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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Good Friday on the Highway": A Writer Remembers Roscoe with Gratitude

The 18-inch snowstorm of 1996 stranded hundreds of travelers.
Everyone who was in this area on Good Friday of 1996 will remember the freak snowstorm that dumped eighteen inches of snow that day, snarling traffic on US 84 and I-20 and leaving scores of travelers stranded and helpless.

One of those trapped travelers, Amanda Witt, certainly recalls her family’s predicament that day, and on Good Friday this past week, twenty years later, the Christian news blog, The Stream, published her account of the experience and her appreciation of the Roscoe folks who opened their churches, homes, and hearts to everyone who needed help and shelter from the unexpected blizzard.

On her way from Lubbock to Abilene with her husband and small daughter, she recounts their hitting the storm just on the Roscoe side of Snyder, their initial decision to return to Snyder only to find the way back closed, the return to the bumper-to-bumper traffic on eastbound US 84, the multi-hour drive, and her very real concerns about running out of gas and being left stranded on the side of the road somewhere—and then, finally, her great relief when they do make it to Roscoe, where they find food, safety, and a warm place to sleep (the Church of Christ), just as countless other stranded travelers did that night, thanks to the hospitality and help of the people of Roscoe.

She concludes her narrative by showing how her Good Friday experience that year is indicative of the Easter message itself. The article is well worth a read. It’s interesting, well written, and ends on a positive note. And for many, I’m sure, it will bring back old memories. You can read it for yourself by clicking here.

Amanda Witt, Ph.D., is a homeschooling mother and the author of The Red Series, a four-part thriller set in the near future. She has published fiction, non-fiction, academic articles and poetry; and has taught at Lubbock Christian, Texas A&M, and the University of Kansas.



The Plowboys finished fifth in a field of eight area schools (Clyde, Merkel, Jim Ned, Stamford, Roscoe, Haskell, Hawley, Hamlin), and the Plowgirls finished fifth in a field of nine (Jim Ned, Clyde, Hamlin, Merkel, Roscoe, Haskell, Stamford, Eula, Hawley) at the Badger Relays in Merkel last weekend.

Plowboy Max Nemir won the 300 meter hurdles, Jayden Gonzales won the pole vault and Austin Willman was second, Alfonso Islas finished second in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs, and the 4 x 400 meter relay team also finished second.


     Event                      Place            Athlete            Time/Distance 
300 meter hurdles       1          Max Nemir                     42.71
Pole vault                       1          Jayden Gonzales           11’
Pole vault                       2          Austin Willman            10’
1600 meter run             2          Alfonzo Islas                 5:11.37
3200 meter run             2          Alfonzo Islas                11:44.4
4 x 400 meter relay      2          Plowboys A                  3:39.11
   (Braiden Moore, Max Nemir, Diego Garza, Kevin Lavalais)
400 meter dash             3          Kevin Lavalais              53.46
Shot put                          5          Anthony Ortegon         39’ 4½”


The Plowgirls had three second-place finishes, two from Bonnie Wilkinson and the other from Lyndi Wilkinson:

200 meter dash             2          Bonnie Wilkinson          27.27
400 meter dash             2          Bonnie Wilkinson       1:03.97
Triple jump                    2          Lyndi Wilkinson             32’ 7”
4 x 100 relay                   5          Plowgirls A                      55.92
   (L. Wilkinson, B. Wilkinson, A. Solis, Kamri Spencer)
800 meter run               6          Alejandra Solis             2:44.57

Both teams will compete in the San Angelo Relays this weekend.



Roscoe’s One-Act Play cast didn’t finish well enough to advance to Regional this year, but they did win some individual honors. Caleb Ward was chosen as Best Actor, Adrian Ortega was a member of the All-Star Cast, and Johnny Cuellar won the Tech Award.

And, at the UIL Academics district competition last week, Caty Chavira was first and Nolan Reese third in Prose Reading and Kevin Lavalais sixth in Spelling.



Wayne "The Train" Hancock
Wayne “The Train” Hancock, who bills himself as “the King of Juke Joint Swing” will be at the Lumberyard Saturday for a return engagement. A songwriter and singer, whose eclectic musical style defies simple description, always puts on an unusual and entertaining show. describes his performances like this, “Hancock, who tosses out a roots mix of old country, roadhouse blues, western dance swing, boogie bop, and straight-up rockabilly, takes what was once old and makes it seem like it’s always been and always will be.”

Since releasing his first album, That’s What Daddy Wants, in 1997, he has produced eight others including Thunderstorms and Neon Signs (1998), A-Town Blues (2001), Viper Melody (2009), and Ride (2013). Videos include “Thunderstorms and Neon Signs,”  “Wild, Free and Restless,” and “Tulsa.”

Jamie Tollison and the Blackland Dirt Revival will open the show at 8:00pm. Hancock will take the stage about 9:45pm.

For reservations or more information, call the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.


Lillian Gish battles the west Texas wind in the 1928 movie The Wind.
Back in 1928, an award-winning silent movie called The Wind starring Lillian Gish depicted the story of a Virginia girl who becomes a mail-order bride and moves to west Texas, where she is slowly driven crazy by the relentless wind.  And for the past three weeks, it’s been hard not to sympathize with her plight as the winds have dominated the weather with little relief, blowing both day and night and from all directions. I guess it’s not for nothing that Roscoe is referred to as “The Wind Capital of the World.”

This past week’s weather seemed unable to make up its mind whether it wanted to be hot or cold. Last Wednesday’s high of 81°F dropped on Thursday to a high of 63°, was back up to 80° on Saturday and back down to 64° on Sunday. The cooler days actually felt colder than the temperature would suggest because both were accompanied by chilly north breezes. The low for the week was 40° Friday morning. Skies for the entire week were either partly cloudy or clear, and there was no precipitation.

The winds will continue to blow today and the high should climb to 84°, but tomorrow a cold front will move through and the forecast high for Friday is only 53° with a strong north wind. But that’s the bad news. The good news is that the meteorologists are giving us a 70% chance of rain Friday, although it probably won’t be a heavy one. But some is better than none, and we’ll be happy for any we can get.

Saturday will be considerably warmer, and the weekend promises to be a nice one.



Holy Mass of Christian Burial for Evelyn Elizabeth (Machart) Krejci, 89, was at 11:00am yesterday, March 29, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Sweetwater with Monsignor Larry Droll officiating. Burial followed at Garden of Memories Cemetery. She passed away Thursday, March 24, at Sweetwater Healthcare Center.

Evelyn was born April 9, 1926, in Moulton, Texas. She attended Moulton schools, where she also played volleyball. She married Raymond Frank Krejci on August 15, 1943, in Hermleigh. They lived in Inadale from 1946 until 1951 before moving to Roscoe. Evelyn was a homemaker and member of Holy Family Catholic Church. She loved dancing and gardening and was a superb cook.

She is survived by two sons, Ronnie Krejci and wife Amanda of Sterling City and Loran Krejci of Roscoe; brother, Franklin Machart and wife Mary of DeKalb, Texas; grandchildren, Alan Jenkins and wife Amanda and sons Tripp and Ty of Glen Rose; Katrina Krejci Goodwin and husband Chais of Garden City; Ashley Kay Krejci and husband; Lee and husband Jerry and daughter Sienna of Waco; Kirsty Krejci of Austin, Kaylyn Krejci Muscarello and husband Kyle of Waco; Crystal Krejci of College Station;  and Ashlee Lauren Fullwood, husband Jake and sons Jaxton, Jagger, and Jetten of Aledo; brother-in-law James Krejci and wife Barbara of Washington State; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents Frank and Mary Rose (Balajka) Machart, husband Raymond Krejci, sons Gary and Ivan Krejci, and sisters Dorothy Burrow, Mary Crowder, Gladys Guelker and Bernice Williams Branson.

Pallbearers were Chais Goodwin, Alan Jenkins, Scott Fullwood, Jake Fullwood, Jerry Lee and Kyle Muscarello.

Memorials may be made to Dr. Swann Wellness Center, P.O. Box 726, Sterling City, Texas 76951. Thanks to Lucy Webb and the staff at Sweetwater Healthcare Center for their special care.



Services for Harvey H. Harris, 91, were at 2:00pm yesterday, March 29, at McCoy Chapel of Memories with Reverend Rick Wilson officiating. Interment followed at Sweetwater Cemetery. Mr. Harris passed away on Thursday, March 24, in Austin. He was a resident of Austin and formerly of Big Spring.

He was born in Sweetwater on November 9, 1924, and grew up in Roscoe. He served in the United States Army during World War II and married Joyce Dean Kuykendall on January 21, 1950, in Sweetwater. They moved to Big Spring in 1953. Harvey was baptized with his wife, Joyce, on June 20, 1965. He was a deacon and faithful member of Baptist Temple Church in Big Spring and also served 22 years in the bus ministry. He was also a member of Staked Plains Masonic Lodge #598 in Big Spring.

Survivors include three nieces, Tobie Kuykendall and wife, Maria, of Austin; Nell Carter and husband, Danny, of Whitney; Judy Quinn of Odessa; and two nephews, Tim Kuykendall and wife, Phyllis, of Fort Worth, and Donald Kuykendall, Jr., and wife, Christy, of Tampa, Florida.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Joyce, on November 8, 2011; her parents, Oscar Harris, on April 23, 1985, and Ida Nell (Ellison) Harris, on March 9, 2002; three brothers, Alfred C. Harris, Oscar C. Harris, Jr., and Leonard L. Harris; and two sisters, Bertie Lea Roberts and Ida McCain.

Pallbearers were Tim Kuykendall, Jared Kuykendall, Jerome Phifer, Alan Johnson, Daryl Wood and Ray Hiltbrumer.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ugh! This Year's Crop May Not Be So Hot, Say Injun Robert

The wind was from the southwest the second morning of Spring. (Photo by Robert McBride)
The verdict is in, and it ain’t pretty. As he has in years past, “Injun Robert” McBride performed the “Sunrise Wind” ceremony at dawn Monday morning, the first day after the beginning of Spring, and watched helplessly as a southwest breeze wafted the smoke of his fire off to the northeast. According to the ancient lore of the Plains Indians, that outcome foretells a below-average crop for this year.

Those unfamiliar with the ritual may appreciate some background information to understand its import. Known in the Comanche language as Taba’na Yuan’e, or “Sunrise Wind” ceremony, it was a traditional practice of the Plains Indians long before the white man came. It was observed around 1880 by a Mr. Crim, who was in charge of the mule teams used in building the T&P railway across west Texas. While in the Van Horn area on the morning of March 22, he noticed puffs of smoke coming from all the Indian huts in sight. He asked what was going on and was told that the Indians were seeing what kinds of crops they would have that year by building a fire just before dawn and then, as the sun appeared, observing which direction the wind blew the smoke.  This was always done on the morning after the first day of spring.

According to legend, an east or northeast wind meant a "very good” year, north or northwest "average," west or southwest "poor," and south or southeast "very bad.”

In the early 1970s George Parks, editor of the Roscoe Times, learned of the ceremony, which was still being performed annually in Muleshoe by old Mr. Crim’s son, referred to by the locals there as “Injun John.” “Injun George” found out the particulars from “Injun John” and replicated them here for many years until shortly before his journey to the happy hunting grounds in 1983. In addition to observing the smoke, “Injun George” added a rain dance around the fire in hopes that it would lessen the effects of a bad forecast and increase those of a good one.

In 2012, “Injun Robert” revived the tradition, even adding a “rain turtle” in 2014, although he abandoned it for 2015 since it didn’t seem to help. As with “Injun George” before him, his predictions have been mostly but not completely accurate. Here’s his record so far with the annual number of bales ginned at the Central Rolling Plains Co-op used as his measure of success. (Since the gin’s opening in 2007, the average number of bales ginned each year is almost 60k with the high being 109,991 in 2007 and the low 9,966 in 2011.)

            Year         Wind            Prediction      Bales Ginned
            2012     Northwest        Average           66,985
            2013     Southwest        Poor                 71,849
            2014     Southwest        Poor                 32,274
            2015     Northwest        Average           75,636
            2016     Southwest        Poor                      ?

The only year’s forecast that doesn’t really correspond with the results was 2013, when the 71,849 bales ginned was definitely not a “poor” crop—but that’s not a bad thing! You never know, the same could happen again this year. At least let’s hope so!



The dump site by the railroad tracks at Bois d'Arc and Front Streets.
Roscoe’s annual Spring Clean-Up is underway and runs through this Saturday, March 26. This year it is being held at Bois d’Arc and Front Streets, just south of the railroad tracks. Hours of operation are 9:00am to 7:00pm.

There are three large dumpsters at the location, two for all debris and one for tires. Items which may not be placed in containers are as follows: paint, oil, oil filters, chemical containers, and tree limbs.  Air conditioners and refrigerators must be tagged land-fill acceptable.  There is no curb service, and since the Spring Clean-Up is for Roscoe residents only, anyone dropping off anything must be prepared to show a City of Roscoe water bill.

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



The City of Roscoe will hold its annual Easter Egg Hunt in Old Town Park across from City Hall on Cypress Street Saturday afternoon, March 26, starting at 2:00pm. Hunts will be divided by age groups: Newborns to 3, 4 to 7, and 8 to 12.

Don’t forget to bring Easter Baskets and cameras.



Max Nemir was runner-up in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 40.9, and Bonnie Wilkinson was second in the 200 meter dash for the Plowgirls with a time of 27.61 at the Pied Piper Relays in Hamlin on Saturday. Several Plowboys and Plowgirls were absent because of Spring Break.

Here are the complete results for the Plowboys and Plowgirls:


Event                           Place         Athlete                 Time/Distance
300 meter hurdles        2          Max Nemir                    40.9
Pole vault                        3          Jayden Gonzales          10’6”
200 meter dash             4          Francisco Garza            24.1
400 meter relay             4          Plowboys                        45.8
  (Juan Huidobro, Max Nemir, Francisco Garcia, Diego Garza)
Long Jump                     6           Max Nemir                     19’2”
100 meter dash              6          Diego Garza                    11.76


200 meter dash             2          Bonnie Wilkinson          27.61
800 meter run               4          Alejandra Solis             2:41.44
Triple Jump                    4          Lyndi Wilkinson             31’9”

Next up are the Cottonwood Relays in Roby tomorrow afternoon.



The RCHS robotics team is back from the Alamo Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. Unfortunately, they encountered some mechanical problems with their robot and wound up placing 23rd out of the 66 teams that finished the competition.



Micky and the Motorcars
Micky and the Motorcars, a hot alternative Texas country band from Austin, will return for an encore performance to the Lumberyard Friday night.  The band has released five mainstream albums: Careless (2007), Na├»ve (2008), Live at Billy Bob’s Texas (2009), Raise My Glass (2011), and Hearts from Above (2014).  Top singles include “Carolina Morning,” “July, You Are a Woman,” “Careless,” and “Hearts from Above.” Opening for them is the Aaron Einhouse Band, who will begin at 8:00pm. Micky and the Motorcars will take the stage at around 9:30.

The Midnight River Choir
Then on Saturday night, the featured band is the Midnight River Choir, a Texas Country jam band from New Braunfels.  Their latest album, Fresh Air, contains many of their top singles. These include “Circles,” “Church of the Midnight Moon,” and “Run Away from Me.” Other notable songs include “My Friend” and “Tie Dye Sky.”

Opening for them are Zac Wilkerson and the Wayward Souls, a Texas Soul band originally from Amarillo. They will begin at 8:00pm and the Midnight River Choir at about 9:45.

For reservations, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



My Texas Red Oak is full of new leaves.
It’s official. Spring has come to West Texas—although it didn’t feel like it when it arrived with that sharp north wind cutting right through you early Sunday morning! But that cold spell is history now, and all the telltale signs confirm it. Trees around town are budding out or already have, the buzzards are back, the wind has been blowing hard for days with no letup in sight, and, yes, even the old mesquites are beginning to put on buds.

Although we’ve had springlike weather for some time now, it all came to a screeching halt last weekend as a cold front moved in on Friday with strong winds from the north-northeast, making the weather considerably less than ideal. It stayed that way until early Monday morning when “Injun Robert” performed the “Sunrise Wind” ceremony and confirmed that the wind was indeed out of the southwest.

High for the past week was yesterday afternoon’s 81°F, and the lows were on Saturday and Sunday mornings when the temperature dropped to 32° in many places and 34° in others. It wasn’t a hard freeze, though, as it didn’t last long and the blooms are still on the peach and apricot trees around town.

Although the temperatures varied considerably from day to day and the winds came from several directions, there were a couple of constants: one was that there was no precipitation, and the other was the strong breezes, no matter where they came from. And the forecast for this week is for more of the same, i.e., no precipitation and strong winds from all directions. Wind advisories and fire weather warnings have been and will continue to be in effect throughout the Big Country. Temperatures will also vary as a couple of light northers move through.

Today’s forecast high of around 80° will be accompanied by 25-35 mph winds, and when the wind shifts to the northwest tonight, the temperature will drop about ten degrees, but the wind will continue to blow with the same force. At least the weekend should be warm with a forecast high of 79° for Good Friday and 83° for Saturday. Sunday will be cooler though with a high of only 63°.

Skies should be clear or almost clear throughout the week, and no precipitation is in the forecast. Happy Easter on Sunday, everyone!



Funeral services for Annell Campbell, 80, will be at 2:00pm on Friday, March 25, at Roscoe First Baptist Church with Reverend David Draper officiating. Interment will follow at Roscoe Cemetery. A resident of Roscoe, she passed away on Saturday, March 19, in Arlington.

Ms. Campbell was born in Roscoe on June 6, 1935. She married Robert Gordon Campbell on April 20, 1957, in San Antonio. Annell was a member of the Roscoe First Baptist Church and a homemaker. She had lived in the metroplex for thirty-five years before moving back to Roscoe in 1994.

Survivors include her daughters, Brenda O'Brien and husband, David, of Arlington, and Lisa Campbell of Roscoe; son, Greg Campbell of Irving; grandchildren, Colin O'Brien, Caitlyn O'Brien, and Casey O'Brien of Arlington; and sister, Willa Munroe of Irving.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Gordon Campbell, on April 19, 2011; parents, Clifton and Grace Hodges; sister, Alma Jean Sealy, and her infant brother.

Visitation will be 6 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, at McCoy Funeral Home.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Roscoe's Spring Clean-up Begins Monday

Dumpsters will be located just north of Front and Bois d'Arc Streets.
The City of Roscoe’s annual Spring Clean-up begins on Monday, March 21, and ends on Saturday, March 26. This year it will be held at Bois d’Arc and Front Streets, just south of the railroad tracks. Hours of operation will be 9:00am to 7:00pm.

There will be three large dumpsters at the location, two for all debris and one for tires. Items which may not be placed in containers are as follows: paint, oil, oil filters, chemical containers, and tree limbs.  Air conditioners and refrigerators must be tagged land-fill acceptable.  There is no curb service, and since the Spring Clean-Up is for Roscoe residents only, anyone dropping off anything must be prepared to show a City of Roscoe water bill.

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



The Roscoe Community Center is seeking bids until April 1, 2016, for some remodeling work to be done at our building. At this time we are accepting bids for removal of old flooring and staining concrete, general construction, dry wall, painting, and some electrical work.

Anyone interested in seeing the building to prepare a bid, should call Gail Presley at 325-518-4135.



Just runnin' in the rain at the Blackland Relays on Friday.
The Blackland Relays at Plowboy Field on Friday was a soggy affair as wind and rain hit at just the wrong time for the Plowboys and Plowgirls because the events at which they excel were cancelled.

They likely will get a chance to see how good they are on Saturday when they travel to Hamlin for the Pied Piper Relays.



It’s another big weekend for Texas Country at the Lumberyard. On Friday, Mike Ryan will be in town for a double header with the Jesse Jennings Band, and on Saturday, Stoney LaRue returns for another big show.

Jesse Jennings
Jesse Jennings and his band will open the festivities Friday evening at 8:00pm. Jennings, originally from Dublin, Texas, first became known by opening for several national acts at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth and then progressed from there. His new album, Jesse Jennings, is a compilation of songs he has written over the last nine years. When people ask him what his songs sound like, he responds with “nothing you ever heard before.” It’s country with a twist. Singles include “She Talks to Angels,” “More Than Friends,”  and “Field of Dreams.”

Mike Ryan
He’ll be followed by Mike Ryan, a singer/songwriter who grew up in San Antonio and sharpened his skills in the Metroplex. He released his first full-length album, Night Comes Falling, in 2012. He frequently travels to Nashville for writing sessions, and his latest album, Bad Reputation, showcases ten new songs, all written or co-written by him. Notable singles of his include “Easy,” “Girls I Date,” “Wasting No More Whiskey,” “Putting Off Telling Me Goodbye,” and “Dancing All Around It.”

Stoney LaRue
Then on Saturday night, the ever popular Stoney LaRue and his band, The Arsenals, return for a command presentation on the Lumberyard’s north stage.

Born in Texas but raised in Oklahoma, LaRue is famous for developing the Red Dirt sound along with friends Cody Canada, Jason Boland, and Brandon Jenkins. His 2005 CD, The Red Dirt Album, reached the Billboard sales charts its debut week, and in 2006 he released the best seller Live at Billy Bob’s. In 2011 he achieved acclaim for his 2011 CD, Velvet, and his 2014 album, Aviator. His latest, Us Time, released this past October, is a collection of fan favorites from his live shows. It includes Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” and Gary Stewart’s “Empty Glass,” as well as LaRue standards such as “Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” and “Oklahoma Breakdown,” plus a new LaRue original, “Easy She Comes,” and others. YouTube videos include “Aviator,” and his signature single “Oklahoma Breakdown.”

The Judson Cole Band from San Angelo will open for Stoney LaRue at around 8:00pm. LaRue will take the stage around 9:45pm. For reservations or more information, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



The sunset on Thursday.
Some cooler weather came in at the end of last week along with some expected rain. Friday’s high was only 56°F. Also, we finally got a downpour that evening about six o’clock, which disrupted the Blackland Relays at Plowboy Field, but few people minded because we needed the rain. The first rain fell on Wednesday night, but my rain gauge recorded only .04”. On Thursday I had .28”, and on Friday .52” for a total of .84”. In east Roscoe, Kenny Landfried got a three-day total of .76”, and most of the people I talked to got somewhere between a half-inch and an inch total. The rain left Friday night, and by Sunday the temperature was back up to 79°. On Monday the high was 83°, and yesterday it was 79° again. Lows remained in the fifties all week.

Today should be similar with a projected high of 79° and a low of 50°. Tomorrow will be a bit cooler with a high of 68° as winds shift to the northeast and bring a 20% chance of rain. Then Friday and Saturday should be even cooler with highs of 60° and 56° respectively along with an 80% of rain during the day on Friday. Saturday morning’s low is forecast to be only 39°, which will be the lowest we’ve had in a while. On Sunday, the sun should come back out, bringing with it warmer temperatures that will rise daily to mid-week with next Tuesday’s high back up to 84°.


by R. H. Whorton, Jr.

Lt. Larry Douthit beside Rondo Whorton's Flying Jenny.
Editor’s Note: The first people ever to make a home in what we now call Roscoe were the F. M. Whorton family, arriving here in 1888. At the time, there was only one building in the area, a section house by the railroad track that burned down a week after they arrived. Mr. Whorton bought land and immediately built a home in present-day south Roscoe while the rest of the family lived in Colorado City until it was finished. It wasn’t long, though, before other families began to settle in the area, and the community that developed was known as Vista until late 1891, when its name was changed to Roscoe.

In 1893, Mr. Whorton’s eldest son, D. B., married the daughter of the owner of Roscoe’s first general store. It was Roscoe’s first wedding, and their first son, Ronda Hoyt Whorton, born in 1894, was Roscoe’s second baby. Known as “Rondo,” he went to Roscoe schools and lived his life here. He is the subject of the following account written in the early 1970s by his son, R. H. Whorton, Jr., better known as “Billy.” The story comes from a Whorton family history donated to the Roscoe Historical Museum by a direct descendant of F. M. Whorton, Ronnie Fry, who now lives in Lubbock.

Rondo Whorton in 1915.

Rondo, as he was affectionately called, was born May 23, 1894, to D. B. and Willie Belle Whorton at the F. M. Whorton homestead farm just south of Roscoe, Nolan County, Texas. He was the oldest member of a family of three brothers and one sister. He was reared on the farm and attended the Roscoe Schools. In the years that he grew into manhood, marvelous adventures were being developed in the field of transportation and communication. These new ideas intrigued and fascinated him to the point he wanted to be a part of their application to local conditions. He told me of operating silent movie projectors for free so he could learn of their principle. He built crystal radio sets and received signals from Fort Worth and later Abilene.

As a teenager he and his friends would “hop” freight trains and travel over the Texas & Pacific Railway lines. It made no difference which way the train was going as they could always return to Roscoe from Marshall or El Paso via another freight. To him the practical application of electricity in homes was an obsession, and he purchased a set of books from which he could learn the basics of electric science. In later life he used this knowledge to supplement the family farm income by installing electricity in commercial and residential buildings.

The post-World War I years were filled with daring exploits of the young Americans of the roaring twenties. The army during the war had built and found both a practical and a destructive use for the airplane. The combination of surplus airplanes brought on the art of “barnstorming.” Daring young men would buy and fly surplus World War I planes from community to community and “carry up” passengers from the local population.

This type of daring appealed to Rondo, and in 1924 he purchased an army surplus trainer at Love Field, Dallas. The biplane was a wood and fabric Curtiss-Wright with a water cooled OX-5 engine. It was better known as the Flying Jenny. As he could not fly the plane to Roscoe, he engaged a pilot to fly it for him. After leaving Love Field, he and the pilot were forced to land at Ranger for fuel. The pilot on his final approach overshot the landing strip, and since these planes had no brakes, it crashed through a fence and into a mesquite thicket. The pilot returned to Love Field and Rondo to Roscoe via the dependable T&P railroad. The damaged aircraft was left in Ranger in storage.

Rondo frantically wrote suppliers for parts and finally the Curtiss-Wright factory in Akron, Ohio. The factory advised him to rob parts from some other wrecked plane that was damaged beyond repair. The factory also advised if all other efforts failed, the air frame could be repaired by a skilled carpenter but cautioned that the wood must be of the lightest weight available. The plane was repaired and brought to Roscoe to be parked in a pasture just north of the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway shop.

While awaiting repairs on the airplane, he wrote to Kelly Field in San Antonio, an army training school for pilots, requesting the possibility of some aviator coming to Roscoe to teach him to fly the airplane. His letter was answered by Air Cadet Larry Douthit, who said he was to graduate in a few weeks and he would request a leave of absence for the purpose of coming to Roscoe and teaching Rondo to fly the Jenny. Meanwhile, the airplane at Ranger was repaired, and it and the instructor arrived in Roscoe. We children were quite small, and we were all awed by the Jenny and the army instructor. Rondo and Mary had very recently constructed a new modern house with three bedrooms, and we five children had the luxury of sharing not one but two bedrooms.

The arrival of Lt. Larry Douthit required that we give up the choice front bedroom to him, and we again were allotted cramped quarters. However, he more than made up for this inconvenience by building us kites constructed from balsa wood, fine cotton fabric, and airplane dope. We were the envy of the neighborhood as these kites made from airplane materials were practically indestructible.

After a short period of instruction, Rondo was urging his instructor to let him solo. Lt. Douthit did not believe his pupil was ready and would not allow a solo flight. However, at dawn one morning Rondo very quietly slipped out the back door of the house with his clothes in his hands. I was only about five years of age, but the closing back door awakened me, and I looked from the bedroom and saw my father dressing on the back porch. I hurriedly dressed and slipped outside to find him pushing the family Model T Ford from the garage and down the driveway. Upon seeing me, he motioned me to be quiet and help him push. We pushed the car to the street and about a half block from the house before he started the engine with a hand crank. This was necessary so as not to awaken anyone else in the household.

We then proceeded in the car to the pasture north of Roscoe where the Jenny was staked down. Rondo told me to stay in the car while he took the airplane up for his solo flight. At this point I cried so loud and raised such a big fuss he strapped me in the Jenny’s passenger seat in the front cockpit. He then hand cranked the plane by its propeller and jumped in the pilot’s seat in the rear cockpit. He proceeded to take off from the rough pasture. After flying the plane in a few circles, he flew over the house. After buzzing the house a few times to get the instructor’s attention, he flew very low and dropped a note tied to a pair of pliers.

I don’t recall what the note said, but I can still see the family gathered in the front yard with hands shading their eyes from the early morning sun, watching Rondo solo with his young son as a passenger. Instructor Douthit made quite a sight running back and forth in the street below in pajamas and robe shouting something we could not hear. I did not realize until years later that this act was so daring and so typical of my father.

Lt. Larry Douthit returned to Kelly Field and had a distinguished Air Force career. He retired in about 1960 but made many local friends, and he returned to visit them occasionally. Rondo continued to fly the Jenny until 1926 when he traded it to A. H. Warken of Pyron for a Fordson tractor and an Oliver treble-disk plow. In 1938 he and three other Roscoe men formed a Flying Club and purchased a Piper Super Cruiser and flew it until 1943 when the shortage of aviation gas forced them to sell it. Although he had hundreds of flight hours, he had only an Airman’s Certificate, which was issued him on April 16, 1942, by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

RCHS Students Introduced to Drone Program Starting in Fall

Strat Aero's James McDanolds explains drone flight to RCHS students.
On Friday, Billy Arpe’s RCHS students on the engineering track got their first taste of a new hands-on class in drones that will be taught in Roscoe for the first time this fall.

RCHS recently established a working partnership with Strat Aero International, Inc., based in Houston, which specializes in both military and commercial UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), more commonly known as “drones.” Strat Aero’s focus in this area is the inspection of wind turbine blades with camera mounted drones, but the company is also involved in other drone applications such as agriculture and real estate.

In exchange for providing instruction to RCHS students, the company has established its local office on the south side of the school grounds in the old ag science building.

All the details haven’t been worked out yet, partially because of changing FAA regulations regarding drones, but students will now have the opportunity to be certified in this rapidly growing new technology that significantly cuts costs and improves the way work is done in many businesses. Current plans are also to use the school-owned building on west Broadway, formerly the Nitzsche Welding Shop, as a place for students to learn and get drone pilot certification. Students may also learn drone repair and other drone applications.

The introductory classes on Friday were taught by Strat Aero specialists James McDanolds and Patrick Fox. After a classroom lecture, the instructors and students went out to the football field for a demonstration of the flight and use of camera-mounted drones, a two-man operation with one person controlling the drone’s flight and the other the operation of the camera.

RCHS has been interested in learning about and getting in on drones for some time, and now it appears that all the hard work in getting an educational program established is coming to fruition. It’s exciting to think about the program’s potential and the advantages the certification will provide for our students, whether or not they go on to college.



Dignitaries from Roscoe and Sweetwater were on hand Friday morning for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Sanders, Inc., Roscoe’s newest local business. Many also attended its rib-eye steak lunch shortly thereafter.

Sanders is an agricultural company specializing in seeds, feed, crop protection, chemicals, and fertilizer. It is located on 4620 County Road 111 in newly erected buildings just north of the Co-op gin northwest of town.

Justin Alexander is the Location Manager, Timpy Tiemann the Office Administrator, and Victoria Orman the Office Assistant. Clayton Parker and Brody Wright are Salesmen, Fidel Martinez is in the Warehouse, and Eddie Castro and Johnny Santiago are Drivers.

The office phone number is 325-766-3500.



City Accountant Ricky Bowman presents the audit report to the City Council.
At its monthly meeting in City Hall last night, the City Council discussed and approved the annual audit report from City Accountant Ricky Bowman. It also canceled the City Election on May 7 because there were only two candidates, Edwin Duncan and Susie Alford, who filed for the two open Council seats. It designated March 21-26 as this year’s annual Spring Clean-up Week and approved advertising for bids to run the City Swimming Pool this summer. The Council also heard reports and updates from City Manager Cody Thompson and Police Chief Felix Pantoja.

Thompson said that the City's Type B Board has agreed to spend approximately $14,000 in sales tax proceeds to repair the Roscoe Community Center's roof with spray roofing. Plans are also underway to repair the roof on the Roscoe Historical Museum. He also reported that the owners of the old Truck and Travel Truck Stop west of town are considering installing a lift station at their expense and running the sewer line along the south side of I-20, which would go gravity flow to the Bandera addition. Cleaning and camera inspection of sanitary sewer lines is complete, and final planning and review will be finished shortly, so bid documents can be prepared in the next six weeks or so.

He also said that construction is proceeding on the two new homes at Young Farm Estates and that maintenance work is being done at the City Water Treatment Plant.

Police Chief Pantoja provided the Council with the required Racial Profile Report for the year to date. Of the 177 traffic citations, including one arrest, 76 were Caucasian, 69 Hispanic, 29 African-American, 3 Middle Eastern, 2 Asian-American, and 0 Native American. The race or ethnicity was known prior to the stop in only 5 of those; a search was conducted in 14, of which 5 gave consent.



The City of Roscoe’s annual Spring Clean-up begins on Monday, March 21, and ends on Saturday, March 26. This year it will be held at Bois d’Arc and Front Streets, just south of the railroad tracks. Hours of operation will be 9:00am to 7:00pm.

There will be three large dumpsters at the location, two for all debris and one for tires. Items which may not be placed in containers are as follows: paint, oil, oil filters, chemical containers, and tree limbs.  Air conditioners and refrigerators must be tagged land-fill acceptable.  There is no curb service, and since the Spring Clean-Up is for Roscoe residents only, anyone dropping off anything must be prepared to show a City of Roscoe water bill.

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



The Texas Six-Man Coaches Association has announced its All-Regional Basketball Teams for the state of Texas, and two Highland players, Hannah Allen and Sydny Helbert, are on the ten-player Region II first team.

Highland made it to the area finals this season before losing to Grady 53-49.



After early season meets at Hamlin and Stamford, the Plowboys and Plowgirls will be at home this week as they host the annual Blackland Divide Relays at Plowboy Field on Friday, starting at 2:00pm with the field events, The 3200 meter finals are scheduled for 3:00pm, and the other running finals begin at 5:30pm. Junior High running finals begin at 6:00pm.

It’s still early in the track season, but it is already clear that both the Plowboys and Plowgirls have potential. At the Bulldog Relays in Stamford last week, Plowboy Max Nemir was first in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 43.2 seconds, and Kevin Lavalais won the 400 meter race with a time of 53.1. The 1600 meter relay team (Juan Huidobro, Braiden Moore, Max Nemir, Kevin Lavalais) finished second at 3:40.4, and the 400 meter relay team (Juan Huidobro, Francisco Garcia, Max Nemir, Kevin Lavalais) was third at 45.3.

Plowgirl Lyndi Wilkinson won the 400 meters with a time of 1:06, Lynzie Atkinson was second in the 300 meter hurdles at 55.14, and Karina Cisneros was second in the 800 meter run at 2:43.11. In the pole vault, Bergan Trevino and Bonnie Wilkinson were third and fourth with both vaulting 6'0".



17th District Commander Kenneth Simonton and Post Commander Tom Griffith at Saturday's POW-MIA remembrance.
In a formal ceremony at Roscoe’s American Legion Post 227 on Saturday evening, local legionnaires took time to recognize our country's POWs (Prisoners of War) and MIAs (Missing in Action). 17th District Commander Kenneth Simonton of Post 61 in Abilene was on hand to participate in the event.



This afternoon, Roscoe’s Robotics team leaves for San Antonio and the Alamo Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The meet begins today and concludes on Saturday.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual competition that challenges high school students—working alongside professional mentors—to design and build a robot of their own and compete in a “Sport for the Mind” that measures the effectiveness of each robot, the power of teamwork and collaboration, and “Gracious Professionalism.”  Students build and program their own robots against a field of competitors and experience the excitement of science, engineering, technology and innovation.



Roscoe schools will have a full day on Friday, and then Spring Break will be all next week, March 14-18. School will resume the following Monday, March 21, at the normal time.



Terri Clark
She’s back! Terri Clark, who many thought put on the show of the year at the Lumberyard last April, returns for an encore performance Friday night. If you haven’t seen her in person, you won’t want to miss this high-energy performer who puts on a quality show from start to finish.

Originally from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, she moved to Nashville to launch her music career and issued her first single, “Better Things to Do,” in 1995. Since then, she has recorded ten studio albums, four compilation albums, one live album, and 37 singles.

Six of her singles have made it to number one on country music charts: “Girls Lie Too,” “You’re Easy on the Eyes,” “If I Were You,” “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me,”  “Emotional Girl,” and “In My Next Life.”  Other hit singles include “Now That I Found You,” “I Just Wanna Be Mad,” and, more recently, “Some Songs,” the title song of her latest CD. She lives in Nashville and currently co-hosts America’s Morning Show on Nash FM with Blair Garner and Chuck Wicks.

Terri Clark and her band will take the stage about 9:30pm. For more information and reservations, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



Clouds yesterday afternoon.
Conditions for rain began with the arrival of a strong wind Monday night and will continue through Friday. This is our best chance for a good rain so far this year, but so far there’s been more promise than results. My rain gauge showed 0.04” for Monday night and 0.02” for yesterday evening, not enough for anything but wishing for more. The weathermen say we have a 50% chance for more until Friday evening, when the wind shifts from north-northeast to southwest and the skies clear.

This past week was windy and warm with highs in the seventies and lows ranging from 48° on Saturday to 61° on Monday. However, temperatures will be cooler for the rest of the week with highs in the low sixties today and tomorrow and only 56°F on Friday. Lows will be in the mid to upper forties until Saturday. The only constant will be the continued strong winds, at least until Sunday.

Some rain would be nice. Let’s hope we get some.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cruz, Clinton win Nolan County, Texas Primaries

Voting was brisk at the Community Center yesterday.
A total of 418 voters in Nolan County Precinct 6 cast their ballots for the candidates of their choice in the Roscoe Community Center yesterday. In the Presidential primary, the big winners were Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. Jodey Arrington and Glen Robertson will face one another in a runoff for US Representative, District 19, and Stan Lambert won outright in the race for State Representative, District 71. David Warren was re-elected as Nolan County Sheriff, and Ricky Thompson trounced John Young in the race for District Attorney, 32nd District.

Here is a breakdown of the votes cast in Precinct 6 and Nolan County for each of the contested races (except for Railroad Commissioner, State Judges, and the various amendments)

                                          Precinct 6         Nolan County
U.S. President
Ted Cruz (R)                       199                        1351
Donald Trump (R)              72                          826
Marco Rubio (R)                 40                          412
Ben Carson (R)                     17                          166
John Kasich (R)                     7                            97

Hillary Clinton (D)               28                         270
Bernie Sanders (D)               18                         122

U.S. Representative, District 19 (All Republicans)
Jodey Arrington                   118                        653
Glen Robertson                      64                        578
Michael Bob Starr                 60                        563
Greg Garrett                           24                        260
Jason Conley                          13                          98
DeRenda Warren                   10                         91
John Key                                   6                          65
Don Parrish                              7                          58

State Representative, District 71
Stan Lambert                       152                       1218
Isaac Castro                          126                      1057
Chris Carnohan                     17                         185 
Stacy Scaief                            18                          114
Brian Scalf                              15                          113

District Attorney, 32nd District
Ricky Thompson                303                       2507
John Young                            55                         495

Nolan County Sheriff
David Warren                       172                       1610
Ray Cornutt                          165                       1244
Kevin Turner                         20                         162

A total of 418 voters cast ballots in Precinct 6 (369 Republicans, 49 Democrats), and 3523 voted in Nolan County (3105 Republicans, 418 Democrats).



The current early childhood center in the Elementary School at RCISD.
At its February meeting, the RCISD School Board approved a bond election on May 7 for a new Early Childhood Center. If approved, it will be located on current school property across from the Elementary School. The facility will come at a cost of $5 million on a 30-year payout, which works out to an annual tax increase of about $48 per year per $100,000 home valuation.

According to RCISD Superintendent Kim Alexander, the need for the new facility involves a proposed instructional change from the current program to the more successful Montessori system, which includes a move from a half to a full day program for Pre-K students. A study of current data indicates that as a group our primary students are not where they need to be, especially in reading, by grade 3. Since such a deficiency typically lasts through the following grades and beyond, it is important that it be rectified as early as possible. The Montessori Early Childhood Program is the established leader in doing just that, especially for economically disadvantaged children, of which Roscoe has many and is projected to have even more in the future.

Another reason for the proposed center is lack of space, which will only become more critical over time. Current facilities are already overcrowded and not conducive to the Montessori learning environment, which requires more space for storage of manipulatives and hands-on types of activities. RCISD is also growing and will most likely continue to grow. In 2007, it had a total of 315 EC-12 students for an average of 21 per grade. Today, there are 622 students for an average of 41 per grade, and growth projections for coming years are for up to 950, or about 60 per grade, as more students choose to benefit from RCISD’s educational advantages, especially now that a new housing development, Young Farm Estates, is available to families desiring to live in Roscoe.

Pending approval of the Board at the March meeting, an open meeting will be held on Monday, April 18, at 6pm in the E-On Center, prior to the April Board meeting. It will go into greater detail and allow the public to discuss and ask questions about the proposed project.

Our school is already recognized as a state and national leader in both college and career readiness, and improving the critical early levels will result in even greater success for our students as they gear up to compete in a global economy.



Two noted Texas Country artists will be at the Lumberyard this weekend, Roger Creager on Friday night and Cody Jinks on Saturday. It will be Creager’s first ever appearance in Roscoe, while Jinks is coming for the second time.

Roger Creager
Roger Creager, who holds a degree in business from Sam Houston State and a degree in agriculture from Texas A&M, is a native of Corpus Christi but got his start in music while at Texas A&M in the late nineties. To date he has released seven albums, including Long Way to Mexico (2003), Live Across Texas (2004), Here It Is (2008), Surrender (2012) and Road Show (2014). Popular singles include “The Everclear Song,” “For You I Do,” “Gulf Coast Time,” “Long Way to Mexico,” “Things Look Good Around Here,” and “I’m From the Beer Joint.” 

Cody Jinks
Cody Jinks is a popular country singer from Fort Worth. His album Adobe Sessions contains song such as “Cast No Stones” and “Loud and Heavy.” His appearance on Ray Benson’s Texas Music Scene is available here.

For reservations, call the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



Can Spring be far behind?
The weather continues to be sunny and dry without even a hint of rain and skies either completely or mostly clear, as they have been for almost all this year. We seem to be caught in a dry weather pattern that just won’t go away. Temperatures this past week were just about what you’d expect at this time of year with highs ranging from Thursday’s 53°F to Monday’s 79° and lows from Friday morning’s 31° to Sunday’s 51°. It’s typically windy this time of year, and the past week was no exception with breezes ranging from moderate to blustery.

Interestingly, the winds seemed to come from a different direction every day. Starting with last Wednesday the winds were from the west, Thursday from the northeast, Friday and Saturday the south, Sunday the east-southeast, and Monday the south-southeast. Then yesterday they started from the south, shifted to the north and then to the east. 

The coming week should be even windier starting today with 20-30mph winds from the south-southwest, shifting to 15-25 mph from the northeast tomorrow, 20-30 mph back to the south on Friday, 10-15 back to the northeast on Saturday, and then 20-30mph from the south-southwest again on Sunday.  

Temperatures will be warmer with highs in the seventies and eighties and lows in the upper forties to upper fifties. Today's high should be around 82°, tomorrow's 74°, and Friday's back up to 81°.

Unfortunately, there is still little chance of precipitation in the forecast, although we do have a 10%-20% chance from Friday through Monday. We definitely would prefer better chances than that.


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