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The Fascinating Story Of Hondo Crouch
First SWC Texas Champion And 2 Time All American
Hondo swam for Coach Tex Robertson at Texas (1935-1941), and he was called the “Swimming Cowboy.”
A quote from Becky Patterson- Hondo's daughter -"THE HONDO I KNEW was like an Indian scout, trapper, hunter, made arrowheads , read the ground. Played pranks on us. We were his first audience. We kids were all educated in culture, the arts, private schools, even though we slept with raccoons and wild foxes he'd brought home , curled up on our pillows."
In the book - Tex- The Father of Texas Swimming says that Hondo was “a rancher, philosopher, Texas folkloris, poet, and one of the most influential figures in country music” who in 1970 bought the town of Lukenbach Texas.
At Texas Hondo’s roommates Wally Hoffrichter, Adolf Kiefer, and Hondo Crouch fed off of each others bizarre characteristics.
Crouch became the first Southwest Conference Champion and two-time all-American in the 50 and 100 yd. freestyle. In 1936, when he was team captain, the all-American 300 yd. medley relay team brought fame to Texas. The swimming relay went from number forty to number four in the nation. Hondo always stuck out from everyone else because he dressed like a “B” movie cowboy.
For swim meets, he would show up on deck at Gregory Gym wearing his swim suit, boots, and cowboy hat. He was known to take his pet skunk and guitar on swim meet trips. As a top-rated swimmer and as a colorful character, Hondo garnered much publicity for the University of Texas.
Crouch also brought recognition to his community, the Hill Country, and his state simply because he was an original. A genuine individualist and colorful character, Texas Monthly dubbed him “The Most Professional Texan.” He and his teammates were pioneers in the young life of Texas swimming, and for a quarter of a century he coached, promoted, and directed swimming for hundreds of kids.
Who Was the Hill Country’s Legendary Hondo Crouch?
By Gay Lewis | February 7, 2017
With a name like Hondo, he must have established the town of Hondo, Texas, right? Wrong. Hondo Crouch is the guy who made Luckenbach, Texas famous enough for a songwriter to write about the town. Hondo didn’t launch the tiny Luckenbach. A few Germans did that back in the 1800’s, but Hondo Crouch branded it.
Remember the theme from the TV sitcom “Cheers”? Cheers was the bar “where everyone knows your name.” Hondo Crouch trademarked Luckenbach with similar buzzwords. Years before the TV sitcom became popular, Hondo claimed Luckenbach as the place “where everybody is somebody.” Similar to Will Rogers’ philosophic ways, Hondo extolled a humble way of living. He poked fun at a complicated life to all who would listen. And then people began to sing about it.
In 1977, Waylon Jennings sang about simple living in “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love).” The lyrics echoed Hondo Crouch’s philosophy. Although the songwriters had never been to Luckenbach, they had the gist of the place. A relaxed existence.
“Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’ got us feuding like the Hatfield and McCoys”
Crouch, unfortunately, didn’t live to hear Waylon’s song. He’d died the year before.
John Russell (Hondo) Crouch came into the world on December 4, 1916, and departed it in 1976. He left an indelible mark in those sixty years. So, how did he get the nickname name Hondo? He was born in Hondo, Texas but later moved north to the Kerrville and Comfort, Texas areas.
The talented Crouch wrote columns for the Comfort News. He used a pen name for his satires on politics and everyday life. Like Will Rogers, he was a humorist, but he was also an athlete—an All-American swimmer at the University of Texas. He stayed married to the same woman for 30 years and fathered four kids. While Will Rogers famously twirled a rope, Hondo Crouch carved wood.
And he owned a town. Crouch bought Luckenbach, Texas for $30,000 in 1971 and gave himself another title: Mayor. Luckenbach’s population consisted of three people. In 1970 , as owner and mayor of Luckenbach, Texas, he became a folk hero.
Link below is Jerry Jeff Walker singing in Luckenbach
" The Clown Prince" and "Imagineer, authorized distributor" were some of his titles. Upon seeing the unfinished new Texas Swim Center he remarked, "Gollee! Jus think of all the bales of hay I could store in here!" Author James A. Michener wrote "Hondo said he was a legend in his own mind. He is definetely a Texas legend in my mind and in the minds of countless other."
Hondo and Family
His grandsons Ren and Kit Patterson followed his tradition and swam at Texas under Coach Eddie Reese for seven years, 1986 to 1993.
Hondo's induction speech given by a family member at the TSDHOF is below.