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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