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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is upon us once again, and people all over the country will be getting together with family and friends to celebrate this uniquely American holiday.  No matter what our race, religion, or political persuasion, we all use the day to pause, count our blessings, and give thanks for the many good things we enjoy. 

As always, the central event of the day is Thanksgiving Dinner, which involves turkey and dressing, along with the other familiar Thanksgiving dishes--giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and others. 

The holiday has also evolved over time and usually now includes playing games or watching television with friends and family.  For many, the holiday will begin with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV at 8:00am.  Later, for the men and boys at any rate, what’s Thanksgiving without a good helping of football along with the Thanksgiving feast?  The Detroit Lions, who, like the Cowboys, always play on the holiday, will kick off things at 11:30 with an important divisional game with the Green Bay Packers.  Then at 3:30 Dallas faces the Oakland Raiders, a team they rarely play. 

The Cowboys game always used to be followed by the Longhorns and the Aggies, but since A&M joined the Southeastern Conference, that 118-year old traditional matchup is gone.  Instead, this year it will be the Longhorns against the Red Raiders at 6:30 in a game that should draw plenty of local interest. 

At the end of the day, we will all hopefully have had our fill of food and football and be happy to have once again touched base with dear friends and relatives. 

Since that first Thanksgiving feast shared by the Pilgrims and Indians in New England, the holiday has been observed in many ways, but if you were a boy growing up in Roscoe in the 1950’s or 1960’s, you may well have been involved in a yearly Thanksgiving ritual that was celebrated in a way like no other I ever heard of. 

(Editor’s note: I ran this upcoming account three years ago, before this blog had that many viewers, so if you’ve already read it, just skip down to the next article.  If you haven’t, though, please read on.  I run it again because it recently came to my attention that there are some Roscoe folks who didn’t know about the tradition and were having trouble believing it ever really occurred.  I hope the following narrative will convince you otherwise.)

The Roscoe Boys Club had an annual Thanksgiving Feast, usually held on a little creek on a ranch not far from Maryneal.  Each boy who participated, and there were usually about twenty or twenty-five who did, was instructed to bring a dish from home—potato salad, pie, cobbler, cake, cranberry salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans, potato chips, sweet potatoes—anything except the turkey and dressing, which was furnished by the Boys Club and prepared by the local Steak House.  Boys Club director George Parks would make up a huge steel vat of lemonade made with fresh-squeezed lemons and pour in Welch’s grape juice from quart bottles. The squeezed lemon rinds would be thrown into the vat for flavor, and the top of the lemonade was covered by crushed ice and floating lemon rinds.

All the boys would meet at the Roscoe Times office at about nine or nine-thirty on Thanksgiving morning and go out to the ranch in a borrowed school bus, arriving at the creek around ten or ten-thirty.  Time between then and feast time was taken up with games, explorations up the creek, and shenanigans of one sort or another—like stripping off all our clothes and running around “in the raw” as we called it.

Then, when it was time to eat, the food would be brought out and set up on rock ledges.  Boys would get a paper plate, line up, and fill their plates with everything that looked good to them. They would then go sit on a rock somewhere and start eating.  There was always glory for the boys who could eat the most. But everybody ate two or three times as much as normal, especially since there was always an abundance of dessert, and the time after the meal was punctuated by the moans of those who had gorged themselves, that is, the majority of the boys.  Nothing happened for at least a half hour while everyone lay on rocks and tried to recover, but then as stomachs started feeling better, activity would once again start up.  Now it was time for the Rat Race, the highlight of the day.

The Rat Race was a kind of initiation ceremony.  Boys who had run the Rat Race on a previous Thanksgiving were the throwers, and boys making the trip for the first time were the rats, the runners.  First, a nice grassy expanse was located, one which could be run on barefooted without hurting the feet.  This was always somewhere down by the creek.  Then all the half-lemon rinds in the lemonade vat would be distributed to the throwers.  There would generally be enough rinds for every thrower to have two or three.

The hapless victims, the runners, would then strip down completely naked.  This in itself could be harsh, especially in those years when Thanksgiving happened during a cold spell with a sharp north wind.  In the meantime, the throwers with their lemon rinds would arrange themselves in a long line running parallel to the creek.  The runners, who were at one end of the line, would wait their turn to “run the gauntlet” between the creek and the throwers.

When George said, “Go,” one of them would run as fast as he possibly could past the line of about twenty howling boys, who would pelt him with the lemon rinds as hard as they could throw them as he went running by.  When he got to the end of the line, he would jump into the creek for a quick, cold washoff because he would be covered with the sticky lemonade juice that came from his pelting.  Throwers would then retrieve their lemon rinds, line up again, and yell out threats and taunts at the next victim until George set him off and the pelting resumed.

This process was repeated until every rat had run.  The only rules for the throwers were that you could not throw until the boy was even with or past you—and that you couldn’t aim for the head.  Backs, sides, and butts were the acceptable targets, and a hard-thrown half-lemon rind could raise a welt, especially when thrown by some of the older boys.  The only mercy shown was to the littlest boys who bravely endured the ordeal.  Everyone else was pelted unmercifully.  The only solace for the runner, often through held-back tears, was that once he had run the Rat Race, he never had to do it again.  Instead, he could look forward to being one of the throwers the following year and forever thereafter. 

Happy Thanksgiving!



Icicles hanging from the roof of my house.
Mark Twain once said, “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.” But here in west Texas, there is often not a whole lot to talk about.  Typically, it’s clear, sunny, and breezy, and, when people do talk about it, it’s generally to complain about the lack of rain.

But this past week was different.  We have just come through one of the worst November cold spells in years, with enough frigid temperatures, freezing rain, sleet, and ice to last the entire winter.  The highways and country roads were treacherous with black and patchy ice, and, according to Roscoe Police Chief Felix Pantoja, there were too many wrecks to count.  The bridge just outside Loraine was especially treacherous with several accidents and one fatality.

It all started on Friday when a massive cold front blew in with high north winds that sent temperatures down to 25°F and the wind chill down into the mid teens.  Then, it stayed that way until Monday, never getting above freezing and bringing most outside activities to a screeching halt.  During that time, there were constant weather advisories for the area, and you couldn’t watch anything on the local TV channels without there being a little grid of all the surrounding counties in one of the top corners of the screen. 

Saturday night was probably the worst.  Car windshields were covered with ice, and the north wind was blowing a constant 25mph with gusts up to 35.  On Saturday evening, I parked my car next to the museum, and, when I got out, I heard a loud crackling, popping sound overhead.  I couldn’t imagine what it was until I looked up and saw it was the flag, frozen and icy, flapping in the strong wind.

Sunday wasn’t much better than Saturday.  The cold remained but at least the winds died down.  There was some freezing drizzle and sleet that night.  Monday was better with the high making it to 34°, and then yesterday the sun finally came out again and the afternoon temperature climbed to a balmy 46°.  Outside, birds were once again everywhere and dogs were barking, something they’d done very infrequently, if at all, during the preceding days.

Although it was only 28° (Lyndall Underwood had 27°) this morning. the sun is out, and temperatures should once again get into the upper forties with only a light south breeze.  Tomorrow and Friday should see highs in the fifties and lows in the thirties, and by Saturday the afternoon temperatures will be back into the sixties.

The storm has moved east, and the mayhem it brought to west Texas these past few days are now being predicted for the Southeast—meaning that the people there will be dealing with cancelled flights and treacherous driving conditions on Thanksgiving weekend.  At least we can be thankful we won’t be dealing with that. 

Kenny Landfried, Roscoe’s official weatherman, reports that we officially got .83” of moisture here in town during the cold spell.  He also says that on his farm four miles northwest of town, he got 1.23”.



Irrigated cotton just east of Roscoe.
The cotton harvest is just about half done now. At the Roscoe Central Rolling Plains Co-op Gin, gin manager Larry Black reports that some 23,000 bales have already been ginned with about a hundred modules in the field, which when ginned will bring the total to around 35,000 bales. 

That figure suggests that this year’s yield will be roughly similar to last year’s 67,000 bales but maybe a little better. Black thinks that by season’s end we’ll have more than last year with a final tally of somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 bales.  So far, the quality of the cotton has been better than expected. 

Ginning continued until Sunday when the bad weather forced it to a halt.  The hauling of modules will begin again on Saturday, and by Monday the gin will once again be running 24 hours a day.



Clemente Aguayo and Murissa Horton at the National Air and Space Museum. (All 4-H photos courtesy of Linda Hatcher.)
Roscoe eighth graders Murissa Horton and Clemente Aguayo and teachers Linda Hatcher and Katie Heaps are back from the 4-H Tech Wizard training sessions they attended at the National 4-H Conference Center in Washington, DC, this past weekend.

The group was delayed for a day because of a cancelled flight due to the bad weather, so they took advantage of their extra time by seeing some of the sights there including the Capitol building, the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the WWII Memorial, and the National Mall with its museums and sights. 

They are back in Roscoe now enjoying the time off from school for the Thanksgiving holidays.  They look forward to training the other 4-H student members how to help seniors with technology.



Mia Herrera (30) takes a shot against Hawley last night.
Last week, the Plowgirls got to play two games in the Irion County Tournament before it was cancelled due to the bad weather.  They lost to Rankin and won against Irion County.

Rankin beat them 40-24.  The first quarter ended with the Plowgirls behind 6-4, and by halftime Rankin led by ten 22-12.  At the end of three they increased the lead to fourteen, 30-16, and then won by sixteen, 40-24.

High scorer for the Plowgirls was Mia Herrera with 8 points.  Eva Aguayo had 5, Sam Ortega 4, Whitney Williams 3, and both Sunshine Saddler and Shelby Brown had 2. 

The Plowgirls then beat Irion County.  They jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the first quarter, and at halftime led 22-15.  By the end of the third, the score was 30-24, and the final score was 35-31.

High scorer for the Plowgirls was Ortega with 9 points, followed by Aguayo with 8, Saddler 6, Brown 5, Williams 3, and Dani Dean 2.

Then, last night in the RCHS Special Events Center, the Plowgirls were victorious over the Lady Bearcats from Hawley. The Plowgirls jumped out to an early 14-3 first quarter lead and at the half were still ahead by four 18-14.  They increased their lead to 30-18 by the end of the third quarter, and won the game with an 18 point cushion, 45-23.

High scorer for the Plowgirls was Aguayo with 15, while Saddler had 7, Ortega 6, Brown and Payne 4, Williams 3, and Selena Perez 2.

The Plowgirls are now 3-2 on the year.  They will play Trent next Tuesday, December 3, and then in the Highland tournament on Thursday, December 7.



Anthony Ortega (30) goes for a layup against the Bearcats.
If the Plowboys had played as well in the first half as they did in the second, things might have turned out differently, but as it was, they fell to the Hawley Bearcats by a margin of ten, 45-35.

Hawley got off to a fast start and led by the end of the first quarter 16-7.  They then extended their lead by halftime to 33-12, and at that point it appeared they would blow the Plowboys out.  But in the second half, Roscoe played much better, especially on defense.  By the end of the third quarter, they had cut the lead to 15, 37-22, and in the fourth quarter continued to outplay Hawley, cutting the lead to just ten by the end of the game.  They could have cut it even further except for a scoring drought right towards the end. 

Kevin Lavalais was the leading scorer for the Plowboys with 11 points, followed by Javier Leanos and Rafael Aguayo, who both had 8.  Jesus Leanos and Chase Cathey both had 3, and Cutter Davila had 2.

The Plowboys are now 0-2 on the year, having lost to Colorado City in their first game 51-29.  Their next game is next Tuesday at home against Trent, followed by the Highland tournament starting next Thursday.



Funeral services were held this morning at 10:00am in the Wright Colonial Funeral Home chapel in Snyder for Lonnie Henry, 75, of Snyder, formerly of Roscoe, who passed away on Sunday in Snyder. 

He was born on June 13, 1938, in Jacksonville, Texas. He owned and operated Lonnie's Barber Shop in Roscoe until his retirement in 1978. He then drove a bus for Snyder ISD and McKinney ISD for ten years. 

Survivors include three daughters and two sons-in-law: JoAnn and Robby Cearly, Von Dale Henry, and Terri Sue Henry and Steve Hand, all of Snyder; One son and daughter-in-law: Tom E. and Shawna Henry of North Carolina; One brother and sister-in-law: Tommie and Nell Henry of Hermleigh; eight grandchildren: Sarah Cearly, Bear Hand, Bubba Hand, and Julie Hand, all of Snyder, T.J. Jones of Austin, Troy Joe Henry of Lubbock, and Brandon and Austin Henry, both of North Carolina; One great-grandson: Cameron Joe of Snyder; One niece: Mande Reaves and family of Lubbock; and one nephew: Jimmie Joe Henry of San Angelo.

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