A good crowd gathered at the Lakeside Pavilion on Monday, September 11, for the Marble Falls Noon Rotary Club’s annual Day of Remembrance, held this year in conjunction with the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit hosted there for the weekend by Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home to honor the nearly 600 Texans killed in the War on Terror since 2001. This photo was taken just before the ceremony began at noon. See more photos on page 7 and on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.
Well, life has definitely slowed down a little since Kingsland’s big Aqua Boom festival, but I’m finding that perfection in the newspaper business (at least for me) remains an elusive goal. I do feel more rested, and I’ve made progress in catching up on some personal details (house-cleaning, healthcare updates, vacation planning), but I’ve continued to make mistakes and forget appointments. I hope people will continue to be patient with me, because (even with all the embarrassing mistakes) I’m having a great time!
I’ll mention again this week and next that there will not be a paper on August 4; that’s my vacation week. I’m going to try to ignore my telephone and my computer that week; I’ll be playing catch-up for a couple of weeks after that.
One of the highlights of my more-relaxed week was the opportunity to read all the way through Dana Wright’s wonderful new book, “Saving Stories: Afternoons with Darrell.” I am probably biased, because I consider Dana and Darrell (Llano’s celebrity songwriter Darrell Staedtler) both good friends, but I enjoyed the book tremendously. Not only did I learn a lot more about Darrell’s impressive country music career (and a little more about Dana’s noteworthy “new” career as a writer), but I feel suddenly more motivated to write some books of my own. My research style won’t be the same as Dana’s; I feel much more comfortable with old newspapers than with real people who might not really like what I write, and I’m better at reading than listening, anyway. But I believe that my “history” research shares the goal of Dana’s interviews: saving stories with a lasting value that otherwise might have been lost and forgotten. I hope I can do as well as Dana has done in pursuit of that goal (see a little more about Darrell and the book on page 6).
I have to start this week’s column with a correction. Sea Doo raffle winner Chris Heerlein did NOT buy 3,000 tickets, as I thought I had been told; he actually bought $3,000 worth of tickets. That means that he had just a little more than one tenth of the tickets, so winning the Sea Doo was not at all a sure thing. Still, I’m told that his purchase was the biggest in Aqua Boom history, so I’m glad he won (and if that “fact” turns out to be wrong, I’ll let you know next week!)
I have been very happy with my paper’s circulation lately; I rarely have to pick up even close to ten percent of the papers I put out, and I think that more people are reading the Highland Lakes Weekly than ever before. In addition to the actual printed papers, there is an online flip-through edition posted every weekend, and I’m hearing from more and more people who read it. And this past week, Facebook informed me that I had 42,914 “post engagements” (whatever that means) on my Aqua Boom albums. I want to say “Thank You!” to everyone who pays any attention whatsoever to my efforts; you make me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile, and that thought gives me great satisfaction.
Now that I’ve got so many people paying attention, it really seems like a shame to announce that I am taking my annual vacation in three weeks, and that there will not be a paper on August 4. I don’t count that against my tally of consecutive deadlines met (I’m at 318 now); there just won’t be a deadline that week to miss.
Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who had invaded the U.S. the previous year, made the front page of The Llano News on January 11, 1917, amid rumors that his “army” was advancing toward Chihuahua City (the state capital where he had served as provisional governor before the 1914 revolution; the attack never happened, and Villa made peace with the Mexican government in 1920).
Closer to home, Mrs. A.A. Knowles (born Adeline Augustus Osborne in Burnet County, although the article may have been mistaken in claiming that she was born there in 1842), died suddenly in Llano on Tuesday, January 9. The article called her “one of our noblest and best known citizens,” and described her 37 years in Llano as “a consistent and devoted Christian life.” Her husband, Captain W.W. Knowles, had owned the gin, mill and water works in Llano in the 1880s; he died in 1893.
Locals who sent carloads of hogs by train to Fort Worth that week included A.N. Box, W. Hoerster, Geo. Schuessler, Jas. Wyckoff, R.S. Schneider, J.M. Wilson and Dees & Moss.
It was the best of times. Period. If anything at all went wrong this past week, it escaped my notice (or I just forgot). The “Twelve Days of Aqua Boom” (more or less) are over, and my head is still spinning, but I would have to say that it was a tremendous success!
Two of the most amazing news items I heard this week (and one of them wasn’t an Aqua Boom item) were: 1) The visit of the Publishers Clearing House crew to Kingsland, and 2) the spectacular generosity of KLBJ radio personality Chris Heerlein.
Publishers Clearing House stopped at H.E.B. in Kingsland to get helium for the celebratory balloons they presented (along with a bottle of champagne and a $1 million “check”) to a Buchanan Dam woman last Friday. (See, they really do exist. This is NOT “fake news!”)
Chris Heerlein, who co-hosts the “Retire Ready” radio show with Sandra Newman every Saturday on KLBJ in Austin (I believe they are also co-owners of Reap Financial), has a vacation home here in Kingsland, and visits frequently. He was impressed by the Aqua Boom festival, and came by the Chamber booth at the lakeside park on Tuesday to buy THREE THOUSAND raffle tickets! There was no guarantee that he would win, but he was richly rewarded for his generosity when the newly-crowned Miss Aqua Boom, Amber Dyess, drew one of his tickets and earned him the beautiful new Sea Doo from Highland Lakes Watercraft.
I have to start this week’s column with a shout-out to the good folks at the Lake Buchanan Conservation Corporation (LBCC). Not only do they create fish habitat and stock the lake, install docks, do clean-up projects and give out scholarships; when they see that the Highland Lakes area needs a little rain, they schedule a golf tournament! I’m told that they’ve re-scheduled for September 16; keep your umbrellas handy.
Not only did last weekend’s rains help our lakes and rivers, they gave your overworked editor a little bit of a break. I used the rain as an excuse to skip a few outdoor events (probably cancelled anyway, right?) and got more sleep than I can remember getting in quite a while. I got a little house-cleaning done, and I started to catch up with my paperwork.
I did remember to go to the TxDOT meeting at Kingsland’s First Baptist Church, and was delighted to see an overflow crowd in attendance. From what I hear, TxDOT was impressed by what they saw and heard; Hwy 1431 will remain a 4-lane road for now.
Commissioner Mike Sandoval seemed to be the driving force behind these meetings, although County Judge Mary Cunningham and Commissioner Linda Raschke certainly lent their support. He has been very active and accessible as commissioner, and I hear he has also recently volunteered to serve as the county’s Veterans Services Officer. I’m not sure exactly what that entails, but if you are a veteran who needs services, give him a call!
The big news in Llano on January 1, 1917, was some New Year’s Eve vandalism. The Llano News reported in its January 4 issue that 11 local boys had been assessed fines totaling $14.70 for “general mischief,” and several more were to be charged after the town awoke to find an overturned garbage can covering the head of the Confederate soldier statue (which had been dedicated with great fanfare the previous year) and broken “window lights, desks and laboratory equipment at the school building.” According to the report, “considerable other mischief of less violence was the result of the night’s rowdyism.”
The Watkins Auto Sales Company announced its delivery of thirteen new Fords (a hot commodity in 1917; all of them were already spoken for, and there was still a waiting list of prospective buyers). Several of the buyers were familiar names, including Roy B. Inks of Llano, O.K. McDonald of Tow and W.H. Hill of Kingsland. Mr. Watkins expected more Fords to arrive “any day.”
Traveling by car was an interesting experience back then. Another front-page story told how Professor B.F. McCollum and his wife had planned to travel with three young school teachers to Dublin for Christmas. They had almost made it as far as Cherokee when the car broke down. It became evident that the car needed a part which was not available anywhere nearby, so when a Good Samaritan stopped to help, the four ladies hitched a ride into town and called a “jitney” to take them to Lometa, where they could catch a train. The jitney broke down, too, and they had to spend the night with a hospitable family in Cherokee while they waited for another jitney from to come and get them. In the meantime, the professor found a telephone (and refuge for the night) at a nearby ranch, and called a supplier in Mason to bring the necessary part for his car the next day. The “chauffeur” of the second jitney “overslept himself” and the ladies missed their train by 15 minutes, but they were able to catch up to it and board the train at its next stop. The professor installed the new part, and arrived in Dublin shortly after his wife and their friends!
Of course, trains were still the primary mode of transportation, and the paper listed shipments from Llano by several area ranchers. J.C. Stribling sent two carloads of hogs to Fort Worth. D.P. Hasse and J.W. Hasse each sent four carloads of hogs, also to Fort Worth. H.R. Smith sent two carloads of cattle to San Marcos, but most of the shipments went to Fort Worth.
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