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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Sunrise Wind" Produces Unusual Result

Lack of wind produces vertical smoke.    Light west wind nudges smoke to right.
Long-time readers of the Roscoe Hard Times know that every year when spring rolls around, we once again report on an ancient practice of the Plains Indians performed in Roscoe. Said to predict the success of the coming year’s crop, the Comanches called it Taba’na Yuan’e, or the “Sunrise Wind” ceremony. They always performed it on the first dawn after the first day of spring. Just before sunrise, they would build a fire, and then, as the sun appeared, they observed the direction the wind blew the smoke, believing its direction foretold the kind of crop they could expect for the coming year.

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.”

The almost forgotten ceremony was revived in Roscoe in the early 1970s by George Parks after learning about it from “Injun John,” who performed it in Muleshoe every year—just as his father had since the 1880s. “Injun George” executed the ritual faithfully in Roscoe for years before going to the happy hunting grounds in 1983. Then in 2012 it was once again revived, this time by “Injun Robert,” i.e., Robert McBride, who has performed it annually since then. 

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.

                  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                 87,827
                  2017     Southwest        Poor                 111,598
                  2018     Southwest        Poor                 23,372

Last year’s prediction of a poor crop was right on target as the gin produced only 23,372 bales, well below its 12-year average of 63,024.

As with “Injun George” before him, his predictions have been mostly but not always correct. Of the last seven years four were accurate: 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2018, while the other three underestimated the actual yield: 2013, 2016, and 2017. In the latter group, the prediction for a poor crop was from a southwest wind in each case.

However, this year something unusual happened. As usual, “Injun Robert” prepared his fire right before sunrise and, as dawn broke, he checked the smoke’s direction, but at that moment there was no wind, and the smoke wafted straight up. Since nothing in the traditional lore indicates how to interpret this result, it’s impossible to know what to make of it. Shortly thereafter, though, a slight wind from the west blew the rising smoke eastward, and the west wind is said to predict a “poor” crop.

The west wind is not an auspicious one, so it may well be that the forecast for this year is for a below-average yield. But since nothing like this has happened before, we will just have to see, and next year we can add another possible outcome to the predictions made by the wind, namely, “no wind at all means X.” Stay tuned.



Dumpsters behind the water treatment plant at W. Broadway and Cedar Street.
Today and tomorrow are the last two days for the City’s Spring Clean-Up. Dumpsters are located next to the Water Treatment Plant on West Broadway and Cedar Street, and hours of operation are 9am to 7pm.

Items which may not be placed in containers include paint, oil, oil filters, chemical containers, air conditioners, and refrigerators unless tagged landfill acceptable. You must show a City of Roscoe utility bill or identification showing you are a Roscoe resident.

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



Several Plowgirls and Plowboys had good outcomes at the Caprock Bold Gold Relays in Post last Friday, March 22. The Plowgirls’ 4 x 400 relay team—Sadie McCambridge, Victoria Martinez, Kadee Martinez, Bonnie Wilkinson—finished second with a time of 4:26.96, and Bonnie Wilkinson was third in the triple jump.

For the Plowboys, Jayden Gonzales won the Pole Vault with his best official effort of the year so far, 13’ 0”, while Caleb Gray was second in the 200 meter dash with a time of 23.23 seconds.

On the Junior Varsity level Jaythan Coale won the Pole Vault and the 200 meter dash while finishing second in the 100 and fourth in the 400. For the Plowgirls, Kaylea Perez placed in the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes.

Here are the varsity team results in order for the schools participating in the meet:

Boys: 1) Post, 2) Slaton, 3) Idalou, 4) Floydada, 5) Levelland, 6) Tahoka, 7) Seminole, 8) Lamesa, 9) Midland, 10) Brownfield, 11) Roscoe Collegiate, 12) Colorado City, 13) Lockney, 14) Andrews.

Girls: 1) Idalou, 2) Slaton, 3) Seminole, 4) Floydada, 5) Lamesa, 6) Brownfield, 7) Levelland, 8) Post, 9) Roscoe Collegiate, 10) Andrews, 11) Tahoka, 12) Colorado City, 13) Lockney.

Here are the results for Roscoe Collegiate athletes who finished in the top ten of their event:

Event                            Place         Athlete                    Time/Distance

800 meter run                2          Victoria Martinez           2:37.32
3200 meter run              8          Riley Sheridan              14:00.66
4 x 400 meter relay       2           Plowgirls                         4:26.96
(Sadie McCambridge, V. Martinez, Kadee Martinez, B. Wilkinson)
Triple Jump                    3           Bonnie Wilkinson             34’ 7”

100 meter dash              7           Gary Shaw                          11.93
200 meter dash             2           Caleb Gray                          23.23
110 meter hurdles         9           Tristan Baker                     18.62
4 x 200 meter dash       6           Plowboys                         1:37.30
(Tyler Guelker, Caleb Gray, Brayan Medina, Gary Shaw)
4 x 400 meter relay      6           Plowboys                           3:45.17
(Tyler Guelker, Brayan Medina, Zachary Parrott, Caleb Gray)
Pole Vault                       1           Jayden Gonzales                13’ 0”
Shot Put                          6           Brandon Lavalais              41’ 4”

Plowgirls and Plowboys next compete tomorrow at the Lone Wolf Relays in Colorado City. Competition begins at 3:30pm.



This morning's sunrise.
It’s been another beautiful week for weather in the Roscoe area. Skies have generally been clear to partly cloudy, breezes have been light to medium, and temperatures have been consistently moderate with highs ranging from Monday’s 70°F to Sunday’s 81° and lows from Thursday’s 41° to Saturday’s 57°.

Most but not all of the signs of spring are already here—the buzzards are back, wildflowers are in bloom, and oak and fruit trees are budding. However, the hummingbirds have not yet begun to arrive, and trees like the jujube and the older mesquites are still in winter mode.

The forecast calls for even warmer weather until Saturday. The temperature will climb to 77° this afternoon, 79° tomorrow, and a sweltering 87° Friday. Winds tomorrow and Friday will be strong and from the southwest. That will change on Saturday as winds remain strong but shift to the north. Temperatures will drop sharply with the arrival of the cold front, dropping Saturday’s high to 60° and low to 37°. Sunday will also be chilly with a 57° high and 38° low before another warming trend begins on Monday.

Once again, there is only a slight prospect for rain as the highest predicted chance is 20% on Friday.


West Texans have long noted that the mesquites are generally the last of the local trees to acknowledge the arrival of spring, and this year certainly seems no different. Their reluctance was immortalized in this 1928 poem written by Frank Grimes, then the editor of the Abilene Reporter-News:

The Old Mesquites Ain’t Out

                      We see some signs of returning spring,
                      The redbird's back and the fie' larks sing.
                      The ground's plowed up and the creeks run clear.
                      The onions sprout and the rosebud's near;
                      And yet they's a point worth thinkin' about—
                      We note that the old mesquites ain't out!

                      The fancier trees are in full bloom—
                      The grass is green and the willows bloom.
                      The colts kick up and the calves bend down.
                      And spring's apparently come to town;
                      And yet they's a point worth thinkin' about—
                      We note that the old mesquites ain't out!

                      Well, it may be spring for all we know—
                      There ain't no ice and there ain't no snow.
                      It looks like spring and it smells so, too.
                      The calendar says it's plenty true—
                      And still they's a point worth thinkin' about—
                      We note that the old mesquites ain't out!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

City Spring Clean-Up Begins Tomorrow

Dumpsters will be next to City Water Works at Cedar Street and Broadway.
Spring has arrived, and the City Spring Clean-Up begins tomorrow morning, March 21. It will run until next Thursday, March 28 (including Saturday, March 23, but not Sunday, March 24). Daily hours of operation will be 9am to 7pm. Dumpsters will be located next to the Water Treatment Plant on West Broadway and Cedar Street.

Items which may not be placed in containers include paint, oil, oil filters, chemical containers, air conditioners, and refrigerators unless tagged landfill acceptable. You must show a City of Roscoe utility bill or identification showing you are a Roscoe resident.

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



Spring Break is over and the Plowboys and Plowgirls will resume their track season this Friday, March 22, at the Post Invitational Track & Field Meet in Post.

The meet begins at 12:00 noon.



Virtually the entire Plowgirls’ team has made the 2018-19 8-2A Academic All-District Basketball Team. Here are their names:

Jaci Alexander
Veronica Cuellar
Kadee Martinez
Jovana Peña
Sadie McCambridge
Shauna McCambridge
Liberty Saenz
Riley Sheridan
Bonnie Wilkinson

Congratulations for all those good grades, girls!



Roscoe's first car may have been a Maxwell Touring Car like this one. (Photo from Internet)
One of the biggest changes to Roscoe as it moved into the twentieth century was in transportation and, in particular, the advent of motor-driven vehicles.

It is not known when the first automobile was driven on the streets of Roscoe, but it was most likely around 1906 or so. “Horseless carriages” had been introduced in the 1890s in the United States, but they were scarce and seen primarily as novelties, and it wasn’t until the first years of the new century that they came to be a common sight in cities like New York and San Francisco. Naturally, it was even later that the country folks ever saw them in rural settings like Roscoe.

Editor Joe Pickle’s remark in the Roscoe Times of October 16, 1906, suggests the locals’ early awareness and attitude toward the new contraptions: “New York burglars are traveling around to business in automobiles. If you wish to avoid being mistaken for a burglar or a capitalist, don’t travel in an automobile.”

It is not known who owned the first car in Roscoe, but by 1908 there was apparently already one in town being used commercially. An article in the May 31, 1908, Fort Worth Star-Telegram describes cars in this area of west Texas being used as transportation services, early-day intercity taxis or ubers, you might say. Below a large photograph showing seven Buicks and two Reos grouped around a Big Springs garage, the article explains that cars make daily runs between Big Springs and San Angelo, Big Springs and Garza County, and Big Springs to Lubbock, Plainview and Post City.

Besides mentioning that three cars conduct a daily service between Colorado City and Sweetwater, it also says that a “Maxwell touring car makes the round trip daily between Roscoe and Snyder, 44 miles.” Just who owned this service, how long it operated, what they charged, and how successful they were is no longer known and probably never will be.

Artist's depiction of Chenoweth's "bus." (Snyder & Scurry County, p. 32)
This area also offered the first intercity bus service in the state and one of the first in the country. W. B. Chenoweth of Snyder designed a six-cylinder engine for a “motor driven stage coach” for daily service from Colorado City to Snyder. It was an open wagon with seats in the back and an engine in front and could achieve a speed of almost 25 miles per hour. He opened his service for business in October 29, 1907. However, people were horrified by the vehicle, fearing it would crash or explode, and preachers warned their congregations not to ride in it. The town’s citizens passed a resolution outlawing its operation in Snyder, and Chenoweth moved on to Big Springs, where he opened a route from there to Lamesa. (Snyder, p. 32)

One of the first Roscoe people, and maybe the first, to own a car for private use was Dr. J. W. Young, Sr., who bought his first car in 1909. He did it, as he says in his memoirs (p. 19), because it was “more satisfactory than making his calls on horseback.” However, he couldn’t use it after a rain “for several days because no roads were graded,” (p. 39) and in those times he returned to making his visits on horseback.

In speaking of that first car, he says, “It was a beautiful two-cylinder car—no top, no windshield, no doors.” He also says he spent a lot of time “doctoring” it: “I often got out to work on my car as the gas often had water in it, and the lubricating oil was black. I often had to clean both spark plugs to get them to fire. But the car would usually get me to see a patient quicker than a horse—and the family I visited liked to see an automobile!”

Kids always wanted to ride with him, and he would take them along so they could experience what it was like, but also so they could help him by opening and closing the gates on the way. Gates were just part of country travel in those days: “When I came to Roscoe there were very few roads. Most of them were trails through pastures and fields. I remember once going to the Champion neighborhood and there were fifteen gates to open, and I was still closer to Roscoe than I was to Champion when I reached my destination. If you took a trip of 30 or more miles, it would take over an hour to open and close the gates.” He also recalls a trip to Pyron when the boy who went with him later complained to his mother that he’d had to open and close seventeen gates. (p. 39)

Early photos of downtown Roscoe, such as this 1909 one, show no cars.
But despite those commercial car services and Dr. Young’s early experiences, there seem to have been few cars around Roscoe before 1912 as none of the photos the museum owns before that year show any. However, they often appear in photos after that and seem to have become a normal part of the landscape as time went on and roads improved.

As the number of cars increased, so did road improvements, including the care of city streets. In 1913, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring every able-bodied male to either work five days a year on the streets or pay $3. And in 1916 the first rules for driving in town were passed. Along with regulations for the use of wagons, buggies, and carriages was an ordinance for automobiles. The speed limit for driving the streets of Roscoe was 12 miles per hour, and each automobile had to be equipped with a bell or gong that could be heard for 300 feet and must be sounded 50 feet before reaching an intersection or crossing, but must not be sounded when passing a vehicle. (Parks)



“Autos Are Popular Means of Transportation in West,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 31, 1908.

Parks, George. “City of Roscoe Has Glorious Past, Active Present, Great Future,” Roscoe Times, December 9, 1938.

Rhodes, Jack. “Busing Industry.” Handbook of Texas Online

Scurry County Museum, Snyder and Scurry County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Young, Dr. J. W., Sr. It All Comes Back. Sweetwater, TX: Watson-Focht, 1962.


From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 13, 1909.

A Stevens-Duryea like the one Long owned. (Photo from Internet)

Makes 225 miles in 13½ Hours Running Time on 20 gallons of gas.

E. F. Simmons of the Stevens Duryea and Midland auto agencies Saturday received a telegram from F. M. Long, telling of the splendid record he had made in his Stevens from Fort Worth to Roscoe, 225 miles west of this city.

Mr. Long, who with his family started from Sweetwater early in the week, accomplished the 225 miles to Roscoe in 13½ hours, actual running time. Only 20 gallons were consumed in the long run.

Mr. Long and family are traveling in Mr. Long’s recently acquired six-cylinder seven-passenger Stevens-Duryea.

*LANG is a typo. It should be Long.


Cars weren’t the only vehicles traveling the dirt roads of west Texas in 1908. Here, a Case steam tractor with carbide lights pulls a train of supply wagons, alongside a team of mules hooked to a water wagon. The view is from the corner of Main and First Street (now Broadway) looking west showing the stores on the south side of First Street between Main and Cypress.


Blossoms on a peach tree.
Winter doesn’t officially end until the Spring Equinox, which arrives this afternoon at precisely 4:58pm, but as far as the weather is concerned, Spring began here in Roscoe last Thursday. 

Last Wednesday, which began with clear, blue skies, turned into the nastiest day we’ve had so far this year with sustained high winds of 35mph and gusts up to 50mph. The winds whipped up a dust storm that covered the afternoon sky and blew until the wee hours of the morning.

But then the wind died down almost completely, and by dawn Thursday morning the skies were once again completely clear. Since then, we’ve had beautiful, temperate weather. Friday and Saturday were cool with highs of 54°F and 57° respectively but felt warmer than that with only light breezes. Sunday afternoon the temperature reached 63°, Monday 65° and yesterday 68° under clear, blue skies with only light breezes. Lows since Sunday have been in the low forties.

The outlook for the next few days is for more of the same. The high today will be a bit cooler with winds from the north at around 13mph and a high of about 60°, but tomorrow will be nicer with a high of 67° and a light south breeze. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be cloudy with a high of 63° Friday, 73° Saturday, and 79° Sunday. Lows will be in the fifties all three days and there will be a 20% chance for rain.

The weather will also be nice the first part of next week, but rain is not in the forecast.


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