Saturday, April 30, 2011

Three Places That Make Americans Special

Howdy, y'all! Today we are going to take a trip through the Three States Plus One archives and pick out some posts about some extraordinary places in this wonderful country. The locations I picked are so full of history that it would be easy to write a set of encyclopedias on each one. Please take time to read each post because it will remind you of what you already know or teach you something new about how these States were so instrumental in the formation of the United States.

Virginia - The Old Dominion holds a special place in American History. Read the post and you'll be astounded at what this one State has contributed to the United States.

Tennessee - It's called the Volunteer State for a reason. I love Tennessee. Enough said.

Colorado - Colorado entered the Union in 1876, thus its nickname "The Centennial State". Located within its borders are some of the most amazing sites that are memorials to a Great People from over 3000 years ago. This post is a tribute to The Ancient Ones.

The three posts above are three of my favorites from the over 500 stories I have written for this blog, and that's saying a lot. Each and every post I write is like a child to me, it's hard to like one more than the other, but in this case, I am comfortable in picking those listed above as special to me. They represent the best of America and have allowed me to re-understand what a blessed place these United States are. i think you'll agree. Enjoy.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Texas Tidbits: One Ranger - An Incomparable Man

Badass Man
Texas history is full of larger-than-life characters, good and bad - Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Bonnie and Clyde, LBJ, etc. One of the least-known of those Texas Legends is a man man named Joaquin Jackson.

I had heard of Joaquin Jackson before, but a couple of days ago I was reminded of him by my good friend, Bob Zeller. Bob also referred me to a book that Jackson wrote and he (Bob) highly recommended it. By now, no doubt you are asking yourself, "Who the hell is Joaquin Jackson?"

Joaquin Jackson is one of the most legendary Texas Rangers in the storied history of that law enforcement agency. Wikipedia tells us, "Joaquin Jackson was the Ranger who responded when riots threatened, violence erupted, and criminals needed to be brought to justice across a wide swath of the Texas-Mexico border from 1966 to 1993." The article continues, "He followed legendary Ranger Captain Alfred Y. Allee Sr. into a shootout at the Carrizo Springs jail that ended a prison revolt—and left him with nightmares. He captured "The See More Kid," an elusive horse thief and burglar who left clean dishes and swept floors in the houses he robbed. He investigated the 1988 shootings in Big Bend's Colorado Canyon and tried to understand the motives of the Mexican teenagers who terrorized three river rafters and killed one. He even helped train Afghan mujahedin warriors to fight the Soviet Union." These accomplishments alone would be defining moments in almost any lawman's career, but we are not talking about any lawman here. We are talking about a Texas Ranger Legend, so you know there are more fascinating adventures to learn about. That's where Joaquin Jackson's books come in.

Ranger Jackson's book that Bob Zeller told me about is called One Ranger followed up by One Ranger Returns. According to the reviews I seen, these two works are riveting not just because of superior writing, but because the stories are something straight out of Hollywood...but they are true. I have got to order these books!

I wish I had more space to dedicate to this extraordinary man, but I will leave you with more about his remarkable journey with an interview from the July, 2002 issue of Texas Monthly. It's amazing reading, so give it a look. You can thank me later. :)

Now you know who Joaquin Jackson is.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Texas Tidbits: 40 Years Ago in Texas

I got an email from my Mom a few days ago that was like a walk down memory lane to a world a million miles away. Thing is, it was right here on our Big Blue Marble not so long ago. Maybe thirty-five years. There's a passel of memories on this email, so I'll highlight a few today and save the others for a rainy day, or possibly even a mini-series of posts. We'll see. Be sure to take detailed notes, we'll have a pop quiz on this material later. :)

Remember when...
  • Gasoline was real cheap? When I first started legally driving, my Dad had a brand new 1971 Monte Carlo. AM/FM 8-Track, 4 speakers, and cruise control! It was a great car. The chicks loved it. Anyway, this Monte Carlo had a 16 gallon gas tank on it and I remember stopping at Wakefield's on Shady Grove and Rodgers to fill it up. The damage? FOUR DOLLARS! I don't stutter and your ears don't flap, I said FOUR DOLLARS to fill up that sled. Four bucks today won't even get you a double bean sprout tofu wheat germ oil frappaccino (however the hell you spell it) at that national sissy coffee place. But, four dollars will get you a 6 pack of cheap ass beer. So, I guess there is some justice in the world.
  • It was a treat to go out to eat with your family? We were pretty lucky here. My Dad had a good job, so we actually went out to eat fairly often. It wasn't always Sunday after Mass going out to eat either, even though we did that regularly, mostly at Luby's or some Cafeteria like that. I was always extra hungry for Luby's. Our usual out-to-eat experience was some place like Joe's Coffee Shop on 6th Street in Irving. Joe's was a cafe that had home cooked food every day. Chicken Fried Steak was always my favorite. The roast beef was damn good, too. The best thing about Joe's? Breakfast. Enough said. For those who don't know about Joe's, think about the diner on the early Andy Griffith Show. That's Joe's.
  • Kids played baseball and no grown ups were needed to enforce the rules? My buddy James Ott will remember this one. James and I lived in the same apartment complex for a while when I was in Junior High School. We had a big vacant lot next door that served as a baseball diamond and football field, depending on the season. Heck, I remember times when we had two, two man teams and would play baseball for hours. No adults required. One other time, I lived on a dead end street with a big field at the end of it. All the kids, ages 9-12 or so, got together mowed the empty field into our version of Yankee Stadium, formed a league with all the other neighborhood kids, played a pre-arranged schedule and never, not one single, solitary time did we ever need an adult to do anything for us. We policed our own.
There's plenty more I could blab on about, but like I mentioned, I'll do this type thing again soon - perhaps tomorrow. Who knows? Now, if you'll excuse me, school got out early today due to the heat here in Maine, and I gotta go pitch for both teams of neighborhood kids. No adults required. Just us kids.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Dad, Me, The Cantaloupe and the Salt Shaker


I don't know much about Pecos, but I feel like I have been there a hundred times. As many of you know, my Dad was a trucker and he's the reason that, as a child, that I even knew Pecos existed. At the time, the company that Dad worked for only delivered in Texas and Pecos was the crown jewel of all the trips. We lived in Irving at the, so Dad drove out of the Dallas terminal, making Pecos the longest and best-paying trip Merchants (the company) had. I remember Dad saying 1000's of times, "I wish I could get a Pecos tonight". To me, a kid of 6 or 7, Pecos was in another world. It was 427 miles from Dallas! 427 miles!In West Texas! Wow! I had never been to West Texas at that time, so it sounded like a whole other planet. I knew East Texas very well by the time I was 6 or 7, Tyler, Gilmer, Betty, Thomas, Gladewater, Lindale and so on. But West Texas was in the desert! I imagined Pecos as the kind of place John Wayne would live. Cowboys, saloons, cattle, bad guys waiting for The Duke to come kick their asses or meet their Fate at the end of a rope. That is how I "knew" Pecos. For some odd reason, I also knew that Pecos was home to the World's 1st Rodeo . Why? Don't ask me. It's probably something I learned from Dad. Oh, yeah! Cantaloupes! Pecos was famous for cantaloupes! I learned that from Dad, too - probably over a Pecos cantaloupe split in half and a salt shaker, neither of us looking up from that melon while, carrying on a conversation about race cars or something similar. My Dad lived in Pecos for a while after my parent split up when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I remember him telling me of going to Mexico for what I guess now was a little "cultural exchange". He never did say, and I never asked. I started writing this post with the intention of sharing some history and general info about Pecos, but after I typed the first sentence, the memories of my Dad and his stories came to me in a flood of yesterdays. You know, I'm glad I wrote that first sentence. I have a big ass cantaloupe in the kitchen, I think I'll split it in half, grab a salt shaker and share the melon and some stories of my life with my little girl. Oh....and Dad, I'll tell her about you, me, the cantaloupe and the salt shaker.

Happy Birthday, Number 2 Son

My Bouncin' Baby Boy
April 27 is a very special day for me. It was on this very date in 1982 that I became a father for the second time with the birth of Number 2 Son, Toby Dillon Shoemaker. Toby came kickin' and screamin' into this world several weeks early at a mere 5 lbs 5 oz. Shortly after his birth, Young Tobe was placed in an incubator with so many wires hooked up to him, he looked an alternator for a '64 Chevy, although not nearly as heavy. I was the only new Dad at the NICU (Natal Intensive Care Unit) at the time and I was given a gentle knot on the head by the Good Lord, a dose of reality if you will. I wasn't sure if Toby was gonna go home with his mother and I or not. He was so tiny and helpless laying there just on the other side of the big plate glass window I was looking at him through. Worse, there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. Talk about a feeling of helplessness. Hurry up and wait isn't one of my strong suits. Toby did come home a few days later weighing a hefty 4 lbs 13 oz. He was so small, I could cradle him in my arm like a football. It was something to behold, I'm tellin' ya.

I remember a few weeks (?) later when, on a clear starry night, I took Toby to the top of a big mesa just outside town. I held him up with my arms outstretched as far they'd go, my hands holding my son behind his neck and under his bottom reaching to touch the Face of God and I said out loud, "Behold, my Son...the only Thing greater than you". Just like in Roots. Ever since that time, Toby and I have had a spiritual connection that defies a simple worldly explanation. But I know the reason why it is so. God heard my payers while I was praying to Him for the health of my new son at the hospital a few weeks earlier. Toby, even as an infant, heard the voice of God tell him that he (Toby) and I would never be far from each others' hearts, no matter the circumstances. And despite some really tough times over the years, my son and I have never lost that supernatural ability to "feel" the other's love and commitment as Father and Son.

Toby D. is twenty-nine years old today and has a new family of his own - Faith and my three new grand children. Tobe's new family was ready-made for him, but he didn't miss a beat stepping into his new Tribe. He's is an excellent Dad and I hope (LOL) a great partner to Faith. My tiny 5 lb 5 oz baby boy is now a Man...and a damn good one. I couldn't be more happy for him.

Long ago and far away on a mesa top near Carlsbad, New Mexico, my Son beheld the only Thing greater than he and ause of that, I think, has been blessed since with unique and special qualities that make him a fine young Man today. On top of that, he got his good looks from me. :)

Happy Birthday, Son. Your Old man is mighty proud of you.

I love you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Texas Tidbits: The Lost Maples That Aren't So Lost Anymore

The world today is a rat race and the rats are winning, as the old saying goes. From time to time we all need a place to escape to, to recharge the old batteries and not have to travel too far from home. I have found such a place. Lost Maples State Natural Area near Vanderpool in the Hill Country. It's a 5 to 6 hour drive from Dallas, depending on the route you take. Personally, I would take I-35 South to Highway 16 and head west to Vanderpool. Wild Texas' website tells us that "Lost Maples is "Located along the Sabinal River in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, 2,208-acre Lost Maples State Natural Area is an inspiring mixture of sheer limestone cliffs, deep canyons, dense woodlands, and numerous clear streams." Numerous clear streams? I'm in. Fish.Fear.Me. As I was looking for info on Lost Maples, I came across a website belonging to Brian Greenstone. Brian has some great tips for you so you'll have a game plan before you leave home. Remember, luck favors a prepared mind. The mad rush of summer vacation season is coming up, so a trip to Lost Maples during the week (weekends would be too busy for me) would be ideal for fishin' and camping in the 2200+ acre park, especially since the kids will have a break from school for a while. On the way home you could make a planned stop in San Antonio for some Mexican food and a visit to Texas' version of the Vatican, the Alamo. What a great trip to make. Lost Maples State Natural Area ain't so lost after all. Thank goodness.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A New Blogroll Addition!



If you go to the right sidebar and scroll down to the blogroll, you'll find a new name on the list - Beef Blogonoff. If the name alone doesn't grab ya, then scoot on over and give it a look. Beef's daily posts are short, to the point and pretty damn funny.

I just "met" Beef this weekend, and as I understand it, he's fairly new to blogging and would welcome new readers with open arms - and a $20 bribe. OK, I made that part up. He won't welcome you with open arms, but he'll bribe the hell out of you!

Beef, welcome to the Three States Plus One Blogroll! It's good to have you on it.

P.S. You can send my $20 to my PayPal account.  :)

Texas Tidbits: Mrs. Swine's Brothel....Seriously

If You've Got a Ten to Get Yourself In...*
ZZ Top did a song about it. Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton did a movie about it and Houston news guy Marvin Zindler was instrumental in getting the joint shut down. We are, of course, talking about the infamous Chicken Ranch outside La Grange. Wikipedia continues the story : "The brothel that became the Chicken Ranch opened in La Grange in 1844. Run by a widow known as "Mrs. Swine," the brothel operated out of a hotel near the saloon and featured three young women from New Orleans, Louisiana. The ladies used the hotel lobby for entertaining and rented a room upstairs for conducting their business. The brothel was successful for over a decade, but was forced to close during the Civil War, when Swine and one of her prostitutes were forced to leave town as Yankees and American loyalists. After the war, prostitution was endemic in the local saloons, but no official records were kept." At least the good folks of La Grange had the sense to run the Yankees out of town. :)  Am I the only one that finds humor in the fact that a house of ill repute was run by a lady named Mrs. Swine?

During the Great Depression the number of "visitors" to the Chicken Ranch dwindled, so the "lady" who ran the place started charging one live chicken instead of cash for the favors of the working girls. Business as usual went on at the Chicken Ranch until late 1972 when the Texas Department of Public Safety got a tip that the brothel was a front for organized crime. That rumor was quickly proven false, but in 1973 Marvin Zindler, a consumer reporter for KTRK-TV in Houston, began an investigation that involved the Governor of Texas and eventually lead to the closing of the now-world famous Chicken Ranch. An interesting and more in depth history of the Chicken Ranch can be found here.  (Cue ZZ Top) "...if you've got a ten to get yourself in...."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Reason for the Season

         HAVE A BLESSED EASTER

                        HE IS RISEN!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The History of the Easter Egg

I know. I know. I know. I was supposed to take the weekend off from blogging, but my wife is watching some TV shows on the DVR and I figured "what the heck?". So here I am. Luck you, huh?

Here it is Easter Saturday and other than the obvious religious aspects of the day, what is one of the things most associated with Easter? You got it! The humble Easter egg. Using a little Google Fu, I looked up the History of the Easter Egg. You may be surprised at what you learn.

The Holiday Spot website has the scoop, but first here's a preview:

"Easter eggs are specially decorated eggs given out to celebrate the Easter holiday or springtime.

It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so egg-special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: "Omne vivum ex ovo". This means "all life comes from an egg". Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phonecia to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America to the west coast of South America, there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life. The concept of all living beings born from an egg is also a foundational concept of modern biology."


The article continues, "Despite claims being made that Easter Eggs were originally pagan symbols, there is no solid evidence for this. It was not until the 18th Century that Jakob Grimm theorised a putative pagan connection to Easter Eggs with a goddess of his own whom he named Ostara, a suggested German version of Eostre."


It's a very interesting read and you can catch the whole thing on theholidayspot.com.


Once again, I wish you a blessed Easter Weekend and may the joy of redemption through the crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: For God So Loved the World....

John 3:16
Today is Good Friday, a day of remembrance. Christians the world over are humbling themselves before God, commemorating the crucifixion of His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, at Calvary, that we may all live forever in Heaven with the Father and Son. Holy, Holy, Holy...

For our Brothers and Sisters of the Jewish Faith, today is Yom Vav, 18th, Nisan, 5771, Pesach, 3rd (Tiferes ShebeChesed) Omer Day. Shalom.

I observe this Holy Weekend as a Roman Catholic, therefore I wanted to share the way that we observe this Glorious day with all my Christian Family and our Hebrew Cousins. Wikipedia has a very good summary of the Catholic Celebration of the Holy Weekend.

May the Almighty bless and guide you for all the days of your life. This is my wish for you.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Allelujah!

***I am taking Holy Weekend off from blogging, so please feel free to access the blog archives to catch up on some of the posts you may have missed. Thank you and God Bless.***

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Texas Tidbits: 175th Anniversary of Texas Independence!

Republic of Texas, 1836
April 21 is one of the most important dates in Texas History. Period. 175 years ago today, The Republic of Texas was born when General Sam Houston and his men routed the mighty Mexican Army in just eighteen minutes with an attack that caught the Mexicans by surprise, confused and in disarray. Gunfire and shouts of "Remember the Alamo" filled the air as the Texians took revenge on the very Army that had made its way across Texas with little or no resistance, save for the Battle of the Alamo, which afforded much-needed time for the Texian Army to regroup. In less time than it takes to cook frozen french fries in the oven, Texas became an Independent Nation.

The San Jacinto Museum website has a brief summary of the Battle of San Jacinto. It begins "In March of 1836, things were not going well for Sam Houston’s Texas revolutionaries. Having declared independence from the official Mexican government, they were now running from the Mexican army, being run from their homes—and running out of time.
Since January 1836, Texas settlers had been abandoning their homes and the lives they’d created on the Texas frontier. Known as the Runaway Scrape, this retreat began as the Mexican government initiated military reoccupation of the newly settled land. The event was marked by sickness, freezing weather, hunger and panic among the citizenry." The rest of the article about this improbable victory can be read here.

When the smoke cleared after the battle, the Mexican Army had lost 600 men, another 700 surrendered and the "Napoleon of the West", Mexican General Santa Anna was found hiding in the brush near the battlefield dressed as a common foot soldier, Sam Houston had been shot in the ankle and the Republic of Texas had become a reality. Further, Mexico had lost "nearly a million square miles in territory. For the Texans, their victory led to annexation into the United States and the United States' war with Mexico. In the end, the United States would gain not only Texas but also New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. As a result of the Battle of San Jacinto, almost a third of what is now the United States of America changed ownership."

The legacy of the people of Texas in 1836is a state that stands as an example not only to the citizens of the United States, but to people around the world, of what a fierce pride in your land and a dogged determination can do for them, when they stand up to tyranny with the singleminded goal of Freedom as the driving force in overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds against the most vicious of oppressors. Like the great football coach Bum Phillips learned at the foot of his Daddy's buddy Bill, "Texans are forged of a hotter fire." Read the story at the previous link if you aren't a Texan, it'll give you a better understanding of how we feel and why we think and act like we do. It's not a bad idea for Texans to give it another look as well. It's dead solid perfect. You'll thank me later.

Go ahead and have a Texas-size hoot today celebrating this defining moment in history. Have some Mexican food, a tall cold beverage and sing with your chest swollen with pride and a tear in your eye "The Eyes of Texas" (sorry about that, Aggies) Enjoy the fellowship with the folks next to you, your fellow Texans. They are, after all, people forged of a hotter fire.

God Bless Texas!








Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Texas Tidbits: 175th Anniversary Eve - My Thoughts

The Damndest Lady You Ever Saw
Tomorrow will mark the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence. I wish I could be home to celebrate with all my friends and family, but it ain't gonna happen. Dammit. Maybe I'll be around for the bi-centennial of this occasion that changed Texas and the United States forever. I can, however, say this with certainty, if all Hell breaks loose in this country due to the policies of the Dumbass in Chief and his Socialist Regime bankrupting the National Treasury, I'll be in Texas quick as a hiccup.

Texas is my home, no matter how far away I am from her. I'll celebrate the 175th anniversary of her Freedom in my own way here in New England with my wife and kids. Maybe I'll tell the girls, 4 and 8 years old, what it menas to be free of tyranny and oppression. Maybe I'll show them pictures of the 267,000 square miles of the Damndest Lady You Ever Saw and watch them spellbound by her beauty. I'll tell them about where I was born and some of the places I lived and traveled to from all around the State. There's plenty to teach them so I am sure I won't run out of material. I have a ton of great personal stories to tell them about times I spent with people I still consider family. I don't mean to leave anybody out, so I am gonna make a short list of those who have touched me in a profound way and remain in my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis.

I have to start off with the Randles. For a number of years it was a rare bear of a weekend that I did not spend at the "Randle Compound". They treated me just like another son and I can't express how honored and blessed I was during that time. I loved all of them, but Randy was my brother. I still consider him to be so. He's one of the best men I have ever had the privilege to know. Damned Hootus.  :)

Another real good man I know from Texas is Mark Duggan. Mark and I have been through a lot together and separately abd have always had each other's back. In the truest sense of the word, Mark is my brother. No questions asked. I love my brother.

Having known so many men of good (and dubious) character, the man who stands out amongst all these incredible people is Tommy Thompson. I knew Tommy for almost thirty years before he died three years ago. I'll never have a better friend. Period. I recently learned that on his death bed, he asked for his Brother, Cecil. For the first time, I wasn't there for Tommy. It still gnaws at my heart to know that I was so far out of touch with a man that I loved like he was my blood. That's one thing I'll never be able to make up for and it's killing me inside. But you know what? I know Tommy understood and would forgive me, but even that loving gesture doesn't take away the guilt I feel for failing my Brother when he needed me more than ever. I'll live with that until the day I die. Tommy, I miss you every day, man. It'll be a cold day in hell before I meet a better man and friend.

Those are the things and people of Texas that I'll talk to my little girls about. Things and people that make Texas the extraordinary place that is, 175 years after gaining her Independence. But the again, the men and women of 175 years ago were pretty damn good role models for all Texans of past, present and future generations. They also left with us an indomitable spirit that pervades our culture and our beliefs. A will that will not be destroyed by mortal men nor defeated by any other son of a bitch that has such a foolish notion. Don't mess with Texas is much more than a "keep Texas clean" slogan, it's a way of life for all Texans. A Texan can be called a Redneck, but the offending party will have to go home and tell his Mama he got his ass kicked by a Redneck.

Texas. She and I be mates.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Palo Duro Canyon - Two Miles From Hell

Two Miles From Hell?
Having extensively travel around Texas, I can tell you from personal experience what are some of the more scenic vistas in the state. Easily earning a spot in the Top 5 is a place that describes itself as 30 miles from water and 2 miles from Hell - Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo. This big hole in the ground is a spectacular sight whether you've seen it once or 100 times. At 120 miles long and twenty miles wide in some places, it would probably take a hundred visits for you to see it all. The second largest canyon in the USA, Palo Duro offers dramatic views from anywhere in the canyon. As Wikipedia notes, the canyon has been inhabited by people for as long as 15,000 years, "The first evidence of human habitation of the canyon dates back approximately 10,000–15,000 years, and it is believed to have been continuously inhabited to the present day. Native Americans were attracted to the water of the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River, as well as the consequent ample game, edible plants, and protection from weather that the canyon provided." Soon after the Indians that lived in Palo Duro Canyon were removed to reservations in Oklahoma, famed cowboy Charles Goodnight established the JA Ranch in the canyon and for the next fifty years the land was in private hands. However, the area became such an attraction for local residents, that the State of Texas, in 1934, bought 20,000 acres at the north end of the canyon which became Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The park is now nearly 30,000 acres of Nature's Work of Art. The musical production "Texas" ( that's an older link but it's still got some great info there) has been a mainstay at the canyon for almost fifty years and has been seen by hundreds of thousands of folks. Those having seen the show have been giving it rave reviews since its first performance. Just ask my good friend Doreen Bob, she'll tell you all about it. Did I tell you that 'Texas" is performed outdoors on the canyon floor? Incredible. You can drive or hike all through Palo Duro (Spanish for "hard wood" by the way), but I think the best way to explore such a natural wonder as PD is up close and personal. On horseback, perhaps? There's so much more to the history and attraction of Palo Duro Canyon, I could stay here typing for days. In lieu of that, I'll ask you to click on the links in this post, look them over thoroughly and you'll get a ton of fascinating information and photos. To live in such splendor as Palo Duro Canyon, I'd walk 30 miles for water and tolerate being two miles from Hell.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Lone Star Law Enforcement - The Texas Rangers

Texas is known for a million things, but one of the most famous institutions in the state is the Texas Rangers. And I'm not talking about the baseball team. I'm talkin' bad mamma jamma law enforcement hombres here.
Texas Rangers***

The roots of the Rangers go back to the very first American settlers to migrate to then Mexican Texas with Stephen F. Austin in 1823. They have been in nearly continuous service to Texas and its citizens since then. Think about it. That's nearly 200 years. Created as a security force for those early settlers, the Texas Rangers are today one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the world. They have fought Indians, captured or killed Mexican badidos, tracked down bank robbers and were instrumental in the killing of two of the 20th Century's most notorious outlaws - Bonnie and Clyde. Long time Texas Ranger legend Frank Hamer spearheaded the efoorts the capture or kill the duo on May 23, 1934. Wikipedia picks up the story from there, "Frank Hamer, the longtime Ranger captain, left the Rangers in 1932. In 1934, at the request of Col. Lee Simmons, head of the Texas prison system, Hamer was asked to use his skills to track down Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose Barrow gang had engineered a successful breakout of associates imprisoned at Huntsville. Prisoner and Barrow friend Joe Palmer had killed a guard while escaping, and the Barrow gang was responsible for many murders, robberies, and car thefts in Texas alone. Nine law enforcement officers had already died in confrontations with the gang.
After tracking the Barrow gang across nine states, Hamer, in conjunction with officials in Louisiana, learned that Bonnie and Clyde had visited a home in Bienville Parish on May 21, 1934, and that Clyde had designated a rendezvous point in the vicinity with gang member Henry Methvin, in case they were later separated. Methvin, allegedly cooperating with law enforcement, made sure that he was separated from them that evening in Shreveport, and the posse set up an ambush along the route to the rendezvous at Highway 154, between Gibsland and Sailes. Led by former Rangers Hamer and B. M. "Manny" Gault, the posse included Sheriff Henderson Jordan and Deputy Prentiss Oakley of Bienville Parish, Louisiana, and Dallas County Deputies Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton. They were in place by 9:00 that night, waiting all through the next day, but with no sign of Bonnie and Clyde.
Around 9:00 a.m. on May 23, the posse, concealed in the bushes and almost ready to concede defeat, heard Clyde's stolen Ford V-8 approaching. When he stopped to speak with Henry Methvin's father (planted there with his truck that morning to distract Clyde and force him into the lane closest to the posse), the lawmen opened fire, killing Bonnie and Clyde while shooting a combined total of approximately 130 rounds. The United States Congress awarded Hamer a special citation for trapping and killing the outlaws.[citation needed]"

Two words bad guys hate to hear are Texas and Rangers. They know that an elite team of law enforcement personnel are hot on their trail and their capture or death awaits them. The Rangers have come a long ways since those early days of roving the frontier of 1820s Texas, but their mission has always been to protect the citizens of Texas, no matter the cost. And for nearly two centuries, the Texas Rangers have been kickin' ass and takin' names. Just remember the Texas rangers' unofficial motto, "One riot, One Ranger". Enough said.
  

***Photo from legendsofamerica.com***

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Plus One Weekend Continues!

Major Fishin' Country
Yesterday's Plus One posts were a big hit and I want to thank you for making them so. Today I am going to continue with that theme and dig way back into the Three States Plus One archives and re-discovered some posts that are worth publishing again. Let's get to it and learn some more about this wonderful  country we live in.
  • Norcross, Georgia - This small Georgia town is home to an American hero. A young man who restores your faith in the young people of the United States. A must read.
  • Arkansas, The Natural State - This was a fun post to write. Arkansas is one of the most beautiful states in the country and, having been there, I urge you to pay a visit to Arkansas whenever the opportunity presents itself. You can thank me later. :)
  • For My Buddy Kev - Another state I really like is Wisconsin. The scenery there is stunning and the people who live there (except the dumbasses who live in Madison and Milwaukee), are down to Earth good folks. Oh, yeah...I forgot to bring up my favorite NFL team, the thirteen time NFL and Super Bowl Champs Green Bay Packers. They are from Wisconsin, too. :)
I hope you'll enjoy this second look at these posts that many of you missed the first time around. They cover some of the most beautiful parts of this wonderful land called the Unites States of America. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Plus One Special! Virginia, Tennessee and Funny Town Names!

The Fruited Plain
Here we are smack dab in the middle of April as 2011 continues to fly by at a sound barrier breaking pace. It just doesn't seem possible, does it? We are also cruising towards the first anniversary of the creation of this blog. Damn. Time flies when you're having fun, huh? It's been a helluva almost-a-year.

Since I have been so busy doing some freelance writing on top of writing this blog and Dumbass News, I am busier than a one-legged man in an ass kickin' contest. All these commitments have left me with precious little time to dedicate as much time as I'd like to to the TexNetMaine Blogging Empire, specifically posts about Maine and Colorado, as well as the "Plus One" posts about other states in the country. Therefore, this morning I will dedicate the whole day to three of the other great states in the USA. Sit back and relax with a good, hot cup of coffee and enjoy a Plus One Saturday!

  • Virginia - This post was originally published way back on June 18, 2010, when this very blog was only five days old. Wow! It's a really good piece on a state that has given this country some of its greatest heroes and leaders. I, personally learned a helluva lot just doing the research for the post. I consider it a must read. It's that good.
  • Tennessee - Exactly one month into the life of Three States Plus One , I wrote this post about one of my favorite places in the USA - The Volunteer State of Tennessee. As a Texan, I am eternally grateful to the people of Tennessee for the men from their great state that played such a defining role in the Texas Revolution. These men will forever be remembered as heroes as long as there is a Texas. The post goes into more detail on the contribution of these immortal Tennsseans/Texans. God. Bless. Tennessee. 
  • Funny Town Names Around the Country - Posts with funny town names have been some of the most popular ones every time I publish one. From back in September, 2010, here are some flat funny monikers from small towns all over the United States. Coffee Spewing Alert! Do not have a swallow of any liquid in your mouth when you read this! It may end up coming out of your nose when you bust a gut reading this stuff. 
 That's a damn fine lineup of interesting information about some absolutely outstanding locations in the USA. Have fun reading it because I had a hoot writing it. I ga-rone-tee.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Texas Tidbits; Insider Secret - Where We Get Some of Our Tidbits

All About Texas
The Texas Almanac has been a leading reference book for those who are in search of information on any number of topics about Texas since 1857. While there were years when the Almanac wasn't published, it has been a yearly fixture of Texas publishing since 1925. I was browsing through it when I found an article about the early days of the automobile in Texas. Published in 1911, less than fifty years after the end of the War of Northern Aggression (Yankees call it the Civil War or The War Between the States), this article paints a picture of Texas as a very different place from what we see throughout the state today.

Remember that this article was published in 1911. It states, "Ten years ago an automobile was a curiosity in the leading cities of Texas. Five years ago the people in many counties had never seen what was then known as the horseless carriage. Today it is estimated that the number of automobiles in actual service in Texas will reach nearly 30,000 and that over $40,000,000 is invested in the machines. Reports, dated August 1, 1910, from 180
counties in the State show a total of 14,276 automobiles. A canvass by the Commercial Secretaries’
Association places the number at 30,000, which, at an average value of $1,500 each, would make the investment $45,000,000. This number is constantly increasing, and counting the life of a machine at three years, the new machines purchased to take the place of old ones cost $15,000,000 annually."Thirty thousand cars in the whole state? How hard to imagine is that? On any given rush hour, you'll find more than that many cars on Loop 610 in Houston alone. In 1911, there were barely over a thousand cars in all of Harris County. Dallas County weighed in with a hefty 1390 automobiles in 1911.

To view the entire article, click here and scroll down to the last article link on the page. There are other articles from the Texas Almanac at the link that tell us about the schools in Texas in 1873, the State Legislature in 1870 and the Almanac lists the composition of the State Congress as "Democrats and Conservatives 40; Radicals, 50...." What the hell would the publishers of this story in 1870 think about politicians today? I shudder at the thought. There is also a piece on survivors of the Texas Revolution written in 1872. I think you'll find some stuff that'll trip your trigger when you follow the link to the stories. As I mentioned earlier, the Texas Almanac holds a mountain of information regarding the Lone Star State, its people and its history and it's just a mouse click away. Go ahead. Click. You know you want to. You'll thank me later.  :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Mr. Spock - Vulcan or Texan?

The Rod
The answer to the question in the title of this post is a definite "kind of". Let me splain. Mr. Spock is a product of the fertile mind of one Eugene Wesley Roddenberry, creator of the phenomenon known as Star Trek. "OK, so what's the connection to Texas?", you ask. Gene Roddenberry was born in El Paso on August 19, 1921. There's your "Texas Connection".

Star Trek is the everlasting legacy of Gene Roddenberry, no doubt, but the man had quite an interesting life before creating Captain James T. Kirk, his crew and the USS  Enterprise. Gene was raised in Los Angeles, where his Dad was a cop. Gene attended several colleges, earned an Associate of Arts degree  from Los Angeles City College and later studied pre law and aeronautical engineering. It was also during this time that he became a licensed pilot. During World War II, Roddenberry piloted the B-17 Flying Fortress on 89 missions earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. After the war, Gene was a pilot for Pan Am and later an LA Policeman. It was 1953 when Roddenberry left the LA Police Department to become a full time screenwriter. That decision had an impact on television and hundreds of millions of people who would later become "Trekkies". I'll have more on that in a minute.

A few years after becoming a screenwriter, Roddenberry became the Head Writer for a great old TV Western called Have Gun, Will Travel". He would later produce a TV show called The Lieutenant, which is said to be the inspiration of the G.I. Joe Action Figure. From the website Famous Texans.com, we get this: As a fan of science-fiction, Roddenberry saw similarities between space explorers and American pioneers.  He envisioned a science-fiction series for television that, like the westerns he wrote, would have continuing characters. At the time he conceived it in 1963, this would have been a first for TV. Based on the popular show, "Wagon Train," Roddenberry called it a "wagon train to the stars," or a "star trek." With the airing of the first episode of Star Trek in 1966, Roddenberry not only created a history-making TV show, but an entire industry built around it. I think it's safe to say that there have been hundreds of billions of dollars spent on Star Trek merchandise and memorabilia since its inception. Star Trek conventions are held by the hundreds every year all over the world, Star Trek movies have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars and the original TV show has inspired (insert number here) spin off TV series. The Star Trek brand is a monster that keeps feeding on its own and producing new monsters like rabbits make babies. And I mean "monster" in a good way. The continued success of all things Star Trek is truly mind boggling, especially considering it's been almost fifty years since the original TV series made its debut. Not a bad run, huh?

(Doing my best "Scotty" impersonation) Dammit, Jim, I gave her all she's got! And I have given her all she's got in this post. I have only one thing to say. "Beam me up, Scotty".

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Texas Tidbits: The Glass Bottom Boat and SpongeBob

Looking For SpongeBob
I was recently recalling one of my fondest child hood memories. It involved traveling south on I-35 to Austin, San Antonio and San Marcos. I can't recall what we did in Austin, but I think we went to the Capitol Building, which was real cool for a kid my age. I was maybe 6 or 7 at the time. In San Antonio, we of course, went to the Alamo. I still remember being that most sacred of Texas monuments and replaying the Battle of the Alamo, probably recalled from the John Wayne movie about the battle. In my little boy mind, I was Davy Crockett, fighting off the attacking Mexican soldiers with Old Betsy, my trusted long rifle. Bang! I shot one of the bad guys. Smack! A rifle butt to the chops! Davy (me) saves the day! Then reality sets in when my Dad calls me over to look at another exhibit in the mission. From the Alamo went up to San Marcos to visit something called "Aquarena Springs". I wasn't very enthused by having leave the Alamo before Davy Crockett (me) could save the day, but this was my fate. Aquarena Springs it was. I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that the boat we were getting ready to board, had a glass bottom! From Davy Crockett, I was now a miniature Jacque Cousteau, exploring the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River. Through that galass bottom I could see all manner of fish, soft shell turtles, giant squid and man-eating sharks! I made up the part about sharks and giant squid, but a kid can pretend, can't he? That glass bottom boat was one of the best things I have ever seen in my life! I almost forgot about the diving pig! They put a pig on a diving platform way up in the air and a pig actually dived off of it! Way frakkin' cool. Here it is, almost fifty years later, and I remember that boat ride like it was yesterday, giant squid, sharks and all.  :) My family and I are tryin' like hell to get a trip to Texas to fit into our summer plans this year. Maybe my two little girls will see the magic in that glass bottom boat that I saw on that summer day so long ago. I get this sneaky feeling that Bailey the 4 year old will say something like, "Daddy, I just saw SpongeBob!" And that will probably be her memory of the glass bottom boat fifty years from now. I know I'll believe it. After all, I saw that giant squid and those man-eating sharks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quick Note to Readers in Texas Whose Homes Suffered Storm Damage

Once in a while I'll come across a business that stands out amongst its peers. Today, I am proud to recognize a guy and his business for going above and beyond the call of duty in helping fellow Texans facing a tough situation.

Let me state up front that I have been away from the internet and TV for most of the last two days, so I have missed out on a ton of stuff making the news. It is my understanding that parts of Texas have been blasted with severe weather over the past few days and quite a bit of property damages was done by high winds and hail. That infers that roof damage to homes in the area must be pretty widespread, leaving thousands of folks needing roof repair ASAP. If you fall into this category, I have found a company for you that does things the Old Fashioned Way - with deference to the needs of the customer and with quality that would make your Mother proud - Tice Roofing.

A guy I went to High School with and know to be a good man, Joe Henderson, is one of the main guys at Tice Roofing. I was looking over my Facebook page this morning and it's loaded with testimonials from satisfied customers with which Joe and Tice Roofing have dealt. Not only homeowners, but realtors and others have have had the pleasure of doing business with someone they know and trust. It couldn't hurt to at least give Tice a look-see and learned for yourself what they are all about. Their website can be found here.

I am NOT getting paid or compensated in ANY WAY by Tice Roofing and NOBODY asked me to write this post, I am simply going by the comments of people I know and trust. If they say Tice Roofing is the way to go, then that's good enough for me.

Texas Tidbits: Prehistoric Texas

Granado Cave
On this very blog, I regularly write about Texas History. To me at least, it's a fascinating topic and I am always on the lookout for new sites that cover some kind of Texas History. Today, I bingo'ed when I found a site called Texas Beyond History. I have always been curious as to who lived in Texas thousands of years ago, before the Europeans and Indians from other parts of the New World made it into Texas and Prehistoric Texas filled in the blanks for me.what really got my attention about ancient peoples in general, was the discovery of human remains in Israel that are believed to be 200,000 years old. Enter my curiosity and Texas Beyond History, TBH courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin.

Yesterday, I published an article about the recent discovery of the biggest cave in the world in Viet Nam. That got me to thinking about the caves in Texas and the history associated with them,, Then, like a lightning bolt out of the blue, I found Texas Beyond History. Ask and ye shall receive! I navigated my way around the site in search of caves and I came up with a cave in the Rustler Hills of  West Texas called "Granado Cave". Following is what I learned.

For more than 1200 years, Indians in this area used Granado Cave as a seasonal or temporary home. These early inhabitants left behind a treasure trove of artifacts and evidence of the activities of their daily lives. For archeologists, "Granado Cave provides a window into the past and small glimpses of innovative and caring peoples trying to make a living in this harsh desert area. The cave's protective shelter and the region's dry climate have preserved fragile artifacts and other remains of prehistoric life that would not have survived in most other areas of the state".The early inhabitants of Granado Cave also left behind "fragments of meals, cooking "appliances," tools, mats and basketry. They also left haunting reminders of tragic events long ago—the deaths of loved ones."


Click on over and give the entire article a look-see. You'll find a wealth of information in such a short piece, but more importantly, you'll be able to visualize in your mind a movie of almost exactly what it was like to be one the Ancient Ones of West Texas. Your mental motion picture will take you through the daily lives of the Rustlers Hills people, or Castile culture, as they hunt and gather, prepare meals, weave baskets and shoes from local plants and other fascinating things that will make the movie playing in your thoughts as real as the people who performed these tasks so long ago.

This is Texas History.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Under the Weather

Sorry about the lack of new posts today, but I have the CRUD that my wife and kids had last week. I'll be back with more blogging brilliance tomorrow, I hope.

Thanks,
Toby

Sunday, April 10, 2011

'Tis the Sabbath - Three Materpieces for a Sunday

Icky Twerp
It's another glorious New England Sunday with nary a snow flake in sight. Just beautiful, warm, revitalizing sunshine. Sigh I may, just may mind you, fire up the grill later today for our first cookout of the Spring. The rib eye steaks are calling to me with their siren song of medium rare. Sigh The vegetables in my my El Cheap-o Walmart Teensy Weensy Greenhouse are shoosting to the sky (hat tip Green Acres) and I've got my three girls by my side. Life is good. Sigh

With such splendor around me, how can I be expected to actually work today? Right1 I ain't gonna work today! I will not, however, leave you at the proverbial blogging altar. I am carefully perusing the Three States Plus One archives of literary masterpieces to re-acquaint you with the Shakespearian prose for which this blog is known, to find the posts that have made me an Internet Pariah Sensation. That's just how I roll. You can thank me later.

I will tell you that you might want to wait until after Church to read this stuff, it's not a good thing to go into the Lord's House with a mind cluttered with impure thoughts. the rest of you may read on. :)
  • Icky, Harold and Mrs. Baird - My memories of TV stuff from when I was a little boy in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • A Haunted Lighthouse - Miane is home to over sixty lighthouses and this one is said to be haunted by the spirits of the long-dead people who once lived there. It's from last Halloween.
  • Denver Suburb Goes to the Coyotes? - Wile E. Coyote and his coyote cohorts make them selves at home in suburban Denver.
There's your Sunday lineup of literary nirvana for today, friends. Just remember, you'll not find writing of this quality anywhere ealse on the World Wide Web. That is unless you can access the local elementary school poetry contest on the school's website. Hey! What do you want from me? I do this for FREE! :) Have a goodern. Adios.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Spring - The Renewal of the Earth and of the Soul

Field of Hope and Renewal
Spring has sprung in much of the country and it's not far away for the rest of us. I knoiw it's been mighty warm back home in Texas, with temperatures in the upper 90's as recently as yesterday in San Angelo which made it to at least 97. 

I thought with all sprung spring  going on. it would be a good idea to re-visit a time when things hadn't sprung yet. I am speaking specifically of the Blizzard of 2010 right here in Maine. I figgered a look back at this event would remind us of what a glorious time of the year that spring is...a time for renewal with all the once lifeless fields of brown grass transforming into an artist's pallet ablaze with the colors of spring. Wildflowers decorating the roadsides of America, trees dressed in their spring finest providing shelter to myriad colors of our feathered friends. Dirt patches in millions of yards around America holding the promise of homegrown tomatoes, peppers and squash. 

I guess you could say, I "dig" spring. :) Read on and think of what was just a few weeks ago and what will be in the weeks ahead. Then marvel at what God has gifted us after a long harsh season of cold, wind and snow. Spring not only renews the Earth with its arrival, it also renews the human soul. Be thankful and humble...winter come again all too soon.

 When I went to bed last night, we had about four inches of snow on the ground, with more pouring down. And pour it did. Look at the difference in these two photos.

Before
After
As you can see, I took the "before" photo prior to receiving any snow. The "after" photo is what I woke up to this morning. The maintainence guys here at the complex were hard at work early this morning shoveling and using the snow blower and snowplows in order to make it as easy as possible for the residents to get in and out of their apartments and, if possible, into their cars. The wind has been blowing a steady 15 - 20 mph, with gusts in excess of 40 mph, so the snow is being blasted around at a pretty good clip and is not making a nice even cover on the ground or the cars. See the little silver car in the pics? Notice there's about two feet of snow on the ground next to it, but hardly any on the car itself. I estimate that we have gotten at least a foot of snow and that's fairly accurate, I'm sure. According to forecasts, it looks like we may be in for another foot or so before the snow moves out sometime tonight.

I'll certainly keep an eye on things and pass along any updates that might add to this story. I hope those of you who live in warmer climes will get as big a kick out of my coverage of this storm as I am in sharing it with you. So, stay tuned for more later!

UPDATE 10:00 AM, EST - since posting this earlier this morning, when the the sidewalks were cleared off, we have received about 3 more inches of snow. The winds have backed off a little, but it's still quite breezy and it's snowing like hell. I'll be back in a little while with more info on the Blizzard of 2010, including a new photo or two.

UPDATE 11:40 AM, EST - I miscalculated the snow fall in the previous update, I should have said we had gotten an additional six inches, not 3. Since that time we have received an aditional 3 more inches. Snow appears to be falling at a rate of two to three inches per hour. That's a lot of snow. Some drifts of 5 feet can be found around the complex. The snow that was plowed from the parking lot is being put into mounds at seven feet tall. More accumulation is a given. Back in a while with more Blizzard News!

UPDATE 12:43 PM, EST - It's still snowing like hell, but the end is supposedly in sight. In sight as in sometime tonight. I have seen many heavy snow storms here in Maine and in Colorado, high in the Rockies. This one will be noted not just for the prolific amount of snow it has and will continue to dump, but because the winds have been constantly gusting to 35 - 40 mph for the last 18 hours. It's hard to measure the amount of snow that has fallen, but I am sure that at my house we have gotten close to two feet, with some drifts up to 5 or 6 feet around the property. The maintainence crew plowed the parking lot about 3 hours ago and we've gotten several more inches since then. It's a wild scene. As I look out my back window while typing this update, I can barely see the building about 30 yards behind us. The wind is vicious and the snow is "falling" parallel to the the ground. :) See you later with more updates on the Blizzard of 2010!

Looking out across the courtyard after plowing














UPDATE 1:35 PM, EST -  I just checked in with AccuWeather and the Blizzard Warning for Augusta has been extended to 6 PM, EST. That will make it about 24 straight hours of Blizzard or Near Blizzard conditions for the area. At my house we will probably end up with near 3 feet of snow on the ground by the time all is said and done. A few minutes ago I stepped out on the front porch and snapped a few photos to share with you.
Looking across the street from my front door

See the piles of snow behind the red truck? That is snow that was plowed from the parking lot to our building. They are at least seven feet tall.

UPDATE 2:45 PM, EST - Things haven't changed over the last hour, except for the fact that we are one hour closer to the 6 PM, EST expiration of the Blizzard Warning. You can get a look at the local RADAR for Augusta at this link to AccuWeather. As you can see, we are located at the dead center of the storm so it is making little to no movement away from us. It's similar to the bull's eye on a rotating dart board. Augusta is the bull's eye of this storm.

UPDATE 6:00 PM, EST - The Blizzard Warning that has been in effect in the form of a Watch or Warning for at least 36 hours, has expired. Nothing changed over the last few hours, so I didn't even bother to add any updates. It's still windy and snowing like hell and it's gonna get REAL cold tonight with the low temperature dipping to 8 degrees. Along with a stout North-Northwest wind, chill factors could approach -15 to -20 degrees.

It's been a lot of fun Live Blogging the Blizzard of 2010 for you today and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. If anything out of the ordinary happens, I'll post it here and on Facebook. Thanks again, y'all. Adios.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Texas Tidbits; Welcome to Our New Home Town

As many of you have learned by now, Heather and I are moving to Texas soon. Oh, yeah...we're gonna take the kids with us, too. :) Anyway, the question I get from you the reader most often is, "Where are you moving to?" We considered many locations, but the one that kept coming back to us was San Angelo. It's a little "big" for my liking with 92,000 people and I am a small town kind of guy, but other outstanding qualities of the Concho City convinced us that is the place for us at this time. It has great schools (my little girls are 4 & 8), 25 City Parks, One badass State Park, two bigass lakes (the fish will fear me soon enough), great health care, warm and DRY weather which will be perfect for my arthritis and fibromyalgia and enough "big city" amenities, like What-A-Burger (!), H-E-B, Albertsons, Sam's Club, WalMart, etc. the most precious commodity that San Angelo has waiting for us is the friendship of the Funky Old Dude Bob Zeller and his wife of over 50 years, the lovely Ann. Bob and I have been blogging buddies for about a year and developed a very close friendship over that time, so it'll be a pleasure to hug Ann's neck. Oh! And shake Bob's hand. :) I could go on, but I thought instead, that I'd repost something I wrote a while back that has lots of good info on our new home-to-be.

Ladies and gentlemen...I present to you:


The Concho City

San Angelo
If you read more than one post on this blog, then you know that I am a trees and water kind of guy, like in East Texas. For some unknown reason, however, the rugged beauty of the desert has a bit of a mysterious hold on me. I can't explain it, other than to say it's a sort of sagebrush voodoo or something. Segue to San Angelo. San Angelo is one of those places where it's not quite desert and  it's not in the Piney Woods or Big Thicket, I could live there and be happy. It doesn't exactly hurt my feelings that there is a state park and O C Fischer Lake lies within the park and snuggles up right next to the San Angelo city limits. The city got its humble beginnings when after the Civil War, Fort Concho was established as an outpost to protect the flood of settlers heading west to find their fortunes. At one time Fort Concho was home to the Black Cavalry, which the local Native Americans called the "Buffalo Soldiers", earning great respect from the white soldiers they served with and, of course, the Indians. In those days, San Angelo was a trading center for settlers in the area, but as sanangelo.org states "The discovery of oil and gas, the influx of light manufacturing, the initial development of a communications center, the establishment and growth of Angelo State University, and the growth of the medical community provided diversification to a growing community. Today, this city of 90,000 is the trade and services hub of a 13 county area, supported by agriculture, manufacturing, education, business and health services, military, tourism, and retirement." Geographically, San Angelo is almost the bull's eye on the dartboard that is Texas and it ain't far from being a bull's eye on the dart board of places to live.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Going Home to the Sacred Soil of Texas

Little Girl Talking to God
As you may have read on TexNetMaine, last night, Heather, my two daughters and I are gonna be on the move in the near future. We are moving my Blogging Empire World HQ from Maine to Texas. I am going home and Heather has visited Texas before, but this will be a new and exciting adventure for the girls. I have told them many stories about where I grew up and some of the shenanigans that I pulled as a little boy and as a grown man.

I am going to educate them about their new home and what it means to be a Texan. I am going to tell them all about the Alamo and how one battle, even a losing one, in a larger war can inspire people to do extraordinary things for their Freedom, Liberty and God-given right to self-governance. I will show them how the courage and the defiance to tyranny shown by the Heroes at the Alamo still permeates the hearts of tens of millions of Texans worldwide. They will be taught the self-reliance that has been a part of the character of Texas and Texans for hundreds of years. They will be reminded almost daily of their sacred duty and honor to help a fellow Texan who may be down on his luck due to no fault of his own, and to ask for nor expect a single favor or reward in return.

Isabella and Bailey will be taught to be good stewards of the land and the creatures who inhabit it. Learning to fish will be one of the most important lessons of their lives. Fishing will be reinforce all of the things I have mentioned in the last few sentences - self-reliance, being good stewards of the bounty before them and the sense of sharing with a neighbor whose cubbard may be bare. A big old catfish will feed a man for a day, but my girls will be fed, literally and spiritually, for a lifetime because the know how to bait a hook and where to cast the bait. While fishing, I will show my little girls how to have a long talk with God, without ever saying a word aloud, a silent, prayerful conversation with the Almighty. My two little beauties are gonna make fine Texans. I know this to be true. The Good Lord Hisownself told me so. While writing these words, I took a fishing trip in my mind and laid my heart bare to Him. His words of comfort and Fatherly wisdom were few. "My son. It is time to go home and fear not, for I will be with you. Now go."

Amen.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Time NewsAlert! This is a MUST READ! Oh... Hello, Texas!!!

Get all the info on The Big News at this link to my other blog. Head on over and read the exciting announcement!

Thnaks,
Toby

Texas Tidbits: Fiesta San Antonio, The Party With a Purpose!

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have a love affair with San Antonio. That love for the Alamo City gets even stronger today with the news I am about to present to you.

It's time for Fiesta San Antonio! Check out the video and get a glimpse of what it's all about, then we'll get back to the story. 


2011 marks the 120th Year of Fiesta San Antonio, which, if my Public School math serves me right, means Fiesta "started in 1891 as a one-parade event and has evolved today into one of this nation’s premier festivals with more than 100 events and an economic impact of almost $284 million for the city." Fiesta started out as a way to remember the heroes who fought (and died) at the Alamo and San Jacinto. The history of Fiesta is very interesting and it just so happens that I have a link that tells the story of Fiesta.

There are a hundred events that make up Fiesta San Antonio, so there is something that will please every member of your family. The Home Page for Fiesta San Antonio has a slide show that highlights the events that will take place during Fiesta San Antonio.

Fiesta is a phenomenal celebration of so many great things and people that have made Texas in general and San Antonio in particular, what they are today. If I were to be able to attend Fiesta 2011, I'd go for the food alone. Lord have mercy!

You'll find a ton of information at the links in the story. Fiesta San Antonio 2011 starts in a few days and continues on for ten more, so make travel plans and secure hotel reservations ASAP. The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau can help you organize your trip for Fiesta.

It's gonna be a magnificent event or, as Fiesta is sometimes called, a Party with a Purpose. ¡Viva Fiesta San Antonio!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Foat Wuth, Ah Luv Yew

I am on a bit of a Nostalgia Trip this week. I don't know exactly why, but I have been thinking back on what a "colorful" life I have lived and some of the places that "colorized" me. I came into this world on Sunday, September 16, 1956 at 8:41pm in Fort Worth, Texas. Although I haven't lived in Cowtown since I was nine years old, I have always had a special spot in my heart for it. I think it's because Fort Worth is the anti-Dallas. Big D is a great city, don't get me wrong, but to me it's a bit of a smug place compared to Fort Worth. Dallas = cosmopolitan, trendy, We're-a-big-city-not-a-large-town-dammit kind of place. Fort Worth = modern but old West-ish, cosmopolitan but Cowboy, We-ain't-Dallas-and-we-like-it-that-way-podnuh kind of place. (I loved those bumper stickers that read "Foat Wuth, Ah Love Yew") My kind of place. Fort Worth is the 17th largest city in the USA and 5th largest in Texas , yet in these modern times, maintains and proudly celebrates its Western heritage. Take, for instance, the iconic Fort Worth Stock Yards. This is probably the most famous landmark in the city - loaded with history and the feel of 1870. Not far from the Stock Yards is one of the best universities in the country, TCU, home of the Horned Frogs and Alma Mater to the Purple Cloud, number 74, Bob Lilly. Corporate HQ's in Fort Worth include AMR (American Airlines), Radio Shack and XTO Energy, Fortune 500 Companies all and they do bidness in Cowtown. When I travel in my mind's time machine back to Fort Worth in the early '60's, I am suddenly at Fossil Creek fishin' for catfish with my uncles, Tony and Tim or walking the railroad tracks for miles on end and picking up souvenir railroad spikes to tote back home. Or going to one of the best zoos in the nation, the Fort Worth Zoo and the nearby Botanical Gardens. POOF ! I am six years old again on a big piece of cardboard flying down the big ass grassy hill next to the duck pond at the Zoo, Natures Roller Coaster. Six years old hiding from restless Natives and man-eating tigers and lions in the jungle that is the Botanical Gardens. A six year old future Bill Dance finally managing to reel in (with the help of my Dad's Zebco 33) the catch of a lifetime from the Duck Pond at the Zoo. You know...six years old and Fort Worth were a mighty fine pair of Podnuhs. Foat Wuth, Ah Luv Yew.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Honey, This is a Weird Looking Pepper

Zoo-keenie?
I am a gardener. I grow stuff - tomatoes, peppers,squash, you name it, I've probably grown it or tried to grow it. Gardening is something I learned from Grandma Shoemaker as a young child. I was fascinated that one day she would put a tiny seed in the ground and a few weeks later BAM!, there was a tomato! Even now, in my mid-50's, that little boy of the early 1960's shows up every time I spot a new blossom on a tomato plant or some such. Wow! That's gonna be a (fill-in-the-vegetable-name-here)! And I think of Grandma. The secret to a productive garden is good dirt, so preparation is key to a bountiful harvest. And let me tell you, while tilling up the ground for a garden, you are liable to find almost anything - nails, rocks, silverware, coins, old bottles, missile launchers....missile launchers??? Yep, there's nothing like digging up discarded military explosive devices to get a bang out of gardening. That's exactly what happened to 34 year old Jarrette Schule of Comal County near San Antonio. From the article, "Schule spent Tuesday afternoon calling the FBI, Homeland Security, the Sheriff’s Department — every agency he could think of. He was stuck in a bureaucratic limbo.
“Everyone was handing it off to everybody else,” Schule said. And some people want more government? This guy found this missile launcher on a Tuesday, made all the right phone calls to all the right people and nobody seemed to care! WTF? This tale does have a happy (and safe) ending, however. The next day, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was kind enough to send an ordinance disposal team to pick up the military hardware and do whatever they do with rogue missile launchers found by civilians while preparing some land for a garden. I don't know about you, but a few questions come to mind regarding this peculiar situation. Questions like...where were the local cops? Dunkin Donuts? What about Homeland Security? Were they too busy at the airport frisking nuns and 90 year old women who pose a threat to our national security? And the FBI? I hear they were deep undercover at the Glenn Beck 8/28 Rally looking for right-wing extremists carrying homemade signs that "Obama is a Kenyan". Don't get me wrong, I'm not raggin' on law enforcement here, their job is tough enough as it is. I love the guys and gals in blue and the Feds, but c'mon folks. One of the higher ups in one of these agencies should have had a passing thought like, "This old boy in Comal County found a missile launcher while digging up his garden and maybe, just maybe, there's an element of danger to him and the general public. Finkelstein! Get somebody out there pronto!" But, all's well that ends well, I suppose. Excuse me while I go get my dirt ready for next year's garden. I might dig up Osama Bin Laden.

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