History

Wed
27
Aug

Ghost Turkey and Hitchhiking Spirits

Old-timers around Elkhart call it the Brush Arbor.
“It’s a stretch of country nobody lived in,” is the way retired railroad man James A. “Toodler” Rials put it.
Unoccupied land, especially when the trees stand tall and thick and only thin light filters through, tends to attract spooky legends like hen houses do chicken snakes.
This still-forested spot in Anderson County, according to local lore, provides habitat for wildlife and the occasional ghost.
Apparitions reported are both human and animal, Rials said.
Far better known in this part of East Texas simply as Toodler, Rials died Aug. 4, at his home near Elkhart at the age of 72.
They buried him in the Myrtle Springs Cemetery, not far from the Brush Arbor, three days later.
A good storyteller, who would

 

Wed
20
Aug

The Wreck of the Steamer New York

From the distant perspective of more than a century-and-a-half, it’s hard to imagine what the master of the New York must have been thinking that afternoon when he ordered his deck hands to cast off the lines and make for San Luis Pass.
Since it would be another decade before Galveston had a telegraphic connection to the outside world, chances are Capt. John D. Phillips had no inkling he would be steaming straight into harm’s way.
With 30 passengers and 23 crew members, the 160-foot steamer crossed the sand bar at the mouth of Galveston Bay

 

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Wed
13
Aug

"In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin'"

“In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin’, tell ‘em I’ll be there.
In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin’, better save a chair.”
“In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” 1951, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, music by Hoagy Carmichael.
Those who have never been lulled into an afternoon nap by the hum of an oscillating fan may have trouble understanding what follows, but Texans have not always been able to cool off by simply adjusting a thermostat.
In the long ago, when Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman recorded “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” for Decca Records during the Eisenhower

 

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Wed
06
Aug

Cowboy boots’ role in Texas culture

Dead tired and waiting to check in to the last room available, I watched an equally tired young man walk into the lobby.
This was Kingsville, so he could have been a King Ranch cowboy or someone who aspired to be.
One thing for sure, he was not an aviator newly assigned to the naval air station there. More likely, given the wild Eagle Ford Shale boom, he was an oilfield worker.
If so, he must have been a pipe truck driver or in some other career track not subjec

 

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Wed
30
Jul

How Austin became Texas’ capital

All elections are important in a democracy, but early-day Austinites participated in two elections that could have turned their city into a ghost town.
At stake was whether Austin would remain Texas’ capital.
Though President Mirabeau B. Lamar had chosen what would become Austin as the site of the Republic of Texas’ capital in 1839, that decision had never been 100 percent popular.
Sam Houston, for one, considered the city named in his honor much more suitable for the role.
But despite an ill-fated attempt

 

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Wed
23
Jul

Cattle was big business in Texas

Before barbed wire crisscrossed Texas, the general roundup was a fundamental part of the cattle business.
Every fall during the free range days, cattlemen pooled their resources and rode out to gather their stock.
Cowboys checked each steer’s brand, cutting out each head that belonged to his outfit.
After that, ranchers either drove their cattle farther south for the winter, or shipped them to market.
One of the biggest spreads in

 

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Wed
16
Jul

Space Rangers Rode a New Frontier

It’s fun to ponder what Jack Hays, Leander McNelly and Bill McDonald would have thought if someone had told them that rangers would someday be dealing with bad guys in outer space – at least on television.
Of course, those famous old-time Texas Rangers wouldn’t have known what TV is. But that’s beside the point.
More than 60 years ago, the nascent television industry had its eyes both on the future and the past. The future involved

 

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Thu
10
Jul

Texas International Fishing Tournament origins

Anyone who has ever landed a speckled trout or bull redfish knows the process is exciting, but it took Texans a long time to realize that fishing could hook tourists as well as dinner.
Well into the 20th century, coastal Texans fished primarily for food, either for themselves or to sell. Finally, it sunk in that promoting fishing as a form of recreation could add to an area’s economy by luring tourists and the “railroad dollars” they carried in their pockets.
In 1906, two years after rail passenger service reached

 

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Wed
02
Jul

Was Sulphur Queen a Bermuda Triangle victim?

Mrs. Adam Martin kissed her husband goodbye and watched him walk up the gangway of the S.S. Marine Sulphur Queen.
She could have left Beaumont then for their home in Austin, but she stayed on the wharf as the molten Sulphur-laden tanker moved down the Neches River for the Gulf of Mexico.
One of the ship’s assistant engineers, her husband, would be gone less than two weeks. Leaving Beaumont Feb. 2, 1963, the Sulphur Queen would

 

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Wed
25
Jun

Now & Then

June 29, 1939
Ira’s – Racketeers of the Range starring George O’Brien and Marjorie Reynolds; The Kid from Kokomo starring Wayne Morris, Pat O’Brien and Jane Wyman; Tell No Tales starring Melvyn Douglas, Louise Platt and Gene Lockhart.
Sunrise Breakfast – The night shift of the AAA office enjoyed a sunrise breakfast

 

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