Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

Don’t mess with old Texas men

Here’s a discussion of a terrific Life magazine article from 1949, about a failed campaign in the small East Texas town of Whitney, to ban a bench that the town’s old coots sat on and watched the world go by. Excerpt:

It came to the mayor of Whitney, Frank Basham, to appease “a delegation of local housewives” who were fed up with the old men, and wanted the “unsightly bench” gone. It was probably a lot more than the bench, as the quote above by Mrs. T.E. Bagley contends: “Why, they must spit two or three gallons a day! They ain’t died fast enough, these old men!”. Perhaps a dozen old farmers/ranchers/cowboys sitting on a bench all day long spitting and watching the world go by wasn’t the most attractive thing for downtown Whitney.
And so it came to pass that the lumber was removed, but not the men–they returned with nail barrels and took up residence, unabated, “sitting wrathfully” on the kegs. The police then threatened to confiscate the kegs, and then the men: tensions flared, and a special election was held, a referendum on whether or not to restore the bench.


“They ain’t died fast enough.” “Sitting wrathfully.” Love it.
About 20 years ago, we had a bench something like this in St. Francisville, my hometown. My grandfather was one of the old gaffers who sat on it every afternoon. We all called it The Dead Pecker Bench, but never in front of them, of course.
(Via Boing Boing).

Comments read comments(7)
post a comment
Your Name

posted February 27, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I remember a place like that in the local park where I was young, where the old guys used to gather and reminisce. My folks called it “b*llsh*t corner”

report abuse


posted February 28, 2010 at 8:18 am

Reminds me of the time that a friend and I were visiting the Irish town of Ramelton. We arrived late, and were cruising along, looking for our B&B. As we drew abreast of a bench, on which were sitting two elderly gents in tweed caps and jackets, we saw an amazing sight. The two fellers slowly raised their tweed-clad arms, and pointed in a particular direction. We later discovered that our hostess — who knew she could count on their being on their bench, no matter when we might arrive — had instructed them to point us in the right direction. At the time, of course, it seemed like a miracle.

report abuse

Chuck Bloom

posted February 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Just a technicality, but the Texas town of Whitney is actually in CENTRAL Texas, located west of Hillsboro and northwest of Waco. It is next to Lake Whitney, one of the scores of man-made lakes in Texas (Caddo Lake is the ONLY natural lake in the entire Lone Star State).
Having said all that, if it isn’t a bench, it’s a local drug store, etc. where most of the town elders gather, in cities under 5,000 population.
It’s just that way in Texas. Very much that way in many, many East Texas towns.

report abuse

Grumpy Old Man

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

On Upper Broadway in Manhattan, old Jewish people used to sit on little benches in the parkway between the trucks and buses, a little island of dusty green.
The old story goes that one asked another, “Nu, Sam, was it you or your brother that died?”

report abuse


posted February 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Make you wonder what the women-folk were doing while the old coots sat around watching the world go by. My guess is cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, taking in people’s laundry to make ends meet.

report abuse

Boomhauer Sr.

posted March 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm


report abuse

Franklin Jennings

posted March 2, 2010 at 12:39 am

…Or their old ladies could be out drinking, whoring and trying to squeeze an extra 1/4% interest out of something, I guess.
Wonder how much progress has hit Whitney?

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!! ...

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done ...

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the ...

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to! ...

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a ...

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.