Raising funds for a mission trip to Costa Rica next summer, talented members of the Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church in Llano served a delicious dinner and performed famous songs from Broadway hits like “Fiddler on the Roof” (above) in three dinner theater presentations of “A Taste of Broadway” last weekend (see more pictures on page 8 and lots more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page).
One of the most exciting stories in American history (and world history) was the spectacular success of the Apollo space program’s lunar missions, from 1968 to 1972. Right in the middle of that amazing story was Charles “Chuck” Deiterich, who now resides in right here in Burnet.
Chuck Deiterich was born in 1938 in Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a mechanic at an airport. He grew up with a strong interest in the science of flight. After the Deiterich family moved to Houston (when Chuck was 13 years old), he worked with his older brother in a garage-based model-airplane company while he was in high school.
After graduating from high school, Deiterich studied physics and math at the University of Saint Thomas, in Houston, and became more and more excited about rockets. The first Russian Sputnik satellite went into orbit while he was there (October 4, 1957), a memorable event which brought the “space race” to the public’s consciousness and heightened the young man’s interest in space travel.
After graduating from Saint Thomas, the young engineer took a job working on flight simulators at the William P. Hobby Airport, then worked on (among other things) signal conditioning equipment for Titan II missiles, at Dresser Electronics. When NASA opened its Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston in 1962, Deiterich’s father urged him to apply for a job there. His first application was not successful, and he went to work for Test Equipment corporation. While there, he applied again at NASA.
It was a bright, sunny morning on Monday, and I didn’t have any appointments until the afternoon. I decided to drive around Marble Falls and take pictures of the various construction projects that I had noticed in my previous travels. I won’t have room for all of the pictures in the paper (although I did put three on page 15), but you can see quite a few of them on my “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.
I remember 2008 pretty well. I was publishing the Texas Hill Country magazine from the office of the Horseshoe Bay Beacon, and somebody at 7-11 told me that their normal lunchtime rush had vanished; there were no more construction workers anywhere in the area.
I sort of vanished myself for a couple of years, but shortly after I started publishing this paper (in 2011), several big projects seemed to brighten the area’s economic outlook. There was the bridge, the new power plant and the Scott & White clinic (which preceded the hospital on Highway 71). Since then, there has been non-stop building all around Lake Marble Falls; in fact, it seems like it’s still picking up steam.
I should interject here that my knowledge of economics (since two college courses 40 years ago) is mostly limited to what I see or read in the papers; nothing I say can be construed as expert analysis. But just seeing the new H.E.B., the new PEC building, the Wyndham Resort, the Homestead apartments, and the multiple fast food restaurants (and hearing about a new hotel by the lake and another new retail building on Avenue H) makes me think that things are going pretty well in Marble Falls.
A front-page article in the July 5, 1917, issue of The Llano News reported that all of General Pershing’s expeditionary force had survived U-boat attacks on their voyage to France. The arrival of the Americans would soon help turn the tide against the German armies on the “Western Front.” Related articles told how 329 Llano residents had joined the Llano branch of the American Red Cross during a membership drive which had featured a carnival at the home of M.M. Moss. The paper listed all 329 members and predicted that the number would soon reach 500.
A light-hearted article reported that Miles Buttery was “now the possessor of a new Chevrolet” from buttery Hardware, and “already he is skilled in the art of driving.” It went on to note that “he is not altogether proficient in the matter of stopping, but thanks to the efficiency of his sidewalk as a backstop,” he was “getting on.”
Other stories reported that T.S. Parker had sold “a Briscoe car” to “F.R. Reimers of Marble Falls, and App Garrett had delivered two “handsome Chandler automobiles.” One was a “seven-passenger touring car” for S.D. Rainier, and the other was a “roadster” for C.E. Shults (owner of the Don Carlos Hotel).
There are weeks when I really, really wish that I had more pages to work with. It’s not that I have too much idle time on my hands; it’s just that I have so much material that I’d love to share with you. This is one of those weeks.
Of course, I’m at my most productive when I’m a little behind schedule, and I started Saturday perfectly by sleeping thirty minutes longer than I had planned (I had stayed out too late the night before). Once I got on the road (not until 9 a.m.), it was 12 hours of hurrying from one great photo op to another.
The biggest event was the spectacular Highland Lakes Air Show, and I did stay there taking pictures for almost three hours. But the high point of the weekend was the wonderful homecoming of one hundred Vietnam veterans who had been on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. I don’t usually cover Austin events, but my friend George Banks (from Burnet) was on that flight, and he had invited me to come to the “Welcome Home” celebration. I am thankful for his invitation, and very thankful that I made the hurried (but perfectly timed) trip to the airport.
The lobby was packed with well-wishers of all ages when I arrived, many of them children holding signs and flags. The cheering started even before the veterans arrived, and when they did arrive, there was near-pandemonium. Several of the veterans were in tears as they walked through a gauntlet of excited welcomers, and all of them seemed amazed (and very pleased) by the reception. I saw Mr. Banks toward the end of the line and he, too, seemed very appreciative. It was a wonderful event!
I think my record (set when I was a little younger) is fourteen events covered in one Saturday. I “only” covered eleven last Saturday, and I missed two that I had planned on attending. One was the Golf “Fore” Life tournament at Lighthouse Country Club, which started at the same time as the air show, and the other was the car show in Lampasas. That’s not in my territory, but at least two of my friends were there (Bill Edwards with his custom hot rod, and Robbis Storm with his “Elderly Brothers” band), and I thought I’d try to squeeze it in between Kids Day Out and the skydivers who kicked off the air show. I was too far behind by then, and had to stay in Burnet.
The Oatmeal Festival was great, and there were several other good events last weekend, but Hurricane Harvey, and those affected by it, continued to dominate the news all week. The reason that I keep mentioning it in my good-news-only newspaper is because of the amazing and heart-warming response. Of course, the desire to help is certainly not limited to the Highland Lakes area; people all over Texas and across the United States – even from other countries – are sending help or showing up in person to do whatever they can. But I mostly see what’s happening right here, and I have to say that I have never been more proud of my neighbors than I have been this past week. There are heroes all around these Highland Lakes.
I wouldn’t dare to try making a complete list, because I know I’d be leaving out others even more deserving of recognition than the ones I’ve been watching. I was at Inks Lake State Park, where almost 200 evacuees took refuge, when Angel’s Pizza donated stacks of pizzas for their lunch. A lady there told me, “Don’t forget to say a big thank you to Bill’s Burgers (who had donated a meal the day before). Those hamburgers were delicious!” I know that Grant and Donna Barkey (of Kona Ice) were preparing breakfast tacos each morning, and that Joseph’s Pantry and Kingsland First Baptist were involved in that effort. But that was only one of many, many different good deeds that were done; I have pictures from a few in this week’s paper, but I’ll probably never hear of half of them. Thanks to everyone who is helping!
The recovery from the massive storm will take months or even years, so there will be opportunities to help for quite a while. One local effort this weekend is the “Texas Strong … Fitness Strong … Hurricane Harvey Relief” workout fundraiser at the Marble Falls High School stadium from 9 to 11 a.m. this Saturday. At least ten area fitness facilities have joined together to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Port A & Aransas Pass (each Facility is raising funds through the end of September). Saturday’s workout will be appropriate for all fitness levels, and will be fun for everyone. A $10 donation will go into the fund. Online Giving is also available through Lakeshores Church to use for a one-time gift: https://lakeshores.aware3.net/give/ (VERY IMPORTANT: select "Rockport" in the drop down menu.)
I was here all last weekend, and normally I’d have a whole lot of pictures to fill the pages of my paper. Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey intervened. Not only did several local events get canceled or postponed, but I spent a lot of the weekend watching the news. My daughter, whose Baton Rouge home was devastated by flooding last year, had just moved to Kingwood, and I cringed when I saw footage of flooded streets near her new home. She was in Dallas for the weekend, but I’m afraid she and her husband will have another long ordeal ahead of them. Of course, their predicament is multiplied by hundreds of thousands of times in the southeast Texas area, and many, many people are worse off than they are. That knowledge makes me even more proud of my Highland Lakes neighbors, who have joined with thousands of others from all around Texas and other states to do whatever they can to help those affected by this disaster.
I was particularly interested to hear that my friends from Smoking for Jesus Ministry, who just last Sunday celebrated the 12th anniversary of their “escape” from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans, were in the forefront of efforts to help evacuees from Harvey on Monday and Tuesday. They are certainly not alone; I’m sure that I don’t know everything that has been done (or is planned) to help those in need right now, but I do know that a contingent from Texas Baptist Men and another from the Kingsland VFD (plus several local individuals) have been on the “front lines.” Several different local groups are taking up collections to help those caught in Harvey’s destructive path. Everybody I know is helping at least a little by donating what they can, and thousands of prayers are going up at any given time.
I’m told that there are close to 200 evacuees at Inks Lake State Park, and that they need food and a variety of personal items. You can check with the First Baptist Church in Kingsland for details. The Kingsland VFD is collecting supplies and cash to take to Dickinson (one of the hardest-hit towns, but one place where the water has gone down dramatically as of Wednesday), and several Kingsland businesses are serving as collection points. I know that Hurricane Harvey is not “good news” for anyone, but the neighborliness of Texans (and others – I was thrilled to hear that the “Cajun Navy” is in action once again, here in Texas) IS good news.
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