All the news that's fit to print.

In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The time of year is once again upon us when Americans of all races, religions, and political persuasions gather to give thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon them for the previous year.  And Roscoans have plenty to be thankful for this year—a bountiful cotton crop, continued leadership in the field of wind energy, a program at the high school to put students on the fast track for college, renovations and plans underway for new school facilities and a new high school building, a city government that is proactive in improving the city’s looks and reputation, state money for a new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant that will give the city pure, mineral-free water, as well as all our personal benefits.

Thanksgiving is also a holiday given over to getting together with loved ones to feast upon dishes we generally ignore for the rest of the year—roasted turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, pecan, or mincemeat pie--yet on this one day these dishes are somehow perfect for the occasion. If we’re not careful, we leave the table stuffed and groaning to collapse on the couch or recliner to watch the Dallas Cowboys do their annual Thanksgiving thing.  In past years, this was often a blowout of the Detroit Lions, but this year they’re playing the Saints, so anything can happen.  If you’re a college football fan, you may also be gearing up for the annual Aggies vs. Longhorns game.

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.
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 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 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!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roscoe High School Prepares for the Future

Architect's drawing of the new Roscoe High School building.

The Roscoe High School building we all know and love is now entering its final days of use.  A lot of water has passed under the bridge since it opened for business some three-quarters of a century ago, and in that time there have been within its walls countless first loves, breakups, fistfights, practical jokes, honors, performances, and other milestones of life—not to mention the knowledge gained from the many great teachers who dedicated their lives to the endeavor.  But, as Robert McBride reminded us at Homecoming, time marches on, and the day is rapidly approaching when classes will cease and students clean out their lockers for the last time there.  

According to Superintendent Kim Alexander, the last day for the old building will be at midterm in December.  In January, it goes into abatement, and in February it will be demolished.  Immediately thereafter, construction of the new High School building will begin.  The architect’s illustration above shows that something of the old building’s appearance is maintained with the twin bell towers that have characterized the school since 1938.    

Other changes have already happened or are happening now.  The elementary school has been remodeled and renovated, and at midterm students will be moving into other areas now nearing completion.  These include a new early childhood center, and, where early childhood has been, a new wing for math and science classes.  There is also a new technology center with an innovative open classroom area observable from above, along with a couple of conference rooms and offices.  

The result will be a cutting-edge facility that should serve our students well for decades to come.  
The building will feature a new gym as well as classrooms.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Plowboys Bite the Dust 49-14

The Roscoe Plowboys’ hopes for playoff success were decisively dashed at Jim Ned Stadium in Tuscola Thursday night.  They got off on the wrong foot against a strong Munday team and were never able to recover.

The Plowboys received the opening kickoff but were stopped on downs and had to punt.  Munday then moved down the field for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.  On the following kickoff, the Plowboy returner fumbled the ball and the Moguls recovered on the 21-yard line.  After a short drive, they scored again and went up 14-0, which is where the score remained until the end of the first quarter. 

Munday began the second quarter with a 15-yard run for another TD.  After the extra point, the score was 21-0, and things only went downhill for the Plowboys from there.  By halftime the score was 42-8, making the second half essentially meaningless.  The final score was 49-14 with the principal highlight of the evening for the Plowboys a 61-yard touchdown run by Caden Smith.
The Plowboys’ football season is now over while Munday moves on in the playoffs to face Iraan next week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Plowboys Hammer Yellowhammers 53-7

Collin Smith scores the first of many Plowboy TDs against Rotan.
The Roscoe Plowboys laid waste to the Rotan Yellowhammers at Plowboy Field last night, raising their district record to 3-2, which is good enough for them to make the playoffs for yet another year.  The final score was 53-7, and it could have been worse.    

Rotan’s first mistake was winning the coin toss and electing to defer to the second half.  The Plowboys received the opening kickoff, and Cody Graham returned it sixty yards all the way to the Rotan three yard line.  On the next play Collin Smith carried the ball into the end zone, and Roscoe took the lead 7-0.  

Following the ensuing kickoff, Roscoe forced Rotan to punt and almost immediately scored another touchdown when Caden Smith hit Anthony Castor on a perfectly thrown 40-yard pass.  By the end of the first quarter, the score was 19-0, and the rout was on.  The halftime score was 33-0, and at the end of three quarters it was 53-0.  

By winning, the Plowboys make the playoffs, earning the right to play at least another week.  Their opponent next Friday will be the Munday Moguls, who beat Archer City last night 32-20.  The Moguls defeated the Plowboys earlier this year in Munday 31-0.    

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cotton Crop Looking Good

Farmers around Roscoe are anticipating a banner year this year with the cotton crop.  Gary Pieper of Gary Pieper Crop Insurance estimates that with last year’s wet winter and this year’s rainfall, most of the dry land cotton around Roscoe should make from ⅔ to 1¼ bales per acre and the irrigated even more.  

According to Pieper, the cotton within a five-mile radius of town is generally better than in places such as Wastella and some parts around Inadale that got less rainfall, and all local fields suffered from the hot, dry August when temperatures got up to around 100° every day for about three weeks.  

As a result, the overall harvest may not equal some of the bumper crops of past years, but it’s still going to be well above average for most farmers, and the price of cotton this year is higher than it’s ever been.   Because of lower yields worldwide due to floods in Pakistan and bad weather in India, the demand for cotton is exceeding supply, and recent cold spells in China and hailstorms in the Texas panhandle have caused prices to go even higher.   

On the futures exchange in New York, cotton jumped on Tuesday to $1.34 a pound for December delivery, which is the highest it’s ever been.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that all the farmers in this area will be getting that much for their cotton, though.  A majority of them are in the Plains Cotton Co-op Association pool that contracted to sell the cotton back when the price was much lower.  However, even they should be able to get around 80 cents a pound and possibly more—and that’s a lot higher than last year when prices were in the mid-60’s, or the year before when it was in the low 60’s.  

So, all things considered, if the area can get some decent weather between now and the end of harvest, this year’s cotton crop should go down as one to remember.  


The Roscoe Plowboys defeated the Ralls Jackrabbits in Ralls last Friday night 33-12 to bring their record to 2-2 in the district.  They conclude regular season play at Plowboy Field on Friday night against the Rotan Yellowhammers, but if they win, they'll be in the playoffs.  Kickoff is at 7:30.  

Blog Archive