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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Down Memory Lane: Money Then and Now

Shields Grocery ad from a 1959 Roscoe Times.

One thing we’ve all experienced in our lives is the way money and our relationship to it has changed over the years.  In general, I’d say that the current generation is growing up with a silver spoon in its mouth compared to the way things were fifty years ago—but of course back then we all grew up hearing stories about how we were the ones who were spoiled because we’d never gone through the hard times of the depression. 

With that said, it goes without saying that today’s dollar, which is not even worth as much as a Canadian dollar, has nowhere near the value it had back then.  Like many other Roscoe boys, the first paying job I ever had was folding papers for George Parks at the Roscoe Times on Thursday afternoons.  The pay was seventy-five cents for about two hours’ work, and to a boy in those days, it seemed like a princely sum.

I would keep a quarter and put the rest in the Boys Club bank to use for trips or other Boys Club expenses like shotgun shells during dove season.  That quarter I kept would usually last me through the weekend, being spent on such frivolities as baseball cards, balsawood gliders from Arant’s Variety Store, or ice cream cones from Haney’s Rexall Drugs.  Baseball cards were a nickel a pack, the gliders were a dime apiece, and ice cream cones were a nickel for a single dip and a dime for a double.

When I was eleven, my financial status jumped considerably when I got a regular job at the Times Office, working every day after school, and eight to twelve on Saturdays.  George paid me four dollars a week for the first month I worked there, and then he kicked it up to five after that.  From that point on, I considered myself wealthy, and I was, compared to most of my classmates, who were typically broke and had money only on occasion.  I always kept at least a quarter in my pocket, and when I think today about how having a quarter in my pocket back then could change my whole outlook on life, I have to laugh. 

But a dollar back then was a lot more money than a dollar is now.  In very general terms, a modern dollar is worth maybe a 1960 dime—if that.  In the fifties a cup of coffee went from a nickel to a dime, and then about 1960 or so, fancy places started charging twenty cents, and I can remember listening to adults saying that they’d quit drinking coffee before they’d pay twenty cents for a cup—and this was in the day of unlimited free refills.  Today, if you can get a single cup for $1.50, you’re lucky.

Hamburgers at Haney’s Drug Store were 25¢, cheeseburgers were 30¢, potato chips on the side were another 5¢, and a cherry coke to drink with it was either a nickel or a dime, depending on the size you got.  And you didn’t have to go to the counter to make your order or to pick it up when your number was called.  You were served by a smiling waitress who brought you a glass of ice water before you ordered. 

At the Joy Theater, if I remember correctly, admission was 14¢ for kids and 35¢ for twelve and older.  A small paper bagful of popcorn was a nickel, and so was most of the candy they sold there: Big Hunks, Sugar Daddies, Snickers, and Baby Ruths.  Compare that with today’s movie prices in cities, which are something like $8 or $9 for a ticket, $7 for popcorn, and $5 to $7 for a Pepsi, depending on what size you get.  

Back then, a dollar’s worth of gas was a standard amount at Chubby and Mac’s or Pat Vines’ or Hugo Zetzman’s service station, and in addition to about four gallons of gas, that dollar got you a clean windshield, an oil check, and air in your tires, if they needed them, from an eager attendant.

Who knows what a dollar will be worth fifty years from now?  If we use the change in the dollar over the past fifty years as a guide, we can project that people will be paying something like $35 or $40 for a cup of coffee and something over $1000 to take the family out for a meal at a nice restaurant for which the tip to the waitress will be $150 or so.  A decent job will pay half a million a year and God only knows what college tuition will cost.

Compare those figures with the old stories many of us have heard about the depression—how a hamburger was a nickel or how men worked hard labor jobs for a dollar a day and felt that they were lucky to get it.  



While hurricane Irene flooded the entire east coast, Roscoe and the rest of west Texas experienced yet another week of hot, dry weather.  The past three days here have each had a maximum temperature of 105°F, and today’s forecast is for a high of 103°.  On Monday, after a sunny high of 105°, the skies clouded over about three o’clock, but the temperature dropped only to 102° for the rest of the afternoon.  Maybe I’ve been gone from west Texas too long, but I can’t remember ever being in cloudy weather when the temperature was that high. 

The high for the rest of the week is supposed to drop down into the double digits, 98° or so, but there is still no serious chance of precipitation in the forecast. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

David Pantoja to Open Tire Store Downtown

Preparations are underway to open another new business downtown, this one by David Pantoja.  The VP Tire Service will be located on 702 East Broadway in the building where Jesse Faust’s Garage was located for many years. 

The VP Tire Service will sell both new and used tires, do general maintenance such as oil changes, flats,  and brakes, and make minor repairs.  There are also plans to have a service truck. 

For a while now, the business has been open on Saturdays and by appointment, but after the grand opening, it will be open six days a week.  The exact times are not yet certain, but they will be something like 7:30am-5:30pm Monday through Friday and 8:00am-2:00pm on Saturday.

The grand opening is tentatively set for Labor Day weekend with refreshments for all.  For more information, contact David Pantoja at 325-280-1917.



The Roscoe Plowboys prepared for the upcoming football season with a scrimmage against the Grape Creek Eagles at Plowboy Field on Thursday evening.  They looked sharp on both sides of the ball and after all the hard work of football camp, appear to be ready to go. 

The 2011 schedule is unusual in that the Plowboys will open the season with four away games.  They won’t play at Plowboy Field until they face Munday on September 23. 

One of the toughest games of the season will be the one they play this Friday night against the Albany Lions in Albany.  A perennial powerhouse, the Lions are ranked ninth in the state in Division I of Class A. 

Roscoe Plowboys 2011 Football Schedule:

     Aug. 26      Albany
     Sept. 1       Hawley
     Sept. 9       Stamford
     Sept. 16    Merkel
     Sept. 23    MUNDAY
     Oct. 7        HAMLIN*
     Oct. 14      Roby*
     Oct. 21      CROSBYTON*
     Oct. 28      RALLS*
     Nov. 4       Rotan*

Home games in all caps; * denotes district games.



At the B (Community Improvement) Board meeting last week, the City of Roscoe solidified plans to improve the little downtown park across the street from the Roscoe State Bank on Cypress Street .   

MasterScapes of Abilene will be involved in the landscape design and placement of trees, seating, and pedestrian walkways.  This is the same company that previously worked with the City on the Veterans’ Memorial Park downtown.

Funding was also approved for the construction of a seven to eight foot tall brick wall running from the southeast corner of the  park along Cypress to 2nd Street and another one running from the southeast corner all the way back to the alley between Cypress and Bois d’Arc Streets.  

Plans were also discussed for the painting of a mural on the store wall facing the Veteran’s Memorial Park on the corner of Cypress and Broadway.  



Roscoe had another week of consistently hot, dry, and sunny weather with few clouds.  Winds were from the south or southeast at 5 to 15 mph.  High temperatures were 100°-103° and lows were 77°-80°.  The forecast for the coming week is for more of the same with little possibility of precipitation.



Funeral services for Isabel Luevanos, 67, were held on Saturday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Sweetwater and followed by interment in the Roscoe Cemetery.  She died at home on Thursday.

Born November 6, 1943, in Karnes City, she was married to Eusebio Luevanos and had lived in Nolan County since 1980.  Survivors include her husband; daughters Patricia Rangel, Mary Gutierrez, and Isabel Velesques of Sweetwater, Gloria Chavez of Roscoe, and Irene Chavez of Edinburg; sons Danny Chavez of Lubbock, David Chavez of Abilene, Ramon Chavez and Andy Chavez of Sweetwater, and Mike Chavez of Roscoe; a grandson Harvey Flores of Roscoe; 20 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Business to Open Downtown

Site of new stores opening soon.
Roscoe will soon have a new feed and seed store across the street from the Lumberyard, where the Ag Center is currently located. 
Owned by Bruce McGlothlin and Chuck Harvey, it will be operated at least initially by Chuck Harvey.  They plan to be open for business sometime in mid-September.

McGlothlin and Harvey also intend to open a general store next door, where they will sell hardware and other items.  It will be where Dandy Fence was formerly located. They expect to have it up and running by the end of the year.   

This is good news for downtown Roscoe, and we wish them all the best in their endeavor. 



Roscoe witnessed a spectacular display of thunder and lightning last Friday night, but rainfall on Friday night and Saturday morning was scattered, and the amount received depended on the location. 

Lyndall Underwood’s weather station on the west end of Roscoe got nothing, and at my house in the middle of town there was only a trace, enough to get the sidewalk wet, but no more than that.  Kenny Landfried, on the east side of town, registered .4”. 

On the other hand, at Scott Etheredge’s house a couple of miles northwest of town, it rained an inch and a half, and two miles west of him the Wiman place got 2.7”.  Brownlee School  received 1.3”, and two inches fell at Pyron. 

On Saturday, the high temperature for the day was only 90°F, the lowest maximum recorded for at least a couple of months.  Since then, however, temperatures have returned to this summer’s normals of 100° or better for the high and high 70°s for the low, with the forecast for the coming week being more of the same.  



The Roscoe Plowboys will continue preparations for the upcoming football season tomorrow  (Thursday, August 18) at 6:00pm when they scrimmage the Grape Creek Eagles, a 2A school in the same district as Colorado City and Kermit.  The Plowboys scrimmaged with Haskell at Haskell last Saturday.

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, recognized as the authoritative source for Texas high school football for the last fifty years, predicts the Plowboys to finish fourth in District 7-A, DII, this year.  Here is their predicted district outcome for 2011:

     1.    Hamlin
     2.    Crosbyton
     3.    Ralls
     4.    Roscoe
     5.    Roby
     6.    Rotan

Here’s what they have to say about the Plowboys:

Coach: Jonathan Haseloff.  Lettermen R/L: 4/12.  Starters returning O/D 3/3.  2010: 4-7, bi-district finalist, 3-2 district. 
Players to watch: OL/DE Devon Freeman (5-11, 182), C/NG Corey Hatcher (5-11, 240).  Top junior TE Landon Jones (5-11, 180, 5.0).  Other prospects: RB/LB Eric Padilla, TE/DE Matthew Cuellar, WR/DB John Hermosillo. 

The Plowboys play their first game of the year against the Albany Lions in Albany next Friday, August 26.  They will have their work cut out for them as Albany is ranked ninth in state in Class A, Division 1.



U. S. Representative Mike Conaway (R)  addressed Roscoans at the Community Center last Wednesday afternoon.  Introduced by Larry Williams, he discussed several topics, including the debt ceiling controversy and the upcoming presidential race.  He predictably espoused current Republican positions on all points and said he would support Texas Governor Rick Perry for President.



The Nolan County Clerk's Office reminds all ranchers and farmers that every ten years Texas requires brands and marks to be re-registered.  Re-registration begins August 31 and concludes February 29.  The cost is $16 per location.  

For additional information, phone the Clerk's Office at 325-235-2462 during business hours.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Game Room Opens Downtown

Roscoe’s newest business is the Reel Deal Game Room, which opened for business last Wednesday.  Located near the corner of Broadway and Main Streets where Doc Daily’s office used to be, it is run by Ollie Monroe and Lori Falcon.

Hours of operation are from noon to midnight Monday through Thursday, noon to whenever on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm to midnight on Sundays.

Patrons play for tickets that can be redeemed at the Lumberyard, Dandy Western Wear, Doris’s Sweet Shop, and the Check Mart convenience store on Lamar in Sweetwater.  Gift cards for Stripes, Wal-Mart, and the Sweetwater Subway are also offered when available.  



At the City Council meeting last night, City Manager Cody Thompson announced that construction of Roscoe’s new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant is now scheduled to begin next May or June and be completed six or seven months later.  

Before construction begins, invitations for bids must be issued, applications must be reviewed, a pilot study must be done and approved by the state, equipment must be procured, and other steps must be carried out. 

When completed, the plant will convert Roscoe’s water, which is currently six times harder than normal, to pure water, free of the unwanted minerals it now contains.  



City and County workers have begun paving several Roscoe streets and will be busy this week and next laying down seal coating.  The City provides the materials while the County provides workers and equipment.  

Last week they repaved a large part of the old highway between Roscoe and Sweetwater, and yesterday they laid down a new coat of asphalt and gravel on Pecan Street.  Still to come is work on portions of Elm, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Streets.  



The weather for the past week was once again sunny, hot, and dry, as it has been all summer.  High temperatures ran from 101° to 105°F and lows were around 79° or 80°F.  The forecast for the foreseeable future calls for more of the same.



At last night’s City Council meeting, Roscoe Police Chief Felix Pantoja introduced new city officer Bill Hack to the Mayor and Council.  Officer Hack is currently also the security officer for TSTC.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Highland Tops Rankings of Nolan County Schools

Roscoe Collegiate High School received a Recognized ranking.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released its school accountability ratings for 2011 and rated Highland School as Exemplary, the highest possible rating.  Roscoe High School was close behind with a Recognized rating, the second highest. 

Roscoe Elementary received an Academically Acceptable rating but came within a single percentage point in one category of maintaining its Recognized level of 2010.* 

Here are the TEA ratings for Nolan County schools: 

1.  Exemplary – Highland School

2.  Recognized
          Roscoe Collegiate High School
          Sweetwater Intermediate School
          Sweetwater East Ridge Elementary
          Sweetwater Southeast Elementary

3.  Academically Acceptable
          Roscoe Elementary School
          Blackwell School
          Sweetwater Middle School

4.  Academically Unacceptable – Sweetwater High School

Highland School and Roscoe High maintained their rankings from last year, but all the others dropped a level, primarily because of the new, tougher standards implemented this year. 

Statewide, the number of Academically Unacceptable rankings increased by over 400% from 2010, while the number of Exemplary schools fell by over half.   

Unfortunately, with the $4.8 billion cut in state education funding for the next two years, Texas schools will have a tough time just maintaining their current academic levels and an extra tough time in making any improvements.

For details, see the related article in Sunday’s Abilene Reporter-News by clicking here, and the complete TEA Accountability Report by clicking here.

*At least 15% of a school’s economically disadvantaged students had to make a Commended ranking (roughly equivalent to an A) on the test for the school to achieve a Recognized rating, and only 14% of Roscoe Elementary’s did.



Cynthia Walsh Holman, 52, from Pearland was killed when she lost control of her 2008 Chevrolet HHR on US 84 at 11:57am on Sunday.  She was driving toward Roscoe when her vehicle reportedly went off the road into the median.  She then overcorrected, causing the vehicle to roll and wind up in a cotton field.  She was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.  



The weather remained relentlessly hot and dry as it has for months.  High temperatures once again typically topped the 100° mark with the high for the week yesterday’s 105°F.  Lows were in the high 70°s.

There was actually a little rainfall last Friday when an afternoon shower briefly passed through.  Unfortunately, however, precipitation was minimal.  Lyndall Underwood recorded three-hundredths of an inch on the western end of town while other locales got as much as a tenth of an inch—and still others nothing at all.

The forecast for the coming week calls for more hot, dry weather with clear skies and highs between 101° and 104°.   

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