Issue #3                                                                                                 October 1997

                                    NEWS FROM DOWN HOME
           An eclectic selection of news, stories, and editorials from the heart of the Great State of Texas

Hope You’re Ready for Thanksgiving                              used to call “Yahoo”), a marble game similar to
                                                                “Sorry,” I jumped up, grabbed a cow horn, and blew it
     Howdy doo! Can you believe it’s the middle of              with all my might. After the initial shock, the entire
November already? I can’t either. I hope your                   reunion party broke into spontaneous laughter. From
October was more of a treat than a trick. October               that point on, every time someone won a game, they’d
proved to be as hectic for us as the rest of the year. It       get the cow horn and blow (or try to blow it), which
started off with a trip to the State Fair of Texas on           would send the rest of us into fits of laughter.
October 8th. We delayed going the first week, with
                                                                    Later that month Cindy and I celebrated the
its spectacularly beautiful days, so we could join my
                                                                wedding of two dear friends’ daughter, Erin Jackson,
brother Larry (lovingly known as “Bub”) and the
                                                                down in south Texas. The bride and the wedding
Moore clan (Nick and Judy, and their kids, Dallas,
                                                                were beautiful, but the reception in nearby Buckholtz
and Katy) on “Rockwall Day”. which turned out to be
                                                                was exceptional. The caterer was a personal friend of
more of a “frog-strangler” day. (You’ll meet Nick’s
                                                                Hank Thompson. The reception was held in an old
family again later on in this letter.)
                                                                building where lots of old country and western singers
     The weatherman predicted it would rain all day             (including Hank) performed back in the 40s. Great
long, but it was overcast when we arrived. We                   bar-b-que, visiting with good friends that we hadn’t
thought we might luck out. The plan was to meet                 seen in many years, and doing a wedding line dance
everybody in front of Big Tex at 10:00 a.m. (which              with over a hundred revelers made for wonderful
was good because the Fair didn’t open until 10:00).             memories.
Bub was already there and had gotten a head start by                These events, along with Elwood George’s 86th
having consumed a corny dog. Once the Moores                    birthday party, Cindy’s birthday celebration (I’m not
arrived, we headed over to Exxon’s “Tiger Island”,              saying which one under threat of death), and lunch
hoping to see the tigers have a trainer for lunch (just
                                                                and dinner with a few friendsall lead to what I’ll be
kidding). After the show, we decided to divide and
                                                                closing the letter withsavoring the moment.
conquer. The Sanders clan would concentrate on
shows and exhibits, and the Moores would                        Larnin’ Texan
concentrate on rides (I wonder why?). We planned to
meet at what we considered to be the ultimate ride,                  It just dawned on me that some of the folks this
the 300-story ferris wheel at 1:00 p.m. (ok, maybe I’m          letter is goin’ out to (how ‘bout that for prepositions
exaggerating a little, but when you’re up there, it             at the end of a sentence? Well, it ain’t the end of the
seems like it’s 3000 feet tall).                                sentence yet.) may not be familiar with some Texas
     The Sanders then went to see the sheep dogs herd           phrases or the Texas language in general. So
sheep around, which was especially cute when one of             occasionally I’ll thow (translation: throw) in some
the sheep started rebelling and turning around, trying          definitions of words or phrases just so’s yawl kin git
to butt the sheep dogs (where’s Babe when you need              familiar with ‘em (whether you want to or not).
‘er). Afterwards, while looking for the horse barn, we               Yawl - the pronoun of the second person plural.
stopped off to see the baby critters at the petting zoo.        (e.g., “Good to see yawl.”)from The Illustrated
All of a sudden the heavens opened up and the rain              Texas Dictionary of the English Language, Vol. 1.
began to fall. By the time we got to the ferris wheel,               What’s the plural of Yawl? All YawlJohn
the fair was just about to wash down the drain. But             Hughes.
thirty minutes later, the sky cleared, the sun came out,             Ward - a unit of language consisting of one or
we got to ride the ferris wheel, and all’s well with the        more spoken sounds. (e.g., Pardon me, could ah have
world (and the fair, too). God Bless Texas weather!             a ward with yawl?”)from The Illustrated Texas
     A few days later we hosted a reunion at our house          Dictionary of the English Language, Vol. 1.
that not only included some serious visiting, but great              You want to describe something that’s good? “It’s
food, games, looking at old photos, and in general,             better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
just having a great time. After winning an especially
vigorous, life-or-death game of “marbles” (which we
                                                             in Fort Worth (he's no dummy). After having lost
Story of the Month
                                                            $23.05 on the nickel one-arm bandits (the Moores are
The Adventures of Larry Moore and the Cow, or,              a cheap bunch) at Las Vegas, they made their way to
Why Did the Cow Cross the Road?                             the North Rim of the Grand Canyon by way of Zion
     During the fall of 1988, some of my relatives          National Park.
made a trip from Long Beach, California to the                  After being amazed why anything so huge could
thriving metropolis of Waco ("way-co" for my                not be in Texas (the Moores are all Texans by birth,
northern friends, not "wacko"), Texas.            Larry,    and dedicated to Its cause), they departed the Grand
Michael, and Nicky Moore (not only in alphabetical          Canyon, bound for Portales. Leaving the canyon,
order but chronological as well) are the sons of my         Nicky took the lead wagon, accompanied by little
mother's aunt, Helen Moore-Atkerson-Moore and her           Dallas, who was in the back seat asleep, and his
previous (and wonderful) husband, John Beaman               fearless mate, Judy, who was in the front seat with her
Moore. After Uncle Beaman died, Aunt Helen                  head leaning back against the headrest, eyes closed,
married an old schoolmate, John Talley. We didn't           meditating.      Nicky's vehicle came upon road
know until the day they were married that his name          construction, and raised a little dust in the process.
was actually John Talley Atkerson, not just John            Larry followed close behind.
Talley. (For you in the north, Texans sometimes call            Nicky spied a couple of heifers (of the bovine
folks by their first two names, first two initials [e.g.,   type), one up the hill on the left, and two walking
“W.D.”], or make up funny nicknames [like                   along the right side of the road, fixin' (that's Texan for
“Bodaddle”]). I'm only tellin' you this to set the stage    pert near ready) to cross. After he drove past them,
for the story. It ought to give you a clue.                 the lead cow crossed in front of Larry (without
     Larry and Michael were two old maids at the            hesitation, Nick told me). Nicky mumbled to himself,
time. (Michael has since married; now there's only          "I hope Larry sees those cows." Meanwhile, Larry,
one old maid left). Nicky had a wife, Judy, and a son,      who was hummin' the second verse of "The Yellow
Dallas (I was angry with him for not naming him Fort        Rose of Texas," saw the cow up the hill, to the left. In
Worth). Dallas celebrated his fifth birthday while          his usual inimitable manner, he greets the cow with
they were visiting us. And Judy wants you to know           "Soo cow!"
that she and Nick are still married (I don’t know               All of a sudden Larry feels the front of his car go
whether she’s braggin’ or complainin’.)                     down as "ole Bessie" on the right does a front flip
     In any case (and as usual), their drive here was       over the left side of his hood. After striking the
not uneventful. They had to bring two cars because          windshield of his car, she does a pas de gauche,
Larry, the eldest, planned to pick up three of Helen's      breaking the driver's window with her rump and firing
sisters on the way, two in Portales, New Mexico and         numerous rounds of unpleasantries in the face of Mr.
one in Lamesa, Texas. One special note that sets the        Larry and all over the inside of his car. In an instant,
stage for the following story: Larry, or should I say,      Larry's life flashed in front of his face. And it wasn’t
Larry's car, had just been the victim of a hit-and-run      pretty - in fact, it stunk. By the way, this all took
driver, who virtually destroyed the car's left side. He     place in less time than it takes to say "Soo cow."
had the time to get the car repaired, but couldn’t get it       Well, the cow didn't land on her feet; Mr. Larry
painted in time for the trip (though he wanted to).         came to an abrupt halt; Nicky said, "Oh my gosh,
     So, Nicky, Judy, and Dallas, who are in their          Larry hit that dad-durn cow;" and Judy looked at the
fully-painted new car bought especially in time for         headliner of the car in disbelief. Nicky carefully
this trip, struck out for Fort Worth via Las Vegas, the     turned his car around and swiftly headed back to aid
Grand Canyon, Portales, and Lamesa. They decided            his poor brother, who was now in a state of shock and
to meet Larry in Las Vegas since he (or his car)            cow manure. Nicky stopped his machine, and as he
wasn’t ready to leave. Finally, Larry "mounted" his         got out of his car he thought he might have to put the
semi-paint, a lovely deep blue Chevy Caprice with a         cow out of her misery; then he remembered that he
gray hood and a yellow front left fender and door; and      forgot to bring his gun. (Normally he took his gun on
headed for Las Vegas. When Larry arrived, his               vacations in case he got the opportunity to shoot
Caprice was immediately dubbed “the Tijuana Taxi”.          something, but this time he left it at home.) As it
Oh yes, brother Michael, who works for American             turned out, he didn’t need it. Neither the cow nor
Airlines, flew out later to join them when they arrived     Larry needed to be put out of their misery . . . this
time. Although, according to Nick, there have been               But Deputy Tom Dennis said the ball was too
times since . . .                                           large to have come from a moving vehicle. Neighbors
     Nicky came upon his brother, who was standing          reported seeing someone either throw the cannonball
outside his car, near what used to be the driver’s          [“Oh yeah, right!the editor] or use a large slingshot
window side. Nick asked Larry if he was ok, and             device to send the ball flying into the home in this St.
Larry said, “Huh?” Then he noticed that Larry’s ear         Louis suburb.
was bleeding slightly and there was something else in            Even so, authorities continued to investigate
his ear. Nicky then made the brilliant, but sensitive       whether the cannonball could have been fired from a
comment, in perfect Texas English, "Larry, you got          small cannon. Civil War-model cannons have become
cow poop in your ear!" (Nick said that that was the         readily available because battle re-enactments are
one and only time he’d ever said to someone, “Get the       popular weekend activities.
crap out of your ear” - and mean it.)                            And now, for the rest of the story: the paper
     Well Larry said nothing for what seemed to be an       reported that no one was home to save Mr. Mickelson
eternity, then he slowly looked around at the               from embarrassment (How would you feel if you had
decorations lining the dash and front seat, then turned     a toilet shot out from under you?) Mr. Mickelson
to look at the back seat to see a pair of levi’s barely     only received a small headwound as he fell forward
showing under a host of cow patties. "I just ironed         onto the floor. Mr. Mickelson was pretty upset
those pants!” he replied. By this time, the cow had         because, in addition to the toilet, the gun magazine he
gotten up, dusted herself off, walked up the hill to her    was reading was totally destroyed. There was one
friend, turned, and gave the Moores a dirty look (at        silver lining in the cannonball cloud. An anonymous
least that's what Nicky claimed. I asked Nick about it      source claims Mr. Mickelson stated, “At least I won’t
later, and he said, “I don’t just claim the cow gave me     have to worry about air conditioning for a while.”
a dirty look; I do know a dirty look when I get one, ya
know.”).                                                    The Art Critic
     So that's about the end of the story, except Larry
almost froze to death driving through the mountains                               “lighght”
with only a black piece of plastic flappin' in the wind         A one-word “poem” funded by a $1,500 grant
to protect him from the freezing temperatures. What's            from the National Endowment for the Arts.
the moral of the story? There are actually two: First,
never, never say "Soo cow" to a cow; it insults 'em              The famous American writer John Updike wrote,
because that's what you say to pigs. And second,            “I would rather have as my patrons a host of
never attempt to slow down a cow who's in a hurry to        anonymous citizens digging into their own pockets for
cross the road so she can go to the potty - you'll regret   the price of a book or a magazine, than a small body
it ever' time!                                              of enlightened and responsible men administering
     Now we know why the chicken crossed the road.          public funds.” Yet some Hollywood celebrities, who
                                                            could probably make up the difference out of their
                                                            own pockets, have been agitating for more NEA
The World Around Us                                         funding out of taxpayer pockets instead. Their stated
                                                            reasonwithout federal tax dollars, the U.S. would
So You Think You’ve Got Problems                            become, according to one enlightened official of the
    HOUSE SPRINGS, Mo.  A Civil War-type                   American Repertory Theater, “the dumbest and most
cannonball that crashed into Leonard and Kathy              philistine democracy in the Western world.”
Mickelson’s mobile home left plenty of dust, debris              Beyond the fact that the arts community ought to
and theories. Among them: a small cannon, heavy-           be able to live without the NEA’s 1 percent share of
duty slingshot or maybe just a really powerful heave.       total public and private arts funding (valued at $10
    Nobody was home Thursday night when the                 billion), other evidence suggests that abolishing the
cannonball smashed through a window and two                 Endowment is the only way to ensure that government
interior walls before crashing into a toilet and lodging    no longer judges what is and is not art:
in a bathroom wall. “A drive-by shooting’s one thing,          NEA funding already benefits art-rich commun-
but a drive-by cannon shot?” Mickelson said.                    ities disproportionately. At least 1/3 of direct
“Explain that to your insurance company.”                       NEA grants went to six of our largest cities, while
                                                                a third of Congressional districts got none at all.
   NEA’s Inspector General has found widespread                Savor the Moment
    mismanagement of grantsone audit found that                     Not long ago I got to the point where I was so
    63 percent had project costs that could not be              busy planning or preparing for a future event I
    reconciled to accounting records.                           couldn’t even enjoy what I was doing at the time.
   NEA dollars amount to an “upper-class entitle-              And even worse, I longed for it to be over so I could
    ment.” As National Review columnist Kate                    get ready for the next big event. (Have you ever done
    O’Bierne argued, “I don’t think a single mother in          that?) Then several things happened that made me
    Kentucky, who’s . . . doing loads of laundry at             stop and think about how brief life is and how
    midnight appreciates her tax money subsidizing a            important it is to appreciate the beauty around us and
    couple in New York City going out to the opera as           enjoy life now. It’s time to stop, take stock of you
    their nanny puts their child to bed.” [that might           life, look at all the blessings, and thank God for them.
    not be a good idea anywaythe editor]                            In recent weeks Cindy and I have had the great
    Congress slashed NEA funding by one-third in                privilege to travel around this beautiful land of ours,
1995, with the understanding that all federal funding           to celebrate the birthdays of 86-, 90-, and 98-year-old
would end by Fiscal Year 1998. It will end if those             loved ones, to look out our windows and see a coyote
who want it to end will let your Congressman know.              searching for food on our neighbor’s land next door or
                                                                see a white-tailed hawk soaring by, just sit out on our
    If you think taxpayers should continue funding
                                                                patio and look up at the stars, or just look in the eyes
the NEA, then by all means, let your Congressman
                                                                of a loved one and tell them how special they are to
know. But just be aware that taxpayers will continue
to pay for “art” like one-word “poems”, a crucifix in a
jar of urine, or a play where HIV-positive blood is                  When’s the last time you took the time to savor a
sprinkled on the audience. I have an idea, let’s add a          moment? If you haven’t done it in a while, DO IT!!!
line to our tax returns and let those who want to fund          My mom always told me it’s a good idea to “stop and
such “art” donate their own money to it.                        smell the roses.” She was right.

From the Editor

News from Down Home is a monthly publication created to let the author blow off steam, share personal
experiences, and practice his writing. It contains some truth and some fiction; its objective is to challenge the
reader to tell the difference. Remember, the author is a Texan, and Texans have been known to embellish a little.
The difference between a Texan and most liars is that when Texans stretch the truth (i.e., lie), they know they’re
doin’ it, and think you’re smart enough to figure it out. Just remember, you’ve been warned.
News from Down Home is published by Paul E. Sanders, 3563 St. Francis Village Road, Fort Worth, TEXAS 76036.
Phone 817/294-1940. E-mail: bodaddle@flash.net. Feel free to send comments (preferably good) or letters to the editor.

Paul Sanders
3563 St. Francis Village Road
Crowley, Texas 76036

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