Monday, November 13, 2017

The Mighty Mississippi

The Mississippi River is 2,320 miles long, the second longest river in the United States. Beginning in Minnesota, it winds its way through 10 states on the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Its name comes from a Native American word meaning “Father of Waters”.
A major commercial artery in the history of the United States, its importance to the South during the Civil War made the port at Vicksburg a prime military target for the North.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Standing in line for tomorrow and next year

Is it already that time already?


So what’s in the (writing) queue? 

·        At least one novel to be sent for editing--and
hopefully complete publication before the end of the year
·        Yearly revamp of website
·        Two book trailers
·        Participate in at least ONE StoryaDay event to acquire another nice folder of short stories
·        Consider NaNoWriMo for November after a long hiatus
·        Map out a couple of promotional campaigns

What’s in the (living) queue?

·        A trip to Washington (state) to see three adorable grandchildren
·        Another trip to my hometown for some picture-taking and research (Okay, so the reunion trip this year wasn’t the last after all!)
·        A combo trip to Branson and Eureka Springs, my two favorite places in the whole world!
·        One last trip to Denton, Texas, where I went to college…it’s a live place these days!
·        A few day trips and overnights around Arkansas

Will I end up at the head of the line?

Well, it won’t be from lack of trying!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What's on hold and why...

While I don’t like bitterly cold weather OR the ice that comes with it, I do like a good excuse to stay hunkered down at home doing all those little chores which somehow haven’t gotten done the rest of the year.

So what hasn’t gotten done?

·        An indie-pub book fresh from the editor which needs a cover, revision, and actual publication
·        Three boxes of genealogy files which are in desperate need of organization
·        At least three articles pending completion for submission
·        A stack of writing magazines to be read
·        A couple of novels waiting on my Kindle

Will it all get done?

·        Yes, of course!
·        Hopefully
·        Maybe
·        I’ll try.
·        There’s always next year…


Winter isn’t here yet, and I’m not toasting my toes by the fire. So, like the hapless Scarlet O’Hara, “tomorrow” is time enough to think about all of it!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The fun is in the planning...

I love traveling--but just as much fun is planning an itinerary and even the necessity of finding routes to and from unfamiliar places. 

Advance preparations

·        Decide where to go
·        Check online for tourist guide--usually order a paper copy
·        Decide what to see when I get there and prioritize same
·        Decide how long it will take to do everything I want to do
·        Target departure and return dates
·        Check websites of attractions for days/times when they’re open; jot down physical addresses and telephone numbers for future reference (This is especially important if you are traveling when there might be a holiday closure!)

Getting serious

·        Find hotels and make online reservations
·        Make reservations for/pre-pay tours and note exact times and starting points
·        Create day by day itinerary, including mileage if I’m not staying in one place, and make sure I’ve allowed enough time to get from one place to the next before dark, even stopping along the way
·        PRINT OUT all reservations, travel route directions--label as #1, #2, etc. and file in travel binder

A few practical points

·        Check weather and make packing list--is it parkas or capri pants?
·        Turn in mail hold and put house on security watch
·        Does your car need an oil change or a tire rotation? A full service checks everything and assures you of a trouble free trip.)
·        Update “in case of death” envelopes for sons--Hey, this isn’t morbid, folks; it’s love! Who wants to leave their kids with a mess? Been there done that, not inflicting it on my own kids!
·        Pack car (Hint: Do it in the garage with the door down. Don’t advertise your imminent departure.)
·        Get up early on morning of departure so as to have leisure time.
·        Make last minute rounds of house

·        Get in car with anticipation--put DL with insurance and registration in visor (if you get stopped, the officer will appreciate knowing where you are reaching with permission!)-- pray for safe trip--back out and drive away to your new adventure!

That travel binder I mentioned

Buy a cheap plastic tabbed folder and a plastic snap envelope at the Dollar Tree (they fit together nicely) and place into the folder
·        All confirmed reservations
·        All routes and mileage
·        Daily itineraries
·        Postcard stamps (The grandchildren love getting mail!)
·        Regular stamps just for good measure
·        Copies of all cards carried in wallet--front and back--You want to be able to cancel in a hurry if the unthinkable happens! Just because it never has doesn’t mean it won’t.
·        Double check to be sure everything’s there! When you’re out sightseeing, you can lock this folder inside your luggage for safekeeping if you have concerns.

When I’m planning and packing, I’m already enjoying my trip.

Some readers are saying, “I already knew all this,” but you’d be surprised how many people would like to travel and don’t know where to begin. So if you’re one of those, just remember--it’s easier than you think. Do the first thing--and then the next--and before you know it, you’re on your way!

Friday, November 3, 2017

'Mid the Shouts and Cheering of the Throng...Part 3

Just a thank-you note

Of course, I wrote to Mrs. McCollum thanking her for the letter. Then, when the story was published, I wrote again and enclosed a copy of that issue of the Campus Corral. For whatever reason, we began exchanging letters regularly.
Then one day my father told me Judge Keyes and his wife had suggested he bring me over some evening, because they had pictures of my unknown correspondent. I spent a delightful evening with them despite the fact the pictures couldn’t be found! However, Mrs. Keyes said that Mary Katheryne (Gill) McCollum had bright red hair.

And more information

About that time, the former pep leader had suggested I call her something less formal than “Mrs.”, but in those days, that wasn’t easy to do. She told me her nickname was ‘Kitty’--so when Mrs. Keyes brought up the red hair, I immediately thought of Gunsmoke’s “Miss Kitty”--and “Miss Kitty” she became--even though she didn’t have red hair after all!

The unexpected

A new school year--my senior year--rolled around, and as the months passed, graduation loomed large. A couple of nights before commencement, the phone rang, and a voice asked, “Is this Judy Moore?”
When I replied in the affirmative, she said, “That just can’t wait to graduate?”
I literally screamed, “Miss Kitty!” It turned out she had come early to a family wedding in order to attend graduation.
She came to supper before the exercises. From a brown paper bag, she pulled out her memories--a ragged copy of the paperbound “Scratches”, all the yearbook which could be afforded in 1933-34, and pictures of the pep leaders and the Rooting Regiment leaders. I remember being wide-eyed. Maybe I even cried a little.
Miss Kitty, Graduation Night, May 29, 1962

Over the years

Over the years, her letters followed me--college, Congo, wherever my husband I lived upon returning to the States--and when I’d come home to see my parents, she’d drive from Midland, where she’d moved, and spend a night or two just visiting.
In 1995, I was teaching in a small rural school district not far from Midland when I hung up from a call with her feeling very unsettled. A note from her husband explained everything: she’d been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was in hospice care.
So, I’d have dinner cooked and ready to pack up on Fridays when school let out, and I’d head for Midland. She really didn’t know who I was--just that I loved her--as I’d sit there feeding her. I found she’d eat better if I took a cassette recorder and played old songs from the 30s and 40s and sang to her. And, of course, a little bribery (jello and cool whip) helped, too!
“Now, Miss Kitty, don’t do that,” I’d say whenever she’d spit out a bite into my hand…and she’d swallow the next one. A meal took a long time…but it was a labor of love.
She died on June 22, 1995.
Later, her husband sent me the old Scratches and the two pictures. I’ve donated the fragile paper yearbook to the West Texas Collection for safe keeping, and the pictures will follow eventually. But for now I don’t want to let them go…especially the one of the pep leaders in their jaunty caps, posed proudly in front of the stands at the Old Bobcat Stadium…and in the middle, a small dark-haired, dark-eyed girl, clutching her megaphone and smiling.

I love you, Miss Kitty.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

'Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng...Part 2

The following feature story (with my byline) appeared in one of the year’s last issues of  our school newspaper, the Campus Corral:

A player in orange leaps high for the ball…he has it…he’s running…dodging…it’s over the line…it’s a touchdown! The stands go wild with cheering as the points flash magically onto the scoreboard.
Suddenly a hush falls over the crowd. Mr. Homer Anderson, director of the Bobcat Band, raises his baton; hundreds of loyal fans break into singing.
“On ye Bobcats!” they cry lustily. “Bust right through that line! Take the ball around the end, boys, you are doing fine! Rah! Rah! Rah! On ye Bobcats, on ye Bobcats, let’s have a touchdown! So fight, fellows, fight, fight, fight, and gain some ground!”
This has been the cry of loyal Bobcats for over a quarter of a century. Thirty-three years ago, in 1928, Mr. E.L. Nunnally, Sr., then principal of San Angelo High School, presented the student body with this pep song that he had written.
That same year brought the advent of a second song to the tune of “Bye, Bye Blackbird”. This was also written by Mr. Nunnally. His son, Mr. E.L. Nunnally, Jr., recalls the words went something like this:

Brace up, boys, and face your foe,
Hit ‘em high, hit ‘em low.
Rah, rah, Bobcats!
When somebody blocks your way,
Knock them out and win the fray.
Rah, rah, Bobcats!
Around 1931, the “Angelo Fight” appeared. The music was composed by Mr. Carl B. Stone, the predecessor to our present band director, and the late Mr. Harold W. Broome wrote the following words:
We’re going to fight, fight for Angelo.
We’re going to win where ‘ere we go.
We proudly show our loyal colors,
Carry high the Orange and Blue.
Come join our song while the team goes in.
Let’s tell the world they are out to win.
So Angelo fight, play with all your might,
For the Orange and the Blue.

In 1933, as the Depression was ending (my note: it wasn’t really ending, but times seemed better, apparently), the school spirit of SAHS was at its peak. In the fall of that year, pep leaders Anna Lee Spires, Mary Katheryne Gill, and Maxine Mayes decided that a new or official school song was a “must” for the high school. With the aid of Wanda Kimberlin, another student, they set out to find the right song.
One afternoon while going through a book of official college songs, the four girls hit upon a song which they agreed was “it”. With a few changes and substitutions suggested by Maxine Mayes, and the addition of the two lines from The Eyes of Texas, they pronounced the song ready for presentation to the student body.
Although the exact origination of the music has not been established, it seems to have been managed by the four girls with some aid from Mr. Carl B. Stone.
At an assembly on October 15, 1933, the four girls and the Rooting Regiment leaders presented the song with one or two alternates to the student body. A vote resulted in the selection of what is now the official school song.
‘Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng…
See Monday’s blog for the full text

The use of this song during the 1933 season was one of the “firsts” in football history of SAHS.  At that time, Mr. Harry Taylor and Mr. Edd B. Keyes, now Tom Green County judge, were the coaches. The team that year defeated Sweetwater to win the district championship and went on to the state semi-finals.
Mary Katheryne Gill, now Mrs. Joe McCollum of Denver City, Texas, tells it this way:

During 1933, we were still feeling the pinch of the Depression. The school furnished the pep squad girls’ skirts and sweaters, and how long they had been there, heaven only knows! Some were rather ‘moth-eaten’. The pep leaders (boys and girls) had to buy their own uniforms--or did at any rate. But a ‘livelier and truer-blue’ bunch of kids you couldn’t find any place! Our band was quite small--with no uniforms at all. From some place, a drum major’s hat and baton were acquired, and our drum major, Obie Grief, could ‘strut’ with the best of them.
The average team weight of the players was quite light, but they really had ‘the old team spirit’, and most of the students had the ‘school spirit’. With that combination and the team’s successes, I firmly believe that we caused the city folk to become more football-minded than they had ever been. True, there were good teams before and good teams since, but 1933 was ‘our year’--the year it all started.

Of course, I signed the paper with the obligatory encircled 30 which, in the world of journalism means The End.

But it wasn’t the end, not by a long shot. The writer of that wonderful letter became a special friend until the day she died…and I’ll tell you more about my “Miss Kitty” on Friday.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

'Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng...Part 1

Is this blog for you?

While this week’s blogs will be of most interest to a small group--the San Angelo Central High School Bobcats Class of ’62, anyone who likes a taste of investigative journalism or the tantalizing whiff of a mystery to be solved will enjoy these 55-year-old memories.

Going back a few years...

As a junior, I signed up for journalism taught by the incomparable Ed Cole--who often said he didn’t know if he was an old newspaperman teaching school on the side or an old teacher working as a newspaperman. Notably, he attended the football games on Friday nights and wrote his stories on a portable typewriter held on his lap as he sat in the press box above the stands!

However, whether he was a teacher or a journalist, he was a professional--a man who understood the importance of facts as the hallmark of a free press. I often think he would be spinning in his grave about now as our present-day media deteriorates into political activism and spins the truth to suit their own agenda.
But I digress.
In the course of his daily lessons, he often mentioned that no one seemed to know the origins of the school song which went like this:
‘Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng,
Alma mater, hear our song!
Let resounding echoes, voices raise,
Spreading forth thy name, thy praise.
Always loyal, faithful, ever true,
Thus we make our pledge to you,
And we’ll never fail
But we’ll always hail
SAH, hail to you, all hail!
All hail to thee, dear SAH,
Hail to the orange and the blue.
Thy sons and daughters love thee well,
Their faith and love will ne’er grow old.
Deep in our hearts, thy deeds, thy fame
And glorious victory shall remain…
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the livelong day…
Hail to you, dear SAH!

An irresistable challenge

Later in the year, while learning to write a “feature story”, I asked if I could take as my topic running down where the song came from. He basically told me to go for it. And I did, with a bulldogged determination that spanned many weeks past the deadline for turning in the story. As long as I reported progress to him regularly, he extended my deadline and put my grade on hold.
Teachers who’d been with the school for years and years, business people who’d been students, even the county judge who’d once been a teacher and coach…they all talked to me, made inquiries of others, talked to me again…and the hunt was on in earnest. Phone calls, letters, dead ends, disappointment…but then one day…


I dragged in from school one afternoon, and my mother sent me to my room to see what waited propped up on the dresser. It was a special delivery letter (some people don’t even know what that is anymore!) which I almost ignited with my eagerness to get it open.

Handwritten pages and pages later…well, tune in on Wednesday…