Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco

Wednesday, Nov. 25th - Sunday, December 6th

We had a wonderful potluck Thanksgiving dinner at the campground at Lake Whitney.  It rained quite a bit over the weekend.  Saturday we drove over to the small town of Abbot where Willie Nelson and his sister grew up with their grandparents.  We drove by Carl's Corner of Willie Nelson Farm Aid fame and stopped in Hillsboro to do a little shopping.  We had lunch at Braum's Ice Cream store, very good, and picked up some kolaches at a Czech bakery.  Monday we headed into Dallas to check out Junior's Museum and Library, George W. that is.  It is on 15 acres of the Southern Methodist Campus in the suburb of Highland Park.   

Above us and all around us when we entered the foyer was a very cool changing video screen with scenes and all sorts of people from everywhere across the country.

Washington Monument across the Capitol Mall.

All the presidents faces which faded into a solid screen of faces of all types of people.  Did you know that over half the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast?

Then the military came marching in, all branches fading in and out.  Then people from all different walks of life.  Then Christmas scenes.  Really very cool.

Now down to the important stuff.  There was W's baseball collection, because Laura didn't want it in her dining room.  President Bush is the first former Little Leaguer to be elected.  In the spring of 2001 he started a new White House tradition, inviting children from around the country to participate in annual tee ball games on the South Lawn.

There were several of the First Lady's dresses on display.  Mrs. Bush traveled to over 75 countries and all 50 states for issues such as women's rights, illiteracy, breast cancer and heart disease.

And, of course, the new set of china they ordered for state dinners. because you just can't use the same old stuff the Clinton's had or George Sr. or Reagan or Kennedy or Lincoln or Washington or any of the others.  I wonder how many sets of several hundred place settings there actually are and where they store them all.

Then there's all the gifts they received from heads of state all over the world.  All kinds of fancy, ornate jewelry, boxes, sculptures, etc.  But this lion was my favorite, given to them by President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania on their trip to Africa in 2008.

Then we get to the serious stuff.  This room was all about 911.  They had one video screen for each of the planes that crashed and showing things in time sequence of how they happened.   Then there was the Decision Room where you could sit down at computer screens and watch events unfolding and see what information was available and decide how you would have reacted.  They also have the pistol that was captured with Saddam Hussein in 2003.

I thought this was interesting.  In 1950 there were only 22 democracies in the world.

In 2008 there were 121 democracies.  The spread of democracy after WWII was one of the most remarkable changes of  the past century.

The special exhibit room was based on the 2003 White House Christmas and the theme was story books.  This is a 155 pound gingerbread White House.  The 18-foot Christmas tree in the Blue Room was decorated with 60 story book character ornaments first used by Barbara Bush in 1989.  The presents under the tree were story books.   There were 19 trees in the White House in 2003.  The main one in the Blue Room is always 18 to 18 and 1/2 feet tall to reach the ceiling, as the chandelier is removed and it is powered by a cord from the chandelier opening in the ceiling.

There were lots of scenes like this one of Alice in Wonderland, including Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, The Cat in the Hat, etc.

When we left we drove around SMU campus.   This was their Art Museum and this piece out front was moving like a continuous wave.  Very cool.  Then we stopped at a little German place nearby called Kuby's Sausage House for supper.  It was a little restaurant and deli market with all kinds of the best wurst.  John had three kinds with hot potato salad, sauerkraut and purple cabbage.  I had two kinds with kraut and cabbage.  Yummy!  Karl Kuby says the family started in the sausage business in 1728.  They sell two tons of sausage weekly and you will hear German speaking customers at the deli on the weekends.  On Tuesday we drove to Buda, near Austin, to visit John's cousin Connie and hubby Daryl.  Thanks for the pecans and the deer sticks.  Both yummy!  Nice to see you guys.

Wednesday we drove to Fort Worth to see the Stockyard Historic District.  This landmark gateway spanning Exchange Avenue was completed in 1910.  The columns are 22 feet high and 13 feet around.  The sign is 36 feet long and 4 feet high.

 This is the Livestock Exchange Building.  They were giving carriage rides and they had a long horn on each corner of the block with a saddle and steps up to it, if you wanted to sit on it and have your picture taken for a price.

Lots of folks of all ages were giving it a try.

I settled for my 8 second ride on Mossy Oak Mudslinger.  He was a wild one.  Hee Haw!

They have a little museum in the exchange building.  Modern 1924 Hot Point Electric Range.  Aren't you glad we don't have to cook on this girls?  John would say I never cook anyway, so what's the difference.

Check out this chair and children's rocker made with cow horns.  Cattle branding was used by the pharaohs of Egypt.  It later spread to Europe and was introduced to America by the Spanish Conquistadors as early as 1530.

Then we walked out back to imagine what it must have been like in the heyday when they had thousands of cattle going through here everyday.  People came from all over the world to work at the Armour and Swift packing plants here.  As many as 100,000 head of cattle were traded weekly during peak seasons.  They had over 2,600 cattle pens.  1.6 million head of cattle and calves sold in 1945 was their biggest year.  That doesn't count other livestock.  Hogs processed went from 150,527 in 1903 to over 1 million in 1917.  Sheep ranged from 100,000 to 400,000 per year from 1903 to the 1920s.  Hogs were over a million annually in 1943 and 44, while sheep were over 2 million annually in 1943 through 1946.  Community auctions began to overtake the stockyards in the 1960s and they trickled to a close in the 1980s.  By then they were selling them by video tape on TV.  From 1866 more than 10 million longhorns were driven to market in less than 20 years.  Fort Worth was also the main location for Buffalo hunters to deliver their goods.  It was estimated that at one time hides were piled 30 feet high and covered a full square mile.  Hell's Half Acre downtown offered saloons, gambling houses and other pleasures (owned and operated by some of Ft. Worth's finest citizens) for the buffalo hunters, railroad workers, gunfighters and outlaws.  

They have the world's only twice daily cattle drive down Exchange Avenue at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM.  About a dozen or so longhorns clomp down the cobblestone street and everyone lines up to take pictures.

Then we walked around the shopping alley for a bit.  These boots caught my eye.  They are just fancy rubber boots for mucking out the barn, I guess.

It's the thought that counts, right?

Oh, I'm sorry, did you say something honey?

As we walked about the streets there were lots and lots of stars like this one on their Texas Trail of Fame.  Some others were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Annie Oakley, Bat Masterson and Tonto (Jay Silverheels).

The wooden horse and mule barns here were destroyed by fire in March 1911 on opening day of the Feeders and Breeders Show (later called the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show).  Teddy Roosevelt gave the opening address that day.  They were replaced with this concrete and steel building by the next year.  It was 540 feet by 350 feet with capacity for 3,000 animals, cost $300,000 and was among the finest stables in the world.  In 1914, with the outbreak of WWI, horses and mules were needed in great supply.  Agents were sent here in droves to buy stock, spending an estimated $11 million, the largest horse and mule market in the world.

In Mule Alley between the buildings is a statue of Quanah Parker, son of two cultures.  His Anglo mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was the daughter of a Texas Ranger and taken by the Comanche in a raid when she was 9 years old.  She was adopted by a Chief and lived with the Comanches for 25 years.  She married a chief and had three children.  She was discovered on a raid of an Indian camp trying to escape with her daughter.  She was captured by Rangers in 1860 and returned to her family against her will.  Her daughter died soon after.  She never assimilated to white society and tried to escape several times.  She lived with relatives until she died, never seeing her Indian family again.  Quanah became chief and refused to sign the 1867 treaty.  He led raids throughout Texas and Mexico for another 7 years.  Finally, wounded, following the harsh winter of 1874 he brought the remaining less than 100 members of his tribe to Ft. Sill in 1875.  He served as a liaison between his people and the B.I.A. encouraging them to take up ranching and farming and educate their children in government schools.  He prospered through his investments, built a home and traveled widely giving speeches and interviews and participating in wild west shows.  He visited the stockyards here often.  He assumed his mother's name after his final surrender.  In later years he moved his mother's remains to Oklahoma to rest with the Comanches.

Sign I spotted in a restaurant window as we were walking down the street looking for a place to have lunch.  Oh, yum!  I guess we'll pass.

The White Elephant Saloon in this picture was renamed "CD's Bar and Grill" for the CBS television series Walker Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris.  Fort Worth's most famous gunfight took place in front of the White Elephant Saloon on February 8, 1887.  It was then located downtown on Main Street in Hell's Half Acre.  Facing off were the saloon's owner Luke Short (gambler and gunfighter), a friend of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday, and T.I. "Longhair Jim" Courtwright, a well-known marksman, Deputy Fire Marshall and former City Marshall.  When the smoke and dust cleared Courtright lay dead.  His gun had jammed before he could fire a shot.  They buried him in Oakwood Cemetery near the stockyards.  Short sold the saloon, moved to Kansas and died in 1893.  He was returned and buried a stone's throw from Courtwright.  There has been a saloon on this sight since 1906.  This building was erected in 1931 to replace the one that burned down.  Song writer Sandy Pinkard once lived upstairs where she penned the Mel Tillis hit Coca Cola Cowboy.  Each year they reenact Fort Worth's last great shootout on this spot.

William "Bill" Pickett, bull dogger, originated the rodeo event known today as steer wrestling.  He had a unique style that made him world famous as a wild west show and rodeo performer.  He would leap from his horse, catch the steer by the horns, twist the animal's neck until he was able to reach over and sink his teeth into the steer's lip.  In 1971 he was the first black cowboy inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.  His statue is in front of the Cowboy Coliseum (1908) which hosts rodeos every Friday and Saturday night all year.  They also do two Pawnee Bill Wild West Show matinees on Saturdays.  In 1918 they held the first indoor rodeo here added to the 101 Ranch Wild West Show.  In 1988 it was renamed The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.  By 1995 it had become a 17-day multi-million dollar premier rodeo, equine, livestock and exhibition event drawing 800,000 people annually.

Walking down an alleyway, we came by a huge pair of spurs and the straps to hold them on.

We decided to pass on Booger Bob's Saloon with their famous Buffalo Butt Beer and headed for Billy Bob's Texas--The World's Largest Honky Tonk for lunch.

Picture of the world's largest belt buckle as we walked in the door.

Talk about making things big in Texas.  This place is 127,000 square feet and holds up to 6,000 people.  They have top name entertainment every weekend.

Look at the rows and rows of tables in front of the stage.  I am standing at the edge of the raised Texas size dance floor.  I think there were 7 or 8 huge bars with over 30 bar stations.  There is the Honky Tonk Kitchen where we ate and a Pizza Kitchen.  There's hallways of music memorabilia, a video arcade, a gift shop and they give dance lessons.

This is the pool playing area behind the dance floor.

This is the Guitar Bar, a smaller more intimate bar room, with all sorts of autographed guitars of famous singers like George Strait, Chris LeDoux, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, B.B. King, Dwight Yoakum, Vince Gill and lots more. 

And, of course, the is the arena where they have live bull riding every weekend.

Hand Prints of the Stars goes down several hallways with prints of people like Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, George Thorogood, Hootie and the Blowfish, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Chris LeDoux and many more.

I guess Ray and the boys had too many hand prints to fit them all on.

A special favorite of mine.

Well, how can you go boot scootin' without your boots?

Oh, Yeah!

Tex has all kinds of Texas stuff painted on him, oil rig on his rump, capitol on his shoulder and Willie in the middle.

Just a little window shopping on our way back to the car.

Thursday we went to Waco to the Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame.  In 1837 the Republic of Texas ordered a battalion of Rangers to occupy the Waco Indian village and they established the original Ft. Fisher.  It was their job to protect Texian colonies from Indian raids and incursions from across the border.  As the 19th century came to a close, their responsibilities changed from military protection to law enforcement.  

If you like guns, you'll like this place.  They've got all kinds of them here.

This is an interesting museum.

Some of them set out to wipe out all the riff raff however they saw fit and others rarely used their guns.  To Mexicans the Texas Rangers were known as Los Diablos Tejanos "the Devil Texans".  They believed the Texas Rangers to be a sort of semi-civilized, half-man, half-devil, with a slight mixture of lion and snapping turtle and had a more holy horror of them than of the evil saint himself.

Painting of how they ambushed Bonnie and Clyde.  There is a book about the Texas Ranger involved called I am Frank Hamer: The Real Story of Bonnie and Clyde.

One room is just filled with memorabilia from radio, TV shows and movies about Texas Rangers.  
"Hi Yo, Silver!"  The Lone Ranger and Tonto were the first and most popular radio and TV series about a Texas Ranger, starting on the radio in 1933 followed by  169 episodes on TV starting in 1949 and two feature length films.  

This is a 45 rpm record.  I guess this was a series.  I don't remember it.  The radio program became a TV series in 1955.  In the 1930s the Kellogg Company sponsored a radio show called Riding With the Texas Rangers.  They started a Junior Texas Ranger campaign with each kid receiving a badge and a commission.  In the early 1950s NBC did over 500 half hour episodes of Ranger Joe with his co-star Topaz.  There are actually Texas Ranger reenactment groups in places like Germany, England and the Ukraine.  They're still popular.  There's Walker, Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris and the Lonesome Dove mini-series in 1989 and another Tommy Lee Jones one just a few years ago, Man of the House.

They also have some very nice paintings and sculptures.  This one shows how they traveled after automobiles came into regular use.  They still needed their horses to chase the bad guys in remote areas, so they hauled them along.

Old cemetery just across the road from the Texas Ranger Museum and the Waco Visitor Center.  There were some graves there of some of the settlers who came with Stephen Austin's colonization of 300 families.  Surveying was practiced by Egyptians as early as 1400 B.C. for purposes of taxation.

Check this guy out.  He had 22 kids.

McLane Stadium at Baylor University just across the river behind the Texas Ranger Museum and Waco Visitor Center.

We stopped at the Dr. Pepper Museum, but didn't go through it.  What is Dr. Pepper and vanilla ice cream mixed together called?  A Frosty Pepper.  What would you get if you said "Shoot me a Waco"?  A Dr. Pepper.  In the early years everyone just called it a Waco because that's where it was invented.

A huge number of longhorn sculptures being herded toward the bridge.

Must have taken a while to get a big herd of cattle across here.  This is the Waco Suspension Bridge built over the Brazos River in 1866.   The bridge company was granted a 25 year charter so no other company could build a bridge or ferry within five miles.  Wagons, pedestrians and cattle herds were taken across the bridge and paid a toll.  In 1889 the bridge was sold to the county and it became a free bridge.

View of the Brazos from the bridge.  You can see how high the river is by the trees in the water and the bike path going under water.  They have had lots of rain down here.

We had to drive out and see where the David Koresh/Branch Davidian/FBI event took place outside Waco.

We ate supper at Buzzard Billy's just across the interstate from the museum and stadium.  John had the blackened seafood combo and I had the Cajun shrimp.  It was very good.

This was our view of the Brazos River as we ate.

Hill County Court House in Hillsboro.

Friday we were back in Dallas to see Dealey Plaza where JFK was shot and go through the museum.  The museum was very good with audio guides and every station numbered, so you moved right through in sequence and there were two videos.  The Old Red Court House in the picture is now a museum.

The motorcade was at the left corner of this picture when the fatal shots were fired from the second window down from the top on the far right side.  It was at the end of the motorcade, just as they were preparing to turn onto the interstate and head for the luncheon and speech and home.

Zooming in to see where the shot came from.

The ladies are standing in front of the plaque about JFK and there is a special memorial tribute to him about a block over from here.  Dealey Plaza has been known as "The Front Door of Dallas" since 1936 when the WPA built all the architectural structures around the park.  The site marks the birthplace of Dallas in 1839 when a Tennessee lawyer chose this high bluff and shallow ford on the Trinity River as a site for a trading post.  He platted a town and put in a ferry and donated 98 city lots for the courthouse and county seat.

The sign on the side of the building says Oswald "allegedly" shot Kennedy and someone has heavily scratched and underlined it for emphasis.

Johnson County Court House in Clerburne on our way home.

Saturday we were back in Fort Worth at the free Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

New England Landscape II by George Morrison 1967.  I really liked this one.  Then I thought, why couldn't I do this?  He just collected a bunch of old pieces of wood and put them together like a puzzle, right?  

The Empire State Building was completed in 1931 at 1,250 feet, the tallest skyscraper in the world for more than 40 years until New York City's World Trade Center Towers.  It was built in response to the city's 1916 zoning ordinance, the first comprehensive zoning law passed in the U.S.  This nearly 8 foot hollow replica is made entirely of cherry wood without use of nails or glue in an original stacking method of small interlocking pieces of wood.  Oral tradition says an iron worker on the building created this feat as a personal testament to his own part in the historic construction.

Maurino Auriti came to the U.S. from Italy around 1930.  He worked as an auto body mechanic, but architecture was his passion.  Over 3 years (ca. 1950) he made this model (scale 1:300) for an ambitious construction called Palazzo Encyclopedico.  Had it been built, it would have stood 136 stories or 2,322 feet and spread across 16 city blocks in Washington, D.C. , just slightly smaller than the Burj Kalifa skyscraper in Dubai.  The Burj was completed in 2009 and is the tallest man-made structure in the world at 2,716.5 feet.  In his highly technical 6-page statement of purpose he wrote: "This building is an entirely new concept in Museums designed to hold all the works of man in whatever field, discoveries made and those which may follow.....everything from the wheel to the satellite."  33 years after his death, this piece inspired the theme of the 55th Venice Bienale "The Encyclopedic Palace" curated by Massimiliano Gioni in 2014.  

Antebellum Kentucky quilts, until fairly recently, were typically attributed to the mistress of the household.  In fact many were made by slaves like this one.  This Whig Rose and Swag Border Quilt ca. 1850 was made on a Russellville, Kentucky Plantation known as "The Knob", home of Mr. and Mrs. Marmaduke Beckwith Morton.

Dividing the Ways 1947 by Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma Moses".  She was the third of 10 children, indentured at 12 to work on a neighboring farm where she met her husband and had 10 children with 5 surviving.  At age 75, 3 years after the death of her daughter, she began painting and became famous worldwide.

The special exhibit "That Day" was black and white photos by Laura Wilson (mother of Owen and Luke Wilson).   She has several books of portraits published.  Her pictures reflect the exhaustion, joy and pain of a moment in time.  Most of her subjects deal with the West's open space, aridity and hard-scrabble self-reliance.  I liked this one because it reminded me of how my granddaughters like to dress.  First Communion, Dallas, Texas 1988.  Mexican families have an expression that means "Throw the house out the window!", to justify the break-the-bank spending for their children's first communion.  Little girls 8 or 9 years old wear elaborate white dresses, signifying childhood purity, with white veils and tiaras.  Each child carries a candle to symbolize the light of Jesus, a rosary to pray to Mary and a small white bible to learn more about God.

Debutante Dress, Laredo, Texas 1994.  75 years ago the women of Webb County founded the Society of Martha Washington.  They continue to assert their Americanism with a lavish Colonial Pageant and Ball during a week long celebration of George Washington's birthday.  Young women wear dresses that can take over a year to make.  They are embellished with pearls, crystals, silk flowers, silver cord, gold sequins, tiers of taffeta ruffles and beaded lace.  They can cost $30,000 and weigh up to 100 pounds.  Their circumference is so great that they are hauled to the ball standing up and strapped to the floor of a semi-trailer like horses are hauled, 3 or 4 to a trailer.  These photos are 20 years old.  I wonder if they are still going all out like this.

The Tenderfoot by Charles Russell 1900.  He lived the life he painted.  His pictures often told an amusing story.  In 1884 he set up his first studio in the back of a saloon in Utica, Montana.  That just happens to be the tiny town where the reception for my uncle's funeral was held last spring.  It's way out in the boonies west of Lewistown and there can't be 50 people living there.  A 75th birthday party had been planned for my uncle in the old rustic bar there (looked like it could have been the original saloon), but he died the day before the party.  Since all preparations had been made and everyone was there for the funeral, they just went ahead and had the party, birthday cake and a free round of drinks for all on Uncle Tony as he had planned.  I think he would have liked it.

In Without Knocking by Charles Russell.  He and his fellow riders decided to enliven the atmosphere in Stanford, Montana by riding back into the saloon they had just been partying in.

The Right of the Road by Frederic S. Remington 1900.  He wrote one of his most successful novels in 1906, The Way of an Indian.  I didn't even know he was a writer.

Just across the street behind the trees, is another free museum, the Kimball Art Museum.  But it's too late to do another museum today.

So we drove downtown to General Worth Square to see the JFK tribute that marks the place and occasion of his last speech.  His Harvard thesis Why England Slept became a best-selling book.  In 1957 his second book, Profiles in Courage won the Pulitzer Prize for biographies.  Quote on the wall: "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."  JFK

The Tarrant Court House just a few blocks away.

Merry Christmas, You'All.

Quote of the Day

"Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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