The Best of Texas
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There is no doubt that Texas-born actress Farrah Fawcett has the Best Teeth in Texas. Actually, these teeth now live in California, but they spent their formative years and attained greatness right here. If they rot and turn the color of charcoal in Hollywood, it will be because she wasn’t true to her school, because she moved out of state to live Out There. But today they are matchless, the sort of teeth that captured the Six Million Dollar Man, who happens to be Mr. Farrah Fawcett.
We Texans have always bragged about having the best little old this and the best little old that. I am on the road an average of 1500 miles a month reporting for this magazine and have been known to pick the Best Bean in a bowl of chili or argue for hours the amenities and deformities of Texas’ Best Beggar. Mighty Red Chadwick, Texas’ Best Soothsayer, has me beat, though. He once figured up how many insect splats filled up a windshield and then picked Best Grasshopper Smear. That’s why I like Red. He would never fail to have an answer to a question like “Where’s the Best Barbecue in Texas?” He’s wrong about the barbecue, of course, but, by God, he’s got an opinion.
Alas, the Mighty Reds are hard to find in Texas these days.
While folks rant and rave over unimportant, things like Jimmy Carter’s religion and the weather, hardly anyone ventures truly important judgments on what’s the Best Drugstore in the state or where’s the Best Fountain Coke. Knowing the Best Waitress and Best Turkey Sandwich in Texas will improve immediately your journey through life. Unlike Rolfing, TM, TA, EST, etc., or those other silly caprices, it is cheap and easy. Also, many of the Best in Texas are the best anywhere. Who clones it better than the Kilgore Rangerettes? The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes? The Tyler Junior College Apache Belles?
No. Kilgore clones are the nation’s fairest and cloniest.
So here they are, the Best in Texas. If you continue to hemhaw and weasel around when asked to name the Best Railroad Station in Texas, it’s not our fault. Read and learn. Certainly disagree. But I hope to disprove the adage, you can take to horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. If trouble develops, I’m calling David Hoelscher, Texas’ Best Farmer.
Best Old-fashioned Hotel
The Plaza, Houston. An apple and a glass of sherry brought to your room at night; free wake-up coffee in the morning. Big rooms, real furniture (and real coathangers).
Best Turkey Sandwich
The Country Store, U.S. Highway 188, west of Goldthwaite. Better than its counterpart at Nemecek’s near Abbott on IH 35.
Pitaya. Tastes like strawberry and will keep you alive when marooned in Big Bend.
Best Train Station
Missouri Pacific Station, San Antonio. Now abandoned, it once dazzled passengers with a 70-foot-high domed waiting room lighted by stained-glass windows depicting Indians gazing at the horizon.
Excelsior Hotel, Jefferson. After staying in the Jay Gould Suite, eat fluffy scrambled eggs, buttery grits, hot homemade biscuits with mayhaw jelly, orange nut muffins, and a slice of spiced apple in the hotel’s sun room.
Best Disc Jockey
John E. Dee, KUT-FM Austin. The most gifted practitioner of info-filled jive banter.
Best Place to Die
Best Private Club
The Argyle Club, San Antonio. Some of the best food in town. Stellar wine cellar. Ordinary citizens not allowed.
Best Foot Forward
Dinosaur tracks, Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose.
Best is Yet to Come We Hope
Dolph Briscoe, Uvalde.
Avalon Drug Co., Houston. Lunch-gossip command post for the River Oaks set. For Texas’ best limeade, try Star Drug Store, Galveston.
Best and Brightest
George Haysler, Austin. First to inform UT Astronomy Department of the appearance of Nova Cygni 1975.
Best Weekly Newspaper
Tulia Herald, Swisher County.
Roger Staubach, Dallas.
Best Seafood Restaurant
San Jacinto Inn, Houston.
Rosengren’s, San Antonio. Tradition, selection, comfort, personal attention, and fast parcel post delivery make this San Antonio shrine tucked behind the Alamo a slim winner over the Bookseller in Dallas.
Morty’s Pizza King Number Three, Austin. The all-cheese (four cheeses with garlic-filled tomato sauce) pizza is Texas’ best. No kidding. For the demented, there are madcap flavors including peanut butter and lox.
Best Rich Woman
Aunt Susie Slaughter, Fort Worth. Personally handed Fort Worth Mayor Clif Overcash a check for $92,000 to buy a new fire truck. Also, Aunt Susie is shelling out the bucks for the Opera House in Grapevine.
Best Radio Preacher
Brother Dave Terrell, Bangs. The leader of World Missions, Inc. Every Sunday morning on KCTA, Corpus Christi, Brother Dave warns of locust invasions and impending droughts if we don’t straighten up.
Louie Mueller’s, Taylor. Try it with master barbecuer Fred Fountaine’s tangy sauce, a recipe twenty years in the making.
P. Wilson, Fort Worth. Influenced a whole generation of Texas rock guitarists. Catch him playing the blues at Tack’s Fun House.
Best Explanation of Why Texas History is Not a Major Academic Discipline
Battle of the Alamo painting in the Alamo museum. It’s from the movie, not the real event. Features John Wayne as Davy Crockett, Richard Widmark as Bowie, and Laurence Harvey as Travis.
Best Telephone Man
Garland Beard, Meridian. Handles Ma Bell’s office and paper work, telephone installation, and repairs, by himself, in a 40-mile radius of Meridian.
Goldin Pickles, Dallas.
Best Border Town
Nuevo Laredo. Smaller and more accessible than bustling Juarez. Good restaurants, the best Boys Town, best gift shop (Marti’s), and best Ramos gin fizz.
Best High School Mascot
The Hutto Hippos.
Best Town Slogan
Milford. “Home of 700 Friendly People and Three or Four Old Grouches.”
Best Artificial Inseminator
Ralph Shaw, Kaufman County. Supervises insemination of beefalo heifers at Randy Kreiling’s Circle K Ranch. He’s prolific.
LMR 430’s LAD 075. Name of Brangus bull owned by Letter M Brangus Ranch in Cypress. One-sixth of LMR’s breeding interest sold for $25,000. That makes this bull’s heavy-duty genitals worth $150,000.
Margaret Monte, Freeport. Veteran of 25 years with Dow Chemical. Named 1976 Secretary of the Year for Texas and Louisiana by National Secretaries Association.
Tarzan McCoy, Amarillo.
Howard Hill, Angleton. So named by his fellow plumbers.
Best Bank Failure
Sharpstown State Bank, Houston. Remember Preston Smith, Gus Mutscher, Ben Barnes, Tommy Shannon, and others retired by Texas’ Best Political Scandal?
Best Political Boss
Mayor J. C. “Pepe” Martin, Jr., Laredo. Still in charge after 22 years.
Adlene Harrison, Dallas (retired). Hard working with a great malarkey detector, she should run for governor.
Change machine, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Pays 95 cents on the dollar. Sometimes.
Best Fountain Coke
Fort Davis Drugstore, Fort Davis. Still made with Coke syrup and stirred with a spoon.
Lone Star Bakery, Round Rock. Charlie Baird is the absolute authority on doughnuts.
Big Tree, Goose Island State Park, near Rockport. This 2000-year-old tree is the largest coast live oak in the world. Circumference: 35 feet, 2 inches; crown spread: 89 feet.
Enchanted Rock, near Fredericksburg.
Best Museum Director
Richard Brown, Kimbell, Fort Worth. Handles the state’s most exciting art collection with dexterous flair.
Best Rotating Sign
Terminix Termite, Austin. Six- foot-long spinning insect whose red eyes light up and blink at night. Thousands of collegians have tried to steal it, and it’s rumored the Japanese want it for a sci-fi film.
Best Doomed Settlement
Brownwood Subdivision, Baytown, in the heart of Houston's subsidence zone. Visit it quick, and at low tide. It’s sunk eight feet in thirty years and will soon be under water.
Best Little Acre
1.195-acre tract, Kilgore. Twenty-four wells on this tract have produced 2½ million barrels of crude oil; at $1.10 to $3.25 a barrel, that’s more than $5.5 million.
Edward Castillo, Deer Park; Frank Gonzales, Killeen; Santos Gonzales, Odessa; and Norman Lee, Houston. This team won the International Hair Styling Championship for 1976.
Best Wrestling Couple
Mr. and Mrs. Jose Lothario, San Antonio.
South Padre Island.
Best Country Club
Brook Hollow, Dallas. Hidden away in a tacky part of Dallas, Brook Hollow for 56 years has been the well-run hideaway for Dallas’ elite.
Nickel Coca-Cola machine at Jamail’s Grocery, Kirby Drive, Houston. If you don’t like Coke, take your nickel to Mama’s Hamburgers on Memorial Drive in Houston for five cents’ worth of toetapping music.
Best Auto Mechanic
Burney Russell, Fort Worth. He taps, listens, pokes, analyzes, and then fixes it right the first time.
Harold Scarlett, Houston Post, Houston. An ex-Front Page type turned environmental writer who covers his subject like ship channel smog.
Best Chocolate Malt
Highland Park Pharmacy, Dallas. Exuberant creamy malt one block from the best cafeteria.
Best Stretch of Highway
Camino del Rio, Ranch Road 170 along the Rio Grande between Presidio and Terlingua.
Best Unknown Restaurant
Sallie’s, Houston. This steak and salad place is listed in the phone book under its address, there’s no sign, and we’re not about to tell you where it is. All we’ll say is take the Broadway exit off the Gulf Freeway, then you’re on your own.
Best Roadside Vegetable Stand
Dilorio Farms, east of Hempstead, U.S. Highway 290. Children under twelve won’t recognize the taste of this real food.
Best Ramos Gin Fizz
Cadillac Bar, Nuevo Laredo. Ramos fled New Orleans during Prohibition and brought his magic here.
Best Supernatural Phenomenon
Marfa Lights, U.S. Highway 90 between Marfa and Alpine. Spooky lights in the hills are bizarre enough to unhinge the strongest skeptic.
Highland Park Cafeteria, Dallas.
Richard S. “Moose” Stovall, Abilene. The ultimate arbiter, Moose has officiated at Southwest Conference games for 26 years.
King William, San Antonio. Idyllic street featuring some of Texas’ most breathtaking old homes. Architectural glories blended with San Antonio River.
Kilgore Rangerettes, Kilgore. “I thank the thang teaches you to thank,” replied a Rangerette when asked why she was a member.
Best Junk Food
Fletcher's Corny Dog, Dallas. Why else go to the State Fair?
Best Homemade Junk Food
Pepperbelly, West Texas. Split open a 20-cent bag of Fritos; pour in Dairy Queen chili, sliced onions; top with cheddar cheese. Runner-up: Planters Peanuts poured into a bottle of Dr Pepper.
Best Daily Newspaper
Does Not Apply.
Kincaid Grocery and U.S. Sub Post Office, Fort Worth.
Tyler Roses, Tyler. A $15 million industry involving 500 varieties. Ever sniffed a “Lowell Thomas”?
Cereta Bolding, San Angelo. Statewide-certified champion in last coif-off competition.
Best Unknown Band
Pyramyd, Dallas. New jazz/rock group featuring alumni from famed North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band.
Best Ice Cream
Purity Ice Cream Co., Galveston. Manufacturing since 1889. Their eighteen flavors are all made with cream brought in from Lufkin. Vanilla is the best-seller.
Dorothy Doolittle, Austin. Placed third among women competing in this year’s Boston Marathon (26 miles, 385 yards). Currently the eighth-fastest female marathon runner in the world; fastest in the state. Runs 70 miles a week during training.
David Hoelscher, Alice. Produced 3900 pounds of milo grain per acre last year, among other achievements.
Candelaria, Presidio County. Very functional no-nonsense one-cell barred cage, open to the elements and placed (instructively) on the schoolhouse grounds.
Best Disco Couple
Terry Johnston and Diana Snyder, Austin. Can be found Bumping and Hustling at Billy Shakespeare’s.
Best White Elephant
Flower Mound New Town, Dallas. After an expenditure of $18 million, the much-ballyhooed development is a flop.
Courtlandt’s Restaurant, Houston. Dark, plush, good drinks; and Howard Biggs’ music evens the odds no matter how ugly you are.
Doris Hedgepeth, John’s Oyster Resort, Galveston. How does she know when it’s time for the second course? Not afraid to warn what isn’t good that day. Quintessence of everything most Texas waitresses are not.
Best Bridge Partnership
Bob Hamman and Bobby Wolfe, Dallas.
Best Dance Hall
Reo Palm Isle, Longview. On Wednesday afternoons the pressure cooker set is ready to GET DOWN! A forest of beehives, white shoes, and brogans, all looking to mess around before suppertime.
Valley Mills. It’s clear, tastes good, and what else is there?
Best Small Town
Best Harmless Eccentric
Mrs. Ila Loetscher, the Turtle Lady, South Padre Island. Provides home, love and care, clothes, and names such as Little Fox, Doctor Thomas, and Yankee Doodle Dandy for rare Ridley turtles. Stop by for a sip of her turtle cider.
Best Ghost Town
Best Whistle Stop
Gribble, Dallas County.
Farrah Fawcett. There is no second place.
James C. Fidler, KTBC-TV Austin. Original weatherman on first Today shows; may forget the sponsor’s name, but never fails to explain arcane meteorological happenings like why it rains every weekend. Harold Taft, KXAS-TV, Fort Worth, a close second.
Train Robbery, Braekenridge Park, San Antonio. On July 18, 1970, two servicemen brandishing revolvers held up the Braekenridge Park children’s train. They robbed the 75 passengers of over $500 and purloined many personal belongings. It was the first train robbery in the Wild West in 47 years.
Best Roller Rink
Riverside Resort Skating Rink, Fentress.
Best Boot Maker
Lucchese Boot Company, San Antonio. Lucchese’s boots have graced the feet of LBJ, John Wayne, Will Rogers, Teddy Roosevelt, and Baron Guy de Rothschild, and those are folks who know.
Best Architectural Calamity
Administration Building, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos. Architecture at its grimmest. Atmosphere of heavy oppressiveness, aggravated by nonsensical window shapes.
State Capitol, Austin.
Best Big Loser
Garry Weber, Dallas. Defeated mayoral candidate, who spent $407,193 in an effort to land a $50-a-week job.
Best Newspaper Slogan
Wink Bulletin. “The only newspaper in the world that cares anything about Wink.” Amen.
Best Aggie Joke
An Aggie and a woman he met in a bar are checking into a hotel. He writes “X” on the register, ponders for a moment, then draws a circle around the X. “Why’d you do that?” the desk clerk asks. “When I’m running around with strange women,” the Aggie says, “I never use my right name.”
Best Western Clothes
The Fair, Lott.
Johnny Moss, Odessa. Lost the World Series of Poker this year but still a legend in his own time. Once ran a $1000 stake into half a million just in time to pay a gambling debt and stave off a waiting hit man.
Texas Heroes Monument, Galveston.
Coastal States Gas Corp., Houston. Billions of cubic feet of gas reserves disappeared, only to reappear as profits.
Best City View
Scenic vista on Franklin Mountain overlooking El Paso and Juarez.
Best Worst Taste
JFK assassination postcard, Dallas. Only Stuckey’s pecan fried chicken comes close.
Best Amusement Ride
Texas Chute Out, Six Flags Amusement Park, Arlington. 200-foot parachute drop.
Manny Gammage, Texas Hatters, Austin and Houston. Whether you are Willie Nelson’s roadie or a pointy-headed intellectual, Manny will make and shape what fits you. Beaver is our favorite.
Best Gay Bar
Bayou Landing, Dallas.
Best Chili Dog
James Coney Island, Walker Street, Houston. Impossible to keep off your shirt.
Best Chicken-fried Steak
Goodson’s $8.75 monster, Tomball. Former champ Fran’s Cafe, Dallas, relinquishes the trophy.
Best Town Name
Rural Shade, Navarro County. Runner-up Bug Tussle is demoted for giving the world Dale Milford.
Women’s room, Senate Chamber, State Capitol, Austin. Specially designed for “Senate ladies” in 1971 at a cost of $16,000. Gold-papered walls, gold velvet chairs, gold mirror, opulent couches hidden by a peach-colored silk screen for discreet napping, kitchenette, and a white-frocked attendant.
Albert Sidney Johnston, State Cemetery, Austin. Elisabet Ney’s mildly fatuous monument to mortality.
Best Show Band
Balcones Fault, Austin.
Best Neon Theater Sign
Esquire Theatre, Dallas. Better than Houston’s Tower Theatre sign, but just barely.
Best Mexican Food
Julio’s Cafe Corona, Juarez. Matchless stuff. The best dish is entomatados de gallina with sour cream. On this side of the border try the Old Borunda Cafe in Marfa.
Best Surplus Store
Strand Surplus Senter, Galveston. Meet consummate salesman Colonel Bubbie and browse through his 2000 items, from work shirts to B-52 radar units.
Kreuz Market, Lockhart. Ask for special cuts like chuck.
Kerrville. The runaway choice in a meager field.
Best Paperback Book Store
Half Price Books, McKinney Avenue, Dallas. An incredible turmoil of books and old magazines. With patience you might find a first-edition Raymond Chandler.
Best Swimming Pool
Barton Springs, Austin. This huge (1000 feet by 75 feet) spring-fed (average temperature, 68°) pool has been an attraction for 58 years.
Capote Falls, Presidio County. The state’s highest, 150 feet. Not on the way to anywhere (except Capote Falls) and on private property.
Bob Sakowitz and Oscar Wyatt, Houston.
Best Barnacle On the Ship of State
Jim Langdon, Railroad Commissioner.
Best Corporate Maneuver
The acquisition of 88 square blocks of downtown Houston by Texas Eastern for the $2 billion Houston Center.
Best Chinese Restaurant
Hunan, Austin. Despite plain decor and so-so service, owner Frank Yi’s spicy food can hold its own with the standards of New York’s and San Francisco’s Chinatowns.
Mighty Red Chadwick, Longview. Would you argue with the man who advised H. L. Hunt on oil in the Thirties?
Ladybug. You can buy this respected beetle to eat less fun bugs like aphids. Great reputation; gives insects a good name.
Best Professional Texan
Hondo Crouch, Luckenbach. Public relations genius. Has strange magnetic attraction to cameras and reporters. Never seen without his red bandana.
Best Water Tower
Poteet. It’s shaped and painted like a strawberry, Poteet’s cash crop.
Best Environmental Blight
Sid Richardson Carbon Black Co., Odessa. Now shut down. Soot turned trees, cows, and shrubs an ugly black, but did no organic damage.
Best Paper Boy
Chris Erickson, Port Arthur News. Picked by Texas Daily Newspaper Association. No complaints from his 102 customers in over a year. Great arm.
Best Wine Store
Dan’s, South Congress Avenue, Austin. Spectacular selection; prices 15 per cent cheaper than Dallas and Houston. Dan’s genius is knowing when to pick up treasured wines at bargain prices. Classiest store: Richard’s, Houston.
Best Bob Bullock Raid
Connie’s Tailors, San Antonio. Raiders confiscated an inventory including four $450 suits tailored for Dolph Briscoe. At press time Dolph hadn’t asked Bullock for his new threads.
Best Parking Lot
Gulf Freeway, Houston.
Debbie Collard, Angleton. She’s squeaky clean and wants to tell the good things about America’s teenagers.
Best Old Coot
Evetts Haley, Amarillo. Author of A Texan Looks at Lyndon as well as a controversial volume of Texana back in the Twenties. Haley’s been raising hell for more than 50 years.
Best Fried Chicken
Henderson’s, Dallas. Get the “choice white” chicken with accompanying jalapeno pepper, french fries, and white bread.
Best Female Impersonator
David, d.b.a. Roxy, Austin. Catch Roxy’s act at Austin Country or at one of his/her stops around the state.
Roger Maxwell, Bryan. Owner of personalized license plates aggies. Has seen every Texas-Texas A&M football game since 1919. Moved to Bryan-College Station area after retiring from Exxon six years ago; hasn’t missed an Aggie athletic event since.
The Bomber, Austin. This turkey hen, owned by Janes-Bar-Nothing turkey ranch in Austin, set a world’s record in 1947 that still stands: she laid 234 eggs in one year.
Diane Towery, San Antonio; Melanie Roden, Mesquite; Mike Dotson, Hardin. Winners of the Texas State Solo-Ensemble Contest, May 1976. Whatever you’re doing, Mike, keep it up.
Best TV Ad Personality
“Wide Track,” Irving and Fort Worth. After a sales pitch by brothers Bill and David McDavid for their two Pontiac dealerships, their Great Dane “Wide Track” woofs his approval.
Best Reason Why There Are So Many Perennial Students
Richland Junior College, Dallas. The school’s community service department offered a course last summer called “How to Handicap the Thoroughbreds,” despite the facts that pari-mutuel betting is illegal and thoroughbred racing nonexistent in Texas.
Best Annual Festival
Black-eyed Pea Festival, Athens. Where W. C. Perryman concocted the Peatini in 1972, a martini with the black- eye replacing the olive.
Marion (Sandy) Sanford, Houston. In the morally malnourished tribe of legislative influencers, Sanford is a decent, intelligent lobbyist who uses rare techniques like logic and information. His clients include Texas Eastern Transmission, the Texas Association of Bank Holding Companies, and the Florence Crittenton home for unwed mothers.
Best Rich Man
R. Parten, Madisonville. Most civilized Texan. Last voice of reason to serve on UT Board of Regents (’35-’41).
Cattlemen’s Steak House, Fort Worth. Makes other steaks—except runner-up Brenner’s in Houston—taste like beef jerky.
Best General Store
Fischer Store, Fischer. Sixty years old and operated by the original owner, who is twenty years older.
Best Golf Hole
Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth. The fifth is one of the great golfing tests in America, a 466-yard par-four dogleg around the Trinity River.
Best Campaign Slogan
Betty Andujar, Fort Worth. Defeated Gus Mutscher supporter Mike Moncrief for a State Senate seat after the 1971 Sharpstown Scandal with the slogan, “Why fire the ventriloquist and keep the dummy?”
Rainbow Bridge, State Highway 87, Port Arthur. The 230-foot-high span over the Neches is the highest in the South.
Best Bicentennial Excess
Lewisville. The city fathers propose to “establish the first inland Bicentennial navy to help emphasize the important contributions the navy has made to the freedom of our country.” Landlocked Lewisville is 21 miles north of Dallas.
Best Town Character
Bongo Joe, San Antonio. Joe plays his two 50-pound Texaco oil drums on the Riverwalk. If you can hum it, Joe can play it.
Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, coastal prairies. The quintessential grouse.
Hiland Honey, Marathon. Produced from catclaw, whitebrush, and other desert shrubs in the insecticide-free Big Bend country. Packer J. R. Adams accepts mail orders.