Posts Tagged ‘Dallas’

Tom Mix Memorial -- Photo by Pat Bean

“I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: ‘Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.’ I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have.” – Harry S. Truman

Cowboy Memorial

While driving a lonely stretch of Highway 79 in Arizona awhile back, I came upon this Tom Mix Memorial. Mix, just for all you youngsters out there who may never have heard the name, made over 325 movies between 1910 and 1935. All but nine of them silent films.

While this cowboy was a bit before even my time, I did see a few of his last movies when they played as Saturday matinees at the Lisbon Theater in Dallas. Looking at the memorial I could almost smell the popcorn and feel the rough-cushion of the seats in that old theater.

Landscape near where Tom Mix crashed his vehicle and died of a broken neck in 1940. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I wonder if it’s still there, on Lancaster Avenue in South Oak Cliff. I couldn’t find it on the Internet, but I did come across a site for Lisbon Elementary, which I attended in the first grade.

Mix died in 1940, very near this memorial, which it was evident had seen better days.

Traveling is a two-part journey. First there’s the joy of seeing new sights and learning new things, and then comes the connections that take one back to other times and other places.

It takes both things to satisfy my wanderlust.

Bean’s Pat: Things I love http://tinyurl.com/87gobqe I have Portuguese in my genes, but I would love this blog even if I didn’t.

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 “Shades of grey wherever I go. The more I find out the less that I know. Black and white is how it should be. But shades of grey are the colors I see.” Billy Joel

Of course the program was in black and white.

Stepping Back in Time

Remember the old riddle: What’s black and white and red all over? As I recall the answers included an embarrassed zebra and a newspaper.

But yesterday, the answer might have been a play performed at the Pegasus Theater in Richardson, Texas, which I attended with my daughter and son-in-law.

Using lighting and makeup, the play, “The Frequency of Death” by Kurt Kleinmann, was made to look as if it were an old black and white movie of the 1930s. It was delightfully creative with a corny script that had me frequently laughing or guffawing with delight.

Ben Bryant as Nigel Grouse, the smart assistant of the dumb detective. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The melodramatic murder mystery continues through Jan. 22, in the Eisemann Center in Richardson, and will be performed Jan. 26-29 in the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville. If you’re anyway near the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan area you might want to check it out.

The red, by the way, was the fiery and startling color of the dress worn by co-producer, Barbara Weinberger, when she came out at the end of the play to announce the winner of a T-shirt from among those who had correctly guessed who the murderer was during intermission.

I had guessed wrong. But that’s OK. So had my daughter and son-in-law.

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 “From wonder into wonder existence opens.” – Lao Tzu

Thanksgiving Square Chapel, Downtown Dallas -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of knowledge.” – Abraham Heschel

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” – Greek Proverb

Wondering is healthy. Broadens the mind. Opens you up to all sorts of stray thoughts and possibilities.” – Charles de Lint.

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 “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” — Mark Twain

Gypsy Lee among the cactus at Pancho Villa State Park near New Mexico's border with Mexico. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

The 114,500 miles I’ve put on my VW Vista RV, Gypsy Lee, the past seven years have been good ones. I bought her new in 2004 and she’s gotten me everywhere I’ve wanted to go, done it averaging 15 mpg of fuel, and never broken down on the road, well except for a blown tire.

Together – Gypsy Lee, my dog Maggie and I – have traveled from ocean to ocean and from the Mexican border up into Canada. In return for her faithful service, I’ve had her oil changed every 3,000 miles, bought her several new sets of tires, given her a complete tune-up at 65,000 miles, one new fuel filter, and one new set of brake pads. That’s It.

But now she’s in the shop getting a major, and expensive, facelift. This time when I had her checked out to make sure she was road ready, the VW technician – that’s what they call mechanics and grease monkeys these days – found some significant wear and tear. He pointed it out to me as I stood beneath her lifted body, which still looked pretty good he said.

Gypsy Lee got me to Canada so I would walk through a marsh in Point Pelee National Park in Ontario. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While a transmission service and new brake pads are the only things nearing an emergency breakdown, I opted to do all the work the technician recommended. The cost, while it hurts, is actually less than that of the new roof I put on my last home.

And Gypsy Lee is my home. Or she will be again when I get her back Monday. That’s my 72nd birthday by the way. And I can’t think of a better present than having my RV ready to hit the road again. Hopefully Gypsy Lee and Maggie will be up to the next 100,000 or so miles. I sure am.

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I remember sitting on these back steps eating praline candy my grandmother made from pecans I had picked up off the ground. I ate so much I got deathly sick and have never liked praline candy since. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.” — Cesare Pavese


When I was three years old, my grandfather died. My father took it as an invitation to move our family of three into my grandmother’s house. We stayed there for eight years, moving only after my grandmother died.

Those years weren’t a happy time in my life. My mother and grandmother did not get along; and my father was a good-timing Charlie who left the house early, came home late and almost always gambled his paycheck away.

My life was squeezed between the petty bickering of my mother and grandmother, and my mother’s shrill voice berating my father when he was home. My dad never fought back, and because of this I erroneously considered him the hero and my mother the villain of the family.

Into this chaos came two younger brothers demanding my mother’s attention, and making me feel even more unwanted and unloved. It was with great glee when I could put this past behind me, although of course, as we humans so often do, I created another kind of chaos for my own children.

Mostly dead now, this large tree in the neighbor's yard was an ideal one for climbing, and I spent many an hour nestled among its branches. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not sure why, but this time when I was visiting Dallas, I had a deep-seated urge to find the home of my youth, the one in which my grandmother taught me how to cook, the one where my mother sewed me a beautiful blue flowered dress from a flower sack, the one where I had a faithful canine companion named Blackie, and the one that had a large swing set in the backyard on which I played circus trapeze artist.

My oldest daughter drove, and together we found my grandmother’s house, where it still languishes, dilapidated and condemned, in the small Dallas suburb of Fruitdale.

Of course there are differences. There is no lush gardenia bush, whose fragrance still haunts me, beside the front door. Two houses now sit where my mother had attended a large vegetable garden. And houses now stood in the large cornfield across the street, from which I remember my dad sneaking into at night to bring home a few ears for supper.

I suddenly remembered how we all laughed, even my mother, as we ate old Miss Hallie’s corn slathered with homemade butter. Strange, I thought, what a difference 50 years had made in the memories that now seemed important.

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Dallas: Crossing through the middle of it in rush-hour traffic stimulates the brain cells. -- Dallas skyline photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ashes to ashes. Dust to rust. Oil those brains. Before they rust. — From A. Nonny Mouse Writes Again by J. Prelutsky

Working crossword puzzles and riding roller coasters are both supposed to be good for the brain. The first one stimulates the thinking muscles and the second one provides a quick shot of adrenalin to jolt the brain awake.

Even though it's essential to keep one's eyes on the road, one still can't help noticing Texas' famous bluebonnets growing wild alongside Dallas' many freeways. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I came up with another way to enrich those little gray cells yesterday. I drove my RV from my oldest daughter’s home in Rowlett to Irving to have lunch with my grandson. Irving, by the way, is the real home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The round-trip journey took me through the heart of downtown Dallas, beneath underpasses and overpasses stacked up to five lanes high, and across seven lanes of one-way traffic near where Interstate 30 and Interstate 35E meet up. I entered 35’s bumper-to-bumper traffic in the right lane and exited, just a few miles down the road, from the far left lane.

The trip had to have exercised and jolted my brain enough to erase at least the couple of years I aged on the cross-town journey.

Strangely, however, I don’t mind the occasional road trip like this. Such an experience lets me know I can still cope with the modern world. It also makes me appreciate all that much more the rural, little-traveled scenic byways I carefully select for most of my travels.

What gave my soul another delight this time was that the shoulders of the busy freeways were often alive with patches of bluebonnets.  They were the first I’ve seen this season.

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Worthy of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether want to or not.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Just for Today

Mother Nature has her secret treasures, even in big cities.

For example, I spent five years looking in prime birding habitat for a brown creeper, which although illusive isn’t rare. I finally found it just three blocks away from my oldest daughter’s Dallas suburb home.

The Dallas Metroplex is also full of small parks, like the one just off Miller Road in Rowlett, where there’s a small pond, and where I got my grandson, David, first interested in birding. As we started off on a trail that would lead us behind backyards to the edge of Lake Ray Hubbard, we came upon a red-shouldered hawk just as it caught a mouse.

Orange is such a cheerful color. Don't you agree? -- Photo by Pat Bean

Boys being boys, he found that quite exciting – actually so did I.

But purple makes the heart sing.

For a bit more of Mother Nature when I’m in the Dallas area, I escape to nearby Cedar Hill State Park, where I volunteered for a few months as campground host a couple of years back.

 It was here that I saw my first painted bunting and my first yellow-billed cuckoo – and watched as a rainy winter gave way to a colorful spring.

I thought this morning, which is going to turn into a busy day, might be the perfect opportunity to share a bit of the park’s color with you. Then I can go exploring with my daughter, Deborah, in search of more big city sights.

We’re celebrating her birthday a couple of days late by going out on the town. I’ll probably tell you all about it soon.

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The Texas Zephyr, left, and the Sam Houston Zephyr in Dallas in 1955. Photo from Portal to Texas History

 “Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows, while proudly rising o’er the azure realm in gallant trim the gilded vessel goes. Youth on the prow, and pleasure at the helm.” Thomas Gray


Zephyr is a wind from the west. It was also a train that blew past my grandmother’s home every day around noon.

I recalled it yesterday when I wrote about picking blackberries in an empty field on the outskirts of Dallas. Seems my journey into the past, much as my journey on the road today, is full of interesting detours.

While I never did get to ride a Zephyr, I did eventually ride on a train from Ogden, Utah, to Las Vegas through the Virgin River Gorge. Shown above is the Virgin River in Zion National Park before it enters the gorge. -- Photo by David Scarbrough

I always wanted to know where that silver bullet, as my grandmother called it, was going. Over half a century later, I finally know the answer – thanks to the ease of internet research.

There were more than one streamlined silver zephyrs operating out of Dallas. One, the Texas Zephyr, went between Dallas and Denver, stopping in Ogden, Utah, where I ended up living for 25 years. Ogden was a big railroad town, still is although today it’s mostly freight trains that pull through its Union Station terminal.

But it was here, some 30 years ago, that I boarded my first train – an Amtrak traveling from Ogden to Las Vegas through the awesome Virgin River Gorge between St. George, Utah, and Littlefield, Arizona. I’ve ridden a number of trains since, but I couldn’t have asked for a better initiation to riding the rails.

The second silver train operating out of Dallas, from 1936 to 1966, was the Sam Houston Zephyr that traveled back and forth daily between Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston. It was probably this train I watched for with my young impressionable eyes.

I suspect that speeding zephyr, as it roared past my grandmother’s home, might have nurtured my wanderlust as much as the travel adventure books I was addicted to reading as a child.

I was never cured of my travel-book reading addiction – and I also still get a little chill in my soul at the sound of a train whistle.

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 “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” — Lao Tzu


If I had turned right, as planned, I would have missed Chama, New Mexico, and a quick visit to this quaint art gallery. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie

 I drove my son-in-law to work in my daughter’s new SUV, which came equipped with a fancy GPS system. It was a 45-minute commute across Dallas in rush hour. To make sure I wouldn’t get lost on the return trip, my daughter programmed her GPS for me.

All well and good – until I foolishly fiddled with it halfway back home. The map screen went blank and I had no idea how to reset it – and definitely no idea where I was. Needless to say the trip home took a lot longer than 45 minutes.

That was my first and only experience with a GPS. Instead, I continue to use my Microsoft Streets and Trip program – but I do it my way.

Maggie: Have you got us lost again?

While the computer mapping program likes major highways, I prefer backroads. So I manipulate the route planner to take smaller highways instead of interstates, or to take me through Santa Fe instead of Denver when I’m driving between Texas and Utah.

I carefully plot out each leg of a trip before beginning a journey, going so far as to distinguish between left and right turns on a cheat sheet for the dashboard. One would think I would never get lost.

But I do. And I’m thankful for it.

Of course, if I am going to get lost, I’d rather it be on a scenic backroad in New Mexico instead of rush hour on a Dallas freeway.

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“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans are fruitless … we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” John Steinbeck.

Icicles on Gypsy Lee as she sits outside my daughter's home on the outskirts of Dallas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

I’m in Dallas. It’s currently 6:30 a.m. and 23 degrees outside, where my RV, Gypsy Lee, is parked on the street. My cocker spaniel and I, however, are warm and snug inside the home of my oldest daughter, Deborah.

 It’s a rare occasion when Maggie and I don’t sleep in our own above-the-cab bed. But since running the heater constantly all night would have drained the battery in my unplugged home, we had no choice.

It’s a day, I decided on waking, for a cozy chair, a blanket to snuggle beneath and a good book. I have all three, the book being Susan Albert’s “An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days,” a writer’s journal.

 It’s also a day that reminds me of the first time Deborah, who thinks spending a night at a Holiday Inn is camping, decided she wanted to experience my vagabond life for a few days. The plan was that I would pick her up in Odessa, Texas, where her contract job had ended, and the two of us would take a few days driving back to Dallas, which was almost 400 miles away.

 When we had made these plans the weather was sunny and warm. The day I picked her up in Odessa, it was cold and rainy. We made it to San Angelo, where we spent the night at Spring Creek Marina and RV Park on Lake Nasworthy. I had stayed here before and loved that I could walk Maggie beside the lake.

That's my daughter, Deborah, on the left during our stop at the Dr. Pepper plant in Dublin, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

But the next morning was not a day for walking. Icicles hung from my RV and the windows inside had ice on them. We defrosted everything and got back on the road for a miserable day of driving in fog and sleet.

By afternoon, Deborah was ready for a long, hot shower and a warm soft bed. But hot water in my tiny shower is limited and my couch isn’t t exactly soft. We spent the night in a Holiday Inn in the small town of Brownwood – and hoped for a better tomorrow.

It wasn’t.

 We decided to forgo our lollygagging and drive as quickly back to Dallas as Gypsy Lee would take us. As far as giving my daughter a taste of what I consider a fantastic lifestyle, the trip had been a big bust. Then we came to Dublin, Texas, home of the oldest Dr. Pepper plant in the world. More importantly, it’s a rare facility that still uses the original recipe calling for pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

My daughter, who loves the original Dr. Pepper, hadn’t known the city was on our route. She was ecstatic and eager to stop. We spent a pleasant hour in the plant’s soda shoppe drinking Dr. Pepper and eating a hamburger lunch. My daughter then bought a couple of cases of the original Dr. Pepper to take home with her.

She was finally a happy camper, one who now knew one of my travel secrets: The unexpected is as important to a successful journey as the weather.

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