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Friday, December 6, 2019

Delightful Scars of Christmas Past




Scarred for Life!

It will probably seem petty to many people, that I was scarred for life because of mistakes Santa made at my childhood Christmas tree. Being a middle child, I was already struggling to find my own identity, to identify what I might excel at, so as to compete in my own way with my boisterous brothers. They were robust, and smart and athletic, which left me arts and humanities, which I began to ponder seriously. I told Santa I wanted a carpenter set... I was about nine and thinking that my creativity could be put to use in some positive way besides bloody battle cartoons. Wasn't Joseph, Jesus's father a carpenter, and wasn't Jesus said to be the same?

Christmas morning at our house was an explosion of laughter and wrapping paper, as three boys dug into their long-awaited prizes. But the tree had some surprises. It was as if a bad elf, or a drunk had placed the gifts left by old Santa. I kept unwrapping things made out to me, but which were meant for Reynolds, my little brother. Socks, underwear, nothing of consequence, and my mom seemed to better understand what Santa intended, and snatched them up as fast as I unveiled them, trading out with the intended recipient and handing me yet another thing to unwrap... and then the extent of Santa's chain of errors became more clear, as my six year-old brother came up out of the layers of shiny paper with EXACTLY what I had wanted for Christmas: a real deal carpenter set. 

A cute little hammer, a saw with real teeth, even a little coping saw, and some other carpenter stuff little boys would not understand.

Reynolds was thrilled, that Santa had given him something valued by others. He was more thrilled, suddenly having something he knew that I would like to have. I eventually found a cheesy plastic carpenter set on my side of the tree. Santa understood that Reynolds would be jealous of the real carpenter set, so he left him a little baby one. I looked at it as if Santa had just kicked me in the gut. My mom looked mortified, and looked at my dad... who said something flippant like “Santa must have made a mistake!”

You'll never get that from him...” My mother said dryly. She could not help but chuckle, as Reynolds began to show everyone his new hammer, gleefully trying it out on the furniture.

Uh... boys, Santa's helpers have made a mistake...” My father tried to interject. But as he tried to wrestle the hammer away from Reynolds, it was obvious that the little guy was already a member of the carpenter's Union, and fighting for his life. No way was he giving up the carpenter set, now the tools of his profession. So, of course, as parents always do, they give in to the wants of the youngest, even when Santa has made a stupid, irresponsible mistake. And then they did the other thing parents always do, they tried to extract a compromise with the little peckerwood. “Now Rey Rey, you'll be glad to share your carpenter set with Russie, won't you?”

My dad was a big tough guy, and could be very intimidating, but Reynolds was not phased. He clutched the hammer, and looked around for moral support. When he saw none, he did what all indulged little punks do, he puffed up and turned red, and looked like he was about to explode. Mom swiftly took him and the hammer away to soften the moment, and dad began laugh. That was easy for him, it wasn't his hammer.

Of course Reynolds never made anything with that damned carpenter set, he just proudly owned it. The little saw didn't really work very good. Then he grew up to be a journalist, which had nothing to do with carpentry. And I learned that someone as powerful as Santa could make grievous errors, which could not be undone.

But I was a forgiving soul. And I got even soon enough, when one day we were pretending to be Rebs fighting Yankees, and he tried to sneak up from behind and I twirled around and nailed him right between the eyes with the steel barrel of my quite real looking Confederate musket. Made a perfect circle on his forehead. Blood running down his face just like that reb in Shenandoah...It was really cool. You can still see that scar if you look close. That fixed his little carpenter butt!

I changed my life goals that year and the next Christmas, Reynolds heard me tell Santa that I wanted a microscope. I wanted to look at things up close, to study their textures and cell structure. I was now ten and curious about nature. Ok, so maybe we were going to torment some ants along the way...

The big day came, and we shot out of bed and flew to the tree like wasps on the warpath. We tore into mounds of toy army gear and guns and plastic army men, and then... Reynolds unwrapped his brand... new... microscope. Complete with slides and minerals and science experiments.

I could not believe it.   I... COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!

Really? Two years in a row? He was just seven freaking years old! How could Santa make that BIG of a mistake? It was if the devil elf was taunting me.

Sensing a repeat from last year, Reynolds clutched the microscope as if it were a long lost friend. Meanwhile I unwrapped the Erector Set Santa had left for him. It was a fussy affair, with millions of little metal strips and nuts and screws, even an adult could not figure out. Reynolds would not consider a trade even if he was threatened, or begged, or reasoned with.

“I want it!” was all he said, so happy to be such an obvious favorite of Santa's, to get big-boy stuff that even his older brother wanted. It was as if life was extraordinarily fair... to him. And it was great to find out that all of those threats about being a good little boy, if he wanted Santa to bring him great stuff, were just parental ignorance.

Reynolds was always relentlessly competitive anyway. He always wanted whatever I had, to do whatever I was doing. That competition continues in many ways, until this day. If I got an old truck... he bought three. And then there were the arrowhead wars, wrought iron wars, stoneware, tintypes... we are both pathetic and just a tiny bit covetous.

So anyway I gave up on a microscope and finding a cure for cancer. And by now I knew that Santa was over the hill, horribly incompetent, and no more efficient than a thirty-something couple in a rush, who had hit the egg-nog a little toooooo often. Every year! And scarred for life, I gave up on being like Jesus and resorted to hours entertaining myself with pencil and paper. Lots of paper. Lots and lots of paper.

It was cheap, and Reynolds had no use for that. I made all kinds of paper airplanes, and drawings of Texas history, and even dozens of little elves to decorate the house for Christmas. I was probably hoping they would hang around and lend Santa guidance the next year.

Merry Christmas Brothers!

None of us would change a thing.

 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

If you are about to get a new cell phone...

DON'T TRADE IN YOUR OLD CELL PHONE!


I'm glad to explain, but for now just believe me and read until you are satisfied. If you are about to get a new cell phone, let me share what my wife and I just endured.

My phone was damaged and hers was about to be inoperable, so we decided to be brave and strike out to the local Verizon store. Here we found a wonderfully informative young man who sold us on converting to the new Google Pixel 3X phones. DON'T DO IT! But let me first explain that after we waited for five days for the Verizon guy to fetch these new techno-wonders, and were disappointed when we showed up to get them, that this nice young man had to be summoned from someplace else in his street clothes to tell us they were not in the store, and one had been “jacked.” I guess that means stolen.

We smelled something fishy and left... not surprised but yes, a couple of disgruntled retired people... visited the phone center at Sam's, then settled on getting the PIXELs at Best Buy. Already sold on the product, we gladly paid a little more and got outfitted, me with a Pixel 3XL and my wife with a 3X... and because I was too distrusting, I did not let go of my old, damaged phone, because it had a mountain of images and videos in it... and (LUCKILY) I was not so sure about the information transfer...

My wife sadly, naively traded in her phone... it was swiped clean before she realized that she had lost precious and sentimentally important texts... like her father's last voicemail to her... and they were GONE. We soldiered on... and I went home to play with my new super-duper Google Pixel camera and all my wonderful new picture making tools...

Then the real debacle began! My photos from my iphone had not all transferred. Not even a tenth of them. None of my videos. We went back to the Best Buy store to try to learn what had gone wrong. A nice young fellow explained that we needed to establish a connection to a “Cloud”- (I thought I had!) and he recommended the Google Cloud, and started it for me, and the download began... we thought. Next day, I had about the same number...basically all my photos for the past month, and few random ones from seven years ago! The Googel Cloud, accessible from my computer, had not downloaded any of my photos from the iCloud. Now I got concerned. I still had my photos and memories in the old damaged phone, thank goodness, because I had not traded it in. And I looooved the my new Pixel phone... for about five minutes.

The Pixel camera was great, but the photo tools were not as handy or effective as my old iphone 7's. You are supposed to download an App for that, if your really care or know the difference. So I studied Apps... then decided on a movie App... the latest Photo Shop free app. But I still had very few photos to work with.

One peculiar thing, the “Cloud” was sending my new phone some very old images... somewhat randomly, from as far back at seven years ago... many of which I had originally deleted... in other words, it appeared that everything I ever photographed was still in existence... in the iCloud, and when it sends them to the new phone, they come raw, unedited, and even undeleted. So half of what I did have were duplicates, outtakes, and stuff that I did not want.

I was more than underwhelmed with our advances in technology, and we just wanted our old phones back... with our old stuff in them. We went back to the store to trade-in our purchases, get iphones and be done with it. Then we stumbled into disaster.

The lady at the customer service counter was more than understanding... she immediately went to work to satisfy us. I was glad to get something else, but still retained ownership of my old damaged phone...We traded in our Pixels and purchased iphones at a considerable savings, and then the worst thing possible happened. The Best Buy people at the Customer Service counter did not know that when they removed those tiny little microchip cards from the Google Pixel phones, that everything in them is erased. LOST. REALLY... lost.

A supervisor came along about that time and told us what had happened... but there was no recourse... the information in both phones had been lost completely, and there was nothing that could be done. We were starting out all over again, totally fresh, no contacts, no photos. We went to the phone center there at Best Buy to get our phones updated as much as possible, since I still had my old damaged phone.

Once again, the Best Buy cell phone person waiting on us, this was now about the third, began trying their best to recover what they could. They began a download, once again from the “Cloud,” which was supposed to help me transfer the contacts and photos I had in my damaged phone into my new iphone. My poor wife was speechless, having just lost years worth of contacts and messages and photos. The worker explained that it might take a while, so we went to get something to eat. Wife walked like a war refugee in the parking lot, almost unaware of moving vehicles, stupified by such an unexpected loss. I was hopeful that my old broken phone would pull my transfer through.

To cut to the chase, (sorry about all that detail!) we were assured that it was all loading up, and we could take it home and it would all be OK. But when it was “finished,” it was no better than the first downloads in the Pixels. Random, and still sending unwanted, recently deleted images which I thought had been sent to the bad place. I gave my wife a few contact numbers which we had in common. There were not that many! I depended on her to keep certain contacts, and she depended on me. So call her if you are one of her buds, and let her reload your number.

Our daughter, our hero, came and helped me retrieve my images, in ways even she does not completely understand. She was able to recover all of my photos... (they are still loading!) and even my numerous “Memories” video/slideshows made with the iphone 7 movie program... which are quite good. Hallelujah!

As best as I can understand, as long as you have that old phone, and the data it contains, even if the phone service has been transferred to a new phone, it still is connected to the “Cloud” and can keep your contacts and photographic images “alive.” It is the lifeline. But your average cell phone salesperson has no clue how to adequately transfer what it has access to. You'll need better people than who occupy the local Verizon outlets to get it done.

So:
  1. Don't let go of your old phone until you are totally satisfied with your info transfer. You can always trade it in later. My wife lost all of her texts because she traded in a phone which they only valued at twenty bucks!
  2. Don't trust the Verizon guys, they are scamming or something. At one point we commented to one another on the unkempt nature of the place, and the unprofessional way they were handling customers. (This was in Bell County) Certainly I was skeptical when the salesman told me he would drive over fifty miles to Georgetown get our phones at another location during the weekend, and have them for us next week... and was not at all surprised when he dumped a big lie on us.
  3. DONT LET THEM EXCHANGE “SIM CARDS” WITHOUT AN EXPERT TECHNICIAN PRESENT. Ask lots of questions... Different phones have different data memory essentials... Your average salesperson is not going to know all the changes, until it is too late! I kept saying, “It's like they never sold a phone in this store before!” And I might add, these were recenty outdated Pixel phones...
  4. Find a way to copy your Contact info so you still have it, no matter what. Back up your images with something in your own possession! The “Cloud” seems only to keep data but never releases much of it, EVEN TO PROFESSIONALS, and when it does, it is random and RAW. Thankfully, I had emailed myself many of my favorite images over the years.
  5. Keep your daughter handy. :)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The BIG GREEN MONSTER vs. common sense


Issue: The Earth is said to be in danger, or at least its status as a living environment for most of its inhabitants. Pollution and dangerous levels of animal CO2 emissions will eventually make the planet uninhabitable. These pollutants and “green house gases” could be reduced to safe levels by joint actions taken by humans, all around the world. WE have done the damage and now we must fix the problem. The United States, one of the worst “offenders,” should lead the world in its air recovery. Otherwise mankind is doomed...

Politicians in the United States have begun to offer up a comprehensive, even grandiose plan which would assume world leadership by revolutionizing, and to a large degree limiting the travel, diet, and freedom of its citizens. This would be accomplished by drastic reduction of petroleum powered automobiles, domestic air travel, energy-inefficient buildings, and even cattle. The “Green New Deal” would not only completely (ideally) eradicate domestic air travel and energy-inefficient structures but the petrochemical industry and the medical insurance industry, while providing free health care, and free income for those who do not work, and free college educations for all and other marvelous benefits of a liberal society. Some of these things have little to do with the planetary emergency being discussed here, but are part of a grand plan for our government to meet all U. S. citizen's needs by confiscating 70% - 90% of the “excess” income of the wealthiest class.

Response: We know from responsible observers like NASA that carbon emissions on the planet have doubled since 1900, (when they were far less than historical highs) to over 380 parts per Million today. When seen on a graph it is a straight up rocket, spiraling into dangerous levels in the relatively near future. When illustrated on a fourteen-year time lapse movie, the earth grows from a foreboding but habitable place in 2002 to a choking wasteland 2016. And that is where we are. Anyone who has ever visited a Third World country, or even Mexico City, has seen and smelled and felt the ominous results of man's abuse of our most necessary natural resource.

Yale University has invented a dipstick they call the EPI; Environmental Performance Index. The U. S. does not make it into their top 20 performers. Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark head the list. I wonder if it would be fair to ask what and how much these winners produce? Jobs, social mobility, International exports, or GNP apparently do not enter into the EPI.

We Americans are good at one thing, and that is beating up on ourselves. We have plenty of input from college instructors and Liberal politicians, who gain a devoted shadow of hand wringers as they spread their bad news gospel. According to the “Kyoto Protocol,” which took force in 2005, America does not lead the world in pollution control. On the “ecosystem vitality scale,” the U. S. ranked 39th, (out of 149) below other developed countries, showing poorly in clean environment or pollution progress compared to our European counterparts. This low score and other subjective measures have brought on a growing wave of outrage among Globalists and Environmentalists. They fail to appreciate what America does in the world, while it produces those lackluster scores... and still finishes in the top quarter of the planet's organized nations.

Before we get into solutions, let's consider the role the United States actually plays in this world environmental crisis. The facts presented here are readily available to anyone on the Internet.

The U. S. is a leader in the world in the control of industrial pollution and preservation of “clean” air. In fact it ranks in the top twelve among all countries in the world, balancing our immense industrial productivity with environmental protection, having done a better job with our dangerous emissions than most of our peers, including the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Russia, and Israel. Only fairly NON-INDUSTRIALIZED countries like Finland, Sweden and Canada, or much less productive ones like Australia or New Zealand have better air.

Our (U. S.) carbon emissions are not even close to competing with the real violators or Earth's oxygen, such as the Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait and others. India and China have a long way to go to match our level of air quality or its protection.

The numbers are very confusing, depending on how a reporter slices the onion. But every American should know and be proud that his country, for all its productivity, only makes about 1/6 of the carbon emissions on the planet- about half of the emissions of China, who produces nearly a third of the world's pollution.

The reason American politicians are creating drastic reforms for the U. S. is that we are an easy target, and a conspicuously messy population, and we don't score well. Although we lead the world in quality of life and production in agriculture, in the process we make more pollution per person than other countries. For instance the next worst nation in per-capita carbon emissions is India, with its growing industrialization and approximately 280 Million cows... (Compared to our 100 Million)

Which brings up a controversial source of the world's greenhouse gases- Livestock. American politicians have suggested that a massive reduction in consumption of beef, thus erasing cows from the landscape, would be a big benefit to solving the oxygen crisis. This is a very overstated claim. While Americans do enjoy their beef, it only makes up a small fraction of the poundage of animal flesh we consume. While we are eating 32 Million pounds annually, a fairly conservative amount of cow meat, we are putting away 42 BILLION pounds of chicken. If cows have got to go, chickens should have already been banished.

The Chick-filet cows have won the public-relations battle in convincing Americans to “Eat more Chiken.” And we are. So much that outlawing cows would barely put a dent in the production of nasty air. It is estimated that there are between 90 and 100 Million cows from sea to shining sea. And a quarter of those are dairy cows, who provide us with milk, cheese, butter, ice cream and latex paint. The abolition of the dairy industry is out of the question. And beef is more and more becoming a minor player in the “Greenhouse Affect.” When you think about having to invent satisfactory substitutes for leather, glue, gelatin, fertilizer and all the jobs related to all these products, it seems like the Green New Deal is far-fetched and unnecessarily sacrificial. To most rural Texans, it is just plain political grandstanding.

Perhaps it would be smart to look back... and compare our animal population to 500 years ago. When you imagine the pristine American landscape, before the invasion of White people, it sported upwards of 25 Million bison, and huge numbers of elk, deer and antelope, (now greatly reduced) and vast populations of passenger pigeons, (extinct) and other game birds, not to mention a huge amount of feral horses, pigs and longhorn cows... (greatly reduced) whose aggregate greenhouse gas production could easily have been half or even two thirds of the present number. Meanwhile the great herds in Africa and Asia have been reduced to alarming numbers. It is somewhat inconsistent for Liberals to pitch the eradication of livestock, whose production of greenhouse gases could not be much more than the emissions of the wildlife they replaced, suggesting that former wildlife populations would have been unacceptable today, intimating that humans and animals cannot coexist, thus delegitimizing pet ownership and wildlife preservation.

Animals are not our enemies. They have been our sustenance and allies for centuries. The Greenhouse gases which result from agriculture in our country are a necessary bi-product of food production which is a major benefit to the whole world. While some individuals may choose vegetarianism, we have no alternative method to produce enough protein to sustain our larger population, especially children, much less others, without meat and eggs and dairy products.

Remember that we are talking about the planet here, so even IF the emissions in the U. S. were at alarming levels, there has been a compensating loss of the various wild herds around the planet. Wildlife experts anticipate that there will be a 67% depletion of the world's wildlife by next year. Human populations are squeezing them out until there is insufficient wild space for them to exist. These usurpers will need food. And America feeds the world.

True we are messy, when it comes to air, but if you want to see a nice, neat country, with no air quality challenges, visit an unproductive one. And even though Americans foul up more than their “share” of the earth's air, they also in their busyness provide a lot of food and goods for the whole world to utilize. Much more than their share. The U.S. is and has always been the world leader in food exports.

Punishing U.S. Citizens, by restricting their travel and diet, would be beating the goose that lays the golden egg. The Democratic proposals designed to address our carbon excesses would result in the retardation and decline in health and productivity of the very country which has become the breadbasket of the world.

Even though the U. S. does more than most countries about its pollution challenges, it is still number two in the world, after China, in production of “nasty air.” There is no empirical data on the impact which carbon emissions have on the earth's atmosphere and thus our lives, only the “scientific” assumption that it is bad and getting worse. Since the U. S. is evaluated as a major offender, some politicians have been quick to point to American excess, abuse and even malignance.

But the number ONE cause of our “Greenhouse gases” is not cows, or the cattle industry, it is simple human beings, trying to make a living... You and me. Our carbon emissions, our cars, our use of energy... which is exacerbated by the steady deforestation going on all over the world, especially in Third World countries outside of our reach. TRUE, America is a prime greenhouse gas producer, and thus considered a “major violator,” because we have so many areas of great prosperity and productivity, which create and grow one another. We make more, do more, travel more, and thus use more. More than the world's average. The only answer to this conundrum, for America to match the planetary average is for Americans to do less. Work less, travel less, eat less. A lot less.

And that would mean for every family to make less income. To enjoy less. Have less. It would mean the end of our culture as we know it. Suffering all of that while the rest of the world is doing little to solve the pervasive problem of the earth's air quality. THAT would be social injustice. But dumbing down America is the only Democrat solution to our maintaining environmental leadership in the world. Their solution is that we have to invent the future so all the other countries will have a pattern, when they are ready for it. It is a lofty demand in a hand-to-mouth world.

This is why in the past decade Democratic leaders have quietly overseen the depletion of American industries, neglected our highway and aeronautic infrastructure, promoted a future with socialized medicine, vegetarianism, late-term abortions, high speed rail everywhere, limited air and auto use, and proposed subsidized income for those who do not work, because it is the only way for the U. S. to reduce its carbon production so that we might compare well with world CO2 levels, which would be necessary for leading by example. And they have ginned up the climate arguments to justify these quantum changes in our country and our lifestyle. In the '70's it was an immanent ice age... in the '90's it was Global Warming, now because weather statistics do not support that, they have morphed the semantics to “Climate Change.” That just about covers anything that might happen, so that the U. S. population stays alarmed and (hopefully) patriotically cooperative with these monumental adjustments being imposed on it. But a growing number are counting the cost and questioning Democratic strategies.

Too many of these Democrat social constructions depend on assumptions that, following our lead, someday the straggling nations will catch up, modernize and provide for themselves. But even Russia, after all its modernization, cannot feed itself. The Arab and African countries will continue to prosper and their populations grow in a desert land with scant agriculture, and will never be able to feed themselves. Populations which have traditionally been checked by famine and disease will benefit from modern medical advances and as they celebrate life and longevity, increase the demand for places like America to feed them. They short-sightedly decimate or abuse their natural resources even as we consider our own inconvenience and restriction, to set some kind of example.

It seems obvious that if America has already failed to meet the environmental expectations of our Democrat brethren, in spite of decades of government regulation and corporate striving, and the only answer (for them) is a nationwide shake-up of our lifestyles and the subsequent wholesale loss of jobs and family incomes, then this country, The United States of America, cannot stand one more immigrant. New people will only make worse the impossible task of feeding ourselves and the world, while drastically reducing our carbon emissions. More immigrants means more cars, more cows, more carnivores, as our immigrants are very much beef eaters, and thus more nasty air. Sorry immigrants, we have already used up our oxygen.

Of course, we can do better for our environment and we will, and this assertion is as absurd as the Green New Deal. Neither is going to happen. And America will continue to lead the world... and most importantly, it must lead with common sense.

It is not time to dumb-down America's productivity, it is time to anticipate the coming starvation in that half of the world that has an admirably small CO2 impact but insufficient industry and agriculture to survive. It will be a very amicable trade off. It is also time to attack pollution where it multiplies unchecked, to begin enforcement, through the United Nations, or International trade, rewarding developing countries who care as much as we do about the environment, and educating those who don't.

The “Green New Deal” has nothing to do with solving the world's problems. It only turns our world upside down, as it proposes to vastly centralize our government by Federalizing our transportation, agriculture, health care and education; A bizarre but misguided compensation for the environmental abuses in two-thirds of the world, where the carbon emissions are growing every day. And democrats know that few promises are being made in these countries to do otherwise. The Green New Deal may be the most presumptuous, the most ambitious, the least feasible, the worst proposal ever submitted to the American public by a national party.

No disrespect to our wonderful Statue of Liberty, and what it represents, but we really can no longer accommodate all the unhappy and oppressed people in the world. And we cannot bear the burden of their sins. American magnanimity was wonderful and noble while it lasted. But we are running out of oxygen- so to speak. It is time to stop bashing ourselves, to meet our global crisis where it is, and to meet and train, and if need be indoctrinate those huddled masses where they are.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

THE CLYDE BARROW MIRROR

History and MYSTERY lovers, 
Former Texas Ranger Bob Connell
 and I talk about things we can't prove.
 It's a long list.
It's a charming, somewhat humble thing. And it has a wonderful story which requires some suspension of disbelief in order to fully enjoy it. It is an old engraved mirror, and if only it could reflect back to us what it has seen. 

The Barrow Mirror.

The other day I was chatting with a retired Texas Ranger, a man who would have many stories to tell if there was time to listen. Bob Connell was once the interim Police Chief in Navasota, and is not just a former Texas Ranger, he is a man who has spent his life collecting the legends and lore of his esteemed law enforcement agency. He is the proud owner of a rare Texas Ranger badge, once the property of Ranger Captain M. E. Bailey, that was dug up by a Navasota citizen in his flower bed. History randomly coughed up the brass relic of one former ranger and former Navasota City Marshal in 1912, into the hands of a man with the same relative titles one hundred years later! But that is another story.

And people have given him things.



The subject that day gravitated to “great stories we could not prove.” There are lots of them. The old badge had Bailey's name inscribed right on it, no problem proving that. But time and circumstances have erased the traces of provenance that have reduced otherwise sensational things... into the seemingly ordinary. And Bob has one such frustrating item.



The story goes that he had an uncle named Audie who lived in Dallas, and Audie once worked as an ice delivery man. Yes, once men delivered big blocks of ice to homes, back in the 1920's, '30's and '40's. The people would put a little placard out in the window or on the porch if they needed ice. The delivery man would stop his wagon or truck and bring it right to the doorstep with a pair of giant tongs. People kept their blocks of ice in ice boxes. They would use it to cool their perishable food, and would chip or shave ice off the melting ice block for drinks. Everybody had an ice shaver and an ice pick in the kitchen drawer. 

Anyway, one of Uncle Audie's customers was Mrs. Cummie Barrow, faithful mother of the notorious Texas gangster and cop-killer, Clyde Barrow. One day, for some reason, perhaps to pay her ice bill, Mrs. Barrow offered Bob's uncle a little treasure in lieu of payment for her ice service. She had this old mirror... and the story goes it had been given to her from her infamous and bereaved son Clyde. And Audie the ice man took the mirror and kept it. We are going to assume he took care of her ice bill, in trade for the mysterious relic. 

 
The story goes... that young Clyde, before he turned to a life of crime, had worked at United Mirror & Glass Company at 2614 Swiss Ave., in Dallas, believed to be the very glass company where the mirror had been made, and Clyde quite possibly had helped in the manufacture of it... sometime between 1926 and 1930... as the story goes. One has to believe it would have been a serious sacrifice for Mrs. Barrow to part with such a useful keepsake. And one has to believe that this vintage mirror has no little significance in Texas law enforcement history... and considerable value to collectors, if the story could only be proven.



The mirror had been left to Ranger Connell's parents and thus to him. Now he owns the mirror and its story, and has done all he could as an experienced investigator, to establish the connection between the mirror and Clyde Barrow. Absolute proof is impossible. 

But belief is. It is, that is if you accept the oral traditions of a family that preserved not only the mirror and its story, but a Texas lawman with a stellar career.


Personally, I think it is good that Ranger Connell cannot prove his family's most controversial icon. If they could have, it might have been sold decades ago. The money would now be gone, the story lost to some packrat collector and never told or shared. The mirror would be hanging in some oilman's man cave, a casual conversation piece, always explained by, “yeah, I probably paid too much for that thing...”



It is because he cannot prove his story that Bob still has it and is still talking about it. It's probably the find of the century, that could be worth thousands. But is more valuable to all of us as a story. In the end, to me that kind of story is worth more than money. It captures the imagination where cold cash just lays there with no life, no mystery, no anticipation. 


 When I looked into the mirror for the first time, I saw (in my fertile imagination!) Bonnie and Clyde looking into it as well, and back at me. It gave me the creeps. It made me think about old lady Barrow tearfully handing over the thing to her ice man. For a second I was inside that glass... my reflection was sharing space above the silver with them all. 

How much is something like that worth? Well an old ranger and I think it is priceless!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Nemesis: Facing Our National Demons



The older you get, the more precious are your childhood memories. They may be growing faint, but they are the last vestige of the innocence and trust born in your heart which have not yet been violated, a safe place in your personal hard drive where you still nurture those all-American hopes and ideals.

And heroes.

Peter Evan's 2004 revelation called Nemesis took my long-protected bubble of innocence and hammered it into an urn of ashes. I accept that it happened, but I am always mad at myself when I am the last to know...

But maybe there are some others who like me missed this story... some incredible way, probably THE BIGGEST STORY OF THE CENTURY. Peter Evans seems to have quietly answered all of our suspicions and fears, and many of the lifelong mysteries around the Kennedys... and nobody bothered to acknowledge his accomplishment. Some tried to call it rubbish and even an outrage, but it seems to have survived the test of time.

Evans wrote an authorized biography about Aristotle Onassis and then was told by several people very close to the famous husband of the former First Lady, that he had completely missed the real story. It was the story that Onassis took to his grave. It was the story that others closest to him must never admit. And in the telling of it, Evans takes down many of our lifelong American icons.

I found the book by accident after watching Bill O'Reilly's killing book made into a movie, made with tunnel vision, Killing Kennedy, where one scene grabbed my reclining intellect as I enjoyed memory lane. Jack and Jackie are cuddling and consoling one another after losing their third born, and President Kennedy says sweetly and trustingly, for her to go ahead on that Mediterranean cruise with that Onassis guy... to get some rest and enjoy herself... and come back to him so they can go to DALLAS... it was all so wholesome. And right then I knew that O'Reilly had done another slick spin on history as he wants to sell it. But I was unsure why I felt that way...

Perhaps it was because, no matter how much skeptics have dismissed the lingering suspicions about an assassination conspiracy, even as a nine year- old I knew that it was too much of a coincidence that Lee Harvey Oswald JUST HAPPENED TO BE EMPLOYED in a building right on the parade route which would give him maximum visibility to shoot the president. Too much of a coincidence that Oswald was found quickly hiding in a theater, where he gave himself up as if he expected an escort out of the country... Too much of a coincidence that a Dallas strip club owner was able to walk right up to him and shoot him LIVE on national television in the police station... Too much of a coincidence that Texas Governor John Connolly, once the trusted hatchet man for Lyndon Johnson, discreetly changed over to the Republican Party... knowing he had no friends left in the other one...

What did Connolly know? Perhaps he learned as I did from Peter Evans that Jackie, fed up with the Kennedy brother's sex-capades, wanted out of her Kennedy farce, had found a new champion in Onassis, a longtime nemesis of the Kennedys. And Onassis was a man that had no moral compass and was admittedly the most ruthless man on the high seas. Perhaps he found out that one of Jackie's trusted confidants was also a trusted confidant of...

Lee Harvey Oswald.

I just knew from Killing Kennedy that IF Jacqueline Kennedy was floating around with Ari, before the assassination, that fact opened up a lot of possibilities for the causes of future events. For more “coincidences.” And as it turned out, Peter Evans had been trying to tell me and you for a decade. Yes I am a conspiracy nut. Every mother's son from my generation is to some degree. We all knew growing up that the Warren Commission had been a whitewash to cover up the truth about the Kennedys, the assassinations, the ugly part of our national soul, and we would probably never know what happened. It was too big, too dangerous, too earth-shaking. And then Peter Evans dumps it out like moldy old gym shorts from a forgotten locker room. And damn it stinks.

And there are answers, and reasonable explanations, and yes, even confessions. In the end, none of the players is left standing, least of all Jackie O, our uncrowned queen.... our forever national widow, fallen from grace, and with Peter Evans's investigative skullduggery, she morphs into OMG, the wicked witch of the west.

Evans's account is scrupulously footnoted and backed by numerous first- person accounts and testimonies, and yes, tons of hearsay. But the bottom line is that it has the ring of truth. Onassis had volcanic hates, and irrational obsessions, and multi-layered sin scum at the bottom of the sea, and Peter Evans manages to dredge up just enough to make us beg him to drop it, for God's sake, back to where he found it.

But not before he has convinced me and others that he has uncovered the ugly truth about the Kennedys and “Camelot,” and the political forces behind their destruction. In the end, it all makes sense. The unexplained coincidences of the premature deaths of Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedys, Oswald, and others. Anyone who could hurt Jackie. And arranged by the ones who would avenge her. And then they tried to destroy each other. In the end she walked away with her reputation intact... and with much of the money.

But new questions emerge. How could the Media and our whole country for that matter, ignore this book and its implications? That question, and the possible conspiracy behind it is far more daunting now. How could O'Reilly make such a flacid regurgitation of old news, and perpetuate Jackie's spin of “Camelot”? To do that, his co-writer had to step over a lot of dead bodies. One wonders why, after all this time, and Evans's revelations, we are still nursing those childhood fantasies...

But I'm sure O'Reilly sleeps better at night, than those of us who have faced our national demons. We all have to choose between Peter Evans's noxious humus, the staggering corruption and decadence which was the cornerstone of the Liberal wing of our society, fifty years ago, or continued ignorance and bliss. It is obvious, America has already made its choice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The SCANDAL about Lottie Moon that every Baptist should know...

Lottie Moon was a nut job. Born in 1829, she was the beautiful daughter of a prominent Virginia doctor, who relocated his family to Ohio. At one point she almost married a man named Ambrose Burnside, (future Union General) but jilted him at the last minute. During the Civil War she fearlessly smuggled messages for the Confederacy across enemy lines, gallivanting around with Union brass including President Lincoln, and took her nuggets from eavesdropping straight back to Confederate HQ. She was not terribly religious... or at least her lying and treachery would not support that assumption... and she never went to China, as a missionary or anything else.

That's right, Lottie Moon. Right about now a lot of folks are reaching for the phone to call the preacher... ;)

Well, it turns out, as history would have it, there were TWO Lottie Moons, during the same period in history. And sadly, plenty of quasi-historians have melted the two together, thinking they are adding something to history. Some have taken great delight in exposing a great perceived weakness in the SBC traditions inspired by Lottie Moon. You, know, one of those “REST of the story” revelations like Paul Harvey used to do on the radio. Plenty of would-be historians are erroneously claiming the famous Southern Baptist missionary was a Confederate spy. I am happy to report that our more plain-faced Lottie Moon spent the war helping to manage her family plantation in Virginia. She did get a wonderful education, spoke several languages, and helped to provide medical assistance during the war. And yes, she followed her sister to be a missionary in China when 32 years old.

But wait a minute Southern Baptists... you are not off of the hook. My research has discovered something just as troubling... 

Baptists do not agree on what our Lottie Moon looked like... and there is great discrepancy there. It appears that somebody did not like the visage of the old Lottie, and replaced it with a sexier 1920's Lottie in recent times. That face has caught on, and appears in many of the Lottie websites, and even on the cover of a book! 

 
So I have provided my expertise and some pictures to help set the record straight.

 The REAL Lottie Moon, about 1875

You can see for yourself, there is definitely a problem... and since truthfulness and accuracy are paramount in our Kingdom cause, I thought I would try to puncture the new improved Lottie as best as can, before more damage is done to history.

 Lottie is pictured in the center, much older, and on the right about the time she embarked. Lottie Moon (Sorry Lottie!) had an enormous chin... and protruding lower lip, probably from dental issues.

Bottom line, there are several key points to observe, with these facts in mind. Faces do change over time. The ears and skin and muscles may sag, eyelids and lips as well. Noses might get somewhat larger... jaws wider, face and neck broader... but the bones stay the same. So we compare faces with the constants... cranium, nose bridge, chin... jawline, and to a less degree the variables. More importantly we study the relative ratio between the eyes and nose bridge... and the hairline and the cranium. Beyond that, similarities are only similarities. The new improved Lottie is an impostor. 

   The pretty lady on the left has a classic, large cranium... hairlines do not get lower wit age, but maybe higher... Faux Lottie also has a very short nose bridge (which also does not change), and her ears lay back almost flush to the head.  Overall, a very pretty lady. The Lottie photographed in China is actually quite different... especially the hairline, and those extremely arched eyebrows. But they could be mother and daughter. But they are not...

How can I be sure? That is easy. Lottie Moon of Baptist missionary fame was born in 1840. The photograph of the new improved Lottie is of a young woman... say around 30.
That makes the portrait having to be made around 1870. (Lottie was dead by 1912). The new improved Lottie is wearing clothing and hairstyle from around 1920 to 1935. She would have been born around 1890- when Lottie was around 50. There is no way that photograph used on the cover of the book was made in the 19th Century. It saddens and scares me to think so few have noticed or cared, or knew better.

 These two Lotties line up perfectly (vertically). She gained mass with age...  (on the left) her face much wider, actually making her face more pleasing, not unusual at all for someone in their mid-sixties.

Baptists do have universities who might have been able to establish these simple facts and prevent all the confusion and misinformation. Instead we have to save Lottie's reputation as the Queen of the Knights of the Golden Circle!

We can do better than this! Can I get an Amen?!!!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Ready to face the machine guns... of Mo McMorrow

SIX years ago I ran home to write my weekly music blog after a wonderful singer-songwriter performed at the Corner Cafe here in Navasota, and in a rare instance, I experienced writer's block. I'm sure now I was afraid I had lost my objectivity, and sure I would be too much in love with the performer to be credible... And also painfully aware that my take on her music might be appreciated by her the least... (I had gotten some angry feedback at that time from some of the visiting musicians who hated my reviews...)  So I let it brew awhile.  

And then I forgot about it. Sorry Mo! I am ready to face the machine guns!

I do not believe in re-incarnation. But sometimes a song comes along which seems to connect me with an eternal, primeval chain of souls who reach for me from out of the past-  and possesses me- hand-in-glove, through the singer. And I have to admit that when this happens, it is usually some kind of music which is derived from Irish traditions.



Sure I love folk and country and rock and roll, and I'm learning to appreciate blues. The first time I felt this supernatural Irish effect was listening to an Eddie Rabbitt 8-track. He sang a mystical song about Ireland like he knew and loved it with all of his being... and as I listened, I too became Irish. Man I went there! An exceptional musician can do that. The same way Blind Willie Johnson and Al Green baptized me African American, and Merle Haggard brought me into the brotherhood of ex-cons. It is something wonderful and spiritual and completely a divine fruit of the imagination. Music is a way we can all celebrate the brotherhood of man... and YES woman... I am a woman whenever I listen to Jewel, or Crystal Gayle.



But when my daughter introduced me to Steeleye Span... I was a goner. I became Irish in my soul of souls, and the rest was just quaint cultural exchange. I was grooving to words I could not even understand. You Tube then fed me an infinite dive into “my past.” The crying fiddles, the driving rhythms, and tenor ecstasies... and sometimes bagpipes that choke me up when they just begin to whine. They reset my emotions instantly. 

(Click below for Cam Ye O'er Frae Franc by Steeleye Span... several versions, I love the shorter studio version the best, second from the left, but all worth listening to)

http://search.aol.com/aol/video?s_it=sb-top&s_chn=prt_bon&v_t=comsearch-aolnewtab-t&q=you+tube+steeleye+span+cam+ye+o+frae+franc

When I discovered the anthem Erin Go Bragh (Ireland forever!), I was sure I was hearing the caress of my ancestral heartstrings...
   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Nqg2ohiDY

When they sing FACE THE MACHINE GUNS for Erin Go Bragh, I am so ready! 

Still, I had no clue what these folks were so mad about... But it was inspiring to be exposed to such conviction, such unanimity, all shared through soulful poetry.

 Mo McMorrow

So if you understand or even relate to any of this you will probably enjoy Mo McMorrow... a darlin' lass of Irish extraction who sings here in Texas like a passionate angelic missionary. And you will grow to love her recordings like Irish Gold from across the sea. I heard her first in Schulenburg, Texas at a downtown festival... She had commandeered a beauty parlor for the evening and won everyone's hearts... and most of them were of hard-core German extraction. I played her first CD (Excellent: Mona Lisas Don't Cry) until it had so many dings in it that it became irritating... I had to find another one... That led me to her next album.

McMorrow's album called Hangin' from a Nail (2013) continues her weaving of American and Irish traditions, and within she does her own version of the Irish standard, Spancil Hill.



Just twenty-three, Michal Considine wrote this song in the 1800's while dying in the gold fields of California. A native-born Irishman, his gaelic impetuousness led him to seek riches in a faraway land. And there he perished. But before he passed away, his adventure over, his gift of Irish poetry captured his epic regret as he realized he would never see Ireland, or the love of his life, again. He sent the song on where he could never go, to say good bye to everything he loved about his beloved home.

It was a very sad song, full of poetic, cultural pride and ethos. Thank goodness, the Irish loved it, and it has become a national anthem, if not a warning to NEVER LEAVE, ever since.

 Spancil Hill is the site of a traditional horse fair in County Clare.



You see, Irish music traditions are built on the same foundation as blues; Oppression and depression and the human struggle to endure. The music is large, hearty, focusing on the “small” people with huge loves, hates and passions. It is a catharsis for its audience, salving their hurts, but finding oneness in corporate self-pity and identity in a people chained to their own negativity. Like blues it will never go away as long as oppression (and Ireland!) exists. When you hear this music you remember your own pains and sufferings, and find comfort and community in the music. And it is good every once in awhile to free this stuff, which we tend to internalize, out of our systems. Thus Irish music has a very liberating effect.


So the Irish will always be the proud custodians of bedrock melancholy and discontent. Maybe it is in their DNA. Thankfully some of us have escaped. Mo is one, one of those exceptional musicians, transforming her passion for life and lore into soulful, engaging, inspiring performances.

But some of us have never escaped, or even sadder, never known what we escaped. But if you want to know... If you have a restless, wandering soul, if you are feelin' a bit Irish... Get Hangin' on a Nail, and especially Spancil Hill... but fetch your box of tissues first. Click below to have your socks blown off!

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqKJs5ZLe3o

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"HERE is a way" - The Logic of One Pilgrim

 A couple of Cushman-Plymouth souvenirs.

My people have been in this land for almost four hundred years. Yes, my ancestors came over on the Mayflower. And after starvation and suffering from exposure and all kinds of suffering, the “Pilgrims” at Plymouth found gratitude beneath their blanket of hardship. What WERE they thinking?!

We should care what they were thinking, because no other migration ever set into motion the wealth of Providential events we have seen on our continent over the centuries. Largely under-utilized before its “discovery” by Columbus, the New World soon provided much of the food, inventions and progress which blessed mankind ever since. We as Americans have lived and celebrated the greatest, most advanced and prosperous nation in human history. So it is easy to forget that it all had a very ugly start.

A full half of the pilgrims died the first year. Those who survived shared homesickness, starvation, exposure to the elements and unbearable grief.

There were no doctors, or stores or letters from home. The Natives watched from the treeline and pitied them. Soon they were bringing them essential help. The first miracle God provided was a Native American in this remote wilderness who spoke English, and who could and would help them get through those first months.

At the first harvest on their primitive plantation, they instinctively threw a festival of sorts, and invited their aboriginal neighbors over for a thanksgiving feast! WHAT were they thinking! They could have been easily massacred right then. But their faith was strong that the worst was behind them, and God was in charge. Strangely, hardship and mortality bring us closer to our Maker. Instead of cursing God for their painful saga, they were singing God's praises. This suggests that a happy, prosperous people (like us) will never grow towards God, but away from Him.

A short while later the pilgrims held their first worship service led by one of their elected shepherds, (and my ancestor) deacon Robert Cushman. Cushman had helped expedite their adventure and originally embarked with them on a separate ship, the “Speedwell” which almost sank, and was forced to turn back. He had just arrived from England with supplies and welcome news from their homes. And he gave them a prepared sermon, recognized as the first (recorded) sermon delivered on American soil, in December of 1621.

It was a warning to avoid self-pity and narcissism, or “self-love” as he called it, and he challenged them to think not of themselves but the ultimate success of the colony. Deacon Cushman commanded them to be heroes, and nothing less. And this is why: Cushman had looked down the road at their home in Europe. A great deal was at stake. He wrote in the dedication of his historic sermon this rationale...

And if it should please God to punish his people, in the Christian countries of Europe (for their coldness, carnality, wanton abuse of the gospel, contention, etc.,) either by Turkish slavery, or by popish tyranny, which God forbid, yet if the time be come, or shall come (as who knoweth?) when Satan shall be let loose to cast out his floods against them, here is a way opened for such as have wings to fly into this wilderness...” He saw a grand strategy at work, and these pilgrims would serve an essential role... so a light may rise up in the dark.

To Robert Cushman, the world was going to hell in a corrupted European handbasket, and the fate of Christian civilization (and thus mankind) could very well have rested in those hands which cupped this “candle in the wind” in the New World.

Robert Cushman was right about Europe... long before Napoleon and the so-called “Enlightenment” and apostasy became the backbone of European intellect. America did carry the ball for Christ for the next few hundred years... and it all started with great sacrifice and discipline like that in Plymouth.

In hindsight, most of us would agree that it was worth it. We are the most fortunate of peoples to live in a land established by God's hand-picked heroes of Faith. And there is no secret as to how they accomplished this amazing legacy. The slogan “In God We Trust” had deep origins rooted in blood and tears.

The pilgrims were not just a random assortment of boat passengers. Even from the beginning, they were representatives of two very different lots. The leaders and believers in Christ were called “Saints” and the rest of the people, workers and sailors, were “Strangers.” The pilgrims understood that they must partner with and work alongside strangers who did not share their beliefs or value system. They kept their faith and obeyed God and let Him sort things out. That partnership gave birth to the greatest nation on earth.

Today we must remember how and what and WHO got us where we are. Humbly. Gratefully. On this Thanksgiving, as our country slips into cynicism and self-sufficiency, Americans must ask themselves, if they want to enter the next chapter in our history without the guidance and support of a God who has blessed us so greatly... Because without Him we will be no better off than most other countries in the world. And they had a huge head-start on us, but can never match American exceptionalism

And unlike in Robert Cushman's paradigm, there is no next place to fly.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The First Bag of Deplorable.


Normally I try to stay out of political discussions. And I enter this public fray only to try to encourage those who are afraid of President-elect Donald Trump... to not be.

First of all let me share a very personal moment. When President Obama was elected, I remember visiting with my father, very ill at the time, once a huge political activist, (both Democrat and Republican) and telling him my disappointment in the election results. I felt Obama did not have the experience or the leadership qualities to lead our country out of our financial or military mess. My father never hesitated... he said “I think you will be surprised... I think he may turn out to be a pretty good president.” Smiling, he went on to explain that Clinton had been a much better president than we (as Republicans) wanted to give him credit for... and Obama might surprise a lot of people.

My point is that many so-called “racist haters,” Republicans, were willing to give the man the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. The fact that he was black was immaterial. I am serious. He won the election, and he had only to prove himself. I feel that my father represented most voters, because that is what Americans do. We fight hard for what we believe- then we support the results of the system. But the system has gotten uglier and uglier for decades...

The bag in the photo is a souvenir of my childhood. In 1964 my father took us to “volunteer” to work in Barry Goldwater headquarters in Houston to help get him elected as president. We worked hard for him. I remember licking stamps and listening over the radio to Ronald Reagan nominate him at the Republican National Convention. Reagan stirred my ten-year old soul. I tear up just thinking about it. Goldwater was a pretty boring guy, and I could not wait for then Governor Ronald Reagan to run for president!

Barry Goldwater was a distinguished Senator from Arizona. He was a man with an excellent record and highly respected by both parties. But President Johnson's campaign made a despicable TV commercial. It showed a little girl out picking flowers on a spring day, and then BOOOM... she was blown up by an Atom bomb. The world as we knew it suddenly came to an end... NOTHING like this had ever been seen on national network television.

The Democrats said that this might happen if Barry Goldwater was elected. We were all going to die! This strategy worked and they have been doing this ever since. Since then their commercials have shown all kinds of monstrous expectations from Republicans, including pushing helpless people in wheel chairs off of a cliff... Today they have young people stirred up with many outrageous accusations about Republicans, now led by Donald Trump, as if they are all maddened war-mongers who hate everyone who is not male or white or Christian. Don't let them make you a hater, who judges and persecutes people because they disagree with your political agenda. Ironically, it is Democrat extremists out beating people right now because of their beliefs...!!! The epitome of intolerance! The Democrat party ruined Barry Goldwater, and they have now almost ruined our country with their ruthless propaganda. Our country is mired in the worst class and race tension I have seen in my life.

Even Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest Americans and a stanch Clinton backer, has said that Trump will not have the kind of negative impact which drives so much fear in Hillary Clinton's supporters. Like my father was about Obama, he is willing to give Trump a chance. He understands the damage that could come from youthful over-reaction. These are young people doing what many jobless, disenchanted young people choose to do... act out their anger and frustration. But almost everything they are doing is either against the law or against civilized society... pure anarchy with a flimsy excuse.

Many of us on the Conservative side have endured President Obama, not liking his politics or his effects on this country... but we never acted out in anger, never called anybody names... I have even defended him at church because he was our president, and we are taught in the Bible to “honor the King.” The real intolerance, hatred and prejudice is coming from where it has come from all of my life... inspired by ruthless politicians who say anything to win and have no conscience about what they stir up in the process.

Donald Trump was not my first choice, but he will emulate Bush and have the most inclusive cabinet in history. He will be the most effective president in decades. He will do the most ever for the underprivileged and Veterans and yes, Blacks and (American) Hispanics. WHY? Because he is a problem solver, an experienced achiever, who is accustomed to having to deliver the goods... who does not enjoy the benefit of the doubt... (mostly due to his own misbehavior and democratic fear-mongering). He will eventually prove himself, and that will be the end of the Liberal stranglehold on this country. And that is why Harry Reid and others will relentlessly continue their uncharitable partisan attacks. They are going down... this time for good. Conservative Americans are tired of being called names, tired of the Democrats rallying votes by impugning our intelligence and humanity.

Get smart, see through this class manipulation. STAND DOWN, watch and listen as Pence and Dr. Carson and others join the most effective Cabinet in history... and maybe you will begin to understand that we are not “deplorable” haters or racist or whatever, and in fact we love YOU and this country and only want the best for all of us... and we know how to get it done!




Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Boessenecker: The Long Arm of the Law... and the TRUTH


The LAST thing I needed was another Texas Ranger book. At last count I had around thirty and stacks of related publications... Then John Boessenecker, hereafter referred to as “The Boss,” recently published his long awaited epic on Ranger Frank Hamer, boldly titled TEXAS RANGER. If you thought you knew about Frank Hamer, you don't. I sure thought I did. I have written a lot about my favorite Texas hero... he has been the subject of two of my bronze sculptures, and even a couple of my videos, but anybody can read books and summarize with colorful jargon. 

I am a history buff, Boessenecker is a historian. It is the difference between my seeing the historic moon walk LIVE on television, and Neil Armstrong.

I can do decent book reviews when I choose to... but I cannot even fake objectivity about this. I have too much personal involvement with the story. All I can do is offer by deepest thanks to John, who has written a beautiful, worthy book about a magnificent lawman. After a good cry, yes, even real Texas men cry, I raced to write this while the lump was still in my throat. There IS Justice, but sometimes it takes a long time.

This time it took too long. It irks me a little that it took a danged Californian to do that which some faithful son of Texas should have done decades ago... But maybe that is OK, since it helps me to see Californians a little differently. In truth, Frank Hamer and his story belongs to all of us.

If you have read any of the Boss's other fine historical books, you know that he is a dogged, objective researcher. A real history detective. He cuts it straight. This time he reached out of his traditional focus, across the Rio Grande, as he tells, and it made me nervous all this time waiting and worrying, the true story, warts and all. Frankly I did not trust anybody from California to give the legendary, controversial ranger a decent break. Few others ever have. 

But the Boss was fair and thorough, and what's more, debunked a lot of Hamer myths that we Texans have treasured for generations. We need to thank him for that. What we have here is a new, restored, impeccably factual Texas Ranger, and the good news is Frank Hamer stands as tall as ever. And Bonnie and Clyde, Ma and Pa Ferguson, Lyndon Johnson, and a cast of rowdy thousands... not so much. This was the book Ranger Frank Hamer, “...the greatest American lawman of the twentieth century,” deserved.

And now, thanks to the Boss, a man from California, Hamer's amazing story of courage, dutifulness and sacrifice will be told to all the world.