The big event last weekend was the Marble Falls Open/Pro Rodeo, held (as always) at the Charley Taylor Arena, on Highway 281 South. The four-day event began with a Youth Rodeo on Wednesday evening, “slack” competition on Thursday and the main events on Friday and Saturday. The traditional Rodeo Parade was held in downtown Marble Falls on Saturday morning, and a dance was held at the rodeo grounds after the competition was over on Saturday night. You can see more rodeo pictures on pages 7 to 9, and even more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.The big event last weekend was the Marble Falls Open/Pro Rodeo, held (as always) at the Charley Taylor Arena, on Highway 281 South. The four-day event began with a Youth Rodeo on Wednesday evening, “slack” competition on Thursday and the main events on Friday and Saturday. The traditional Rodeo Parade was held in downtown Marble Falls on Saturday morning, and a dance was held at the rodeo grounds after the competition was over on Saturday night. You can see more rodeo pictures on pages 7 to 9, and even more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.
If you are a regular reader of this newspaper, you will have already noticed that things are a little different this week. That’s because I decided to make this issue into my “Christmas Card” edition, and fill it with pictures of Christmas around the Highland Lakes. Of course, there won’t be pictures from ALL the events, but I think I have a pretty good selection of photos to go along with my very sincere best wishes for a wonderful Christmas season to all of you.
One of the factors that played into my decision was my son’s wedding reception. Robby and Lindsay are both students at Texas Tech, but Lindsay’s family is from Crescent City, California. They decided to have the actual wedding there, and just hold a reception here for their friends from Texas. I thought about going to California, but (for quite a few reasons) it didn’t seem feasible. We had a great afternoon just north of Dallas, one of the very rare occasions when I get to see all four of my kids (and now two “kids-in-law”) all at once. That was Christmas for me!
Of course, I had to miss a few really good events here in the Highland Lakes area, but I was able to borrow some pictures, and I had plenty of pictures from the three previous weekends to fill these 16 pages (and probably 32 more!).
In previous years, I have used a Nativity scene from Main Street Bethlehem on the front page in the issue immediately before Christmas, and I always put “Merry Christmas” in big letters above it. I would jokingly tell people (as I was delivering the papers) that the paper was their Christmas card. This year, I decided to publish only Christmas pictures. I have to admit that part of the appeal (to me) is that it saves me so much time to just use pictures that I already had; I’ve been on sort of a semi-vacation this week!
I won’t pretend that everything went according to plan this past week, but (being the third-busiest weekend of my year, after Aqua Boom and the Bluebonnet Festival) I still managed to get a whole lot more pictures than I could fit in one week’s paper. That, coupled with the fact that there won’t be nearly so many public events this coming weekend, made me decide that I’m going to hold back some of this week’s pictures for a special Christmas edition next week. I’ll get back to doing history articles and such after Christmas (when my business generally slows down a little!)
I have a policy of avoiding bad news in this paper, but I do want to mention a benefit for a friend who has had some bad news lately. Jay Polanco, a popular barista at Fuel Coffee House and a remarkably good actor at the Llano Community Theatre group, has been diagnosed with a very rare form of bone cancer. He is seeking treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston, and his friends in Llano are trying to help any way they can. There will be a fundraiser at Fuel on Monday evening, and everyone is invited. You may be able to find more details on the “Fuel Coffee House” Facebook page by the time you read this (none as of press time). One thing that IS on their Facebook page is a Christmas Day community meal, with homemade tamales, rice and beans and a variety of deserts. Fuel will be open from 7a.m. to 6 p.m. (serving coffee all day) and will start serving food about noon. Everyone is invited.
Two days earlier, there will be a free Christmas Lunch at Mission Marble Falls (St. Frederick Baptist Church, on Avenue N). That will be open to all from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, December 23. If early readers would like to help, they will still be accepting donations of green beans, canned yams, rolls and/or cash through this Friday (December 16) at the Church Kitchen.
The Christmas season is in full swing now, and I haven’t been able to keep up with all the great events going on around the Highland Lakes area. This coming weekend may be the busiest of them all (with Main Street Bethlehem, Christmas at Fort Croghan, Christmas on the Square, Snow Day, Handel’s Messiah, the Nutcracker, the lighting displays and much more), and I know I can’t be everywhere all at once. But with just the events I CAN get to, I have a whole lot more pictures than I can fit into the paper; I hope those of you who are on Facebook will look up “Highland Lakes Weekly” and enjoy some of the albums I’ve posted.
It’s not only Christmas events. This past week, there was Sculpture on Main, the unveiling of plans for the new Phoenix Center, all kinds of new construction and renovations, etc., etc. Wednesday was Pearl Harbor Day, and Texas Parks and Wildlife was stocking rainbow trout in the Llano River near Castell.
One of the highlights of my week was re-meeting surgeon-turned-sculptor Marshall Cunningham. I met him at the Benini Sculpture Ranch near Johnson City in 2005; I interviewed him and wrote a story about him for my Texas Hill Country magazine back then, but I hadn’t seen him since. The Beninis have moved to Marble Falls now, and invited me to come and visit with Dr. Cunningham again at their private gallery last Friday!
It’s the Christmas season, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll survive the next two weeks. Despite a good rest over Thanksgiving weekend, I was already panicking by Tuesday. And if this paper looks OK, it’s a miracle (but – as I write this just before deadline -- I seriously doubt that I’ve caught all the mistakes; there were so many, and some were so ridiculous, that I feel like I’ve really “lost it” this time around).
Instead of wasting space listing my mistakes, I’ll try to get down to business. I want everyone to be aware of the amazing works of art going up in Marble Falls for this year’s Sculpture on Main project. The kick-off for 2016 is scheduled for this Friday, and a new feature will be an indoor display of “table-size” sculptures, on display (and for sale) at the Lakeside Pavilion (see ad on page 12).
I hear that the Granite Shoals “Christmas by the Highway” lighting display will be officially opened at 6 p.m. this Friday (December 2). That will be complete the impressive circle of public lighting displays in the Highland Lakes area; Marble Falls, Burnet and Llano have been dazzling passers-by for at least a few days already. The public is invited to the site on Hwy 1431, in front of the Highland Lakes Elementary School.
Kingsland’s Family Christmas is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. this Saturday (December 3) at the Kingsland Community Center (see ad on page 9). And I have a message from the Friends of the Kingsland Library: "Christmas season is an ideal time to remember others with a donation to the Kingsland Library through the Friends of the Library. Your gift will honor someone who enjoys/enjoyed reading for knowledge and contentment. Please join members of your community at an Open House on Tuesday, December 6 from 3:30 - 6 p.m. at the Library."
Llano County got off to a pretty good start in 1935, as most local businesses reported “good holiday business through December.” The Llano News attributed the busy Christmas season (“much better than in 1933”) to “more money in circulation.” Not only had the federal government “sent over $300,000 to farmers and ranchmen in this county” during the previous twelve months, but prices had increased for most local commodities (including cotton, pecans and turkeys).
A new commissioners court was seated on January 1, with J.W. Currie re-capturing the judge’s seat after a two-year sabbatical, and Albert Ricketson “resuming the duties of commissioner after being out of this office for four terms.” Luther Nobles had been elected as commissioner for Precinct 2. Bill S. Watkins had been elected County Attorney, and Sheriff Elmon D. Stewart was chosen for the new (combined) office of Sheriff, Tax Assessor and Collector. He appointed three deputies: Lloyd Myers would assist in policing the county; Charles M. Wallace would handle office duties, and S.S. Smith would be in charge of the county jail.
Deputy Smith was greeted with an escape attempt on his first night as jailer, when two inmates were overheard trying to cut through the bars of their cell with some smuggled-in tools (including three hacksaw blades). Aubrey Harned and Horace Fry were moved to a different cell for the remainder of the night, and escorted by Sheriff Stewart to Huntsville the next day.
Mrs H.W. Tarrance, the local observer for the United States Weather Bureau, reported that 21.32 inches of rain had fallen in Llano in 1934, up from 18.09 inches in 1933, but 5 inches below average and far short of the 32.40 inches in 1932. The highest temperature in Llano in 1934, recorded on three separate days in June, was 109 degrees; the lowest, recorded once in January and once in February, was 21 degrees.
Before I get down to business this week, I want to brag a little about my son, Danny (better known to careful readers of Leatherneck magazine as Lance Corporal Daniel Hallowell, and to most of his Texas Tech friends as Daniel). Danny joined the Marines after graduating from Burnet High School in 2004, and was involved in a fierce battle in Iraq in 2005 where one of his good friends (Lance Corporal Christopher McCrackin) was killed and another (Lance Corporal Joshua Mooi) earned the Navy Cross for “saving the lives of ten fellow infantrymen and decimating a force of insurgents.” I heard about Danny’s two friends that year, but didn’t read about the battle until an article appeared in Leatherneck magazine (with Danny in two of the accompanying pictures) in November of 2011. Now it’s in the New York Times! (I saw it online.) The story called the fight “a little-known but deadly fight WHERE ALL WERE HEROES.” I am very proud of Danny.
That leads to my second “scattered thought.” When Danny was in third or fourth grade, he had to memorize a poem for a homework assignment. He was having trouble focusing, so our whole family memorized it with him at the dinner table. I still remember (and appreciate) the first two lines: “Not just today, but every day/ should be Thanksgiving Day.” And so, as I rationalize this paper’s quick jump from Halloween to Christmas, I think that November’s two wonderful holidays are more of a year-round celebration. Most of us here in the Highland Lakes area appreciate our veterans and give thanks to God for our many blessings all through the year; it’s just not quite so public.
Having said all that, I am very happy to note that last week’s paper was filled with Veterans Day pictures, and I’ve already been to six Thanksgiving celebrations (see pages 8 & 9). Just because we enjoy Christmas doesn’t mean that the November holidays are forgotten.
And we DO enjoy Christmas! This paper (and the next four issues) will be filled with Christmas celebrations as the Marble Falls parade and Walkway are followed by great events and attractions all around the lakes (especially in Llano and Burnet). I tried to mention as many as I could in my “Upcoming Events” article (starting on page 2), but I’m sure I didn’t get them all.
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