The big event in the Highland Lakes area last weekend was the concert with Reckless Kelly at Burnet’s Haley-Nelson Park. The photo above was taken around 8 p.m., while Flatland Cavalry was warming up the crowd, but fans continued to arrive until well after dark. There is one more event planned in the “Summer Series,” an August 26 concert with Aaron Watson and Randall King. You can see more concert pictures on page 9, and even more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.
It didn’t take long for The Llano News to get back to business after (actually, during) the big week-long centennial celebration at the beginning of June, 1956. While there WERE two centennial-related items at the top of the front page, it was dominated by current events.
First the centennial news. A photo showed three “modern” young couples in “old-fashioned” garb. They were Mr. and Mrs. Herman Raesener Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Winkel, and Mr. and Mrs. R.V. Derrick. An article next to the photo reported that Ann Hasse had been named Queen of the Llano County Centennial festivities.
But despite the fact that the paper came out on Thursday of the big week, a backlog of more down-to-earth news filled most of the front page. The biggest story was that a site had been chosen for the new hospital. Architect John Winn Scott, of Austin, met with the city council and the county commissioners to choose from three “finalist” sites; the one they selected was a city block belonging to Mrs. Orville Buttery. It had the benefits of already-present utilities and paved streets on two sides; it also was the closest to a main highway and to the courthouse. The county paid Mrs. Buttery $7,000.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I literally “stopped to smell the roses,” but I guess last Saturday was my equivalent. When I had a few extra minutes between events, I stopped to take pictures of the bluebonnets. I know I’m not the only one who did it, but I think I stopped at more places, and took more pictures, than most of my fellow travelers; if you look on the Highland Lakes Weekly Facebook page (and you’ll have to scroll down, because I’ve posted several albums since) you can see nearly a hundred of my personal favorites. And for those who don’t have time to follow in my tire tracks, these photos are something you can share with friends who live up in the frozen north (or anywhere else). I don’t copyright my pictures or demand that you give me any credit; I’m just honored that some people like them.
Apparently some people DO like them; as of Wednesday evening, Facebook tells me that I’ve “Reached” 4,924 people and had 24,396 “Post Engagements.” I don’t know exactly what those numbers mean, but they are bigger than usual, so I like them.
That’s not to say that bigger is always better. I also like the “Shop Small” event that Kingsland area businesses are planning for this Saturday at the First Baptist Church (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) They expect to have a good selection of gifts, jewelry, clothing, makeup, home décor, food and more.
That’s just one of many events scheduled for this weekend. I think the Spring season is in high gear, and every weekend in April will definitely be busy. The Fiddle Fest in Llano and the “Paint the Town” event in Marble Falls will be the biggest of many events around April 1, then the Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet will dominate the second weekend. Easter is on the third weekend this April, and the Crawfish Open will be the biggest event the weekend after. I won’t have a shortage of photo ops any time soon.
Llano’s centennial celebration brightened what had otherwise been a tough year. A terrible drought held Llano County in its grip at the end of May, and the little town’s economy had been badly damaged by its effects. But there was no bad news in The Llano News on May 31, 1956.
The banner headline said, “Excitement Rampant As Centennial Nears.” The only picture on the front page showed Vernell Ross, who had been arrested by the centennial “Keystone Kops” for “possessing so many bonnets her husband didn’t recognize her.” She was convicted by the “Kangaroo Court” and fined 25 cents.
The centerpiece of that week’s front page was an “Official Centennial Schedule,” detailing a full week of major events and activities. Sunday’s main event was the “Official Opening, with Unified Religious and Patriotic Services at the High School Stadium.” A separate article told how Vice-Admiral (ret.) H.H. McLean, a Llano native who had served as deputy commander of the submarine “Striking Forces” under NATO in southern Europe and as commandant of the Sixth Naval District based in Charleston, South Carolina, would be the featured speaker.
Monday (June 4) would be Homecoming Day, chaired by Luke Moss. A “Gigantic Street Parade” was scheduled for the afternoon, and a “colorful, spectacular 16-episode historical pageant” called “A Century in Llano County,” would be performed at the high school stadium, followed by a “Tremendous and Colorful Fireworks Display” and the “Queen’s Ball,” where the queen would be named and honored (along with the princesses) at the high school gymnasium. The pageant and the fireworks display would be repeated Tuesday through Thursday of the centennial week.
In my frantic rush to put together a paper last week (after taking the long weekend off), the fact that it was a milestone issue completely skipped my mind. But the March 10 issue of the Highland Lakes Weekly was actually my 300th weekly paper (and I’ve never missed a deadline by more than a few minutes!). At just over 5,000 copies per week, that comes to more than 1.5 MILLION Highland Lakes Weeklies that I have delivered over the past six years.
It goes without saying (but I want to say it anyway) that I couldn’t have done it without my readers and advertisers. I owe you all a tremendous debt of gratitude, and there is not a week that goes by that I don’t marvel at your generosity to me. Thank you all very much!
More than half of those 300 issues have some kind of history article in them, and that is mostly just because I really enjoy enjoy learning and sharing parts of the amazing Highland Lakes story. It’s also because re-writing history feels less risky than current “human interest” stories. I can do it on my own schedule, without bothering anyone else; and there’s a lot less chance of disappointing or embarrassing someone who I truly admire when I’m just condensing or paraphrasing what somebody else wrote many years ago.
And lastly (but probably not leastly), there’s the matter of my “retirement plan.” I am still mobile enough to expect a few more years of doing my current job, but I seem to get more tired and more forgetful in less hours of “work” these days. Eventually (about seven more years, I’m guessing) I’ll have to turn the Highland Lakes Weekly over to somebody younger, and start writing (or actually, compiling) books of local history. As I was telling a friend last week, every one of those history articles (probably 200 by now) is part of a possible future book. I don’t expect any of my books to become a best-seller, but I hope I’ll have a little income from them, and I hope that they will help preserve the history of the region that has been so good to me!
I have a bunch of “business” items that I need to mention:
Wesley Williams has always loved cars – especially Ford Mustangs. And he’s always loved the Highland Lakes area, where his family put down roots well over a century ago. Now that he’s semi-retired from a career full of adventures, he is living in the back of his Williams Automotive Specialties & Motorsports in Kingsland, surrounded by an assortment of unique vehicles.
Wesley’s great-great-grandfather arrived in Hoover’s Valley in the 1860s, and Wesley’s parents lived on the family ranch when he was born at the old Shepperd Hospital in Burnet in 1947. Although they moved around a lot during his growing-up years, they eventually settled in Austin, where he spent most of his working years (except for his years in the U.S. Navy, when he served in Vietnam and other locations). He always kept in touch with his Highland Lakes roots, and came “back home” in 1994.
Huey O’s is a unique restaurant in a striking little building, festooned with music-related memorabilia, on Hwy 2147 in Cottonwood Shores. Inside, you’ll be greeted by the aroma of the “world’s best burgers” and by the welcoming words of the energetic and enthusiastic owner, Huey Sherrill.
Huey is a former “Army Brat” who has lived all over the world and a musician who honed his “people skills” by performing in a variety of music venues. He subsidized his music career by working in the restaurant business, eventually becoming a waitstaff trainer for the Chili’s chain.
He arrived in the Highland Lakes area a few years ago, and helped the Garner family start the Sportsman’s Café, east of Marble Falls (it’s no longer in business, but was known for its excellent hamburgers while it was open). In 2013, he opened the first “Huey O’s” at the “yellow gas station” on Hwy 181 in Marble Falls; the successful business moved to Cottonwood Shores in 2015.
Huey was just getting started in his new location, with his now-famous hamburgers and his friendly greetings to all who entered, when he was diagnosed with malignant skin cancer. His life since then has been punctuated by doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy treatment, but his upbeat personality and his faith in God have kept him going. The restaurant is still open and Huey is still there every day, cooking his trademark “World’s Best Burgers” and joyfully welcoming every customer as he hurries from task to task at the little restaurant.
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