Long, tall, Texan?

I’ve been to Texas a few times, and known a couple of Texans (though they tend to stay home), and overall they seemed to be of average (5’9") height. Without hats, boots, and horseback, that is. I did know one really tall guy in the Navy from Texas, but I think he was born somewhere else. But this is all anecdotal. I’ve tried in vain to find some stats about tallness by state, but have had no luck. I did learn that the US national average hasn’t increased much over the last few decades.
So, are Texas men taller? And if not, where did this pervasive myth originate? In Texas, like the one about good barbeque? :wink:
Notice, please, that this is a general question. Forget the BBQ dig.

What myth? I’ve never heard of a belief that Texans are tall. I always associated the phrase with a description of an ideal person (for a song or a novel) in which “tall” identifies the person as tall (a favored trait in our society). Then “long” is used as an oblique reference to “lean” (another societally favored trait). (If the person was tall and wide, he would not get the adjective “long” since the ratio of height to breadth would not be such as to emphasize lenght (which is, strictly speaking, redundant with tall). Then “Texan” gets thrown in with the myth that Texans are strong-minded, independent types while the word Texan is easier to fit into a song or phrase than Montanan, Wyomingite, Coloradan, or any of the other Western states.

Speifically, I suspect that it just happened to make it in to a popular song, from which the phrase entered the language without having any serious meaning.

Song written by Murray Kellum in 1963, covered by Beach Boys in Aug 1, 1964 recording. Some discussions point to lyrics, which do not appear in the Beach Boys’ cover, that suggest the Texan in question is The Lone Ranger. Evidently there is some detail about John Reid making a mask out of his murdered brother’s vest and becoming the famed vigilante. I couldn’t find the lyrics to Kellum’s version to confirm or debunk that, but the Boys version sings of a him wearing a badge, which piece of flair I recall being absent from the lone ranger’s outfit.

Possible the phrase goes back further (farther?).

As far as west Texas goes, tall is definitely the exception rather than the rule. I’m about 6’3", which I don’t consider to be extremely tall. Yet I tower over most of the people I see from day to day. Which is all well and good until it comes time to buy clothes – especially shoes. Finding a pair of sneakers to fit my 12 EE feet is nearly impossible in El Paso. In other parts of the country I’ve visited, I had no problems.

Well, the modern day “cowboy” image was set by tall guys like Gary Cooper and John Wayne, and Texans are supposed to epitomize cowboyhood…

Really? I did throw the “long” in there in reference to the song, But I’ve often heard Texans referred to as tall. Also as “long-legged”. Ann Richards once mentioned that Texas ideal in a speech. The tv show Dallas IIRC, portrayed the characters as tall. Could be wrong there, though, 'cause I wasn’t a faithful viewer.
Maybe some more 'ol boys will chime in with opinions. I mean answers.

No, it was recorded by Kellum in 1963. It was written by Henry Strzelecki in 1960 ( http://www.secondhandsongs.com/artist/4124.html ).

Back to the OP, I’ve only heard the concept expressed in the above song, which I never construed to be saying that most or all Texans are tall.

My wife worked in a Texas elementary school for a few years. She says it’s not that Texas men are tall, it’s just that they act tall. I think I’ll leave it at that, and perhaps a Texan can explain it in a way that views it through the Texan attitude.

The other night I was listening to [i[King of the Hill* on tv. Boy, do they got Texans nailed on that show. :wink: “Peggy Hill” is depicted as having big (size 16) feet, and being proportioned to match. “Hank Hill”, the husband is shown to be quite a bit taller. So the myth holds there.
I googled “tall texan” and got over 7,000 hits. Among them;
A Texas triathelon

1953 movie

A campground in Colorado

A book

Guitar stuff

A (ahem) cowboy hat

A writer


I’ll stop there. This doesn’t show that Texans are tall, but it does show that the stereotype is somewhat popular.
When I was in the Navy ('64 to '68) guys from Texas got tired of hearing “tall Texan” remarks.
My guess for a source is that the early settlers (maybe a clan) were somewhat taller than the native Mexicans. Average Anglos are, to this day, a little taller than average Mexicans. That could explain the apparent lack of the myth in areas where there aren’t so many Mexican people.
Touchy subject, eh, A man’s height? :wink:

Well, I’m 5"11 hence…bigdfrombigd :wink:

Well, I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could. --Bumpersticker
I’m 6’6" tall, and consider myself a Texan, if not by birth.

Most of my friends are native Texans, and most of them are tall, some nearly as tall as myself. Not all of them though. And I’ll tell ya this much, most people around here aren’t nearly as tall as myself, although I’ve seen a few. Makes for easy viewing in crowds, at least. 'course, that goes both ways.

The preceeding was just so I could get this in:

How * Y’all * doin’? :smiley:

Ack… er… you’re female, right? Why did I think you were female? If not, disregard!

I’m 6’3", live in El Paso, and wear 12 shoes…

Are you the fellow that’s been buying all my clothes?

Anyway, sometimes I have to remind myself that El Paso is actually located in Texas.

I am half Mexican, and I get my tallness from my Irish/German side (though Irishmen are often depicted as short now that I think about it). Most “Mexicans” that I see who are tall are either of European ancestry or are from families that have lived in the United States for many generations.

Does a diet heavy with beef and dairy products make people taller, either individually or across the span of several generations? I recall that the cattle herding peoples of Africa are generally over a head taller than the other peoples of Africa.

Now if we say “large Texan”, we might be accurate two thirds of the time.

I’m a 6’2" Texan and FWIW this is the first I have ever heard about Texans being taller than average. (Although now that I think about it, I’m only average height among my friends.)

The term “tall Texan” was a staple of Western fiction by the 1920’s. I also found a few uses of “long, tall Texan” in newspaper articles from the 1920’s.

I actually found the “tall Texan” in articles from as early as the 1880’s. I think it became a not-uncommonly used newpaperwriter phrase by the 1910’s.

The notion of a “long, tall” hero, adventurer is pervasive in early American story telling and myth. I think Texans (for whatever reason) just liked the sound of it, and embraced the “long, tall, hero” cliche as part of their cultural fabric, while others let it go.

Let me clarify that a little. I’ve heard the referenced song, and the “tall Texan” phrase, but I’ve never heard any claims that they were based on any kind of facts. As far as the acting tall, that sounds like a claim that anybody from anywhere would make about a place they liked.

I was curious about the origin of what I assumed to be a myth. Not a myth of mythical proportions, for sure, but a legend none the less. :wink:
Maybe it’s a holdover from back when Texas was a big state? Some ol’ boys are still a little miffed about that. I think that’s when, and by whom, the term “contiguous” was invented.

Think you can talk sh** about my barbecue and then say…nevermind. Just come on down and see how tall a size 12 boot in your ass will make you.
Sorry mangeorge I didn’t realize this was a G/Q. Forget the boot in your ass comment. :wink:

Last night I went out for a little while and ran into some old friends of mine I hadn’t seen in awhile. Mitch is 6’7"…Bob…at 6’5" Robert…6’4" Sue…she’s only 6’ feet but was wearing boots, so Let’s see, other folks I know. WTF it don’t really matter. You know how selective memory works. It helps instill the myth. There’s an answer that might have some fact to it. Peace, t/k