Don’t Mess With Texas!

Being born and raised in Texas, there’s just so much I take for granted, so I thought I’d share with you all a few Texisums and some laws that you might be interested to know about when you do come to the bigger than life state of Texas.

 “You all” is both singular and plural.

 “Y’all come back, you hear.” A Texan isn’t particularly expecting an answer and we’re inviting you or you and all of your friends back. Thus it can be singular or plural.

“All you all” is definitely plural. It means each and every one of you, while “you all’s” can be singular possessive or plural possessive. But “all you all’s” is definitely plural possessive.

Mosey:  Means both “to move quickly” and “to move slowly”.  A 2,000 pound Brahma bull moseys pretty dern slow, while a cowboy moseying toward a honky tonk for a cold beer would mosey rather quickly.

Fixin’ is an interesting word, not unlike “you all”.  It can be a verb, adverb or a noun, depending on how it’s being used.  Here’s a quote from the dictionary.  “Regional Note: “Fixin’ to” ranks with y’all as one of the best known markers of Southern dialect, although it seems to be making its way into the informal speech and writing of non-Southerners.”  Here in Texas you’ll hear us say  something like, “I’m fixin’ to leave for the grocery store to get the fixin’s to fix dinner with.”

A couple of things only a true Texan would know. The difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit and the general direction of cattywumpus.

Here are a few Texas laws that are still on the books.

Temple: Cattle thieves may be hanged on the spot. No one may ride a horse and buggy through the town square, but they can ride their horse in the saloon.

Austin: Wire cutters cannot be carried in your pocket. 

San Antonio: It is illegal for both sexes to flirt or respond to flirtation using the eyes and/or hands. It is also illegal to urinate on the Alamo.

Texarkana: Owners of horses may not ride them at night without tail lights.

It is illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.

It’s illegal to milk another’s cow.

In Kingsville, there is a law against two pigs having sex on the city’s airport property. Why just the city’s airport property? Don’t ask me!

Up here in the Panhandle it’s against the law to throw confetti, rubber balls, feather dusters, whips or quirts and explosive firecrackers of any kind.  Also, it’s illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster.

Lubbock:  It is illegal to drive within an arm’s length of alcohol, including alcohol in someone else’s blood stream.  This is where “Don’t Mess With Texas” comes in loud and clear!  

In El Paso, churches, hotels, halls of assembly, stores, markets, banking rooms, railroad depots, and saloons are required to provide spittoons “of a kind and number to efficiently contain expectorations into them.” 

In other parts of Texas you can’t land an airplane on the beach, throw trash from an airplane, or inhale fumes from model glue, not to mention you must obtain permission from the director of parks and recreation before getting drunk in any city park.

Texas is a common law state, so you can be legally married by publicly introducing a person as your husband or wife three times. So my advice to you, be careful what you say when you have your snoot full in a Texas honky tonk.

Port Arthur:  Obnoxious odors may not be emitted while in an elevator.

Some of these laws have been changed or strengthened, especially involving drinking and driving, while some like having wire cutters in your pocket or shooting buffalo from a second floor window of a hotel remains in full force and effect. So every time I look at the new Marriott being built, I wonder if they’ll add that law to the notice they put on the inside of your hotel room?  I might just have to call them and find out.

But the best law of all: A cowman cannot tuck his pants into one boot unless he owns ten or more head of cattle.  I have no idea what the purpose of this law might have been. Do you?

Are there any old laws that are unique to your part of the country that you’d like to share with us today?

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

27 thoughts on “Don’t Mess With Texas!”

  1. Those were great! Thanks for the laugh this morning.

    From my hometown of Riverton, Wyoming it is illegal for a woman to ride a horse while attired in a bathing suit, unless she has a police escort or is carrying a club. This law only applies to attractive women between 90 and 200 pounds.

    Also a woman can’t stand within five feet of a bar…while drinking.

    And in Wyoming it’s illegal to take pictures of rabbits from January to April.

  2. This is why I so love anything about Texas…and I am not even from there… Not even an American. But I love anything Texan and cowboys… These laws could only be Made in Texas..
    I can’t think of any unique laws here in Ontario, Canada where I reside, but I am sure there are lots if I investigated..

  3. Thanks Kelly and Kirsten for dropping by so early in the morning. Kelly, if you google the pant legs in the boot law and find the answer, let us all know.
    Kirsten, the taking pictures of rabbits is interesting, but I must say the woman riding a horse attired in a bathing suit with all the other provisions makes my brain go crazy! I guess a heavy set ugly woman can do it? That is really a funny law. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair, Phyliss. I’ve never spent enough time in Texas to appreciate the place, but I’m ready to pack my bags.
    In my home town of Monroe Utah there was a law that said dancing couples had to keep their bodies at least six (?) inches apart. The kids in my high school pretty much ignored that one.
    🙂

  5. Oh Elizabeth, now it’s my turn to laugh. I’ve heard of a similar law about dancing, but have never had a specific number of inches apart. I can only imagine the debate on that one! Oh yeah, Texas is pretty much a land of our own, and we really do fall back a lot on the old Code of West philosophy. Thanks for dropping by so early, Fellow Filly! Hugs, P

  6. I had no idea Lubbock had a law about driving within arm’s length of alcohol. Too funny. I’m glad I found this out though before I wind up breaking the law and not even knowing about it. I sure wouln’t want to get hauled to the calaboose!

    See you in a bit.

  7. Linda, I can just imagine you calling and asking to be bailed out of jail because you were driving within an arm’s length of someone who was drunk! But, I promise to bail you out … no questions asked! Travel safe, and I’ll see you this afternoon.

  8. These are just too funny. It’s too early to ask my sons about any sayings they use. (They are already out in the field). But I’m sure putting wire cutters in the back pocket is not wise thinking, especially if you are “fixin’ to get back on your horse.
    California cowboys look down their noses on cowboys who tuck their pants into their boots. In fact, California cowboys have different styles in different parts of the state. They look down on each other, if they identify you from wherever you’re from. They are a funny bunch.
    My husband went to Utah to help gather cattle during the winter of 1949. His Uncle told him he wasn’t to tell anybody where he was from or they would make fun of him.
    I’m going to have to check our laws. I’m sure there are some doozies here, too.

  9. Thanks, Mary J for your comment. You are right about cowboys having different customs depending on where they are from. Back in the old days it is unacceptable to ask a cowboy where he was from or his full name. If he used a nickname that was good enough for us. I believe the wire cutters is still a law, but would have to confirm that for sure. But I’ve heard that all of my life. Let me know what unique laws you come up with. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

  10. oh, Phyliss, I’m laughing out loud. I remember once on the private P and P loop, you explained all y’all and I confess I’ve actually used it in converation LOL. I loved the one about the common law marriage and the advice to be careful what you do/say in a honkeytonk. I think there’s a book in there somewhere!
    Aw, it’s been almost a year since my trip to Texas. Fun thing, the writers’ retreat is scheduled to be back in Bandera next year again, so I’ll soon be on my way.

    Terrific post! Wiping my eyes now…oxoxox

  11. Thanks for the lunch time smiles. I know I have heard of some rather strange laws over the years, but can’t remember specifics at the moment. You have to wonder what people were thinking when they wrote some of these. The rabbit picture one has me stumped. Not wanting to disturb them during breeding season maybe. Like that is a problem ; ) The bathing suit horse back riding law makes a warped bit of sense, even carrying a club (for self-defense?). It would almost be worth calling the police department requesting a police escort so you could ride your horse through town in your bathing suit. Wonder what they would say.
    I’ll have to check back this evening to see what other laws people come up with.

  12. It makes you wonder why they ever came up with some of them… I have heard some weird ones in the past… Thanks for sharing! 😀

  13. Thanks, Tanya. I bet you’ll enjoy your next trip to Texas as much as the other one. Can’t believe it’s already been a year! WOW time flies. I actually know a lady who thought her parents were married until it came time to take care of some social security business and was pulled aside (in her 50’s at that) and told there was a little problem … her parents never found time to get married. They’d owned several houses, had five children with the father’s name on the certificates. The whole nine yards, but it worked out because again in Texas all you have to do is hold out to be husband and wife. That could be a very interesting plot couldn’t it? Gotta give it some thought.

    In Give Me a Texas Ranger, I used a little bit of the common law marriage (actually taken from the true history of Mickey and Frenchie McCormick), but I’d like to see a book with that being “the” plot.

  14. Thanks Jennie, Patricia and Colleen for dropping by today and commenting. It sure would be interesting to trace back the “whys” of some of these laws. I, believe it or not, can see the law about shooting buffalo from the second story building LOL but some of the others make me shake my head in disbelief. Patricia, I think you are probably right about the reason for the rabbits. Maybe that law is why there are so many today!!!!! You all have a great day. Hugs, Phyliss

  15. Phyliss and Patricia, Even as a native Wyomingite I can’t figure out the rabbit law. But I’d bet it’s nothing to do with protecting the little creatures. More likely, it’s so there aren’t a bunch of people out snapping photos while hunters are trying to eliminate a few.
    I thought about calling the police when I go home this summer to visit for an escort, but I’d hate to be told I’m not attractive enough, and can proceed to ride my horse in my bathing suit without an escort. :o)

  16. I think it might’ve finally been changed, but until very recently, Nebraska was what you called a “Right to Farm” state.
    What this amounted to was, if while driving down the road, someone’s cow ran out in front of you and you hit it, you not only had to pay for the damage to your own car, you had to pay the farmer for the cow.

  17. look what I found.
    Bizarre Nebraska Laws
    If a child burps in church, his parents may be arrested.

    It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup

    It is illegal for a mother to give her daughter a perm without a state license.

    In Omaha: A man is not allowed to run around with a shaved chest.

    In Lehigh Doughnut holes may not be sold.

    In Waterloo Barbers are forbidden from eating onions between 7 A.M. and 7 P.M

  18. Kirsten, too funny. And, your explanation of the reason for not taking pictures of rabbits make a whole lot more sense than invading their privacy! LOL And, you’re too funny about the riding the horse scenario. A short story if floating around my head right now using your visuals! Have a great evening.

  19. Mary, I believe you are right about the animal issue. I wish I could remember all of the details, but my daughter told me about a real life situation that occurred a year or so ago involving a charity that was using a cow and something happened to it. The issue of damages was in the legal department, so a settlement could be worked out. Something on that line, but I remember reading about it. Dang, if only I’d paid more attention.

    I laughed about the barbers not eating onions, but the idea of donut holed not being sold is absolutely a treasure! Sounds like a special interest group got that law passed. LOL Thanks for your great list. Hugs, P

  20. Excellent post! And, being a “naturalized” Texan, I do happen to know the difference between “a hissie fit and a conniption fit and the general direction of cattywumpus.” 😉

  21. Okay, I just looked up dumb California laws and admit I’m gonna bite off Phyliss and do a blog on them someday. But for now: in the town of Blythe, it’s illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you own at least two cows.

    And in Baldwin Park, it’s illegal to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool.

    Whew. I’ll save the rest for later. Thanks for the inspiration, Phyliss! oxoxox

  22. Tracy, if you know those terms then you are definitely 100% Texan whether you were born here or not! I also thought about the taillight Tracy, too. I wonder if they had a name for the man who installed the “tail” lights on a horse? Winnie, I’m gonna go check out your post from 2009. I bet you have some gems for sure. And, Tanya who in their right mind would ride a bicycle in a swimming pool anyway? I guess the same one who though of installing taillights on a horse! I’m just glad Texas isn’t the only state that still has antiquated laws on the books.

    All you all have a great evening. This was a fun post, and I think all of the writers out there had a seed or two planted for some fun scenes in stories. I know I did. Hugs to all, Phyliss

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