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.
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.
I admit it! I cheated this week, and went on a three-day vacation in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with my globe-trotting flight-attendant daughter. This week’s paper will be sadly lacking in current pictures, but my plan is to fill it up with photos from last spring’s highlights as sort of a celebration of “Spring Around the Lakes.” I do feel some regret at missing the Buchanan Chamber’s “Las Vegas Night” and a couple of good music events, but I really enjoyed my amazing weekend.
I lived on the eastern edge of Pittsfield, Mass. from 1966 to 1969, and have wonderful memories from those years. We were on the last street of a then-new subdivision, and just a few hundred feet away was an unused “sandpit” and a wooded hill – the perfect playground for a hyperactive ten-year-old. Our yard became the headquarters for neighborhood games of hide-and-seek or kick-the-can, with thirty or more kids sometimes participating. It was like a Norman Rockwell neighborhood to me.
Of course, I wasn’t driving back then, and most of our family trips were to upstate New York to see family friends, or to Maine, where my grandparents lived. I had seen Boston once from the back seat of our ’63 Chevy wagon, but never explored it. And I had never been to Rhode Island, for me the last unvisited state east of the Mississippi River. I made sure to cross the border on Monday, and even stopped in Coventry to see the old home of General Nathanael Greene. I have pictures to prove it!
I still have three of the “lower 48” states to visit: Wisconsin, North Dakota and Nevada; but it was quite a big deal for me to cross off one more from my “bucket list” this week. And it was great to explore Boston and visit my old home town of Pittsfield. I hope you’ll enjoy the paper despite the lack of attention I paid it this go-round.
This just in! I saw on Facebook that Sweet Berry Farm has strawberries, and will be opening this Friday. Check their Facebook page or call 830-798-1462 for up-to-date details.
There are benefits to being behind schedule and still unfocused. If I had managed my time better, I never would have known about that.
I broke my “Wednesday” rule again. Partly because I missed last Friday’s “One Act Plays” program at the Herman Brown Free Library, and partly because I heard that Sommer Floyd would be singing there at the “Seuss Birthday” celebration, I decided to make a trip to Burnet.
One of the reasons I wanted to get to the One Act Plays is because I heard that one of them was based on a story by Mike Royko. I hadn’t heard his name for nearly 20 years, but he was one of my all-time favorite newspaper columnists, an old-fashioned blue-collar Democrat from Chicago who had a way with words, a great sense of humor and (occasionally) some remarkably conservative views. He died back in the days when I still read the Austin American-Statesman front-to-back every day (before I got a computer!), and I really missed him for a while (Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman – or even William Raspberry -- just didn’t measure up).
The other reason (besides the colorful hats that the librarians wore) was the presence of Sommer Floyd. I’ve known her off and on for about 15 years, and have been very much impressed by her successful singing career. I have a copy of her “Ray of Light” CD, and really enjoy listening to it while I drive. I knew that she had been in Nashville and elsewhere for a while, and wanted to get a picture while she was back in town.
But I shouldn’t waste all my space just rattling on; I have quite a few things I need to mention here.
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Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639