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).
By the end of May, 1917, the war in Europe was dominating the news – even in the small town of Llano. A banner headline on the May 24 issue of The Llano News announced “Tuesday, June 5 is the day when EVERY man between the ages of 21 and 31 MUST register.” One of the stories under that headline was titled, “Army Registration to be made on June 5,” and another advised young men on how to answer the questions on the registration cards. A third front-page story reported that the Germans were holding several Americans as prisoners in Belgium, and a fourth listed five Llano volunteers who had already signed up to serve in the U.S. military.
There was a little bit of local news that week, too. George Watkins was at Scott & White Hospital in Temple for “diagnosis and medical advice.” G. Ehman had come from Brownwood to take a job as tailor for the Johnson & Byfield store. And local members of the Woodmen of the World were planning a banquet “next Saturday night” at the Don Carlos Hotel.
The same banner headline was repeated on May 31, as the June 5 deadline approached, and a front-page story noted that the German newspapers had reported the top-secret landing of American ships in England four days before it happened (and that the harbors were mined by German submarines the day before the ships arrived in England). A Llano volunteer in training for the U.S. Navy (Lee Anderson) died of pneumonia.
This will NOT be a “normal” edition of the Highland Lakes Weekly! I thought I could fly back to Walla Walla for my mother’s funeral and still be able to cover some of this week’s news, but it seemed like I had underestimated a few obstacles. One thing that made travel a little more complicated last weekend was the eclipse; thousands of people had apparently decided that Washington state was the best place to see it, and airline seats and rental cars were hard to come by. My sister got me a ticket with her bonus miles (she travels a lot), but I had to take a circuitous route at very inconvenient times. Then the return flight was for the wrong day; I got another flight, but didn’t make it back to Austin until Tuesday afternoon. By then I was so tired that I forgot about the three events I had intended to cover that evening!
Most weekends, I spend a lot of time taking pictures (as anyone who looks at the Facebook page can attest), so I usually have a lot more than I can fit even before people start sending me more pictures. This week, I’m taking advantage of several pictures (and maybe even a press release or two) that I received by email while I was gone. Fortunately, I had already written a history article before I headed north.
I’m also including a few pictures from last year or the year before to give you all a heads-up on some of the annual events planned for September and October. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it’s definitely a sign that this paper is slightly abnormal.
As war clouds gathered in Washington D.C., The Llano News reported on April 4 (1917) that a large crowd had gathered in Llano to celebrate the raising of the American flag over the courthouse tower. New “turning posts,” with “Go to the right!” painted on them in bright red, were installed at “some of the busiest corners” in Llano; the front-page article described the bases as “circular affairs of considerable dimensions, making it hard to turn the posts over.”
The Llano Business League called a meeting for that evening to organize assistance for “the opening celebrations of the Hotel Don Carlos.” The Llano National Bank received a “costly and beautiful painting from L.C. Smith of Kansas City.” An unnamed (but apparently quite famous) artist had painted a scene from the ranch of Will P. Edwards, near Big Spring, and the bank displayed it proudly on the wall.
The volunteer fire department held a meeting at the opera house to elect a new slate of officers. E.H. Qualls was chief, I.C. Callaway was assistant chief, and A.H. Willbern was recorder. In city elections, John W. Davis was elected as tax assessor/collector; A.H. Willbern and D.L. Carl were elected as city council members.
A front-page advertisement on April 12 announced that the War Department was seeking 1,000,000 volunteers as the U.S. seemed on the brink of war with Germany. The ad mentioned that if the quota was not met, the government would begin “selective conscription” in the very near future. In the meantime, a munitions factory blew up in Chester, PA, killing 121 people.
I guess rules are made to be broken, and I’m about to break my own cardinal rule: “No Bad News in My Paper!” I have never included obituaries in the Highland Lakes Weekly, even though I have often wanted to honor a friend or mourn the passing of someone I greatly respected. And I’m not going to include an obituary this week even though, for the first time ever, I had to write one. It was my mother’s.
The reason I mention it here is because, even though I just returned from a trip to Walla Walla, I’m headed back there this weekend for my mother’s funeral. It’s not really terrible news; it wasn’t a shock to hear; she lived almost 90 years, and her life continues to have a hugely positive impact. I had been given the opportunity to see her just a few days before she died, and I know that she is ever-so-much happier now. The only sad part is that she is gone.
It seems that every week I come up with a new excuse to fall short of my standards in putting this paper together. This week’s is the flood of memories that have been swirling around in my head as I try to simultaneously plan another trip and produce another paper. I won’t be too surprised if there are glaring errors in this week’s edition, but I’m counting on my readers to understand!
One of the events that I’m going to miss is the 50th anniversary celebration at Chapel of the Hills. I have a special affection for that church because of the welcome my family and I received there when we first moved to Burnet in 1996. I had the privilege of meeting quite a few of the early members, and many people I met there are still my friends. My wife worked as secretary there for a few years, and I worked as the janitor there to supplement my not-quite-livable wages at the Burnet Bulletin. Since I won’t be able to be at the celebration, I’m hoping to devote some of the space in this week’s paper to the church’s history. You can find details on the celebration in the ad on page 9 (I hope some of you will be able to attend).
An article in the March 1 (1917) issue of The Llano News told of the death of pioneer settler Martha Huffman, who had come to Llano County before it was a county, and had lived on the town site of Llano as a newlywed when the county was formed in 1856. She was survived by five of her seven children.
There was only one new car registered in Llano County that week; it was a Ford, belonging to G.A. Coulson. The only stock shipment of the week was a carload of hogs sent to Fort Worth by H.L. Gray. The Corner Drug Store, which had become the agent for Cooper Cattle Dip, purchased a whole carload of the tick-fighting chemical. Dallas Stoudenmier, who had been away from Llano for two years, surprised his parents by arriving on the noon train on February 27.
On March 15, a front-page story reported that $20,000 had been received from the sale of street bonds (from Halsey Stuart & Company of Chicago), and that city council had hired Austin engineer O.E. Metcalfe to supervise construction. Work was expected to begin sometime in April.
City Council authorized the purchase of a Ford car, which would be modified by “a local blacksmith” to serve as a fire truck. Most of Llano’s prominent ranchers were in Fort Worth that week for a big Cattlemen’s Convention. Dr. R.V. Bingham, from Toronto, Canada, preached at the Llano Opera House on Sunday morning and evening, then gave a talk on Monday evening (to capacity crowds each time) about his missionary work in Sudan and the great needs in the African continent.
I had a great vacation! Once again, the destination was Walla Walla, WA, where my parents live. I made up my mind five years ago that I’d head that way every time I got a week off, but each time so far I’ve been able to talk one of my grown-up kids into making a road trip with me and sight-seeing on the way there. This was my fourth trip, and my older daughter (Abby) was my traveling companion this time. We flew to Reno, and visited Virginia City, Lake Tahoe, Redwood National Park, Crater Lake, Benham Falls, Warm Springs Indian Reservation and other interesting places on our way to Walla Walla.
Unfortunately, our return flight was delayed, and we didn’t get back to Kingsland until 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday. That’s my excuse for any obvious shortcomings in this issue!
I had already decided to re-print (with just a few minor revisions) an article I wrote about General Adam R. Johnson at least ten years ago. I published it in this paper about five years ago, but I think I’ve picked up a few new readers since then, and I’ll count on my long-time readers to be understanding. General Johnson was probably the “Highland Lakes” area’s all-time greatest hero, but he’s not nearly as famous as he deserves to be. I’m trying to help with that problem as I take a shortcut to help get this week’s paper done more quickly than usual.
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.
Make checks payable to:
Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639