I Will Vote For ??

By George Smith

Don’t misunderstand. I am not a Bernie Sanders acolyte. 

I like most of his plans,. But (and this BUT is of an Andre the Giant proportion) his plans are just words. You know, like Trump’s mouthings are just words.

I want America to shine, to take care of those that can not take care of themselves, to be, once again, that “shining beacon on the hill” for people of the world.

In his zeal, Bernie is willing to tear  asunder the fabric of his party, just as Trump has transformed the GOP into his crass, dishonesty image.

Bernie’s plan is not doable. Programs that are considered “socialist” will never get through Congress. And, the monied interest in the US will not sit idly by and let it happen.

This country, thanks to Donald Trump and his rabid followers, and those just-as-rabid aginners, is as divided as any tome since the Vietnam War.

Bernie, like Trump, is a tear-down-to-build-up self-ordained reformer.

Neither man has the ability nor the inclination to bring folks together, to compromise, feeling it is perfectly appropriate  to shun  certain segments of the country in order to reach their personal and political goals.

The next president needs to be of the Solomon caliber, not a red-faced, screaming “rouser” that further divides the country.

That said, I will vote for the Democratic Party candidate. Trump is not just killing his  party, he is undermining the foundations of this country.

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Letter to the editor: Vacancies on the Marshall City Commission

To the editor of East Texas Exposed:

Recently the City Commission determined it would appoint Leo Morris to the unexpired term of Gail Beil, who had resigned from the Commission and, sadly, passed away. It is my understanding that the Commission undertook this unprecedented step and extra charter action on the theory that the Commission can essentially interpret the City Charter how it wishes, in matters of ambiguity. However, there is clearly no ambiguity in the Charter regarding unexpired terms on the Commission. A special election is called, and the district is represented by all of the sitting commissioners until a new commissioner is elected.

Neither our charter nor precedent allows for appointment to fill vacancies. In the past, when we had a death or resignation on the commission, the seat remained unfilled until the next available election date, where a special election is held to fill the unexpired term. This was the policy followed when Commissioner Katie Jones died in office. This was the policy followed when Commissioner Louis Brock resigned his seat, and when Albert Abraham resigned his seat. Commissioners Pedison and Robb were subsequently elected, not appointed. When Commissioner Jones died, her seat was filled at the next election. Gloria Moon was the only candidate who filed for the position, she was declared the winner, and the actual election was cancelled per state statute, because there was no opponent. However, she did not and could not hold office until after the official election date and oath of office. She did attend some of the meetings before the May election date and her swearing in to office. At those meetings, she asked to sit at the dais in order to better observe the meetings. The commission granted her permission to sit at the dais as a courtesy, but she was not allowed to participate in deliberations, or to vote on any matters before the commission. 

Under the Charter, the commission only appoints to fill unexpired terms for vacancies of officers and appointees, such as officeholders serving on the Zoning Board. Filling the unexpired terms of commissioners is done by special election only. Since the legislature about two or three sessions ago eliminated the additional uniform election dates, there are now only two uniform election dates each year, in May and November. The next available uniform election date is this May.

I have copied below the pertinent charter sections, and underscored in bold the pertinent charter text as follows: 

“·  Sec. 32. – Resignation—Generally, tendering in writing, ordering, filling of vacancy.

All resignations by officers of said city shall be tendered in writing to the commission, and if such resignation is accepted, the commission shall order the vacancy filled by election of the people or by appointment as the case may be, in accordance with this charter and the laws of the city in such cases made and provided.

(Char. 1909, § 57)

Cross reference— For additional provisions as to resignations, see §§ 34, 72.

·  Sec. 33. – Same—By appointees.

Appointees to office by the commission wishing to resign, shall tend their resignation to the commission and if accepted, the said commission shall have the power to fill such vacancy by reappointment.

(Char. 1909, § 58)

·  Sec. 34. – Filling vacancies—Providing therefor.

The commission shall, when vacancies occur in any office by resignation or otherwise, provide for the election or the appointment as the case may be, to fill such vacancies, such election or appointment to be for the unexpired term only.

(Char. 1909, § 53; Amended 1927)

Cross reference— For additional provision as to filling vacancy, see § 32.

·  Sec. 35. – Same—Election therefor.

In case of the vacancy of the office of any elective officer by death, resignation, failure or refusal to qualify, or for any other cause, the commission shall order an election to take place to fill such vacancy, at a date to be fixed, not later than thirty days after such vacancy occurs, and shall give ten days’ notice thereof, published in the official newspaper of the city. In case of a vacancy in the commission, the remaining commissioners shall do and perform all of the duties incumbent on such officer until the election and qualification of a successor. In case of a vacancy in the office of city secretary, the commission shall appoint some suitable person to perform the duties of such office until such city secretary is elected and qualified.

(Char. 1909, § 60)”

A careful reading of the charter provisions draws a distinction between elected officials, and other office holders and appointees on how to fill vacancies.  Sec. 33. -Same – By appointees. speaks to reappointment of those resigning from an appointed office (such as the zoning board). Sec.34. – Filling vacancies – Providing therefor. speaks to having a special election (in the case of a vacancy on the commission) or appointment of a vacancy in a board or appointed office … as the case may be.”   Sec. 35. – Same – Election therefor. clearly states that vacancies on the commission are filled by special election only, which is consistent with Sec. 33. and Sec. 34. This is the interpretation of past city commissions and city attorneys. I don’t see any ambiguity. 

Any action of the city outside of what is permitted by the charter would be null and void, and could call into question any votes of the commission in which an appointee participated. Any differing opinion by Dottie Palumbo is simply her opinion. If the Commission has any doubt as to the proper interpretation, it can and should be resolved by asking the city attorney to obtain a declaratory judgement from the District Court, Judge Morin, as to the proper interpretation. 


Ed Smith

Former Mayor

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A Ming and a Prayer

Frankie Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Grandpa said Mister Frankie was always right about everything, so I figured I could do this thing.

* * *

By Lad Moore

From a distance, the Ming House was almost obscured. Wisteria vines had encircled it three layers deep, their tentacles winding through broken panes then retreating back outside in search of sunlight. The vines resembled the arms of an octopus, but not yet revealing if its once-gentle caress had now become the grasp of a constrictor.

The porch, unpainted and un-repaired for decades, sagged to the earth on one end, making the whole structure appear to be on incline—like a carnival fun-house. The clapboard siding had long since given up its whitewash except at the roofline where eaves had protected it from generations of rain and wind. The same overhang gave residence to years of wasp nests that dotted it like pimples on a powdered face. My friends would never venture even as close as the curb; insisting, as with most other old houses, that it was haunted by the owner.

Grown-up Northsiders claimed that Mr Ming had simply moved away when his business closed after the Great Depression and the lean years that followed. They said he moved to Dallas to live with an old maid sister—a sister he oddly called Aunt Dora. He never came back, just opened the place to its star boarders—pigeons, field mice, rat snakes, and maybe the odd hobo on overnight leave from the nearby Texas & Pacific tracks.

But my friends would have nothing of it. “Ming stayed around to get even with the bankers who abandoned him and took his store,” they claimed. “By count, four banker men met death at his hands, each having been strangled with piano wire, their heads sorely chopped off. And he kept them heads in a steamer trunk. Bet it’s still there.”

“Who said?” I asked.

My friend Benny Smitherman ventured that the details of the murders could be read in “them annals” they keep at the old Carnegie Library. “I seen the papers, and my dad read the foul accounts to me when we had scary-story hour on Friday nights after the boxing matches went off TV.”

“Old Ming haunts and soils that place,” Benny continued, “He got away clean because when they electrocuted him he didn’t die. The law says if you survive the volts, you are a free man; you can’t be fried twice for the same crime. So he roams that house dragging an old leg chain as a souvenir—‘the unchained butcher’ he’s called. He never so much as lights a candle at night. His green-marble eyes can see in blackness. His hair is a white shock of wheat—like that of a Cap’n fresh off’n the sea. Just last week the paperboy said he saw Ming in the upstairs window making a choking gesture. He’s in there, there’s no doubt. Bet you a dollar.”

I doubted the tale, but there was an eerie coincidence. The Flash Gordon serials at the Saturday matinee featured a character also named Ming, archenemy to the rocket ship hero. That Ming was a dweller of darkness too, and he cultivated some evil friends known as the Clay Men. Ming was a horrid sort who wore a black cape with a funnel neckline. His Clay Men would ooze out of the cave walls and do whatever bidding he asked of them.

My grandpa scoffed at the very idea of murders. For that matter, he said to heck with the boys’ further claims that Ming House was protected by demons just because it sat directly across from Greenwood Cemetery. It’s true that Greenwood was a cemetery long in neglect of care because no one claimed responsibility for it. Graves of sunken earth and tumbled tombstones spoke ill of the reverence it should hold. Over time, vandals roamed it freely, stealing the rusted iron fences and ornamental gates that once encircled many of the graves. Three years back a tornado skipped through the grounds, and the downed trees and debris still block many of the narrow aisles, preventing much of any access to the site. Almost no one visits the graves there anyway. Many are unmarked and rarely if ever do the tombs get adorned with holiday flowers. I’ve walked the area more often than any of my friends, searching out the giant black and yellow grasshoppers that favor the place. Even with my tame cemetery experiences, I would never venture into that place at night. I remember reading somewhere that “Graveyards are safe in sunlight, but haints lift up after dark.”  That quote rings louder than anything President Frankie Roosevelt might have said when he was out politicking.

The sun was half-mast to the horizon. My friends and I sat across the street from Ming House, lined against the perfumed privet hedges that were the border to property owned by the Baptist College. Four crows perched to our right on the cemetery fence, barking their protest to the coming darkness that marked the end of their feeding day. Crow bellies are never full. They will eat both flesh and greenery; and they will chase away any other critter to lay claim to the food, even fighting off their own kind. I have to admit I didn’t like the crows being there.

The sun was finally gone and with light becoming scarce, we began to talk back and forth in whispers. It just seemed the natural thing to do under the circumstances. We were there to scout for any sign of Ming. It was just us four cub reporters, looking for a story long just rumored. 

Nightfall also ended all street traffic. By now, everyone in town except the four of us had sat down to dinner, with Lassie on the television in the next room. We were alone, and just a silhouette of the house was visible across from us. It was unnervingly still and quiet. I had expected crickets would be serenading the few lightning bugs that usually speckled the sky, but nothing stirred. I could smell the house. An old house holds the fragrances of past life, and couples them with rotting wood long exposed to elements. It is a sweet smell, certainly not an odor that an evil old man who never bathed would emit. 

Another hour passed and still nothing moved. One by one the boys began to desert me for home, certain of a scolding and a cold supper. Now alone, I walked across the street and stopped at the rotting picket fence, its gate long collapsed. The sidewalk beneath me had been pushed up toward vertical by the massive magnolia tree roots underneath. I touched the rusty gate hinge, and it swung away with a squeak. It was darker in the house than out, so I could see all the way to the back door, like looking through a dimly lit tunnel. I was studying the house when I thought I heard a creak—like the groan of a stressed timber. Maybe the fingers of the wisteria had tightened their grip. Then the air turned noticeably cooler. I headed for home, looking behind me every ten steps or so to appease the hair that bristled on my neck. 

We came back to that spot four consecutive nights. Nothing was ever any different, and such a constant state soon emboldens the spirit. With my friends looking on, I crossed the street again and again, each time venturing a bit farther up the sidewalk. I finally reached the porch and with great trepidation, reached out and touched a wooden column with my finger. It reassured me to have touched Ming House and not have immediately been disemboweled by demon Clay Men slinging rusty scythes.

I heard a noise from behind. My friends were running off in the direction of Hendry’s Grocery two blocks away. Hendry’s was like the hub of a spoked wheel, a central spot where each of us met and later split off in different directions home.

My attention returned to the task. There were rusty cans and broken bottles on the porch, evidence of some traffic. Having reached the threshold of the steps, I decided that tonight’s achievement was conquest enough for now. Like a crab, I backed down the sidewalk toward the gate, not wanting to turn my eyes away from the house. At the street, I headed home. None of my friends were waiting for me at Hendry’s.

Benny Smitherman claimed that since we last met, he had been elected Chieftain of our group. I hadn’t even seen so much as a ballot. He said that it was the will of the group that I lead them in solving once and for all the question of Ming House. In honor of my bravery thus far it was suggested that an assault on the house next Friday the Thirteenth would further enhance the adventure and give us unequivocal credibility with the public. Further, we would all sneak out and meet at Hendry’s just before midnight. In so doing, we were flaunting all the traditional curses at once. The News Messenger headline would read:

“Local Youths Debunk the Legend of Ming House. Governor to Award Medals of Valor for Un-Haunting Premises.” 

“I ain’t going inside alone,” I said. “I might fall through some planks.” 

“We’re with you. It’ll take all of us to stand proper guard.”

It was misting on the night of Friday the Thirteenth at eleven-thirty. Parents sleep especially well in gentle rain, so slipping out through the bedroom window was easier than anticipated. At Hendry’s, I saw only Jimmy and Nels. Benny was missing. “Where’s the Chief? I asked. 

Jimmy answered, “He saw a double feature this afternoon. A Roy Rogers and Nellybelle one, and a scary movie called The Thing. I bet he’s under his cozy covers dreaming about that luscious Dale Evans.”

We waited several minutes longer for Benny, then walked on to Ming House. Each of us brought flashlights with fresh batteries. I checked the pocket watch that Grandpa had given me. It was one minute before midnight. The mist looked like smoke drifting through the flashlight beams as we blanketed the house with light. Leading the way as assigned, I was first to place a foot on the porch. It gave a bit under my weight but did not break. I stepped up to the screen door and peeled it back. The front door was slightly ajar, and its hinges squealed as I pushed it farther open. I looked behind me. Jimmy and Nels had linked their arms together. I put the flashlight under my chin so they could see my grin. They immediately separated. 

The open door led into what was probably once the parlor. The room was empty, and the far end led into a hallway. I started through the doorway, shining the light on the floor beneath me, wary of broken boards. Suddenly I felt a tangle of cobwebs and began swatting at the strands. It felt like I had shoved my face into a boll of cotton candy but it was not at all sweet. I’m certain I felt a fat spider in my palm as I batted the air.

Some sort of howling creature dashed between my legs, brushing my calf. I turned quickly to see a yellow cat nearly airborne toward the door. Nels bolted, matching the shriek of the startled cat. The two of them never touched a plank as they sailed from the house. Jimmy stood there jerking his face back and forth as if caught between two equally bad alternatives. Fight-or-flight was written in his eyes. I raised my hand like a traffic cop.

“Just a cat!” I said. “Just a big yellow cat!”  The words were meant to both explain and comfort. The spider and the cat had been unnerving even to me, and I closed my eyes and began a quiet recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in my best Presbyterian dialect. The part about “Forgive us our trespasses” seemed to make a lot of sense at the moment. I added a sentence of my own on the end about keeping me safe from “whatever lurks in Ming House.” I figured God knew the house I was referring to and wouldn’t mind me adding a real short PS to his famous prayer.

It must have frightened Jimmy to death to see me mumbling that prayer with both my eyes tightly closed. His flashlight bounced on the floor as he did a u-turn—a pivot as impressive as a gymnast’s back flip. He was gone, and I figured he would quickly pass Nels and the cat in stride. 

The next room was like a foyer. To one side stood the sagging hulk of an old upright piano, its white ivory curling backward like the bark of a shag hickory. I decided that indeed, ignorance was bliss; it was not the time to check for missing piano wires. To my left was a steep staircase with no handrail. More spider webs there, and my flashlight caught one in its beam. The spider was gently raising then replacing two of his legs like a soldier marking time for his sergeant. He was black with yellow racing stripes. Doesn’t a black widow have red markings?

I heard a crash of some kind. There was a sudden swish and something hit the side of my face and ear. It was an owl, disturbed by my presence and in a predictably bad mood. I could feel the warmth of blood on my cheek. I wiped it with my hand and looked at it under the light. There was a smear of blood—not much, really—but tomorrow my face would bear a battle wound nonetheless.

I raked the cobweb away with a loose board and placed one foot on the first stair step. It creaked loudly. My flashlight was growing dim and by now, Jimmy’s would be giving out as well, still turned on and lying on the floor. I decided that getting this far into Ming House was accomplishment-complete. I would be the only one deserving of the Governor’s medal. 

Back into the street in the damp air, I turned around for one last look. The house had not given up any secrets. I figured there were none to give up, just as I suspected all along. I crawled back through my window and put my damp clothes on the footboard to dry. Grandma’s quilt was especially warm and welcome. I slept without dreaming.

For several days I had a swell time with my friends. I had poetic license and began to embellish everything about the night at Ming House. They hung on every word, but I don’t think they bought the part about finding a human-bone torso impaled on an old pike, and of course, I claimed my owl injury came from an ape-like man swinging an axe.

Three or four weeks went by. One Saturday we decided to meet at Hendry’s and go collect grasshoppers for old man Crain. He told us he would buy them, two for a nickel, for his trotlines. We took turns kicking a beer can up the street as we walked. As we got close to the cemetery, we stopped cold. Bulldozers were sitting at Ming House, having done their job of demolishing the place into a pile of gray rubble. On a flatbed truck sat the old piano, and beside it, lashed to the truck with ropes, was a leather-covered steamer trunk. 

* * * 

Story © Copyright 2010 by the author, Lad Moore. All rights reserved.

Image © Copyright by Dreamstime, rights acquired by royalty fee.


The author’s latest short story collection, “Riders of the Seven Hills” is now available at traditional booksellers along with his previous works, “Tailwind” and “Odie Dodie.

Signed copies may also be obtained at regular prices by contacting the author directly via  pogo@marshalltx.com

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If You Remember, Just Say – Wow!

By Lad Moore

I celebrate the days when one could pull up to many a roadside joint and order something to be delivered to the car on a clever little window tray. The cold Cokes or Dr Peppers wore a paper napkin girdle to soak up the chill beads. The Cokes back then burned one’s throat as they went down. True “Original Cokes,” you know, contained a bit of cocaine. Today they contain, well, who knows. I suspect Creomulsion.

This was a time when Neely’s was in the old wooden building farther up on West Grand. The carhops announced their coming and going by the loud clap of the screen door. As they headed outside, we watched them closely to see if it was our order. If so, we knew to roll the car window up about the width of one’s palm. 

The French fries had enough grease on them that they too needed napkin dams. The grease made them limp—not crispy, and the limpness was what made them good. A little salt was already on them from the kitchen. I always added a little pepper too. Once, while visiting in Niagara-on-the River Canada, I found some limp ones at a street carnival. The barker sprinkled them with vinegar instead of catsup. Not bad, but when I got home I resumed my Heinz. 

World-Class were the French fries at the Lions Club trailer during 1950’s-era home Maverick games. The paper cones that contained them were soggy from lard, but the fries could not be replicated. There was something grand about Lions fries when the chill in the night air made them give off that wisp of steam that caused a swell of saliva to flow down one’s chin. I always bought two in case I reluctantly had to share, but I tried to empty one of them on the way back to the stands.

There was a dark side to drive-ins. I worked at the South Washington A&W Drive-In in high school. Mr. Neely’s training regimen said I must work inside for a low hourly wage and earn my way up the ladder to carhopping for tips. I figured I was as well off staying inside, because who would tip a flat-top-headed boy versus the pretty blonde with the bobbing ponytail? My inside job was washing root beer mugs—an endless cavalcade of them. The mug sink had a continuous replenishment of very hot water flowing into it. My face was slick with oil from my pores, which fertilized my bountiful crop of pimples. That sink was like an all-evening steam bath, and sometimes punctuated with a soggy cigarette butt someone had extinguished in a mug.

I gave up the carhop dream—trading it for a job with a roofing company. The day we fiberglass-insulated the attic of the Methodist Church in its 110-degree environment had me desperately wanting one of those root beers I got to see going out on those car-hop trays. My root beer job didn’t include all the free root beer I wanted. In fact, I can’t recall ever getting a free one. Mr. Neely was not one to dilute a profit margin.

Sonic eventually took car hopping to a new level when they introduced their rollerskating gals. The skates must have met with mishaps because today they wear tennis shoes. I still tip the carhops though, because I know what it is like. The only downside is that today, we place our orders through a microphone and have to guess what the person on the other end is saying. “Will that be all?” is about all I think I understand. I always answer yes and hope the order turns out right and I don’t end up with someone’s corn dog instead of a Number One. There’s no sweating Coke bottle at Sonic, only a Styrofoam cup that they say will remain in the planet’s landfill for twelve centuries. Aliens, trying to unmask the remnants of our lost culture, will be perplexed. More advanced than we, they never abandoned carhops and green glass bottles.

All this talk has made me hungry. There’s no curb service, and not even a hint of a carhop, but I’m heading over to Fugler’s Bubba Burger. He’s got a sandwich so big that it only takes 6 to make a dozen. 

* * * 

Story © Copyright 2010 by the author, Lad Moore. All rights reserved. 

Illustration from the Public Domain.


The author’s latest short story collection, “Riders of the Seven Hills” is now available at traditional booksellers along with his previous works, “Tailwind” and “Odie Dodie.

Signed copies may also be obtained  at regular prices by contacting the author directly via  pogo@marshalltx.com

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No Deed; No Title

Having been presented with an irrefutable sign.

By Lad Moore

For most of my working career, the dictates of corporate employment took me to duty stations a great distance from home. Those absences seemed like exile, serving only to make me long to return to the place I had left.

True to this need for reconnection, I reserved one week a year to revisit my insatiable mistress; fishing and frogging the bayous and main waters of East Texas’ Caddo Lake. In the course of those years I took many of my friends there. Introducing them to the lake was like showing off some cherished personal belonging. Later, I began to regret my generosity. Many of my guests assumed the same level of ‘ownership’ that I held and began including their other friends. There was something about the pristine wildness and the rare beauty of the Spanish-moss tapestries that made me selfish. I did not like others losing their hearts to the lake as I had mine. 

Caddo holds a special place in our state’s history. After its peaceful days as habitat for its namesake Caddo Indians, the lake was never again allowed to rest. Spanning decades, man’s ego devised many plans for this, the largest natural lake in the state. Some of the schemes were grandiose, some just folly. Steamboats once ploughed the waters from New Orleans to the port of Jefferson, serving as an important waterway from the south. Much later there followed private development of homes and businesses to support the growing popularity of recreation. Perhaps its heyday came in the 1950s, when there were few competing lakes. Norman Rockwell-modeled anglers in expensive outfits and wicker creels traveled great distances to enjoy Caddo’s unique character. Lodges and campgrounds were built to complement its beautifully rustic state park. The lure of the cypress and moss-framed scenery brought tourists by the carloads. Some visitors came and went in a single day. Some stayed a lifetime. 

Thankfully, the sanity of time prevailed over these pressures and most dreams of aggressive development were one by one subjugated. But even today, with the adjoining property pending protection as a refuge, there still stir controversies over the lake’s purpose. There are those who wish it to enjoy a natural evolution. Others want to tamper with its heart to artificially serve special interests such as industrialization and water exploitation. Sadly, the squabbles about claims, ownership and rights of determination may go on forever.

Like some say about the state of Texas itself, everything at Caddo Lake is bigger and grander than anywhere else. It’s true of the nesting birds, its arm-girth moccasins, the spring and fall crappie runs, and especially true of the prized frogs that reach extraordinary size in its secretive backwaters. In keeping with this theme of grandeur, such was…

The Storm

It was daybreak on a May morning that was forecast for scattered showers. As I sat on the pier with cane pole in hand, mountains of green-black clouds began to march menacingly at me from the North. Their darkness gave the scattering egrets an eerie contrast, like Styrofoam sailing against black velvet. At the bottom of the approaching curtain was a hundred-foot wall of churning sky, rolling like yesterday’s crawfish-boil. The wind brought a sudden chill, banishing the warmth of the yellow sunrise just past. Webs of electricity began to lace the clouds together, emissaries of St Elmo himself. 

In an instant, campground tents were billowing like towels pinned to a clothesline. Coffee pot lids joined potato chips as impromptu airborne missiles. Campers still in nightclothes were scrambling, as would ants disturbed by a sudden exposure of their hiding place. Then came awesome arrays of cloud-toearth lightning, streaking like tracer bullets. Their brilliance illuminated the darkness to reveal a submissive heaven, engorged with rain and stones of ice. Random blasts of thunder trailed the lightning, crashing like the crescendo of a dozen angry kettle drummers.

Now poured a merciless torrent, cascades of water from a bottomless urn. I scuttled to the safety of the steel and cement canopy beneath Big Cypress Bridge. Golf-ball hail began to pound my new pickup truck, a weather-sin I could not forgive. I bolted for the truck, hoping to move it under the cover. I was quickly driven back. All things of man must relinquish their mastery, at least for this moment.

It ended as suddenly as it began, the storm losing its potency like the anticlimactic whimper of an extinguished Roman candle. I stepped out from under the bridge into a freshly washed day. Soon my stunned camping comrades joined me and we stared out over the water. A carpet of steam stirred gently across the now-placid lake, rising like the sweet vapor from freshly baked bread on a morning windowsill. Suddenly the wonderment all fit; this place, its history, the wildlife, and now this humbling, terrible storm.

It was heaven’s smorgasbord with melded recipes that contrast awesome power with the beauty of creation. 

No, I thought, this place and its purpose must not be altered. Somehow we must always be reminded that we are merely overnight guests.

* * * 

The author’s three collections of short stories, Tailwind, Odie Dodie, and Riders of the Seven Hills are available at all traditional booksellers. Copies signed by the author 

may be obtained by contacting him directly via  pogo@shreve.net or at  his web page at:  http://laddiemoore.blogspot.com/


The story featured here holds © Copyright 2010 by the author, Lad Moore. All rights reserved.

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By Ron Munden – February 23, 2020

Josey Ranch is Marshall’s biggest tourism draw.  In 2017 the second biggest tourism draw for Marshall was Healthfest.  By state definition a tourist is someone who travels more than 50 miles and stays overnight in Marshall. Studies have shown someone that stays overnight spends more than three times as much as a day visitor.

By comparison Josey Ranch’s tourism draw is more that 10 times bigger than Healthfest.  But using the same comparison Healthfest’ tourism draw is over 10 times bigger that Wonderland of Lights tourist draw.  So, since 2010, nothing other than Josey Ranch has brought more tourists to Marshall. Heathfest 2020 is a big deal for the town.

There is another milestone.  Healthfest 2020 will be the first tourist event to be held at the Memorial City Hall Performance Center.

Here are few interesting numbers related to Healthfest:

Between 2012 and 2017 registration grew from 160 to 622.

In 2017 the data shows:

Healthfest Stats for 2017

  • Total Registration  — 622
  • 5K/10K/1 mile Fun Run — 308
  • Cities represented — 154 
  • States represented — 22
  • Countries — 2
  • From Marshall — 15% 

You may be asking — why did the Healthfest not continue in 2018.  There are two reasons.  First, the organizers Ed and Amanda Smith decided to spend more of their time working on replacing Marshall’s 50-year old animal shelter.  Second and just as important, between 2017 and mid-2019 no one in the city could give the wildest estimate as to when the Memorial City Hall renovation would be completed.

All of this is finally behind the city, which means Marshall’s second largest tourist event is coming back to town.

One final number.  Registration in 2017 was 622.  Registration for the 5K/10K/1-mile Fun Run was 308.  I interviewed some of the runners and found that a number of the people who registered for the race were not attending Healthfest but came from Dallas and Houston to run with some of the better-known racers who were featured in the race.  Based on this information the total combined registration may have been more than 700.

Heathfest’s return is great news for Marshall on so many levels. It provides outstanding and proven health information and also provides an economic boost to the community.

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By George Smith

Politics. Debate. Las Vegas.

It was easy to tell the winners and losers Wednesday night. 

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg: Ouch. Bad night. Double ouchy. Lots of heavy blows landed by just about ever other candidate but his his were heavy when it came to counterpunching. There is no way he could not have anticipated the heavy verbal artillery that his opponents lobbed at him. Yet, he dud and stumbled around like an eighth-grade boy asking his dream girl to the junior high prom.

Small town Mayor Buttigieg: He was there.  Yeah, he showed up but seemed lost in the verbal brouhaha. He’s is so likable and intelligent yet on this night he seemed to be stuck looking for the right moment to jump in the adult conversation.

Former VP Joe Biden: Lackluster performance. Looked and talked like he missed his nap. Lost more ground, if that was possible.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Seemed more accommodating and pleasant than usual. She tried hard to be the party peace-keeper…but no one else was listening; the others smelled Bloomberg’s blood in the water. Gained no ground but didn’t lose much either. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders: He was so strident and red-faced, I

It was hard not to sincerely worry about his health. His screamin’ meemie style is really getting old. And his call for “Free Everything for Everybody” plan is getting on the nerves of a lot of moderate Democrats and Independents. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Won the night by tacking Bloomberg’s record on stop-and-frisk policy, non-disclosure agreements with women, his course language and contributions to Republican candidates up on the TV screen for all to see.

On this one night, in this single debate, she showed the in-your-face mettle it will take to trump Trump’s superiority ploy on any stage.

And the candidates go plodding along…. 

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By George Smith

I hate negativity.
That said, Bernie cannot win.
Neither can Buttigieg.
Warren is iffy-squared.

To be frank, the label “Socialist Jew”, a man proudly claiming “This is my husband” and a wary woman warrior with a branded label (Pocahontas) cannot win…without some stipulations.

Bernie might have a chance if he were to announce he would only serve one term and pick his successor as VP. Klobacher? Staci Abrams? Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan? Whoever the choice, it cannot be a white man.

Buttigieg’s time is coming, but just not now, not in this toxic no rules-niceties-be-damned political environment.

Warren might take a brokered convention, but she, too, needs to select the proper running mate to have a chance against Trump? Corey Booker, mayhaps? Beto O’Rourke? 

The Democrat Party’s choices are daunting.

One thing is clear: If the Democrats don’t get it right in 2020, America in 2024 will be unrecognizable.

Not a dire prediction. A take-it-to-the-bank reality.

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By Ron Munden – February 17, 2020

During the last few years of Commissioners Gail Beil’s life she worked tirelessly on replacing Marshall’s  50-year old animal shelter.– the oldest animal shelter in Texas and one with one of the highest “kill rates” in the state.  I think it is safe to say Gail Beil was the strongest supporter of replacing the shelter on the City Commission.

With only 5 commission meetings before the next city election, the Marshall City Commissioners selected a temporary commissioner to serve in Commissioner Beil’s place for those 5 meetings.  On a 3 – 2 vote the Commissioners selected Mr. Leo Morris.  Commissioners Bonner, Calhoun, and Ware voted for Mr. Leo Morris.  Commissioners Brown and Lewis voted for Mr. Jeff Henderson.  Commissioner Hurta did not attend the meeting.

I find it ironic that the Marshall City Commissioners replaced the strongest supporter of the animal shelter with the person that has fought hardest to prevent Marshall building a new animal shelter.

On April 12, 2017 the Marshall News Messenger printed and article that said:

Morris said, while he was not expressly against the animal shelter, he felt the city had other priorities it should be attending to.

“I am not against the animal shelter; I think Marshall needs one,” Morris said., adding he collected a petition of 342 signatures for the animal shelter to be placed up for a bond election.

I must point out that this move by Mr. Morris and others was to stop the City Commission from moving forward on the long-delayed project.

On April 26, 2017 the Marshall News Messenger printed:

District 2 candidate Leo Morris reminded the audience infrastructure was more than roads, and stated the allocated funds for the animal shelter should be used to repair other city structures, with the animal shelter being placed in the strategic plan.

Anyone that has worked in business or government knows that moving a project for a tactical plan to a strategic is a “kiss of death” for that project.

Last Thursday action by the Marshall City Commissioners was a slap in the face to Commissioner Beil.

Commissioners Bonner, Calhoun, and Ware what were you thinking?

Commissioner Hurta where were you when the votes were counted?

Voters of District 2 you can honor Commissioner Beil on May 2, 2020.  Go to the polls and vote for the kind of person that Gail Beil would have wanted to replace her on the commission.

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Gail Kimes Beil Obituary


Gail Beil ~ longtime community advocate and city commissioner, historian, gardener, baker, champion of vulnerable people and homeless animals alike ~ died Wednesday evening, January 8, 2020, after a long illness.  She was 81.

She was born in Oklahoma City on February 7, 1938 to Steve and Gail Kimes, who died in childbirth.  Following the death of her birth mother and namesake, the baby Gail was raised by Albert and Louise Kimes, a newlywed aunt and uncle who also became her parents.  She spent her early childhood moving throughout the South along the path of Albert’s job in oil exploration, eventually settling in Houston.  She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1960, and married Greg Beil on September 3 of that year.  In 1965, the couple and their two young children moved to a small German village in the Rhine River Valley, where Greg obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the Max Planck Institute in Mainz.  The family returned to the United States, first to Houston, and then to Marshall in 1971 after Greg was recruited to join the faculty at Wiley College.  In the late 1990s, Gail returned to college, obtaining her master’s degree in history from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1999.

During her life, Gail worked in public relations, public services administration and journalism.  But her passion lay in jobs without a salary.  She was instrumental in construction of the Marshall Public Library building in 1973.  She was a charter member of the local League of Women Voters, an organization she served for 50 years.  She was a past president of the East Texas Historical Commission. (If you’ve read a historical marker in Harrison County, chances are she researched and wrote it.)  She served on boards for the library, parks, depot, symphony and others we can’t remember because the list is so long.  In 2017, she was elected to serve on the Marshall City Commission, a seat voters returned her to in 2019.

She threw her all into every task, whether it was restoring Memorial City Hall, cooking meals for the Wiley College debaters, or pulling weeds from the garden she tended even by moonlight.  She was happiest when her hands were digging in dirt, or dusted in flour. Strangers were welcomed into her kitchen as friends, and friends as family.  We will miss her sharp wit, her famous potato rolls, and most of all, her bottomless heart. 

Services for Ms. Beil will be held Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 3:00pm at First United Methodist Church.  Survivors include her children, Tom Beil of Berkeley, CA, Laura Beil of Cedar Hill, TX and Angie Potts of Dallas, TX; sisters, Kathy Gutierrez of Houston, TX, Charlotte Speers of Tucson, AZ; brothers, Louis Kimes of San Augustine, TX, Lloyd Kimes of Cuero, TX and Brownie Kimes of Houston, TX; foster son, Jonathan Ennis of Fort Worth, TX; four grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved beyond measure.  Donations in Gail’s honor may be made to the Marshall Depot Museum, 800 N. Washington Street, Marshall, TX 75670 or Friends of Marshall Animals, P. O. Drawer V, Marshall, TX 75671. Online condolences may be offered at http://www.meadowbrookfh.com

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