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January 2012 Letters

TCP Talk

Letters and comments from our readers

Second Religion of Texas: Barbecue

I really enjoyed your November 2011 issue, which was centered around the second religion of Texas—barbecue. My son in London is going to get a copy to remind him of one of the best reasons we live here!

Andy Hardin, CoServ Electric

Heavenly Brisket

Jeff Siegel’s article on Texas barbecue was well done; however, he did not mention the heavenly brisket that has been served at Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart since 1932.

J.D. Kindred, Bandera Electric Cooperative

I enjoyed seeing a picture of Prause Meat Market in your November issue. I lived in La Grange four decades ago and went back last year to Prause. They haven’t changed a bit—thank God. If you go to Prause Meat Market for lunch, travel 15 more miles down State Highway 71, southeast, to Ellinger and pick up some authentic Czech kolaches at Hruska’s. They use quality Eckermann sausage [for link sausage], which makes all the difference in a good kolache. Czech it out.

Michael Burmeister, Pedernales Electric Cooperative

I love my beef, but I suspect pork is in our future. One hundred fifty years ago, Texas was overrun by longhorns. Today, we are overrun by feral hogs.

Kirby Word, HILCO Electric Cooperative

Bravo, Aerial Firefighters

Great article [“Fighting Fires,” November 2011] on the aerial firefighters who helped so valiantly to stop the Bastrop fires. My grandson is a career fireman in the Houston area, and I have always been very proud of what he does. Thank you for honoring these brave people who risk their lives to save Texas, especially during this horrendous drought. They are amazing.

Dana Goodale, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative

Camille Wheeler [“Fighting Fires”] is an excellent journalist. Her research and attention to detail are second to none. I would just like to commend her for a job well done!

Marc Mullis, Aerial firefighter
Home base: all over Texas

Camp Hearne: Important History

The article on Camp Hearne, the German POW camp [“Former German POW At Home in Texas,” November 2011], brings back an important part of history for many parts of Texas. The presence of the camps is forgotten by many older folks but totally unknown to many young people.

For me, the story brought back childhood memories of other prisoners. Living in Pampa in the upper Panhandle before beginning grade school, I remember prisoners of war [POWs] coming down our alley behind the house. I would run out the back door to watch them, though the [U.S. military] guards would tell us children to stand back out of the way; eventually my mother told me to watch through the windows on the back of the house.

Their [the POWs’] work seemed to be cleaning the alleys; they were picking up trash and cutting weeds. Not knowing their background, I assume they were kept at the old Pampa Army Air Field, but there was also a German POW camp at McLean, near Pampa.

A better-known location in the Amarillo area was the camp southeast of Hereford. Italian POWs from that camp made wood carvings, painted murals and installed stained-glass windows at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in nearby Umbarger. Perhaps a Texas historian could give us more such stories that relate the past to the present.

Bill Libby, Taylor Electric Cooperative

Stage Delight

Years ago, I was asked to be a last-minute fill-in for the backstage crew of the play “The Diary of Anne Frank” that was put on by the Jasper Community Theatre. Having exactly NO stage experience, I wasn’t sure about accepting, but when I was assured that I would be dressed in black and working between scenes when the lights were low, I decided to take the chance.

It was one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life! Watching some extraordinarily talented actors—young and older—and being a small part of helping them tell Anne’s story to the audience is something I’ll never forget.

We moved away soon afterward, but there is still a warm place in my heart for the actors, directors and crews of that theater. In fact, I bought a “Star of David” charm for my bracelet to sit right alongside my charms commemorating my husband and children.

Thanks, Charles Boisseau, for an actor’s view of small-town theater [“Stage Plight,” November 2011]—one that I never will experience!—and for bringing so many wonderful memories back to me.

Kelly Marberry, Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative

Ag Aviation

Thank you for the September and November 2011 articles in your magazine and on about agricultural aviation, the pilots and their aircraft. I worked for A.J. Harmon Jr., an ag aviation owner/operator and an officer for both the Texas Agricultural Aviation Association [TAAA] and the National Agricultural Aviation Association [NAAA]. I served as executive secretary of the TAAA and also worked with the NAAA. These articles brought back many heartfelt memories of these dedicated and well-trained precision pilots and their ground crews.

Alice A. Dawson, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative

Having flown ag airplanes for 7,000-plus hours during 30-plus years in the ag aviation business, I enjoyed the articles by Camille Wheeler. They were well written and accurate for the most part, whereas most writers outside the ag aviation industry CANNOT get it right. Thanks, Camille.

In your November 2011 issue about the aerial tankers, there is a Q&A about fire retardant. The first question concerns its basic ingredients, and the answer states, in part, that corrosion inhibitors keep the retardant from corroding aircraft hoppers. With the hoppers made of fiberglass, the hopper made of all metal parts—as well as metal parts below the hopper, including the dump gate, which is made out of stainless steel—there is no corrosion problem there. The corrosion occurs within the aircraft structure, which is made of aluminum and steel. When the retardant is dumped, some of it will find its way inside the fuselage. The fuselage has panels from nose to tail on both sides, which can be removed for a complete washout. At all the places I worked, this was a daily chore, even if it was after dark.

Now if Ms. Wheeler thought the ride in a two-seat training plane was exciting [see “The Building of a Bird”], I can up the ante by providing her with contacts in the ag aviation business who only spray at night.

Gale N. Johnson, Farmers Electric Cooperative

I normally enjoy reading the letters to the editor, but letters from Sharon Brown and Owen Yost in the November 2011 edition left me feeling very sad.

I wish they could watch the TV news from Germany or England or even Japan and think how satisfying it would be to visit a refugee camp in Somalia and tell the residents there how fortunate they are that their food is “organically” grown without the hazard of “massive” amounts of chemicals being applied.

Oh, wait! The problem there is that there is NO food, except that imported from the U.S. or another country that uses chemicals or genetics to produce a surplus of foodstuffs that can be shared with areas like this.

As for the comments from Yost, yes, a “very small” amount of research under carefully controlled conditions shows that “natural methods” can produce almost the same yields as the conventional methods, but scaling this up to fields of several hundred acres with variable weather conditions has provided less successful results. In short, if your food comes from the corner store, or you tend a garden of a few tenths of an acre, “natural methods” work fine, but producing tons of foodstuffs requires different methods to increase yields to profitable levels.

Charles Mierow, Pedernales Electric Cooperative

The ag aviation pilots really took a beating for no reason at all. I have been in aviation for over 40 years (agriculture, airline, corporate and air freight) and also have been involved in a 1,550-acre farming operation in the Midwest. I have seen thrips spread like wildfire in a 100-acre field of soybeans. I have witnessed a slug infestation in a field of corn not 6 inches tall. If you people would research your labels on the herbicides and pesticides, you would learn that if applied properly, and under the right atmospheric conditions, they are not only a great aid in farming, but also a must to maintain yields and control insects.

Ag pilots are taking a gamble every time they nose over for a spray run. Please research your facts before making such rash statements.

J.W. Freck, Panola-Harrison Electric Cooperative

Oh, Christmas Trees!

I have just finished reading my November 2011 issue, and the last page [“Oh, Christmas Tree”] was the best! My granddaughter and I have gone to Mr and Ms Trees for the last five years. It is truly a grand treat in old-fashioned Christmas spirit! I happened to find them by a roadside sign on my way home from work one evening and have been hooked since. I still tell the story of our first visit:

My granddaughter Brianna was just 4 at the time, and we went on the wagon ride after hot chocolate and Santa. We picked our measuring stick and a saw. Yes, she wanted to be the one to cut the tree herself. After wandering over all the tree lanes, we finally picked one. She took about three swipes with the saw and then asked me for help. I, being a well-seasoned country person, knew what it’s like to cut a tree with a handsaw. We began to cut the tree and were making some progress, when along came the young men who were bigger and stronger and probably had been doing this for the last few weeks.

In other words, they had more experience than Brianna and I did. (I personally enjoy a good chain saw for cutting trees.) Their offer to help was a blessing until Brianna told them of her unwavering faith in me—her grandmother she thinks can do “anything.” This being a direct quote to the offer of help: “My grammy and I got this!” I was so shocked, it took me a few minutes to sort out how to handle it. We did keep trying, and she came to the conclusion that maybe some help would be good! The help was summoned, and we came home with a beautiful tree and a fun experience! Needless to say, the next year, I firmly instructed her on what to say when help was offered—THANK YOU!

Thanks to Rick and Michaelene Sparks for continuing an age-old tradition!

Jan Holloway, Navarro County Electric Cooperative

Picture-Perfect Weld and Story

I enjoyed reading Ginger Mynatt’s October 2011 story on shipbuilding at Orange during World War II as a personal tribute to my mother who was one of the many single women who worked in the shipyard. My mother, Mrs. Reba Pearl Elaine Legg-Roberts, will be 90 in December, and she still lives at the same address in Beaumont. She is very proud that she was able to purchase her home in 1942 because she was paid top dollar of $1.25 per hour as a welder working for Consolidated Shipyard.

She was working at Hotel Beaumont in the Black Cat Café when the war started. A customer told her she could make good money as a welder so she and her friend Ethyl Dupre attended welding classes at Lamar Tech, and they were both hired at Consolidated.

My mother took the shuttle train to Orange every day and eventually was in a car pool. It was in the car pool where she met and fell in love with her future husband, Alvin Eugene Roberts, who was also working as a welder. I was never as proud of my mother as I was in 1977 when she came to my Industrial Arts Class at Bowie Junior High School. She was 55 at the time and did not hesitate to put on a welding shield, pick up the arc welder and make a picture-perfect weld.

Thank you for honoring the men and women who helped America to achieve total victory in World War II.

Mark Roberts, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative

A friend gave me the article from your magazine on my hometown, Orange.

I truly enjoyed reading it, and it does bring back memories of when I was a child. I remember my dad walking home after a long day of welding on ships. Thanks to Ginger Mynatt for a great story.

Ann Pence, Wood County Electric Cooperative

Home Energy Savings

I noted with interest the Home Energy Makeover contest article [“Energy Well Spent,” October 2011]. I have also noted that the average kilowatt-hour usage has almost doubled in the past 20 years.

I almost found it humorous, reading about the three makeover winners. We built our home over 30 years ago. It is almost 1,000 square feet larger than any of those, and yet our July electric bill was less than any of those. One of our original heat-pump systems is still working, so it can’t be as efficient as the newer models. Our home is a geodesic dome.

David Carter, Navarro County Electric Cooperative


A very interesting article on carousels [“Ride of Passage,” September 2011]. As a fluent speaker of Spanish since the age of 17, I felt compelled to look up the origin of carousel (merry-go-round). Checking the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, there is no such word as “carosello.” The word “carrusel,” with which I am familiar, has two definitions: merry-go-round and brilliant equestrian presentation. The two words in Spanish for carousel are “carrusel” and “tiovivo.” There are Spanish words with one r and Spanish words with two r’s. They are not pronounced the same, and never does a Spanish word evolve from having one r to two, nor two r’s to one. Finally, this dictionary says that the Spanish word “carrusel” comes from French.

Michael W. McEwen, Cherokee County Electric Cooperative

Editor’s note: As described in the book The Guide to United States Popular Culture (2001, The University of Wisconsin Press), some historical sources say the name “carousel” was derived from a game of Arabic origins adopted by Spanish crusaders around 800 A.D. In Italian, the word “carosello” means little war. In such games, players rode spinning wooden horses and attempted to catch clay balls filled with scented oil. The competition featured jousting expertise.