A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 12, 2007
“Sam Houston made us free; Sam Colt made us equal”

"Sam Houston made us free; Sam Colt made us equal” was a saying popularized by Gene Howe, who wrote “The Tactless Texan” column for the Amarillo Globe-News that he published. In 1952, Howe committed suicide with a .38 caliber Colt revolver.


26 June 1952, Dallas Morning News, part I, pg. 4:
Gene Howe,
Salty Writer,
Shoots Self
AMARILLO, Texas, June 25 (UP).—The body of 66-year-old Gene (Old Tack) Howe, chairman of the board of the Amarillo Globe-News Publishing Company, and one of the saltiest humorists in the Southwest, was found Wednesday on a country road, where he had committed suicide.

He was the youngest son of the late Ed Howe, an Atchison, Kan. editor and publisher with such a gift for homely philosophy that he was called the “Sage of Potato Hill.” Gene Howe won as much fame with a column called “The Tactless Texan.”
(...)
A .38 caliber Colt revolver was clutched in his stiff right hand; there were powder burns about a wound in his right temple. Mrs. W. J. Flesher, a Randall County justice of the peace, officially pronounced it suicide.

Associates, searching through his columns Wednesday for some hint as to what he had intended to do, noticed only this, the last paragraph of Tuesday’s column:

“Some refer to old-time sayings as ‘idioms.’ Here is one of the earliest in Texas: ‘Sam Houston made us free and Samuel Colt made us equal.’”

Time magazine
Monday, Jul. 07, 1952
Far beyond the Texas panhandle, Gene Howe, publisher of the Amarillo Globe and News, was fondly known as “Old Tack.” His folksy daily column, “The Tactless Texan,” was the most popular newspaper column in the state, and across Texas he was known as “Mr. Panhandle, Amarillo’s one-man Chamber of Commerce.”
(...)
One day last week, at the end of his column, he tacked on one of his familiar aphorisms: “An old Texas saying: Sam Houston made us free and Sam Colt made us equal.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, June 12, 2007 • Permalink