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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Governor Lets Hair Salons Open Friday

The Southern Belle Salon on Main Street.
Last week it was the retail stores and restaurants that reopened, and this week on Friday, May 8, it will be the businesses requiring personal services, including barber shops, beauty salons, nail shops, and tattoo parlors—everything but the bars. And Governor Abbott says he is working on finding a way to reopen them safely.

But, like the businesses that opened last weekend, the ones reopening this week will do so with restrictions. The same limits on customer capacity will apply to the ones this week just as they did last week, 50% for establishments in counties with five or fewer confirmed coronavirus cases, 25% in ones with more than that. Other restrictions also apply depending on the kind of business it is.

State and local governments are trying to strike a reasonable balance between controlling the pandemic while boosting the economy. The assumption that the number of new cases would peak by the end of April has not happened, so the health risk now is that the rate of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue to increase. At the same time, over a million Texans have filed for unemployment since March, including over a quarter of a million last week, with others unable to file claims because of the logjam at unemployment offices and websites.

Governor Abbott says that much of the increase in COVID-19 cases is due to the recently accelerated rate of testing in Texas. He says the real key is that Texas hospitals still have plenty of room for patients and are not currently in danger of being swamped. He vows to keep a close eye on the situation, and, if necessary, he will change the restrictions depending on the situation.

Last week, Nolan County got its second confirmed COVID-19 case, a 40-year-old man who went to an Abilene hospital. Health department staff did contract tracing, and those who had close contact with the man are now self-isolating. The patient says he had not traveled out of Sweetwater before becoming ill.

As of yesterday, Abilene is up to 378 confirmed cases, an increase of 101 over last Tuesday. Of those, 235 are active with 231 self-isolating and only 4 hospitalized with 6 deaths.

Other Big Country counties’ case numbers are as follows: Jones, 78; Brown, 38; Howard, 6; Eastland, 4; Comanche 3; Nolan, 2; Callahan, 2; Scurry, 2; Runnels, 2; Coleman, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Stephens, 1.

Select West Texas counties: Lubbock, 560; Midland, 90; Ector (Odessa), 84; Tom Green (San Angelo), 79; Wichita (Wichita Falls), 68.

Texas was up to 33,369 cases, (26,171 last Tuesday) with 906 deaths (690 last Tuesday).



Megan and Dan Boren present masks to Abilene Regional Medical Center in this photo that appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News on Friday.
The Edu-Make It mask project reported on in the last two postings of the Hard Times received front-page prominence in last Friday's Abilene Reporter-News in a story written by staff writer Ronald Erdrich.

The story can be accessed by clicking here.



Dr. J. W. Young, Sr., rides in the Golden Jubilee parade on June 21, 1957.
In my lifetime, I can remember two occasions in which the city of Roscoe went all out to celebrate an event. One was the American Bicentennial celebration of July 4, 1976, and the other was Roscoe’s Golden Jubilee on the weekend of June 21, 1957—and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the latter was the bigger of the two.

Certainly, the Golden Jubilee galvanized the entire community, and the celebration was larger than just the official days with the parade, barbecue, and other events. The cause was the occasion of Roscoe’s fiftieth anniversary as an incorporated town,* and the celebration involved the active participation of a great number of its residents and almost all, if not all, of the local organizations.

Before the official celebration began, people got into the spirit of the coming occasion. There were several women’s clubs in town back then, such as the Altruesa Club, the Women’s Club, the Wednesday Study Club, the Garden Club, and the Home Demonstration Club, as well as church organizations, and it seems that all of them got involved in one way or another.

This Abilene Reporter-News photo shows l to r Mrs. Donald Marth, Mrs. J. C. Tomlin, Mrs. T. A. Singleton, and Mrs. W. R. Potter, all heads of their respective clubs.
The most noticeable feature was all the retro dressing that went on and became the fashion of the town. Women created costumes on their sewing machines that they thought best represented the way they would have looked fifty years earlier, and once they had made them, wore them around town in the days leading up to the official celebration.

The men didn’t go that far, but the Lions Club, the event’s sponsors, ordered dozens of black derby hats and bow ties, which their members sold for a dollar apiece. I was thirteen years old that summer and remember all my friends and I buying those derbies and wearing them around town as soon as we got them a couple of weeks before the official celebration, and many of the men did the same. So, it wasn’t just the ladies that got involved.

Ladies in homemade pioneer outfits on the Homemaking Club float.
The festival was publicized in the weeks leading up to the event. On Fridays, at the Trades Day drawings in the old City Park, where the Roscoe State Bank now stands, William Haney, the town’s unofficial spokesman, reminded the crowd of the big day, and local newspapers and radio stations were also involved in getting the word out.

By the time the event started, all the folks in the surrounding area knew what was going on in Roscoe, and many came for the party. The big event of the first day was the parade, and clothing wasn’t the only feature of the old days. It seemed that everyone who still had an old wagon or buggy in the barn put it in running order and entered it in the parade. There were also two or three old fire engines, one from Colorado City, marching bands, antique cars, floats from every organization in town, and other odd and assorted entries. The parade was over a half mile long with hundreds of spectators. Not only were the sidewalks full of onlookers, but kids found ways to get on the roofs of downtown buildings and watched the proceedings from above.

Billy Haney and I were the trampolinists for the Boys Club, and our part that day was to turn flips on a trampoline mounted on the back of a truck moving down the street in the parade. We’d performed in shows before but always on a stationary trampoline, and we were worried that we’d bounce up, turn a flip, and when we came back down, the truck would have moved forward and we’d land in the street breaking bones. George told us we thought that because we didn’t understand the physics involved and that as the truck moved forward, so would we. He said, “If you were in a vehicle going down the road at sixty miles an hour, and there was a fly flying around in there with you, that fly wouldn’t have to fly sixty miles an hour to keep from smashing into the glass, would it? “No,” we said, “but we’re not inside the truck, we’re bouncing up in the air outside.” “But the principle is the same,” he said, “So, quit complaining.” 

Flipping on a moving truck in the parade. Billy Haney is in front looking back. Boys on back are Cuppy Graham and Joe Duncan.

The parade began way out on east Broadway beyond the Gulf station, and at the beginning both Billy and I, taking turns and still dubious, were barely bouncing and not turning flips but just landing on our seat or stomach. But as the parade moved forward, we gained confidence, bouncing higher as we went, and by the time we got to where the crowds were, we were both bouncing high enough to turn flips and perform our regular routines. We wore our derbies jammed tightly on our heads and never lost them.

After the parade, the women’s clubs held a tea, and many of the spectators went to a building where a collection of antique items was on display. This was in the days before Roscoe had a museum, so everyone enjoyed seeing old items like one-row planters, ladies’ side-saddles, coal-oil lanterns, crank telephones, and other things they remembered from their childhood or had heard about.

That evening, there was a big street dance on Cypress Street between Shelansky’s and Denson’s Dry Goods (now the closed El Tejano restaurant). The music stage faced north in the street about even with the alley halfway down the block. I have tried to remember the name of the band playing that night. The name Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters comes into my head, but that could easily be wrong. Maybe there’s someone else who was there that night that still remembers. If there is, please let me know. Anyway, whoever it was put on a lively show to a packed crowd that thoroughly enjoyed it.

Golden Jubilee street dance on Cypress Street.
For many of us kids, just seeing all the ladies in their long dresses and men with their derbies dancing in the street was a fascinating novelty. Public dancing was generally frowned upon in Roscoe in those days, and just the fact that the dance was being held was exceptional. Ideas of morality and modesty were different back then, and many of the strait-laced protestants of the town felt it was un-Christian, led to impure thoughts, and set a bad example for the town’s youth. But on this night, they let it pass because it was part of the Golden Jubilee celebration. Some even joined in and did a little two-stepping themselves.

The next day the festivities continued with a horse show on the school grounds starting at 2 p.m., during which time Leland Howard won an award for being the longest living resident, having moved to Roscoe in 1889, and J. E. Clayton won one for being the former resident who had come from farthest away, Magnolia, Arkansas, to attend the celebration.

The afternoon show was followed at 6 p.m. by the American Legion barbecue. Tickets were 75ȼ, and over 1,250 of them were sold—and that didn’t count the older folks who had lived in the area for 40 or more years, who ate for free. The West Texas Cutting Horse Association held their meeting in Roscoe for the occasion, and the afternoon horse show was followed in the evening with a cutting horse competition that took place before a large enthusiastic crowd.

When it was all over, everyone congratulated themselves and the others on a job well done and a thoroughly good time that involved a large part of the community. We boys continued to wear our derbies for a while, but eventually they got lost or wound up on the closet floor, and we and the town moved on to other pursuits. Looking back on that time now over sixty years later, I remember the occasion not only as a happy event, but one that in retrospect turned out to be one of Roscoe’s finest moments.

* Although the community could trace its history back to over fifteen years earlier, when it was a budding little hamlet on the Texas & Pacific railway known as Vista, the incorporation on June 8, 1907, which passed by a vote of 65 to 18, made it an official town with an established city government that could levy taxes and oversee the affairs of the community.


“Roscoe Prescribes Old-Time Garb for Golden Jubilee.” Abilene Reporter-News, June 4, 1957.

“Old Firebell Clangs as Parade Opens Roscoe Fete.” Abilene Reporter-News, June 22, 1957.

“Roscoe Honors Longest Resident,” Abilene Reporter-News, June 23, 1957.



Hot weather clouds in the eastern sky on Sunday afternoon.
The month of May this year has come in with a vengeance. On Friday, May 1, the temperature rose to 95°F, which was hot for openers, but then Saturday was so torrid it broke the record for heat by six degrees. The old record for a May 2 was 98°, but since Saturday, it is now 104°, which was the maximum at about 5:00pm that afternoon. Sunday was also hot, but not quite as bad as Saturday, breaking the daily record of 99° with a high of 101°. Then Monday didn’t break any records, but it still broke the century mark with a high of 101°. So we are now up to our sixth day of the month and three of them have broken a hundred degrees, and two of the other three have hit ninety (90° on Thursday and 95° Friday).

Along with the heat, it’s also been windy and dry. The wind hasn’t always been from the same direction, but whatever direction it was coming from, it was strong. The hot southwest winds of the weekend shifted to the north Monday night and continued to blow hard until around noon yesterday.

The good news was the drop in temperature, but with the wind even the sixties felt chilly, especially after the heat of the previous days. The week, like the two before it, was another dry one without a hint of precipitation.

Today, we’ll get a break from the heat and high winds with sunny skies, a lighter breeze, and a high of 84°, but tonight the south wind will pick up again to 20-30mph, warming the high tomorrow to 92°. Then  tomorrow night, the wind will shift to the north and still be high with winds of 25-35mph and gusts over 40, causing the high on Friday to be only about 72° with a low of 47°. The weekend will then be sunny and nice with only a light breeze. High on Saturday will be about 75° and Sunday about 83°.

Unfortunately, it looks to be another dry week with no chance of rain.



  1. I enjoyed your trampoline story about George and the fly. That sure sounded like him

  2. So I guess George was right and there where no broken bones.


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