Opinions

Wed
12
Mar

Switchin' Flies

By Barney Nelson.
 
Don't be fooled by all those pink and white trees and little spurts of green here and there. It's not spring. It's not time to start planting stuff. The only reason stores start stocking all those tempting green garden plants this early is so they can sell twice or three times as many, depending on how many freezes are left. Don't be tempted! Wait! I was visiting friends the other day and admiring a big tree covered with white blossoms, bees humming. "What kind of tree is that?" I asked. They didn't know. It always froze, so they never saw any fruit. They weren't even sure it was a fruit tree. Sound familiar?
 

 

Thu
27
Feb

TEXAS WAS ELVIS' LAUNCHING PAD TO STARDOM

By Bartee Haile.
 
Eighty-eight thousand paying customers packed the Astrodome on Mar. 3, 1974 for Elvis Presley's two sold-out performances, his last at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. "He went off to Texas and came home famous," Elvis' mother marveled early in her son's fantastic career. The Lone Star State was not only his launching pad to stardom, but also where the King of Rock and Roll got his second wind. Elvis was fresh out of high school and just 19 years old, when he signed on as a regular with the "Louisiana Hayride," a popular country music radio program broadcast from Shreveport with loyal listeners in 13 southern states. Unlike the purists at the "Grand Ole Opry," who snubbed the newcomer after his one and only appearance, the "Hayride" warmly welcomed the white boy from Memphis who sang black rhythm and blues.
 
Thu
27
Feb

Switchin' Flies

By Barney Nelson.
 
Let's outlaw history. History always dwells on the worst…wars, murders, and mayhem. For every war there were millions of good deeds that were never recorded. That's the same way the media operates today…except The Dispatch. Anyway, history seems to be where all our problems come from. Just when we think things have gotten better, that we have forgiven and forgotten, or been forgiven and forgotten, someone brings up history.
 
Wed
19
Feb

Switchin' Flies

By Barney Nelson.
 
Leisure is overrated. I've come to that conclusion a few months into retirement. Noting is more boring than leisure. No wonder that those without meaningful work take drugs or get into trouble. It seems like too many of us think work is demeaning, modern slavery, and exploitative. Maybe sometimes it is, but not when chosen wisely. Taking a job, just to make money even if it's a pile of money, will be unfulfilling. But taking on a job as a "life's work" is the only way I know to really find happiness and self-respect. Although I probably view it through rose-colored glasses, I absolutely believe this is what the cowboy mystique is really about. It's got nothing to do with the costume. Nobody decides to take on a cowboy job (or ranching) in order to make money. It's like the old joke: if I had a million dollars, I'd just keep on ranching until it was all gone.
 
Wed
19
Feb

ZEB PIKE HAD NOTHING TO FEAR FROM SPANIARDS

By Bartee Haile.
 
Lt. Zebulon Pike spent another sleepless night on Feb. 25, 1807 worrying whether hostile Spanish troops might at any moment overrun his makeshift fort. Lewis and Clark were homeward bound from the Pacific Northwest in 1806, when 28 year old Zeb Pike embarked on his own inspection tour of the Southwest. His secret mission was to slip into New Mexico from the north, analyze the economic potential of the thriving colony and pinpoint the weak spots in the Spanish defenses. And he was to accomplish all without creating an international incident. Before the expedition even began, Spanish spies in St. Louis tipped off Santa Fe to the imminent intrusion. The royal governor sent hundreds of soldiers to intercept the trespassers, but a four-month canvass of the countryside failed to find any sign of Pike and his party.
 
Thu
13
Feb

HOUSTON FOUGHT HIS TOUGHEST BATTLE WITH THE BOTTLE

On Feb. 18, 1839, Sam Houston spoke at the first temperance meeting ever held in the Texas town named for him, but after lecturing loud and long on the evils of alcohol, he ducked out the back to avoid taking the customary pledge. The rally was actually the former president's idea. The previous afternoon he told Augustus Allen, co-founder of the Buffalo Bayou settlement, it was high time inhabitants of Houston heard from the dry side of the liquor debate. Allen agreed, although such a suggestion from the hard-drinking hero must have come as quite a shock.
 
Thu
13
Feb

Commentary

This has not been a good week for those of us who treasure the schools in Fort Davis. Backed into a corner by some poor school management in the previous decade, a new batch of selfish taxpayers and voters in Jeff Davis County who don't value public education and Fort Davis kids the way they should and a pitiful bunch of Texas legislators who have gutted public school funding under the guidance of the simpleton we've elected at least three times too many as governor, Fort Davis school trustees had no choice Monday but to do in two more programs vital to the education of our kids.
 
Wed
29
Jan

YOUNG HOWARD HUGHES GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

By Bartee Haile.
 
After two years of battling censors and teasing the public with a titillating ad campaign, Howard Hughes premiered his much-anticipated western "The Outlaw" at a San Francisco theater on Feb. 4, 1943. The Houston millionaire was barely 20 years old, when he went to Hollywood in 1925 to make a name for himself in motion pictures. Advised by his father to trust an old family friend, the novice invested $40,000 in a movie that never sold a ticket. Actor Ralph Graves assured young Howard that "Swell Hogan," a dull tale about a heart-of-gold derelict, would knock 'em in the aisles. But the bad script was even worse on celluloid, and Hughes hid the only print to keep the fiasco from ever being shown.
 
Wed
29
Jan

Switchin' Flies

By Barney Nelson.
 
I'm a global warming skeptic - not because I'm uneducated, but because I'm a West Texan. Out of 365 days a year, how often are weather predictions for just our next 24 hours wrong? Our 10-day forecasts are revised constantly. Often what is supposed to maybe, possibly happen in just the next hour - doesn't. Conversely, what isn't supposed to - does! Take rain for instance. I love a 20% forecast because we often get those. When the odds go up to 80% - no rain.
 
Thu
23
Jan

Switchin' Flies

By Barney Nelson.
 
I suppose someday I should address the photo that mysteriously began showing up beside this column. I used to look like that. Really. However, I do want those who know me to know that I did not provide the picture nor suggest it. It was all this crazy newspaper editor's idea. I have no idea where he found it. I'm not complaining though. I guess this column is often based on memories and the picture brings a lot of them back. First off, I've always been cursed or blessed with thick hair, so keeping a hat on was a challenge. It is pretty much the badge of a guntzel to lose one's hat, so I worked hard at keeping it on my head no matter what happened.
 

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