Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

You left the lights on!

The Marfa Lights are one of the few unexplainable phenomenon that I have actually seen. You have to look due south, not at that shaded balloon on the map.

I knew a fellow whose family owned a ranch a little farther west than Marfa -- everything between US90 and the Rio Grande. I asked him if the land was valuable, he said "only if we had invented Pet Rocks."

Ranches in West Texas are measured by 'sections' rather than acres -- a section is one square mile or 640 acres.

Besides the Lights, Marfa's other claim to fame is that the movie Giant was filmed nearby -- you can still see the framework for the front of Benedict ranch house -- on the opposite side of US90 from the Marfa Lights observation area. Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean stayed at a hotel in Marfa during the filming.

Now, this part gets tricky: James Dean's character in the movie, Jett Rink, was based in part of Texas oil tycoon Glenn Herbert McCarthy who built the Shamrock Hotel in Houston. The fictional Emperador Hotel in the movie is based on the Shamrock Hotel. The play and movie "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" -- which revived Cher's career -- takes place in the fictional Texas town of McCarthy . You didn't think I was going to be able to tie this all together did you!

ps. Brewster County (see map), population about 9,000, is larger in size than three states: Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island -- and larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

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