Continued guest post written by Claudia Hall Christian.
2. Fort Worth is a hotbed for other elusive creatures – the Romani: Who? Gypsies.
Fort Worth is home to one of the largest populations of Romani in the country. Pushed for centuries from one country to the next, they come to the United States to seek asylum and live in peace. Unlike the usual depiction of a Gypsy as a thief or trickster, the Romani are hardworking people who blend into the background in Fort Worth. They tend to be highly educated business owners. When I was in Fort Worth doing research, a waiter (the only person who had any contact with them) told me that you could always tell the Romani by their expensive clothing, purses, shoes, and jewels. The Romani tend to keep to themselves with the hope of keeping their culture, language, and traditions alive. They live together in an area by the Naval Air Station called White Settlement.
The Romani are not to be confused with the Irish Travellers, these people were highlighted in the television show, the Riches. While the Irish Travellers claim genetic links to the Romani, and call themselves Gypsies, they tend to be louder and more visible than the Romani. Irish Travellers live in Fort Worth during the winter months and travel the country doing (or not doing) construction work in the summer.
3. Bonnie and Clyde hung out in the Stockyards in 1930s.
While almost everyone in Fort Worth can articulate the date Elvis played the Colesium, January 20, 1956, very few remember that Bonnie and Clyde were born just outside of Dallas. While on the lam, they held up in the stockyards at the Stockyard Hotel. In a time when no one but the very wealthy had money and everyone felt desperate, Bonnie and Clyde robbed banks. This quote from Wikipedia best describes their appeal then and now – “The countryís money simply declined by 38 percent“, explains Milner, author of The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde. “Gaunt, dazed men roamed the city streets seeking jobs… Breadlines and soup kitchens became jammed. (In rural areas) foreclosures forced more than 38 percent of farmers from their lands (while simultaneously) a catastrophic drought struck the Great Plains… By the time Bonnie and Clyde became well known, many had felt the capitalistic system had been abused by big business and government officials… Now here were Bonnie and Clyde striking back.” Bonnie and Clyde were folk heroes to average people. They spent a great deal of time playing cards in the saloons in the Stockyards.
I was able to sneak one Bonnie and Clyde story in the Queen of Cool. I was never able to find out it’s origin but it was told to me as if it was fact: Bonnie loved to play cards. While the two of them were recognizable together, they were safe apart. Bonnie would play cards in saloon across the street from the Stockyard Hotel. Clyde could sit up in the window and watch her play. The person tell me this story thought he was watching to make sure she didn’t pick up a few men with her winnings. I personally believe they cheated at cards that way. With Bonnie’s back to him, he could easily see her cards and two or three other players around a round table. The question is how did he signal her. I pose an answer – moving the curtains changed the light – but I challenge you to check it out yourself.
Visiting the Stockyards is another great trip to take with kids. Round up the kids and head down to the stockyards during the day when the bars are quiet. Tell them the cool story and ask them to figure it out. There are waterways and paths to explore as well as great old West stuff to do in the Stockyards. The last scene of the Queen of Cool happens on the site of the Swift Packing Plant. This is a super creepy site that’s also worth some exploration.
Come back tomorrow to read more of my five fun and quirky things to do in Fort Worth.
Claudia Hall Christian is the author of the Queen of Cool. Set in Fort Worth, the Queen of Cool is an intoxicating ride across a landscape of insurmountable odds, covert government operations, and toxic weapons, where a courageous heroine who risks it all in the name of love. For the rest of April and all of May, you can download the Queen of Cool and set your own price at Smashwords. The book is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon and our store. The Queen of Cool will be released two chapters a month on the Queen of Cool website. For more information Go to the Queen of Cool Facebook page or follow the Queen of Cool on Twitter. You can find more photos of Fort Worth locations in the Queen of Cool on Pinterest.