Friends, give me a break; cut me some slack; allow me to engage in a little rhetorical hyperbole. I know that Big Tex was not a god, or an idol like the Golden Calf – er, make that Golden Bull. But he was an icon, a mascot, and an, almost, living symbol of the great State Fair of Texas, which I suppose is itself somewhat of a hyperbole.
Because of our 24/7 news reporting, many if not most of those who read this already know that Big Tex caught fire and burned from his boots to his 100 gallon hat this past Friday, two days before the Fair closed for the year. He had been there 60 years. As a matter of fact my first State Fair in 1952 was also that of Big Tex. My mom remembers taking me and my brothers and sisters to the fair that year, and, the day before the immolation, Martha and I took my mom. Witness this photo.
I’m not going to go into the history of big Tex that has been related over and over again, others than to mention he started his life as a Santa Claus in a small town in Navarro County Texas, and was purchased for $750 to begin anew at the fair. To say that he was living and breathing, of course, is going a bit too far, but his voice was that of radio announcer Jim Lowe until the 1990s, when a new voice took over. Unlike they computerized voices many puppets and machines have today, Tex always had a live human being making the announcements.
This is not an obituary, because the State Fair management, and the mayor of Dallas, have said that Tex would rise again at the fair next year. After all, only his clothes, boots, and fiberglass head and hat were destroyed. The steel armature, or skeleton, remained intact, and was respectfully removed from his place in a shroud.
So, the metaphor, or imagery if you will, is not that of the Immolation of the Gods as in Richard Wagner’s stupendous opera. It will be the Flight of the Phoenix, or if you will, a secular resurrection.
See you at the State Fair next year. We can meet by Big Tex.