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'Friendship' Branded as Wimpy; Texas Plates to Carry No Motto

August 30, 1989|From Times Wire Services

AUSTIN, Tex. — Unfriendly reaction prompted the Highway Commission on Tuesday to drop the idea of putting "The Friendship State" on Texas license plates.

The commission decided instead to add just the red, white and blue state flag to the plate, which already carries a Texas map.

On July 19, the three-member commission approved, with little fanfare, what seemed an innocuous proposal to use "The Friendship State" on the 27 million Texas license plates, hoping the cheery message would attract tourists.

The slogan became the topic of radio call-in shows, newspaper surveys and coffee shop banter.

"It's wimpy," said Texas Treasurer Ann Richards, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Many suggested "The Lone Star State" instead. A newspaper survey came up with such suggestions as the "Bank Failure State," "Don't Mess With Texas" and "Pinhead Legislature."

Commission Chairman Robert Dedman said he hoped Texans would continue the license plate discussion and offer a new motto that could help dispel some of the nation's negative feelings toward Texas.

"We need to do something to improve our image," Dedman said, noting that the state has suffered from the oil price collapse, the savings and loan crisis and the downfall of former House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.).

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