Starry nights, country tunes and those beautiful rolling plains: These are the things that make Texas a special place, but the true beauty of our state lies within our stories.
The What I Like About Texas campaign is all about honoring terrific Texas tales about music, food and everything in between. Whether you’re in Denton, Dayton or Deer Park, you can find a story around every corner, and by embracing these tales, we embrace what makes us Texan.
A writer is shown in this undated photo at the Emily Fowler Library. (Photo by Alec Williams)
It’s no secret that we here in Denton love to embrace our history and heritage through the power of storytelling. After all, this is a town that more than a half dozen different newspapers have called home over the years, with the Independent, the Times, the Post and the Beacon all predating our Record-Chronicle. But perhaps our most notable Denton chronicler is not a paper, but a bard: the one and only H.L. Harrell, or “The Bard of Argyle.”
Born and raised in south Denton County, Harrell grew up without a telephone, radio or television set. To pass the time, the young, soon-to-be bard would tend his garden, read the local newspapers and take long walks through the community on his way to the post office, where he’d drop off poems and essays that were regularly printed by papers in Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton.
In addition to his poetry, Harrell wrote essays about everything from war and the United Nations to life as a 19th and 20th century Texas. His writings—many of which can be found on microfilm, available to all, at the Fowler Branch of the Denton Public Library—earned him the moniker “Bard of Argyle” from the Dallas Morning News. Though he passed away in 1976, the Bard lives on through a variety of modern-day storytellers.
Since the advent of the Internet, many Dentonites have taken up the masterful storytelling mantle left behind by Harrell. As I set out to write about Denton’s storytelling heritage, I came across the likes of Jim Morris, Alec Williams, Mike Cochran, Laura Douglas and a host of helpful folks at Denton’s libraries and Office of History and Culture. Through their words and images, these bards are chronicling our heritage and introducing it to brand new audiences eager to learn about the history of our town. In fact, so are you.
While it may not seem like it, every time you snap and share a photo on social media, you are telling the story of Denton. We may not all have Harrell’s gift for oration, but whether we strive to or not, we all carry the torch he lit whenever we share a piece of our Texas tale with one another.
The Bard of Argyle once encouraged his readers to “cultivate cheerfulness, never let it die.” Over 40 years after his passing, Denton’s recorders and chroniclers continue to cultivate Texas tales in new and exciting ways. Thanks to you all, our heritage—and that signature Texas cheerfulness—will never die.