMA OF NORTH CAROLINA
The State Song * The Story of the ‘Song-Catcher’ * When Waynesville Goes International (Folkmoot) * The Song of the Chanteymen * “Tweet” Success: The Annual Whistling Competition * “Saint” John Coltrane * Eva Boyd * Music Maker Relief Foundation * The NC Symphony * The World’s Only Musical Composer—for Animals! * Libba Cotten, Upside-Down Music * East Hollywood: The Film-making Industry in the Tar Heel State * A Flair for the Dramatic: A List of Outdoor Dramas Held Annually * The Hills are Alive With…the Sound of This Boy’s Choir * Piedmont Opera Theatre * Music/Singer Trivia *
CHAPTER 11. FLORA, FAUNA AND NATURAL PHENOMENA
This Place is the Cat’s Meow! The Carnivore Preservation Trust * The Wild Horses of Currituck Sound * In Spring a North Carolinian’s Fancy Turns to…Turtles * The Great Dismal Swamp Story * A Blind Person’s Guide Foundation…Using Pygmy Horses? * Section on Unusual Fauna * The Cradle of Forestry * The Forest History Society * The Kudzu Queen, Kudzu Culture and Alternative Medicine * Straight from a Sci-Fi Flick – the Story of Venus’ Fly-trap * That Touch of Mink: Murphy in Charlotte * Take Your Dog to Work Day in King, NC * The Grandfather of the Blue Ridge * Mildred the Bear * Whales, Birds and Sharks, Oh My: The Town of Aurora * Vineyard Trivia *
CHAPTER 12. SPEECH, FOOD AND FASCINATING CULTURAL TIDBITS
The Way Things are Said * The Vilest-Smelling, Sweetest-Tasting Weed: The Ramp * The Annual Collard Festival in Ayden * One-of-a-Kind Festivals (incl. Transylvania County’s Halloween-Fest) * The Man Will Never Fly Society * The Cypress Grill and the Herring Season * Corn, One of the Four Food Groups * An Eagle’s Next for Humans * Calabash, the Seafood Capital of the World and the Story of Jimmy Durante * Roasted Oysters, Tar Heel Style * The Center of the (Barbecue) Universe: Lexington * North Carolina’s “First, Biggest, Most” Claims to Fame*
CHAPTER 13. UNUSUAL GRAVE AND BURIAL STORIES
The Old Burying Ground in Beaufort * Raleigh’s Oakwood Cemetery * The Circus Diver: They Danced on His Grave! * The Culture of Death in the South, With Bereavement Recipes * When is a Headstone a Footstone? Or, The Game’s Afoot! * Famous People Buried in North Carolina * The Bodies Above the Tunnel * Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery * Poetic Immortality: Joyce Kilmer * The Mysterious Disappearance of Peter Dromgoole * Caskets for Pets! * A Mysterious Burial Ground: Kituhwa * Tombstone Inscriptions * The Barrels of Bones in Hatteras Village *
CHAPTER 14. LIGHTHOUSE AND COASTAL STORIES
The Mercurial Nature of the Outer Banks: What Makes Them the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”? * Stories of Surfmen, Keepers and Lifesavers * Beacons of Light and Life: The Lighthouses * Cape Hatteras * Cuttituck Beach Lighthouse * Bald Head Lighthouse * Oak Island Lighthouse * Price’s Creek Lighthouse * Ocracoke Lighthouse * Bodie Island Lighthouse * Cape Lookout Lighthouse * Stories Behind Lighthouse Designs and Colors * The Real Perfect Storm and Elizabeth City’s Heroes * Lighthouse Q&A *
VIRTUAL NORTH CAROLINA
I consider AMAZING TENNESSEE to be a cornucopia of unusual, inspiring, and humorous tales
about the Volunteer State. I came up with the idea for this book when, one, day, I was doing
something I rarely do--filing my freelance-journalism articles--I re-read some of them. Of course,
many of them were about Tennessee in some way, and I thought, "Wow! Tennessee's pretty
amazing." BOOM! The book was born. PUBLISHERS, PLEASE NOTE: The "Amazing America" series is available. This is the first of three, and the fourth--AMAZING ALABAMA--is in the works. Please CONTACT ME with your indication of interest.
The writing of the book itself was pretty amazing, as I wrote it while simultaneously adding a
section on to our house and house-training a new Lab puppy. But the house got finished and
now Maggie's only problem is she loves garbage leftovers. One of the most fun things that
happened to me in promoting ATN was when WSM--yes, the Grand Ole Opry radio station
itself--asked me to come and be interviewed for their talk-show. Live radio! I was both thrilled and
nervous. "Just relax," Bill Cody assured me when I arrived. "We've only got 30 million listeners."
Despite that, I managed to enjoy myself, and the listeners must have liked the interview, too, for I
was asked to come back a second time.
AMAZING TENNESSEE in a nutshell? ATN is a cornucopia of unusual, inspiring, and sometimes humorous tales about the Volunteer State. The book is chock-full of photos (about 60 in all) and
stories that will make you alternately laugh, wonder, or sigh with disbelief--but all the stories in
AMAZING TENNESSEE are true! For example:
Why was the world-famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" really a PR stunt that backfired?
What was Elvis Presley's greatest birthday disappointment?
Who was it that was charged with, then convicted of, killing his political opponent--and even ran against the victim's widow?
What was the most unusual [i.e., nonhuman] lynching in the U.S.?
Just what Tennessee restaurant has the world's oldest cooking grease still in use?
What two Civil War generals had been students at West Point together, with one tutoring the
other--and wound up in a famous battle in Tennessee fighting on opposite sides?
What did Dolly Parton do as a young school-girl that made her refer to herself as "The Creative
Dreamer of East Tennessee"?
Where in Tennessee is the most famous haunted house?
Find out answers to these questions and more between the pages of AMAZING TENNESSEE.
Former Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist liked it so much, he even wrote the forward! As they
say in Memphis, "Thankyouverymuch."
Excerpts from Reviews:
"Lacey has left no stone unturned [in AMAZING TENNESSEE]. The...book is chock-full of
information about Tennessee, from the banal to the bizarre, including quick facts, amazing
stories and even recipes. There's also a section on Internet sites relating to Tennessee, and an
index in the back....you'll just have to read this book!" --Tennessee Connections magazine.
"...it's a wonderful book!" --native Tennessean, actress Patricia Neal
"Martha and I are really enjoying reading it!" -- Governor Don Sundquist