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Oh! & Ah!

Texas’ largest azalea garden delivers both.

With mile after mile of hiking and biking trails and acres upon acres of cascading azaleas, Nacogdoches is the undisputed Garden Capital of Texas. From the sprawling Ruby M. Mize Azalea Gardens to the 20-mile residential tour, Nacogdoches puts on her best with blooms and foliage throughout the spring. If you’re looking for just the right getaway, it all starts right here.

Azalea Trail | March 15th - April 15th



THE ARTS 28 A  local artist shares his celestial view at TRAHC while the region hosts a range of springtime art and photography shows.

STAGE 32 Broadway singers present love songs in Lufkin and Greater Tuna keeps the laughs going with a Tyler appearance.




34 Filmmaker from Carthage pays tribute to underdogs director and students debut a western with scenes in East Texas.


36 A book review of a contemporary fairy tale plus a spring release for TJC professor Traci Borum’s Chilton Crosse series.


38 A tribute album for Tyler-raised Adam Carroll, Uncle Lucius headlines at April charity jam and local recording studios help artists pursue their musical dreams.



6 Sunny Sweeney

Grows Up With Trophy

The Longview-raised songstress writes about life, love and hard lessons with her new album. By P.A. Geddie

8 Take a Walk Amid the Art Outdoor venues in Palestine, Longview and Nacogdoches mix sculptures and nature. By Ruksana Hussain

12 Pioneers of Prominence

From Texas suffragettes to a first lady, East Texas women were born to rise. By Elaine Rogers

16 Remembering New London’s Longest Night — 80 Years Later

20 DEPARTMENTS 5 Editor’s Note & Letters

THIS TIME OF YEAR 20 B  looming season in East Texas, a jazzy centennial celebration, daughters in the workplace and more.


22 T exas Folklore Festival in Tyler and a view of MOMIX’s creative choreography.


50 From rustic to artistic, an old sawmill in De Kalb produces a surprising mix of decorative wood goods.

FEEL GOOD 52 Regional charities gear up for the second annual East Texas Giving Day.


54 Learning about coral reefs at the Longview World of Wonders and a local author’s story of adventurous piglets. Cover Photo by Christina Feddersen


46  Piada’s fresh take for on-the-go flavor, kudos for Kiepersol, and rave reviews and news of other regional eateries.


24 T he Little Alamo Mission Museum takes kids back in time.


25 D  iscovering the pioneer craft of broom making in Nacogdoches and growing a wonderland of azaleas in Tyler.

The community commemorates the tragic event that took away a generation. By Sherry Sereboff



county line Since 2000


PUBLISHER P.A. Geddie MANAGING EDITOR Elaine Rogers EDITORS Jill Couchman, Steve Freeman, Alia Pappas

CONTRIBUTORS Tom Geddie Ruksana Hussain Stan Johnson Clare McCarthy Sherry Sereboff Lynda Stringer


ADMINISTRATION Annette O’Brien, Bridgette McKinney



EDITOR’S NOTE Dear Readers, As nature starts to decorate the piney woods with soft and bright elements, the pages of this issue are similarly infused with feminine touches — a “by design” decision. In honor of Women’s History Month in March, “Pioneers of Prominence” on page 12 offers snapshots of East Texas women from the history books who refused to be defined by stereotypes or their stations in life. Look for more in future issues on present-day heroines accomplishing great things in local communities all over the upper east side. Girl power catches a sparkly dose of star power in our cover story about the grownup tales and themes of Sunny Sweeney and her newest album (page 6). This is the season for spring break outings or “just because” adventures, and “Take A Walk Amid the Art” on pages 8-9 details several outdoor sculpture collections worth the visit, while an Explore feature (page 24) reveals the treasure trove of Texas History awaiting visitors at Mount Vernon’s Little Alamo Mission Museum.

It’s been 80 years since a school explosion rocked New London and stole a generation of youngsters, and County Line Magazine remembers the deadliest school disaster in American history on pages 16-19 while the community hosts its Day of Remembrance on March 18. Few will deny the healing power of music, and there’s an abundance of it in this neck of the woods. On pages 38-42, read about Adam Carroll’s tribute album, Uncle Lucius’ annual homecoming, and several local studios making it surprisingly affordable for aspiring artists to make their own recordings. Other pages are brimming with film, arts, literary and food news as well as updates on not-to-be-missed cultural and entertainment events in the region. Come in and linger. Elaine Rogers Managing Editor

LETTERS Dear Editor,

County Line Magazine is published every other month, 6 times a year. Subscription costs: $15 per year. Bulk rate postage paid at Ben Wheeler, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to County Line Magazine, P.O. Box 608, Ben Wheeler, TX 75754. Contents COPYRIGHT 2017 County Line all rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without written permission. Opinions expressed in articles or advertising appearing in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Mailing address: P.O. Box 608, Ben Wheeler, TX 75754 Phone: 903.963.8306. E-mail: Website: Free listings are entered on a space available basis. Advertising space may be purchased by calling 903.963.8306. We reserve the right to refuse any advertisement we deem incompatible with our mission.

For anyone with a living room, a drive through De Kalb warrants a shopping tip about the cool, new furniture and unique wooden goods springing forth from the Phillips family’s old sawmill (page 50).

(I’d) like to thank you for publishing such a great magazine for our area of Texas. I truly enjoy every read. Lindsey Peterson Quitman We appreciate all of the many ways that County Line Magazine helps make our community and region a better place to live. Brian Goesl Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council

I picked up a copy at the Hilton Garden Inn. Great magazine and I am adding it to my Texas file. I especially enjoyed the “Best of” listing (January/February). It would be so helpful to have a small map of the area showing the towns so I could plan a road trip seeing the big picture. I’m looking forward to a return trip and taking advantage of these fun suggestions. Ginger Lawhon

To see a map of the Best of East Texas 2016, go to

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Sunny Sweeney Grows Up With Trophy Sunny Sweeney didn’t have great aspirations of being a singer-songwriter while growing up in Longview. She said she just did “regular kid stuff” but she was surrounded by country music and somewhere along the way she developed her own fiercely independent, country-girl vibe and headed off to college.

country.’ It’s a good thing I’m a country singer.” Sweeney’s sound might be somewhere between two other East Texans — Lee Ann Womack and Miranda Lambert — and definitely on the country side with some Americana squeezed in. Her songs come from her own life.

She studied public relations but decided to become a singer-songwriter after going to a concert in San Marcos where it suddenly dawned on her that “those people are getting paid.”

“Being raised in East Texas helped because country music is in your blood,” she said, citing Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Vern Gosdin, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Jessi Colter among her influences.

“I just started doing it to see if I could and it worked out,” she said.

“Traditional country is pretty much all I’ve ever listened to.”

Quite serious about her new venture, she needed an instrument to help ply her new craft.

Although the topics and tone of her songs change some through the years, Sweeney’s bold character threads through all her albums. In 2007 Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame released, followed by 2011’s Concrete and 2014’s Provoked. Releasing March 10 is her fourth album, Trophy.

“I asked my stepdad to teach me,” she said. “He got me a guitar and taught me a couple of chords and I moved on from there.” She wrote her first song the first week after college and started playing in “lounges” around Austin. After just a couple of years in Austin, she started playing out of town. In the last 15 years she’s toured all over America, Europe, Norway, and all over the world.

Sweeney’s co-writers on Trophy are mostly other women, and some are personal such as the ballad “Bottle By My Bed,” which touches on her desire to have a baby. Others provide a variety of moods she prefers listeners relate to on their own terms rather than defining them herself.

In 2013 she was nominated for the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Female Vocalist along with fellow East Texan Kacey Musgraves — the third nominee, Jana Kramer, won the award.

“I don’t like labeling anything if I can help it,” Sweeney said. “I want everybody to listen and see what they think. I do write from a perspective of what I’m going through at the time. That’s going to change through the years.”

Sweeney is close to another of the region’s greats — Miranda Lambert.

Sweeney says she strives for “a little bit of highs and little bit of lows.”

“I went on tour with Miranda last year,” Sweeney said. “We’re friends outside the music business as well. Our personalities are pretty similar — we like co-writing about getting along with people.”

“That’s a successful record when you can do that. Some of my songs are really funny and some are not funny at all. There’s some really deep songs that don’t have any comedy at all.”

Rolling Stone is one of many national and state music publications singing Sweeney’s praises with articles popping up in print and on the internet at regular intervals. One endearing descriptive RS used for her is “twang-tastic.”

The first song on the new album is testament to that. Tricia Yearwood joins Sweeney on “Pass the Pain” as she asks the bartender to “slide some more hurting my way.”

“I don’t hear the twang,” Sweeney said. “I think my accent’s gone. But it’s not, cause I still hear (people say) ‘you’re so

Next, “Better Bad Idea” lightens the mood, followed by “Nothing Wrong With Texas,” a reminiscent song where “It’s time to go back to where I learned what


respect is.” Sweeney’s version of Chris Walls’ waltz, “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight,” is one in which listeners will agree that sometimes Beethoven, Chuck Berry, or Bird’s saxophone won’t do. Ray Benson performs with her on this one. The title track, “Trophy,” is a fun song about something an ex-girlfriend of her husband’s said. “It’s one of my favorites,” Sweeney said. “It’s the side of smart ass, kinda sassy, version of me. It’s for ex-husbands and exwives and their relations that ensue after. It makes me laugh more than anything.” “Unsaid,” is a painful ballad about losing a friend. She’s joined by Jack Ingram on “Grow Old With Me.” Overall, critics are raving about the album and Sweeney’s happy with it too. “It’s a much more adult record than anything I’ve every made,” she said. “It’s about an adult life and death and birth, and wanting relations to be a certain way and then they’re not, and being grateful when others are. Most of us spend our lives living, just getting through it one day at a time.” Sweeney remains a force of nature. “I was just raised to kinda have a free spirit,” she said. “My mom always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. If I had a weird idea, to go with it and see what happens. I try to be the same onstage. I’m just me. I think that’s what people relate to. I’m a music fan first.” Sweeney doesn’t get to Longview these days as much as she’d like she says, but it’s still home. “My whole family is there,” she said. Sweeney lives in Austin now when she’s not touring and plays a regular gig at the Saxon Pub with Brennen Leigh when she’s in town. In March and April she’s performing in New York, Nashville, Seattle, Sacramento, and San Francisco to name a few towns lucky to have her. She gets a little closer to home with a June 1 gig at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth. For more information and to order her music, go to

Photo by Christina Feddersen

By P.A. Geddie


As part of Longview’s Art from the HeART project, local artist Jeff Hull made outdoor sculptures at Boorman Park using painted vintage bicycles. He also created two 11-foot running man statues using street signs. (Below) Courtesy Photos.

Take a Walk Amid the ART

Outdoor Sculptures Enhance the Views at Several East Texas Venues By Ruksana Hussain As the weather warms, local families often flock to parks and playgrounds to enjoy the new season and its change of scenery, and cities like Tyler and Nacogdoches also draw flower-loving crowds with their spring azalea trail activities and events. Year-round, however, outdoor enthusiasts who crave natural settings that also celebrate the creative arts find it easy to indulge that artistic blend in several East Texas venues with noteworthy sculpture gardens.

Art Tracks Starting on Spring Street and winding through downtown Palestine, 18 distinctive sculptures created by 11 artists are part of the city’s 2016-17 Main Street Art Tracks exhibit. Hosted by Palestine Main Street and a nonprofit called Palestine Tomorrow, Inc., the Art Tracks trail 8 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH/APRIL 2017

began in 2010, and the latest batch of sculptures was installed in January after artists submitted their entries in the fall and finalists were selected in November. “This show gives everyone — resident or visitor— a chance to enjoy art whether as a driver or a pedestrian,” says Art Tracks founder Jean Mollard. The larger-than-life installations are made from metal, mosaic, glass and steel and stay on display through November 2017. The pieces are available for purchase as well, with commissions going back to the Main Street program to help finance improvements in the city. Since the first show, 54 sculptures have enhanced Palestine’s Main Street. Sculpture locations are on public property, and a printed brochure map —available at Palestine Main Street Gallery—guides visitors through the route.

Sculpture For All

Newly-installed, a fresh set of sculptures comprises the latest edition of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Sculpture For All Outdoor Art Exhibition and Competition, situated at the campus’ arboretum in Nacogdoches — a 10-acre area within the SFA Gardens that connects to the university’s popular azalea trail. On view for 22 months, the earlier group of sculptures graced the campus gardens March 2015-December 2016 and included works by local artists like Dewane Hughes of Tyler, Kurt Dyrhaug of Beaumont and Joe Barrington of Throckmorton, in addition to artists from across the country. The artistic enterprise was launched in late 2014 by SFA assistant professor for sculpture Jeffery Brewer, an artist who also has a piece titled “Hands on You” on view in Palestine in the Main Street Art Tracks exhibit. With final selections for the 2017-18 exhibition finalized in February and erected in March, the new Sculpture For All exhibition stays up through December 2018.

Beautifying Longview

With a goal of making public art more accessible in Longview, Keep Longview Beautiful continues to develop its Art from the HeART program. It started in 2014 with “Five Children Playing,” an eight-foot bronze sculpture by Max Turner installed at Flewellen Park. The following year, four installations by Longview artist Jeff Hull went up on the Paul Boorman Trail. These included “Vital Signs South” and “Vital Signs North,” two 11-foot tall sculptures of a running man made from recycled city street signs and located on the south and north ends of the trail. At the entrance to the trail, “The Herd at Boorman” consists of 32 vintage bicycles painted neon orange and placed in a

herd formation, and a coordinated piece situated near the small dog park features three more bicycles in red, yellow and orange. Last year, a sculpture dubbed “Pine Cones” by Patrick Plourde went up in the new entryway located at Highway 31 and Spur 63. Depicting four-feet tall pine cones, it is made with vintage shovels and located on private property at Vaca & Kirby Dental and Johnson & Pace. Keep Longview Beautiful officials say three more installations are planned this year — although details are sketchy at this point — and a long-term plan calls for installations at 36 community locations.

Containing one of the largest azalea gardens in the nation, the arboretum is a popular destination for families and spring visitors during the Nacogdoches Azalea Trail and Azalea Symposium, and the sculptures enhance the views year-round. Sculpture For All maps are available online at

An eye-catching set of 18 new sculptures erected in January as part of Palestine’s Main Street Art Tracks project include “Water Lily” by Laura Walters Abrams and “Lone Star Over Texas” by Jan and Kathy (Deano) Dean. Photos by Stuart Whitaker. MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 9

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Pioneers of Prominence Women of East Texas carved out their own places in the history books

By Elaine Rogers Long before achieving its statehood in 1845, Texas was home to a pioneer population of settlers, rangers, ranchers, renegades and indigenous people, as well as growing numbers of teachers, musicians, politicians and other achievers. Women played their roles and more than a few carved out positions of influence and achievement worthy of the history books. And despite those popular stereotypes about deferential and darlin’ Texas gals with big hair, sweet manners and stand-by-your-man attitudes, the Lone Star State is too big and diverse for any one category to apply to half the population, either state wide or in the upper east side. Women’s History Month, celebrated each March in America since 1987, begs for an informal listing to prove it.

Pioneers of Prominence Making History

Mary Louise McKeller Herndon

A wealthy and tenacious woman regarded as the grandmother of women’s suffrage in Tyler, Mary Louise Herndon became a leader of the cause in 1883 when she was 53 — a graduate of Baylor University, the wife of a former Congressman and the mother of eight

grown children. Elected to leadership positions with the Texas Equal Suffrage Association (TESA) and an alternate delegate to a National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) convention, she lobbied to get a bill introduced into the Texas House, an effort that ultimately failed after two years. Herndon continued working as a community organizer and leader of the suffragette movement in East Texas. Her daughter Elizabeth Herndon (Bessie) Potter took an active role as well, serving as a TESA vice president, lobbying for the movement at both the state and national level, and even corresponding with President Woodrow Wilson on the matter. In 1913, Herndon organized the Smith County Equal Suffrage League to initiate another amendment push, and the Texas Legislature voted in 1918 to ratify what would become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, making Texas the first Southern state to do so. Unfortunately, Herndon died in 1919, having seen women vote in primaries, but not in general elections.

Lallie Prestley Dyer-Briscoe Carlisle

Lallie Carlisle was born in 1866 and quietly made history in Greenville in 1902 when she became the first woman in Texas to hold public office. Her husband, E.W. Briscoe, had died, and she was appointed to serve out his term as county clerk of Hunt County. It was


18 years before women won the right to vote — and 23 years before the Lone Star State elected its first female governor (another wife taking over for her husband) — and the appointment was challenged, then upheld by the state’s attorney general. Later, the mother of five, married again, this time to C.C. Carlisle. She died in 1949 and is buried at East Mount Cemetery in Greenville. During November 2016’s election of firsts, her great-granddaughter Pud Kearns, placed her “I Voted” sticker on Carlisle’s headstone, much like women do in Rochester, New York, at the grave of famous suffragette Susan B. Anthony. Kearns says her tribute caught on, and numerous friends and relatives shared their stickers with her for Carlisle’s gravestone.

Ima Hogg

The daughter of Governor James Stephen Hogg, Ima was born in Mineola in 1882 and educated in both Texas and New York. A music lover from her days as a student, she became a lifelong patron of the arts and a philanthropic leader — active with the Houston Symphony Society and eventually taking the role of the first woman president of the Philosophical Society of Texas. In 1967, she received a state award for her pursuits in historic preservation, an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Southwestern University in 1971 and

UT’s Distinguished Alumnus Award — the first woman to do so.

could change the subject by calling on Sarah and lived to regret it.”

Bessie Coleman

Lady Bird Johnson

Hailing from Atlanta in 1892, Coleman was the tenth of 13 children of a Cherokee father and an African-American mother. Despite her humble beginnings, she made history after World War I as the first civilian licensed African-American pilot as well as the first black woman aviator and first Native American woman aviator. Historians note that during that time frame, no one would teach a woman or an AfricanAmerican to fly, so Coleman pursued her dream by studying French and sailing to France to earn her pilot’s license there. By the age of 29, she returned to the states and became a “barnstormer” or exhibition pilot, performing in air shows in Chicago and around the country. Reportedly, she refused to perform unless her audiences were desegregated and everyone used the same gates. She died at 34, doing what she loved, when her plane malfunctioned and she fell from the open cockpit.

Born Claudia Alta Taylor in 1912 in East Texas’ Karnack, Lady Bird received her nickname as an infant and it virtually replaced her real name. As Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife who became first lady of the United States from 1963-69, she was a graduate of the University of Texas — studious and notably well educated for a woman of her era. She was also known as a shrewd manager and investor, and after marrying Johnson in 1934, she bankrolled his congressional campaign with her modest inheritance and managed his legislative office during his stint in the navy. She also bought a radio station, followed by a TV station,

Spunky Women Made a World of Difference interview spunky women for a storytelling podcast with Stephen F. Austin State University, and says she’s considering a Spunky Woman sequel to document stories of East Texas women of the last six decades.

Sarah McClendon

Running her one-woman McClendon News Service for decades and infuriating presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt through the early days of the George W. Bush admnistration, Sarah McClendon was a mainstay of the White House Press Corps — mocked in the ranks of an almost all-male press corps in her early days, but eventually honored as a pioneer. Born in Tyler, she worked in small Texas newspapers and served as a public relations lieutenant in the Women’s Corps in World War II. Moving to the Washington bureau of The Philadelphia Daily News in 1944 before starting her own news service two years later, she was a single working mother at a time when that was rare. Known for her long questions and lecturing-the-president comments, she became the longest-serving White House reporter, and in her later years, despite performing her duties from the constraints of a wheelchair, maintained a style so brash a colleague once described her as “giving rudeness a bad name.” McClendon wrote a memoir in 1996 entitled, Mr. President, Mr President! My 50 Years of Covering the White House, and President Bill Clinton’s press secretary, Michael D. McCurry, once mused that, “Many a president thought he

which generated revenues that made them millionaires. As First Lady, she interacted directly with Congress, something that hadn’t been done before, even employing her own press secretary. Crediting her love of the outdoors with growing up shy and often alone in the piney woods, she was a fan of wildflowers and a lifelong advocate for city and highway beautification projects — promoting The Highway Beautification Act informally known as “Lady Bird’s Bill”. She also pushed her husband to support the Head Start Program to help low-income children in America, and before her death 10 years ago, received America’s two highest civilian honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Someone with more knowledge than most about the accomplishments and histories of local ladies in the Piney Woods is Cherokee County author and historian Deborah L. Burkett, who spent two and a half years learning about women whose stories intrigued her. The result was a 236-page book published in 2016 called East Texas Piney Woods Spunky Women, 1830s – 1950s, Spirited Individuals Who Made a Difference. What they had in common, she notes, was an ability “to be strong in the face of adversity, to not give up and not be overwhelmed with sorrow and hardship, not to be knocked down by whatever comes your way but to do whatever it takes.” In other words, they had “spunk” in the face of tragedies and obstacles. “They all pulled through,” she says. “They all had whatever it took to survive and to survive well.” Surprised by her findings, the author continues to

Similarly, Carol C. Taylor of Greenville, a genealogist in Hunt County, and Vicki Betts, a reference librarian at UT Tyler who frequently works with the Smith County Historical Society, also speak fondly of the many East Texas women whose accomplishments through the years dramatically improved the lives of those around them and of generations to come. Both researchers note that many of the important women in the region devoted their energies to the betterment of their local communities in fundamental ways with school and nonprofit involvements, providing their towns with a backbone of organized culture, enrichment, literacy and charitable giving programs. “People often think of commerce when they look for the community leaders,” Taylor says, “but we have endless stories of women who impacted the lives of those around them in other really important ways.” They were out there, pushing for programs to expose others to art, music and theater and making sure young children had access to books, or addressing feeding problems in their towns. They were in clubs and running charities that made a world of difference in families’ lives.”





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Remembering New London’s Longest Night


By Sherry Sereboff “Mister, will you get me out please?” First responder Don Nelson was struck by the 10-year-old’s composure. The boy’s leg was broken and bent. He lay atop a heap of rubble and surviving classmates, sheltered under a fallen bookcase. Rescued within moments of the deadliest school disaster in American history, these fifth graders were lucky exceptions. As New London’s longest night proceeded, most of the remaining children were found either dead or gravely injured. In 1937, while the country at large suffered in the throes of the Great Depression, the small East Texas hamlet of New London enjoyed a prosperous respite.

The Town That Lost Its Future With America’s Deadliest School Disaster

The 1930 success of wildcatter Dad Joiner’s Daisy Bradford Number 3 initiated the discovery of the largest known oil field in the world. Formerly known as London, Texas, the community became New London in 1931 when it established a new post office and found that a London post office was already established elsewhere. The new post office, and the town as a result, was rechristened New London — some businesses retained the London name. Situated in the heart of the “Great Black Giant,” New London became the richest rural school district in the nation. The influx of oil field workers and their families necessitated a larger school. Oil money fueled its construction.

New London Explosion Survivor Recalls the Day She Lost Almost All of Her Classmates I was in the fifth grade, sitting in the back row of Mrs. Hunt’s classroom. We were the only ones who lived — those of us in the back row. My younger brother Max had been in the program in the gymnasium and already gotten on the bus. I never could remember the explosion. First thing I remember is waking up in the hospital and hearing my mother’s voice. She walked by my bed and didn’t recognize me. My face was so swollen. I couldn’t see, but I cried out for her. Later she said I looked like a corpse. We all looked alike — living and dead — covered in gray dust. The explosion took my ear off. I was under a doctor’s care in Overton with head injuries for

several months. Each time I asked about a classmate my mother would tell me they had died. I was 11 years old and all of my friends were gone. Max and I cried and begged our parents not to make us return to school in New London. My father worked for Humble Oil and got a transfer. Much as I’ve tried to forget, every March I go through all of it in my mind again. I’ve been guilty all my life because I was saved and the others weren’t. Almost everyone in my class was killed. Our teacher was killed. Why did I survive? I’ve asked why a thousand times, but there’s no answer. Still, I never stop asking. — Floy Suttle Metcalf, age 91


Built in 1931, with additions in 1934, the combined junior-senior high school hosted the fifth through 11th grades and was the centerpiece of a new one million dollar campus. The school included a distinguished library and stateof-the-art laboratories. School grounds teemed with oil well jacks and the Wildcats played in the first lighted high school football field in Texas. On Thursday, March 18, 1937, a cold and wet winter yielded to a beautiful spring afternoon. Excitement was in the air. Several of New London’s students prepared to compete in the Interscholastic League competitions in Henderson the next day. The district expected a stellar performance. New London teachers were exceptionally trained and highly paid; one of them wrote a reminder of the source of their good fortune on her blackboard: “Oil and natural gas are East Texas’ greatest mineral blessings. Without them this school would not be here and none of us would be here learning our lessons.” New London’s grateful citizens never anticipated petroleum’s bounty ---- or its cost. Students and staff looked forward to the three-day weekend ahead. Junior high and high school students were restless and giddy. In the gymnasium, mothers watched their elementary students perform a Mexican dance recital. Just before school let out, at 3:17 p.m., shop teacher Lemmy Butler flipped the switch on a sander. A deafening boom stopped time on the wristwatches of New London’s future. Witnesses agree that the 253-foot-long school lifted several feet off the ground

before crashing back down in a mass of broken concrete, twisted steel, and collapsed bricks. The massive explosion shook buildings and rattled windows 10 miles away in Kilgore. Hundreds of children and their teachers lay buried beneath the rubble. Mothers swarmed out of the gymnasium. They ran to the wreckage and frantically searched for their children through the thick plume of smoke and concrete dust. Pleas for help went out and volunteers streamed in. Descriptions of the disaster reached news desks within minutes. Twenty-year-old reporter Walter Cronkite was finishing his work day at the United Press International office in Dallas when the teletype machine tapped out a frantic message relaying word of the explosion. He grabbed his fedora and raced to East Texas to cover the unfolding tragedy. Local Boy Scouts were first on the scene. They directed traffic as 1,500 oil-field workers rushed to the site and began digging with bare hands. Oil companies sent in winchers and acetylene torches. Governor James Allred declared martial law, calling in the Texas Rangers and the Texas National Guard. Rescuers commandeered hundreds of peach baskets from a passing truck. While some men dug, others formed human brigades. Hundreds of hands passed debris and body parts in peach baskets to the school perimeter for the next 17 hours. The American Legion and Salvation Army scrambled into action. The Red Cross set up supply stations. They provided coffee and gloves as a steady downpour ensued. Floodlights allowed the heroic volunteers to labor through the darkness and the rain. As deceased children were removed from the wreckage, they were laid and covered near the fence. Throngs of mothers clung to the fence from the outside. They made no sound as the dead

children were positioned on the grass, but when a live child was carried out, they embraced each other and cheered through tears. Survivors were taken to 14 hospitals in the region. Doctors and nurses arrived from across Texas and beyond. Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler was scheduled to open the following day with an elegant ribbon-cutting ceremony. Hospital officials opened its doors early upon learning of the disaster. Bishop Joseph Lynch cancelled the scheduled dedication of the new facility, saying the hospital was already baptized, “in the blood of children.” Leaders across the country placed their resources at New London’s disposal. Mayor LaGuardia of New York offered manpower and medical supplies, but Texans were already mobilizing necessary aid. Dozens of volunteer embalmers traveled to New London from Dallas and Fort Worth. Make-shift morgues were set up in nearby churches, stores and other available buildings. The largest morgue was at the skating rink in neighboring Overton.

Anguish and shock saturated the air. “Grief was everywhere,” Cronkite later wrote. Parents looked for their children, first at the hospitals, and then at the morgues. They moved from body to body grimly lifting the sheets. Identification was agonizing. Most victims were unrecognizable. The severity of disfigurement caused the misidentification of 10-year-olds Wanda Emberling and Dale May York. Dale May’s parents mistakenly buried Wanda as their own, as Arthur and Mildred Emberling made repeated rounds desperately searching for their daughter. Three days after the explosion, word went out that the sheet-covered remains of one young victim lay unclaimed in Overton. Volunteer Oscar Worrell returned to the morgue and identified his cousin Dale May by a scar on her toe. The body buried as Dale May was exhumed. Just as Worrel had identified his cousin, the Emberlings identified their daughter by her feet. At a party with friends the night before the explosion, Wanda had continued page 18

Last Surviving Rescuer, Marvin Dees, Never Forgets There were five of us on a crew working in an oil field a few miles south of New London. We heard a terrific explosion but didn’t know what it was. Twenty minutes later someone came by and told us the school blew up. We piled in the company truck and rushed to the scene. I’ll never forget the sight when we drove up. Horror. I’ve never seen anything so horrible — before or after. It was chaos. Parents were crying and looking for their children. I pitched in with the others and worked all night. We rescued those we could. The rest was digging out bodies and removing the debris. We worked until 10:30 a.m. the next morning.

It’s been 80 years but I remember it like it was yesterday. It flashes through my mind every day. I try to get up to the (London) museum on Wednesdays. They have a pretty good café there. Wednesday they serve roast beef. I go up there and eat and visit with the people who work there. I need that. I always try to see if there’s anything good in the terrible things. Far as I’m concerned, the only good thing that came out of the explosion was the odor they added to gas. It makes it easier to detect if there’s a leak. There’s no telling how many people have been saved because of that. — Marvin Dees, age 101


New London teachers were exceptionally trained and highly paid; one of them wrote a reminder of the source of their good fortune on her blackboard: “Oil and natural gas are East Texas’ greatest mineral blessings. Without them this school would not be here and none of us would be here learning our lessons.” This replica of that blackboard is part of the exhibit in the London Museum & Tea Room where volunteers keep vigil over sacred memories. See a full list and photos of children and adults who perished in the explosion and much more information at Photo by Sherry Sereboff

NEW LONDON continued from page 17 colored her toenails red with a crayon. The Emberlings recognized her small red toenails in the exhumed casket. On the day of Wanda’s reburial, the Emberling’s son George succumbed to injuries he received in the blast. Wanda and George are buried side by side in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery with 110 fellow victims of the catastrophe. Some parents wrapped their children in blankets and drove them to family plots in distant counties and out of state.

Many oil field workers moved their families away from New London and never returned. The blast destroyed enrollment and attendance records. This, combined with the school’s transient demography, makes a precise death toll impossible. However, experts agree the explosion killed close to 300 students and teachers. The good Samaritans who recovered their bodies, proceeded to build the caskets and dig the graves that many of the dead were laid to rest in.

As funerals took place, condolences poured in from around the globe. French students sent money for the victims. Students in Japan sent a telegram expressing their sorrow. Children in Switzerland mailed dozens of handwritten cards. In one of many dark ironies surrounding the devastation, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler wired his sympathy. Governor Allred wasted no time ordering an investigation. A state military court of inquiry convened in New London just two days after the explosion. Experts from the State of Texas conducted hearings and the governor’s sister-in-law, Lucile Allred, dutifully transcribed them. Investigators learned that two months earlier, school janitors tapped into the Parade Gasoline Company’s residue gas line. Despite New London’s wealth, the virtue of thrift remained a guiding principle of the school district’s stewards.

A “Home of the Original Friday Night Lights” sign hangs at the entrance of New London’s football field. A more positive claim to fame for New London: with all the oil money in town, it was the first stadium in the state to have lights. The trend caught on across the country and books, TV shows and movies followed. Photo by Hank O’Neal. 18 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH/APRIL 2017

As a cost-saving measure, the superintendant cancelled the district’s gas contract. Siphoning off free natural gas, then a waste byproduct of petroleum extraction, was in common practice. The school board members estimated this

Day of Remembrance 80th Anniversary March 18, 2017 New London, Texas

The New London community is holding a Day of Remembrance March 18 for the 80th anniversary of the school explosion. Events take place at the West Rusk High School, 10705 South Main Street. Featured guest speaker is State Representative Bryan Hughes. Call the London Museum at 903.895.4602 or visit for more information on this event. cost-cutting initiative would save the district $3,000 a year. Examiners determined the ignition of a large volume of accumulated gas in the building’s subbasement caused the colossal explosion. A spark from the sanding machine in the workshop set off the detonation. Unknowingly, the janitors left leaks in the gas line fittings. The natural gas leaking into the school was odorless and went undetected. No one thought to associate it with students’ recent reports of headaches and eye irritation. The court of inquiry concluded the explosion was a terrible accident. No one was found liable. Lawsuits filed by devastated parents were dismissed, but their grievous misfortune resulted in lifesaving laws.

Texas lawmakers mandated the licensure of people installing gas lines. They also enacted legislation requiring the addition of a foul-smelling chemical (mercaptan) to natural gas. This regulation was soon adopted worldwide and has saved countless lives. Ten days after the nightmare, hundreds of East Texans attended an Easter memorial service in New London. The next day survivors resumed school in the gymnasium and temporary buildings. Four

classes of sixth-graders were reduced to one because 87 had been killed.

played an important role, as everyone rallied around the new school.

Awash in shock and grief, New Londoners chose action over paralysis. The school board approved plans for the new school within a week. It opened for fall classes the following year.

As Piercy sees it, “This was never a town. It’s a community. We came through because we were unified. We came together. Everyone helped each other. Everyone sacrificed. Even now, we take care of our own. While the museum is a tribute to those we lost, it’s also a testament of the people who survived.”

Shortly after the new school opened, the New London Baptist Church and New London United Methodist Church moved from the old highway. They rebuilt, like holy citadels, on either side of the school campus. In 1939, the town erected a cenotaph in the center of Highway 42. The towering granite monument sits atop an empty tomb. The names of known victims are inscribed around its base in memoriam. The imposing memorial was never dedicated. Grieving parents refused to visit it for decades, their pain too great. The next 40 years, New London’s trauma was marked by silence and protection. New Londoners closed rank and shunned reporters. “They didn’t trust outsiders with their grief,” according to local historian and museum docent Jimmie Lee Piercy. During an informal meeting with Lucile Allred in the late 1960’s, when Piercy asked if she could tape record Allred’s recollections of the state hearings, the governor’s sister-in-law pulled out a .38 revolver, laid it on the desk between them and gave a definitive, “No.”

Sources: Lori Olson, New London School: In Memoriam, March 18, 1937, 3:17 P.M.; R. L Jackson, Living lessons from the New London Explosion; James A.Clark and Michel T Halbouty,  The Last Boom: The Exciting Saga of the Discovery of the Greatest Oil Field in America; Lorine Zylks Bright, New London, 1937: The New London school explosion, 1937: One Woman’s Memory of Orange and Green; Walter Cronkite, A Reporter’s Life; David M. Brown and Michael Wereschagin, Gone at 3:17: The Untold Story of the Worst School Disaster in American History; Ron Rozelle, My Boys and Girls Are in There: The 1937 New London School Explosion; “The Day a Generation Died” Documentary Film Produced by Jerry Gumbert; Lawrence W. Speck, former Dean of the School of Architecture at UT Austin; Ron Rozelle, Author; Ellie Goldberg, M.Ed., Director of Healthy Kids; Jimmie Lee Piercy, London Museum docent; and survivor Floy Sutton Metcalf.

A large granite cenotaph on the median of Texas State Highway 42 across from the school site was erected in 1939 to commemorate the disaster. Photo by Hank O’Neil

In 1978, survivors of the blast held their first reunion. By then, most of the parents had joined their lost children in death. Survivors embraced, cried, and remembered. Together, they began to heal. Some hadn’t been back to New London since the disaster. Most never spoke of it. The first reunion was healing and the survivors have since repeated it every two years. In 1998, the London Museum opened across from the school campus. Museum volunteers are often asked how the people of New London survived a tragedy of such magnitude. They say strong faith and active churches provided solace. Parents focused on their surviving children. Neighbors checked in on each other. Even Friday night football MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 19


Upper East Side of Texas Blooms

APRIL 1, 1917

Scott Joplin Honored on 100th Anniversary

Glenda Mae’s Daylily Farm in Edom. Courtesy photo

This is the time of year when festivals, gardens and trails present beautiful flowers in addition to the natural wildflowers seen along roadsides, and thought-provoking landscapes enhance the area’s public garden crown jewels. Here’s a round-up of venues that celebrate the region’s blooming beauty and make it easy for individuals, families and groups to commune with nature and enjoy the charm and spirit of East Texas.

East Texas Arboretum 903.675.5630 Blue Moon Gardens 903. 852.3897 Mineola Nature Center 903.569.6983 Glenda Mae’s Daylily Farm 903.235.2529

Nacogdoches Azalea Trail 888.653.3788 Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum 936.468.1832 Tyler Azalea Trail 903.592.1661

Ennis Bluebonnet Festival 972.878.4748

The Regional Music Heritage Center in Texarkana is holding events in various locations. For more information visit or call 832.498.3830.

Angelina Helped Early East Texas Explorers Angelina (the little angel) and called the stream the Angelina River. Angelina accompanied the priests to Mexico for studies but eventually returned to East Texas where she also befriended early French explorers.

Palestine Dogwood Trails 903.723.3014

Mrs. Lee’s Daffodils 903.845.5780

Joplin was a composer and pianist famed for his ragtime pieces and dubbed the “King of Ragtime.” His compostion “Maple Leaf Rag” was ragtime’s first and most influential hit. Perhaps best known is his piece “The Entertainer,” featured in the movie The Sting.

APRIL 22, 1846

Tyler Rose Garden 903.531.1213

Linden Wildflower Trail 903.240.1394

Linden-born, Texarkana-raised Scott Joplin is honored March 31-April 2 in an international centennial celebration of the jazz legend who passed away April 1, 1917.

It was 1690 when Spain’s Franciscan Fathers founded Mission San Francisco de los Tejas in East Texas. They met a young Hasinai Indian girl living with her people beside a stream. The priests found her a willing ally and named her


Angelina died in the early 1700s. Her grave site is unknown. A bronze sculpture located at the Lufkin Civic Center depicts a priest, a male Indian and Angelina. She holds eagle feathers in one hand and a book in the other. On April 22, 1846, Angelina County was founded and named for the Indian maiden and the Angelina River. It is the only county in Texas that bears the name of a woman.




Still just $15 per year! SUBMIT ORDER ON WEBSITE OR MAIL TO P.O. BOX 608 BEN WHEELER, TX 75754

county line


Take Your Daughters (or Sons) to Work Day

Acting on research that showed adolescent girls received less attention thanboys, this day was initiated in 1993 to give girls additional direct attention,

build self esteem, and give them an insight into work world opportunities available to them. Its popularity quickly sparked interest among boys and as a result, the day has turned into an opportunity for them as well. While this takes away from the original intent to give more attention to adolescent girls, it has become a valuable and popular career day opportunity for girls and boys alike.

Upper East Side of Texas Regional Magazine

fl&g 903.963.8306



Check out the eMAGAZINE for extended event listings.

Texas Folklore Fans Gather in Tyler Holiday Inn Tyler-South Broadway. The event features a Friday night “hootenanny” and a Saturday night banquet with musical entertainment by The Purple Hulls of Kilgore. During the day, members read papers on a variety of folklore subjects. This is the organization’s first annual meeting in Tyler and participants will tour the Tyler Rose Garden and Museum. Interesting topics for this year’s papers include “Tummies and Tanks: Filling Up at Texas Gas Stations,” “Games We Never Should Have Played,” “Shhhh—It’s a Secret: The Lore of Texas Freemasonry” and “Texas-Sized Pranks.” The annual gathering of the Texas Folklore Society always includes a Friday night “hootenanny.” Tyler hosts this year’s event, April 21-23. Courtesy Photo.

Even though the word “folklore” rarely enters into conversations these days, Ken Untiedt of Nacogdoches says it’s still a vibrant part of people’s everyday lives. As secretary-editor of the Texas Folklore Society (TFS), he’s glad to explain. “Folklore is information that is passed on by word of mouth from one generation to

another,” he says, adding that it runs the gamut from stories of our ancestors’ involvement in cattle drives, railroad expansions or chicken-raising to tales of traveling or simply sharing the ingredients for a special home-cooked meal. East Texans can explore the world of folklore in person at the 101st annual Texas Folklore Society meeting April 21 to 23 at

Founded in 1909, TFS is the oldest state folklore organization still functioning in the United States and the third oldest academic organization in Texas. In the 1920s and ‘30s, the group earned some attention through its leadership by celebrated Texas author J. Frank Dobie. Based at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TFS has 350 members today. Attendance cost for the Tyler event is $25 and hotel accommodations are $104 per night. Learn more at

MOMIX, an inventive troupe of dancer-illusionists, performs at the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Center on April 15. The dance company’s artful productions feature costumed, sculpted dancers moving within a surreal setting of props, lighting and music. The family-friendly April performance, entitled “Opus Cactus” and held in the Perot Theater, offers a dynamic view of the American Southwest and its desert scenes of soaring cactuses, slithering snakes and frolicking insects. For more information, visit Courtesy Photo. 22 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH/APRIL 2017

EVENTS March 2-5; March 30-April 2; April 27-30

First Monday Trade Days. Canton. 903.567.6556.

March 3-4, 17-18

Jefferson Flea Market. Jefferson. 8 a.m. 5 p.m. Free Admission. 213 W. Broadway. 903.431.0043.

March 4

Rose City 36th Chili Cook-off. Tyler. 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Cost varies. Gander Mountain. 151 Market Square Blvd. 903.393.4830. Mathpalooza. Longview. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Members $2; Non-members $10. Longview WOW. 112 E. Tyler St. 903.212.4969.

March 17-18

val. Tyler. Harvey Hall. 2000 W. Front St.

6 p.m. $15. Diamond B Ranch. 11589 FM 321. 903.721.9111.

March 21

101st Annual Texas Folklore Society Meeting. Tyler. Holiday Inn. 5701 S. Broadway. 936.468.4407.

Pooches on the Patio. Tyler. 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. Jul’s. 7212 Old Jacksonville Hwy.

March 24-26; 31 - April 2; April 7-9 79th Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration. Palestine. Various locations. 800.659.3483.

March 31 - April 2

HealthFest 2017. Marshall. $350-$395. Convention Center and Downtown. 2501 E. End Blvd S. 903.935.232.

April 1-2

Charles Garrett Memorial Metal Detecting Hunt. Jefferson. Diamond Don RV Park.1602 Hwy 49 E. 800.527.4011.

April 8-9

Route 49 Rally. Jefferson. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Diamond Don RV Park. 1602 Hwy 49 E. 972.226.7205.

April in Edom. Edom. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Free admission. Downtown. Highway 279 & FM 314. 844.633.6689.

March 18

April 21-30

St. Patrick’s Day Express. Jefferson. $12-$15; Lap children under 6 free. Jefferson Railway. 400 E. Austin. 866.398.2038.

Hunt County Fair. Greenville. 9800 Jack Finney Blvd. 903.454.1503.

15th Annual TXGA Texas Challenge & Festi-

1836 Chuckwagon Race. Palestine. 9:00 a.m. -

April 21-23

April 22

Pooches on the Patio. Tyler. 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. True Vine Brewing. 219 S. Englewood. Wings Over Pegasus. Murchison. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. $5 per vehicle. The Pegasus Ranch. 7111 CR 2339. 903.469.3578.

April 25

East Texas Giving Day. 903.533.0208.

April 26-27

Digging Into Your Roots: A Two Day Genealogy Workshop. Marshall. $90. Harrison County Historical Museum. 117 E. Bowie. 903.930.5456.

April 29

Blue Moon Gardens Open House. Edom. Celebrate spring, enjoy refreshments and demonstrations throughout the day. Free. 13062 FM 279. 903.852.3897.

May 14

Talent Show. Marshall. 2:30 - 4 p.m. $15. Marshall Convention Center. 2501 East End Blvd S. 903.935.4484.



Franklin County’s Little Alamo Takes Guests Back in Time

A family-friendly destination near Mount Vernon, the Little Alamo Mission Museum lives up to its slogan, “Bringing Texas to Young Texans. Courtesy Photo.

By Clare McCarthy While driving in Franklin County, about a mile and a half off I-30 near Mount Vernon, travelers might startle — or scratch their heads — when they turn into the drive of a small version of the Alamo mission, complete with the same stone facade and wooden gate. A Texas flag flies high in front, welcoming visitors. More than an oddly-placed replica, this Alamo is a small historical museum designed to educate guests of all ages about the history of the mission as well as about pioneer arts and other phases of Texas history. The Alamo Mission Museum of Franklin County, geared toward learning activities and hands-on fun, entails six buildings, each with a different theme and coinciding educational elements. At every building, costumed guides greet visitors and offer verbal snapshots of what it was like to live in Texas in years past. In one building, guests are introduced to Davy Crockett; in others, they meet pirates or prairie women. In the reconstructed schoolhouse, a teacher walks guests through a history lesson from the time period. With a slogan of “Bringing Texas to

Young Texans,” the museum welcomes adults, but many of the visuals and atmosphere are clearly geared toward younger audiences. Jacqueline Miller, museum president, says school and group tours are offered at no cost. “If we asked them to pay, we would eliminate the kids that need it the most,” she explains. The quirky museum is an offshoot, Miller says, of an old antique shop she owned that was called Texas Traditions. She’d acquired a railroad car to use for her shop, located on the interstate, but the costs of running electricity to it grew untenable. Eventually, she canned the idea of fixing up the shop and settled, instead, on the notion of creating a little Texas-themed museum.

One building at the museum is devoted to the Texas coast, complete with nets, lobster and crab traps and shell and rock collections — all in a building decorated like a pirate ship. Pirates are part of the mix, Miller explains, because Texas was home to more than 2,000 pirates at the time, including the famous pirate Jean Lafitte, who developed Galveston Island as a prominent smuggling base in late 1815. In the Alamo building, which involves stucco materials surrounding the old rail car that started it all, there’s an interactive diorama of the Battle of the Alamo, where visitors frequently pick up and rearrange the soldiers. Miller says half of the Alamo building is dedicated to railroad cars because the Cottonbelt Railroad has such a rich history in East Texas. Nearby, another building celebrates pioneer arts, while the Bonnie & Clyde building provides information about that infamous duo — Bonnie was homegrown in Winnsboro — and delves into the region’s moonshining history as well. The Alamo Mission Museum hosts a variety of annual community events throughout the year, including a chili cook-off and blues festival, a turtle derby and a Halloween hayride. On Easter Sunday, there’s an afternoon Easter egg hunt on the grounds. Hayrides, offered to scout and church groups, give children a chance to visit the museum’s tiny herd of Texas longhorns and ponies. “We have three ponies on an adjoining property that we lease,” Miller says. “When the kids go on hayrides, feeding the ponies is always a favorite thing.”

“People would always come into my shop and tell me I should charge admission and open a museum,” she says, “because I had so much pioneer furniture and wonderful old things like spinning wheels and butter churns.”

Also on premises is the county’s only 32-foot stage, available for rent for private parties, musicals, plays and other performances. Miller says the museum occasionally hosts country weddings and baptisms at the site as well as receptions, business meetings or school functions.

She notes that the idea expanded and she forged ahead with a new plan to educate children of all backgrounds about various aspects of Texas history, creating a nonprofit and opening the museum on three acres of land in 2005.

On April 13, crowds will descend on the museum for the 6th Annual Chili Cookoff, Blues Festival, Trades Day, Tractor Pull & Antique Tractor Show. For more information and directions, visit or call 903.380.2739.



Swept Away By A Nostalgic Hobby

Days of old have always interested Hartz. Her shop is stocked with nostalgic items and decorated with antiques, and she and her husband, who runs the business with her, live in a home built in the mid-1800s. They also spend their free time performing in an old-time folk band, playing the fiddle and guitar. “I guess you could say my general lifestyle naturally goes with the old art of making brooms,” she says. After buying a foot-activated broom machine called a “kick winder,” she took personal instructions from a master broom-maker in Branson, Missouri. She buys the broomcorn from a craft material manufacturer, and her husband rounds up handles from wood found in parks and wooded areas.

Sheryl Hartz. Courtesy Photo.

No plastic bristle push broom will do for Sheryl Hartz of Nacogdoches. She’s immersed this year in continuing a hobby she recently perfected: old-fashioned broom making.

Mercantile and Oldtime String Shop in the city’s historic downtown, says she got serious about the craft after a man offered antique broom factory equipment for a store display.

She uses broomcorn whisks and a technique popularized by Shakers in the 1800s, and, as co-owner of the General

“We already carried brooms in our shop made by other makers,” she says, “so the seed of interest was certainly there.”

Labor of Love

A mainstay on Tyler’s Azalea & Spring Flower Trail — commemorating its 58th year and spanning the three weekends between March 24 and April 9 this year — is the bloom-infused garden of devoted gardeners Joan and Guy Pyron. The digging duo spend most of February and March in their backyard weeding, feeding, planting and pruning about 800 azalea plants along with an array of camellias, lilies, chrysanthemums and roses. Their Dobbs Street home is one of several in Tyler’s Heritage Neighborhood No. 1 featured in the 10-mile walking trail, and it’s often the site of the event’s opening ceremony and ribbon cutting.

Joan Pyron. Courtesy Photo.

High school sweethearts who reconnected about 13 years later, the Pyrons have been married for 42 years. They moved to Tyler from Dallas in 1994, settling in the historic Azalea District and setting to work renovating the historic home and

“It was very exciting to finish my first broom,” she recalls. “Even though I took notes and pictures of the process while I was in Missouri, when I got back home, I ruined quite a few brooms before completing one that I felt was good enough to give as a gift or sell.” From start to finish, a handmade push broom takes Hartz two to three hours to make. “There are ways to make a broom more quickly and with lower quality materials,” she notes. “But it doesn’t sweep as well or last as long.” developing its garden. “When we started out, this yard was a holy mess,” Joan says. She sometimes calls it “God’s garden” and says he’s her “master landscaper,” but the infrastructure is due to husband Guy’s hard-working hands. Through the years, he’s built a multitude of garden accents in the three-quarter-acre yard — patios, a sidewalk, a pergola, wrought iron fences and a little bridge crossing a tiny creek. “I’ve practically broken his back with all the things I wanted built here,” Joan says. “But we both love it.” Every year, they try to have something new for the walking tour, and this year, Guy worked on a greenhouse that Joan says “looks like a little hobbit house.” “I think people are going to be really surprised by that,” she says.


We care for East Texas Every day in communities large and small, near and far, we care for East Texas. Not just for you, but about you — how you’re feeling and how we make you feel. And we never stop seeking new and better ways to care for everyone who comes through our doors. Because that’s our mission and it’s what you deserve. ETMC: We care for East Texas.

A not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in East Texas communities. 26 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH/APRIL 2017 13TH ANNUAL

Street & Folk Fair Sat & Sun Apr 8-9, 2017 DRAGONHEAD RETREAT

10 a.m. - 5 p.m. FREE ADMISSION

25 Wooded Acres at 675' The Lodge (sleeps 9+) Cedar Cabin (sleeps 4+) Outside Living Area • WiFi • Kid Friendly

Small Family Farm Growing Peas, Beans, Fruit, Vegetables, and More! 903.405.7060



Home Cooking Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. GET FED AT THE SHED! 903.852.7791

Folk, Vintage, Unique Craft & Food Vendors Pet Parades & Float Contest 3 Performers Stages • Kids Zone

Downtown Edom • Corner Hwy 279/314




Daylilies and More

Perennials. Herbs. Garden Art. Gift Shop Open Daily 9-5




One of a Kind Handmade Jewelry



A Unique East Texas Experience Lodging, Weddings, Retreats 903.749.1682

POTTERS BROWN STUDIO & GALLERY Original Handmade Stoneware



Local Artists Show Celestial View

ARTS Every Third Wednesday

Temari Ball Class. Mineola. 1 - 4 p.m. Free. Mineola League of the Arts. 200 W. Blair. 903.569.8877.

Through March 4

TAAC’s 14th Annual Regional Celebration of African American Artists Exhibit. Texarkana. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Free. Regional Arts Center. 321 W. 4th St. 903.792.8681.

Through March 16

For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Texarkana. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Free. Regional Arts Center. 321 W. 4th St. 903.792.8681.

Through March 19

Flora and Fauna. Tyler. Free. Tyler Museum of Art. 1300 S. Mahon. 903.595.1001.

March 3

First Friday at TMA. Tyler. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Free. Tyler Museum of Art. 1300 S. Mahon. 903.595.1001.

March 11

Things With Wings Exhibit Opening Reception. Tyler. 5:30 - 8 p.m. Free. Gallery Main Street. 110 W. Erwin. 903.593.6905. A painting entitled “Violescent Metanoia” is part of a 30- piece exhibit scheduled March 16-May 6 at TRAHC and featuring Texarkana artist Joel Wright. Courtesy Photo.

Texarkana painter and tattoo artist Joel Wright bases his body art on his watercolor paintings and often receives requests for commissioned artwork as well as custom tattoo creations. This spring he exhibits a selection of his paintings at the Regional Arts Center in Texarkana in a show called Everything Returns to Nature — The Art of Joel Wright. Located on the second and third floors of the center’s open galleries section, the exhibit includes about 30 works. Wright’s expressive dream-like paintings are called both celestial and ethereal, and he describes his painting-inthe-moment approach as experimental. Approaching traditional compositions and subjects like animals, landscapes, still life and portraits with a dreamlike filter of surrealism, the self-taught artist describes a Zen approach to painting that comes “from a deep but simple in-

ward place from beyond the structural mind.” “In other words, just having fun,” he says. In addition to watercolors, Wright paints oil paintings on linen, paper, canvas and wood substrates. He also dabbles in screen-printing and both ceramic and mixed media sculptures — viewing the various mediums as “branches of the same tree.” Reporting that his artistic reward comes from seeing the viewers’ emotionally charged experiences when they connect to a particular piece, he says, “It’s like the pieces pick the people it seems.” Opening March 16, Wright’s exhibit remains on display through May 6. The Regional Arts Center is located at 321 West Fourth Street. For more information call 903.792.8681 or visit


April 11 - June 24

Art Wells: Elegance in Stone. Longview. 10 a.m. Longview Museum of Fine Arts. 213 E. Tyler St. 903.753.8103. Oscar Quesada: Q the Clouds. Longview. 10 a.m. Longview Museum of Fine Arts. 213 E. Tyler St. 903.753.8103.

April 29

Pretty Ugly Exhibit Opening Reception. Tyler. 5:30 - 8 p.m. Free. Gallery Main Street. 110 W. Erwin. 903.593.6905.


e t a r b e l e Come C s! With U Robert Langham (b. 1952). Philip Pruitt, 2016. Silver gelatin print, 15 x 15 inches. Courtesy of the Artist

Brickstreet Anthology Photographs by Robert Langham through May 14, 2017

Tyler Museum of Art

(903) 595-1001 •

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Langham Turns Lens on Tylerites at Brickstreet Anthology ness “to capture the essence of what it means to be a member of our unique community.” Tyler native Langham has been photographing East Texas subjects since 1971 when he took his first photojournalism class at Tyler Junior College. His avid interest in fine art photography led him to an apprenticeship with the legendary Ansel Adams and eventually wide acclaim in his own right while maintaining a successful commercial photography business in his hometown. Additionally, he has shared his passion with new generations for more than two decades as a photography professor at his alma mater, TJC. His photography has been featured in numerous exhibitions at venues including The Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas, and the TMA, where he also served as guest curator for Scott M. Lieberman, M.D.: At the Vantage Point in 2014.

Now on exhibit through May 14 at Tyler Museum of Art is Brickstreet Anthology: Photographs by Robert Langham, showcasing the distinct personalities of more than 50 Tylerites as captured on film. Organized by the TMA, Brickstreet Anthology is a project more than two years in the making. The exhibition is the product of acclaimed local photog-

rapher Robert Langham’s extensive research and travel throughout Tyler “to train his lens on numerous local personalities who are as varied as they are dynamic,” TMA curator Caleb Bell said. Shooting on black-and-white film rather than relying on digital imagery, Langham profiled subjects ranging from business and civic leaders to citizens going about their everyday busi-

“Robert has a long and proud association with our museum, and we have relied on his ideas and expertise as a fine-art photographer for many years,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said. “It’s no mere coincidence that when we decided to organize a photography exhibition that focused on the vibrant personalities of our local community, he was the one we called.” The Tyler Museum of Art is located at 1300 South Mahon Avenue on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Call 903.595.1001 or visit for more information.

From April 8 to June 24, two Dallas artists display their creativity at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts in dual one-man exhibits. Entitled Q the Cloud and Elegance in Stone, respectively, they feature the art of Oscar Quesada and stone carver Art Wells. Pictured is Quesada’s “Dealy Plaza.” For more information on the upcoming shows at LMFA, located at 215 East Tyler Street, call 903.753.8103 or visit Courtesy Photo. 30 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH/APRIL 2017

Life Well Lived Sculpture Keeps Inspiring Life Well Lived by Christi Barrett While finalizing his ponderous dance and motioning for the circle of life, I was given a moment of chance. He swayed with ginger steps making songs with crispy leaves and the hollow deepness of his breath. As swishing sounds of piney chimes, lingered with sweet earthy smells his memories had become sharper with time. The dance now over, we breathed in, and he exhaled wondrous stories, as I watched his crumbling time begin. The wind crisped the evening air beckoning the night to swallow, slowly ingesting the sun’s glare. As if there was nothing left to forgive, his branches began nourishing tomorrow, surrendering him peacefully to a life well lived. “Life Well Lived” is a hand-carved sculpture by artist Christi Barrett. The wood is thought to be more than 50 years old. “I had no preconceived visions of sculpting the old man,” Barrett said. “I stared at it for a few days, envisioning butterflies, coyote, cityscape, wolf, flowers, lizards, and even at one point a Keebler elf-type house. Then one morning I woke, grabbed my coffee and sat with it about 10 feet in front of me. It was almost immediate, I could see the old man.” All attempts at that point to see anything else were futile. “I am not an artist that leans towards painting or sculpting people,” Barrett said. “Not really my forte. The image just wouldn’t change, so I gave in to it and started sculpting. I am so glad I did. I felt as he became more revealed, that he had been waiting for me for a very long time.” “Life Well Lived” is for sale for $850 at the 211 Gallery in Athens along with numerous other pieces by Barrett. For more information call 903.292.1746 and visit MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 31

STAGE Broadway’s Spector and Barrett Explore Music Greats

On April 20, newly married Broadway veterans Jarrod Spector, Tony award winner for Beautiful and Jersey Boys, and Kelli Barrett, leading lady in Broadway’s Doctor Zhivago, explore love songs from storied musical partnerships with This Is Dedicated: Music’s Greatest Marriages at the Pines Theater in downtown Lufkin.

acquaintances whose friendship eventually blossomed into a “showmance.” They were married in 2014 and spent much of their first year putting together This Is Dedicated, which focuses on the music of married singer/songwriters like Ashford and Simpson, Ike and Tina Turner, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Sonny and Cher.

Audiences can expect to hear such classics as Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson” and Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.”

Bingo Musical Closes the Season Curtain

familiar to everyone. Is she truly there due to the storm, or does she have ulterior motives?

Spector and Barrett were professional

chael Cook at the historic Texas Theatre in downtown Palestine. Cook assembled a strong cast for this musical comedy about die-hard bingo fans and friends: Vern, Patsy, Honey, and Bernice. These friends will stop at nothing — including braving one of the worst storms in more than 15 years — to play bingo and celebrate the birthday of the game’s creator, Edwin S. Lowe.

Palestine Community Theatre (PCT) finishes out the 2016-2017 season during the last two weekends of Dogwood Trails with its production of Bingo! The Winning Musical, directed by PCT veteran Mi-

Love looms between the gentleman bingo caller Sam and Honey; Patsy struggles to keep her myriad of good-luck talismans in play; and Vern takes on a bingo student for the first time in years. But, who is this student? She looks so


Tickets are $40 for floor seats and $35 for balcony. To purchase tickets visit or call 903.633.0349.

To add to the fun and mystery, the audience plays a few games of bingo along with the cast and wins a prize or two. Performances are March 31 through April 2 and April 7 through 9, with curtain on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. There is a complimentary wine and cheese reception in the lobby of the theater at 6:30 p.m. March 31. Tickets for all performances are $15 for adults and $10 for students ages 4 to 18 and may be purchased online at

April 20

STAGE March 3-5

The Hallelujah Girls. Rusk. 7:30 - 10 p.m. Adults $13; Students $10. Cherokee Civic Theatre. 157 W. 5th St. 903.683.2131.

March 10

Jeanne Robertson. Longview. Belcher Center. 2100 S. Mobberly. 903.233.3080. belchercenter. com. 42nd Street National Broadway Tour. Lufkin. 7:30 - 9:45 p.m. $35-$55. Temple Theater at Angelina College. 3500 S. First St. 936.633.3220.

March 31 - April 2; April 7-9

For 26 years the two-man show, Greater Tuna has celebrated small-town silliness with the portrayal of the zany, fictional characters residing in Tuna, Texas — the place where “the Lion’s Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies.” On April 7, the wildly-successful satirical show comes to UT Tyler’s Cowan Center. Tickets, priced from $27 to $52, go on sale March 6. For more information call 903.566.7424 or visit

Bingo! The Winning Musical. Palestine. 7:30 - 10 p.m. Adults $15; Ages 4-18 years $10. Texas Theatre. 213 W. Crawford, 903.922.1327.

April 7

Chris Rock. Thackerville, OK. WinStar World Casino & Resort. 777 Casino Ave. 800.622.6317.

April 15

MOMIX Opus Cactus. Texarkana. Perot Theatre. 221 Main St. 903.792.4992.

The Pegasus Project Horse Rescue Celebrates

ASPCA Help a Horse Day April 22, 2017� 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

April 21-23 & 28-30 The Boys Next Door. Lindale. 7:30 p.m. Sunday Matinees 2 p.m. Lindale Community Theater. 109 W. Hubbard. 903.638.0402.

April 21-23 & 28-30

March 19

Welcome Back to Tuna, Texas

This is Dedicated: Music’s Greatest Marriages. Lufkin. $35-$40. The Pines Theater. 113 S. First St. 936.633.0349

Godspell. Mineola. Lake Country Playhouse. 114 N. Johnson St. 903.569.2300.

April 22 Adam Trent, The Futurist. Longview. Belcher Center, 2100 S. Mobberly. 903.233.3080.

April 28-29 Greenville Follies. Greenville. Greenville Municipal Auditorium. 2821 Washington St. 903.457.3126.

May 5 Jim Gaffigan. Thackerville, OK. WinStar World Casino & Resort. 777 Casino Ave. 800622-6317.

A carnival of fun and games for the family! Horses Airplanes Skydivers Helicopters Pony Rides Kids’ Games Face Painting

Hamilton Comes to Dallas

Lin Manuel Miranda stars in the Hamilton production making its way, eventually, to Dallas. Winner of 11 Tony Awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Hamilton will be presented by Dallas Summer Musicals in its 2018/19 Broadway season. From the producer of Disney’s The Lion King, a new stage production of Aladdin is heading to North Texas too. The theatrical version of the popular movie premieres locally during the Dallas Summer Musical’s 2018-19 Broadway season.

Bounce House Admission $5 per car Food and Games available for purchase.

All proceeds benefit the rescue horses! Wings Over Pegasus • 7111 FM 2339. Murchison, TX • 903-469-3578 • MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 33


know his movies have made such an impact. That’s when Avildsen called a waiter over and asked him what he thought of when someone said “wax on, wax off” — a line from The Karate Kid. “The waiter smiled and replied, ‘Is that a trick question? The Karate Kid, of course,’” Johnson recalls. “John grinned and thanked the waiter for his time. He turned to me and said, ‘I can go anywhere in the world and ask that question and every time they immediately know where that line comes from. They may not know who I am, but the fact that they know and love my films makes me very happy.’”

Carthage-Born Filmmaker Pays Tribute To Underdogs Director By Steve Freeman Derek Johnson grew up in Carthage enjoying such popular blockbusters as The Karate Kid and Rocky. Little did he know that he’d one day make a documentary celebrating the vision of the films’ director. His new film, John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, examines the life, career and films of Avildsen, an Oscar-winning filmmaker of some 25 box office movies. Despite his successes during the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Avildsen remains a somewhat obscure figure. “Avildsen’s films have inspired millions of ‘underdogs’ and shaped popular culture for decades, yet most people don’t even know his name,” Johnson says. His documentary may help change that along with a new book, The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Other Underdogs, by Larry Powell and Tom Garrett. The 78-minute film features exclusive never-before-seen interviews with Avildsen and many of his films’ stars and industry colleagues, including Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese and Burt Reynolds.

Johnson notes that his first movie-watching memory dates back to the age of three when he saw The Karate Kid II in a movie theater. “I was mesmerized,” he says. “Growing up, I didn’t just watch Avildsen’s films, but I studied them. Rocky and The Karate Kid are my two favorite films of all time. They’re so rich in cinematic elements that really inspire me, and I would be a different person today had I not grown up loving these movies.”

A Visionary Director Avildsen’s greatest achievement was Rocky, which won three Academy Awards in 1977, including one for him as Best Director and the grand prize of Best Picture for the year. Some of his films garnered Oscars for the actors — seven, all told — and other acclaimed Avildsen films include Save the Tiger starring Jack Lemmon and Lean on Me with Morgan Freeman. Johnson, an independent filmmaker, saw the potential of telling this story during a lunch meeting with Avildsen. He asked the legendary director what it feels like to


Avildsen’s films frequently explore good versus evil themes, with the good guys winning — something that’s evident in his filmography. His early films were about losers, but by the time Rocky debuted, viewers could expect his “underdogs” to prevail in the end. In February, The Santa Barbara International Film Festival screened the new documentary, and it’s on the line-up in March for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

From Carthage to California Johnson started dabbling in filmmaking at an early age. During high school in Carthage he won some film awards and his path seemed certain. He studied filmmaking at Stephen F. Austin State University and later broke into the film industry by writing, directing, producing and acting in film venues in Texas and Louisiana — a region industry insiders increasingly refer to as “Hollywood South.” In time, Johnson formed his own production company, AJ16 Entertainment, to specialize in feature films and documentaries and moved to Los Angeles. His next venture, slated for release this year, is a related project. Sylvester Stallone picked him to direct a documentary commemorating the 40th anniversary of Rocky, and Stallone and Avildsen will narrate behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the film. “We’re almost finished with it and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be handpicked by Sly,” he says.

DVD Reviews done during the war; Kittles’ character is an avenger, a bit intense if not insane, who’s out to kill the top executives of an unnamed corporation that provided shady services that Boseman’s character was involved in. He’s paid to go after Kittles’ character; the dialogues those two have are almost like a single man arguing with himself.

The Kill Hole

Directed/Written by Mischa Weble Starring Chadwick Boseman, Tory Kittles First Release 08.28.12 Reviewed by Tom Geddie This movie worked for me. Marketed as an “atmospheric thriller,” it features Chadwick Boseman and Tory Kittles as two ex-soldiers home from the Middle East. Boseman’s character is haunted by something he’s

The second, connected part of the movie is a veterans’ support group where the men — all men here, and all of them, I believe, actual veterans — talk about the emotional impacts of their experiences.

Closed Circuit

Directed by John Crowley Written by Steven Knight Starring Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall First Release 08.23.13 Reviewed by Tom Geddie

Closed Circuit asks what truth is, and what truth might be worth. In a shadowy world of international intelligence – spies – Britain’s Mi5 may have recruited an undercover “source” who’s supposed to warn the agency of impending terrorist attacks. The source is arrested when 120 people die in a London bombing; the source’s lawyer and special advocate begin to unravel the facts, which may embarrass – or worse – Mi5. The lawyers – Eric Bana (Munich, Troy, and Nero in Star Trek) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Iron Man 3) are the good guys in this timely, taut, well-scripted intrigue. Directed by John Crowley, the 2013 movie features a great soundtrack by Paul Davies. From the producers of the movie of John LeCarre’s’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, this isn’t, but it could be from the pages of one of his novels.

Actors Seth Nelson and Dalton Craft perform a junkyard scene for a film called Elsewhere, TX. Several of the project’s scenes were filmed in East Texas locations. Photo by David House.

Students Debut Local Gun-Slinging Western After completing filming in Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Center, Southern Methodist University film students plan to debut a feature-length post-apocalyptic western in Dallas this spring. Called Elsewhere, TX, the new movie was filmed in East Texas on the advice of Trevor Thrall, a senior from Nacogdoches and the project’s co-producer. Thrall says her father helped locate an abandoned drive-in theater, a grassy field and a cemetery for some scenes. Meanwhile, the crew also chose a former bar in Center for additional filming. The project director is McHenry “Mac”

Taylor of New Orleans, a December graduate. Taylor wrote the script and says the story features a gun-slinging stranger and a young boy who desires revenge for his family’s murder as they navigate the dangers of a good-versus-evil world. During their odyssey, they encounter bandits, cult-like “families,” and a fascist police force bent on eliminating them. After a May premiere of the 80- to 90-minute film at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas, Taylor says he and the other young filmmakers will enter the film in a variety of festivals in hopes of gaining notice. MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 35


Witty Novel Teaches Life Lessons of embracing differences, Backman’s new book blends fantasy with reality to create a story that is both enchanting and painfully true. Elsa is a sharp-witted seven-year-old whose best, and only, friend is her eccentric grandmother, a woman who tells her fantastical stories about the “Landof-Almost-Awake” and the Kingdom of Miamas, “where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.” When Elsa loses her grandmother to cancer, she embarks on a quest to deliver a series of apology letters her Granny left behind. By Clare McCarthy A warmhearted book told with witty humor and brilliant insight, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is the latest offering of Swedish writer Fredrick Backman, the critically-acclaimed author of international bestseller, A Man Called Ove. A contemporary fairytale about the complicated power of family ties and the importance

In the process, the child befriends an attack dog and faces a monster. She also learns more about the people who surround her and their individual differences — soon discovering that every misfit in her apartment building has a connection to her grandmother as well as stories of their own to tell. Backman’s writing is captivating and filled with charm, and as the author de-

A Fourth Novel For TJC Writing Professor Publishing released her first novel, Painting The Moon, a work of contemporary fiction inspired by a trip to the British Isles the author took as a teenager.

For Traci Borum, writing is about the same as breathing. It’s just something she does. As an author and writing teacher at Tyler Junior College, Borum says her journals and computer files began filling up with writings by the age of 12 — mostly poetry and short stories at first, then magazine articles and, yes, novels. She actually had seven of the latter under her belt before she finally received something other than a rejection letter back from a publishing house. It was 2013, and the following year, Red Adept

The publisher asked Borum for a sequel, and was pleased to discover that Borum had already written two. Shortly thereafter, Finding the Rainbow and Seeking the Star hit the shelves. The series uses the rolling hills and grasslands of the rural Cotswolds in England as a common setting and a village she invented called Chilton Crosse. In Painting the Moon, Borum tells the tale of Noelle Cooke, an American woman who inherits a cottage and an art gallery from an aunt and settles into a new life, while possibly discovering a new love. Finding the Rainbow follows Holly Newbury, a young woman raising her three younger sisters who realizes her life has stagnated when she meets a love-shy American writer, and Seeking the


tails Elsa’s struggles with grief and anger, he touches on hard human issues — divorce, mental illness, infidelity, women’s rights and disability, for example — but does so gently. While highly entertaining, the novel moves slowly sometimes, especially when Elsa tells tales of the “Land-ofAlmost-Awake.” The quirkiness of her grandmother’s fairy tale world demands a wild imagination and steady persistence. However, the connections that Elsa makes between the two worlds are what teach her the most, and Backman’s venture into the beauty of a child’s imagination contributes greatly to the overall success of the story. Elsa’s innocent observations on the reality of life, death, good and evil are poignant, and her commentaries wise for her age. While it may lead to tears, the story also brings laughter and readers are likely to remember it long after the end of the book. Star is a Christmas-themed story about Mary Cartright, who nurses a stranger back to health, grows curious about him and helps him confront some dark secrets from his past. Calling her Chilton Crosse books a “stand-alone series,” Borum says the stories are complementary and readers may observe the progress of the main characters from the other books, yet each story holds its own space. “You could pick up book three and not be lost,” she explains, “although there might be a few minor spoilers.” Her fourth novel, Savoring the Seasons, follows 40-year-old Julia Bentley, a baker and caretaker of an elderly father as she grows close to a newcomer in town and finds herself confronting the mundaneness of her orderly life. Borum says a fifth Chilton Crosse tale is already planned, and her books are available on Amazon and on her website,

POETRY & PROSE Evening in Venice

TJC’s Annual Celebration of the Arts April 1-30, 2017

You are in a gondola with a flower in your hair, and dreams pass by like rush-hour traffic inside a kaleidoscope. As shadows tremble on the water all around you, it is not hard to remember why the universe must keep expanding. Darrell Lindsey Nacogdoches

Keep the Wolves Away

Took my first breath where the muddy Brazos spills into the Gulf of Mexico, and the skylines colored by chemical plants put bread on the table of the working man. Where the working man does his best to provide safety and shelter for kids and a wife, Giving a little of his soul every day, making overtime to keep the wolves away I was barely 13 when the company man tried to dig my daddy’s grave It happened on a French owned tanker ship spilling poison in the Galveston bay Where the liquid fire filled his lungs and his eyes silenced any mortal cries. Codeine the grit but death stang in pain – He fought like hell to keep the wolves away For the next few years dad was sick as a dog, but he made a recovery just to spite the odds. Settlement came and we moved out of town where the sky isn’t heavy with refinery clouds.

A month-long event offering performances, exhibits, guest speakers, and more at various times and locations across the TJC campus and Media Underwriter at the Tyler Museum of Art.

Yeah he’s still alive he’s doing good, he’s in his fifties but the money’s running out and he’s pinching for pennies so I’m going for broke with every song I play, cause now it’s my turn to keep the wolves away. Kevin Galloway (Uncle Lucius Band)

We welcome poetry submissions throughout the year. Send via email (preferred) to or mail to County Line Magazine, P.O. Box 608, Ben Wheeler, TX 75754 MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 37


Check out the eMAGAZINE for extended event listings.

Highway Prayer Honors the Music of Adam Carroll at the same club the following night, to see if Carroll would rescue the special shirt, which he did. The email’s title was “my only good shirt.” Carroll won’t admit to a favorite song on the album, although he mentions Nolan’s version of “Rain” because it’s the only song on the album that sounds substantially different from the way he recorded it himself. His most emotional reaction, he says, was to the versions done by Cleaves and Hendrix because he’s known them the longest, he said. “They were there for me when I first got started playing, so that’s really special to me,” he said. “I used to open their shows, and still do sometimes.”

Tyler-raised Adam Carroll was both flabbergasted and flattered by the suggestion of a tribute album. Courtesy Photo.

By Tom Geddie Tribute albums are for “late” in a musician’s career or even life, right? Well, not necessarily. When Jenni Finlay and Brian T. Atkinson of Eight 30 Records first approached Tyler-raised Adam Carroll about making an album to honor him and his songs, the prolific singer-songwriter was a bit flabbergasted. He’s barely 42 years old and he’s healthy, and his following is, uh, rather underground. “Why me,” he thought. “I was kinda shocked, actually,” Carroll said. “My wife, Chris, and I were coming back from touring. Jenni and Brian asked us to eat dinner with them, and Jenni played me a song she’d recorded — somebody doing one of my songs — and I was blown away by it, honored, and surprised.” When news of the project spread, Carroll said, “Some people asked if I was sick, but I’m not.” Music — like any other art — can be a difficult life choice because of the emotions that are so often a part of creativity. It’s a reality Carroll readily acknowledges. “I told Jenni this has helped me — if I get down about my career — to think of my songs as something I should be proud of. It was kinda special that all of these people — some of whom probably

have more of a fan base, or less of an underground fan base, but are pretty well known — have done these songs because they like them and they mean something to them.” The album, Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll, features 15 of his songs, mostly ones he wrote early in his career. There’s also a bonus track of Carroll singing a new song, “My Only Good Shirt.” The CD features familiar Americana artists, beginning with the iconic James McMurtry doing “Screen Door,” followed by Hayes Carll, “Girl with the Dirty Hair;” Slaid Cleaves, “South of Town;” The Band of Heathens, “Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler;” Jamie Lin Wilson, “Hi-Fi Love;” Verlon Thompson, “Lil’ Runaway;” Scott Nolan, “Rain;” and Matt the Electrician, “Old Town Rock N Roll.” Other artists paying tribute include Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan, “Black Flag Blues;” Danny Barnes, “Smoky Mountain Taxi;” Jason Eady, “Errol’s Song;” Terri Hendrix, “Red Bandana Blues;” Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh, “Karaoke Cowboy;” Mando Saenz, “Home Again;” and Walt Wilkins, “Highway Prayer.” The new song that Carroll sings to finish the album is, like most of his creations, based on, but not beholden to, reality. It’s about another musician who left his “performance shirt” at a club in Beaumont and who emailed Carroll, who had a gig


Praise is abundant. “It speaks volumes,” Rolling Stone declared of the tribute CD, “that James McMurtry and Hayes Carll and many more all contribute to a new homage to Adam Carroll. It’s a diverse group united by a shared appreciation of a writer who may be only 42 but is talented beyond his years.” Carll once admitted in No Depression magazine that he used to “skip my own gigs to go watch” Carroll, calling him “by far my favorite, somebody whose writing style I emulated in some ways.” “Adam Carroll,” McMurtry says, “is like a very young Kris Kristofferson. He writes about things that are older than me. You get a bunch of guys who more people have heard of to sing someone’s songs, it maybe makes their stock go up, which is fine by me.” “There are only a couple of writers,” Cleaves adds, “who consistently catch my ear and remind me of the subtle joy that great songs can bring. It’s artisanal songwriting. Never gonna be sold at Walmart, but it’ll remind the fortunate few that great songwriting can connect you to your neighbors, your fellow humans, even your own jaded heart.” Great songwriting connects us to one another and ourselves — that’s the essence of Carroll’s songs, the ones where he says he tries “to write about average ordinary every day things in such a way that makes them extraordinary.”


IT TAKES TWO Pianists Evan Mitchell and Natsuko Ejiri play dance-inspired music for four hands! Saturday. March 11. 7:30 p.m. AND

BLUES AND TASTY GROOVES. Super-charged roots music man Brooks Williams performs April 21 on The Bowery Stage in Winnsboro. Publication reviews include phrases like “fusion of blues, old country, and a touch Americana;” “he really rocks, stirring up soulful American, full-on blues and tasty grooves;” and “he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into. Courtesy Photo.


March 8

Hayes Carll. Greenville. 7 - 9 p.m. Texan Theater. 2712 Lee St. 903.259.6360.

FLUTE FEAST No fooling: Virtuoso Ebonee Thomas creates musical magic with harpist Megan McCulloch Li and the Orchard Ensemble! Saturday. April 1. 7:30 p.m.

March 9

Mount Vernon Music Hall

March 3

March 4 Hayes Carll. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 1551 FM 279. 903.833.5100. Birth of the Beat. Greenville. 7:30 p.m. Greenville Municipal Auditorium. 2821 Washington St. 903.457.3126.

The John Conlee Show. Greenville. 7 - 9 p.m. Texan Theater. 2712 Lee St. 903.259.6360. Dallas Symphony. Greenville. 7:30 p.m. Greenville Municipal Auditorium. 2821 Washington St. 903.454.7878.

March 10

Joe Crookston. Winnsboro. 7:30 p.m. The Bowery Stage. 200 N. Market St. 903.342.6140.

Wade Bowen. Texarkana. 7 p.m. Scottie’s Grill. 8400 W. 7th. 903.838.4745.

March 10

Johnny Cash 85th Birthday Celebration. Mineola. 7:30 p.m. The Espinoza Music Academy. 104 N. Johnson St. 903.638.8023.

March 11

March 5-7 Sousa Palooza. Mineola. Lake Country Playhouse. 114 N. Johnson St. 903.569.2300.

East Texas Jazz Orchestra. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 1551 FM 279. 903.833.5100.


March 31 & April 1, 2017


Redd Volkaert. Greenville. 7 - 9 p.m. Texan Theater. 2712 Lee St. 903.259.6360. Continued on Page 40

The Kilgore Arts Festival is ‘Goghing Places’

Join us in Downtown Kilgore! Art & Wine Stroll $40 • 7 p.m. Friday, March 31

Arts Fest & KidsGogh! 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 1

HIP HOP MEETS VIOLIN. Black Violin is Kevin “Key Marcus” Sylvester (left) and Wil Baptiste performing a blend of classical, hip-hop, rock, R&B, and bluegrass music on violins. They’ll be with their band April 11 at the Cowan Center in Tyler. Courtesy Photo.

Learn more at ARTISTS, APPLY TODAY! •


MUSIC continued from Page 39

March 11

Tuxedo Cats. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 1551 FM 279. 903.833.5100. Melissa Greener. Edom. 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. The Old Firehouse in Edom. 8241 FM 279. 903.852.2781. It Takes Two. Mount Vernon. 7:30 pm. Mount Vernon Music Hall. 402 Leftwich St. at Yates St. 903.563.3780. Cody Canada and the Departed. Hawkins. 9 p.m. Red Rooster Icehouse. 1407 N. Beaulah. 903.769.0707.

March 12

March 24

March 17

Emily Elbert. Edom. The Old Firehouse in Edom. 8241 FM 279. 903.852.2781.

John Anderson. Greenville. 7 - 9 p.m. Texan Theater. 2712 Lee St. 903.259.6360. Seek the Peace. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 1551 FM 279. 903.833.5100.

March 18

Glenn Leonard’s Temptations Revue. Greenville. 7 - 9 p.m. Texan Theater. 2712 Lee St. 903.259.6360. Zane Williams. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 1551 FM 279. 903.833.5100.

Equinox Little Big Band. Greenville. 7:30 pm. Greenville Municipal Auditorium. 2821 Washington St. 903.457.3126.

March 25

Brandon Rhyder. Hawkins. 9 p.m. Red Rooster Icehouse. 1407 N. Beaulah. 903.769.0707.

March 31

Johnsmith. Winnsboro. 7:30 p.m. The Bowery Stage. 200 N. Market. 903.342.6140.

April 1

Flute Feast. Mount Vernon. 7:30 p.m. Mount Vernon Music Hall. 402 Leftwich St. at Yates St. 903.563.3780. Masterworks Concert. Tyler. 6 p.m. First Presbyterian Church. 230 W. Rusk St.

April 3


April 7-8

Family ReULion Charity Jam. Mount Enterprise. Featuring Uncle Lucius and more. Durango’s Canyon. 903.736.0306.

DAILY BEST Burgers and Fries!


East Texas Symphonic Band. Longview. 7:30 - 9 p.m. Belcher Center. 2100 S. Mobberly. 903.738.9442.

April 8

Violin Femmes. Greenville. 7 - 9 p.m. Texan Theater. 2712 Lee St. 903.259.6360. Randy Brown. Lindale. 7:30 p.m. Lindale Community Theater. 109 W. Hubbard. 903.638.0402.

April 21 WED MAR 15 Chris Colston Band


THU MAR 16 Drew Kennedy

FRI MAR 10 - East Texas Jazz Orchestra

SAT APR 1 Wesley Pruitt Band




15th Chris Colston & Friends White Fox Wine Tasting

3rd Tanner Sparks 10th East Texas Jazz Orchestra 24th Justin Dean

4th Hayes Carll 11th Tuxedo Cats 18th Zane Williams 25th Ben Lowery & Texas Express


16th Drew Kennedy Matt Bradshaw

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Kevin Fowler. Texarkana. 7 p.m. $15-$30. Scottie’s Grill. 8400 W. 7th. 903.838.4745. Dreams, Passions and Visions. Longview Symphony. 7 - 10 p.m. Belcher Center. 2100 S. Mobberly. 903.233.3080.

Join us FRIDAY, MARCH 17th for St Patrick’s Day! APR

Reserve your family Easter table today!

28th Finding Shade

1st Wesley Pruitt Band 29th Chris Colston Band

Plan your Easter meal with us Sunday, APRIL 16th! • 903.833.5100


After a recent appearance on Austin City Limits, roots-oriented singer Hayes Carll is on tour and has two upcoming shows in East Texas. He appears March 3 at the Texan Theater in Greenville, and March 4 at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Courtesy Photo.

Music Studios in East Texas Specialize in Recording Dreams experience. Here’s a quick look at the possibilities.

Brad Davis Recording Studio

Music industry veteran Brad Davis produces the big-town sounds and sophistication of a Nashville or L.A. record label in his Commerce studio. Photos By Stan Johnson.

A major surprise found in the small college town of Commerce, the Brad Davis Recording Studio has the branded approval of Sony Red Distribution and is modeled after The Cave — the Beverly Hills studio built by Slash, lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. After that facility was purchased by actor Billy Bob Thornton, Davis worked as a music engineer there for seven years. Today, he’s a spring semester professor at Texas A&M Commerce for Audio Production RTV-360, and he also administers an internship program with A&M for students interested in pursuing audio production as a career. Davis says he fell in love with The Cave’s design years ago, so he built his replication of it in Commerce in 2009.

With his new company, Beat Boss Studio, Tyler-based Orlando Williams gives artists personal attention and guidance as they record their music.

Creating a master audio production is time-consuming, Davis says, but it’s necessary for radio industry broadcast results. And for industry label projects, Davis has to comply with music industry union rates, which get costly because every item — studio, engineer, musicians, gear rental and producer — requires separate expenses. For local indie artist projects, however, he charges a flat hourly rate of $65 an hour. That fee buys the use of the studio along with an engineer, drums, piano, keys, vintage amps and mics, plus Davis’ skills arranging, producing, playing instruments or singing session vocals.

A musician himself, Travis Maxey is developing his recording business in Tyler and says he focuses most on the rhythm section and an artist’s raw talent.

By Stan Johnson For musicians and songwriters, the idea of recording soundtracks or albums to share their music is a quintessential goal — but it often seems a financial burden or logistical nightmare. Fortunately, newer technologies are opening up fresh horizons for artists, and East Texas has several studios devoted to helping them pursue their dreams and create the digital tools they need to market their talents. Travis Maxey, owner of Tyler’s Travis Maxey Music, says aspiring recording

artists can record a song for as little as $100, assuming they own a computer, a microphone and a guitar. “Get an interface, USB it to your computer,” he says. “It will come with a light version of a digital audio work station, and you can just start from there.” But for non do-it-yourselfers with a little extra money and a vision of making something amazing, Maxey and other local studio owners are available to guide musicians through the recording process. They favor different methods and have different tastes, styles and levels of


“We track full band sessions, overdub sessions, (do) voiceovers, film scores, radio and television jingles, edit, mix and master — seven days a week,” he explains. According to Davis, a fully mastered 10to 12-song album will run around $6,500 to $8,000 — as compared to Nashville rates that might range from $15,000 to $150,000 per album. For more information contact Brad Davis Recording Studio at 903.886.6027 and visit

Beat Boss Studio

Situated in Tyler, Orlando Williams owns and operates Beat Boss Studio out of his home. With about seven years of recording experience, he’s relatively new to

the recording scene but brings an obvious passion to his work. He’s studying audio engineering at Full Sail University and says he used to call his business No Greater Love and focused mostly on Christian-based music, but he’s expanded to other genres now.

Kevin Galloway Returns to East Texas Roots for Charity Jam Weekend Folk Family Revival, Aaron Stephens, Midnight River Choir, James Bailey, David Baxter, and The New Offenders.

“I started out with a cell phone and a computer,” he says, noting that his recording process is a personal one.

Galloway grew up in Big Sandy and Hawkins playing classic country and chasing a career in banking before he moved to Austin in 2002 where he began putting together the band that toured and built its fan base for 10 years.

“I bring the person in, ask them what their vision is, what they expect out of me, (and share) what I expect out of them,” he explains. “They usually bring in their own music and then they’ll just record their vocals.” After the artist leaves, Williams says he gets busy on the project, taking three to five days to mix and master the work. Williams charges a modest fee of $35 per hour, and estimates that, on average, recording one song runs about $145. Contact Williams at 903.316.8709.

Travis Maxey Music

A newer addition to Tyler’s music scene, Travis Maxey has an old-school recording style reminiscent of Nirvana/Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. “Creating music is an opportunity for me to express myself and who God created me to be,” Maxey says. When presented with a recording project, he says the rhythm section is a priority. “The first and most important thing I am going to want to record is the guitar, drums, and bass,” he says. Recently earning his bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University with a double minor in music and music business, Maxey is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed with a variety of bands since 2008. His own band, the Travis Maxey Trio, is temporarily on hiatus while he develops his recording business, and Maxey says his recording rates average around $80 an hour, although he often develops a “package price” for clients based on the size and scale of their project needs.

East Texas’ Kevin Galloway and his band Uncle Lucius headline a two-day music and camping weekend April 7-8 at Durango’s Canyon near Mount Enterprise. Photo by Hillary Love/The Texas Promo Gal.

By Tom Geddie Uncle Lucius, the Austin-based band fronted by East Texan Kevin Galloway, brings its intelligent, thoughtful Americana-based music to the Upper East Side of Texas in April. The fourth annual Family ReULion Charity Jam takes place April 7-8 and once again benefits the East Texas Food Bank. This family-friendly weekend ends with Uncle Lucius headlining Saturday night after a full day of music, food, and activities.

Operating on the belief that if you spend a lot of time in post-production trying to fix a song, you didn’t record it right, Maxey says he relies less on the computer and more on the raw talent of the artist.

The event is held at Durango’s Canyon near Mount Enterprise with RV sites, cabins and camping areas. They also offer swimming, fishing, trail hiking, and the Crater Club steakhouse and private club.

For more information, contact Maxey at 409.429.4802 or travismaxeymusic@

Other bands scheduled for the weekend are Willow James, Zac Wilkerson,

The diverse sound — guitarist Mike Carpenter calls it “Southern rock for the thinking man” — comes from multiple influences. Galloway, for example, quotes philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, mythologist Joseph Campbell, and Willie Nelson, while drummer Josh Greco looks to The Band and bebop drummer Max Roach. Influences include The Black Crowes, The Rolling Stones, North Mississippi Allstars, Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd, and more. The band’s name comes from “an eccentric old man named Lucius from down in the Louisiana swamps, a friend of a friend.” Galloway said their songs usually deal with “whatever’s going on in our lives, but we try to keep it broad enough so people can read into it however they might want to.” While their CDs have longer “lives” because they can be listened to over and over again, live performances are vital to the band. “There’s a split between listening to somebody’s record and seeing them live. Listening to a record can be a really personal experience and you relate to it how you do, but live is a communal experience and so in-the-moment,” Galloway said. “It takes a live performance to shake people down and get them in that moment.” For tickets to Family ReULion Charity Jam go to or for more information visit or call 903.736.0306. To reserve RV sites, cabins, or tent sites call Durango’s Canyon at 903.898.2772.



North Texas with a Twist!

Hunt County Fair

- April 21-30

and wine Great food

inery! at Landon W Dallas Symphon

y performs March



We’re ready to surprise you!



A Side of Farm-to-Table Freshness dried cranberries, feta, roasted butternut squash, fennel, basil, and a red wine dressing. Crisp slices of Granny Smith apples top it all off along with pepitas and a house-made lemon basil vinaigrette. The squash, feta and fritte flavors mix well with the sweet tang of the fruit, while the nuts add a nice finishing touch. Along with a kid’s menu, the restaurant offers a variety of sides, including soups. Rolled Italian Cannoli chips served with chocolate chip icing is a light dessert. Community marketing manager Jordan Blossom says orders are easily customizable and Piada caters as well. Tyler’s location is the chain’s 35th and was a logical choice, Blossom adds, because it is known for its restaurant scene.

Piada Italian Street Food brings its successful formula to Tyler. (Below) Its signature Italian wraps are served alongside a range of flavorful and hearty salads. Courtesy Photo.

By Clare McCarthy

with on-the-go speed.

At first glance, it might seem just like any other fast casual dining experience — order at the counter, watch the assembly line, serve yourself a drink, and take a seat. But Piada Italian Street Food offers much more than your typical go-to burrito bar or burger place, infusing the casual setting with a subtle fine dining ambience and cheerful service.

As the name suggests, the restaurant’s signature item is the piada — an Italian-style wrap made with thin crust dough, baked on a stone grill and filled with meat, vegetables and house-made sauces. The Chef’s Favorite is a sizable offering filled with a choice of meat — perhaps calamari, or tender grilled chicken — spicy diavolo sauce, romaine, mozzarella, sweet and spicy peppers, and creamy parmesan. Fresh from the grill, the dough is warm and soft, but a crispy outer layer provides a subtle yet satisfying crunch. Contents are generous and juicy, the cheeses creamy, and the diavolo sauce adds a kick as it complements the sweetness of the red peppers.

Regional chef Jorge Martinez says Piada sells two things: food and smiles. “We start and we finish with the guests,” he says. “That’s the most important.” Piada’s has locations across the country, primarily in the Midwest and Dallas, Houston, and Austin. This is their first location in East Texas. Piada in Tyler opened recently and it perpetuates a concept first inspired by CEO Chris Doody’s visit to Rimini, Italy — and his fascination with food carts and corner markets. He wanted to replicate the experience of fresh, modern Italian served

Piada also offers fresh salads and pastas, as well as a variety of seasonal specials that change twice a year. The Harvest Grain and Apple Salad, a fall/winter seasonal special, is refreshing while still pulling off a comfort-food vibe. Field greens are mixed with crispy chicken fritte and the restaurant’s harvest grain seasonal side — a flavorful blend of Farro, spiced pecans,


“People like to eat out in Tyler,” she says. “Restaurants do well here — people are open to new ones.” And with its farm-to-table ingredients, healthy options and gourmet flavors served up fast and easy with modest pricing, Piada seems likely to win fans for lunch getaways, quick dinners and repeat visits. The new restaurant is located at 8942 South Broadway Avenue For more information, call 903.266.9120 or visit

Kiepersol Named Top Texas Winery


Gun Barrel City ...a straight shot to Cedar Creek Lake

Best Steakhouse

County Line Magazine Hall of Fame

Come Stay & Play. We Aim to Please!

Guests sitting down for the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction Dinner at NRG Center during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March will enjoy the rodeo’s international wine competition’s winning wines — including selections from East Texas’ Kiepersol Vineyards & Winery. Kiepersol received the “Top Texas Winery” award in one of the largest competitions in the world with more than 2,850 entries from 20 different countries. Texas wineries represented 351 of the entries.


Tuesday & Wednesday


Mixed Green Salad Choice of Fresh Fish of the Day, Ribeye Steak, or Filet Mignon Served with Whipped Potatoes and Green Beans $27.00

Brunch served after the run. All proceeds go toward building homes for recipient families. PROVERBS1917MINISTRIES.ORG

In addition to the Top Texas Winery honor, Kiepersol received six gold and silver awards for their Barrel No. 33, Mengsel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Artize, and Merlot. The winning wines are served at the wine and auction dinner and also available for sale during the rodeo’s Champion Wine Garden, open daily March 7-26. Other East Texas winners in the winery competition and featured at the Houston Rodeo events include White Fox Vineyards, Murchison; Red 55 Winery, Lindale; and Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, Pittsburg.

Top 100 American Steakhouses

An East Texas Tradition Burgers, Premium Hand-Dipped Ice Cream, Breakfast Anytime, and more

Located in a beautiful lakeside lodge at 21191 FM 47 in Wills Point,one block north of Interstate 20, Exit 516 Open Tuesday - Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Available for Special Events

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New Restaurants Serve Up Tasty Grub Yaya’s Café Opens in Greenville

After tasting Slim Chickens for the first time in 2007 at their site near the University of Arkansas campus, McKay took the steps to join the team and help grow the “life changing chicken” brand. His first unit opened in his hometown of Texarkana in 2013 and the two in Tyler soon followed. Slim Chickens serves fresh hand-breaded chicken tenders, buffalo wings, handmade dipping sauces, sides like coleslaw, potato salad, fried pickles, fried pies, dessert in a jar, chicken and waffles, and healthy choices like wraps and salads.

Uptown Forum in Greenville welcomes Yaya’s Café, serving baked goods, breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. The menu includes Greek chicken pita, BLT, burgers, chicken strips, club panini, Greek feta fries, and homemade baked macaroni and cheese. Baked goods include assorted scones, fruit and cream cheese pastries, cannoli cream puffs, and croissants. Breakfast includes French toast, pancakes, eggs, tacos, cheese biscuits and eggs benedict.

They take special orders with 48 hours notice for items like marinated crab claws, shrimp remoulade dip, white chocolate bread pudding, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Call 903.212.7720 to place an order or swing by their store Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for takeout.

The Rooster Café Brings World Flavors to Winnsboro

McKay is keeping the franchise in the family, as his son-in-law Mark Coleman helps run the locations, serving as director of operations for the four stores. Coleman’s work earned him Slim Chickens Operator of the Year honors for the last two years, as he oversaw the launch and success of their first two units. Coleman and McKay lead the BBL Holdings, LLC team, with the ambitious long-term plan of having 20 stores under their watch and care.

Cace Kitchen Opens in Longview

After a meal or snack at Yaya’s guests enjoy strolling through the shops and artists’ studios at Uptown Forum.

It’s Slim Chickens for McKay

Greg McKay, Slim Chickens’ first-ever franchisee, recently opened his fourth restaurant in East Texas at 204 E. Loop 281 in Longview. He has two other stores in Tyler and one in Texarkana.

also have the corn relish, pickled okra, bread and butter pickles, and cheese crispies many enjoyed at the restaurant.

Folks missing Johny Cace’s Seafood and Steakhouse, which closed in 2015 after more than 65 years, will want to try the new Cace Kitchen, offering family recipes for takeout. Operated by Chelsea Cace and her mother Cathy at 415 North High Street in Longview, the restaurant’s menu is smaller but duplicates the quality of the former business. People can pick up pints or quarts of shrimp gumbo, catfish etoufffe or containers of their famous garlic croutons and cheese spread. They


The Rooster Café opened recently in Winnsboro to rave reviews. Owner Steve Barnhart ran Del Frisco’s in New York for eight years and brings excellent experience and an uncommon menu for the area. Starters include corn fritters with a spicy dipping sauce, buttermilk fried onion straws, Philly cheese steak nachos, barbecue shrimp, Bourbon Street blazed sausage with drunken cheese dip, and baked jumbo lump crab stuffed shrimp. Main courses include lamb shank cassoulet with grits, farm raised Atlantic salmon with horseradish Dijon crust, served with grilled asparagus, filet au poivre served with pommes frites, and ribeye. Salad choices include steak salad with tenderloin over seasonal greens, crispy chicken salad, grilled vegetable, and the Winnsburger with hand-blended brisket, short rib and chuck, horseradish cheddar, arugula, tomato, frizzled onion with Rooster sauce. They serve breakfast all day with such items as eggs benedict, French toast, and standard eggs with roasted rosemary potatoes.

da For seasonal beauty an nce, truly southern experie shead to Palestine, Texa el one of "Texas' Top Trav Destinations."

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Dogwood Trails Celebration 1836 Chuckwagon Race Piney Woods Train Excursions

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An Artistic Blend In a family-run business, an old sawmill cranks out furniture designs with a new vibe

Today, the styles of furniture and building materials stocked in Phillips’ retail store in the Hook community run the spectrum from rustic to contemporary and feature a diverse selection of wood sources — red oak, white oak, maple, walnut, sycamore, pine, ash, hickory and pecan, cedar and cypress. Furniture customers have access to an almost shocking array of distinctive wood goods — from specialty molding, flooring and railing materials to ready-made items ranging from children’s furniture and Adirondack chairs to cutting boards and distinctive wall hangings. “We can hardly keep those Adirondack chairs on the floor,” Allen says. “And those cutting boards are really popular too. “That’s how I got started making furniture,” he adds. “I’d go back to Austin with scraps of wood, make cutting boards and sell them on the street. People love them.”

Wood goods found at Phillips Forest Products’ showroom include contemporary furnishings created for its Archfern brand, (opposite page) wall art made from wood scraps and (below) the ever-popular Adirondack chairs. Courtesy Photos.

By Lynda Stringer When Allen Phillips left home at 18, he couldn’t get out of De Kalb fast enough. He traded in the one-red-light town in Bowie County for the city lights of Austin, studying history and government at the University of Texas and dabbling in film projects. Later, he earned his master’s degree in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design, and says he was scouting locations across the country to build his architectural portfolio when he realized the roots of his family tree run deep in timber country.

Similarly, Allen makes multi-colored wall art using scraps from the sawmill.

evolution in 1991 with the addition of a kiln operation to its saw mill.

“We always end up with a big pile of junk on the floor after making larger pieces of furniture, so we just gather it all up and piece things together to make the art boards,” he explains.

“That’s when we started making finished products; flooring, molding, paneling, bar tops, mantles, furniture — anything from a little cabin to a 70,000-foot hunting lodge,” says Cole, who runs the milling operation.

Designing contemporary pieces under his own brand name, Archfern, Allen is head of research and development for Phillips and says the one constant about the company’s wood sources is the element of surprise.

Back home, his older brother, Cole, was working in the family business, Phillips Forest Products, founded by their grandfather Cecil Phillips in 1958. In 2010, Allen returned home to partner up with Cole and develop his own furniture designs — adding an eclectic array of new offerings to the company’s product catalog. The move marked a new phase for the business which experienced an earlier 50 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH/APRIL 2017

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“(It’s) everything from ‘go pick out that log that’s been rotting for five years’ to ‘we need the highest end walnut that’s solid black all the way through,’” he explains.

Serving all of Northeast Texas

Keeping it in the family, the sawmill’s “rough cut guys” are Chuck Phillips — Allen and Cole’s father — and Jim Tyron, Cecil Phillips’ brother-in-law. Chuck says his dad started out logging redwoods in northern California in 1952 before planting roots in De Kalb and opening the sawmill on rented land.

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Bedrock Foundation, LLC Building solid foundations for 37 years

“I grew up at the sawmill,” he says. “I sawed 20 years in the mill for my dad and, before that, stacked lumber and ran the fork. When I got out of the Marine Corps in 1973, he turned it all over to me.”

CALL NOW Longview: 903.757.6411. Tyler: 903.534.3991 Greenville: 903.455.3730. Paris. 903.785.0311.

Chuck’s wife, Paige Phillips, and her son-in-law, Dustin Herron, are also part of the daily operations. She keeps the books and he runs the retail store. And Tyron’s dog Prissy keeps things friendly at the mill, socializing with customers picking up lumber for their construction projects.

Statewide: 800.329.1311

spring discount

Piers $300 each for March and April only.

Cole, who loves to hunt and fish, says he gravitates to the rustic styling of the company’s slab mantles, tables, desks and bar tops, but he appreciates the modern beauty of his brother’s designs — the waterfall edges, gravity-defying table tops and geometric and curved wood designs. He calls it “another branch on the family business tree.” LIVE. DREAM. EXPLORE.

Upper East Side of Texas

“We’re never going to stop doing what we originated from, but this new branch gives us more opportunity,” he explains. Allen adds, “We really have a cool thing going because it’s a good balance of old school and new school. We’re on the edge of something great.” Visit Phillips’ retail store at 652 Palmer Drive in Hooks and learn more on




BRANDON MAXWELL Fashion Designer Making Women Feel Beautiful





county line




Second Annual East Texas Giving Day Set For April 25

Student Athlete Recognized For Leadership And Giving Back

As an athlete and member of UT Tyler’s women’s basketball team, Michelle Obach is known as a leader and a hard worker, says her coach, Kendra Hassell. But off the court, the Tyler native has earned recognition as well. Involved on campus, Obach mentors students at the UT Tyler Innovation Academy charter school, volunteers with the East Texas Food Bank and Filipino American Association of East Texas — “giving back” activities that recently earned her a nomination for the 2017 Allstate WBCA Good Works Teams. The program recognizes collegiate basketball players for their outstanding charitable involvement and altruistic acts.

Regional nonprofits like the Henderson County Humane Society participate in East Texas Giving Day, encouraging local citizens to click-and-give on April 25. Courtesy Photo.

Nonprofits and charitable organizations need donors year-round, but there’s nothing like a short-term drive to pump a little extra energy, interest and cash into fundraising efforts. Dallas-based Communities Foundation of Texas brought this point home in 2009 with the establishment of North Texas Giving Day, and the East Texas followed suit last May with a similar event. This year, more than 200 charities located in 32 counties in the region join forces once again during East Texas Giving Day, scheduled April 25. Hosted by the East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF), the 18-hour online campaign touts a “Give Where You Live” slogan and is designed to encourage local residents to open their wallets and engage in some click-to-give generosity. Last year’s event raised almost half a million dollars for 225 area charities, and ETCF’s officials expect bigger results in 2017. “This is a great way for area charities to build awareness for what they do,” says Holly McFarlin, ETCF’s director of public relations. “They can use social media to get their fans and volunteers excited, and it makes it easy for people to give.”

From 6 a.m. to midnight on the last Tuesday in April, local residents simply visit the East Texas Giving Day website, search area nonprofits by name, county, city or category — causes range from animal rescue and youth organizations to education, arts and culture and health — and make donations of $20 or more. It’s also possible to visit the site and donate prior to the day of giving, although the funds won’t be processed on the website until April 25. ETCF organizers claim 94 percent of East Texas Giving Day donations go directly to the selected charities, and McFarlin says many organizations arrange for matching funds from corporate donors, a move that doubles the impact of individual contributions. To build the buzz the day of, she says a variety of regional nonprofits are expected to set up tents in downtown areas in cities like Athens, Jefferson and Longview — adding an extra dose of excitement, awareness and momentum to the fundraising effort. For more information, and to see which homegrown nonprofits are participating in the drive, check out the Facebook page, Simplified Giving, or visit


Good Works nominees are selected by athletic departments and sports information directors across the country who look for students who embody the true spirit of teamwork and giving back. This year marked Obach’s third season with the Patriots, after she transferred from Merrimack College in Massachusetts. A graduate of Bishop T.K. Gorman High School in Tyler, she is majoring in political science and says she plans to become a lawyer.

Recognized as a 2015-16 player of the year with ASC East Division, UT Tyler’s Michelle Obach was nominated for the 2017 Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Good Works Teams this year. Courtesy Photo.


Wine Fest 14th Annual

Serving wines from the finest vineyards to our destination in Fort Worth.

April 1-2 • Register Now!

We Are the Champions! 903.569.6183 MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 53

COUNTY LINE KIDS Follow the Adventures of Seri and Abi

Seri (right) and Abi take a snack break along the Tyler Azalea Trails. Between gorgeous homes, spectacular landscaping and “princesses,” it’s a great adventure. The girls found lots of exciting surprises like a magnolia tree that made them feel like they were on a tropical island. They also got to meet several Tyler “belles” dressed in antebellum gowns. Read more about Seri and Abi’s adventures around East Texas on their moms’ blog,

Shaping the Future of the Upper East Side of Texas

f CountyLineKids

Explore Longview World of Wonders

Kids are invited to Longview World of Wonders on March 14 for Camp Explore where they’ll dive in and discover mysteries of coral reefs. There’s a morning session from 9 a.m. to noon and one from 1 to 4 p.m. Longview WOW is a hands-on discovery children’s museum. It is open Thursday and Sunday 2-6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 903.212.4969 to register for events or visit

Miley Gets Big Birthday Surprise

Treasures Abound at Lolli & Pop’s Farm

March 9-12

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe $12 online/ $15 at the door. ArtsView Children's Theatre 313 W. Tyler St. Longview 903.236.7535

From East Texas author V.W. Moreland comes this sweet tale of life on the farm with daily adventures. Lolli & Pop’s New Piglets features Miss Piggy and Mr. Banks as two lucky potbellied pigs along with new piglets and a spunky granddaughter. Mr. Banks has a bad reputation as a bully but Lolli intends to change that. The book is available on and offered via Kindle as well.


Ten-year-old Miley Henderson got a big surprise when her singing idol Kadie Lynn (America’s Got Talent semifinalist) showed up at her AGT-themed birthday party in Edgewood recently. Kadie (13) stayed to sign autographs and sing with Miley who also aspires to make a go of professional singing. She’s the granddaughter of legendary blues artist Bugs Henderson, so the odds are in her favor.

Birding Capital of East Texas

RELAX. REJUVENATE. RETIRE. Historic & Natural Mineola Texas 103 E. Erwin • Downtown Tyler • 903-595-7274 A Department of the City of Tyler


Mineola Nature Preserve

March 4 at 10 a.m.

“The Three Little Pigs” March 11 at 8 p.m.

Kathy Mattea in Concert March 17 at 8 p.m.


Movie: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” March 25th at 8 p.m.

Comedy: 4 Funny Females April 1 at 8 p.m.

Comedy: Card 53 April 15 at 1 p.m.

Movie: “Ten Commandments” April 22 at 8 p.m.

Concert: Mouse and the Traps in Concert April 23 at 7 p.m.

Terence Blanchard and the E Collective in Concert April 29 at 8 p.m.

Bob Schneider & Mitch Watkins in Concert May 12 at 8 p.m.

Movie: “Momma Mia” May 13 at 8 p.m.

Ruthie Foster in Concert Tickets available at

1.800.646.3652 or 903.569.6183 Fundraiser for Therapy Dogs of Van Zandt County For more information about this wonderful organization or how to donate to it

Call Vickie J. Ragle (903) 880-3514 or Visit Facebook “Therapy Dogs of Van Zandt County Texas”


The Buffalo Girls Hotel on The Mountain

For Cook Off Information Call

Susan Matassa (903) 567-7829

Saturday, April 1, 2017

On The Mountain at 542 East Dallas Street in Canton, Texas

Proceeds will benefit Therapy Dogs of Van Zandt County MARCH/APRIL 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 55

Amy Novacek Texas Land Owner

A Love for the Land Financed by Heritage There’s something about the land, something that tugs at our very being. For Amy Novacek, the feeling is almost spiritual. At Heritage Land Bank, we’ve helped people like Amy and just like you finance land in Texas for more than 100 years. If you’re ready to answer that long held desire to own your own piece of Texas, we’re ready to help. Talk to a Heritage lender today.

Finan cing the

Wide-Open Space


NMLS# 408898


County Line Magazine March/April 2017  
County Line Magazine March/April 2017