Diving Story Provides Hope
I really enjoyed your July 2011 story “Beneath the Surface” about disabled veterans and the new freedoms they find in water. I am currently serving and am at the end of my 20-year career, but have developed debilitating back pain that keeps me from even being able to walk for exercise. I have always wanted to learn to scuba dive but was afraid that would no longer be possible because of the weight of the tanks. Thanks for new hope.
Master Sgt. Dorothy Coleman, U.S. Air Force, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
Thanks for bringing the issue of conceivable change in the way we manage our use of fossil fuels, even in Texas (“Plugged In,” July 2011 Power Connections article about electric vehicles). I love this state and its seemingly endless skyline, which demands a mode of travel that’s quick and affordable. Fostered by our love of independence and need to cover a lot of ground, we gave up the horse/mule to assuage our needs while forging into the 20th century. Now, it seems that a new light is shining in the 21st century that demands we consider change, again, for the sake of conserving the environment and a lifestyle of which we are so fond. I bet Texans can meet that challenge. The alternatives available at this time may not be the answer for all, but it is a start—and start we must.
Marjorie Lewis, Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative
Fine and dandy having an electric vehicle, but who pays the road tax that these people are not paying? The rest of us? Eventually, the government will tax you for the miles you drive. Add about 40 cents to each mile you drive, and electricity is not as cheap as it seems. Still, it is cheaper than gasoline.
Bill Hoglan, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
A Salute to Pigeons
Thank you for a great article (“Off to the Races,” July 2011). It was wonderful to read what services pigeons have provided to mankind, including carrying messages and saving soldiers’ lives during war. Now it’s our turn to show these animals some kindness, and I hope we won’t see pigeons merely as “flying rats.” Can man be so kind?
Nicole Huntley, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
Calling All Square Dancers
We were able to attend the state square dance convention [Texas State Square and Round Dance Festival] you mentioned in your June 2011 Happenings. Everywhere we went in Tyler, people would ask us if we were with the festival. I guess the outfits gave us away a little bit. People seemed genuinely interested in knowing about it but had trouble with the commitment.
Square dancing requires lessons. Our local club usually takes 20 weeks to teach the basic set of mainstream calls. More experienced dancers help out as angels [their nickname] with the newer dancers. This helps new dancers see how the calls fit together, and it serves as a refresher course for the angels as well. We have dancers under the age of 12 and over the age of 80. There is no alcohol involved, and we all have a very good time. Square dancing is good exercise and is good for mental activity, too, because you have to hear and understand the call, react to the call and get in your position, all within a designated number of beats. It will keep you moving.
Square-dance popularity has waned in the nearly 30 years I have been dancing. There used to be two clubs in Victoria and another in Bay City. I would encourage anyone interested to check out your local club, if you have one, or search for one near you on the Internet. You will be glad you did.
Robert D. Baker, Wharton County Electric Cooperative
Hooked on Magazine
I just had to comment on a letter in the June 2011 edition [regarding the April 2011 Focus on Texas topic “Catch of the Day”]. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time: Your magazine is one of my top-three favorites. I look forward to seeing it every month and try to read every article if possible. It’s really obvious that you attempt to be as diverse as possible, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. I’ve reminisced, laughed and learned from your magazine, not to mention trying some excellent recipes!
Please don’t take the letter writer’s comments too seriously. It expressed the opinion of an extreme point of view. In viewing the “offensive” photos, you took the time to explain in one caption that the photo was taken just before the fish was released. Another picture shows a little girl with a fish that is absolutely too small to keep (or kill) and was most likely released as well. And what a great picture … the girl’s first redfish! I have a similar picture of all three of my children.
The bottom line here is that no matter what you decide to publish, someone for some reason will have a contentious point with it. If you were able to survey a cross section of your regular readers, I’d bet money that they love the magazine just as it is. It would be a small minority that would be offended enough to actually choose not to read it.
Just keep up the fine work!
Marvin Beechly, Nueces Electric Cooperative
Blue Lacy: Officially Texan
My husband and I have often joked about states having “official” birds, flowers, animals, etc. When I saw the official Texas shrub (crape myrtle) in your July 2011 issue, I had to tell him. He, then, told me that just the day before he learned that Pennsylvania actually had an official state dog (the Great Dane). Lo and behold, a few pages later in the magazine there was the article on “The Official Dog of Texas,” the Blue Lacy. Neither of us had ever heard of the Blue Lacy, so the article was most interesting. We learned something new today.
Nancy Walton, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
Your story on Blue Lacys put me in mind of one of the best novels ever written about Texas—Old Yeller by Fred Gipson. The novel is quite different from the Walt Disney film version and should be read by all who enjoy Texas history. Mr. Gipson paints a picture of a tough old hog dog and refers to crape myrtles as “bee myrtle.” Many people think the novel is too sad (because of the film), but it is a coming-of-age novel about a boy who does a man’s job and is rewarded with praise from his father. I dare people to read the novel out loud without a Texas accent!
Theresa Zumwalt, CoServ Electric
In 1955, I was a 15-year-old boy who hunted wild hogs and raccoons in San Saba County. A man I hunted with was Ray Rawls. The ranchers in the area welcomed us to help eradicate their problem with coons destroying their pecan crop. We hunted for the profit of selling coon hides to a local buyer.
Our dogs were a cur mixture of collie and chow breeds. Ray came up with a Blue Lacy dog he said was given to him by a South Texas rancher. The first night we took him with us, the dog treed a ringtail cat in a heavily bushed elm tree. Instead of shooting the cat, I agreed to climb the tree and knock it out with a stick. I was about 12 feet up the tree and about to club the cat when something slobbered on the back of my neck. Needless to say, I jumped out of the tree. That Lacy hound somehow had climbed that tree behind me. I didn’t break any bones, but I was stove up for a week. That dog amazed us by climbing trees with low limbs. It was something I will remember the rest of my life.
I left San Saba in 1956 and never heard any more about that breed of dog until January 2011 when our daughter, whose family is stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, told us of her neighbor who had a Texas-bred Blue Lacy. I appreciate your article on the breed and am pleased to share my story with everyone. Thank you.
Doyle Yarbrough, Navarro County Electric Cooperative
Letting It All Hang Out
I have noticed that in virtually every issue of your magazine there is a column encouraging readers to conserve electricity. One method often mentioned is using an outdoor clothesline rather than a clothes dryer when doing laundry.
However, many individuals are not able to utilize the sun for this purpose because their homes are located in deed-restricted communities. I live on acreage in a very rural area, where there are no such restrictions, and, when we had to live in the city, we chose not to purchase a home in a community with that type of deed restriction. However, many individuals do not enjoy the freedom to dry clothes outdoors.
Perhaps the power companies should consider lobbying action against such restrictions, which force conservation-minded people to waste power even though they might prefer to dry their clothes in the fresh air and sunshine. A scented dryer sheet is a poor substitute for the smell of sheets dried in the Texas wind and sunshine.
Sara Smith, Navasota Valley Electric Cooperative
Longhorns Up Close
I always thought longhorns were longhorns until I visited the Land Heritage Institute in South San Antonio. The Oppelts are saving a living land museum on 1,200 acres of open space along the banks of the Medina River that was once slated to become the Applewhite Reservoir. They have re-established a herd of longhorn cattle on the site, providing visitors an opportunity to view the cattle at close range. These purebred longhorns are registered with the Cattlemen’s Texas Longhorn Registry, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the authentic longhorn bloodline.
The Presnall and Watson families ranched the property from 1882 to 1991; part of the history of the Chisholm and Great Western Trails starts with this farmstead. This land was one of the many gathering points for longhorn cattle being driven across the Medina River at the Applewhite Crossing on the immediate west boundary of the Land Heritage Institute property, marking the beginnings of the Great Western and Chisholm Trails. While railroads and refrigeration have changed some aspects of cattle marketing, much of the herding and stock-handling traditions have continued to the present day.
Sherry Willome, Bandera Electric Cooperative