Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The National Pastime

Interstate 40 and State Highway 287 converge on the eastern side of Amarillo. I-40 runs nearly due east to Oklahoma City whereas Highway 287 angles southeasterly and is the major thoroughfare shuttling travelers from Amarillo and the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex.

These two roadways form a triangle as they head into town and sitting smack dab in the middle of that triangle is a large multistory grain elevator. At least it was built and formerly uses as a grain elevator. These days the structure serves as a sex shop/peepshow. Actually I think the adjacent building is the sex shop but sitting atop the tall grain elevators is three large and bright red X's.

XXX

I'm not sure what it says about our fair city that one of the first and most distinct sights a traveler coming in from either of those busy roads are those three gigantic x's.

Like most things you have seen over and over again the XXX sign is not something I even notice anymore. A guy I work with lives near the place and has in the past bragged about how many tokens he finds by riding his bike over to the joint. The tokens are used to play movies all in the privacy of your own little booth. My coworker claims men frequent the place and then fearful of their wives/girlfriends discovering their unspent tokens toss them out the window on the road leading away. Ever resourceful this coworker rides along picking up these tokens enabling him to have his "fun" on some other schmuck's dime. Yeah, I do work with some strange people, but back to the story at ... err ... hand.

However the other night, my family and I were returning home after out quick 1000 mile round trip jaunt to fetch my oldest son from camp down near Tyler, TX. The oldest was out peacefully dozing away but my seven year old was still going strong. Thus the following conversation.

"Dad, what is that baseball place over there with all the lights."
I looked to see where he was pointing. The sex shop was lit up like the Vegas strip what with the glowing red x's and the plethora of halogen lights illuminating the parking lot.
"That's not a baseball place," I said.
"Then how come they have those x's for strikeouts?"

I couldn't help but laugh as I said, "Well it is a place where men go who strikeout, but that doesn't mean they're playing with baseballs." I resisted the urge to add, However they might be getting their bat polished.

Kind of gives new meaning to the words swing batter swing. Don't you think?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Double Quacker - A My Town Monday Post

This being Monday and all it is once again time for My Town Monday. Clare Toohey AKA Clare2E, of the world renowned Women of Mystery blog hosts the 4th Monday of each month so if you have a post about your current, former, or heck even future place of residence let her know and she'll get you linked. The Women of Mystery can be found here, and the official My Town Monday Blog is here.


Yeah I'm cheating and offering up a repeat from several years back, but in my defense I drove all day Friday and Saturday and I spent most of the day Sunday picking, pitting, and otherwise prepping cherries to assist my friends in their annual making of both cherry wine and cherry liquor.


Duck You, Cowboy! My Town Monday

Put on your boots. For this week's edition of My Town Monday, we're stepping back in time to the Old West.


As Design Goddess pointed out in the comments of last weeks, My Town Monday, Amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow, so named for the bright yellow wildflowers that grew along a natural creek and lake that ran along the original town site. Ah-mah-REE-yoh is the correct Spanish pronunciation, but around here it is pronounced Am-ah-RILL-oh, or Am-ah-RILL-uh.


But Amarillo wasn't the original town name. Oneida was, and even though today, Amarillo is the largest city and economic center of the Texas Panhandle, Western New Mexico, Oklahoma Panhandle, and Southwestern Kansas, that wasn't always the case.


The original town wasn't even staked out until the Spring of 1887. Soon after, the railroad chose a path through Amarillo and the town quickly became a major cattle shipping center and started an agriculture economy which is still strong to this day.


But before that, Tascosa was the bustling community in these parts. Tascosa was a rough and tumble town and along with Dodge City, Kansas the site of a famous "Boot Hill" cemetery. So named, because most of it's perpetual residents were men who died violent deaths with their boots on. And the story behind Tascosa's first boothill resident (planted sometime in 1880) is quite interesting.



Sheriff Cape Willingham was inside The Equity Bar, just one of Tascosa's drinking establishments when he heard a woman scream. Women were few and far between in town, and reputable gals even scarcer, so when he rushed out to find one of the virtuous shouting something about a duck, he sought to straighten out the chaos.


"He shot my duck!" The woman screamed and pointed first at the headless duck at her feet, and then at a man across the dirt street.


The sheriff looked over at the accused, Fred Leigh. The man was the foreman of a the nearby LS Ranch, but he was also a known drunkard who'd been warned before about carrying a firearm while in town.


The lawman calmed the woman by telling her he'd make sure the man paid restitution, and armed with a sawed-off double barrel shotgun approached the shooter.

"Fred, did you shoot that woman's duck?"
The cowboy spit into the dusty street. "Not until it spooked my horse."
"You'll be paying the woman fair market price."
"Hell if I will. I ain't paying for no duck."
"I'm the sheriff and I --"


In that instant Fred reached for his six shooter and the sheriff unleashed two barrels worth of buckshot straight into the cowboy's torso. Tumbling out of the saddle Fred hit the dirt dead as ... well, dead as a duck.

So Fred Leigh became the first grave in Tascosa's boot hill, and he gave his life because a duck had frightened his horse.


By 1930, a flood and the lack of rail service had left Tascosa a ghost town, but the place was later resurrected as a refuge for troubled boys. Cal Farley's Boys Ranch still inhabits the original site of Tascosa and has provided care for thousands of young men and women, and if you listen carefully, on a still quiet night ...

You just might hear the faint whispering of a duck quacking and a cowboy cursing.



I'd love to learn something interesting about your slice of the global pie, so please consider joining in this week or any other Monday.

Quack, quack.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tidbits.

How about some random craziness from my brain. Some of these first appeared on my twitter and/or Facebook updates.

****************

I applaud Wal-Mart for the truth in naming their clothes brand, Faded Glory. Not current glory, or future glory but faded glory. Though I guess totally honest would be more like ... Never Had Any Glory In The First Place. Than again that's would be tough to fit on a shirt tag.

***************

I received an email from Barnes and Noble that read, enjoy 25% off on "the biggest authors around." Got excited they were promoting me until I discovered they meant biggest sales numbers not biggest girth.



*******************
What the world needs most is a 2nd coming of Hemingway.

*******************

Life experience tells me chickens are quicker than ducks. So why do we not say, "Like a chicken on a junebug?"


******************
Some claim beer makes you fat, but it truth it makes you lean. Right now I'm leaning on the counter.

******************

I'm open minded to body piercing, but for the record, when I see something dangling from your nostril. My 1st thought is it's snot.

****************
Concocted is a underused word. Why make something up, when you can concoct it?

****************

Next time somebody ends a statement to me with ... "'cause that's how I roll," I'm gonna push them down a hill and see how they really roll.

*****************

June Playboy is going to be 3D. 1 critic reports centerfold is fuzzy at 1st glance. I think perhaps that critic needs to look a bit higher up?



Follow me on twitter, as well as facebook.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cole Slaw

While at Cub Scout camp with my youngest son I finally discovered a good use for green veggies.

video

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

But She Started It

I was home alone. Along came a knock on the door.

In somewhat of a daze, I shuffled down the hall an swung open the door.

Blinking in awe I stared out at the famous author.

She smiled. "Hello, I'm Harper Lee."
Nodding I replied with, "I know."
"I hear you too are a writer," she said.
"Trying to be," I answered.

The smile faded from her face only to be replaced by a scowl. "Ten years you've been hacking away now," she said. "You must realize that you would have already published a novel by now if that is what you really wanted to."

I met her icy stare and said, "Yeah, well what the hell do you know? You've only published one, and rumor has it somebody else wrote it for you."

"You don't know a damn thing about me or my book, you wet behind the ears wanna be. You couldn't identify real literature of it came pouring out your ... "


Right about then I woke up ... and immediately thought, what the hell.

I've long been an avid dreamer than remembers most if not all of the details the next morning, but this dream was a first. My nocturnal illusion are not usually filled with literary icons calling me out on the carpet and should I ever get the opportunity to meat the fable Miss Lee I certainly would not chastise her with that persistent rumor that Truman Capote actually penned To Kill A Mockingbird.

So I know I ask y'all two questions. Have you had any strange dreams of late and two, what is your dream interpretation of my encounter with the elusive Miss Lee?

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Meaty My Town Monday

Seventy miles south of Amarillo lies the town of Plainview , Texas. The name is an apt description of the town. Nevertheless, one of Plainview's natives sons passed on this last week.


Known first for his music, and later for his meat let's pay homage by listening to his most popular tune.







And for breakfast you can pay tribute with a nice plate of this.




There is not many men I'd dare say this about, but good bye Jimmy, I'll miss you for your meat.



Jimmy Ray
Dean (August 10, 1928 – June 13, 2010




For more My Town Monday posts please visit either Barrie's Summy's blog or the My Town Monday site.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Faithful Friday - In The Beginning

A month or so back I mentioned I was in the midst of taking RCIA classes on my journey to become a full blown, communion receiving Catholic. I promised then to tell y'all a bit about my faith journey from a reluctant baptist -- to an anti-organized religion non-believer-- to my current leap of faith.

I've struggled to fight a launching point without trivializing both my anger of old and my new found or at least newly rediscovered beliefs. This post in particular will no doubt come across as silly but I have decided to go back and talk about the very roots of my distrust of churches.

This may come as a surprise to y'all but I was a fairly pampered kid. I didn't mean pampered as in my parents bought me everything I wanted. That certainly was not the case as were in now way an affluent family. I was raised by my mom in a single parent environment. Even before my mom and dad divorced he was never around. He was a hardware salesman who worked out of Albuquerque some 200 odd miles west of Amarillo. I can't even say for sure when my parents actually divorced. That's how little of an impact on my everyday life the event had.

Nonetheless I have very little to complain about my childhood. My mom worked so more often as not I stayed with my great grandmother. Granny Bartlett, as I called her, catered to my whims to the point that she would send my great grandfather to the store every morning to buy whatever I wanted for breakfast, and lunch. Toasted coconut marshmallows? Yep, if that's what I wanted, that's what she fed me. And they were among my faves. Grandad Bartlett was an ice cream man. he drove an old International truck and spent his spring and summer time afternoons driving around the neighborhoods in north Amarillo providing cool refreshments to the throng of children. And I sampled freely from his wares.

Granny Bartlett was a religious woman and my earliest recollection of church and the bible is of her reading the good book and quoting scripture. She was a Baptist but had originally been Methodist back in her hometown of Bethany, Missouri. I of course loved my Granny Bartlett with all my heart.

But my mom became worried that I was too dependant on my Granny. She felt I needed exposure to other kids and more of a school environment to prepare me for Kindergarten.

So she decided to enroll me in a nearby Methodist pre-school.

I didn't want to go. I cried when she dropped me off, but then again I cried when she left me anywhere other than Granny Bartlett's.

I eventually blubbering but still I wasn't happy. The other kids happily sang along to Jesus Loves Me This I know while I silently brooded. I remember begrudgingly playing Hokey Pokey, but it is lunch that scarred me for life.

I was a tremendously skinny kid. A poor eater to say the least. And the gruel they served up wasn't about change that. Yeah, I know peas and mash potatoes is not what most of you would call gruel. But even at that age I was a meat and brown gravy carnivore. Well that and toasted coconut marshmallows.

I refused to eat. One of the teachers, I for years described her as a Nun, became angry at my refusal to consume the peas and mashed potatoes. Long story short, this woman enlisted help to hold me down in the chair and force the food into my mouth.

To this day my mom will steadfastly say this never happened. She will point to the fact there are no nuns in the Methodist church as her proof. She is right about the nuns. I'll admit that much. But I was only a kids. Four years old at best. I'd never been to a Catholic Church so what the hell did I know about nuns?

However, I was old enough to know when someone was force feeding me mash potatoes. I can still close my eyes and feel that woman's rough handling of my head and jaw. I DID NOT IMAGINE THAT.

Is it trivial? But a small, brief moment in time? An event that probably has next to no impact on who I am today?

Yes.

But, that was the first time I realized the world was not all rainbows and unicorns. And the fact it happened within the walls of a church may or may not have shaped my resentment of organized religion. But it did instill one thing, deep into my subconsciousness. People do bad, even in the name of kindness.

My mom, never believed me, but let the record show she never took me back to that place. She tried a few others over the years, but in the end I always came back to my Granny's Bartlett's.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maybe They'll Find A Cure

I have my share of phobias and fears ... caves, vegetarian ideals, rum shortages. But here lately I have come to fear my own future. I continually see signs pointing to my becoming an old fogie, a grouchy old man all to eager to shout "HEY, you kids stay off my lawn!"

I fear becoming such a man. Yet my ability to resist this fogie-ism is eroding faster than the price of British Petroleum stock.

I suppose y'all want examples.

Music --- I still love a good tune, but sometime in the last few years I decided it was more trouble to keep up that it was worth. Justin Bieber? Never say Never may sound like good advice, but I'll never understand why anyone wants that much damn hair hanging in their eyes. And other acts everyone is all GAGA over? At least Boy George was up front with his cross dressing when he posed as a LADY.

Tattoos --- I used to think I'd get one whenever I finally published my first novel, but most likely that will never happen. (The tattoo that is, I'm too damn stubborn to give up on my dreams of being a novelist.) I now wonder what the hell the purpose of a tattoo even is. If it's simply to shock my fellow man or to make people look at me, I might as well walk around with my pants unzipped. The boys could probably use some air and it would be just as easy to get angry and yell quit staring I am not a freak for that as it would to pay loads of money and get repeatedly stabbed by a needle. And if it's to artistically showcase the things that mean the most to me then I fear most would misinterpret my ink. Just this weekend I encountered a man with a fairy tattooed on his right calf and I feel certain that tatt meant something different to him than it did to me. Like wise with the dude at the pool that had a tramp stamp. I simply do not understand why any man would want the Dallas Cowboy Star permanently etched just above the crack of his ass.

Oh there are other signs ... I can't walk across my lawn anymore without bending to pull at least a weed or two. Only a few weeks back I called the city to complain about the perpetual garage sale down the street from my house. And perhaps the biggest sign that fogie-ism is present in my soul ... More than once I've started to write an editorial in response to an article in my local newspaper.

God help the future kids of my neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Get Hooked

Father's Day is almost upon us and I know we fellas are not always the easiest to buy for, so in the spirit of promoting both literacy and hilarity I'd like to make a recommendation on a great gift for the man in your life.



Reel LIVIN' by Warren McClenagan

Yes, the book is about fishing, but even if you've never drowned a single worm in your life this book will make you laugh. Angling, fly fishing in particular is the backdrop for the stories, but at it's heart this collection of stories is about father's and son's, men and their childlike obsession of their pastimes, and of course the pitfalls of pursuing those obsessions.

The humor contained in the pages will appeal to anyone who reads and enjoys this blogs. Here are a few excerpts to prove my point.

The tent is indeed quite portable…the first time you use
it. But only blind optimism can explain the naïveté that led us to
overlook the mystery of how 50 square yards of fabric, 90 feet of
tubing, and half a dozen 8-inch stakes could be compressed into
such a small sack. Some crafty combination of vacuum packing and
shrink-wrapping must be at work. The result is that the tent is not
easily dislodged from its nylon cocoon, and, once out, can never be
completely stuffed back in.

This fact dawned rudely upon me years ago as I watched my
dad dance spastically about a gravel tent pad, cursing like a well-seasoned
sailor, and failing to dislodge even one piece of his new
tent from the iron clutches of its bag. This happened as we were
setting up camp on the shores of Taylor Lake, near the headwaters
of the Gunnison River during the first “You Bear! Shoo! Fall Fishing
Extravaganza,” as our annual trips came to be known. It should be
noted that the term “extravaganza,” is a reference to the production
that went into our effort, not necessarily the result. If we gave our
experiences a subtitle, it might be, “The 10 Most Beautiful Places
to Lose Your Temper,” as this was but the first of many valuable,
if not altogether pleasant, lessons we would learn during our yearly
adventures in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado
over the next several years.

Dad finally erupted in anger and performed a Caesarean on
the tent bag. The dance and accompanying stream of cursing became
known as the “Son-of-a-Bitch Shuffle” and was regularly employed
in a wide variety of situations at the McClenagan camp thereafter.
Dad was quite pleased when, with a little effort, we were able
to jam the tent back into the sack, and, by his expression, I knew he
was about to rub it in my face. It fell to me, at that moment, to point
out the pile of aluminum pipes lying behind him. I noticed that my
name was sprinkled throughout the lyrics of the subsequent SOB
shuffle. After he caught his breath, we began trying to work each
joint in one at a time. We managed to get the first two in by hand. On
the third, we had to use our stake mallet. The fourth ripped a gaping
hole in the side of the bag. By this time, the tent and its sack were
no longer inanimate objects to Dad, but evil entities who must be
beaten into submission—creatures from the dark side. I took cover
beneath a concrete picnic table as he donated the tent, piece by piece,
to the wilderness around us, in a ceremony of unbridled emotion and
intensity that did not end until the last mangled length of aluminum
tubing sank peacefully beneath the surface of the lake.

***************************

To make matters worse, I noticed that Dad was already
showing signs of the early stages of “raw ass.” This is a debilitating
condition that results from some kind of chemical reaction between
the aluminum seat of a boat and the cotton underpants of the
fisherman. Apparently, these two otherwise stable compounds, in
the presence of even a small amount of heat and sweat, combine to
form some kind of some kind of corrosive irritant. It begins with
a tingling sensation in the buttocks, and quickly progresses to the
point where one’s underwear, which seemed soft and comfortable
just moments before, feels like 60-grit sandpaper. The natural reaction
is to scratch, which only serves to invigorate the blood supply to
the affected region, and catalyzes the reaction. Before long, it feels
as if your underwear is full of sand burs. Passing boaters should
remember that their time is coming, and are expected to look away
politely if they notice someone dipping his butt cheeks into the cool
waters for relief. This is the type of etiquette you will not see in
“Hints from Heloise.”

*******************************

To Dad’s credit, I should mention that he once purchased
mace as a safer, more camper-friendly means of protection. He was
quite proud of this high-tech addition to his arsenal, and insisted
on treating me to a demonstration. He began with an explanation
of how, according to an article he had read, one was to lay a fog of
pepper spray in the air between himself and the charging enemy, be
it a bear, or another disgruntled camper. He must have bought the
spray at the close of the previous season, because, when he backed
off and pressed the trigger, nothing more than a couple of drops
of the irritant dribbled out of the nozzle and down onto his hand.
Knowing that this was the kind of thing that really irritated Dad, I
tried to lighten the mood.

“Am I supposed to hold the bear down while you dribble that
into his eye?” I joked. He failed to see the humor in my response,
and, while winding up to bean me with the would-be dispenser,
slung a couple of drops into his eye. He added a few new moves and
some fresh lyrics to the SOB shuffle that day.


If your dad is a fisherman, a camper, an outdoorsman of any kind. Or simply a fan of hilarious, well-written true to life stories buy him this book for Father's Day. Heck buy it for yourself. It is a fast read that will have you laughing out loud and possibly even shedding a tear or two.

Make your dad happy now, by ordering your copy here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cator Camp

It is my week in the rotation to host My Town Monday. We'd love to read and learn something about your neck of the woods so write up a post and then let me know via a comment here or over at the official My Town Monday site.

This week's tale actually begins in Fintra, Ireland.Now Ireland is a fair piece away from Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle but this tale, like the man it is about takes a rather rambling route.September 2, 1852 -- That is the date one James Hamilton Cator was born in Fintra, Ireland. His father, Capt. John Bertie Cator was on duty at the time, serving as a British naval officer. Captain Bertie was a daring chap that distinguished himself in both the Chinese Opium Wars and in his attempts to find the polar expedition of Sir John Franklin.The Captain however wanted a safer life for his two oldest sons, James and Arthur J. L. (Bob), so had them trained in engineering and draftsmanship. But failing to find suitable and safe employment for his sons in the British Empire, the Captain sent James and Bob over to strike it rich by farming in Kansas.

The brothers, however, found farming to be different from the ways in England and were scorned by most Kansas frontiersmen. Soon they became enthusiastic over the buffalo-hide trade. Having had previous experience in hunting game, the Cators joined in this profitable business and killed 300 buffalo soon after purchasing new Sharps buffalo rifles. With their earnings they bought a wagon, mules, horses, and food. Between July 1 and September 1, 1873, the Cators killed nearly 7,000 buffalo and had in their employ seven skinners.

The Panic of 1873 caused the price of hides to temporarily drop, and even though the price eventually came back up the buffalo herds in and around Kansas grew thin so late in the fall the Cators followed Josiah Wright and John Wesley Mooar from Clay Center, Kansas, to the Texas Panhandle, where the animals were still abundant.

A severe snowstorm on Christmas Day 1873 caught the Cators' hunting party in a break along North Palo Duro Creek (in what is now Hansford County) huddling against an earthen wall.


This is a what that earthen wall looks like now. I snapped these shots back in early spring. You may have to double click to see them in all their glory.

Like I said these shots were taken back in early spring and some of the white stuff you see is a dusting of snow but a zoomed shot reveals that much of the white stuff are actually bleached out bones. Cattle or Buffalo? From Cator's days? Or some later use of the area as a dead pile I can't say? I wanted to slip down and investigate more but the barbed wire fence visible in the previous picture told me trespassers were not welcome. One thing is for certain I cannot manage surviving a cold windy winter in such a place. On the day i took these the temperature was in the low mid 20s and the wind was howling from the north at 30 or 40 mph and it didn't take long for this big hairy Texas to be appreciative of the heater in my truck. The brave souls who first settled this land were indeed a heart sort.

There the hunting party constructed a crude shelter of cottonwood pickets and buffalo hides and waited out the winter. The success that the Cators and Mooars enjoyed led to the establishment of the trading center at nearby Adobe Walls the following spring. (See my previous post about adobe walls) After Adobe Walls was abandoned, the Cators settled down to quiet lives at their Palo Duro Creek shelter. Never bothered by Indians they hunted buffalo until 1877, when decimation of the herds forced them into a new line of work.

With the arrival of free-range cattle outfits, the Cators decided to try ranching. In 1878 they bought 40 two-year-olds, 11 cows, and 10 heifers and drove them back to their dugout to range along North Palo Duro Creek. As this herd expanded, James Cator used a Diamond C brand, while Bob used a VP. That same year, the Cators erected a three-room picket house and founded a store calling it Zulu Stockade, because they considered their territory "as wild as the Zululand region of Africa." The house and store were erected a few miles southwest of the original Cator camp site where the above pictures were taken.

Bob established a freight line to Dodge City, hauling in orders for other settlers moving into the region. Buffalo hunters, soldiers, and ranchers traveling over the military road between forts Dodge and Bascom stopped at Zulu for supplies, and the first Hansford County post office was opened there in December 1880. Bob Cator as postmaster.

Letters from the Cator brothers to their family back in England prompted their sister Clara and younger brother Bert O. to join them in 1879. Accompanying them was Jennie Ludlow, who married Bob in 1882. Clara Cator and Jennie Ludlow-Cator were the first white women to settle in the Panhandle north of the Canadian River. They helped tend the store and added such refinements as gunnysack carpets and wall whitewash made from creekbed gypsum and crushed rocks.

James Cator returned to England in the fall of 1879 to recover from the ague, (a feverish condition somewhat like Malaria.) There he met Edith Land, daughter of a Hull physician, and promised to return and marry her later. That promise, however, was delayed when in January 1886, blizzards nearly wiped out the Cator herd. Disheartened, Bob and Jennie Cator sold their share of the business and cattle and moved to Oregon. As a result, James sent for his fiancée in the spring of 1887 to meet him at Dodge City, where their wedding was held. Arriving with Edith was her brother, Arthur Land. For his bride, the elder Cator had built a multiroom house from native stone, and there they raised a son and two daughters.

Business at the Cator Ranch picked up after the town of Hansford was platted in 1887. Clara and her husband Clayton McCrea, who taught the first school at Tascosa, took charge of the stockade. Another brother, Leslie Stewart Cator, immigrated from England, brought over his bride, Bessie Donelson, and stayed to put down roots in the Panhandle. After Hansford County was organized in 1889, James Cator was elected the first county judge and Arthur Land the first county treasurer; fewer than thirty ballots were cast. Bert Cator, who operated a lumber and grain firm in Hansford, served as a county commissioner. Later, from 1898 to 1900, Leslie Cator served as county judge.

After retiring from the bench in 1894, James Cator devoted himself to improving his cattle herds. He also promoted agriculture in the northern Panhandle and with Clate McCrea introduced alfalfa into the county. In 1907 Cator organized the county's first bank, which was moved from Hansford to Spearman with the building of the North Texas and Santa Fe Railway in 1917.

Zulu Stockade was abandoned in 1912, and after after World War I the McCreas moved to California. But James H. Cator lived in the rock house until his death on October 4, 1927. He was buried in the family cemetery near the now ghost town of Hansford. His widow continued to reside in the house until her death in 1950. Although the original Diamond C and VP brands were no longer used, Cator's heirs still operated the ranch on Palo Duro Creek up until the late 80's. Cator's "Big 50" Sharps rifle, with which he killed 16,000 buffalo in three years, is on display at the Historical Museum in nearby Canyon, Texas. The original Cator camp is approximately 70 miles north and slight east of Amarillo. It is shown in red on this map.


These days a feedlot sits just across the highway from the old camp site so it is possible that the next burger you eat came from a cow that spent it's final days staring a bit of history right in the eye.

Here is a list of this week's fellow My Town Mondayers. Please visit their towns and join us if you can.


Barrie Summy takes a look at San Diego' California's first public school.

Terrie Farley Moran slips off to the small village of Floral Park, New York.

Jim Winter gives us some history on the Cincinnati Reds.

Richard Levangie talks about New Brunswick and Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy, home of the world's highest tides, and a great deal more.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Friend of a Friend of a Friend of Mine

Here in the blogworld many of us share the same friends, so often blogging about a fellow blogger is nothing more than "preachin' to the choir." But there are times when I like to give shout outs to my buddies regardless of this fact. Especially my writer friends, because it is stupendously difficult for an author to get their name out and about. Unless of course it happens to be King, Grisham, Rowling, or they have nude pictures of Oprah and are not opposed to using them as blackmail.

Far as I know none of my writing buddies have so much as a grainy Polaroid of Oprah's nether regions therefore it's up to people like me to spread the word. So let me tell you about a couple.


Barrie Summy -- I first got to know Barrie when she began participating in My Town Monday's. That was before her first book I So Don't Do Mysteries came out. She has since released two more books in the middle grade series including the just out I So Don't Do Makeup. I've read Barrie's blog and books enough to know she has a great sense of humor, but a few weeks ago I had to pleasure of chatting with her via Skype as part of the literature club I led for 4th and 5th graders at a local Catholic School. Let me tell you, Barrie was every bit as personable there as she is on the page or computer screen. Go check her out and buys her books.









Stephen Parrish -- Stephen is ... well I could tell you, but then I'd blow his cover. Actually Stephen is many things. A hero, (he along with Erica Orloff organized and ran an online fundraiser for me and my family when our house burned down), a father, a friend, a writer (and a damn fine one at that), and one hell of a funny guy. It appears as if I'll get the chance to meet Stephen in November and I'm quite stoked about that. Oh yeah. Stephen's also one other thing. Old. Well at least older than me and this week he turns yet another year older. A gaggle of his blogging buddies are tossing a party over at the newly created blog called. Parrish the Thought. Come join us.









Yeah, their genres and intended audiences are vastly different, but both have the talent and voice to entertain me and I feel certain you'll like them too. So go visit these people and tell them I said hi.

Monday, June 7, 2010

MTM

Today was supposed to be the start of the new My Town Monday rotation, but blogger has been down so I'm not sure if Clair has been able to get on to post. I had planned a new MTM post myself but when blogger refused to cooperate yesterday evening I was forced to scrap those plans as I simply do not have the time this morning to write up a new post.

But this being, the first week of the newly revamped My Town Monday I feel obligated to post something. So here is the very first My Town Monday post I ever did. Originally posted in February of 08 I am tossing it back out here for two reasons. One I have lots of new readers that were not around I February of '08 and two it sort of explains MTM for any of y'all who would like to join the gang and blog about your town or area on the occasional Monday.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Town Monday - The Launch

Okay, it's Sunday, not Monday but this being the first week I thought I'd get a jump in order to see how many bloggers we can get on board.


Here's the deal for the foreseeable future I'm going to blog each and every Monday about my town -- Amarillo, Texas. And maybe even the surrounding area. I hope many of you will do the same. I know I am always curious about other people and places and I think this will be a good way for us all to learn about other cities, towns, states, and countries in an entertaining and personable way.


The way I see it the topics are endless. The history, famous citizens, the economy, the political climate, the human interest stories. I also would love to read why you chose to live there, or why you stay. The things you like and dislike about your community. The best places to eat, have a beer and why those establishments are your favorites. Make 'em funny, make 'em sad, make 'em up if you have to, but reveal what it is about your town that makes it unique.


And leave a comment telling me you've participated and I'll add a link to this post. I'm shooting for at least ten other bloggers to jump in this week so spread the word. My eventual goal is to have at least one blogger in each state and as many foreign countries as we can, but if you live in Timbuktu and some other blogger from Timbuktu is already on board, jump in anyway. We all view the world through different eyes and therefore our perspectives are different, so I'd love to hear them all.


Okay,I've rambled long enough about my plans now to the first installment.


There is not going to be any rhyme or reason to these posts. They will follow no chronological order or anything and while I considered starting with the history and story behind the settling of Amarillo I instead chose something much more recent.




Do you know this man?

Surely you do. Dr. Phil.

No he is not from Amarillo. Now I guess that there are a good many people out in the world besides Oprah who like this man. There has to be. After all, he has his own television show, best selling books and who knows what else. He is by all accounts a successful man.

And he grates on my last nerve.

Just the sound of his voice is enough to irk me. I'd rather eat an entire bowl of lettuce than listen to him spout advice and those who frequent my blog know that I'm a devout carnivore.

So it is with great shame that I confess, the world might not have ever heard of Dr. Phil if not for my fair city of Amarillo. Here is why ...

Sometime in the mid 90's Oprah had a show about the dangers of America's food supply. Upon hearing about Mad Cow disease she said something to the effect she would never eat beef again.

The next day cattle prices dropped and continues to spiral downward for a while. The Texas Cattle Feeders Association which is based here in Amarillo decided to sue Oprah for slandering the beef industry. (In the comments, Carol pointed out that it wasn't the Texas Cattle Feeders but a group put together by a local feedyard owner that filed suit. A quick bit of research says she is right while I was wrong. See I already learned something from this myself.) I doubt even they believed they'd win the lawsuit but at the very least they would get a very public trial to spread the word that beef is as safe or safer than any other food source. The trial was scheduled to take place here in Amarillo and for six weeks or so Oprah did her television show from here in town. It was during this time she first took up with Dr. Phil. He was her spiritual and psychological adviser for the trial. She credited his coaching and calming influence for helping her prevail and shortly after that he began appearing on her show.


As a side note, every once in a while you still see an old pickup truck with a bumper sticker popular from that time. OPRAH IS THE ONLY MAD COW IN TEXAS

But to be fair Oprah had a positive impact on the economy and she shed a very positive light on the town on her show. She even made a point to eat a steak or two while she was here.

Next week, I'll get into the history of Amarillo and reason it has turned out to be the economic capital of the area. Don't worry, my post won't be as dry as it sounds.

Come on gang. Tell me a story about your town. Or visit these bloggers to learn something about their neck of the woods.

These links are old, from the original week as well and therefore may not be all valid but I wanted to let y'all see how other's presented their town in case you wanted to join.


Wordvixen -- Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Pattinase -- Detroit, Michigan

Suv Mama -- Everywhere, almost. Go along for the ride as she heads for Washington.

Lana Gramlich -- Abita Springs, Louisiana

Merry Monteleone -- Cicero, Illinois

Polka Dot Witch -- Castleton-on Hudson, New York

Patti-O -- San Angelo, Texas -- Now we Texans have the rest of you outnumbered.

Carleen Brice -- Denver, Colorado

Sarai -- Kansas City, Kansas

Alex Keto -- West Berlin, Germany -- Read this post. Alex is a former journalsit who has mnay great posts ona variety of topics with Kenya nbeing the most common, but this guy constantly enlightens me.

Britta Coleman -- Fort Worth, Texas -- Three Texans! We are whooping the rest of y'all rather handily.


To participate this week please drop a line at the official My Town Monday blog.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Singing In The Rain

My least favorite type of blog post to read is one going on and on with excuses why said blogger has not posted in a few days, week's, months or years. They usually boil down to the fact said blogger has been busy, and the truth of the matter is we are all busy, as that is simply the way life is these days.

So guess what I'm going to do today? Yep. Blog about the fact I haven't blogged in nearly three weeks.

I could say I've been busy, but I've already established the fact I hate ... but I've been busy blog posts. Besides, what kind of third-rate writer would i be if I couldn't come up with a better adjective than busy?Therefore if I have to explain my three week blogworld absence with a single word I'm going to choose FLOODED.

The raindrops, metaphorically speaking, began to fall with a freelance assignment I picked up. I have been writing high school football team profiles for a regional magazine. It's a decent enough paying gig and it is a subject I like so the articles are in no way torture to create, but the more I write the more I get paid and getting paid to write is a good thing. The magazine profiles more than 200 teams and there are three of us writers so I have been working on them as fast as I can to make certain I get a nice check.

And wouldn't you know it, but my muse decided to grace me with her presence right smack in the middle of this freelance gig so I've been churning out chucks of The Feedstore Chronicles at record pace. Also in a fit of inspiration I had a vision how to make the beginning of the chronicles stronger so along with the nearly 20K new words I created with the football profiles and the chronicles I edited and revised another 25K words.

And the blog suffered.

Then the real raindrops fell. And fell. and fell. And fell some more.

5 inches of raindrops in less than two hours.

Soon that plethora of water formed a lake on my back porch. Then it began to seep through my back door.

Within fifteen minutes the water completely soaked the carpet. Jennifer and I made a mad dash to move the furniture out of the room. What we couldn't move we put tupperware bowl around the legs to keep from getting ruined. Making this all the more fun was the fact it was around 1 AM and the tornado sirens were going off.

The very next morning I ripped out 500 square feet of wet, soggy and ruined carpet and pad. Underneath I found this old commercial grade tile.
The tile proved easy to get up taking less than two hours. The mastic beneath not so easy. Some 25 hours of scraping scrubbing, sweating, and yes swearing, I know have a bare concrete floor which i plan to stain to look like natural stone in the very near future.


I find it ironic that I lived next to a creek for better than a decade and now once did I ever have an issue with flooding. Yeah that abode did burn to the ground, but it never flooded. So then i move to town, on a sort of hill no less and my entire living room floods. No It is not a flood that would impress Noah, Nashville, or New Orleans, but it was more water than I certainly wanted.

I had the fire and now the flood. I'll be sure and take pictures to post when the plague of locusts arrive.
Oh, but I haven't ran out of excuses yet.

Next, the family and I went on a little mini vacation to Colorado. I plan to blog about our mountain adventures in greater depth but for now I'll leave you with a shot from Garden of The Gods in Colorado Springs.