An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

Contact Information
Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.
1401 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

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It’s Here: “Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods”

A 40-year labor of literary love, enhanced by detailed in-person interviews, is complete.  “Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods” is now available to readers.

Co-author Gaylor Finklea Hecker – a former Daily Texan staff member – and co-author and colleague Marianne Odom are now celebrating publication of the book, and beginning of a marketing campaign, including a tweet from Kay Bailey Hutchison, noting that the “fabulous book…illustrates the unique spirit of Texas ingrained from childhood.”

It’s available at UT Press, Amazon and BookPeople in Austin, nestled between works by Stephen Harrigan (who praised the book ) and Delbert McClinton (who has a chapter in the book.)

 Finklea Hecker and Odom began the interviews for this book in 1981 and devoted a professional lifetime to collecting the memories of accomplished Texans to determine what, if anything, about growing up in the Lone Star State prepared them for success.

The resulting 47 oral history interviews begin with tales from the early 1900s, when Texas was an agrarian state, and continue through the growth of major cities and the country’s race to the moon. Interviewees recalled life in former slave colonies; on gigantic ranches, tiny farms, and sharecropper fields; and in one-horse towns and big-city neighborhoods, with relatable stories as diverse as the state’s geography.

The oldest interviewees witnessed women earning the right to vote and weathered the Great Depression. Many remembered two world wars, while others recalled the Texas City explosion of 1947 and the tornado that devastated Waco in 1953. They witnessed the advent of television and the nightly news, which helped many come to terms with the assassination of a president that took place too close to home.

Their absorbing reflections are stories of good and bad, hope and despair, poverty and wealth, depression and inspiration, which would have been different if lived anywhere but Texas.

The first review came from the Abilene Reporter-News, and the first autograph party, attended by Odom, was held in Abilene.


Early comments from Notable Texans:

Gaylon Finklea Hecker and Marianne Odom deserve Texas- size applause for weaving Texas tales that reveal the power of a Texas heritage. … All of their stories are worth sharing. All are inspirational to those who love our state and those who have yet to discover why.” —Luci Baines Johnson

“Decades in the making, these childhood recollections of Texas writers, actors, athletes, politicians and a few who seem to fit no category are at once insightful, hilarious, informative and just a down right good read. I loved it.” —Bob Schieffer

“[A] fascinating, eminently browsable collection of personal stories about Texas, and about the everlasting imprint a state with a uniquely powerful identity leaves upon its children.” — Stephen Harrigan


“Growing Up in the Lone Star State” is published by the Briscoe Center for American History and distributed by the University of Texas Press. It includes a foreword by S. C. “Sam” Gwynne and a preface by Don Carleton.

About the Authors:

Journalists Gaylon Finklea Hecker and Marianne Odom have been collecting oral histories since 1981 and previously collaborated on The Businesses That Built San Antonio. Finklea Hecker is the author of four books about Texas history. Odom is a journalism professor at San Antonio College.

The Interviewees:

Richard Overton«Sarah McClendon«Lady Bird Johnson«Mary Martin« Mary Kay Ash«Dr. Denton Cooley«Liz Carpenter«Brigadier General Lillian Dunlap«Liz Smith«Ray Price«Lauro F. Cavazos«Red McCombs« Jimmy Dean«Humberto Reyes«Archbishop Patrick Flores«Dan Jenkins« Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis Jr. « Les Wilk « Dan Rather « Debbie Reynolds « Justice Rose Spector«Kathryn Crosby«A. J. Foyt«Bob Schieffer«Trini Lopez« Robert Crippen«Rex Reed«Representative Senfronia Thompson«Tommy Tune «Delbert McClinton«Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison«Joe Armstrong« Guich Koock«Sarah Weddington«Ruth Simmons«Jaclyn Smith«Sandy Duncan «Michael Levy«Jerry LeVias«Nolan Ryan«Henry Cisneros«Sandra Brown« Phyllis George«Heloise«Ben Crenshaw«Rex Tillerson«Leon Coffee

“Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods” Series: Tower Books Imprint, The University of Texas Press
Publisher: Briscoe Center for American History
Book Details: 442 pages, 6 x 9 inches, 146 illustrations

ISBN: 978-0-9997318-4-0 Publication Status: In Print