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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Charles Ratliff to be Honored at Blackland Relays

Charles Ratliff (Photo courtesy of Mike Ratliff.)

Ex-Plowboy Charles Ratliff,  longtime announcer for Plowboy home football games and faithful fan, will be honored next Friday, March 6, during the Blackland Relays when his name will go on the Press Box in the east stands of Plowboy Field.  He began announcing Plowboy football games in 1967 and has been as regular as clockwork since then, missing only a few games to see a granddaughter perform as cheerleader at another school.  He will also receive a plaque commemorating his long service and loyalty to the school.

The ceremony is set to begin at 2:30pm at Plowboy Field, and everyone is invited to be on hand to help give Mr. Ratliff a sendoff as he retires from his longtime tenure as the voice of the Plowboys.



This truck slid off the road on I-20 East about a mile west of town Sunday afternoon.  (Photo by Felix Pantoja.)
Icy road conditions were the cause of four or five wrecks in the Roscoe area on Sunday and Monday.  Some were minor, but one that occurred on FM 608 about a mile south of town Sunday night was more serious as the driver, a newcomer to the area, was ejected from his black Trail Blazer and was critically injured.  He was taken to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater.  He was not wearing a seatbelt.  Another man who was riding in the car was not seriously hurt.



1004 Cypress Street
An attic fire that started at about 5:00 yesterday morning has made unlivable the residence of Seprino “Chico” Maestas and his wife Marsha and daughter Ashley.  Although not much of the damage can be seen from the outside, the ceiling and much of the inside roof are essentially destroyed.  The fire was most likely caused by faulty electrical wiring in the attic.  No one was injured in the blaze.



Sleet and icy conditions on Monday.
The weather was mixed this past week with some springlike weather last weekend followed by a cold spell that let everyone know that it’s still winter in west Texas.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were warm and windy with the high temperature of the week, 84°F, coming on Friday afternoon.  Saturday was cooler but still nice with a high of 64°, but Saturday night another cold front blew in bringing with it rapidly cooling temperatures and a light drizzle.  By Sunday afternoon, the drizzle had turned to sleet as temperatures dropped into the twenties.  Most west Texas counties, including Nolan, were under a winter weather advisory, and some roads iced up.  

Monday was the coldest day of all with a high of 22°, a low of 17°, grey skies, and light sleet.  Yesterday morning was more of the same with a low of 21°, but then the clouds broke up somewhat in the afternoon and the temperature climbed to 40°.  Last night around midnight, anywhere from nothing to .15" or so fell, depending upon location.

Today should be nicer with a forecast high of 59°, but a cold front will move in tonight with north winds of 10-25mph and a low of 30° tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow’s high will be around 38°, and there’s a 20% chance of snow tomorrow night.  Friday’s high will be only around 29° with a 40% chance of precipitation and a low Saturday morning of 22°.  Saturday’s high will be about 45° with a 40% chance of rain.  Sunday will be warmer again with a high of 64° and a low of 43°.



[Editor's Note: With slight modifications, this article originally appeared in the May 4, 2011, posting of the Roscoe Hard Times.]

The downtown alley where Bill Dawson shot A. J. Parker.
At 4:30 in the afternoon on Friday, June 4, 1937, shots rang out in the alley between the R. S. & P. office and the back door of Haney’s drug store.  The mayor of Roscoe, Arthur J. Parker, was hit three times, once through the shoulder, once in the chest, and once in the back.  Not felled by the shots, he ran up the alley and out of the line of fire as eyewitness W. A. Sloan approached the shooter, Bill Dawson, and asked for the gun.  Dawson refused, but former city marshal X. B. Sanders then walked up and without resistance took the .32 pistol from Dawson’s pocket.

Seeing Dawson disarmed, Parker returned to the scene on his way to the Young Hospital a half block away, and, as he staggered past, told Sanders to call Sheriff Tom Wade.  Dawson, seeing Parker still on his feet, told Sanders to give him his gun back and let him finish the job.

Dawson then apparently went through the back door to Haney’s into the drug store, where he gave himself up to Deputy Sheriff Pat Mayes.  He was taken to the Nolan County jail in Sweetwater and charged with assault with intent to murder, and bond was set at $5000.

In the meantime, Mayor Parker walked to the hospital and immediately began to receive treatment from Dr. J. W. Young.  Initially, Dr. Young expressed optimism about the mayor’s recovery, giving him a 75% chance of survival.  That night he operated, removing a bullet from Parker’s chest while allowing another to remain just above the stomach.  Unfortunately, the mayor’s condition continued to worsen on Saturday, and on early Sunday morning at about 3 a.m., a day and a half after the shooting, he died.

His funeral was held on Monday, June 7, at the Community Tabernacle in Roscoe with Sam Young of Sweetwater delivering the funeral oration.  He praised Parker, a Methodist, as a good citizen, an advocate of law and order, and a churchman who often expressed his belief in religious principles.  Others speaking included Parker’s father-in-law, Rev. G. W. Parks, Roscoe’s former Baptist pastor, Methodist minister Rev. W. B. Swim, and Baptist pastor Rev. J. N. Easterwood.  Pallbearers were City Council members Barna Haney, R. E. Harwell, W. E. Kirkland, and Turner May; City Secretary W. P. Copeland; and Hark Haney.

       Mayor A. J. Parker                         Nightwatchman Bill Dawson
Born in Alabama, Arthur J. Parker, 51, had lived in Roscoe all his adult life and had been the city’s mayor for fifteen of the previous seventeen years.  First elected to the office in 1920, he had served continuously thereafter except for one term, 1933-1935, in which he had not run.  During his tenure, the city had passed bonds for street and waterwork improvement, paved the downtown streets with bricks, extended the water system to include the entire town, installed the city sewer system, purchased the first fire truck, and made natural gas available, along with other civic improvements.  He was an insurance agent and realtor.

In 1922, he married Ora Parks, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister, Rev. G. W. Parks.  They subsequently had two children, Arthur, Jr., 14 in 1937, and Shirley Ann, 11.  The Mayor’s father, J. J. Parker, had been one of the original city aldermen when Roscoe was incorporated in 1907.

Bill Dawson, 60, was a cowboy and rancher for twenty years in Tom Green and Coke Counties before moving south of Roscoe six years earlier to ranch with Bob Scott of Colorado City.  He won third place in the old man’s calf roping contest at the 1934 Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford and later won first place in several other rodeos.  In November 1934, two and a half years earlier, he became Roscoe’s nightwatchman, a position that made him the city’s principal law enforcement officer after the sun went down. He was married, and his wife ran a café in downtown Roscoe.

Front page of the Abilene Reporter-News the day after the shooting.
Bad feelings had existed between Parker and Dawson for some time.  Dawson was initially hired as nightwatchman at a salary of $60 a month but had recently been forced to take a cut in pay, which he apparently blamed on Parker.  According to Laura Fay Duncan, both he and Parker were hot tempered, and Dawson had publicly accused the Mayor of dishonesty.  (There is also a story handed down in the Parker family that the Mayor had caught Dawson ticketing drivers and then pocketing the money when they paid him on the spot.)

The day before the shooting, Dawson received a letter from the Mayor informing him that he had been fired by order of the City Council and replaced by City Marshal Leslie Butler, but Dawson refused to step down, saying the firing was unauthorized.  (City Councilman Barna Haney told the Abilene Reporter-News that the Council had met the previous week before the firing and had not been in session since, i.e., that the City Council had not ordered the firing.)

At the court hearing held on June 19, two weeks after the shooting, Mrs. Dawson testified that Parker had come to her café earlier in the day and asked her what her husband was going to do about the letter, saying that the city wasn’t big enough for both of them.  She also said that City Commissioner Ralph Henson told her that Parker had said, “The town is not big enough for both of us.  While I’m mayor, I’ll run the town to suit me, if it don’t suit anyone else.  Dawson will leave, or I’ll put his light out.”

Roscoe farmer O. J. Beinhauer testified that Dawson told him in the café he “wasn’t going to stand for the canning—that it would be different if the city commission had done it, but that he would sooner kill one man than let him get by with such a thing.”  Beinhauer also quoted Dawson as saying, “If I killed him, he wouldn’t have enough friends to carry him off the street.” Mrs. Dawson testified that right after the shooting her husband said to her, “I shot ‘Red’ Parker, Mother. I had to do it.  I wasn’t going to let him beat me up.”

The hearing resulted in District Judge A. S. Mauzey setting Dawson’s bail at $10,000 and charging him with the malicious murder of the mayor.

On August 3, Mrs. A. J. Parker was elected Mayor of Roscoe to succeed her deceased husband.  She ran unopposed.

On Tuesday, September 28, the trial began in the 32nd District Court in Sweetwater with Judge Mauzey presiding.  The prosecution was led by E. T. Brook of Abilene, while Dawson’s defense counsel was Temple Dickson, Jr., who later became a state representative.

The prosecution argued that Dawson had killed the mayor in cold blood and appealed to the jury to assess the death penalty, citing Dawson’s expressed hatred for the mayor.  Brook argued that testimony indicated the trouble that led to the shooting had been brewing in Dawson’s mind for some time.  He emphasized that Dawson’s request to X. B. Sanders to give him the gun so he could finish the job clearly indicated his murderous intent.

Dickson, on the other hand, based his case on self-defense, citing threats made by Parker, including one right before the shooting in which he said he would give Dawson a “licking.” Dickson also argued that Dawson was unbalanced and fearful since an earlier altercation with a group of drunks who beat him up when he attempted to apprehend them.  Referring to Dawson’s advanced age, he told the jury, “Any sentence you may impose on the defendant means death as he will not live long if sent to prison.”

The jury deliberated for seventeen hours before reaching their verdict of guilty, and on October 2 the judge sentenced Dawson to fourteen years in the state penitentiary.  He apparently stayed in the Nolan County jail until April 11, 1938, when he was received by Huntsville prison, according to prison records in Austin.  The same records indicate that he was discharged on June 12, 1948.  In prison terminology ‘discharged’ can mean either ‘released’ or ‘died’, so it is not clear which applied in his case.  By that time, he would have been 71 years old, so either is possible.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Senator Perry, Education Commissioner Visit School to Learn About Roscoe's Collegiate and STEM Programs

Students explain Roscoe's programs to Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams and State Senator Charles Perry.

State Senator Charles Perry, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams, and education advisors from the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s offices were in town on Friday to learn first-hand about Roscoe’s Collegiate and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs.

“There are a lot of great things happening in education across the state, and the nationally recognized program here in Roscoe is providing a significant benchmark about how we can keep kids excited and engaged in STEM,” said Education Commissioner Williams, according to Saturday’s Abilene Reporter-News article on the visit.

Williams also said that Roscoe’s STEM Academy and Collegiate programs will be used to serve as a pilot program for rural schools across the state.

Both Williams and Senator Perry were impressed with the number of Roscoe students who graduated with Associate’s Degrees from Western Texas College in Snyder in their senior years at Roscoe Collegiate High School.  That number has steadily grown from one student in 2011 to 19 of 21 students, over 90%, in last year’s graduating class.  This year’s graduating class will report similar numbers.

Superintendent Kim Alexander expressed pride in the program, the teachers, students, school board, and administration.  The Reporter-News article quoted him as saying, “This kind of support from Austin lets us know we are doing the right things out here.  We continue to learn as we go, and I’m very proud of the organization for the successes we have had thus far.”



Roscoe's new Police Station on 104 Cypress Street.
The new Police Department just north of Old Town Park on the south side of Cypress Street downtown is now complete and will hold its open house this Saturday, February 21, from 10am to 2pm.  Hot dogs, candy, ice cream, and cold drinks will be available to all who attend.

Everyone is invited, so please come by and see your new Police Station.



City Manager Cody Thompson updates Council on recent activities.
At its monthly meeting on Thursday, February 12, the City Council got updates on City progress from City Manager Cody Thompson, accepted the January Police Report from Police Chief Felix Pantoja, heard a proposal from Republic Services of Abilene to open bidding for Roscoe’s waste disposal for the coming year, and set the City Election date for May 9.

City Manager Cody Thompson reported that laying of the underground electrical lines on Young Farm Estates will be completed by February 27 and that street work will begin on March 1 and should be finished by the end of March with sale of lots beginning shortly thereafter.  Deed restrictions will be filed in March and will be reviewed for approval by the City Council at the March meeting.

Young Farm Estates owner Carl Childers will also open bidding soon for renovation of the old octagonal cotton house across from the Lumberyard.

Kade Johnson Construction has purchased two acres next to the Nemir property along the new road on the north side across from the Randall Smith property.  It will be used for a new office, a warehouse, and a manufacturing building.

The City will install a new fence at the City Park next to the City Swimming Pool and should be finished by the end of the month.

The City B Board approved a plan to hold Roscoe Super Sunday on March 29.  Roscoe retailers will be open from noon to 6pm, and the Roscoe Express will shuttle guests from business to business, including a new retail outlet, Vicki’s Antiques, just north of Vicki’s Gifts on 3rd and Main Streets.  At the Lumberyard, live music will begin at 3pm with the Jamie Richards band, followed by the Playboys Special Edition, and then the headline band Merle Haggard and the Strangers.  Live music will continue until 10pm.  The Council also approved blocking off the downtown streets during the event.  For more information, call City Hall during business hours at 325-766-3871.  For tickets to the live music contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.

The new Water Treatment Plant, which has been out of operation recently due to manufacturer problems and damage caused by last month’s ice storm, will resume normal operation of reverse-osmosis water within the next two or three weeks.  Once it operates successfully for 45 days, the City can then formally accept its daily operation.

Work on renovation of the Fire Department is progressing as planned, and clearing of broken limbs and other debris is also underway and nearing completion.

Highland student Emrick Wilson will landscape the area behind City Hall to fulfill requirements toward attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.  The City will pay for the materials.

Police Chief Felix Pantoja gave the January police report to the Council.  It appears in a separate article in this posting.

The Council then set May 9 as the official date for this year’s City Election.  Early voting will be from April 27 through Tuesday, May 5,  with Monday, May 4, and Tuesday, May 5, as the days in which voting is possible from 7am to 7pm.  The office of Mayor as well as two City Council seats are scheduled for election or re-election.  Qualified citizens desiring to run for one of these offices should apply at City Hall by February 27.  The City Secretary’s office hours are 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

The Council then heard a proposal by Municipal Services Manager Robert Searle of Republic Services of Abilene to open bidding for waste disposal services in the City of Roscoe.  Searle gave a brief talk on his company and what it can offer.  The current contract is held by Knox Waste Services of Tye.  It will expire in June.  After some discussion, the Council voted to table a decision until next month’s meeting.  

With the end of RCHS basketball season, the City Council will resume holding its monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the month.  It will meet next on Tuesday, March 10.



The Plowgirls played their last game of the season last Tuesday evening and lost to Hamlin 47-33.  Here is the scoring by quarters, followed by individual Plowgirl scoring:

Hamlin 47 – Plowgirls 33

Hamlin            10        23        32        47
Plowgirls         11        25        30        33

Plowgirl scoring: Olivia Saddler 17, Alyssa Chavez 6, Mia Herrera 3, Magali Casas 3, Mireya Sanchez 2, Bergan Trevino 2.



The Plowboys finished their season on a down note by losing their last district games to Hamlin, Haskell, and Stamford.  Their final season record is 6-16 overall and 2-10 in district play.  Here are the scores by quarters of each game, followed by individual Plowboy scoring:

Hamlin 38 – Plowboys 36

Hamlin             10        16        22        38
Plowboys           7        20        25        36

Plowboy scoring: Javier Leanos 15, Kevin Lavalais 7, Luis Villa 6, Isaiah Gonzales 2, Vincent Pantoja 2, Cutter Davila 2, Rafael Aguayo 1.

Haskell 44 – Plowboys 32

Haskell            11        25        38        44
Plowboys          8        17        24        32

Plowboy scoring: Villa 9, Leanos 8, Lavalais 7, Aguayo 6, Davila 2.

Stamford 54 – Roscoe 36

Stamford         20        28        43        54
Plowboys          4        16        22        36

Plowboy scoring: Aguayo 10, Leanos 9, Lavalais 5, Davila 3, Gonzales 1.



Winter sunset.
Last weekend’s mild temperatures with sunny skies and highs in the seventies came to an abrupt end on Sunday evening when a cold front blew in with gusty north winds.  We were given a 40% chance of rain or snow on Sunday and Monday nights, but neither ever happened.  By Monday morning the temperature was down to 24°F and the high Monday afternoon was only 44°.  Yesterday was a little warmer, but not by much with a low of 33° and a high of 49°.

Today should be nicer, though, with a high approaching 70° this afternoon.  Thursday and Friday will be similar or slightly warmer with highs in the low to mid-seventies and lows of around fifty.  Saturday will be a bit cooler with a high of 64° and on Saturday night a cold front will bring a 20% chance of precipitation.  Sunday’s high should be only in the mid-forties with a low Monday morning in the upper twenties.

In its most recent issue, Scientific American magazine is reporting that several recent scientific studies all conclude that in the second half of this century the Southwest and Great Plains will experience the worst extended drought since 1200, one lasting from 20 to 30 years.

As you’ll recall, that ancient drought, which began about 1130, was the one that wiped out the Anasazi civilization, including the people who lived in cliff dwellings in Arizona and Mesa Verde, Colorado, and in large settlements like the one at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.

Such a drought, if it does occur, will pretty much be the death knell for west Texas towns like Roscoe, which depend on water for their farming and ranching.  Of course, I won’t be around by then, but the prospect of Big Country communities going the way of the Anasazi is not a particularly cheerful one.  Let’s hope that prediction is wrong!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Roscoe in Years Gone By: The Mayor of Fort Worth and the Roscoe Rabbit Drive of 1915

Dear Readers,

This week’s posting is a little short of news since I left town yesterday to drive a friend to the VA hospital in Albuquerque and won’t return until tomorrow evening.  If anything major happened yesterday, that's why it isn't in here.  To compensate, I am reprinting another interesting tidbit of Roscoe history, this one from a hundred years ago.  It originally appeared two years ago in the January 2, 2013, posting of the Hard Times.

Edwin Duncan


Children display captured jack rabbits from a Pyron rabbit drive of about 1915.
[Editor's Note: As curator of the Roscoe Historical Museum, I sometimes do research into the history of old Roscoe and occasionally come across interesting information about the town that has been forgotten and would be lost forever if it weren’t located and retrieved from dusty old archives.  The following account is about one such event that occurred in 1915, preserved in the historical archives of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.]

Jack rabbits are relatively scarce around Roscoe these days, but it hasn’t always been that way.  In the early days of the community all the way up to the 1950s, there were often so many rabbits that they were serious pests.  The early settlers killed off their natural predators--coyotes, wolves, cougars, foxes, and wildcats--because they were a danger to chickens, pets, and livestock.  As a result, rabbits proliferated and created considerable damage by eating farmers’ crops.

To counter the problem, community rabbit drives were organized.  These were all day affairs participated in by a large number of people who would go to a designated area, either a pasture or ranch, to round up the rabbits and shoot them.  Men and boys would divide up into two groups, the drivers and the shooters.  The drivers would go a mile or so away, and then space themselves out in a line 15 or 20 feet from one another and start walking back toward a similar line of shooters, yelling and making noise to frighten the rabbits and drive them toward the shooters, armed with shotguns, who would then shoot them.

In the meantime the women prepared and set out a big picnic lunch, which was then enjoyed by all.  Successful rabbit drives frequently resulted in the death of hundreds of rabbits.

Since tularemia, or “rabbit fever,” wasn’t a problem until the 1930s and later, early-day rabbit drives yielded a lot of edible rabbit meat, which was fed not only to the pets but also often eaten by people, especially poor people.

Picnic lunch at a Bernecker rabbit drive in 1925.
In late March of 1915, S. D. Knox of Roscoe wrote Fort Worth Mayor R. F. Milam, offering him all the rabbits collected from a big upcoming drive.  He said to expect about five hundred.  “They are good to eat until May 1,” Knox wrote.  “Parboiled and baked, they are good and wholesome.  If the out-of-work people of your city would care for them, we will prepare them and ship them to you.  All we ask is that you pay the freight.”

Mayor Milam enthusiastically accepted Roscoe’s offer, announcing that he would set up a “rabbit bureau” in the corridor of the City Hall and give one rabbit to every unemployed man asking for it.  He sent his secretary to the Carnegie Library to obtain recipes for both cottontails and jackrabbits and also received by mail recipes from others.

Here is one of them, claimed to result in “good, tender eating” even if the rabbit is old:

“Fill with dressing to suit the taste, well moistened with hot water.  Sew up the carcass, sprinkle well with salt, put in your roasting pan, some strips of pork laid over the carcass, or if you have no pork a little butter will do very well.  Bake in medium oven from two to four hours.”

Copies of recipes for fried rabbit, broiled rabbit, roast rabbit, and rabbit hash were also made for distribution under this humorous heading: “The great municipal mayoralty recipes for cooking rabbits, advocated and promulgated by leading scientists and artists of cuisine, and guaranteed to meet the approval of the most fastidious epicure. These recipes comply with the pure food law and will be found to be gastronomically perfect.”

Then the word was spread to the unemployed of Fort Worth.  All that was needed was the rabbits, and they were due to arrive on the Monday following the big Roscoe rabbit drive that Saturday.

However, in the immortal words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns,

                            The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
                            Gang aft agley, *        (*Oft go astray)
                            An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
                            For promis'd joy!

On Monday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, men and women, boys and girls swarmed in front of City Hall and in its corridors for the promised free rabbits.  But train after train arrived from the west with no sign of them.  Finally, the Mayor’s secretary made a long distance call to S. D. Knox in Roscoe to find out what had happened.

“Mumps,” was the reply.  The rabbit drive had been called off because several of the leaders of the drive had come down with the ailment, prompting the others to stay home for fear of contagion.  Knox said, however, that the people of Roscoe intended to keep their promise and would let the mayor know when the drive was held.

What happened next is best expressed by the Star-Telegram reporter who reported on the situation:

"There was no howling from an angry mob when Watson [the Mayor’s secretary] made the official announcement that the rabbits were still loping over Nolan County, but there was deep gloom.  Recipes for frying, roasting, and broiling rabbit that had been published by sanction of the mayor were folded and tucked away, and the rabbit hunters moved silently away."

However, as Shakespeare put it, all’s well that ends well, and a week later, on Saturday morning, April 3, the rabbits arrived by flatcar at the train station in Fort Worth.

They were carried in big sacks to City Hall and placed in a huge pile that blocked the main entrance. Mayor Milam then “played host to a constant stream of men, women, and children” that came for the promised rabbits, which had been “beheaded and semi-cleaned.”

Newspaper photographers and even a motion-picture cameraman were on hand to capture the event, and the Mayor, who hadn’t planned to distribute the bloody rabbits, nevertheless was asked to pose doing just that so many times that he wound up handing out as many rabbits as anyone.

“Sad commentary on things in general,” the Mayor said as he surveyed the rabbit applicants. “I believe there are more silk-socked men in that crowd than unemployed and needy, but it’s unemployed first, and the silk-socked boys may have what’s left over.”

And apparently everyone, silk-socked and poor alike, went home that day satisfied.


Information about the great rabbit giveaway comes from these four articles published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

1. “Mayor to Give Away 500 Rabbits Caught in Drive,” March 24, 1915.
2. “Rabbit Recipes Hold Attention of Mayor Milam,” March 26, 1915.
3. “Rabbit Drive is Stopped by Mumps; Poor Here Losers,” March 29, 1915.
4. “Rabbits Distributed to Big Crowd; Mayor Milam Takes an Active Part,” April 3, 1915.



If you stop to think about some of the implications of certain parts of this story, you can’t help but wonder at some of the differences between the people of a hundred years ago and those of today.

The first statement in the story that gave me pause was from the letter that S. D. Knox wrote to the Mayor in March in which he states that the rabbits are good to eat until May 1.  Just how long did people back then think you could keep a half-cleaned rabbit carcass before it was no longer edible?

Remember, this was in the days before refrigeration, and also remember that the rabbits, beheaded and gutted, were sent on a flatcar all the way from Roscoe to Fort Worth.  Nevertheless, the prospects of getting one—for free!—drew quite a crowd.  How many Fort Worth people today, I don’t care how poor they are, would walk down to City Hall to pick up one of these appetizing delicacies?

Also note that the Mayor was a little put out by the “silk-socked” men—by which I assume he means the unpoor and unneedy—who were there to score a free jack rabbit.  And yet, back in 1915 the prospect of a free rabbit from Roscoe not only drew quite a crowd but was also a political coup for the Mayor, who posed for many photos as he gave them away.  Imagine what kind of reaction such a move by a Fort Worth mayor would prompt today.

Of course mumps is no longer with us today like it was back then.  Even as kids growing up in the 1950s, we were susceptible to the malady.  I can remember my brothers and I all getting it, along with the measles, but it was not common for adults to get it even back then.  And cotton farms are no longer plagued by jack rabbits like they once were.  Roundup on the cotton leaves has taken care of that.  You will see jack rabbits occasionally on ranches—hopefully the rabbits have learned that eating cotton leaves is not a good idea—but they certainly don’t exist in the numbers they did in the days of the rabbit drives.

The recipe for old, tough jack rabbits is also interesting.  Even if we did cook one, I doubt that we would leave it in the oven for two hours as the recipe calls for, even if you did put some pork strips on it to keep it moist.

But times change and so do people.  It makes you wonder what people in 2115 will think of some of the aspects of life we consider normal today.



Both the Plowgirls and Plowboys were defeated by Hawley in Hawley last Friday night, the girls by a score of 37-23 and the boys 64-41.

Here are the scores by quarters followed by individual scoring for both games.

Hawley 64 - Plowboys 41

Hawley            9          29        56        64
Plowboys         3          15        21        41

Plowboy scoring: Kevin Lavalais 16, Javier Leanos 11, Cutter Davila 6, Isaiah Gonzales 5, Rafael Aguayo 2.

Hawley 37 – Plowgirls 23

Hawley             1          12        26        37
Plowgirls          5          10        16        23

Plowgirl scoring: Olivia Saddler 8, Mia Herrera 6, Selena Perez 5, Magali Casas 4.



Last Wednesday evening and Thursday were an aberration.  On Wednesday evening a norther blew in with sustained high winds of 29mph and gusts up to 45.  The temperature dropped to 30°F that night and Thursday’s high was only 39°.  But then on Friday it was back to springlike weather with a high of 68°, and warm, sunny weather has been with us since then.  Saturday afternoon’s 81° was the high for the week, but since then afternoon temperatures have been in the mid to high seventies with lows in the forties.  It’s been a bit breezy at times, but Monday was one of those rare west Texas days when warm winter temperatures combine with calm or only very light winds to make for a beautiful day.

As I will be in Albuquerque when most of you read this, I’m writing this on Monday evening and can’t tell you anything about Tuesday, but the forecast is for another warm day and will assume it was such.  The forecast is for cooler weather tomorrow (Thursday) followed by more warm weather through the weekend with highs in the sixties and lows in the forties.

There is no rain in the immediate forecast although there is a possibility of more in a week or so.



Funeral services were held on Monday, February 2, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Eden for Orville Wayne Paty, 73, who died on Friday, January 30.  Burial followed at Eden Cemetery.

He was born Oct. 26, 1941, to Orville Britt Paty and Marjorie Lane Small Paty in Kaufmann, Texas.  He graduated from Hermleigh High School in 1959 and lived in Roscoe for several years. He was a cattle buyer for many years and loved horse racing and fishing.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Sue Paty of Eden; one son, Lynn Lubke and wife Janet of Harlingen; brother, Joe Paty and wife Rosemary of Sweetwater; sister, Pam Knight and husband Flint of Hobbs, New Mexico; two granddaughters, Candace Moss of Lakeland, Florida, and Courtney Lubke of Harlingen; two great-granddaughters; one great-grandson; one sister-in-law, Janie Kennedy and husband JD of Fredericksburg; one brother-in-law, Leo Smith of San Angelo; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Britt Paty; and a grandson, Chandler Lubke.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Merle Haggard Booked for March 29 Show at Lumberyard

Merle Haggard

Mark your calendars.  Country music great Merle Haggard is coming to the Lumberyard on Sunday, March 29, and will be the feature attraction of the Roscoe Spring Super Sunday.  The Lumberyard will open that day at noon, and live music will begin at 3:00pm and go until about 10:00pm.  Merle Haggard will take the stage around 7:30pm.

The Lumberyard has been remodeling, and Haggard and his band, the Strangers, will play on the new stage. Located on the north wall about four feet above ground level, it will allow people at tables a good view of the performers, as people standing near the band won’t block the view for others.  The new arrangement will also create extra room on the dance floor for those who want to dance.

Roscoe businesses will have open houses that day from noon until 6:00pm, and the Roscoe Express will be carrying patrons from location to location.

For ticket information and reservations, call the Lumberyard during business hours at 325-766-2457.



The Plowgirls lost to Albany 39-32 last Friday in Albany and to Anson 37-23 here last night.  Here is the scoring by quarters for both games followed by individual scoring.

Albany 39 - Plowgirls 32

Albany              6        20        30        39
Plowgirls        14        24        26        32

Plowgirl scoring: Olivia Saddler 14, Samantha Ortega 13, Mia Herrera 2, Mireya Sanchez 1.    

Anson 37 - Plowgirls 23

Anson               8          21       30        37
Plowgirls          9          11        17        23

Plowgirl scoring: Ortega 6, Saddler 5, Magali Casas 5, Herrera 3, Danielle Dean 3, Sanchez 2.

The Plowgirls travel to Hawley on Friday and return to Roscoe to play Hamlin next Tuesday.



The Plowboys were defeated twice this past week, losing to Albany in Albany 56-37 on Friday and to Anson 56-37 at home last night.  Their next opponents are Hawley in Hawley on Friday and Hamlin here next Tuesday.  Scoring by quarters for both games is followed by individual scoring:

Albany 56 – Plowboys 37

Albany              13        30       46        56
Plowboys            9        12        21        37

Plowboy scoring: Javier Leanos 12, Kevin Lavalais 9, Luis Villa 7, Rafael Aguayo 4, Cutter Davila 3, Isaiah Gonzales 2.

Anson 48 – Plowboys 35

Anson                11        24        39        48
Plowboys          10        18        28        35

Plowboy scoring: Villa 11, Davila 7, Leanos 4, Aguayo 4, Gonzales 4, Lavalais 3.



Bee Caves Bob predicts an early spring for Texas.
Another rain fell this past weekend with amounts varying anywhere from a half-inch to an inch and a half, depending on location.  Roscoe's weatherman, Kenny Landfried, recorded an official total of .64", and in south Roscoe it was almost the same at .6".  However, Royce Walker got well over an inch in Inadale, and places south and southwest of town recorded similar amounts. As with the other precipitation we’ve gotten in January, the rain was slow with little runoff.  The month as a whole was a good one for moisture with totals of anywhere from two to three inches, which is a good start for the year as far as ground moisture is concerned.

Temperatures were cool, but that’s normal for the end of January.  The high for the week was 61° on Thursday, and highs were otherwise in the forties and fifties.  The low was on Monday morning when it dropped to 24°.  Winds were breezy enough to feel nippy, especially on the colder mornings.

Monday was Groundhog Day, and in Pennsylvania Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow, meaning that winter will continue for six more weeks up there.  On the other hand, down in Austin the armadillo, Bee Caves Bob, is predicting an early spring, and that’s what temperatures will feel like this weekend.  The high today should be in the mid-sixties, but a cold front will move through tonight and by tomorrow morning the low will be around 28° with north winds of 15-25mph.  Tomorrow’s high will be only about 47°, but then the weather will be springlike from Friday to Tuesday with sunny skies and temperatures in the seventies or high sixties.

There is, however, no rain in the forecast.



Wade E. Forester, Jr., 79, who passed away Saturday, January 31, was born in Roscoe to Wade Edwin & Marjorie Neblett Forester on July 27, 1935. He descended from some of Roscoe's first citizens, WEB & Clarinda McBurnett, Aaron Liberty & Mary Reeves Forester, and Valentine & Martha McBurnett Forester. Wade's mother, Marjorie, was related to the Cain, Jones, Jowell, Neblett & Sloan families who were early settlers of Stephenville, Erath County, TX.

Following his 1953 graduation from Sweetwater High School, Wade attended Texas Tech and Hardin Simmons University. He married Barbara Abbott on September 7, 1957. After his 1958-61 service in the US Army at Fort Lewis, WA, he served in the National Guard reserve at Sweetwater where he was Service Manager at Forester Chevrolet. He moved to Hurst, in 1968, where he was a forklift service mechanic until his retirement in May, 2001. He was a member of The Crusaders Class at First Baptist Church of Hurst. Wade served as a Leader for each of his sons' Boy Scout Troops, and was a frequent supporter of all sport or fine arts activity in which his children and grandchildren participated. He hauled many folding chairs, umbrellas & coolers to numerous swim meets and soccer, baseball, volleyball & football games, and rarely missed a band, choir or theater performance.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Barbara Forester; sons, Warren and wife Rae Ann Forester of Grand Prairie and Scott and wife Elizabeth Forester of Bedford, grandchildren: Aaron and wife Diana Forester of Hurst, Kayte Forester of San Marcos, Sarah Forester of Denton, and Ethan Forester of Austin; sister, Valentine Walkup of Henrietta; niece, Camille Denham & family of Wichita Falls.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to: Relay for Life – Grand Prairie Metro Rotary team or Alzheimer’s Association, 2630 West Freeway, Suite 100 Fort Worth, TX 76102.


by John Beryl Witherspoon

Editor’s note: In last week’s posting of the Hard Times, John Beryl Witherspoon told of the time he and his boyhood friend Bood went to a Methodist revival, where both boys went up with others and confessed their sins. Afterwards, Bood, a Methodist, told John that they would both get “sprinkled” the following Sunday, and John said he wouldn’t go with him because he was a Baptist.  They then got into a fight in their Sunday clothes.  A neighbor broke up the fight, but in the process John’s pants got torn and his new shirt got dirty.  This concluding episode relates what happened next.

An outdoor baptism at Seale Creek, four miles southeast of Roscoe, in 1927.

When Monday morning came, my mother milked Nanny, our cow, took care of the milk, made our breakfast, washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and then called me in and said, “Now, what I told you at breakfast about what happened yesterday; everything is going to be just fine.  Today is wash-day, so I have to go change the linens on the beds and clean the bedrooms.  This is your responsibility, and I think you should follow it to a conclusion without any help from me.  I want you to take Nanny out to the vacant lot and stake her out so that she can have some green grass, and then I want you to go to the Post Office and wait for Brother Parks to come for his mail.  When he does, I want you to tell him exactly what happened yesterday as you told it to me.  But take your time.  When you have finished, I want you to come straight home so that you can help hand out clothes on the clothes line.”  All the time she was talking, I was nodding my head vigorously.

I staked out Nanny and then went directly to the Post Office.  As I passed in front of Mr. Haney’s furniture store, where he had a wind-up Victrola, it was playing “Beautiful Ohio,” and I would have given anything if I could stay there and listen to more, but I had to go to the Post Office.  When I got there, I looked inside but Brother Parks wasn’t in there.  I waited out in front watching people who came in to pick up their mail.

Then, suddenly I saw Bood coming to the Post Office to pick up their mail.  He stopped and glared at me and said, “What are you doing here?” and I said, “I came here to talk to Brother Parks when he comes to pick up his mail.”  He said, “Yes, and I know what he is going to say.  He is going to say, ‘Don’t come sniveling to me.  Just go up there to the Methodist Church and get sprinkled because that’s the church you joined.’ And I don’t blame him because that is what happened!”  Then he dashed through the door into the Post Office.  I felt devastated.  I didn’t want to call Brother Parks “Brother” because really he wasn’t my brother because I didn’t have any brothers, and besides it sounded too bold and disrespectful for someone as insignificant as me addressing a man of his stature in such a way.  Mrs. Parks always addressed him as Mister Parks when referring to him, and I liked that.

When Bood came out of the Post Office, I called to him and he came over to where I was standing and said, “What is it now?” and I said, “Bood, I need help.  I don’t want to call Brother Parks “Brother” because he isn’t my brother.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” he said.  “Every minister in this town is called “Brother,” and nobody in town thinks anything about it except you.  It is what is called Common Practice, and, besides that, a dentist is called a dentist because that’s what he is.  He is not a tooth-puller or a tooth-filler, he is a dentist.  In the Catholic faith, they call their priests “Father,” but that doesn’t mean he is their real daddy.  You are going to have to learn that there are some things you have to accept without question.  Now I have to take this mail to my Dad, and tomorrow afternoon I will bring my glove to your house and we will play catch.”

I was standing there pondering over what Bood had said, and I looked up and saw Brother Parks coming down the street to pick up his mail.  I began to shake all over.  He had his head bowed and appeared to be in deep thought.  He didn’t even see me.  Even though I knew he was a kind, scholarly man as big as a bear with soft gray twinkly eyes and would not hurt me, I was scared just the same.  When he came out the door, I called timidly to him, but he didn’t hear me.  Then, I called his name in a loud, quavering voice.  He turned to me and I guess he could see that I was upset because I was still shaking and couldn’t stop.  He could instill confidence in anybody because of his kindness and unexcitable nature.  He put a big, warm hand on my shoulder and said, “What is it, son?” and I told him my mother told me to come and see him on account of what happened yesterday.  “I have already talked to the Evangelist,” he said, “and I am aware of everything that transpired yesterday.  Now, as to that later incident, when church was over, I wish to commend you for defending your convictions.  However, I deplore the manner in which you went about it.  There are many ways of resolving our differences without resorting to violence.  We will have a long talk after you have been baptized and are a full member of the church.  So, you may be baptized next Sunday night.”

With that, he smiled at me, patted me gently on the back and said, “I am very proud of you.”

As he walked away, I noticed I had stopped shaking and I felt so good!  I ran all the way home to help hang out the clothes.

After Bood and I played catch the next day, we had forgotten all about our disagreement, and, as the days went by, Sunday was there before I knew it.

My mother said, “Now, tonight when you go to be baptized, wear your everyday clothes because Brother Parks will be wearing one of his old suits so that neither of you will damage your good clothes.”

Underneath the rostrum at the church, there was a tank with plenty of water in it.  So, when the sermon was over and Brother Parks had taken his seat, two of the deacons, J. V. White and J. E. Clayton, went up there and started preparing for the baptism while the choir was singing.  When they had finished, Brother Parks got out of his seat, walked over there and walked down three or four steps into the water.  When they called my name, I went up there and went down those same steps.  He put his left hand around my neck and back, and in his right hand he had a folded, white linen handkerchief.  He closed his eyes and looked to the heavens and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”  Then, instantly, he slapped the handkerchief over my nose and mouth and over backwards I went!  I thought I was a goner for sure.  But, suddenly, he lifted me up and when I got my breath and water out of my eyes, I blinked and could see the lights and knew I was all right.

As I went up the steps to get out of there, he whispered to me and said, “Go to the side door and Mr. Clayton will let you out and you can go home and get your wet clothes off.”  I ran because it was just a block away.

When I had changed into my night clothes, I went upstairs and snuggled deep into my bed.  I was at peace with the world.  My best friend wasn’t mad at me anymore, my mother had mended my Sunday pants, and she had washed my new blue shirt and it was as good as new.  The last thing I remembered before I went to sleep was that I hoped they drained that tank at the church because I knew that water was black with sin.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

RCHS Students Featured in Educational Video

Roscoe’s robotics program and in particular two of its students, Caleb Ward and Austin Willman, are featured in a recently released promotional video created by Nepris, an educational program that connects working professionals, such as engineers, with high school students through interactive distance-education sessions.  Roscoe is now in its second year of working with Nepris and, as can be seen in the video, Dan Boren and his robotics students have taken advantage of it.

Roscoe's robotics program is also featured in an article in yesterday's Abilene Reporter-News entitled "Big Country schools get technical for career education."  (Click title to access)



Olivia Saddler (23) goes in for a layup against Winters last night.
The Plowgirls once again split their two district games this past week, losing to Stamford 44-34 on Friday and then avenging an earlier 43-32 loss to Winters in Winters by defeating the Lady Blizzards here last night 32-17.   Here are the scores by quarters of both games, followed by individual scoring:

Stamford 44 – Plowgirls 34

Stamford          12        20        34        44
Plowgirls            8        16        22        34

Plowgirl scoring: Olivia Saddler 13, Magali Casas 6, Selena Perez 5, Danielle Dean 4, Mia Herrera 3, Samantha Ortega 3.

Plowgirls 32 – Winters 17

Plowgirls         5          19        26        32
Winters           2          12        16        17

Plowgirl scoring: Herrera 9, Saddler 8, Ortega 8, Dean 3, Casas 2, Perez 2.

The Plowgirls’ next opponent will be Albany in Albany Friday evening.  They will be back in Roscoe next Tuesday for a game with Anson.


Cutter Davila (24) shoots from the corner in last night's game with Winters.
Javier Leanos had another banner game last night, scoring 23 points as the Plowboys came from behind to beat the Winters Blizzards in a thriller, 41-38. 

However, Stamford downed the Plowboys 45-33 in Stamford Friday evening.

Here are the scores by quarters followed by individual Plowboy scoring for both games:

Stamford 45 – Plowboys 33

Stamford           7          24        33        45
Plowboys           5          10        22        33

Plowboy scoring: Isaiah Gonzales 12, Javier Leanos 8, Rafael Aguayo 7, Cutter Davila 3, Luis Villa 2, Kevin Lavalais 1.

Plowboys 41 – Winters 38

Plowboys          5          15        25        41
Winters             9          19        27        38

Plowboy scoring: Leanos 23, Aguayo 9, Davila 3, Villa 2, Lavalais 2, Gonzales 2.

The Plowboys next face Albany in Albany on Friday evening and Anson here next Tuesday.



As predicted last week, we got rain on Wednesday and Thursday when a big cold front moved through.  There was a little snow and ice-covered windshields for a short time, but mostly it was just a cold rain that started on Wednesday evening and fell through Thursday.  For both days, Roscoe weatherman Kenny Landfried got an official total of 1.13” at his home in east Roscoe and an unofficial 1.25” at his farm northwest of town.  Others in the Roscoe area got somewhere between an inch and an inch and a half with reports of two and above in places south of town.

After the storm passed, temperatures gradually increased daily, from a high of 44°F on Friday to 68° on Monday.  Then yesterday was one of those perfect January days that remind you that it won’t be long until more springlike weather is on the way.  The mercury climbed to 75° and the wind was either calm or only light.  After all the cold weather we’ve had since Christmas, it felt positively balmy.  Today should be a repeat of yesterday: sunny skies, light winds, and a high of about 77°.

That will all change tomorrow, though, when another cold front moves through.  The high will be about 58° and the low about 38°.  Highs for the weekend will reach only into the mid-forties, with lows in the mid-thirties.  On Friday there is a 40% chance of rain, increasing to 70% Friday night.  Saturday will have a 70% chance during the day, diminishing to 40% Saturday night.  This is all to the good, of course, as the more ground moisture we can get now, the better the chances for a good crop later on.

On Sunday, the sun will be back out and the chances of rain will be only 20%.  The high should be around 44° and the low about 28°.


by John Beryl Witherspoon

Editor’s note: John Beryl Witherspoon, who grew up in Roscoe in the 1920s, wrote some short memoirs about what it was like for him and his friend Bood to be boys in those days.  Last year, three of his stories were posted in the Hard Times, one about tent shows, another about medicine shows, and a two-part memoir about Blind Walt, a well-known Roscoe character of the 1920s and 1930s.  This is another in that series.  Its focus is on religion, seen through the eyes of the two boys, one a Baptist, the other a Methodist.  As with Witherspoon’s other stories, it gives us insight into the life of Roscoe in those times.  

The old Methodist Church, built in 1924.
They had been going up and down the streets all afternoon getting permission from merchants to put placards in their show windows.  The placard had the picture of tow men on it, one at the top and one at the bottom.  They were handsome men with their black suits on with white, stiff collars on their shirts.  The placards proclaimed that the Evangelist at the top and the Singer at the bottom would be conducting the “Methodist Summer Protracted Meeting” for two weeks beginning the next Sunday.  The man at the top would be leading the singing and each afternoon he would be conducting games, singing sessions and many other things that would interest the children.  All this sounded very interesting to Bood and me, and we vowed not to miss a single thing, except at night.

The stewards and members of the congregation had been busy all that week construction a “Brush Arbor” in the back of the Methodist Church.  There was no air conditioning then, and by having the services outside, the women wouldn’t cry as much as they would if they were inside the church, and they would have more time to listen to what the Evangelist was saying.  Benches had been moved out of the church,, and “hand fans” were placed at intervals up and down the benches.  These little fans were made of card board with a little wooden handle at the bottom.  They were furnished by the merchants in town and each had their ads printed on them.  The ladies could really stir up the air with them.  The “hotter” the sermon became, the faster would fan, and it became delightfully cool iin there.

Well, during that two weeks, Bood and I didn’t miss a bit of it except at night.  But the afternoon activities were the part we most enjoyed.  Under the supervision of the Singer we played games after our singing session.  Bood liked “I want to be a Sunbeam” most.

On the Saturday afternoon before the “Protracted Meeting” was to conclude on Sunday,  I hit a long ball while Bood was playing left field, and it went all the way into Johnny Lane’s back yard, and before Bood could get the gate unfastened I was home free!  He took his glove, went home, and didn’t even say goodbye to me.

The next day, the last Sunday of the meeting, Bood and I were sitting there together and as the sermon came to a conclusion, the preacher asked the choir to sing “Just As I Am,” and at the same time he asked all the “Methodist Ladies” to come out into the congregation and talk to all us sinners.  He did this I guess because they knew us for what we were better than he did.

Bood’s mother landed on him first and within a split second, Mrs. “Hamp” Jones was beside me!  She was whispering to me quietly and after a while she said, “You believe in fair play, don’t you?”  I nodded my head.  “And, don’t you think it is fair to thank the Lord for giving you the opportunity to live here in Roscoe on “His Earth”?  Now, all you have to do is to go up there and promise to abide by “His Rules” that are defined in the Holy Scriptures or to be like those sinners, not unlike you, who might just burn in Purgatory throughout all Eternity.”  Well, that settled it.

I looked over at Bood.  His mother was earnestly talking to him and he was sobbing deep down in his stomach, and he had little white streaks on his face where tears had run down his cheeks.

We got up out of our seats and walked down the aisle, and the Preacher extended his hand and gave us a good firm handshake and told us that we had made the right decision and that he would be back and talk to us after he had shaken hands with others who were coming down the aisle.

When all us sinners were lined up in front of the rostrum, he asked all those in the congregation to also come up and shake hands with us, while the choir was still singing “Just As I Am.”

All the men gave us a big hearty handshake and smiled at us, but some of the women put their arms around us, held us close and left tear drops on us.  I never could understand that, and when I talked it over with Bood, he said, “That’s the way it is.  Women are different from men, and you have to accept that because there is nothing you can do about it, and besides I am getting tired of you “questioning” every little thing that comes up.”

When the services were over and everybody had gone home, Bood and I lingered out in the street where we had played those summer games, and we took the tobacco out of our pockets and threw it as far as we could send it and agreed to stop cussin’.

“Now,” said Bood, “there is going to be a “sprinkling” at the church next Sunday, and we can go up there together and get “sprinkled.”

I said, “Now, listen Bood, when we went up there, the preacher asked which church I go to, and I told him the Baptist, and he said that will be all right.”  “I didn’t hear that,” Bood said, and I said, “Of course you didn’t hear it because you had your head turned the other way listening to the choir singing “Just As I Am.”

With that, Bood smacked me a good one.

Charlie Hastings came out on his back porch to throw away some wet newspapers that he had wrapped around a block of ice which he had brought from town and saw us rolling in the dirt.  He came out there and pointed his finger and said, “You go this way, and you go that way.”  And that’s the way he sent us both home.

The minute I opened the front door, I could smell roast chicken and sage dressing baking in the oven and candied yams on top of the stove.  I could hear my mother in the kitchen busily chipping ice, which meant that we were going to have iced tea with our Sunday dinner!

I reluctantly went back to the kitchen, and after she had taken one look at me, she put her ice pick down and sat down in a chair.  I started blurting out, as fast as I could, what had happened.  When I gave out of breath at the end, she said, “Come here.”  I went over there, and she put her arms around me and held me close to her breast for a long time.  Then she said, “We won’t worry about it today.  We will see Brother Parks tomorrow and everything will be all right.  So now, go upstairs, clean yourself up, change into your everyday clothes, come back down, and we will have our Sunday dinner.”

But as I trudged up those stairs, I saw that my shoulder was wet with more tears.  I had lost my best friend, torn the knee out of my Sunday pants, and my new blue shirt was all but ruined.  I just knew that this had to be the worst day of my life.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

City Council Gets Updates on Water Situation, Police Activity

Police Chief Felix Pantoja informs Council of police activity in December.
At its monthly meeting Thursday evening, the City Council received several updates on City activity.  City Manager Cody Thompson reported that problems continue at the Water Treatment Plant as the recent ice storm brought down the antenna that feeds information to the computerized SCADA system, putting it out of commission.  It should be back online within the next two weeks or so.

Thompson met with Oncor on Thursday concerning the placement of additional street lighting on FM 608 by the Stone Tower RV Park and Young Farm Estates.  Progress on the Young Farm Estates continues with sewer line problems corrected and curb, gutter, and street improvements beginning soon.  Oncor should be finished with the electric lines there in the next couple of weeks.

The new Police Department is also just about complete, and its Open House is coming soon.  Work on the restrooms at the Fire Department is about to begin, and a new pump and wiring have been installed at the Sanitary Sewer Plant.

Police Chief Felix Pantoja also reported to the Council on City Police activity during the month of December.  A meth lab was put out of business, stolen property recovered, and three felony arrests made in addition to several unrelated minor infractions.



When Roscoe Officer Steven Spencer scanned vehicles at Stripes with his ALPR (Automatic License Plate Reader) early yesterday afternoon, he was surprised to find that one of them was listed as stolen.

The vehicle, a grey Dodge SUV, headed east on I-20 with Spencer following.  He turned on his flashing lights, but the male driver refused to pull over, so he notified the Sweetwater Police Department and the DPS for backup and was joined by a DPS trooper.  Spikes were set out, but the driver avoided them by driving into the ditch and continued on until he finally pulled over at around the Taylor County line.

The driver was then booked and taken to the Nolan County jail, while the vehicle was impounded and taken to an undisclosed location.  Officer Spencer was assisted in the arrest by Sweetwater Police, DPS Troopers, the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office, and the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.



Burning brush at the site on Sunday afternoon.  (Photo by Mike Massey)
Fallen tree limbs caused by the recent ice storm are still lying in yards all over town.  People have been disposing of them at the site of the Homecoming bonfires, i.e., on the north side of town at the first caliche road on the right when you’re going north on FM 608 (aka North Cypress St.).  The woodpile is just beyond the end of the fence on the north side of the road.

The City requests that this Saturday, January 24, be the last day for disposing of tree limbs and brush at that site.  Everyone is urged to put only completely combustible materials on the pile—no plastics, metal, glass, or any other non-combustibles.

The City also wishes to remind everyone that it is not responsible for the removal of broken limbs.  Residents must take care of that themselves.

For more information, contact City Hall at 325-766-3871.



The Plowboys were 1-1 in district play this past week, beating Hamlin 44-25 and losing to Haskell 48-37.  Javier Leanos had a breakout game against Hamlin, scoring 22 points—as much as the total for the rest of the team.  Here is the scoring by quarters for both games, followed by individual Plowboy scoring totals for each.

Plowboys 44 – Hamlin 25

Hamlin               3          7        20        25
Plowboys          15        24        37        44

Scoring: Javier Leanos 22, Isaiah Gonzales 7, Kevin Lavalais 7, Rafael Aguayo 5, Luis Villa 2, Cutter Davila 1

Haskell 48 – Plowboys 37

Haskell             9          23        36        48
Plowboys          8          17        26        37

Scoring: Leanos 10, Lavalais 10, Villa 8, Aguayo 6, Davila 2



The Plowgirls had a rough week in basketball, losing two district games, the first to Hamlin 31-24 on Friday evening in Hamlin, and the second to Haskell 48-25 last night in Haskell.  Here is the scoring by quarters for each followed by individual Plowgirl scoring:

Hamlin 31 – Plowgirls 24

Hamlin           6          12        19         31
Plowgirls       11          15        19         24

Scoring: Olivia Saddler 12, Mia Herrera 5, Selena Perez 5, Samantha Ortega 4

Haskell 48 – Plowgirls 25

Haskell             8          27        41        48
Plowgirls          4          10        16        25

Scoring: Ortega 10, Saddler 7, Herrera 3, Danielle Dean 3, Magali Casas 2

Next up for the Plowboys and Plowgirls are two home games, the first against Stamford on Friday evening and the second with Winters next Tuesday.



Several people have been asking what that Medevac helicopter was doing when it landed at the school yesterday around lunch time.  Fourth graders were playing on the football field and, when one boy suddenly stopped, another one ran into him at full speed, hitting his upper leg hard enough to break his femur.  Paramedics were called and after examining the injury decided to call in the helicopter as a precautionary measure.

The boy was then flown to Hendrick Medical Center for treatment.  He had surgery last night and is doing well this morning.  He will be in the hospital for a couple more days.



It’s been a nice week for weather, considering the time of year—maybe a bit breezy at times, but mostly sunshine and clear skies—and definitely warmer than it was the week before.  Temperatures through the weekend and up to yesterday were into the sixties with the high of 70°F coming on Monday.  Lows were cool but above freezing, ranging from the upper thirties to lower forties.

All that will change today, though.  The high today should reach only about 50°, and there is a 70% chance of rain this afternoon and evening.  Chances reach 100% tonight with rain or possibly snow and winds from the north at 10-15mph.  Tomorrow’s high will be only about 37° with a 70% chance of rain or snow during the day, decreasing to 40% tomorrow night when the temperature will be around 32°.  On Friday a warming trend begins with a high of 47°, a low of 31°, and a 20% chance of rain.

Saturday and Sunday will be sunnier and warmer, but without a chance of precipitation. Saturday’s high will be around 56° and Sunday’s 63°.  Lows will be in the upper thirties both days.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stone Tower RV Park Opens on North Side

The sign, stone tower, and laundromat mark the location of the new RV Park.
The Stone Tower RV Park in north Roscoe has been completed and is now open for business.  Located about a quarter mile south of US 84 on FM 608 (also known as N. Cypress), the RV Park has 53 pull-through spaces with full hookups (30 amp and 50 amp, water and sewer) and wi-fi.  There is also an on-site washateria open until 9pm.

For reservations or more information, phone 325-236-4020.  We welcome this new business to Roscoe and wish it success and good luck!



The Plowgirls in Anson on Friday. (Photo by Tiffany Waddell.)
The Plowgirls split their games this past week, losing to Anson 39-28 in Anson on Friday and defeating Hawley 45-39 here last night.  Here are the scores by quarters of both games, followed by individual scoring:

Anson                17        28        29        39
Plowgirls            4        15        20        28

Scoring: Samantha Ortega 14, Magali Casas 5, Olivia Saddler 4, Selena Perez 4, Danielle Dean 2.

Plowgirls          10        20        33        45
Hawley                2        23        29        39

Scoring: Saddler 15, Ortega 11, Mia Herrera 5, Sanchez 4, Dean 4, Casas 2, Perez 2, Alyssa Chavez 2.

Next up for the Plowgirls and Plowboys are the Pied Pipers in Hamlin Friday evening.



Plowboys Luis Villa (11) and Isaiah Gonzales (13) on defense. (Photo by Tiffany Waddell)
The Plowboys were ahead of Anson for most of the game Friday, but a disastrous fourth quarter gave the Tigers an insurmountable lead as they went on to went 43-28.  Here is the scoring by quarters, along with individual stats.
Anson                4          13        21        43
Plowboys         7          16        24        28

Scoring: Javier Leanos 12, Roman Acuña 7, Anthony Ortegon 4, Kevin Lavalais 2, Luis Villa 2, Cutter Davila 1.

Then last night they suffered another loss, this time to Hawley, 59-50.

Hawley             18        30        50        59
Plowboys           6        17        31        50

Scoring: Leanos 23, Lavalais 14, Aguayo 4, Villa 4, Isaiah Gonzales 2, Vincent Pantoja 2.



A T&P engine of the type used in 1881.  The car behind it was known as the tender.
Editor’s note: Recently I learned that a large number of copies of the old Dallas Herald newspaper, ranging in dates from 1858 to 1887, have been scanned and placed online by The Portal to Texas History, a website devoted to the preservation of Texas history.  The old issues of the paper are digitized so that word searches can be done, and in searching for the word Katula, the original name for the Texas & Pacific Railway’s water stop that would later become known as Vista and still later Roscoe, I came across an early bit of history about the place.  Since it is the earliest historical event concerning what would later become Roscoe, I find it fascinating enough to want to share with everyone.

Up until 1881, the land on which Roscoe now stands was open grass prairie.  It was occasionally traversed by the Plains Indians—mainly Comanche, but also Apache and Kiowa—in their pursuit of the buffalo that roamed through the area.  In the 1870s a few scattered buffalo hunters, cowboys, and U. S. Cavalry troops came through to kill buffalo, introduce cattle, and drive the nomadic Indian tribes northward into the Indian Territory we now know as Oklahoma.

Then in early 1881, the Texas & Pacific Railway, in its quest to build a southern rail route that would connect the east coast to the west, extended its track westward from Weatherford, previously the end of the line.  Along the way, it built water stops about every ten miles so its steam engines would have the water necessary for them to run.  Each stop was given a name in the hopes that it would eventually become a town.  From Abilene west to Colorado (now Colorado City) were Tebo (now Tye), Merkel, Trent, Eskota, Sweetwater, Katula, and Loraine.  The track reached the tent city of Sweetwater in early March 1881, the water stop of Katula in mid to late March, and the budding community of Colorado [City] in early April.  At the time Katula, about a mile west of present-day downtown Roscoe, had no settlers at all.

Less than a month after the line reached Colorado, there were two major train wrecks in Nolan County, both with fatalities and both on the same day from washouts caused by a heavy rainstorm.  The first was on Sweetwater Creek, just east of Sweetwater, and the second was on Cottonwood Creek, three miles west of Katula.  Two men were killed in the Sweetwater Creek accident, and three were killed and another seriously injured in the Cottonwood Creek wreck.  Details were provided in the following articles from the Dallas Herald.

(from the Dallas Herald, May 5, 1881)


Special to the Herald.

  Weatherford, May 3.—Two terrible wrecks occurred on the western extension of the Brazos division of the Texas & Pacific road this morning.  The first occurred at 7:10 a. m., at Sweetwater.  The bridge over Sweetwater creek had become weakened by a washout, caused by the heavy rain yesterday, and the locomotive of a west-bound freight train, John Hornest conductor, plunged into the stream.  Conductor Hornest was slightly injured.  Engineer Sanders, of Dallas, received injuries from the effects of which he died at 10:30 a. m.  The fireman, named Amos Donley, of Dallas, was killed outright.  The head brakeman of the train, name not yet learned, received injuries that may prove fatal.  

The second wreck occurred at 8:10 a. m. at a small stream [i.e., Cottonwood Creek]  three miles west of Katula occasioned by a washout similar to that of Sweetwater.  The locomotive went crushing through a bridge structure, carrying Engineer Frank Lones, his head brakeman (name not known) and Mr. J. E. Henderson, the telegraph line contractor, of Dallas, with it.  The engineer and brakeman are reported killed, and Mr Henderson was seriously, but not dangerously, injured.  The conductor, H. C. Mills, was in the caboose at the time and escaped unhurt.  Information of the wrecks were sent to Dallas and this point, and assistants ordered to the scene of each.  Colonel D. E. Grove, division superintendent, passed west to-night en route to Sweetwater.  Coffins were ordered from Weatherford and Dallas for the dead, and the bodies will be taken to Dallas to-morrow.  The wrecks occurred in the sparsely settled section of west Texas, and assistance was difficult to get.  A train was ordered from the west end of the road to the Katula wreck, but it encountered a long washout west of it, and up to to-night, it had not reached its destination.  Full details of the terrible occurrences can not be gotten this evening.


Special to the Herald.

    Colorado, May 3.—The wreck, which occurred eighteen miles east of Colorado this morning at 7 o’clock, was a fatal affair.  There were four men on the engine, all of whom were killed but one, Mr. J. E. Henderson, of the firm of Henderson & Elser, contractors for telegraph for the front.  His foot and lower part of leg was caught between the end of the boiler and a large timber, and he was buried in water up to his shoulders.  He remained in that condition twelve hours and was apprehensive of drowning, but held up like a true man.  He smoked, ate, and drank until he was removed from the wreck.  The dead are Frank Lonis, engineer, Albert Lonis, fireman, and James Layden, brakeman.  The body of the latter has not been found.


The trestle over Cottonwood Creek today three miles west of town.  This is the site where the three men died in 1881.
Editor’s note: Eight days later, the newspaper published this follow-up article about the wreck.

(from the May 12, 1881, issue of The Dallas Herald)


The dead of the Katula wreck arrived here on the 2:30 east bound passenger train yesterday, and were put off at the Union depot where a large crowd had gathered attracted by curiosity to see and hear what they could concerning the terrible wrecks, that ushered five souls into eternity.  The dead bodies of M. B. Saunders, engineer, and Billy Dye, the fireman, who were killed in the Sweetwater wreck a few miles east of Katula, were taken charge of Wednesday, the former being shipped to Nevada station, Iowa, and the latter to Fort Worth for interment.  

The dead from the Katula wreck were in plain pine boxes, and on arriving here the bodies were taken charge of by undertaker Smith, properly attired for burial and placed in neat coffins—the two Lonis brothers, Frank, the engineer, and Albert, the fireman, for shipment to Knoxville, Tennessee, their old home, and that of W. Layton, the brakeman, was interred in the Trinity cemetery at this place.  The Lonis brothers came of a good family and were known by a number of Tennesseans of this city, while they were great favorites with the railroad men.  Layton was very popular and made friends of all with whom he came in contact.  Mr. J. E. Henderson of the firm of Henderson & Elser, who have the contract for furnishing and putting up telegraph poles along the Texas & Pacific extension, who was seriously injured in this wreck, came in on the same train, and was placed in a carriage and driven to the residence of Colonel John F. Caldwell, at the corner of Akard avenue and Jackson street, where he is being attended by Dr. Thruston, who dressed his wounds, etc.  His injuries are of a serious though not fatal nature.  His worst injury is a large and ugly burn on the lower part of his right leg, the effects of the escaping steam from the engine.  He has a few slight bruises about the head.


Occurred about 5 o’clock Tuesday morning.  The train, which consisted of four or five cars of iron and other construction material and a caboose, had stopped some distance east of Katula, laying up until daylight for fear there might be some washouts on the road.  At daylight the trip was resumed.  Frank Lonis, the engineer, Albert, the fireman, Layton, brakeman, and Mr. Henderson were all in the cab.  The others aboard the train, among the number Mr. William Leslie of this city, were in the rear part of the train in the caboose.  The train was proceeding westward at ordinary speed when the trestle, where the accident occurred, which is about five feet high, was reached.  This trestle is at a low, flat point on the line and there was some three feet of water, occasioned by the rains of the previous day. 

When the train struck the trestle, it tottered under the heavy weight and the heavy timbers gave way like so many reeds, precipitating the engine tender and two cars of iron into the water.  So sudden was it that it was impossible for any of the four men in the cab to jump for their lives, and they all went down in the wreck—three out of four to death—Mr. Henderson being the only survivor.  Frank Lonis, the engineer, lived for several hours and then died.  He was taken to the caboose, and on examination it was found that he was frightfully torn and bruised about the breast and stomach.  He would now and then exclaim, “Oh, where is my poor brother?”  Once he said, “Sell it and send the money to mother.”  What he had reference to no one knows.  

All this time Mr. Henderson, who had been caught between the engine and the tender, was struggling in intense agony trying to keep his head above the rapidly rising water.  His leg was wedged in tight and the scalding water and steam from the engine was cooking the very flesh of his leg.  By a great effort he managed to get the use of his left leg, and by propping himself up by resting his hands he managed to keep his head above water.  Across his body was a bar of railroad iron, and beneath him were several more and the dead bodies of Albert Lonis and Layton.  He remained in this perilous and uncomfortable condition for nearly twelve hours, suffering torture first from the burns and bruises, which were succeeded by a terrible sensation of cold.  All efforts to rescue him until six o’clock that evening proved futile.  A messenger was sent to Coleman’s camp several miles distant and a force of men summoned to extricate him, and by prying off the board of the tender he was at last released in a very exhausted condition.  While he was pinned down in the water the stream rose four inches, and he as well as those who stood looking powerless to help him, feared that he would drown.  His sensations were terrible.  After the intense pain came numbness and all sense of feeling was gone.  He had plenty of time to think of his condition, and made up his mind that his end had come, though he still entertained some hopes of being rescued.

Frank Lonis, the engineer, was knocked a distance of some twenty feet from the engine, by the large water tank on top of the tender which tore off the cab.  The escape of Mr. Henderson from death is almost miraculous.  After his arrival last evening he was visited by a large number of lady and gentleman friends.  At ten o’clock last evening he was resting easy.



Temperatures continued to be frigid this past week.  The only low above freezing came on Sunday morning, and that was only 33°F.  The low Thursday morning was only 16°, and that was with strong breezes that made it feel even colder.  Highs were also generally colder than normal.  Sunday’s 61° seemed like an aberration after enduring highs in the thirties for the previous four days.

The outlook, however, is for warmer weather and more sunshine as the weekend approaches.  Today’s high should be only in the upper thirties with light drizzle, but tomorrow’s will be in the mid-fifties, and the weekend should see sunny skies and temperatures rising into the high fifties and low sixties.

Unfortunately, there is no precipitation to speak of in the forecast.