Texas Myth # 113

Anne Dingus Solves the state’s greatest mysteries.

The king-size cowboy hat has nothing to do with gallons at all. The phrase comes from the Spanish word galón, meaning “braid.” Cowboys mistranslated the word as “gallon,” so a ten-gallon hat came to mean an elaborately decorated or extra-big one. Western star Tom Mix helped popularize the style in the 1910’s, and this year the hefty hat worn by Texan Dan Blocker on Bonanza—it had a seven-inch crown—sold at auction for $9,200.

Q: An elderly friend of mine swears that Texas used to celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day than the rest of the U.S. Is this just memory slippage?
A: Nope, she’s talking turkey. Texas, like other states, long observed Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November—a tradition established by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. But in 1939 another president was all business about the holiday: Franklin Roosevelt decided to designate the next-to-last Thursday of the month, a response to pressure from retailers who lost precious shopping days when Thanksgiving fell on a very late Thursday. In 1941 he went on to specify the fourth Thursday in months that had five. FDR’s decisions to carve up November caused a furor, as they upset the travel plans of millions of families nationwide, so both

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