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county line MAY/JUNE 2017


upper east side of texas

Summer Getaways


Come celebrate the blues! Family fun and fresh Texas blueberries! What better way to spend a summer weekend? From a blueberry pancake breakfast on the red brick streets to music, games and vendors, the 28th annual Texas Blueberry Festival promises you’ll run out of weekend before you run out of fun. Come celebrate Texas blues in Texas’ oldest town.

June 9th

June 10th

June 10th

Bluegrass Concert

Blueberry Festival

Blues & Brew

6 p.m.-10 p.m.

8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Friday Night


Saturday Night at Fredonia Brewery

6 p.m. - 10 p.m.

888-564-7351 | 2 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

June 11th Sunday Brunch Begins 11 a.m.

Mount Pleasant May 6th | 12pm-midnight la alianza nortena @ 9pm polo urias @ 10:15pm

free admission






24 F ormer art teacher, now portraitist offers an artistic take on realism.

STAGE 26 A  n original musical takes the spotlight at Cherokee Theatre.

FILM 28 Found in a warehouse in Tyler, historic movies find a safe haven.


30 A “chicken soup” tale thanks a local mentor, and several Texas authors release new offerings.


40 The “Washashore Cowgirl” includes Winnsboro in her Texas tour.


FOOD & DRINK 42 S trada Caffè has tasty offerings, and a cookbook celebrates the creamy goodness of pimento cheese.


46 Downsizing gets serious, simpler and, in fact, stylish, with a cleverly-designed tiny house.

FEEL GOOD 48 Local therapy dogs spread love and an old tiger finds a forever home.




8 A Dozen Great Summer Staycation Destinations

Minimize screen time and maximize friends and family fun time all season long at an array of close-to-home getaways. By P.A. Geddie

32 Kids Poetry Contest

Showcasing the impressive creativity of students in the region who know how to string words together with style.

38 Two Peas in a Pod

DEPARTMENTS 5 Editor’s Note & Letters

THIS TIME OF YEAR 16 J acksonville’s Tomato Festival, Wynne honors an ancestor, remembering a Confederate giant, and more.

Homegrown and harmonizing since birth, the Purple Hulls sisters are touring and promoting a new bluegrass album. By Alia Pappas


50 Modern Mavens


Throughout the region women get things done, and these community leaders make “doing it all” look easy. By Elaine Rogers


county line MAY/JUNE 2017


upper east side of texas

Summer Getaways

18 K  icking off summer with Junebug and Blueberry Fests, and giving honeybees a helping hand.

20 M  rs. Wood County’s adoption campaign, plus news of other East Texas neighbors.


54 Child-centered groups like Partners in Prevention and Kids Aspiring to Dream guide local youth to achievement and creative expression.




Cover photo: High Hill Farm/Arp


county line Since 2000




EDITOR Steve Freeman

CONTRIBUTORS Alia Pappas Eli Acuna Jessica Dupuy

ADMINISTRATION Marianne Eubanks Bridgette McKinney



EDITOR’S NOTE Kids sometimes get a “bad rap” as parents wring their hands over the amount of time they devote to their electronic screens, playing video games, watching TV, and managing their online social lives. But summer’s arrival brings new opportunities to offset some of that screen time with more traditional forms of interaction for kids and adults alike. Whether the goal is a weekend getaway or a full-fledged vacation, resorts, campgrounds and quaint, historic towns in Texas’ Upper East Side provide a marvelous array of options. There’s family-friendly fun at Jellystone Park near Lindale, RV and cabin-camping at Pine Creek Country Inn in Nacogdoches, laidback luxury at High Hill Farm in Arp and scenic bliss at Sabor A Pasion — and that’s just for starters. Read more in “A Dozen Great Summer Staycation Destinations,” Page 8. Another cool thought for encouraging anti-screen activities is — wait for it — poetry. For inspiration, this issue contains six pages of it, the winning entries of the Northeast Texas Poetry In Schools Contest. Demonstrating the creativity that’s growing in towns and schools sprinkled throughout the region, the contest collect- 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.

Member of

Serving the Upper East Side of Texas


ed 526 entries from students in grades 1-12 who artfully strung words together to convey whimsical and emotional sentiments. Enjoy the wordplay, starting on Page 32. County Line always keeps readers in the know on the musical front, and “Two Peas in a Pod” on Page 38, continues the tradition with a profile of Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark, the talented identical twins who perform as The Purple Hulls. They’ve just released their third album and perform in June at the Blueberry Bluegrass Concert in Nacogdoches (June 9) and at Tyler’s Liberty Hall (June 16). More good-to-know options found within include an update on Longview’s tiny house trendsetter (Page 46); the joy that Therapy Dogs of Van Zandt County spread to seniors at area residential facilities (Page 48); and a brief tribute to several impressively poised and prominent community matriarchs in the region (Page 50). And, of course, County Line Magazine is always full of arts, stage, culture and entertainment news as well as food, film, literary and history offerings. You’re welcome. Elaine Rogers Managing Editor

LETTERS Dear Editor, Thanks for the good info. We’re considering a move to Tyler and are happy to know there are lots of events to enjoy.

would tell us it was an event she would never forget, and she didn’t. Vince Curry Midland, Texas

Bobbi Chukran Taylor, Texas

Carthage-Born Filmmaker Pays Tribute to Underdogs Director, March/April 2017

Remembering New London’s Longest Night 80 Years Later, March/April 2017 This is the best article I’ve ever read on the New London School explosion. Thank you.

Thank you County Line Magazine and Steve Freeman for this nice article about my films and my journey as a filmmaker. Honored to be highlighted in this month’s magazine. A nice birthday present from back home.

Jayne Lankford Mineola

Derek Wayne Johnson Hollywood, California

I am lucky. My grandmother, great aunt, and two great uncles survived that day. My grandmother and great aunt jumped out of the second story and my two great uncles had skipped school after lunch that day to go see a western movie in the next town over. My grandmother just passed away at 93 years. She

Please feel free to send us your comments. County Line Magazine P.O. Box 608, Ben Wheeler, TX 75754 email: Find us on Facebook and Twitter. Go to LETTERS on MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 5


North Texas with a Twist!

Audie Murphy D

ay - May 13


aturday M

arket - S Farmer's M Park Street Cele br

ation - July 4th

We’re ready to surprise you!

Discover the historical

Oil Boom! T

he East Texas Oil Museum houses an authentic recreation of life during the Oil Boom of the 1930s. For information about tours and availability please call us at (903) 983-8295. Hours:

Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays 1301 S. Henderson Blvd – Kilgore, TX 6 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Enjoy Farmers’ Markets in the Upper East Side of Texas



A Dozen Great Summer Staycation Destinations Park the car and enjoy walkable getaways

By P.A. Geddie For those seeking fun weekend destinations where plenty of activities are easily within walking distance once they arrive, there’s no need to look further

than the Upper East Side of Texas. From family-packed adventures to romantic getaways, girlfriend gatherings, and individual outings, here are a few hot locations to help plan rewarding getaways this summer.

1. The Harbor. Rockwall 2. Peninsula Ranch. Lake Tawakoni 3. Mill Creek Ranch Resort. Canton 4. Retreat in the Pines. Mineola 5. Jellystone Park. Tyler 6. Barefoot Bay Marina. Lake Bob Sandlin 7. Greer Farm. Daingerfield 8. Historic Jefferson 9. High Hill Farm. Arp 10. Sabor a Pasion. Palestine 11. Redlands Historic Inn. Palestine 12. Pine Creek Country Inn. Nacogdoches

The Harbor at Rockwall. Darren Schnabel Photography

1. The Harbor. Rockwall From the stellar service and ambience of the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront hotel to the getaway feel of Lake Ray Hubbard’s sailing and sunsets, waterfront dining, garden paths, and beautiful water fountains, The Harbor is an exceptional nearby getaway. Restaurants like Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, Dodie’s Cajun Diner, and Campisi’s Italian are inviting, relaxing locations for delicious food and drinks near the water’s edge. The Harbor is under new management and promises new shopping experiences, and its Cinemark movie theater shows the latest releases. During the summer, The Harbor offers a concert series by the lake and picnics are encouraged anytime. The Hilton has a great relaxing lakefront pool area and its own share of lake views. To book a room at the Hilton call 214.771.3700 or go to 8 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

2. Peninsula Ranch & Lodge Lake Tawakoni

nature trails. A unique feature here are two of the largest pecan trees in the state of Texas — one is close to 225 years old. Native whitetail deer often feed near the lodge as well as longhorns, black buck antelope, Axis and fallow deer. In addition, exotic animals like zebra, ostrich, emu, and elk are routinely seen at the ranch. Guests may fish along the shoreline or from two private piers or a boat. For extra enjoyment of Peninsula Ranch’s scenic trails, wagon tours are available by appointment. Call 903.461.9924 or visit peninsularanch. com for more information.

3. Mill Creek Ranch RV Park & Resort. Canton

Peninsula Ranch offers 550 acres of natural beauty on a secluded peninsula in the waters of Lake Tawakoni. Individual rooms or the entire lodge can be rented for groups, and there’s also a suite with its own kitchen. Typically, guests bring their own food and beverages and have access to the main kitchen or outdoor grill, but catering is also an option. Many rooms overlook the water and the ranch offers seven miles of shoreline, open fields of native grasses, and quiet

This award-winning location offers plenty to do onsite, both from the RV park and cabin rentals. The Grand Lodge is exquisite and on Friday nights, things are hopping with live singer-songwriter music, and refreshments. The pool and hot tub adjacent to the Grand Lodge are spectacular, on-site spa services include massage, and there’s another pool next to the RV Lodge — plus lots of kid-friendly activities like board and video games and scheduled outings like hay rides. Mill Creek also offers fishing, biking, nature trails, paddleboats, a nine-hole disc golf course, a children’s playground, birdwatching, horseshoes,

This little gem, nestled in the piney woods north of Mineola, invites women to find relaxation, new friends, nature and peace in a nurturing environment. The women’s retreat weekends include yoga, wine, meditation, farm-to-table meals, and more. Yoga experience is not required. Massage is sometimes offered as well. Rooms and bathrooms are shared with other women as part of the experience. A guest cabin is available for groups of six or more. Learn more by calling 469.867.0766 or visit

5. Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines. Tyler

This fun, Jellystone-themed resort has RV and tent sites in addition to cabin rentals. Featuring costumed characters like Yogi Bear who roam around and interact with guests, it is a great destination for families. Situated on 47 acres north of Tyler — between Lindale and Hawkins — it has two swimming pools, sand volleyball, miniature golf, pickleball courts, basketball, laser tag, gem-mining nature trails and outdoor game areas. An onsite activities director plans games, contests, and other engaging, themed activities on weekends and most holidays. Special events this summer include Cinco de Mayo, Mothers Day, Yogi Bear’s Hawaiian Luau, Memorial Day Weekend, Fathers Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day Weekend. Call 903.858.2405 or visit for more information.

6. Barefoot Bay Marina Pittsburg/Lake Bob Sandlin This award-winning, family-friendly waterfront resort offers an RV park as well as cabin rentals and tent sites, all adjacent to a variety of activities. There’s a boat ramp for those who want to bring their own, and paddleboats are also available. Located on the south side of Lake Bob Sandlin, unique in its connection to Cypress Springs Lake and Lake Monticello by earth dams, Barecontinued page 10

Retreat in the Pines. Courtesy photo


Barefoot Bay Marina. Courtesy photo

4. Retreat in the Pines

Mill Creek Ranch RV Park & Resort. Courtesy photo

volleyball and basketball. Pets are welcome and Mill Creek has a dog park onsite as well as plenty of walking trails. For more information and to make reservations, call 877.927.3439 or go to


Greer Farm. Photo by Elizabeth Branca

GETAWAYS continued from page 9 foot Bay has a swimming beach, fishing area, sand volleyball and horseshoe pits. Other amenities include a game room, hiking trails, birdwatching, bike rentals, picnic pavilions, a hot tub, and a lively sports bar. The bar serves beer, wine and daiquiris as well as a full Americana menu of pizza, hamburgers, barbecue, sandwiches, Frito pie, burritos, and more. A jukebox plays all the latest hits and live bands perform for special events. For more information, call 903.856.3643 or visit

7. Greer Farm. Daingerfield Touting its sustainable agriculture practices, Greer Farm puts out the welcome mat with lush pastures and towering pine and hardwood trees, gardens and animals accessible to guests, and ongoing cooking classes featuring farm fresh ingredients. Accommodations include four cabins equipped with kitchenettes and situated by a private 11-acre lake, plus a two-bedroom barn loft. Guests may rent paddleboats, kayaks, paddleboards and canoes, and fish off a dock. Cabins are self-catered, but for groups of eight or more, private dining is available for dinner, and special arrangements are made for outdoor meals 10 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

when the weather is nice. Focusing on an array of food and flavors, cooking classes involve hands-on participation, and, of course, enjoyment of the prepared food. Greer Farm is a no pets/ no smoking venue, but the owners invite guests to help feed animals — viewing the ducks, pigs, geese, goats, sheep, lambs, and roosters; collecting eggs from chickens; and hand-feeding the horses. There are walking trails on the farm as well as a sand beach, volleyball, tetherball, and horseshoes. Bicycles are provided with cabin rentals, and May through mid-July, picking blueberries and blackberries is a favorite activity. To find out more about this adventure, call 903.645.3232 or visit for reservations.

have a variety of activities to choose from within walking distance of both two hotels. The city’s architecture is a major draw — commonly enjoyed during horse-drawn carriage rides — and attractions include Jay Gould’s Private Rail Car, the Jefferson Historical Museum, and the Jefferson Playhouse (with local theatre performances throughout the year). Golf carts are also available to rent downtown, and are street legal, and visitors frequently enjoy a ghost walk, historical tours, boat tours and train rides during their stays, while sampling the area’s shopping and dining options. For more information about a Jefferson getaway, call 903.665.3733 or go to

8. Historic Jefferson

High Hill Farm represents the dream of Jason and Sharon Romano, who designed an intimate vacation retreat inspired by their many travels to places like the romantic hillsides of Tuscany, the white-washed cottages of Santorini, Greece, the sophistication of Manhattan, and the charm of Seaside, Florida. Blending these styles together, they bring guests a captivating resort experience in the rolling wooded hills of East Texas.

There are two quite-famous hotels in downtown Jefferson that make it easy to stay a few days and be part of this walkable Southern historic village. The Excelsior House Hotel takes guests back in time with its Southern charm and boasts an impressive roster of famous visitors like Ulysses S. Grant, Oscar Wilde and Lady Bird Johnson. The historic Jefferson Hotel offers Victorian charm and adjacent dining at Lamache’s Italian Restaurant. Downtown Jefferson guests

9. High Hill Farm. Arp

The resort combines its laid-back luxcontinued page 12

High Hill Farm. Courtesy photo

Ed Blackburn (b. 1940). Painting No. 8 (detail), 1986. Oil on canvas, 78 x 100 inches. Tyler Museum of Art General Acquisition Fund

DOUBLE TAKE Works by Ed blackburn

May 14 – august 20, 2017

Tyler Museum of Art

(903) 595-1001 •

May 12 – Mamma Mia – The Movie May 13

Ruthie Foster

Downtown Jefferson. Courtesy photo

June 1 – Double Take: False Colors June 8 – Double Take: The Tender Trap June 15 – Double Take: Marooned (Double Take in conjunction with Tyler Museum of Art) June 16

The Purple Hulls June 22 – 25

Rock of Ages

Partnership with Tyler Civic Theatre June 29 – Jaws Tickets available at MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 11

Redlands Historic Inn. Photo by Dave Schultz

GETAWAYS continued from page 10 ury with the natural beauty of the region. Visitors have access to 100 acres with winding, walking paths through a forest of ancient oak trees; a sparkling reflection pool with stunning views of the vineyards below; and casual dining with a farm fresh twist at Côte — serving a seasonal menu of simple yet flavorful dishes. Accommodations include charming bungalows nestled in the property’s picturesque hillside. Call 903.730.5055 or visit to learn more or make reservations.

10. Sabor A Pasion Palestine This bed and breakfast and culinary getaway offers a peaceful and relaxing place to unwind. Situated on 25 acres, the scenic retreat includes full-service dining, spacious accommodations and gorgeous vineyard and garden views. Accommodation choices are four private cabins or two estate bedrooms — all generously-sized with private bathrooms, plush queen-sized beds, patio access and in-room dining. For breakfast or dinner, guests may enjoy gourmet creations by Chef Simon Webster served in a variety of table settings. Culinary and spa packages set the tone (and flavor) for a visit, and guests may join ex12 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

isting cooking classes that are regularly offered or have one specifically designed for a private group of at least six people. The spa services with licensed massage therapists are particularly popular, and yoga classes are also available for groups of six or more. With romantic packages for two that include flowers, chocolates, strawberries, champagne or a favorite wine, private dining may be arranged in the vineyard or B&B rooms. Learn more about this East Texas treasure or make reservations by calling 903.729.9500 or visiting

11. Redlands Historic Inn Palestine Situated in downtown Palestine, The Redlands Historic Inn offers overnight suites to groups and individuals. Built in 1914, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was at one time the headquarters for the International & Great Northern Railroad. Featuring great views from the rooftop patio, the inn is also home to The Redfire Grille, a fine dining establishment headed up by Executive Chef Christian Mailloux. With the award-winning chef’s extensive knowledge of wine and food pairings, Red Fire Grille serves up an evolving menu that keeps patrons coming back for more. For shoppers, The Redlands offers an eclectic collec-

tion of boutique fashions, candles, home fragrances, giftware, jewelry, and art by Texas artists. Just past the doors of the hotel are 12 square blocks of historical buildings, including entertainment at the Texas Theater and welcoming possibilities at other restaurants, antique stores, Granny Muffin Wines, Eilenberger Bakery, the Texas Art Depot, Pint & Barrel Pub, and Sanctuary Retreat salon and spa —with occasional specials for Redlands guests. A good itinerary is a Saturday morning spa, afternoon shopping, a tour of the Art Tracks Outdoor Sculpture exhibit, and dinner. It’s a good idea to check with the Palestine Visitor Center to see what special events may be going on in the downtown area to help in planning this trip. For more information, call 903.729.2345 or visit

12. Pine Creek Country Inn Nacogdoches Located 10 miles west of Nacogdoches on 25 wooded acres, Pine Creek Country Inn is equipped with RV sites and cabins and creates a family-friendly haven that also welcomes pets under 20 pounds. Beyond a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and spa services that include massage, Pine Creek’s roster of activities includes archery, skeet shooting, outdoor games, swings and fishing

ponds. The cabin rentals include inroom continental breakfast during the week and a Country Breakfast buffet at the Creekside Café on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays. The Creekside Café is open Thursday-Saturday for dinner as well, offering salads, shrimp cocktail, lamb chops, salmon, beef bourguignon, Angus ribeye, burgers, and desserts like apple pie, bread pudding, and more. Guests are welcome to bring their own alcoholic beverages, and the café offers menus for special events like Mothers Day Brunch and also accommodates groups by reservation. Call 936.560.6282 or visit pinecreeklodge. com for more information. Want to check out one of the RV getaways but don’t have an RV? There are several locations in the region that rent them: 2 Guys RV and Storage. 7659 US Highway 69N, Tyler. 903.630.7400. Royce Rentals. Flint. 903.894.7978 Spring Hill RV Rental. Longview 903.295.1608. S&R Rentals. Marshall 903.935.1985.

Sabor a Pasion. Courtesy photo

RV Rentals

Pine Creek Country Inn. Daniel George Photography



Best Live Music Venue! R CINCO RANCH


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Texas Certified Cultural Arts District

Monica Rizzio May 13

Peter Yarrow May 19


205 N. Walnut St. - (903) 347-1213


111 Broadway - (903) 347-6541

Dining, Music, Arts, & Entertainment



210 N. Main St. - (903) 342-6119

Neptune’s Car

300 N. Main St., Suite C - (903) 588-4313

100 East Cedar Street • 903-588-0465

200 MARKET STREET • 903-342-0686

DINE. SHOP. STAY. ARTS. ENTERTAINMENT. All shows start at 7:30 PM. Tickets available online at; Winnsboro Emporium, 212 Market St., 903-342-6140; and at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts.


204 Market St. - (903) 347-1282

r June 25 Hanna Kirby June 10


Ronny Cox and Band

206 Market St. - (903) 347-6526


219 N. Main St. - (903) 342-6137

215 MAIN

215 N. Main St. - (903) 342-1050

July 8

April - October, 8 - Noon Every Saturday, rain or shine Downtown Winnsboro Highway 11 and Market St.



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Logos represent donors or supporters and are utilized by permission only.


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JUNE 18, 1850

Wynne Community Honored as Home to Early Settler

Descendants of Edmund Wynne — from Texas and other states — surround a Texas Historical Marker honoring the early East Texan at Hillcrest Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Tom Tyler

Everyone in these parts and far beyond knows of Canton, but fewer know of the historic Hillcrest Cemetery located near the First Monday grounds. Fewer still know of Edmund (also spelled “Edmond”) Wynne, who is buried there, or of the Wynne Community itself. A Texas Historical Marker honors Wynne and his post-Civil War efforts to improve the lives of other former slaves. Wynne was born June 18, 1850, to a family of slaves living in Cherokee County. They moved to Van Zandt County in

1866. As an adult, Wynne moved to Canton in 1882 to work as a farmer, and he was instrumental in aiding other former slaves and building a church and a school. Ann Moore, a member of the Hillcrest Cemetery Restoration Committee, says Wynne helped establish the Wynne Community, now considered one of the oldest still-intact AfricanAmerican communities in the state. After a lifetime of community involvement, he died on April 1, 1931. Some members of the Wynne family still live there today.

JUNE 3, 2008

Ry Cooder’s ‘Paris, Texas’ Soundtrack The soundtrack to the movie Paris, Texas, released June 3, 2008. Songs like “Paris, Texas,” “Nothing Out There,” “Cancion Mixteca,” “Houston in Two Seconds,” “She’s Leaving the Bank,” and “Dark Was the Night” take listeners back to the iconic movie starring Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, and Dean Stockwell. Considered by many to be one of Ry Cooder’s best soundtracks, it is filled with haunting slide guitar music that takes on a character all its own. It’s available on 16 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Thruston (center) was 7-foot, 7 inches tall and is standing here next to men who are 6-foot, 8 inches and 6-foot, 6 inches.

Remembering the Tallest Man in the American Civil War May 14, 1883, is the birthdate of Henry Clay Thruston who is known as the tallest man (7-foot, 7-inches) to serve in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Historians suspect his birthplace was in South Carolina, but he moved to Mount Vernon as an adult and became a landowner. Because of his impressive height, he also toured with traveling circuses as a sideshow act — often playing the part of Uncle Sam in parades that promoted the arrival of circuses in towns. According to an article in, Thruston had recently returned home to Mount Vernon after a veterans reunion when he died in June 1909 of heart failure surrounded by his family. An 8-foot coffin had to be delivered by train from Texarkana, and the rear door of the hearse couldn’t be closed. He is buried in Edwards Cemetery in Mount Pleasant.


Celebrating the Tomato



The city of Jacksonville takes its title as Tomato Capital of the World quite seriously throughout the year with large concrete tomatoes adorning the streets. Once a year, city officials do it big with the Tomato Festival, turning Jacksonville into Tomatoville for a week. The festival takes place on June 10 this year and activities include live music, a farm-

ers market, sports events at the Tomato Bowl, a tomato-eating contest, a tomatopeeling contest, a salsa contest, a best homegrown tomato contest, and a tomato shoot and archery. Other fun includes a talent contest, kids zone, car show, and fried green tomatoes as well as a Saturday night street dance. New this year is a Ski Show on Lake Jacksonville.

JUNE 11, 1949

Happy Birthday to ZZ Top’s Frank Beard


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

county line Upper East Side of Texas Regional Magazine

ZZ Top’s drummer Frank Beard was born in Frankston on June 11, 1949. Ironically, he is the band member without a long beard. Formerly, he was with the bands The Cellar Dwellers, The Hustlers, The Warlocks, and American Blues before forming ZZ Top with Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. Their first release, an album called ZZ Top’s First

Album, was recorded at Robin Hood Studios in Tyler in 1971 and helped establish their quirky attitudes and humor as well as the trio’s unique blend of boogie, hard rock, heavy metal, and Southern rock. The band has a few Texas shows scheduled in May and June before they head off to Europe for the rest of the summer.

fl&g 903.963.8306



Check out the eMAGAZINE for extended event listings.

Ben Wheeler Junebug Fest Welcomes Summer


Cinco de Mayo. Sulphur Springs. Celebration Plaza. 903.269.7093

May 6

Reds, Whites and Brews. Sulphur Springs. 903.647.0432 11th Bonham Heritage Day. River Run ATV Mudd Jam. Jacksonville.

May 12

Canton Balloon Festival. Balloon glow, car show, live entertainment, battle of the bands, 5K glow run, kids zone, food, and more. First Monday Trade Days Grounds West, FM 859. 903.567.1849 Piney Woods Wine Festival. Lindale. 903.881.5103

May 12-13

Porch Fest. Kilgore. 903.984.8141

May 13 Lisa Rush demonstrates weaving techniques on an outdoor loom at the Junebug Summer Fair in Ben Wheeler. This year’s event is scheduled for June 17-18. Photo by Tom Geddie

Organizers at The Forge Bar & Grill in Ben Wheeler are gearing up for the 5th Annual Junebug Summer Fair, set for June 17-18. The here-comes-summer festival highlights the work of local artists and musicians while celebrating sustainable living, wineries, and local farmers produce. The rustic restaurant and music venue is located in a turn-of-the-century blacksmith shop that now features a handcrafted cedar bar and tables to match, along with inviting, comfy booths. Surrounding The Forge is a three-acre park-like property complete with herb gardens, a teepee, and a pavilion where bands take the stage and dancers fill the floor. It’s a fun place to hang out anytime, but during Junebug weekend, guests have added opportunities. While festival attendees view artist demonstrations, they can actually join in the process. Several live art stations such as a community loom and pottery wheel are popular activities for adults and kids alike. 18 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Mother’s Day High Tea. Emory. Scarbrough Haven. 903.335.4076 Audie Murphy Day. Greenville. Various locations. 903.450.4502

A farmers market is scheduled both days to promote local farms and cottage businesses. A forum on sustainable living, small farming, and other gardening topics takes place 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

Dream Night Talent Search. Greenville.

Live acoustic music fills the air both days throughout the grounds, and a concert is set for Saturday evening on the main stage.

Annual Cajun Dance. Marshall. Cajun dance lessons beginning at 6 p.m. followed by dancing. Marshall Convention Center. 903.935.4484

Wineries are also scheduled this year, offering wine tastings, food pairings, and wine sales. Junebug Summer Fair is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Forge is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a regular menu that includes gourmet specialty pizzas, veggie wraps, salads, sandwiches, tacos, fish and chips, quesadillas, salmon, burgers, and signature Blue Cheese Chips — plus access to a full bar. For more information, call 903.833.5970 and visit

May 14

Blue Moon Gardens Mother’s Day Tea. Edom.

May 20

Corks and Canvas. Rockwall. Local art, live music, wine tasting, and more. 972.771.7761.

May 20

Rock and Roll Saturday. Tyler. SpacePark360 7 p.m. and Rock on Demand at 8 p.m. Center for Earth and Space Science Education. 903.510.2312 Stars and Scars Mud Run. Kilgore. Rabbit Creek Offroad Park. 903.984.5022

May 27

South African Memorial Weekend BBQ. Harleton. Enoch’s Stomp. 903.240.1587 continued page 21

Get A Dose of Blueberries and Bluegrass

Bands like The Blake Brothers help kick off the Texas Blueberry Festival during a Friday night concert at the annual Nacogdoches event. Courtesy photo The 28th Annual Texas Blueberry Festival kicks off June 9, starting with a 6-10 p.m. Blueberry Bluegrass Concert in the Park in downtown Nacogdoches. The concert, held at Festival Plaza, features The Purple Hulls from Kilgore (see interview in this issue); The Baker Family, an award-winning band from Birch Tree, Missouri; The Blake Brothers, a high-energy bluegrass group from Shreveport; and The Sabine River Bend Band, a group of long-time Southeast Texas musicians who have played together since 2008. On Saturday, June 10, the day-long celebration of the annual blueberry harvest includes a slew of family-friendly events and activities, including a blueberry pancake breakfast, a bounce park, makeand-take arts and crafts, a pet parade, pie eating contests, and a washer board tournament. Refreshments abound at the Blueberry Hill Soda & Sweet Shoppe and there are plenty of food and arts vendors as well. Downtown merchants and local businesses promise blueberry sweet specials and thousands of pounds of fresh blueberries are available for sale. For more information, call 936.560.5533 or visit

Help for Honeybees “Texas Honey Queen” Marilyn Arnaud will award prizes to winners of a hivepainting contest June 17 at the Winnsboro Farmers Market. The contest is sponsored by the Wood County Beekeepers Association and features an observation hive, children’s activities, and a “Save the Bees” presentation with an extraction demonstration. People can also bid in a silent auction to pur-

chase the painted hives. WCBA helps beekeepers set up and maintain hives all over the Upper East Side of Texas and sponsors the event to promote public awareness about the importance of honeybees to the human food supply and bring attention to how bees are struggling to survive due to pesticides, lack of forage, imported parasitic mites, and ever-changing climate.

NASA Launch Site Offers Tours

The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine is one of only a handful of NASA launch sites in the world where balloons as large as 400 feet in diameter conduct studies of the upper atmosphere and outer space. Tours are available each May and June and by appointment throughout the year. Call 903.723.0271 to make reservations and visit for more information. Photo courtesy of NASA MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 19


A Beautiful Message

spreading her message with the slogan, “Blended Child, Blended Family, A Beautiful Life.” An aspiring actress who is both biracial and adopted, Peterson was raised in the Hill Country with a sister who was also adopted — and in a family that often fostered children.

Silks, Glass, Metals and More

“I have a cousin who was adopted and my mother-in-law was adopted too,” she says, “so I always tell people that they probably know somebody impacted by adoption, but in my case, it’s practically everybody.”

Lindsey Peterson of Quitman isn’t one to sit quietly for long; she kept a particularly full calendar of speaking engagements and special appearances this spring in her role as Mrs. Wood County. The poised 28-year-old promotes a multicultural adoption awareness campaign,

Mrs. Wood County has a one-year-old daughter and is married to Stuart Peterson, a Dallas firefighter. Until recently, she worked as a realtor in Mineola, but recently quit to focus on acting. In early May, she travels to Corsicana to compete for the title of Mrs. Texas, and her future plans include writing a children’s book about the merits of multicultural adoption. A lifelong artist, Winnsboro newcomer Valery Guignon is regularly found at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts, volunteering at the gift shop and teaching classes on everything from fabric painting to mask-making. Outgoing and entering her seventh decade, she’s fond of sharing stories of past adventures — like selling her wearable art to Cher in a chic boutique on Hollywood’s fashionable Rodeo Drive (and not realizing the identity of the buyer).

Crazed About Cars and Cats D’Ann Rauh of Arp spares no expense on her collections, and according to her husband Wayne, she has two main passions: cars and cats. Specifically, her weakness in the vehicle department is the Dodge Viper, a “street legal race car” introduced in 1992. Through the years, the couple built up a huge Viper collection — currently 80 strong. “Only 21 are mine; the rest are hers,” Wayne explains. Retired from an oilfield trucking business, he says they used to house their fleet in six buildings on their 28-acre property — until word spread in the region about D’Ann’s love of cats and informal animal 20 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

rescue activities, and she repurposed one of the car buildings as a giant cat kennel. People routinely dump stray cats at their doorstep or call and ask her to save their animals, and not too long ago, the couple reportedly had more than 100 rescued cats and dogs on their property. “We work hard to get them adopted out and work with the SPCA and others on that,” Wayne says. “It’s crazy how much money we spend on litter and vet bills trying to help all these cats.” Of course, collecting cars is costly as well, but since Dodge has stopped building Vipers now, Wayne thinks that collection is “mostly topped off.”

As a painter, jewelry-maker, fiber artist, and welder, Guignon says there’s hardly anything, art-wise, that intimidates her. “Art was always it for me,” she says. “I started as a kid, just making things, and I always excelled at it. Teachers were always encouraging too.” While selling her own line of upscale, hand-dyed and decorated silk scarves, shawls, and other wearable treasures at specialty boutiques nationwide — and online at — the versatile artist has settled quickly into the rhythm of small-town life in Winnsboro. She frequently invites other artists to her home for socialization and support, and says she envisions building a sculpture garden in the backyard to serve as a gathering place for the area’s creative community.

EVENTS continued from page 18

Curtis Mathes Marks 60th Anniversary

June 1-4, June 29-July 2

First Monday Trade Days. Canton. 903.567. 6556

June 4

Turnip Green Festival. Easton. 903.643.7819

June 10

34th Annual Tomato Fest. Jacksonville. 903.586.2217 Texas Blueberry Festival. Nacogdoches. 936.560.5533

June 14

Hopkins County Dairy Festival. Sulphur Springs. Southwest Dairy Center and Museum. 903-439-4705

June 17

Juneteenth Festival. Carthage. Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

June 24

Downtown Tyler Wine Swirl. Tyler. Gallery Main Street. 903.593.6905 downtowntylerarts. com

June 30

Timpson Frontier Days. Various locations 936.254.2603

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the start of TV manufacturing by the Curtis Mathes Corporation. The company made many of the TVs that were the first sets to go in homes across the country. Like the 1961 Danish Modern model (pictured), the majority of its sets were made in Athens. From 1968 to 1988, the Curtis Mathes Corporation was the only fully American-owned electronics firm and the only American television manufacturer. The company sold to Enhanced Electronics in 1988. Although no longer manufacturing TVs, the Curtis Mathes brand is still used today with innovative LED lighting products. Learn more at


Shop, Dine & Experience the Nostalgic Br

The Alcove Opening June 1 101 Gilmer - 903.335.882

Danna’s Southern Charm & Florist 438 Gilmer - 903.885.9221

DON’T MISS Veterans Memorial Park Brick Street Vintage Market Annual Car Show Farmers Market Celebration Market

Marlene’s Sass & Class Boutique 212 Main - 903.335.8918

Secret Gardens

200 Main - 903.504.1921

Redneck Bar & Grill 211 Main - 903.885.1600


Sulphur Springs Downtown Business Alliance

rick Streets of Downtown Sulphur Springs

The Magic Scoop

210 Connally - 903.919.5053

Coffee on the Square 204 Church - 903.335.8896

Bookworm Box

The Oaks B&B

Muddy Jake’s

The Venue at 219

204 Main - 903.919.5027

229 Main - 903.885.6833

211 Main - 903.782.8788

Connally Street

516 Oak - 903.919.5170

Gourmet Kitchen & Co. Gay Bailey Norman Art &Salon/Merle Emporium 213 Main - 903.885.9700

212 Davis- 903.885.7103

Selling Ea

Celebrate Liv

www.celebrateliv Pioneer Cafe

307 Main - 903.885.7773

See us for all your printing needs....

Flippin Printing

115 Jefferson - 903.885.3633 town!


Hope Smith Interior Design

Connally St. Art/Celebrate Living Realty

Cobblestone Real Estate

Phinesse Farms Winery

Plain & Fancy Sandwich Shoppe

Brumley’s Uniforms & Accessories

115 Gilmer - 903.307.9371

215 B Main - 903.919.5054

Town Square Antiques

102 College - 903.438.0286 220Connally Street Sulphur Springs, TX. (903)885-1080

220 Connally - 903.885.1080

223 Main - 903.582.2222

Everything Unique

124 Main - 903.885.7016


115 Jefferson St., Sul. Spgs. Tex. 903-885-3633

Arturo’s Wood Fired Pizza 221 Main - 903.951.1444

120 Main Street - phone

109 Gilmer - 903.885.6070


210 Main - 903.919.5031

For special events and more information:



One of the downtown Greenville murals, this bold and modern wall has a painted background, directional signage, a life-size cut out of Gussie Nell Davis (creator of the Greenville Flaming Flashes and Kilgore Rangerettes), and a four-by-eight framed section for changeable art to keep it fresh and evolving. A metal sculpture is attached to the wall and backlit at night and a three-dimensional sculpture sits on the edge of the sidewalk. Courtesy Photo

Through May 6

Everything Returns to Nature -- The Art of Joel Wright. Texarkana. Texarkana Regional Arts Center. 903.792.8681

Art Exhibition: From the Earth: Ceramics, Glass and Metals. Winnsboro Center for the Arts. 903.342.0686

Through May 14

Brickstreet Anthology: Photographs by Robert Langham. Tyler Museum of Art. 903595-1001

Through June 24


Perennials. Herbs. Garden Art. Gift Shop. Open Daily 9-5 903.852.3897 •


A Unique East Texas Experience • Lodging, Weddings, Retreats 903.749.1682 •

POTTERS BROWN STUDIO & GALLERY Original Handmade Stoneware


25 Wooded Acres at 675' • The Lodge (sleeps 9+) Cedar Cabin (sleeps 4+) • Outside Living Area WiFi • Kid Friendly • 903-520-2069 • 24 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Oscar Quesada: Q the Clouds. Longview Museum of Fine Arts.903.753.8103 Art Wells: Elegance in Stone. Longview Museum of Fine Arts. 903.753.8103

May 19

Weird and Wonderful Exhibition. Athens. Gallery 211. 903.292.1746

June 6

6x6@110. Tyler. Features hundreds of tiny works of art. Gallery Main Street, 110 W Erwin. 903.593.6905

June 8 Through August 12 903.852.6473

Deep in the Art of Texas Exhibition. Athens. Opening party June 10. Gallery 211. 903.292.1746

Facetime with Artist Debora Lytle Local portraitist has growing audience By Elaine Rogers A growing number of portraits hanging in lobbies and offices at Texas A&M University-Commerce bear the distinctive style of local artist Debora Lytle, an alum increasingly recognized for her realistic and artful paintings. In recent years, she’s painted eight or nine university portraits, and currently, is working on one for Dr. Mary Hendrix, retired university vice president for student access and success. Like the others, it will hang at the university. The artist says she finds that creating portraitures is “a very rewarding experience” and she gets excited about every project of this type, whether the subject is a woman, man, or child. “As a portrait artist, I am freezing a moment in time that will never happen again or we are honoring someone for their accomplishments,” she says. “It’s extremely fulfilling to have the opportunity to do this and to be able to touch people’s lives in this way.” Lytle’s approach to portraiture involves spending about two hours with the person she’s about to paint. She takes a few photographs and concentrates on getting to know their personality. That leads to a painted sketch on her canvas — starting with the face because, she says, that’s the most exciting part. Working on the project daily, she aims for true-to-life imagery. An active member of Hunt County Public Art, Lytle is a former art teacher who has lived in Commerce for more than three decades — teaching art for eight years at the middle school and high school levels. Before that, she taught in Quinlan, Sulphur Springs, and Royce City, and also had a stint as an adjunct drawing and art appreciation professor at Paris Junior College.

Murals by the artist are popping up around town as well. She painted a mural entitled “Read Beneath the Sea” for Commerce Elementary School in the new ArboREADum reading area, and is set to start work on a Native Wildflower mural in the lobby area of the new Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville. Lytle was recently recognized as Woman Artist of the Month by and won Best Artist in County Line Magazine’s Best of 2016 poll. Learn more at

Sarah in the Garden by Debora Lytle

Using oil paint or soft pastels for most portrait commissions, Lytle sometimes uses a drawing medium if a portrait client wants that instead of a painting. And she commonly uses watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, and graphite pencils for other types of art.


STAGE Cherokee Civic Theatre Presents Original Musical One Song cast members include: Terrius Aldridge, Sean Anderson, J’Nae Arrington, Keira Beck, Jarrett Brake, Orion Brake, Kylaney Breen, Sage Breen, Alijah Francis, Ethan Gonzalez, Katelyn Green, Stevie Rae Gresham, Ella Kovacs, Meg Kovacs, Brynna Link, Maggie Link, Abigail McCalister, Nicholas McCalister, Bryce McCoy, Madeline Murphy, Emily Pierce, Lisa Pierce, Amanda Pointer, MaKenna Pointer, Ila Sanchez, Connor Sessions, Kevin Swindell, Dane Trent, Donovan Trent, and Erica Truelock. The second weekend presentation of historic Cherokee Civic Theatre’s original musical One Song takes place May 5-7. A funny, touching, and true-to-life story, One Song is about a set of students and families of a small-town school who are given a special assignment: to share their own personal stories with a toy bear that will become a gift for a terminally ill schoolmate.


Produced by Tim Howell, the show is directed by Minette Bryant and features a book, lyrics, and music by Bryant as well. The score, composed by Seth Lord, weaves the stories of varied students into a heartwarming musical tapestry as the characters eventually realize that, regardless of their differences, their similarities are stronger and they all share one song.

Performed in Rusk on the Cherokee Civic Theatre’s grand stage, the show’s “world premiere” featured April 29 and 30 performances, and the May show times include evening performances at 7:30 p.m. as well as a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. For tickets and information, call 903.683.2131 or visit


Jim Gaffigan. Thackerville, OK. WinStar World Casino & Resort. 800-622-6317 w i n Featured in Southern Living, Texas Monthly & Texas Highways!

East Texas’ only professional theatre!

Much Ado About Nothing Directed by George Judy

May 13-14

The Little Mermaid. Longview. Longview Ballet Theatre and Ballet West II present this underwater adventure that’s fun for the entire family. The Little Mermaid features a mermaid, a prince, goldfsh, stingrays, crabs, and the devious sea witch. Belcher Performance Center. 903.238.7625

May 26

The Clairvoyants. Durant, OK. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. 800.788.2464.

Cyrano de Bergerac

Directed by Benjamin Reigel

Richard III

Directed by Stephen Wyman

The Marvelous Wonderettes Directed by Daniel Haley

Did You Hear Thunder?

Written & directed by Raymond Caldwell

The Witch of Pickle Patch

Written & directed by Jason Richards

June 29 – July 30 Van Cliburn Theatre in Kilgore, Texas TSF Ticket Office (903) 983-8601

June 10

Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. Longview. The stars of the Emmy-nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy. Using their quick wit, they take suggestions from the audience to create hilarious and original scenes. Throughout the evening, the show becomes truly interactive as audience members are called to the stage to participate in the fun. Belcher Center. 903.233.3080

June 24

Arsenic and Old Lace. Mineola. Lake Country Playhouse. 903.569.2300 lakecountryplayhouse. com

June 29-July 30

Texas Shakespeare Festival. Kilgore. Professional actors perform Shakespeare and classic plays. Van Cliburn Auditorium. 903.983.8601.



Collection from Tyler Continues to Thrill Film Scholars By Steve Freeman A small film collection branded with “Tyler, Texas” has gained fans among film historians and race relations researchers. Although short on entertainment value by today’s standards, the films provide an invaluable look at African American cultural history in the early 20th century. The films were found in a warehouse in Tyler, possibly used for celluloid reel film distribution shipments to regional movie theaters. Eventually, Bill Jones — a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas — acquired the films in 1983 and entered them into SMU’s G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at the Hamon Arts Library. There, they reside, preserved and digitized. The “Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection” comprises six short flicks, nine features, and a set of newsreels, all black-andwhite and all produced between 1935 and 1958. These so-called “race movies” include comedies, dramas, news broadcasts and musical performances. They were made for African American audiences by pioneering African American directors, producers, and actors. The films cover a time when “Jim Crow” laws of segregation kept African Americans distanced from Hollywood filmmaking and the entertainment industry as a whole. Despite their low-budget production, technical flaws, and variable acting performances, they are considered to be a treasure trove of cultural artifacts. “These are among a very small collection of ‘race movies’ from around the world,” says Rick Worland, a professor with SMU’s division of film & media arts. “They weren’t valued at all and had little after-market value, but then scholars got hold of them.” Today, the films are favorite additions for film festivals everywhere. Ossie Davis, the late film, television, and Broadway actor, director, playwright, and civil rights activist, said these and other early and rare films of their type exhibit a “self-consciousness” budding in African Americans in the early 20th century. They are considered as important in this 28 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Deemed the most significant film of the collection, The Blood of Jesus is a 1941 movie that deals with themes of the after-life. The Library of Congress National Film Registry added the film to its collection in 1991. Photo courtesy of G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, SMU’s Hamon Arts Library

respect as the Harlem Renaissance in terms of liberating African Americans in art, literature and music. Some 200 films of this variety are known to exist from estimates of some 3,000 produced during those years. The collection’s stand-out is The Blood of Jesus, a 1941 film that scholars believe was the most widely seen movie of its type at the time. It is about the accidental shooting of a woman and of the faith that brings her back. As she lies dying, her soul goes on a symbolic journey and ultimately chooses heaven over hell. When the woman awakens recovered, a church choir offers a singing celebration of the miracle. Placed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991, this highlyregarded film was directed by Spencer Williams, who gained fame later in his role as Andy in the hit TV show, Amos & Andy (1951-53). Only one film uses Texas as a setting for the story. In Girl in Room 20 (1946), a character named Daisy Mae leaves her home in Prairieville (Kaufman County) to seek fame as a singer. The corrupting

big city, however, causes her boyfriend to convince her to return to Texas. The newsreels observe public life of African Americans from about 1953 to ‘56 with interviews of a few government officials of color who served in various departments in Washington, D.C., during the Eisenhower administration as well as some leading African Americans who attended the Republican National Convention in San Francisco. Some films range from 10 to 35 minutes and tell stories of good-hearted struggles amid life’s trials and temptations through music and dance. One is solely a musical performance — Boogie Woogie Blues (1948) features a songstress performing “Don’t Take Your Love From Me.” In recent years, the SMU library has loaned the Tyler film collection to the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and museums in Paris, France, and Vienna, Austria. To view the films or learn more about them, visit Jones. A three-DVD set of a selection of the films is also available for purchase.

One of the Coolest Small Towns in Texas

Kids Eat Free Tues. Unplug & Wine Down Wed. Live Music Fri. & Sat. Open 7 Days a Week

903.833.5100 •

Texas Highways

Open Wednesday – Sunday

Live Music

903.833.5970 •


Summer Celebration live music. free hotdogs. face painting. fireworks and more!

MUSIC Series Every Sunday Evening

July 16 - August 20 6-8 p.m.


Pickin Porch


Steel & Magnolia’s Ben Here Yet? •



Texas Author Blends Fiction with Local History       Born and raised in West Texas, author Denzel Holmes began a second career as a writer after retiring from a career in federal service. For inspiration, he turned to his childhood memories of exploring the state’s huge, remote ranches and mesas, swimming in the Pecos River, and imagining Comanches behind every dusty boulder.  The result is several books in his Mitt Stone series, including one set in Jefferson. Holmes favors historical fiction and creates heroes and heroines who interact with real historical characters. Entitled Big Cypress, the book is set during Reconstruction and the town’s occupation by Union soldiers. It details the adventures an earlier book’s character, Curly Smith, a deputy sheriff who confronts the remnants of the Cullen Baker gang. When he arrests a murderer named Angel Ranigan, the action makes him a hero but touches off a wave of violence in Jefferson as Old South sympathizers try to take Texas back in time. Holmes’ earlier book, Horse Thief and The Lady, followed a 14-year-old Texan named Mitt Stone during the eruption of the Civil War. The author credits tales told by his great grandfather with the inspiration for his Mitt Stone books. Another of Holmes’ novels, Texas Victory, highlights the role of German immigrants in the settlement of Texas. In February, he released his eighth book, 30 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Little Stone Mountain, a sequel set in a more modern era and featuring a descendent of Mitt Stone’s. The author frequently travels the state, promoting his books at fairs and community festivals. He will appear June 10 at the Blueberry Festival in Nacogdoches. His books sell on his website for $10 to $15 apiece. For more information, visit

Former Athens Teacher Tells Her Own Chicken Soup Tale

Virginia Reeder of Athens is one of the contributors to the latest version of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her story, titled “A Life Once Touched,” appears in the recently-released Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers — 101 Stories About How You Make a Difference. It is in tribute to Ruby Martin, who served as a testing coordinator for Trinity Valley Community College for many years. “Without her encouragement, I probably would have never gone to college to become a teacher,” Reeder says. Reeder has lived in Athens about 36 years and taught at Athens High School for 20 years, retiring in 2015. She credits Martin with nudging her in the right direction and she wanted to let her know that. “I feel that the most important part of the message (in the book) is when I was compelled to tell Ms. Martin how much her encouragement had meant to me. ‘If you had not taken the time to

make me feel as if I had some potential, if you had not believed in me and encouraged me, I would never have gone to college. No one ever believed in me before.’  Teachers so often never get to know when they have changed a life for the better. I had a chance to be sure she knew.” Reeder will appear at a book-signing event in May at Gallery 211 in downtown Athens. Check the calendar on for details.

Texas Novelist Ainsworth Continues the Saga

Delta County’s award-winning novelist, Jim Ainsworth, has released the newest installment of his popular Riverby series. Entitled Circle of Hurt, it continues the tale of how his likable characters adapt to life in a sleepy little town. Here’s an excerpt: They gather around a big table in the back of Prigmore’s General Store and Café in downtown Riverby several times a week most weeks. There are six of them, five men and one woman. There may have been more or less in the past. There are no programs or speakers. Those outside The Circle wonder what they talk about, but they don’t ask. The only requirement for membership is to have been deeply hurt or to have caused serious hurt to others. Tee Jessup is not a member of The Circle, but he qualifies. He spends a lot of time on the porch of a dilapidated farmhouse on a hill, feeling sorry for himself over the loss of his parents, his brother and his wife. He dreams of taking revenge on the man responsible for

his wife’s death, but he can’t take the vengeance he craves because he has a young son.   Just down the hill from Tee’s home sits a long-abandoned shack. Decades earlier, it was used as a shelter for itinerant cotton pickers during harvest season. Clayton Dupree stayed in the picker shack when he was a boy. Now he has secretly returned to write his songs, paint his pictures, play his guitar, record everything that happens around him, and nurse a bullet wound. Ainsworth’s books are available at or from his website,

A Story of Redemption in the Piney Woods A new novel set in scenic East Texas comes from Steve Mims, a resident of Houston and a retired executive and attorney. His first book, Return to Mercy, is the multi-generational story of a family’s journey to redemption with a storyline that involves a chance roadside reunion, the return of an estranged child, the arrival of a mysterious guest, and an ill-fated criminal enterprise. A primary character, Lillian Irwin, is a family matriarch whose life is revitalized by the restoration of her long-lost friendship with a character named Weezie Wilkins, while Lillian’s son, Roy, faces the failure of his marriage to Carole, a first wife who gets trapped in a loveless marriage to the heir of a rival family’s fortune.




Desperate actions and decisions unfold with unpredictable results, creating a dramatic storyline. Return to Mercy is available in paperback on Amazon for $16.

MORE FOOD & FUN! Go to County Line eMagazine for more fun food and drink articles, recipes, dining ideas, wineries, farmers markets, and events. Food-Drink




J U LY 8 , 7 T O 9 P M

903.753.8103 • 215 E. Tyler St. • Longview, TX 75601


2017 On the next few pages are the selected winners out of 526 submissions in this year’s poetry contest. A special congratulations goes to 12th grade winner Claire Simmons for receiving a $500 scholarship from the Rusk County Poetry Society and for winning in six of the last seven years of County Line’s poetry contests. Many thanks to this year’s judges — professional writers and educators Melissa DeCarlo, Ann Faulkner, Bill Faulkner, Rica Garcia, Ed Garcia, Joyce McGee, Adrianne Pamplin, Justin Robinson, and Carol Thompson — and to all the kids who share their beautiful hearts and minds.



Letters that are BIG Pages that are really white Pages that turn back and forth The cover of the hard book The soft pages The new book smell I feel joyful with books Alondra Tejada, Nacogdoches SECOND Place

Bowling Ball

A bowling ball looks like a sphere and is a round ball going down the lane. The sound of my bowling ball is Boom, bong, slam. Bowling balls have an oily smell. Bowling balls taste like gritty dirt and sand. Bowling balls feel like a smooth round rock. I hope I get to go bowling! Joseph Morales, Henderson THIRD PLACE

Church Festival

The struggles of climbing the rock wall Food booths Music playing in the background Somebody singing The rough carpet on my seat The vibrating that makes me shake Stinky feet…P. U.! Stinky socks…P.U.! Cold popsicles… yummy! The great nachos I feel like God loves me Katelyn Jackson, Nacogdoches


The Joy at Disney World Resorts

The wonderful fantasy castle catching my eyes. My pretty hotel room with sunlight.


The loud fireworks popping in my ears. Beautiful music when we’re dancing. The lovely pool water on my body. My mom snuggling with me in bed. The tasty wonderful breakfast. The delicious, yummy dinner. The good dessert. The yummy sides with my main meal I feel the joy at Disney World Destinee Chapman, Nacogdoches SECOND PLACE

I’m Going on a Toad Hunt

I’m going on a toad hunt to hunt down all the toads Because snakes will die of hunger and monkeys eat those The Cheetahs eat monkeys and I guess that’s good Lions eat cheetahs, knock on wood Bears eat lions but there won’t be any there! I’m going on a toad hunt because I’m afraid of bears. Harrison Chenault, Henderson THIRD PLACE


Lasagna looks like a pan of delicious warm noodles Lasagna sounds like popcorn popping as it bakes in the oven Lasagna smells like an Italian wind Lasagna tastes as yummy honey Lasagna makes me feel warm and loved inside Lasagna is my favorite food Wren Goode, Henderson


A Family’s Love

My mom and dad’s warming smile that is brighter than the sun. My mom, dad, brother, sister and I Sitting around the dinner table The laughter of my family when I tell a joke My mom asking, “How was your day?” at the dinner table

The cozy hugs and snuggles my family gives me My mom and dad kissing me goodbye as I walk to school The smells of BBQ my dad is making The perfume my mom is putting on before church A cold glass of lemonade my dad makes with my brother splashing it on my face The sweet ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery on the weekend. I feel like the most important kid EVER! Josue Morones, Nacogdoches SECOND PLACE

Night Sky

Oh the beautiful night sky So smooth and silky it looks like a soft velvety blanket Ahh, that sweet smell Wooo what a wonderful whirly windy night The roots of the night sky run deep in the heart Oh the beautiful night sky Woa the brightly burning big stars The fluffy gray balls of clouds cover the gorgeous night atmosphere like a beautiful whirly relaxing pillow Mady Wilson, Henderson THIRD PLACE

Floating Feathers

Feathers are as light as paper They can be white, black, brown, or even gray They were used for pens back in the day Some are light like the sunshine in May Some are dark like midnight on the bay One is not like any other, there are so many different colors Have you ever seen a feather from way up high I wish I were a feather floating high in the sky. Aubrey Elledge, Henderson


The Wild Life

Huge trees standing tall above me as if Mount Everest was right in front of me Little bugs and centipedes on the ground right next to me Birds singing a lovely tune up in the trees like an orchestra lady at a concert

Me crunching on leaves while I’m walking through the woods The rough dirt on my hands when I trip over an average size rock Dewy plants on my legs The very nasty, smelly mud I’m living the life of the wild. David Brown, Nacogdoches SECOND PLACE (TIE)

I Am Smart and Imaginative

I am smart and imaginative I wonder how nature feels about us I hear animals chittering and chattering around I see the never-ending battle between humans and nature I desire peace between the smart humans and frolicking animals I am smart and imaginative I pretend I’m an artist that makes paint come to life I feel the smooth paper moving the images I touch the paint as it colors me inside I worry about the future I cry when left inside the darkness I am smart and imaginative I understand how small things can change lives I say imagination is the key to anything I dream the seemingly impossible I try to make things right I hope for the bad to turn good again I am smart and imaginative Amaris Cerda, Henderson SECOND PLACE (TIE)

My Mexican Ranch – The Best Place to Be

The flowers blooming on every tree Water flowing down the steep, rocky hill Chicks peeping around me Piglets going “oink, oink” in their cage The soft fur of the sheep My grandma’s warm hugs The amazing smell of the flowers The yummy burritos my grandma makes Refreshing cold homemade horchata There is no place I’d rather be. Judith Martinez, Nacogdoches THIRD PLACE (TIE)


agile, venomous spinning, webbing, jumping eight-legged terror Arachnid Daniel Kendall, Henderson THIRD PLACE (TIE)

The Hunt

It was a shady day, a very shady day. As we went down the dirt road We could hear her snorting, Big, furry, round, and mean. Rattling like maracas The hog snorting A gunshot Pop!

Silence The job was done. Caiden Stafford, Henderson


The Painting

One clean sheet of paper, and a little paint brush Take my time, take my time, no need to rush Brush to water, then to paint Not too much pressure, just a little stain Stroke up, stroke down, then one long glide Brush with a smooth, slow rhythm, just let it slide Stand back and observe, adjust, adjust Perfection is not a necessity, but creativity is a must Now I’m in the zone, I feel so free Painting is the only thing that makes me feel like me One sheet of paper, now projecting my imagination I’m very, very pleased with my new creation. Korian Brown, Longview SECOND PLACE (TIE)

Most of My Life

Her eyes, Like a deep Pool of love That I can’t go in Because I won’t pay attention To how far down I’m sinking Her hands, Like a warm blanket, That keeps the cold out Yet lets the warmth in That keeps the dark out Yet lets the light in, Whenever they touch me Her voice, A soft melody That I hear daily To comfort me during Hard times One that’s music To my ears Her, A strong woman Standing tall above me I hope to be just like her, Someday. I love her very much She is the most of my life. Emily Cavazos, Longview SECOND PLACE (TIE)

People Names

We have Calcium in our bones, Iron in our veins, Carbon in our souls, And Nitrogen in our brains,

93% percent Stardust, With Souls made of flames, We’re all just stars with weird “People names” Emma Hart, Longview THIRD PLACE (TIE)


I am Dyslexic I wonder if I can I hear “you aren’t trying” and “try harder” I see jumbled up letters on my page   I want to read like the other kids I am Dyslexic I pretend I can I feel I can’t I touch my head and wonder if I still have a brain I worry I’m not gonna ever read I cry when I feel dumb   I am Dyslexic I understand I learn differently I say I can do it I dream I read like a pro I try thinking of things I can do when I feel frustrated I hope I go to a good college I am Dyslexic Anna Hall, Tyler THIRD PLACE (TIE)

Where I Am From

I’m from hog whips from Sullivan’s And the showbox I’m from the backroads I’m from boots and pearls And from Stock Show Girls I’m from the woods, The grass burs I’m from the Christmas Tree farm From dirt, from Momma and Daddy I’m from the unorganization And hometown hicks From burning daylight And taking on more responsibilities I’m from forgiveness And Everlasting life That’s where I’m from Morgan Doerge, Henderson


Ode to Peyton’s Football

It waits outside in a red tub A bit worn Clifton printed on the band An air-born missile Spiraling in and out of his hands Playing with Daddy after work He wants to be like Tom Brady It is tiring Making the ball go whistle, continued page 34 MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 33

POEMS continued from page 33 slap, pow and thump At nine-thirty He has showered Eaten, brushed his teeth And gone to bed Thinking, falling asleep His ball An air-born missile Its fuse burnt out Is in the red tub Peyton Clifton, Henderson FIRST PLACE (TIE)

Hope of the People

Life and all its aspects Surround us and influence others. Give us meaning and spirit Taken away? Nothing matters anymore. So let it thrive and become us. The feelings blossom Life flowers bursting from the ground. Beauty, afterwards, is all you can see. Colors explode, lights dance. Lift up your hands and decide your fate. Let it swirl in the wind Full of hope and compassion Taking flight in the sky Clear and blue, pondering what happened. Then, after that, Happiness can take its hand And make peace with Death. Letting us understand. The Sun and Moon are equal, but different, Like the rest of the world. Think, fall silent, and be content. Because tomorrow is another day One that will challenge you. Time after time, once again. Kate Konrady, Longview SECOND PLACE (TIE)


Blue Night Thick Rain Beautiful, wet clouds quietly flying Sky Victoria Rodriguez, Henderson SECOND PLACE (TIE)

A Stormy Life

I am the grass blowing in the rough storm. I wonder if God is really around me in bad times. I hear yelling in my ears. I see kicking in front of my face. I want to have a peaceful and wonderful life. I am the grass blowing in the rough storm. I pretend I have a perfect life. 34 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

I feel upset when I feel left out in my family. I touch the trembling people’s hands. I worry if I’m the only kid that has had a rough life. I cry when I remember my birth mom. I am the grass in the rough storm. I understand that I act like I’m all that. I say words I’m really not. I dream that I die at school. I try to make my mother smile. I hope that I will do good in school.   I am the grass in the rough storm. Grace Baker, Tyler THIRD PLACE (TIE)

Her Eyes

Her eyes bright as the moon On a dark night. As beautiful as a spring day or on a starry night without a moon in sight. Big brown eyes like a mighty tree standing tall in the forest But can’t see the one who loves here until he comes and tells her how he feels about her. Until then, let her eyes shine so bright. For now and ever. Merlin Cooper, Cushing THIRD PLACE (TIE)

1st Grade: Day 1

The color leaves your face. Why are you so scared of this place? You really shouldn’t worry. You’re gonna be late unless you hurry. You creep in through the front door, And you start to gain your confidence back a little more. You start walking to your first class. Children running around all that glass. Is that Shelly from last year? People are talking as you try to hear. The principal walks into the room. Then that instant you know you are in doom. You say hello to your fellow peers, and say goodbye to all your fears. WHOOSH! There goes a paper plane, and you have to say no to Shane. Children are like a bow. They need to be flexed. Don’t you know? You are about to start the day, As a kid comes your way. She asks if you are new here. Then you reply “Yes dear”. Now that the announcements have been made, It is time to start teaching the first grade. Olivia Blundell, Kilgore


I Am Not the Person You See You think you know me But we are strangers Because I am not the person you see I am not a stereotype Or the mask I wear I am my past The places I’ve been And all the people I’ve met I am the books I’ve read The movies I’ve seen The music pouring through my earbuds I am my midnight thoughts And all the things I believe in You’ll never know me And I’ll never know you Because we aren’t made of particles We are made of moments Carly Mauldin, Kilgore SECOND PLACE (TIE)


Roses are red Mud is brown Country music up Tailgate down TJ Spencer, Cushing SECOND PLACE (TIE)

The Enemy

Bullets whizzed past me at high speed I peeked out from cover and saw the target He also saw me Before he could shoot I ran back to cover Then I saw it The extraction A huge van Painted in rust I heard the target creeping around the corner Before he saw me I shot Five loud thuds against his body I walked over to him and said “Good Game” He said the same back We both laughed as we were out of ammo I headed over to the table and refilled Then headed back onto the field Ryan Thomas Beddingfield, Kilgore SECOND PLACE (TIE)


Billions of people Wrapped around technology and celebrities What we don’t see is We are 1 of the only living things We are on a floating rock In the nothingness we call space Spinning around a ball of fire Spinning around a prison So dense nothing can escape not even light

Yet we are so wrapped in our own ways To notice Too wrapped up To think past Little green things with big eyes and head Abby Reeves, Cushing THIRD PLACE (TIE)

Behind My Eyes

Behind my eyes you may not see it But there is Hate Anger Sadness Behind my eyes I dig through my thoughts But for some reason I just can’t find it Behind my eyes there is darkness My soul is so dark and depressed And in my heart there is a big black hole I search and search but I just can’t find the light Behind my eyes I see it There is a glimmer of light I have to run to it Behind my eyes I run to the light Darkness tries to grab me every chance they get Then right before the light I see the greatest darkness behind my eyes My mother’s death I see myself at the age of five I see her in the car lying down dead As I’m in the back afraid with barely a scratch Behind my eyes I try to fight it I cry and cry I just can’t beat it I will never be able to enter the light Dalton Leutwyler, Cushing THIRD PLACE (TIE)

The Flowers

Oh dandelion, oh dandelion, How you swing in the wind. You’re the prettiest thing in mankind Besides the sun coming over the horizon. Oh rose, oh rose, Your beautiful, majestic, petals. Butterflies and stinging nettles, My love for you tenderly grows. Oh sunflower, oh sunflower, How your speckly seeds grow to my heart. It’s sweet that you and the sun never look apart. Your gracious shade of color glistens every hour. Oh daisy, oh daisy, Your beauty will never perish. So I will forever cherish, How much you look like heaven, it’s crazy. Oh Indian paintbrush, oh Indian paintbrush, Your colors go together, More than me and my twin brother. And more compassionate than any of my crushes. Abby Hattaway, Kilgore



The Woods

The woods whisper to me in the night Stories, they tell, of life and death, Beauty, Pain.



I’m a hurricane I don’t belong to a city I don’t belong to any man I am a wanderer, A one night stand Here I stand alone Erasing everything in my path, If you look into my eye you will see my past You will see serenity from the disaster I have caused I am a hurricane; master of destruction; Beautiful in many eyes but a history of pain Jaylen Mitchell, Cushing FIRST PLACE (TIE)

I Am

I’m the sound of screeching tires on the road, The animal I resemble is a small mouse Running from an owl, Except with me I’m running from life, I’m the song that’s trying to be made, But can’t find the right lyrics, I’m a big fat ugly zero, That wants to be a one but can’t get there, I am the banged up car in the junk yard, I’m the messed up couch That the white fat girl sat on and broke , I’m the first piece of bread, That everyone touches but never really wants I’m the squeaky clarinet, I’m the place where there is nothing but graffiti and broken glass, I’m the flower that is beautiful from afar But when you get close you see it’s ugly, I’m the tree that’s getting set on fire, I’m afraid of tomorrows, Behind my eyes I’m hiding this great big, War… Brittany Sanches, Cushing SECOND PLACE (TIE)


You don’t look like them. You don’t have what they have. You don’t talk to the same people. You don’t have their personalities so you change. You strip yourself bare of every flaw you come across to be like them. You lowly slice away your external being, to be like them. The need to be the same spreads inside of you like a wildfire, burning everything in its path. But at the end of the day, you look at the unknown creature staring back at you, and you realize that it’s too late to change. Too late. Ciaira Guyton, Kilgore

The woods hint at more than we could ever imagine. A world full of species upon species, Each life with their own story, From the tiniest creature to the largest beast, From the smallest weed to the most beautiful tree.

The woods depict an amazing picture. Complete with all the charm and mystery one could hope for. Finished with all the joy and sorrow that even the best artist could never paint. The woods are overflowing with stories. You can chop down the trees. You can hunt out the animals. But you will not take their stories, For the woods are a book that will never be burned. Madeline McCrory, Kilgore THIRD PLACE (TIE)


Hunting is my thing I like it more than I like to sing. Whether its deer, hogs, bears, rabbits, squirrels, dove, or ducks, I sure like trying my luck. It makes me feel like a man.   I am a big fan. Zachery Newman, Cushing THIRD PLACE (TIE)

Bo Bates

I came into the office My father spoke the Words I cannot bear “Bo was in a wreck Bo is gone.” Bo is gone. The pain rips me apart It was like losing a brother Now a brother in my heart Bo is gone. The pain swells up inside I cannot hold it in anymore He was always by my side Bo is gone. The pain continues to spread Like an unstoppable virus continued page 36 MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 35

POEMS continued from page 35 But I keep it all in my head Bo is gone My father spoke the Words I cannot bear, “Bo was in a wreck Bo is gone” Cerenity Exline, Kilgore


The Life of Mom

Shrieking sound of tears are Heard from down the hall; I jump out of bed with a slump; Searching for the screaming When the noise ends and I fall back in bed, I hear The rage of the alarm, Ringing somewhere. Up again I rush to the kitchen To flip on the stove and Prepare the feast With a sizzle of bacon and pop, pop of grease; One by one, foot by foot are heard; Coming to attack the fresh, fried bacon. By the time six tummies are full; Here comes another, larger than before; It shakes and scuffles, Making all types of sounds; It wants breakfast; it needs it now! When breakfast is finished, Just the first meal of the day. I don’t know how I do this each day? But I know in my heart; That there is no trade for Love or for passion, That a family can bring. Madelynn Crow, Tyler SECOND PLACE

The Soft Blow of Wind

The soft blow of the wind, Flows free through my hair, I’m going to Big Bend. The rock under my feet, The sun burning my skin, Soft with light, It’s beginning to turn night, And as the sun falls, I get a chill feel, I have to go now, my parent calls, But there is one flaw, 36 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

If I go to their call, I’ll never see the mountain standing tall, I see it now and that is all Skylar Hickman, Woden THIRD PLACE (TIE)

All Bright Under the Sun

All bright under the rain so glowing under the spirit’s I spot sinning claws on the flock Dig it! The boy must continue All mournful in the world I saw flying goats against the land Be aware! The night will come as fast as light All bright under the rain I walk with scary disasters under the trees Tighten up your shoes! The boy must continue darkening hungry where the light comes from a trace of sadness With what memories the witness come singing remembering old times Joseph Ramirez, Woden THIRD PLACE (TIE)

It’s Too Late

She’s blind… She can’t see the world plunging beneath her, The Earth caving in. She’s deaf… She can’t hear the world warning her, Screaming to stay back. She’s mute… She can’t tell them that she doesn’t know what’s going on, That she’s confused. They’re blind… They can’t see her world plunging beneath her, The Earth caving in. They’re deaf… They can’t hear her cries, Screaming for help. They’re mute… They can’t tell her that everything will be okay, Because it’s too late … Gracie Martinson, Tenaha


First World Problems

Here are my problems as they appear– A soda with too much ice, An iPhone that seems to have lost all life. A cashier that takes too long to return my penny of change, And a Big Mac with pickles instead of tomato slice–

Oh why is life such a pain. I know others have it worse, But the ending of Lost was as useful as a dead horse. And I realize That there are people who starve But what am I supposed to do When Sonic gives me tots instead fries? I suppose I could stop complaining But what else would I say, For me it’s always raining. Oh, it looks like I’m running out of time, The Kardashians are about to come on at nine. Mikel Feliciano, Longview SECOND PLACE

Music is like the Wind

Music is like the wind You can feel its effects but it chooses not to be seen; You can hear it rush through crowds of people Like a breeze through the trees. And if you ask me who I want to be, I’ll tell you Music lives in the heart of every being So let me use my talent to express its true meaning. Sarah Koop, Tyler THIRD PLACE

What Love Means

You see her around, You think she’s hot, You do not know, She thinks she is not. You smell her hair, You say, “You smell good,” You don’t know, What she silently wishes you understood. You touch her hand, You think you’re in love, You do not know, She’s never been loved. She says to you, “Why can’t you see? I hate myself, And I can’t comprehend. Why do you love me?” You say, “Why can’t you tell, You are beautiful, To everyone?” You say, “I love you, Do you love me?” She says, “I don’t know, What does love mean?” Gabby Cupp, Elysian Fields



A girl is a sunflower Standing tall as she Turns her face to the sun. She finds sunshine wherever she goes Her lips are as soft as petals, Her eyes big and brown The breeze silently cheers her on And the crickets serenade her. The grass tickles her feet One day she’ll grow And see more of the world That belongs to her. The clouds watch over her, and Cry so that she may grow. Standing steadfast in a storm Or dancing in the wind A girl is a sunflower And she is grounded in her roots. Malis Dachelet, Woden SECOND PLACE (TIE)

River in the Distance

I can hear the roaring water The splashing of the rocks Water spraying the sides of the landscape Digging the soil beneath its wake I can feel the river in the distance Next to the edge, I begin to walk in My waders on and water up to my knees The river has slowed becoming so nice and peaceful Casting out for a trout, hoping I get one Only to see the river in the distance Dreaming of the day I can walk once more Just to get near the river’s shore Seeing the trout and salmon jumping every which way Moving up shore for a new home for spring If only I could see that river in real life and not in my dreams One last cast is all that I ask I thought I would go back after I took off this cast If only I knew this would be my last time To see the river So beautiful and divine As I sit with the cabin to my back and with my morning cup of joe Thinking about all the times that we had All I ask is for my grandchildren to see the world Especially the one of its own The river in the distance Dawson Cunha, Beckville



As my fingers grace the keys, As the strings are coerced to ring, Music, Measure, Melody.

The wind blows through the trees. Telling stories of where it has been and what it has seen. The wind tells the tree of the people it has met. The wind whistles like a bird and is as soft as feather. The wind picks you up and sets you down on your feet. It runs through clouds and hits the ground and moves the land. But the wind does not speak of how lonely the sky can be. At times, the wind has only itself to converse with. The wind is ever so lonely, so he reaches down to tell the trees Of distant land and beautiful people. The wind talks about wavy waters that wash upon the shore And the great, ginormous green hills and the green leaves turning brown. With all the trees and animals the wind is still lonely. The wind can come and go when it wants but when it is gone, The wind is alone. Jamie James, Woden

The Language of the Soul

Of darkest nights and deepest seas, Of brightest skies and feathered wings, Of many different things it sings. Heat of Summer, Green of Spring, Leaves of Autumn, Winter’s Sting. Requiem or Fantastique, To me the Music seems to speak. Not simple words or human vocation, But with the soul’s own elucidation. It speaks of Love, It speaks of Grace, It speaks of Pain, Distress, and Plague. A conduit of raw emotion, I pour my Heart into it with devotion. My Music is my jubilation. My Harmony is my Communication. Korbin Davis, Longview THIRD PLACE (TIE)

The Journey

The starting line awaits Music slowly begins to flow throughout my ears My journey has just begun Feet begin to crisscross at an opposite pattern The speed begins to pick up Darkness is all that is near except for the few light poles around The feet continue to pound at the hard concrete surface The tempo of my breathing begins to increase In through the nose and out through the mouth The heartbeat continues to function at a rapid cadence Cold air conjures the ghostly breath out of my body My leg strength begins to diminish I must not stop The finish line is close but seems far Breaths flow in and out rapidly without control Sweat beads have begun to drip across my face The feeling in my feet is of nothing but pain In my face appears the finish line Just a few more steps I slowly pass the line ahead of me The strenuous journey has finally come to an end My feet slowly come to a halt Now the journey is over Strength is finally regained Now I wait for my next journey ahead Jacob Watson, Beckville

The Wind Blows


It’s About Love

That sound, that sound of Canon in D, as you play the violin with a broken string, that sound holds a whole new meaning, beyond the scratches and screeches, I can hear it, it’s about Love. That sight, that sight of an upturn at the corners of your mouth, looking at you now I finally see, with fresh eyes a smile really wipes a soul clean, not politeness or white teeth, I can see it, it’s about Love. That feeling, that feeling of rested butterflies and four o’clock cups of tea, holding hands and brown eyes make lines easily read between, these extraordinary daily routines, it’s not boredom or resigned fatigue, I can feel it, it’s about Love. Claire Simmons, Cushing


Two Peas in a Pod The Purple Hulls serve up Southern acoustic roots music

Elvin Bishop Band • Darrell Nulisch The Peterson Brothers • Ally Venable Band & Many More!

2017 June 2-3


Schedule and discount advance tickets available at Friday, June 9

Festival Park

507 S. Pecan


Nacogdoches, texas


Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark of the Purple Hulls return to East Texas for June performances in Nacogdoches and Tyler.. Photo by Matt Munsey

By Alia Pappas Purple hull peas are a favorite southern dish, and musical twins Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark, who perform onstage under the unusual name The Purple Hulls, are serving up their own acoustical version of the homegrown dish to an increasingly hungry audience.







Together, the East Texas-raised singer/songwriters write, record, and perform bluegrass music with a Christian flair. They describe it as “acoustic driven, original, traditional roots, and heavy on the harmonies.” In June, the duo returns home to Northeast Texas with a new album under their belt to spend some time sharing their sound with the area that inspired it all. As children, Katy Lou and Penny Lea grew up working on their parents’ farm near Kilgore and they say their Purple Hulls name came about to pay homage to their Texas farm roots. “Yes, we grew purple hull peas, although I can’t remember

there to actually be a whole lot of back-and-forth contemplation behind naming our band after the crop we grew and loved. Who wouldn’t want to name their band after food?” Katy Lou says. “It may have been some sort of subconscious effort to identify with our roots and to remind ourselves of the lessons and gifts that were so tangled up in our upbringing on the farm.”

In Harmony

The transition from close sisters to a band was a natural thing too, the artists say. It happened when they were in college, after Katy Lou and Penny Lea became interested in playing a range of instruments and performing with other musicians — always as a team. “It was in the blueprint to specifically have a duo group,” Katy Lou says. “We’ve grown up singing together, and since we got into playing instruments in college, we’ve played and sang with different groups, but we were always in the groups together. The duo situation just naturally took form when we weren’t playing with other artists. We never really tried to make it happen; it’s just been a natural progression of our musical journeys. We’re identical twins. We shared a womb. Sharing a band is cake.” Kay Lou and Penny Lea’s music was heavily influenced by their upbringing in Texas, as well as by their exposure to creative songwriting and the opportunity to connect with others that songwriting can provide. “We grew up around this culture of singing with your family and friends and cousins,” Penny Lea says. “You could probably find that anywhere, but I think there is a sort of uniqueness to this area and the influence the people and culture have had on our music. The Overton Bluegrass Festival was our annual dose of live acoustic music growing up, and we would blare the Saturday morning western swing and bluegrass radio shows from my dad’s old Dodge when we were working in the pea and corn fields.” 

in us by our roots and family,” Katy Lou says. “Also, the harmonies found in old hymns fueled our fire for music while growing up. I also believe the Lord gifted us with a measure of musicality. Because it’s a gift, it’s something that I cherish and am thankful for. That’s inspiration enough for me to love music and to keep on loving it.” 

Two Hearts for Home

When the two sisters join forces to write songs, they say their status as identical twins can have both negative and positive impacts on the collaboration process.

Some of the songs they’ll sing at The Purple Hulls’ upcoming shows are off of the Why We Sing album, which is available digitally on the band’s website, This album showcases the creativity of Katy Lou and Penny Lea, who made the record “completely independently.”

“Our twin sync was great on the basketball court, but sometimes thinking so alike while trying to pen a song can get you stuck in ruts,” Katy Lou says. “But other times, it’s completely and uniquely awesome because we never feel a pressure to settle for something we don’t really like in a song — we usually either both like it or both want to trash it.” While The Purple Hulls’ new album, Why We Sing, includes many enjoyable songs, Penny Lea finds special meaning in a tune the twins wrote in honor of their late father.  “I enjoy sharing the [song] we wrote about our dad, ‘Things I Wish He Knew,’” Penny Lea says. “The song came about from a list of things on my computer that I wish my dad could know and experience with us here on this earth, even though I know he wouldn’t want to leave heaven. And we’re delighted to discover what a great conversation piece it is after shows. The responses and stories from the fans are moving.” The Purple Hulls make it a point to tell their audiences about their songs and to offer their audiences open, honest performances. “We want to genuinely connect with folks and share the stories behind the songs,” Penny Lea says. “People tend to leave a concert having laughed and cried — and hollered some too.” 

When asked what she loves most about returning home and performing in the area, Penny Lea says that the people are what make the experience. “We’ve made many lifelong friends with the folks we’ve met along the way in Northeast Texas.”

“It was exciting,” Penny Lea says. “We were free to do whatever we wanted, artistically. It is humbling when people tell us they listen to it every day, and that their kids enjoy it too. We selfproduced the album and played everything except the bass and fiddle. As far as what we took away, I think we came out with creative ideas for the next project, possibly collaborating with other musicians.” The Purple Hulls have recorded three albums thus far: Ten Thousand Exits, Close to Home, and Why We Sing. According to Katy Lou, The Purple Hulls’ plans for the future are to continue to write songs, turn the songs into albums, and share their music with audiences, both in person and online, wherever possible. “Essentially, our goal is to keep going,” Katy Lou says. “I think I speak for both of us in saying it is by far the most difficult and exhausting work we’ve ever done, and therefore, very rewarding.” The Purple Hulls’ concert schedule includes performing in Northeast Texas at the Blueberry Bluegrass Concert in Nacogdoches June 9 and at Liberty Hall in Tyler June 16. For details, visit and libertytyler. com. And to read more about their tour schedule or download their digital albums, visit

Katy Lou adds that she and her sister’s love for music and musical gifts also seem to serve a higher purpose.


“I know our love for music was instilled


Sisters in Spirit MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 39


Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Texarkana. Scottie’s Grill. 903.838.4745 Monica Rizzio. Winnsboro. The Bowery Stage. 903.342.6140 The Breezin’ & Breathless Tour with George Benson and Kenny G. Durant, OK. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. 800.788.2464

May 14

Roy Book Binder. Greenville. Texan Theater.

May 16

6 Guitars: Chase Padget. Greenville Municipal Auditorium. 903.457.3126

Quitman’s Monica Rizzio Stops in Winnsboro During Texas Tour

Celtic Woman. Longview. Belcher Center. 903.233.3080

May 19

Peter Yarrow. Winnsboro. The Bowery Stage. 903.342.6140

Monica Rizzio is bringing her “Back to Texas” tour to The Bowery Stage in Winnsboro on May 13. She grew up in Quitman, won blue ribbons at the Winnsboro Rodeo and went on to study music at Belmont University before relocating up north to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She was the front woman in a touring folk band named Tripping Lily for 10 years before leaving the band to get back to her Texas roots style of

music. Her album Washashore Cowgirl is on the Americana charts and charted as high as No. 2 on the Folk charts. The name comes from what the locals call someone who moves to Cape Cod but was not born there, a Washashore, and since she’s from Texas they added Cowgirl to her nickname. For tickets and more information on the Winnsboro show, go to winnsborocenterforthearts. com.

Ruthie Foster. Greenville. Texan Theater.


Northeast Texas Choral Society. Sulphur Springs. 903.885.8300

Chase McClanahan . Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 903.833.5100

May 12

May 21

Tuxedo Cats. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 903.833.5100

Stringfest Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon Music Hall. 903.563.3780

Bach’s Lunch Concerts. Longview. Trinity Episcopal Church. 903.236.9739

May 22

May 4

Dallas Symphony Pops. Greenville Municipal Auditorium. 903.454.7878

May 5

Whiskey Myers. Texarkana. Scottie’s Grill. 903.838.4745 East Texas Jazz Orchestra. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 903.833.5100

May 13

CW & The Delta Blues Band. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store. 903.833.5100

May 20

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. Lufkin. Temple Theater at Angelina College campus. 936.633.3220 Huey Lewis and The News. Durant, OK. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. 800.788.2464

East Texas Symphonic Band. Longview. Teague Park Amphitheater. 903.738.9442

May 6

I Hope You Dance

Omar & the Howlers. Greenville. Texan Theater.

On May 23, 2000, Jacksonville native Lee Ann Womack released “I Hope You Dance,” a song that became a No. 1 country hit and even crossed over on the Adult Contemporary chart. Read more about Womack in the County Line Magazine archives at

Max Stalling. Ben Wheeler. Moore’s Store 903.833.5100

Alice Cooper. Durant, OK. 800.788.2464 Bruce Robinson. Hawkins. Red Rooster Icehouse. 903.769.0707

May 7

Deerhunter. Tyler. Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ stage. 903.593.0311 40 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Highway Vagabond A



Miranda Lambert is on the road this year with her “Highway Vagabond Tour,” named for one of the songs on her latest CD, The Weight of These Wings. The tour is taking her all over the country and to England, Scotland, and Ireland. She’s joined on stage with Aubrie Sellers, the talented daughter of another East Texas country singer, Lee Ann Womack. They’ll swing through Texas with a show at the Off the Rails Festival in Frisco on May 6.

May 27

86th Annual Old Fiddler’s Contest & Reunion. Athens.

June 2

Reckless Kelly. Texarkana. Scottie’s Grill. 903.838.4745







F E A R...



Showing daily in the 40-foot dome theater! For more information, call 903-510-2312 or visit

June 6

No Strings Attached. Mineola. Lake Country Symphonic Band performs. Lake Country Playhouse. 903.569.2300 lakecountryplayhouse. com

June 10

Hannah Kirby. Durant, OK. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. 800.788.2464 choctaw-durant

June 16

Jason Boland, Cody Canada, and Mike McClure. Greenville. Texan Theater.

June 23

The Black Lillies. Greenville. Texan Theater.

July 7

Santana. Durant, OK. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. 800.788.2464 choctaw-durant MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 41


the time using the free wi-fi. The food is cooked fresh so it may take a bit of time, but once your plate heads your way, you won’t be disappointed. The bread at Strada is warm, soft, and has just the right texture. A filling of spinach leaves, feta cheese, and roasted bell peppers on ciabatta and tomatoes is particularly savory, and Strada’s sandwich plates come with a side of perfectly salted chips or a soup of the day. Service is great; the staff is friendly and when prompted, provide suggestions. They even allow you to customize your plate; if you want something off menu, all you have to do is ask. Customers order and pay at the front, then seat themselves. Located near the register is a bakery case where an abundance of freshly baked goods such as pies and cookies are available.

Warm, welcoming offerings like panini, espresso and a revolving door of desserts are served in casual style at Strada Caffe in Tyler. Photo by Eli Acuna

Where Italian Street Eats are an Everyday Affair By Eli Acuna Strada Caffè — which means “coffee street” in Italian — is where you come for the coffee, but stay for breakfast or lunch. This small, cozy eatery in Tyler is open every day of the week — until 4 p.m. on weekdays, 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. When you walk inside, the home-like decor is welcoming, as are the chalkboard menu and art on the walls. Although the same food isn’t available every day, the daily specials are delicious and have great “plate appeal.” The breakfast menu is well-rounded with options like croissants, oatmeal, quiche, and fruit. The local favorite is the Belgian waffle. Served on weekends, it comes with a side of fresh strawberries and whipping cream, and is lightly dusted with Belgian pearl sugar so it doesn’t even require maple syrup. Bakery menu items at the espresso cafe differ daily too and range from carrot 42 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

cake and tiramisu to cinnamon rolls and scones. Strada’s specialties include the Tarta de Santiago, an almond cake from Galicia, Spain, which is gluten- and dairyfree. During a recent trip to Strada, I decided to order a Vegetarian Panino and a soy chai latte. The young man at the register assured me that the panino (singular for panini) is one of the restaurant’s most popular choices. In addition to the vegetarian option, customers may choose from the ever-popular chicken pesto panino, ham and turkey, or special panino of the day. Specials may range from a turkey/bacon/avocado combo to a Yucatan version — containing pulled pork marinated in citrus juices and served on a rustic baguette. Strada also offers soups, and salads. The chicken salad sandwich is another popular pick, along with the Caprese and Mediterranean salads. After ordering, you can sit at a bar, table, or a long booth. As we waited, I passed

As a cafe, Strada offers a myriad of caffeinated options. Along with standard tea flavors, you can order lattes, cappuccinos, straight coffee, and several other classics. Some people really love the laid-back coffee table setup, where patrons have everything from honey to raw or regular sugar, along with creamer and milk and non-calorie sweeteners to prepare their coffees. The soy chai latte is smooth and subtly sweet. Faint notes of the strong coffee beans mesh well with cinnamon chai flavor, and the soy milk adds a touch of vanilla. It doesn’t taste strong, but definitely has enough caffeine to perk up your day. Other drink options include smoothies, juices, and Italian or Mexican sodas. One smoothie, called the Good Kind of Fat, blends avocado and vanilla bean ice cream together for an oddly delicious and satisfying treat. Like most cafes, Strada offers cookies and pie for dessert. A stand out is the affogato, a dessert that consists of a scoop of either vanilla or chocolate ice cream drenched in a shot of espresso. Strada is one of my favorite places to visit when I come to Tyler. The outdoor patio is a great option when weather permits. It is located at 302 E. Front Street. Call 903.944.7744 or visit to learn more.

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Authentic Recipe Book Shares East Texas Favorites In Jessica Dupuy’s book, United Tastes of Texas: Authentic Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State, she has this to say about East Texas: “Texas’ roots — as part of the Deep South — begin in East Texas. While French exploration occurred in the late 1600s, settlement didn’t really take place until the 1800s, and the food in East Texas shows influences of the French-Cajun areas of nearby Louisiana, while signature Southern flavors predominate.” The book is available on Here are a couple of her recipes for East Texas.

French Apple Pie The filling in this pie bakes to an applesauce-like consistency. It may bubble over the edges while baking, so place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch any drips. Don’t place the pie on a baking sheet. The pie plate will stick to it because of the sugary filling. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings. 1-1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons all–purpose flour, divided 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of table salt, divided 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed 1/4 cup ice water 3 to 3-1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced 2/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice CRUMBLE TOPPING 1 cup all-purpose flour 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed Pulse 1-1/4 cups flour and a pinch of table salt in a food processor 3 or 4 times or until combined. Add butter and pulse 8 to 10 times or until mixture resembles small peas. Drizzle ice water 44 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

over mixture; pulse until dough clumps together. Gently shape dough into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/8inch thick) on a floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; crimp edges. Refrigerate until ready to fill. Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and remaining 3 tablespoons flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prepare the Crumble Topping: Combine flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Spoon fruit mixture into crust; sprinkle top with Crumble Topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 1 hour or until topping is golden brown and apples are soft and tender when pierced with a wooden pick. Shield with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Pimento Cheese Light on the mayonnaise, heavy on sharp Cheddar and roasted red peppers, this version of the quintessential Southern dip is so addictive it’s good on just about anything. Makes 2 cups 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese 1 tablespoon grated onion 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/2 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and finely chopped*

God Bless


Beat first four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to one week.


*To roast fresh red bell peppers, arrange on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and broil five inches from heat, 5 to 10 minutes on each side or until bell peppers look charred and blistered. Transfer bell peppers to a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Seal and let stand 10 minutes to loosen skins. Peel, remove and discard seeds, and finely chop.

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When Less is More

Tiny Houses Appeal to Growing Niche Market

By Elaine Rogers For many people, the notion of simplifying life focuses on efforts to clear the clutter, throw stuff out and invest in attractive storage bins to hold the excessive goodies crammed onto shelves and into closets and rooms. For others, it involves a giant lifestyle change, like a decision to downsize and move to a smaller abode — jettisoning a large percentage of worldly goods in the process. Often, this means trading in five bedrooms for three or moving to a condo or townhome from a large, traditional family homestead. But, some people take the “less is more” view of the world a little bit further. Tiny houses are a small-but-growing phenomenon in the housing market, and Longview builder Andrew Pleban claims this novel, niche segment is a trend whose time has come. As the owner of American Tiny House, he has dedicated close to two decades to the craft. “It’s a real lifestyle choice, and people who buy tiny houses do so because of a commitment to a different way of living,” he says. “Most people report that it gives them a real sense of serenity because they’ve cleared away the clutter and streamlined their lives. It’s very freeing to not have all of the useless things none of us use all around us anymore. Instead, you have everything you do need and nothing that you don’t.” Pleban believes the tiny house market is here to stay and “is a billion dollar industry that’s in its infancy. The reason I say that is that the RV market is already a billion-dollar industry, and tiny house buyers have a very similar mindset to RV owners.”

TOP: American Tiny House in Longview builds homes in a variety of styles, customizing the amenities to suit the needs of customers seeking to downsize and declutter their lives. BOTTOM: Designed with elbow room in their kitchens and baths with sleeping quarters and storage situated in lofts upstairs, tiny houses make every inch count. Courtesy photos 46 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Recently, Pleban was working on a deal with the city of Longview to create a tiny house community, although the original site fell through. Still, he remains optimistic about locating this type of unique community in the Longview area. “It’s going to happen. It’s just a question of how soon,” he says. “We just need a new location and to work out some details.” In the meantime, American Tiny House builds several models of 400-square-foot

tiny houses for a nationwide customer base. Costs start at about $50,000, and his company offers slightly larger styles as well. Each home is built at his Longview location, attached to a custom trailer and then transported to the customer. The typical timeline is about 11 weeks. To be “street legal,” he explains that the home dimensions are limited to an 8.5-foot width and 13.5foot height.

In the Hot Seat

Pleban has built more than 100 tiny houses through the years and several of his projects were featured on TV on channels like HGTV and FYI and shows like’ Tiny House Hunters and Tiny House Nation. He says tiny home buyers have a variety of reasons for this level of extreme downsizing, with mobility, reduced or eliminated mortgage payments, low energy bills and even nonexistent property taxes. “Some people buy them to put in the backyard for grown kids or extended family. Others want to live off the grid or drastically lower their expenses,” he says. With 400 square feet, you don’t even have to pay property taxes, so that’s a huge savings. And some people just rent land and move whenever they wish.” While the average American home is about 2,300 square feet, a tiny house is defined as 400 square feet or less, Pleban says. He adds that the American Tiny Homes are designed with gourmet kitchen islands and good-sized baths, “so there’s plenty of elbow room.” And the designs are innovative and styled to help people make use of the outdoors as “external living spaces.” For information call 903.930.8500 or visit

Brightly-colored metal lawn chairs never seem to go out of style, and, create fun, whimsical seating areas by the pool and on porches and patios. Courtesy photo

Surprised recently by some fun-loving mockery from The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon, Kathy and Louis “Skip” Torrans of Jefferson are having the last laugh. As owners of Torrans Manufacturing Company, the couple produces colorful powder-coated metal outdoor furniture in classic and traditional styles. Skip also published a book, called The History of the Metal Lawn Chair … What We Know Now, several years ago — the source of the don’t-read-this-book ribbing from Fallon. The talk show host joked that people shouldn’t read the book because “who knows what types of metal lawn chair advancements have taken place over the last three years.”

Since the episode’s airing in late January, sales of the 240-page book have increased markedly from a previous low sales rate of just two per week, and chair sales remain brisk, Torrans said. To keep the good humor going, the Torrans spent some time in the spring working on a video called Life of the Metal Lawn Chair in Jefferson, described as a short spoof showing their retro-styled chairs used everywhere throughout the town. Known for their durability and comfort, retro metal chairs run about $60 and come in various styles, including gliders and loveseats. For more information, visit or call 903-665-6449.

Long Cove Builds New Porch Houses in Cedar Creek Lake Community The waterfront community of Long Cove on Cedar Creek Lake is adding a set of six porch homes. With starting prices of $675,000 and three customizable floor plans sized from 1,940 to 2,503 square feet, the two-story homes feature front entry porches with scenic views of water, master suites and balconies. The area has easy access to recreational activities like fishing and canoeing, and miles of hiking trails. Homeowners also have access to the marina and clubhouse with a pool, workout facilities, and more, and Long Cove has a golf course, boat club, and private beach. Visit for more information. MAY/JUNE 2017 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • 47


Therapy Dogs Lend Emotional Support to the Petless Few pet lovers are surprised by news that being around animals may help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and even lengthen human lifespans, but researchers continue to study the benefits of the human-animal bond. And organizations like the National Center for Health Research note that the elderly, in particular, benefit from interactions with therapy dogs — with positives ranging from reduced levels of pain and anxiety to less loneliness.

Tiger Charlie Finds Sanctuary At Last One of the newest residents in Murchison, Texas, is Charlie, a 17-year-old male tiger rescued by a dissolved exotic breeder. The majestic cat’s new home is Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch (CABBR), one of America’s largest animal sanctuaries, where some 40 different species that were rescued from bad and inadequate situations are tended to by a small, but dedicated staff.

Of course, Vickie Ragle of Therapy Dogs of Van Zandt County doesn’t need statistics or studies to prove any of this. She sees the effects every day. “It definitely has a positive effect,” she says. “When we go to a nursing home, the caregivers come running to us. They tell us how people who haven’t been responsive to anything for weeks light up like lightbulbs when we get there with our dogs. It’s truly amazing.” With a roster of about 16 therapy dogs and 10 volunteer handlers, Ragle’s organization tries to fill the emotional void for folks in senior living situations or rehab facilities. Her teams schedule regular visits and petting sessions. Operating according to the requirements of an organization called the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Ragle trains her dogs and owners via the organization’s certification standards, and her teams make weekly or monthly appearances at destinations like Canton Oaks Care Center, the Country Place Senior Living Homes, Canton Healthcare, and Crestwood Health and Rehab Homes. Therapy Dogs of Van Zandt County also visits the Van Zandt Library for a Dog Days Reading Program and occasionally makes appearances at schools. Ragle says that during their visits to senior living facilities, the volunteers and dogs generally set up in a common area or physical therapy room, then make the rounds, touring individual residents’ rooms as needed or requested. She says they stay as long as they need 48 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

A therapy dog named Hobo snuggles with residents at Country Place Senior Living in Canton. Courtesy photo

to stay, usually two to three hours — and “sometimes that’s determined by the dogs.” “Dogs know a lot more than we do,” she explains. “They respond to people’s emotions. We’ve learned not to rush the dogs, and not to make them stay longer than they want to either.” Ragle has five dogs of her own — Ladybug and Gigi are therapy dogs, but the other three don’t have the disposition for it, she notes. A lifelong animal lover, Ragle worked with the Citizens League for Animal Welfare (CLAW) until 2010, then founded Therapy Dogs in 2012. As a donor-funded program, Therapy Dogs relies on community contributions and doesn’t take payment from the medical facilities or others for its furry visitations. For more information, call 903.880.3514 or visit the organization’s website at

Charlie came from Colorado, where a breeder was closing its doors and dispersing some 70 tigers to wildlife rescues. He came with no medical records and was declawed — a practice considered inhumane and outlawed in numerous countries because it involves the unnecessary amputation of each toe bone. Two other rescued tigers at CABBR live near Charlie, but program director Noel Almrud says they are housed separately because adult tigers are solitary in the wild. The trio take turns roaming a three-acre yard and two quarter-acre pens. Started in 1979 as a donkey rescue by animal advocate Cleveland Armory, the non-breeding sanctuary now houses a range of exotics like chimpanzees and primates, as well as Asian water buffalo and American bison. There are also plenty of farm animals in CABBR’s care, and Almrud says the roster of residents numbers about 1,000. Operating exclusively on donations, the ranch hosts monthly tours, usually on the second Saturday. For more information, call 903.286.7088 or visit the website at

Community Spirit

Shoes Speak Volumes at Athens Event

In the Upper East Side of Texas, a lot of big-hearted people devote their time and energies to helping others. East Texas Food Bank, Tyler. This group’s mission is to fight hunger and feed hope in East Texas. 800.815.3663. easttexasfoodbank. org. The Martin House Children’s Advocacy Center, Longview. A childfocused non-profit organization dedicated to helping children and teens who are victims of sexual or physical abuse or witnesses to violent crimes. 903.807.0189. The Women’s Fund of Smith County, Tyler. Focusing on education, health, human services, and art and culture, the organization leverages the philanthropic capacity of women as a catalyst for positive change. 903.509.1771. Texas Star Animal Rescue, Longview. Nonprofit animal rescue group rescues dogs and cats from kill shelters in Texas and Louisiana and places them in loving homes. 903.660.2035. The Hispanic American Association of East Texas, Tyler. An agency that assists and represents immigrants appearing before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and Immigration Courts. 903.595.0066.

The Fifth Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event raises awareness of sexual violence in a humorous, attention-getting way. From 8 to 10 a.m. May 27, during the Athens Old Fiddlers Contest and Reunion, a slew of men take a stand for victims by walking or running a mile in red high-heeled shoes at the square in downtown Athens. The event is sponsored by the East Texas Crisis Center, a nonprofit agency that provides services to victims and survivors across five counties in East Texas. For more information, call 903.579.2501 or visit Courtesy photo

Art of Peace TYLER, TX

COMMUNITY – COMPASSION CREATIVITY Celebrating the United Nations International Day of Peace September 15 – 21, 2017 Art & Poetry Submissions Open May 1

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Modern Mavens

These Leading Ladies Get Things Done

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Barbara Bass, Judith Guthrie, JoAnn Hampton, Scarlett Sloane, Debra Robinson, and Kristen Ishihara.

By Elaine Rogers With people honoring their mothers in May, it also seems an appropriate time to acknowledge a handful of modern mavens in the region who’ve made a habit of leading by example — inspiring younger generations and reminding citizens of all persuasions of what everybody already knows: women get things done.

Barbara Bass

A CPA and longtime partner with Gollob Morgan Peddy PC, Bass was the first female president of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, then a three-term mayor of Tyler, serving from 2008-2014. Civic involvements include the Tyler Economic Development Council and the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas, and she was a chairman of the Hospice of East Texas and treasurer of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra Association. As an early and generous supporter of Tyler’s “Shine Your Light” campaign, a charitable effort started after the Great Recession, she also serves in leadership roles with various organizations like the East Texas Area Council, Boy Scouts of America Executive Board, UT Health Northeast 50 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Development Board and United Way of Smith County.

Judith Guthrie

Serving as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Texas for 27 years, Guthrie retired in 2013. She also served on the bench in Lufkin during that tenure, having earned a law degree at the University of Houston — working at a law firm by day and attending classes by night. Today, Guthrie keeps an office in Tyler’s Azalea District and remains actively involved in the community, serving on the board of The Women’s Fund and as executive secretary of Women in Tyler. She’s also involved with nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and the Gateway to Hope Day Resource Center. Guthrie was succeeded in her judicial role by another woman, Nicole Mitchell, a Baylor University graduate who, 35 at the time, became one of Texas’ youngest female judges.

JoAnn Hampton

Elected four times to the Smith County Commissioners Court, Hampton has served since 2003, She launched her public service career prior to that with a six-

year stint on the Tyler City Council — including one year as Mayor Pro Tem. Her work history includes employment at the UT Health Center and a current position with East Texas Medical Center’s cancer clinical trials division. From the time her two children were young, she volunteered at their schools in roles like room mother, eventually spending eight years in leadership positions with a local high school’s parent-involvement organization. Hampton sits on the executive board of the East Texas Council of Governments, and in 2014 received an Unsung Hero Award from the Winners Circle Peer Support Network of Texas.

Kristen Ishihara

A Longview attorney, city councilwoman, and Mayor Pro Tem, Ishihara has a long history of civic involvement and service. Before her election to the Longview City Council in 2014, she served on the Parks and Recreation advisory board and the city’s animal shelter advisory committee. She was also instrumental in bringing the first off-leash dog park to East Texas through her work as a founding member of the Longview Dog Park, and she’s

a past president of East Texas CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates) board of directors. An elder law attorney with Ross & Shoalmire, she volunteers as a mentor for Partners in Prevention, coaches a Special Olympics team and is a board member with D.O.R.S. Youth Transition Team. She was recently recognized by the Longview Regional Medical Center’s Stars Over Longview program.

Enjoy Shopping, Dining & Entertainment in Historic Mineola, Texas

Debra Robinson

As chief executive officer and general manager of the Wood County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WCEC) — a position she’s held since 1996 — Robinson is also board president of the East Texas Electric Cooperative in Nacogdoches. She serves on additional boards like the Tex-La Electric Cooperative and the Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative, and she’s a past chairman of the board for the Texas Electric Cooperative. Working her way to the top at WCEC through a variety of positions, she started there as an accountant in 1983 after holding similar roles in the oil and gas industry. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Robinson is a past director of both the Quitman Chamber of Commerce and the Wood County Industrial Commission. Other involvement includes the East Texas Workforce Development Board, the Wood County Extension Program Council and the Wood County Peace Officers Training Advisory Board.

MAIN STREET FARMERS’ MARKET Every Saturday May-October 8 a.m.-Noon. NATIONAL TRAIN DAY Historic Train Depot Museum MAY 13 LIVE MUSIC & ARTS Throughout the year 903.569.2087 MINEOLA HISTORICAL MUSEUM

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7:30 a.m. until sunset

Scarlett Sloane

In addition to being Nacogdoches’ Chamber of Commerce board president, Sloane is a partner and certified financial planner with Raymond Jones Financial Services. Chamber officials describe her as “extremely service-minded” and a “mover-and-shaker.” She describes herself as an eighth generation “Nacogdonian” who loves Aggie football and anything associated with her alma mater. She was a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines after graduating from Texas A&M University, and later worked in pharmaceutical sales. Eventually, she settled into a career in finance, and besides holding various leadership roles with the chamber, her service involvements are numerous and varied, including groups like Junior Forum, Relay for Life, Newcomers and Friends, the Cattle Baron’s Gala, the Lamp Lite Theatre Advisory Board, and Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

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Violinist Monica Pegis comes all the way from Canada to join leading players from the Dallas Symphony in riveting music by Mozart and Beethoven.

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June 12

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant. Mount Vernon Summer Children’s Concert with music by Lucas Richman, poems by Jack Prelutsky, and a child’s imagination, the show takes guests into a world of animated creaturely objects with Ballpoint Penguins and Shoehornets. Mount Vernon Music Hall. 903.563.3780

May 11

Super Scientific Circus. Nacogdoches. Starring Mr. Fish and Trent the Mime this show proves that science is fun and funny with amazing circus skills involving boomerangs, bubbles, beach balls, bullwhips, and magic to introduce the principles of friction, inertia, centripetal force, aerodynamics, sonic booms, air pressure, and ultraviolet light. WM Turner Auditorium. 936.468.6407

June 23

Mockingbird. Longview. Caitlin’s world is black and white. As an 11-year-old on the autism spectrum, Caitlin begins to understand how to get close to people, embrace the messiness of emotions, and use her burgeoning artistic talents to change a community. Along the way she learns how black and white can always be complemented by a kaleidoscope of colors. 54 • COUNTYLINEMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2017

Shaping the Future of the Upper East Side of Texas

Inspiring Aspirations

Local youth involved with Kids Aspiring to Dream in Tyler join together to express their creativity in areas like art, poetry, dance, music, and impromptu speaking. Courtesy photo

Schools, clubs, and a range of mentoring programs throughout East Texas focus on encouraging and empowering children, with some geared specifically toward artistic pursuits and others toward girls and the goal of helping youth visualize lives of achievement, accomplishment, and personal power. Here are a few. Partners in Prevention A decade-old mentoring program that creates match-ups between community women and girls in the fifth grade through high school, this group provides “Forever Friends” pairings for one-on-one support and weekly meetings. Mentors and the girls typically meet in groups at schools with a facilitator who plans activities, but the program also has Forever Friends Too mentoring involving one-on-one mentoring for girls as young as kindergarten through high school — plus a Co-Pilot program for boys. Partners in Prevention serves youth in six counties and includes school campuses in Longview, Pine Tree, Spring Hill, Kilgore, Gladewater, Hallsville, and Ore City. More information is available by calling 903.237.1019. Kids Aspiring to Dream Founded by former Lindale art teacher Doris Batson, the Tyler-based nonprofit Kids Aspiring to Dream uplifts youth by encouraging students from junior high through college to express themselves creatively in areas like art, poetry, dance, music, and impromptu speaking. Participating students connect with community mentors through a “Light the Dream” mentorship and leadership program at monthly forums held at Tarrant Junior College’s west campus. There’s also a

smaller program for “Baby K’s” as young as nine, and in addition to artistic endeavors, the nonprofit includes a scholarship program and charitable and service-driven activities. For more information, visit The National Charity League This group is represented in Northeast Texas by the Lone Star Chapter, which serves Rockwall County. Putting an emphasis on community service, leadership development and cultural experiences, the group strives to develop female leaders. Each year, a small group of girls and their moms have meetings and activities with the goal of supporting as many as 20 local charities like Meals on Wheels, the Special Olympics and Operation Homefront. Organizers say membership is limited, with a total of 168 girls each year. After students graduate from high school, they may continue NCL participation through a group called Supernovas. Learn more about the Lone Star Chapter at lonestar. The Rhoer Club An affiliate of the service organization Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., this group in Longview caters to teenage girls aged 12-18 who also want to serve the community and share their strengths and talents. The local chapter is Alpha Gamma Sigma, and the organization’s motto is “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” Membership requires a letter of recommendation and evidence of academic achievement. Rhoers participate in organizations like the East Texas Food Bank, the Boys and Girls Club and Keep Longview Beautiful. For more information, email

When facing a movement disorder, you want the most skilled specialists

If you have Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia or another movement disorder, you want intelligent and experienced care. You want the ETMC Movement Disorders Center, ranked in the top 10 percent of the nation’s programs for deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgeries.

Under the direction of renowned neurologist Dr. George Plotkin, a team of neurosurgeons has perfected techniques to reduce the length of DBS surgery and improve outcomes for hundreds of patients. For instance, a person with Parkinson’s disease is likely to experience six more hours of daily functioning time and need half as many medications after DBS.


DBS is one of many treatment options offered at the ETMC Movement Disorders Center. To learn more, call 903-535-6092 or visit

The ETMC Movement Disorders Center team provides world-class care and works closely with patients to improve the quality of their lives.

George Plotkin, PhD, MD

Loretta Daughtry, RN, MSN, FNP-BC

Amy Mullins, RN, MSN, FNP-BC

We care for East Texas A not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in East Texas communities.


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Profile for County Line Magazine

May/June 2017 County Line Magazine  

May/June 2017 County Line Magazine