I'm going to begin this with a confession. I entered into the study of Texans Inc. with certain unfortunate notions regarding small towns and their inhabitants, my concerns centering on the level of cooperation I would receive from the community. It was clear from the outset that the story could only unfold by "shaking the trees" in Bangs, conducting interviews with long-time residents and former employees. How would I be received? Would I be turned away as merely some sort of nut from the "big city"? My fertile imagination soon painted visions of all sorts of inhospitable encounters. I pictured my every lead taking me to a rustic homestead, complete with a grizzled man guarding the porch from a rocking chair, a shotgun across his lap and a short-tempered dog at his side. Each contact would result in a, "Git off mah propity!" followed by a near miss from both barrels.
Now, my wife might tell you that I'm prone to exaggeration, an accusation that could contain a grain or two of truth. But the fact is, I did have concerns, thinking that Bangs might prefer to keep the lamp factory in the past. I was so wrong. The reception I received was a warm one, as though the town of Bangs was waiting for someone to remember them. My study of Texans Incorporated was (and still is) a real pleasure, as all concerned opened their homes and shared their memories, without hesitation. The residents of Bangs proved to be everything I could have hoped for, and I'm proud to have made many great friends.
The first Texans Incorporated Reunion was held on December 3rd 2005 at the Bangs Community Center in Bangs, Texas, a reunion that doubled as a book signing party for my first effort, Pedlar of Dreams: The Story of Howard Kron and Texans Incorporated. Dozens of former Texans employees were in attendance, and I was amazed by the atmosphere of the event, rather like that of a family reunion. I couldn't help but to see the pride the alumni had for Texans Incorporated, the company that was at the very core of the town for 30 years. Witnessing this camaraderie firsthand, the reunion gave me a different perspective on my continuing research. In spite of the positive reaction to Pedlar of Dreams by the former employees and the community, I wondered if they had been slighted.
The focus of my book was on Howard Kron, the designer whose name initiated my trip to Bangs. Like many TV lamp collectors, I considered the cryptic Kron marking found on many of the lamps to be rather curious. The significance of the name was a mystery, and the occasional Texans Inc. stamp on the bottom of the lamps wasn't particularly insightful. Seemingly no one in the collecting hobby understood the Texans marking, in spite of the fact that it clearly included the place of origin, Bangs, Texas. The source of the lamps just had to be more complex, and the Texans Inc. reference was typically considered to be nothing more than the marking of a distributor or retailer. It was obvious that there was more to learn, and as the Kron lamps were among my favorites, my curiosity set a quest into motion. My initial visit to Bangs was a revelation. Not only did I find a wealth of information on Kron, but also about Texans Incorporated, the lamp company that manufactured his designs. Although my writing background was minimal I quickly saw the need to record the tale, to preserve the fascinating history of this unlikely success story. It is hard to explain the thought process that took over, but I felt driven to write it down, to "get it out there" before it was lost to time. With a background in the visual arts, it was natural for me to focus the book on the products themselves, the lamps and the artist responsible for the designs. In many ways Kron seemed larger than life, and in the course of my writing Texans Inc. was reduced to a backdrop for the story. Kron was an extremely talented artist, and his creations were certainly important, but they were just one piece of a successful puzzle. The lamp factory was born, and thrived, through the heroic determination of many, and if Texans Inc. played "second fiddle" in my book, this site places the emphasis firmly on Texans Incorporated and all the people who made it great.
I have put considerable time into interviewing former plant workers, from the top of the company to the people "in the trenches", my goal being to paint as clear a picture of the lamp factory as possible. There was no lack of cooperation where the interview process was concerned. My main challenge was to convince the former employees that they had something to contribute, a display of modesty that was invariably unfounded. As I had hoped, their recollections provided a well-rounded look at the daily activity surrounding pottery production. This is my attempt to make as comprehensive a volume as possible, a reference to preserve the story of a company, its products and people.
Given that many of the events chronicled here took place over fifty years ago, my pursuit of accuracy has made this a difficult undertaking. The 1971 fire at the Texans Inc. facility took many priceless documents and records with it, so numerous holes in the story had to be filled by the memories of those involved. There were invariably a few contradictory recollections, and those that couldn't be resolved are notated. Fortunately most of these points of confusion are minor, with no significant impact on the story as a whole. My goal for this website is to acknowledge the accomplishments of a community and to preserve its rich history. No tall tales needed here... the story really is as big as Texas.