Stone Phillips, co-anchor of Dateline NBC, Texas City, 1955–1965
I remember living in the house during Hurricane Carla and evacuating to the family farm in Waxahachie. When we returned, we found the roof blown off and the wood floors destroyed. My father, an engineer, vowed “by God” to never have such damage again, so he installed terrazzo floors. They were so slippery my brother and I would slide around on them.
Nolan Ryan, National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Alvin, 1955–1965
I grew up during the fifties and early sixties, and my life was typical for a small Texas town. We were more familiar with our neighbors than most people are today. My friends and I would build forts or put teams together for whatever sport was in season. When I look at my old home place, it brings to mind one of my fondest memories: receiving a basketball goal as a Christmas present when I was in the ninth grade. Playing basketball out on my driveway became my number one activity from that point on.
Priscilla Owen, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Palacios, 1954–1959
Palacios is a farming and ranching community, the kind of place where everybody knows everyone. You know what everybody drives, what their dog looks like. My grandparents grew rice, and for a while they had cotton and maize as well, and I would chop a little bit and pick. Sometimes during the harvest I would drive the auger wagon or work in the rice dryer, testing the moisture in the grain and that sort of thing.
Lance Armstrong cyclist and seven-time Tour de France winner, Plano, 1985–1989
I have fond memories of this house. It’s where I first discovered my love for the bike, while I was competing in triathlons and on the swim team. I can remember being curious about where the road to the north led to. I believe it was Jupiter Road. It turned into a farm road and open space just past our house, and now it heads for Allen and McKinney, communities that are an extension of Dallas, Richardson, and Plano. Wild.
Matthew McConaughey, actor, Uvalde, 1969–1979
Whenever somebody in my family got sick or got in trouble, my brothers and I got to drive across town with Dad and go get a cheeseburger. So if my brother made an F on a report card, he got his butt whupped, but that night we all got to get in the car, forget about it, hold no grudges, and go get a cheeseburger. Every time I got an ass whupping, it was for saying “hate” or for lying, and I remember that affectionately, because those are good reasons to get your butt whupped. I don’t remember the last time I hated, and I sure don’t like to lie.
Cyd Charisse, dancer and actress, Amarillo, 1921–1937
My memories of growing up on Tyler Street are of my best friend’s “dollhouse,” which was in her backyard and was our daily destination. We would spend hours and hours in it. Another memory was when my father, who had a jewelry store downtown, heard of a dance school opening in Amarillo and quickly enrolled me. So my teacher, Miss Ferguson, introduced me to the world of dance at the age of six— a world that has surrounded my life ever since.
Erykah Badu, R&B singer, Dallas, 1971–1989
I grew up in a house full of women. I had five mothers: my maternal grandmother, Thelma, who gave me morals; my paternal grandmother, Viola, who gave me discipline and consistency; my godmother, Gwen, who put me in theater and drama; my mother, who’s my best friend, my sister, my enemy, my everything; and Mother Nature, from whom I learned things on my own that nobody else would ever know.
Hilary Duff, actress and pop singer, Houston, 1996–2001
My mom was remodeling the house, and my sister, Haylie, and I had come home for a week, and there was no carpet upstairs; it had all been ripped out. So we asked my mom if we could draw on the bare floor. We had a bunch of friends over, and she went out and bought us huge Sharpies and colorful paint pens. We signed our names and drew all this crazy stuff really big, and we spent all night doing the whole hallway up in leopard print. It’ll be interesting to see who moves into the house and if they rip up the carpet, because our history is still there.
Ross Perot, chairman emeritus of the board of Perot Systems, Texarkana, 1930–1949
My house, on Twenty-ninth Street, was about seven blocks from where the train would cross through town, and hobos would often walk up the street and knock on the door and ask for food. My mother would always feed them. One time she was feeding a man, and he asked her, “Do you get many who stop in here for food?” She said, “Yes, we do.” “Well, I’ll show you why,” he said, and then he showed us a mark on the curb that signaled that we were friendly and would give food. I asked my mother if she wanted me to wash it off, and she said, “Son, these are people just like us who are down on their luck.”