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Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Another Great Read

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

There are some people who have had a great impact on my life. The first was my father who taught me to be fair. In high school and college I met a writer in Florida and an architect in Fort Worth who both worked out of their homes. Growing up in the family grocery store, working at home was something totally new to me. At Baylor, I was fortunate to take a drama course from Paul Baker. He changed my life and still has an influence on me. I called him the other day (he’s in his 90’s) and he urged me to write some more books.

Speaking of books, I found a book at a bookstore sale at Baylor titled YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN by Thomas Wolfe. I had never read such prose in my life. His descriptions of life in America made me want to see this country and experiences as much of it as I can. A few years ago I went to his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, just to breathe the same air he breathed. After graduation from Baylor I traveled 10,000 miles around the country, to Oregon, California, New York and Florida. I even threw in a side trip to Havana.

While working as a broadcast newsman I met the humor writer, H. Allen Smith, who moved to Alpine from up north somewhere in the late 60’s. He did his writing at home. We became good friends and when he died his widow told me I could have anything in his office. I asked for his typewriter. I kept it for a number of years, then donated it to the museum at Sul Ross State University in Alpine.

When I started my radio program I met Ace Reid, the cartoonist from Kerrville. I guess every aspiring person doing any kind of creative work has spent some nights on Ace’s Draggin’ S Ranch, getting food, drink, lodging and encouragement from him. Ace was perhaps the best storyteller I’ve ever recorded. He did his cartoons in the afternoons while watching Hogan’s Heroes on TV in his bedroom.

When I started producing commercials I went to the best in the business, Chuck Blore, whose studio was in Hollywood. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the place where he worked. He was extremely cordial to me and I am still using some of the production techniques I learned there.

When I started after dinner speaking I visited with Dr. Charles Jarvis and Bob Murphey and Cactus Pryor. I learned something from all of them.

The other night I interviewed Ken Burns, America’s foremost documentarian. He was at Midland College to speak as part of a lecture series. I had a short visit with him before his talk. We were lucky to see him, especially during the time his 15-part series, THE WAR, was on public television. I thought his speech was inspiring and motivating. It made me want to read, contemplate and write. It also made me realize how lucky I am to have been born in the USA. It made me glad to be a chronicler of Texas people and events, its small towns, festivals, characters, legends, folklore and history. And I get to write about them at home.

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