Last weekend’s biggest event was the hugely entertaining Soapbox Classic in downtown Marble Falls; in the photo above, two of the amazingly artistic gravity-powered entries face off in one of the final races on Sunday afternoon. Grant Dean’s streamlined purple Nemesis beat Shaun Sides’ #66 racer to take 1st Place in the Speed Division. Sides was rewarded for his innovation with the Best in Show trophy; his car was especially striking during the night-time races, with nitrous oxide and LED lights creating the appearance of flames coming from the mock exhaust pipes as he raced. For more Soapbox photos, see pages 7 to 9; for many more photos, find the Highland Lakes Weekly page on Facebook.
The big news for me this week, at least personally, is that I’ve finished my appointed rounds, and delivered my allotment of “Kingsland, Texas!” magazines to nearly forty towns around Texas. Theoretically, that means that I’ll fulfill the prophecy on my forty-year-old wooden plaque, which says “Next week I’ll get organized!”
I’m obviously not holding my breath, but I think (or at least hope) that I’m already making progress. You may have noticed that I didn’t write a whole lot last week about the Burnet County Fair (although I did have plenty of pictures this year). That was partly because I couldn’t find an email that I thought I had received, listing winners and giving pertinent statistics. I remembered (after I found it a day too late in a stack of papers next to my desk) that I actually had been handed a press release while I was there; the email never existed.
The county fair was a big success, with 157 exhibitors displaying a record-setting 767 entries. Sweepstakes winners were: Kerry McDonald (Adult), Courtney Burrows (Senior Youth) and Cricket Beaman (Junior Youth). I should have had at least that much information in last week’s paper.
This week, I had the presence of mind to go through some of the stacks of paper that have been accumulating around my “office.” I discovered a flyer that someone had given me, advertising a free community Spaghetti Dinner at the fire hall in Granite Shoals. It is this Friday (June 23), from 5 to 9 p.m., and it seems that the purpose is to get residents (especially those who might be interested in volunteering some of their time) more familiar with the people, the activities and the needs of the department.
I guess I overdid it. I get a lot of satisfaction from taking on a little more than I should, and I was very pleased with myself when I got home from a 1,270 mile marathon “magazine delivery” trip around north and east Texas around 2:10 a.m. on Tuesday. I felt so good that I stayed up to post an album on Facebook and to listen to the voice mail messages I had not been able to retrieve when I last checked my phone in Carthage. That’s when I realized I had only five hours to sleep before I tackled a very full day. And that’s when my mind seemed to go on strike. I felt pretty good when I got up, but I began making one mistake after another.
The one I regret the most is the loss of a picture I took at the Marble Falls police station. The VFW delegation was there to present a check for $2,000 from their bingo fund for the department’s mobile video/body camera project. Police Chief Mark Whitacre was there with other department personnel, and the whole group gathered in front of the building for a picture. I was the only photographer there, so they asked me to email a copy of the picture; I told them I would.
As I hurried through my other errands, I took several more pictures. When I stopped at home, I copied my pictures to the computer and kept on going. Realizing a while later that my pictures from the trip were still on the nearly-full card (and confident that all my pictures were safely uploaded to the home computer), I deleted all the pictures on the camera.
I didn’t think about pictures again until late that night, but when I looked for the police department picture I couldn’t find it anywhere! This has happened to me three or four times since I started working with this new computer, but this was the first time in a while that I hadn’t taken extra care to make sure I had saved all my pictures. I looked through every folder and did searches, but I think it’s gone forever.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to report some real news this week. (But I’ll get back to my normal “fluff” as quickly as possible.) First, Kingsland has a new fire chief; the VFD elected Darryl Miller Sr., who has been a volunteer firefighter here for more than 25 years, serving most recently as secretary/treasurer of the department. He succeeds the almost-legendary Danny Stone, whose community service is not limited to the VFD, but who has served as Kingsland’s fire chief for longer than most people here can remember. He didn’t seem very eager to be interviewed last time I asked him, but I’ll try again because I know he’s been very much involved in all of Kingsland’s recent history (at least since the 70s).
Secondly, Commissioner Mike Sandoval (who is the closest thing to a mayor that Kingsland has) will be holding a “public input open house” with TxDOT and CAPCOG next Tuesday at the Kingsland Community Center to discuss plans for future transportation projects in Kingsland and around Llano County. All residents and anyone who drives through Kingsland is invited to stop in between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on the 13th (you don’t have to be there the whole time; it’s a “come and go” event). Commissioner Sandoval will also be holding his normal monthly “town hall” meeting; that will be at the Highland Lakes Church of Christ (2310 W. Ranch Road 1431) from 5:30 to 7:30 the following Tuesday (June 20).
I guess my brain was really fried by the time I finished last week’s paper; I wrote on page 12 that it was just over two months until Kingsland’s big Aqua Boom festival. Maybe I was thinking of my vacation, which I’m planning for the end of July (there won’t be a Highland Lakes Weekly on August 4); Aqua Boom is now just ONE month away!
Something I forgot completely last week was a photo of Texas Chef Stan McDonald. I met him when he came to Llano’s Fuel Coffee House for a book-signing almost two weeks ago; I got an autographed copy (for my daughter, who likes to cook; I wouldn’t ever use it!), and I told him that I’d put his picture in the paper. I hope later is better than never.
My internet went down again this past weekend (the fourth time this month), so this week’s history article is from some 1971 Highlander stories that I’d photographed at the library several months ago and downloaded to my computer. That was the year of Kingsland’s second Aqua Boom; this year’s will be the 48th.
One reason that I hadn’t used those articles before is because it seemed like there was so much bad news that year. I realized later that (even though there WAS some bad news) it really was just the outlook of the new editor. Bill Anderson was well qualified, and very good at his job (the Highlander won all kinds of awards while he was there), but he was a northeastern liberal who didn’t seem to like the Highland Lakes area very well. He had worked on Bobby Kennedy’s campaign team, and seemed to have a real grudge against Lyndon Johnson; I suspect that part of the reason he came here was to investigate the former president. One good thing he did was to draw attention to the pollution of the lakes which resulted from very lax septic system rules; unfortunately, most of his “news” had a definitely negative tone. (One Highlander columnist wrote sarcastically that President Johnson, instead of dying like a normal American, had “already made arrangements in heaven through Billy Graham to ascend into glory directly from the ranch”).
The most visible pieces of Kingsland’s infrastructure were in place by 1971; new roads and bridges provided easy access to the once-isolated little town and businesses already lined at least two miles of Hwy 1431. Homes were still being built at a frantic pace, the new country club and golf course were open for business and a 1,800 square-foot addition had been put on to the west side of the just-five-year-old Highland Lakes National Bank (which was the area’s largest bank by 1971).
There were some challenges for the still-booming town, but optimism dominated the outlook for a new decade. One of the focal points of that optimism was the highly-successful “Aqua Boom” festival held on July 4, 1970; the Kingsland Chamber was already planning a bigger and better Aqua Boom by January of 1971 (they had decided that past winter to make the event an annual tradition in Kingsland).
The first Kingsland news which made the front page of the Marble Falls Highlander in 1971 was a tragedy which actually occurred on December 30. Two Marble Falls girls were struck and killed by a car outside the Green Acres miniature golf course on Hwy 1431 (now the home of Lake Fun Designs). The same issue described the Kingsland Water Supply Corporation as in a “holding” pattern as legal details were being worked out to allow an intake pipe to be installed at the Kingsland Lions Club Park.
The first baby born in Llano County that year was “a baby girl born to Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Don Ivey of Kingsland” on January 6. C.H. Chastain was sworn in as Justice of the Peace for Precinct #3, and opened an office in Kingsland. A fascinating article by Herman Smith recounted the history of the Lakewood Forest III subdivision, from its beginnings (when Forrest Ross bought 67 acres along the Colorado River arm of Granite Shoals Lake from Mrs. Ona Bedford in 1960) to 1970. The article listed many of the prominent citizens who lived there, including Kit and Dollie Carson, Gene and Juanita Bilberry (and their five sons), Truman and May Thurman, Herman and Sallie Smith, and Weldon and Linnie Osbourn, whose daughter Linette (three years old when the article was written) was the only resident born to the neighborhood.
The good news is that the proverbial monkey is off my back. The magazine is finished and has been sent to the printer (see photo above). The bad news is that it took so much of my attention lately that I don’t have time to write much for this paper. I did make it to quite a few events over the weekend, so I’ve got enough pictures to fill the space. I’ll try to get back to my history articles now that I’ve taken care of that huge deadline.
This weekend coming up is Memorial Day weekend. That always seems like “the first days of summer” (although the calendar begs to differ), and there will probably be a lot of boats on the water (and lots of back-yard barbecues). I hope that our fallen heroes will not be forgotten; it’s really their day.
One reason that it seems like the beginning of summer (other than the warm weather and the day off work) is that most schools have closed for summer vacation. Faith Academy had its graduation a couple of weeks ago; Burnet and Llano will be holding their high school graduations this Friday evening, and Marble Falls on Saturday.
While that means there won’t be a whole lot of competing events, there are still plenty of things to do this weekend. Two events that I left out of my abbreviated “Upcoming Events” article are dances at Cadillac Dance Hall (on FM 1855, north of Marble Falls), and at Pardners (on Hwy 29 in Buchanan Dam; see ad on page 11). Leona and Ron Williams will be special guests at Cadillac Dance Hall on Saturday night, and saxophonist Elliott Fikes tells me he has recovered from his shoulder surgery, and will be back on stage there with Eddie Shell and the Not Guilties.
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Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639