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Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Under the Chinaberry Tree

This Week On
The Sound of Texas

Monday, April 8
Fran Houser Adrian Midway Cafe
Tuesday, April 9
Peter Avila San Benito Conjunto Museum
Wednesday, April 10
Suzanne Theis Houston Car Parade
Thursday, April 11
Dorinda Millan Pecos Museum
Friday, April 12
Troy Grusendorf Brownwood Harmonica
Complete Schedule for April

In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

I really get excited when I'm asked to make a speech somewhere. Within a 5 week period from mid-January to mid-February I spoke in McCamey, Dayton, Burkburnett, Stonewall, Brenham and Fort Stockton. I've never had so many speeches this early in the year. In March I speak in Rankin, Colorado City, Midland, Sweetwater and Big Lake. Speaking is so much fun! I love to look at the audience and see all those smiles.

Finding out some background on the communities where I speak is fascinating. McCamey used to have rattlesnake races. Somebody drew a big circle, put a bunch of snakes in the middle of it and the first one out of the circle was the winner.

McCamey was founded as an oil field town. It's named for the wildcatter who hit pay dirt in 1925. Now the sound of pump jacks is joined by the soft pulsating whirr of wind turbines on nearby Mesas, earning McCamey the title of wind energy capital of Texas.

Dayton is on the coastal plain, where the marshland meets the tall trees and water, wildlife and woods combine to show off nature at its best, offering a paradise to people who love the outdoors.

Residents of Burkburnett call their city Burk. It is named for Burk Burnett, the owner of the 4-6's Ranch, which had its first headquarters just outside of town. In 1918, Burkburnett had one of the biggest oil booms in Texas.

Of all the oil booms before and after the one at Burkburnett, this was the one to be documented and made legendary by Hollywood. The boom at Burk was the inspiration for the movie BOOM TOWN, starring two of the biggest stars to ever appear on the screen: Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable.

When I spoke at the Stonewall Chamber banquet, we stayed on a ranch just outside of town. At the banquet, people told me about The Cave Creek Church, which we would pass on the way back to the ranch. They said during the Christmas holidays it was outlined in white lights. As we neared the entrance to the ranch after the banquet, we saw that someone had turned on the church lights just for us. On a small highway in the dark of night to see the church all lighted up was some sight.

Brenham is special because it's the home of Bluebell ice cream. It's near Washington on the Brazos, the place where Texas was created. Every Texan should visit Washington County.

At Fort Stockton you can look at the horizon and sense the history of Indians, soldiers, bubbling water and wagon trains. The view is spectacular and the sky is a perfect blue.

Touring Texas, especially with a podium, is extremely rewarding.

more articles by Tumbleweed Smith

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