2010

Remembering a Mentor, Boss and Occasional Terror

We gathered in a downtown Tyler watering hole after Bill Martin’s funeral to toast the man who was a mentor, boss and occasional terror to the dozen or so newspaper folks around the table. Martin died last week at 80 from congestive heart failure. Others more eloquent than me have written tributes, including Arnold Garcia, editorial page editor of the Austin American-Statesman. (mystatesman.com) Arnold started out as a reporter for Martin at the San Angelo Standard-Times. You should read his piece; here is my contribution. I first met Bill when he became publisher of the Lufkin Daily News...

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A Lifelong Love of the Forest

I spent a brief time in the forest recently on an untouched piece of wilderness one rarely finds in the South. A young boy was playing in the creek, snapping twigs off tree branches, tossing them into the clear water, clearly delighted to be out in the woods, as was I. It reminded of my childhood, seeing that boy and the fun he had being out there. As a child, I spent as much time in the woods as allowed, back in a time and place when it was safe for children to roam unsupervised, especially in the summer. I would leave the house not long after breakfast, likely after doing a few chores and pedal...

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Briefly Fleeing the Dog Days

NORTH OF COLORADO SPRINGS — A fine mist is sweeping through the ponderosa pines and quaking aspens on this late July morning just after sunrise. I sit outside under a pole barn, watching a pair of geese named Precious and Snow White pecking the ground inside their pen. Yesterday we fed them our watermelon rinds from the slices served us each morning by the proprietor of the bed-and-breakfast where we are staying. Both the geese, a Rhode Island Red named Ethel, and an aged Golden Retriever who goes by Scootie Patootie eagerly chowed down on the rinds. It was a revelation to know both fowl and an old dog would...

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A Young Boy’s Love of Books

Our nephew Connor came to visit the other day. He is growing like a well-watered bean sprout and about that skinny — with blond hair and blue eyes that likely will both turn darker as he grows older, in that transient manner of youngsters. Connor is eight-years-old, the son of my wife’s youngest brother. He is a serious soul, who ponders each question asked of him before answering. Sometimes you, meaning us adults, might not like the answers. Way I figure, don’t ask if you aren’t willing to receive an honest answer from Connor. He came to our house armed with his Nintendo DS and a vinyl...

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A Week in the Hole For The Pooches

We had to board our two dogs recently while on a week’s vacation. It is the first time we have done this. Previously, we only owned Rosie the Wonder Dog and always managed to find someone to host her or dog-sit at our house. Sam the Man, a poodle mix with doleful eyes and the sweetest disposition, joined the crew late last summer after being rescued by my Beautiful Mystery Companion. Rosie now has a big brother. A somewhat slow-witted but kind-hearted big brother, for sure, but she likes having him around most of the time.  When he dawdles coming back inside from the backyard, she will run out and jump...

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(Para) Sail Away Over the Gulf

ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA — I’m being hauled out to sea on a fast boat called High Maintenance along with a dozen or so folks, our bottoms bouncing as we break through the waves once we past the bridge that separates the bay from the Gulf of Mexico. All of us hold on to the handrails or the cargo holds below, both to keep from being flung overboard and to avoid future chiropractic appointments. At least that’s my plan. I’m at least a generation older than just about everybody else on this vessel. There are a half-dozen teens, a couple ten-year-olds, a few young adults in their 20s, a couple...

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Rayford Williams: A Remembrance

I wasn’t able to pay my last respects to Rayford Williams in person. We were out of town when he was laid to rest at 84 in his hometown of Henderson. I am sure he would have understood my absence. He was one of the most easy-going fellows I ever knew. We met when I became publisher of the Nacogdoches paper and joined the Booster Club, which was comprised of the town’s perceived mover-and-shakers. The club had been formed to help promote the university back in the 1920s. By the time I joined in the early 1990s, its primary purpose was to enjoy a decent meal every Monday night at the Nacogdoches...

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Going once, going twice… At the auction

SULPHUR SPRINGS, TEXAS — The first rule when attending an auction is not to make any sudden moves when the bidding is underway, so you don’t end up buying a hideous French provincial canopy bed by accident because you were scratching your nose. Or fanning yourself with the buyer card given when you register, because the ceiling fans aren’t doing much to quell the heat, and the auctioneer mistakes that move for a bid on a stuffed pheasant from Scotland. My Beautiful Mystery Companion and I are at the Sulphur Springs Antique Auction and Gallery, a pair of amateurs sitting among a crowd of antique...

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Gone To Texas, 45 Years Ago

Forty-five years ago this month, our family rolled into East Texas in a bluish-green 1964 Mercury Comet pulling a U-Haul trailer. It was the culmination of a 1,737-mile odyssey that began 10 days earlier when the moving van left our home in Allenstown, N.H. We followed suit a few hours later — Gone To Texas as the saying goes. My parents took their time driving southwest, stopping off at the Gettysburg battlefield, the Smoky Mountains, and other points of interest along the way. It was a wonderful road trip that took our minds off the fact that we three boys had been uprooted from the only lives...

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Sending Out An S-O-S — When I Knew How

A recent (at least to me) episode of “Big Bang Theory” featured one of the characters using Morse Code. He was tapping out SOS on the wall in vain hopes of summoning his roommate, by tapping three short raps, three long raps, then three short raps. His roommate had no idea what he was doing or why. He had never heard of Morse Code. I suspect there are plenty of young folks who haven’t, or have at best a vague idea what it is. I was a little nerd as a kid, with thick glasses, a bad haircut and a penchant for hanging around fellow nerds. Those of us growing up in Allenstown, N.H. liked to build...

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