Viva Indian Emily!

Viva Indian Emily!

Traveling Texas Highway 118 from Alpine to Fort Davis is Western eye-candy and guaranteed to fire up your imagination. After a flat stretch leaving Alpine, you encounter towering rocks on both sides of a curvy, climbing state highway. It’s the kind of road where you think, “Apaches could hide behind those rocks.” Or maybe you only imagine that if you grew up watching 1950s-era Westerns or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In Fort Davis, you find more going on than its tiny size suggests. The night we visited, the Hotel Limpia featured live music under the patio’s big-leaf trees.…

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My GIANT Pilgrimage Part I

My GIANT Pilgrimage Part I

At summer’s end six decades ago an enormous cast and crew rolled into tiny Marfa, Texas to film Giant.  Still the life-defining moment in Marfa’s history, the movie is eclipsed  by today’s world view of Marfa with its hipster Austin visitors and wealthy Houston patrons. Unaware in 1955 of Hollywood’s  invasion of West Texas, I lived 200 miles east of Marfa. My mother was a teacher and my father worked for the utility company—a not uncommon family trope for the times. Impulsive and frivolous were not how I’d describe my mother. Fun, yes, but I never imagined Movie Tone and…

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GIANT Pilgrimage Part II

Mother possessed a sure-fire tip on how to see Miss Taylor.  The plan was to pull our car in front of her rented frame house at sunset, the exact moment before dark when we could see inside the house, but she couldn’t see out. Timing was crucial because shades would be pulled and curtains drawn at dark. Sundown is short on the high plains of Marfa so we were quick. We parked across the street, and Mother got out of the car while we five children and two mothers crouched in the floorboards.  I thought she was going to go…

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Veterans Day: Voice of a Silenced Soldier

Veterans Day: Voice of a Silenced Soldier

Millions of soldiers fight valiantly for their country, and millions die doing so.  I pray for those who were the victims of so-called friendly fire. It’s not better or worse than any other war death, but it is its own special hell. The letter below, surrounded by paper poppies, is a letter my grandmother copied about her 20-year-old son’s death in World War II. Carefully crafted by the captain, the words do not mention how my uncle died. That was left to me to find out. The facts were never shared with my family, thus their mantra until the day they…

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Boom!

Boom!

Let’s move from the mountains of Far West Texas to the oil and gas fields.  To a porch at the corner of Eighth Street and North Pennsylvania Avenue in Big Lake—a town peppered with houses that were trucked in, porches included, from closed oil camps where workers had lived during  the last century’s big boom. Unlike those 1920s communities built around the oil fields, this house sits where it was built—in the town of Big Lake. I haven’t been to Big Lake in more than two years. I haven’t lived there since 1967.   The small town I remember might just…

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Unchaperoned Reader

Are libraries on their way out? When I attended a memorial service months ago, I started wondering and thinking about my nerdy relationship with libraries and their caregivers. The memorial service was for Mrs. Havenhill who was the librarian at my high school.  Yes, I guess my favorite classroom ‘teacher’ was the librarian. Reagan County High School’s library was then located at the end of a long linoleum-floored hall. When classes quietened after the bell, you could hear Mrs. Havenhill rhythmically walk the hall in her spiky high heels. Reagan County was a 200 student, four-grade high school in the…

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

It was almost a divorce this week. Between me and Alpine. Town of my birth and my spiritual home for 66 ½ years.  Like no other, it’s a home in the Texas Mountains, which most of world doesn’t even know exists. I’m forced to consider the question: “Should I stay or should I go? If I go, there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double.” And so on. Maybe you know the song. The pros and cons of keeping my grandparent’s house, when I actually live hundreds of miles away, rolls around in my head like the…

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High and Tight

Baseball fans will enjoy the following guest post by Newton Jones.                                 During summers of my youth, our backyard in Northbrook, Illinois was transformed from a grassy expanse into a baseball field for the Jones boys and their friends. Our fervent desire was to grow up and play for the Chicago Cubs. Our infield had no home plate…only the bare spot in front of the crabapple tree.  First base was an unused baseball glove or the arm of a lawn chair.  Second base was the…

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Weddings

June weddings? Not in my family. But in January, our youngest son married in a splendid church wedding. His beautiful bride’s generous family included us every step of the way, and we are delightfully family-ized around the happy couple.  (Adjectives on steroids just go with a wedding. Have you ever seen Katharine Hepburn gush at the end of The Philadelphia Story?) Question: What makes a wedding perfect? Answer: A few decades. My parents, Clarence and Dalma Morrow had a midnight wedding, May 19, 1940 with just two attendants, and the preacher and pianist.  All this happened by candlelight at the…

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I’ve been everywhere, man. In Texas.

Just when you think you can live the rest of your life without taking another road trip on Texas highways, you find out differently. I have been adventuring out on new roads—to me anyway—and I don’t mean metaphorically. Although, come to think of it, there’s some of that, too. My son is engaged to a perfectly wonderful young woman from College Station so the trek down there has become our newest well-traveled path. I’m way too familiar with Texas’s Interstate 35 corridor and could drive Interstates 20 or 10 or US 67/90 in my sleep, but put me on Interstate…

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