A family gathers for a meal in “Ancient Bethlehem” last year during Burnet’s wonderful dramatization of the little town as it may have appeared at the time of Christ’s birth. The “town,” located off Hwy 29 between the Burnet square and H.E.B., will be open (weather permitting) from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this weekend and next (December 2-4 & 9-11). For lots more of the planned Christmas activities around the Highland Lakes, see “Upcoming Events,” beginning on page 2. More photos can be seen on Facebook.
It’s the Christmas season, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll survive the next two weeks. Despite a good rest over Thanksgiving weekend, I was already panicking by Tuesday. And if this paper looks OK, it’s a miracle (but – as I write this just before deadline -- I seriously doubt that I’ve caught all the mistakes; there were so many, and some were so ridiculous, that I feel like I’ve really “lost it” this time around).
Instead of wasting space listing my mistakes, I’ll try to get down to business. I want everyone to be aware of the amazing works of art going up in Marble Falls for this year’s Sculpture on Main project. The kick-off for 2016 is scheduled for this Friday, and a new feature will be an indoor display of “table-size” sculptures, on display (and for sale) at the Lakeside Pavilion (see ad on page 12).
I hear that the Granite Shoals “Christmas by the Highway” lighting display will be officially opened at 6 p.m. this Friday (December 2). That will be complete the impressive circle of public lighting displays in the Highland Lakes area; Marble Falls, Burnet and Llano have been dazzling passers-by for at least a few days already. The public is invited to the site on Hwy 1431, in front of the Highland Lakes Elementary School.
Kingsland’s Family Christmas is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. this Saturday (December 3) at the Kingsland Community Center (see ad on page 9). And I have a message from the Friends of the Kingsland Library: "Christmas season is an ideal time to remember others with a donation to the Kingsland Library through the Friends of the Library. Your gift will honor someone who enjoys/enjoyed reading for knowledge and contentment. Please join members of your community at an Open House on Tuesday, December 6 from 3:30 - 6 p.m. at the Library."
Llano County got off to a pretty good start in 1935, as most local businesses reported “good holiday business through December.” The Llano News attributed the busy Christmas season (“much better than in 1933”) to “more money in circulation.” Not only had the federal government “sent over $300,000 to farmers and ranchmen in this county” during the previous twelve months, but prices had increased for most local commodities (including cotton, pecans and turkeys).
A new commissioners court was seated on January 1, with J.W. Currie re-capturing the judge’s seat after a two-year sabbatical, and Albert Ricketson “resuming the duties of commissioner after being out of this office for four terms.” Luther Nobles had been elected as commissioner for Precinct 2. Bill S. Watkins had been elected County Attorney, and Sheriff Elmon D. Stewart was chosen for the new (combined) office of Sheriff, Tax Assessor and Collector. He appointed three deputies: Lloyd Myers would assist in policing the county; Charles M. Wallace would handle office duties, and S.S. Smith would be in charge of the county jail.
Deputy Smith was greeted with an escape attempt on his first night as jailer, when two inmates were overheard trying to cut through the bars of their cell with some smuggled-in tools (including three hacksaw blades). Aubrey Harned and Horace Fry were moved to a different cell for the remainder of the night, and escorted by Sheriff Stewart to Huntsville the next day.
Mrs H.W. Tarrance, the local observer for the United States Weather Bureau, reported that 21.32 inches of rain had fallen in Llano in 1934, up from 18.09 inches in 1933, but 5 inches below average and far short of the 32.40 inches in 1932. The highest temperature in Llano in 1934, recorded on three separate days in June, was 109 degrees; the lowest, recorded once in January and once in February, was 21 degrees.
Before I get down to business this week, I want to brag a little about my son, Danny (better known to careful readers of Leatherneck magazine as Lance Corporal Daniel Hallowell, and to most of his Texas Tech friends as Daniel). Danny joined the Marines after graduating from Burnet High School in 2004, and was involved in a fierce battle in Iraq in 2005 where one of his good friends (Lance Corporal Christopher McCrackin) was killed and another (Lance Corporal Joshua Mooi) earned the Navy Cross for “saving the lives of ten fellow infantrymen and decimating a force of insurgents.” I heard about Danny’s two friends that year, but didn’t read about the battle until an article appeared in Leatherneck magazine (with Danny in two of the accompanying pictures) in November of 2011. Now it’s in the New York Times! (I saw it online.) The story called the fight “a little-known but deadly fight WHERE ALL WERE HEROES.” I am very proud of Danny.
That leads to my second “scattered thought.” When Danny was in third or fourth grade, he had to memorize a poem for a homework assignment. He was having trouble focusing, so our whole family memorized it with him at the dinner table. I still remember (and appreciate) the first two lines: “Not just today, but every day/ should be Thanksgiving Day.” And so, as I rationalize this paper’s quick jump from Halloween to Christmas, I think that November’s two wonderful holidays are more of a year-round celebration. Most of us here in the Highland Lakes area appreciate our veterans and give thanks to God for our many blessings all through the year; it’s just not quite so public.
Having said all that, I am very happy to note that last week’s paper was filled with Veterans Day pictures, and I’ve already been to six Thanksgiving celebrations (see pages 8 & 9). Just because we enjoy Christmas doesn’t mean that the November holidays are forgotten.
And we DO enjoy Christmas! This paper (and the next four issues) will be filled with Christmas celebrations as the Marble Falls parade and Walkway are followed by great events and attractions all around the lakes (especially in Llano and Burnet). I tried to mention as many as I could in my “Upcoming Events” article (starting on page 2), but I’m sure I didn’t get them all.
As you can see from the front-page picture this week, the Christmas season is here! Already, there has been a “Pre-Season Sale” with amazing decorations at Kingsland Florist and a Family Day at the Walkway in Marble Falls; this weekend, the annual “Hill Country Christmas” market will be held at the YMCA in Burnet, there will be a Christmas Parade and Opening Night at the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls, and a tree-decorating event will be held at the Walkway on Saturday afternoon.
All of which is great, as long as we don’t forget about Thanksgiving. That wonderful American tradition is not celebrated in such a public way (it’s often just a family affair), but there are many public events (especially at churches) around the Highland Lakes. I’ve listed a few of them in my “Upcoming Events” article, and since I put that on a page, I’ve heard that there will be a big Community Thanksgiving Dinner from 11 to 2 at the Vanderveer Church of Christ in Burnet on thanksgiving Day. After that, it’s Christmas almost 24/7 for the next three weeks! Burnet and Llano especially offer an extensive lineup of Christmas activities; I’ll cover as many of those as I can.
You’re probably familiar with Main Street Bethlehem, Burnet’s amazing presentation of the “little town” at the time Jesus was born. That will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights the first two weekends in December. On Saturday the 10th, Burnet will host both “Christmas on the Square” and “Christmas at Old Fort Croghan,” two very different looks at our favorite holiday.
You have probably already noticed that this week’s front-page picture is not announcing an upcoming event. I had two reasons for that temporary policy change: first, this weekend’s biggest events are the Veterans Day celebrations, and they are on Friday. I didn’t want anyone to think that the paper was already outdated by Friday afternoon (and I planned ahead for that one, putting a Veterans Day photo on LAST week’s paper). The other reason is just that I hardly ever get such an up-close look at a building’s demolition, and I thought it was very interesting. I would have loved to have a job like that equipment operator’s when I was a teenager. It may not look like my normal “good news,” but the bigger, better “new” McDonald’s will!
Of course, none of my papers are ever outdated by Friday, and some of them, like this one with its great stories from Llano history, should be kept for posterity (in my not-so-humble opinion). Unfortunately, the history article also requires an explanation this week. I heard a couple of months ago that the online “Portal to Texas History” was making back issues of The Llano News (1904 to present!) available to lazy historians like me (or even to innocent bystanders). Well, there seems to be some kind of delay, and only 420 issues are available; all between 1916 and 1940, and they are not in any kind of order. I skimmed through them, and cherry-picked a few that looked the most promising, before I realized that about 70 of the issues were from 1935 and 1936. There will be gaps in my articles, but I plan to share what I can from those two years over the next weeks.
This week, I have some more urgent items to share; one is an “emergency.” Not a real emergency, but a planning and training event that will test Llano County’s emergency preparedness by simulating a major accident with multiple victims during Llano’s huge Crawfish Open. It will happen next Tuesday morning, and it will look serious (all kinds of emergency vehicles with sirens, etc.) Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Ron Anderson is hoping that many “Llanites” will read this and not get too alarmed if they happen to be in town when it all starts happening.
February 22, 1916, was a big day in Llano, as the Confederate Monument on the courthouse square was unveiled on Washington’s Birthday by the Daughters of the Confederacy, who had been raising money for years to make it a possibility. A crowd estimated at 5,000 people (“one of the greatest crowds in Llano’s history”) gathered on the square; the high school band provided music in between addresses by Mayor P.H. Callahan and Governor James “Pa” Ferguson. Governor Ferguson had been one of the crew which had constructed the railroad (and was accompanied by his old boss, Captain Joe A. Owens, who had been in charge of the railroad project). It was the governor’s first trip back to Llano in 22 years. Young Leonora Simpson pulled the string which dropped the curtain from the statue; the event was covered by big-city newspapers from around Texas, and a carnival was held all weekend following the monument’s unveiling.
Other items in that week’s paper described a new tile floor being installed in the Llano National Bank, along with other interior refurbishments; a new “air dome” for outdoor movies, to be installed at the corner of Sandstone and Bridge Streets, “just south of the Masonic Temple;” and improvements were being made to Llano’s Opera House, including a new lobby and entryway at the front of the building.
The headline on the front page of The Llano News on July 19, 1917, said “State Highway Through Llano: State Highway Commission designates road as one of Great System of State Highways.” The story reported that the commission had designated a road, to run “west from Austin, through Leander, Liberty Hill, Bertram, Burnet, Llano, Mason and on up to Brady” as part of “Highway No. 20.” The article opined that “the value to accrue” from having “our city placed on one of these great highways . . . will be inestimable.,” and continued by saying “No other one thing will do more for Llano than this road.”
Just write down exactly what you want to say (up to 25 words for $3 per week; up to 50 words for $5), then mail your ad with payment for however long you want it to run.
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Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639