Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Has a stranger in another city or country ever shown you a kindness? This was the question on NPR today. It didn’t take me long to come up with an instance. I’m sure there are more, but this is a favorite.

My husband, two small granddaughters, daughter-in-law, and I were cutting it close. My niece’s reception dinner somewhere in the wilds of Texas back roads was starting five minutes ago. We spied a country bar and pulled our purple rental car over. A patron staggered out. Jerry rolled down the window and asked where the VFW Hall was. The short, boney man straightened his posture and his Stetson. Strenuous effort to widen his eyes seemed to signal his body to slump. He held onto the car and puffed his chest out, widening his eyes again.

“Yessir, be glad to help you.”

His face rearranged itself into a wide smile, deepening the lines in his ruddy cheeks. He pointed first one way, then the other, finally settling on a direction.

“Go straight on down the road a piece till you see the Lone Star sign, take a right—no left—cross over the railroad tracks, go about five more miles down the dirt road to your left and it’ll be on your right.”

“Much obliged,” my husband said with a smile. He’d learned Texas lingo years ago.

We pulled out of the bar parking lot and Jerry immediately turned right.

“What are you doing?” I said.

Jerry made a quick left into the parking lot across the street from the bar, into the crowded VFW parking lot.

My daughter-in-law loves to tell people that Texans really are friendly and helpful—even when they have no idea what they are talking about.

Have you been shown kindness from a stranger while on vacation or just away from home? I’d love to hear about it.


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First my calves, then knees, then thighs – and regions higher – began to feel the cold, wet snow as it rushed up my body. The frozen, white slope looked very long and steep. It was my first time snow sledding and I was twenty years old. On the sled behind me was my boss, Henry Snellings, Jr.

 Mr. Snellings (always Mr.) was the brains of my department at the City of Richmond, and second in command. I was a secretary.  His brilliant mind was balanced by the spirit and wonder of a little boy. He was ever proper and shy, yet playful. He once handed me a brown envelope to deliver to my husband. I had no idea what was in it. Jerry opened it to find a copy of a rather thick booklet I had typed to be printed. Inside was also a note saying, “I just wanted you to see what good work your wife does.”

 This was a man you trusted, so when he told me to come along with him at lunchtime while the snow was piled high outside, I put on my coat and went. He finally came to a stop at Bryan Park, opened the trunk and pulled out a sled.

 “We are going sledding. You can’t go your whole life without going snow sledding.” He had seen my excitement when the flakes began to fall the day before. Growing up in South Texas, it was all new to me. That boyish twinkle was enough to make me forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I looked down that steep hill. So I climbed on in front of him and braced for a new adventure.

 I have not told you what I was wearing. This was in the late fifties, and ladies dressed properly for work, which meant I was wearing a wool skirt, high heels covered by boots, and nylons on a garter belt. This was before pantyhose.

 At the bottom of the hill, I stood and shook as much loose snow from under my clothing as I could, but I was still cold and damp. He must have realized because we climbed back up to the car and drove back to work. He was very proud to have initiated a Texas girl in the benefits of a good Virginia snow, and am I still very proud to have known and worked for such a man.



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A local news story stuck in my craw the other day. That phrase from my Texas upbringing came to mind, and perhaps appropriately. The TV news reported a real stink in a neighborhood pond in the Orlando, FL area. Dead fish had floated to the surface and almost covered the pond. The resident interviewed was very upset. She could not open her doors or windows because of the smell. (Like we do that in Florida in August, anyway.) She pointed out that adding to the terrible situation were flocks of ugly, horrid, black birds all around the water’s edge.


I am, of course, yelling at the TV screen. “You *&#@. They are vultures, the clean up crew!”


Next day there was a follow-up report. Amazingly all the fish were gone. So were the vultures after filling their bellies. The lady was much calmer and surprised that BOTH her problems were taken care of. I will accept an apology on behalf of the vultures!

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You know what makes this illegal immigration issue so complicated? These damn tamales. Some of you know I am renovating my house. That calls for laborers and craftsmen –U.S. citizens because of my feelings on illegal immigration. I had a job set up with a local tile setter, but he had excessive earwax on the appointed day, then a pulled muscle the second day. Fernando could come right away. He did a beautiful job and by damn he brought me tamales the second day. You see how complicated this gets? I am from Texas and would sell my soul for a good, genuine Mexican tamale. Thank God I didn’t have to. Fernando is studying for his citizenship, so obviously a resident alien. So I’m off the hook—except for Ramona. Actually, it was my mother who rescued her from our garbage, trying to feed her children. After that day, she cleaned our home (and our friends’ homes) for over twenty years. When the time came, she insisted on sitting by my father’s casket all night. As I said, it is very complicated.
Most of us who lobby to enforce our borders are not bigots. We just believe in sovereignty, secure borders, and fair treatment of all who want to enter from whatever country.  And we want our our country to use its powers to pressure our neighbors to the south to treat their citizens right. We have no problem trying to rearrange priorities of countries on other continents. Mexicans live in a beautiful, bountiful country, rich in oil, tourism, precious metals, and history. Their people should be participating in the wealth that funnels to the elite. Why isn’t this a priority with our government? Why can’t Ramona and Fernando make a living in their beloved country? Why?

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I can almost smell the stinkbugs. Election night beside the Mercantile Store in Karnes City, Texas comes wafting back when votes are being counted anywhere. The cool night air, crickets and stinkbugs, of course, were all part of the atmosphere. Instead of a chalkboard against the brick wall we now have the TV  screen, but the feeling is the same. In that crowded street decades ago the chalk paused under a candidate’s name and we held our breaths. On TV tonight a digital graphic pops on the screen and commentators begin dissecting its meaning almost before we can think.

Behind the political scene it is no doubt brutal, but I feel as General Patton did looking down in the valley where a battle scene smoldered. “War,” he said, “God help me. I do love it so.”

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At The AlamoAt the time, it was just life; now it is history. Many of us who grew up or lived in Texas contribute to the University of Texas’ Historical website true stories with a Texas setting. You’ll find three from this author at the U. of Texas Historical link on the right.

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