Cross Timbers Trails - Fall/Winter 2013

Page 1

Cross Timbers Trails Volume 2, Issue 2 • Fall/Winter 2013

Your Guide to the eight counties of the cross timbers area


Recalling fond memories of esteemed writer and close friend





Mitch Riffle's journey to recovery


From wild mustang to show horse

A GANGSTER TOUR OF THE CROSS TIMBERS Explore the gangster sites around the area

THE WAY OF ANIME A look at Tarleton's TexanCon


Curren Dodds' Let's Eat in Bluff Dale, Texas

Signature public radio for the Cross Timbers region.

Your home for NPR News, Classical, Jazz and Quality Local Programming Weekdays s 8-10 pm

Weekdays s 2-4 pm

Morning Edition

Mon-Fri, 6-9 am

Plus, lots of great weekend programming!



with your hosts... MON - Cary Richards TUES - Hank Jones WED - Moumin Quazi THURS - Mike Pierce FRI - Janice Horak & Stephen Wilson

K T R L 90.5 FM

Tarleton Public Radio


with Cary Richards


At the Crossroads


Free Range Folk


Blues with Kurt Johnson with Jim Blum

Woodstok Farley’s

Rock Spectacle American Routes

with Nick Spitzer

We are a service of Tarleton State University in partnership with Texas A&M’s KAMU-FM.

Across the Airwaves and Reaching...

Stephenville • Granbury • Glen Rose Meridian • Dublin • Hamilton • Hico Comanche • Cleburne • De Leon

Entire broadcast schedule at

In This Issue Cross Timbers Trails


Comanche Legends Live On


The Voice of the Granbury Pirates


Goodbye to a Lake

Volume 2, Issue 2 • Fall/Winter 2013


Beans and Franks finds a winning combo with hot coffee and hot dogs. Photo by Megan Kramer

19 Trails into Nature 20

Tin Building Theatre


Cleaning Up, Texas Style

24 27

Dinosaur World Veteran Turned Radio Host

Cross Timbers Counties

Bosque Comanche Eastland Erath Hamilton Hood Palo Pinto Somervell

Cover Stories 06 09 10 14 16 23 26

A Gangster Tour of the Cross Timbers Mustang Makeover Something Special Is Brewing in Granbury The Way of Anime Bluff Dale's Finest Paddle On, John Graves Battling Back from the Brink

Cover photo by landon haston

Letter from the Editor Volume 2, Issue 2 • Fall/Winter 2013 Hello and welcome to issue four of Cross Timbers Trails magazine! I am pleased to be back again as editor for this publication. The magazine has been constantly evolving over the past year as we try to find our unique voice and “look,” and I have to say this issue is my favorite so far. We have a solid foundation to work from and were able to dig deep into the eight counties of the Cross Timbers area: Bosque, Comanche, Eastland, Erath, Hamilton, Hood, Palo Pinto and Somervell. We found so many extraordinary people, places and aspects from each individual county and I am excited to introduce you to all of

Landon Haston

Art Director

Cassidy Horn

Ad Sales

them. In this issue we wanted to bring more faces of the Cross Timbers area to the spotlight, because people really are the heart and soul of the counties. I hope you enjoy this publication as much as my staff and I enjoy working on it. Please do not hesitate to contact me at editor@ if you have any questions or story suggestions, or would like to place an ad in the next issue. – Megan Kramer

Contributors Staff Writers

Dallas Burch, Breezey Clark, Ryan Cox, Kaili Dellinger, Katherine Gibbs, Monét Gerald, Julie Gutiérrez, Emily Hardman, Ashley Husbands, Drew Isom, Beccalynn Jones, Megan Kramer, Lindsey Rader, Cassie Stafford, Sharon Trimble


Dallas Burch, Katherine Gibbs, Emily Hardman, Landon Haston, Ashley Husbands, Megan Kramer, Lindsey Rader

Faculty Adviser

Kathryn Jones

Follow us:


/crosstimberstrails @cttmag

Cross Timbers Trails is published by Tarleton State University Department of Communication Studies Box T-0230 Stephenville, TX 76402 254-300-7968

Online Features Kerrie Bryant:

Enjoy a Texas-style Eating Experience at Hard Eight BBQ

A look into the successful sports career of Tarleton State University alumna Kerrie Bryant. Story by Cassie Stafford. Photo courtesy of Kerrie Bryant.

'Simply Deli' Brings Culture to Stephenville Through Food

From Tarleton Cheerleader to Dallas Cowboys Manager

Faithful Friends:

Nonprofit CTAGS Rescues Dogs in Cross Timbers

Buy Your Spring 2014 Ad Now! Inside front/Inside Back Cover: $700 Back Cover: $900 Full Page: $500 Half Page : $300 Quarter Page: $175 One Eighth Page: $75

View our events page online at

The Cross Timbers Animal Guardian Society (CTAGS) finds stray or abandoned animals new homes, helping to reduce euthanization rates all over the area, and hosts events to raise money and awareness for getting pets spayed/neutered. Story by Kaili Dellinger.

Jay Procter Farms, Inc. PO Box-108 Lingleville, TX 76461 . (254)-977-3553 .

A Gangster Tour

of the Cross Timbers

By Sharon Trimble

The book Gangster Tour of Texas is a series of true stories written in the unique voice of Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, a history professor at Tarleton State University. Baker conducted extensive research to accurately tell the tales of Texas gangsters, and he visited the locations where the crimes unfolded. Local flavor comes to the book in the form of the Santa Claus Robbery that took place on Dec. 23, 1927. A man dressed as Santa Claus held up the First National Bank for what would turn out to be a giant mess of a robbery attempt. The story of this bank robbery is a truth-is-stranger-thanfiction tale set in Cisco and Eastland County. “Santa Claus” and his three associates were followed into the bank by a line of children. Gunfire erupted inside and outside the bank after men were heard to say, “Stick ‘em up!” Two officers died at the scene as the robbers used three young girls as human shields for their getaway. Baker tells it this way: “They didn’t plan ahead. They stole the getaway car in Wichita Falls, drove down to Cisco, spending the night in Cisco on the way… and they never filled it up with gas. It was that type of bungling.” Many things were not thought out – the gas in the car, the Santa Claus disguise used by one of the robbers, the

T. Lindsay Baker is the author of twenty books on Texas and the American West. Photo courtesy of Tarleton State University.

6 | Fall/Winter 2013

children following Santa into the bank, the townspeople shooting the robbers and the deaths of two police officers.

Bonnie and Clyde weren’t the only roustabouts in North Texas. Let’s go back to July 1933, the date of the Texas and Pacific Mail Robbery in Fort Worth. O.D. Stevens But the story didn’t end there. As Baker writes, “Eastland and his gang robbed a mail train in Fort Worth on July 8, County residents already resented the fact that Marshall 1933. Three men were killed after the heist and another Ratliff, the mastermind of the Santa Claus Bank Robbery, three men were taken into custody for the triple murder. had managed to avoid the electric chair. After he had The book shows four locations where parts of this crime feigned insanity and then shot the popular deputy sheriff, took place and their present-day exteriors. resentment boiled over into anger.” Another story in the book is about the Flapper Bandit. Baker relates how a crowd of 1,000 people began amassing And a radio “doctor,” John R. Brinkley, who broadcast outside the county jail, demanding justice. They forced out of Mexico. The gangster tour takes readers around their way in, took the jailer’s keys and jerked Ratliff from the state and in and out of some of the strangest stories in his cell. “The mob carried Ratliff, who had been stripped Texas history. Enjoy the wild ride. of his clothes, to a vacant lot” across from the jail, Baker wrote. Then they strung him up by the neck from a tele- Gangster Tour of Texas by Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, who holds the W.K. Gordon Endowed Chair in Texas histophone pole cable and hanged him. ry at Tarleton State University, was published in 2011 by There is a fictional account of this same story entitled The Texas A&M University Press. Santa Claus Bank Robbery by Texas author A.C. Greene, but the true version is the one cited in Baker’s book, complete with directions, maps and photographs to locations around Cisco and Eastland County. Most buildings from the Bonnie and Clyde crime spree are no longer standing, but a few still exist and this book allows the reader to visit those historical sites. As this year marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, perhaps the most famous crime in Dallas, we could take a look back at crimes that took place long before that fateful day in November 1963. But just 30 years before the JFK assassination, on Nov. 21, 1933, Bonnie and Clyde were involved in a shootout in Irving. However, they escaped. The location of the shootout is now part of a major highway. However, the book contains directions and a map to the location of the confrontation with local police. Directions, addresses, maps and photographs of other historic gangster sites are included throughout the book. Courtesy: Texas A&M University Press. | 7

Comanche Legends Live On By Emily Hardman


omanche may be a small town, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in history.

A teepee stands in front of the local Mexican food restaurant, and a historic “hanging tree” looms next to the old courthouse. Texas historical markers dot the town square. The first courthouse still stands in the middle of the town square. It has been affectionately dubbed “Old Cora” and served as the county courthouse from 1856 to 1859. It has only two rooms with an open-air hall in between. Both rooms have doors that open and inside are wooden floors and fireplaces. Standing next to Old Cora is Fleming Tree, the alleged hanging tree. While there are many legends associated with the tree, the most popular one is that Martin V. Fleming hid behind the tree and saved himself when hostile Comanche Indians rode through the area. Later, when contractors came to cut it down, they were stopped by a

gun-wielding Fleming. Tucked back farther into the town is the Comanche County Museum. Visitors are greeted by statues that resemble the people who previously inhabited the county. The museum has 15 rooms, each with a different theme including a Native American room and a saloon.

The laid-back atmosphere and sense of history attract tourists as well as residents who call Comanche home. Elizabeth Weathermon, a student at Tarleton State University who has lived in Comanche for 13 years, said that as an adult she has grown to “appreciate the small town life.”

Once a year, Comanche holds an event called Pow Wow. It is an opportunity for the residents to come together and cele-

“Especially when the time comes to raise kids, I’d want to be here,” Weathermon said.

Cities: Comanche, De Leon, Gustine County Seat: Comanche Population: 13, 765


In addition to an art exhibit, there is a photography contest and barbecue cookoff. The Pow Wow is an opportunity for residents to get to know more about their community and the historical impact on Texas.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of memorabilia either on loan or donated to the museum from locals over the past 150 years. Included in the collection are Comanche Indian arrowheads that date back to the time of the town’s beginnings.

Founded in 1856

8 | Fall/Winter 2013

brate the town’s history and its residents’ art and cooking talents.

Fleming Tree. Photo by Emily Hardman.


r e v o e k a M

Courtesy photo by Whitney Shadden Photography

By Breezey Clark


elsey Kerr, daughter of famous mustang trainer, Bobby Kerr, fell in love with a horse named Drifter that had been rescued from Adobe Town, Wyo., earlier this year. Just five months ago she didn’t even know how to saddle a horse and was even a little afraid of horses. “I had very little riding experience and no experience starting or training a horse,” she said. “I had to learn just as much as he did. So the toughest challenge for me was convincing myself I could do it.” At Smooth Water Ranch in Hico, Kerr spoke about her journey from an inexperienced horse rider to a freestyle winning horse trainer – and how she did it in just 120 days. Kerr spent a month getting to know Drifter and gaining his trust with the help of her mother, Susan. Bobby was able to saddle up his wild mustang just two days into his training. After 30 days of bonding and trust building, they were Founded in 1856 Cities: Evant, Hamilton, Hico County Seat: Hamilton


Population: 8, 307

finally able to saddle him up and reached their first victory together. Knowing that time was limited and the Mustang Million event in Fort Worth was just three short months away, Kerr invested her time, morning and night to prepare for the big competition. Mustang Million, sponsored by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, offers $1 million in cash and prizes to those who adopt and train wild mustangs. Kerr overcame her fear of riding horses and after Drifter became comfortable with being ridden, they began practicing their acts with jumping over bridges, cracking bullwhips and even laying him down on the ground. Their journey together began as a struggle, but after weeks of practice, it became a way of life and their bond grew stronger every day. Kerr said that each time they reached a new milestone, it was a victory for them. She was able to celebrate their accomplishments, becoming more confident to compete at the Mustang Million. The Mustang Heritage Foundation has been protecting wild horses since 1971 and the organization has grown throughout the years. Its mission is to increase successful adoptions held in the Bureau of Land Management wild horse holding facilities. Competitions like Mustang Million encourage men and women to train these wild horses to become sensitive and tame, while improving their horsemanship. Their goal is to preserve this equine heritage and promote healthy adoptions in America.

Like many horse trainers, Kerr learned very quickly the hard work and dedication it takes to tame wild mustangs. She said there were many moments where she wanted to give up, that it was too hard and on some days she would just break down and cry. As she reflected over her experience with Drifter, she laughed and then added that usually following one of her emotional breakdowns they would suddenly have a breakthrough and they would continue on their journey. “As soon as we were able to do something we couldn’t be before I couldn’t wait to do it again, it kept me moving forward,” she said. The balance between struggle and triumph was a daily occurrence and she realized that this was their formula for success.

31SepThe Continued Mustang Millionon waspage held in | 9

Something Special Is Brewing in Granbury Story and Photos

By Lindsey Rader


very Saturday Revolver Brewing in Granbury opens its doors for patrons to listen to live music, chow down on tasty barbeque or fajitas, play games such as corn bag toss and, of course, drink beer. Not just any beer, either, but beer made using fresh water from the brewery’s own well and seasonal local ingredients. Father and son, Ron and Rhett Keisler, along with Master Brewer and Cicerone Grant Wood, who previously worked as a brewer for the Pearl and Lone Star breweries in San Antonio, established the business. Their motto is “we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but take extreme pride in our craft.” “We believe we can brew world-class beer in the Texas countryside,” they add in a statement on their website. Revolver Brewery knows how to create an event geared toward families and folks who are just looking to have a good time while drinking crafted beer. The gates open up from noon to 3 p.m. Founded in 1866 Cities: Decordova, Granbury, Lipan, Tolar County Seat: Granbury


Population: 52, 044

10 | Fall/Winter 2013

every Saturday. Patrons must be 21 or older with a valid ID to participate in the beer tastings, but the event is open to all ages.

maize, spices and Citra hops, and Mother’s Little Fracker, a stout that Revolver describes as “dark and deep as West Texas intermediate” crude.

The beer tasting costs $10 for up to four glasses of the beer of your choice along with a free Revolver Brewery beer glass to use and then take home. Food vendors offer smoked barbeque, gilled fajitas, hot dogs, chips and colas for around $5.

As the wild names suggest, each beer has a very original taste. The crowd favorite the day I visited was Sidewinder. “It’s great; I’m on my third glass of it,” one patron said.

Arriving before 2 p.m. assures that you will receive four tastings, which is 8 ounces of beer for each tasting. If you arrive after 2 p.m., you can get two tastings. Revolver Brewery keeps four different flavors of beer on tap, which can change from week to week, so you never know what type of beer is available. Revolver’s three “flagship” beers are Revolver Blood & Honey, an American wheat ale; High Brass, an American blonde ale; and Revolver Bock, a traditional bock with caramel and toffee notes. Revolver also brews two kinds of specialty beer – Sidewinder, a Southwestern pale ale brewed with agave nectar, citrus,

Visitors also can take an informative and entertaining tour of the brewery to learn more about the beer they are drinking. Revolver also sells its beers in the Cross Timbers area at restaurants and bars such as Stumpy’s Lakeside Grill in Granbury, City Limits in Stephenville and Grady’s Line Camp Steakhouse in Tolar, as well as throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area and in Austin, Tyler, Abilene and Waco. So some Saturday when you’re looking for something fun to do, grab the family or some friends and drive over to the Revolver Brewery. We give it two guns up. Revolver Brewing is located at 5650 Matlock Road (FM 167) in Granbury. For more information, call 817-7368034 or visit

The Voice of the

Granbury Pirates

By Ryan Cox


t all started with a vision and a dream for David Youker in 1996 to start a video production class at Granbury High School. That vision and dream became a reality and he is still living it to this day. David Youker, also known by many as “Youk,” the voice of Granbury Pirate sports, has been doing play-by-play for his beloved Pirates since 1993. At the time, Youker and Mark Rash created a cable access channel to broadcast the local high school sports. Youker still remembers where the idea came from to start the video production class. “Kevin Current was the first player I interviewed on the field after a game,” Youker said. “After that interview, I realized having the kids on camera and be the stars is what I wanted to do.”

come for Youker and his students. Youker had his students in front of the camera doing the news, broadcasting sporting events and learning how to produce a broadcast. In his time of teaching the broadcast class, Youker has had numerous students go on to pursue a career in the media. Kristen Shanahan, a University of Texas graduate, now an anchor for KXII, a CBS affiliate in Sherman, was a former student and intern for Youker in his video production course. Another former student, Lauryn Gonzalez, was a meteorologist at KAUZ, a CBS affiliate in Wichita Falls. Those are just two of the many former students who have gone into the media that Youker has taught. Seeing his former students become successful is what it’s all about for Youker.

WNBA for the San Antonio Silver Stars, were some of Youker’s best times. In fact, Jia’s dad, former National Football League wide receiver Johnny Perkins, was Youker’s long-time broadcast partner until Johnny died in 2007. Youker knows he could have gone on to a bigger stage of broadcasting instead of staying in Granbury calling high school sports. But he also knows Granbury is where he belongs, and teaching students is what he was born to do. “I could’ve pursued other opportunities for my career, but Granbury is home,” Youker said. “I’m thankful to be able to do this for so long in this town.” When asked when he thinks it’ll be time to unplug the microphone for his career, Youker didn’t have a timetable in terms of years, but in terms of physical abilities.

Youker wrote a proposal to the Granbury ISD superintendent, Troy Green, in 1996 about starting the video production course. The proposal didn’t garner much movement until new superintendent William Harris took over the school district. In 1998, Youker got a phone call from Harris that changed his life for the better: “Are you ready to start being a video production teacher at Granbury High School?” Harris asked Youker.

“It tells me that everything I intended to happen did,” he said.

From there, Youker decided he wanted to provide more opportunities to the students. Youker teamed with Harris and former Granbury mayor David Southern to provide Granbury with an educational access channel. With a local television station, the opportunities would be endless, and it would provide his students with the necessary experience to be successful in the industry. Granbury Educational Access Channel 99 was created and it was only the start of great things to

Youker has broadcasted over 1,600 games starting from 1993 until now and has just about seen it all when it comes to the history of Granbury sports. He was the voice behind Granbury’s only state championship in their school’s history when the boys’ soccer team hoisted the coveted trophy in 1999.

Youker has made an impact on more people than he probably realizes, and he knows how he wants to be remembered after his career is over: “Youk.” Not by a signature call he made, or by the number of games he’s broadcasted, but by a nickname. While always staying humble about his life, Youker doesn’t want his legacy to be all about him. Instead, he wants it to be a nickname friends gave him years ago, because Youker’s life revolved around giving to others.

Also, calling all of Jia Perkins’ basketball games, a former high school All-American at Granbury who now plays in the

“When I see kids from 15 years ago still come up to me and yell ‘Youk’, that’s all I need to hear,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Youker can be found in the press box or at the score table at Granbury High School announcing games for the Pirates, wearing his purple and gold Chuck Taylors. The energy he brings behind the microphone for every game is what the fans and players love most.

“When the voice isn’t there, that’s when it’s time for me to quit,” he said. “God blessed me with an incredibly strong voice that I’m going to continue to use. The passion is still there, and I’m just not done yet.” | 11


n the very recent past Granbury was considered a picturesque community with families, businesses and retired couples looking for a new place to set their roots.

For the past three or four years, Granbury residents have been facing a hard fact – their beloved lake is disappearing. Lake Granbury is currently at record lows and the community is demanding action. Lake Granbury was impounded in 1969 and the people that call the lake home have had the privilege of enjoying boating, fishing, and lakeside dining. All of these are possibly coming to a sad end. According to the Brazos River Authority, the only explanation for the low water woes is the drought many Texans have been feeling and nothing more.

“In 2007 when we experienced rainfall, the Brazos River Authority passed 16 times the amount of water stored in Lake Granbury through its gates. At that time none of us predicted that just four years later we would be experiencing a record breaking, multi-year drought,” Phil Ford, general manager and chief executive officer of the Brazos River Authority, said in a statement. Many residents believe there is much more to the story than simply the drought, including Joe Williams, president of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners Association. In 2007, the Brazos River Authority closed the hydroelectric plant at the Morris Sheppard Dam on Possum Kingdom Lake, reducing the water flowing to Lake Granbury. After the plant was shut down it was up to the Brazos River Authority to decide how much water from Possum Kingdom to release to Lake

Goodbye to a Lake

Photo by Landon Haston

By Monét Gerald

Granbury. Williams believes Brazos River Authority decided to hold water back from Lake Granbury. “The plant shutdown completely changed the management of the water flow for the upper river basin. Water levels were high when the plant first closed because there was a rainy season,” Williams said. The droughts from 2011-2013 have added to the low water woes. The lake is currently at record lows at 8 ½ feet below normal. “I don’t know the motivation behind those that have claimed that the drought is not responsible for the lower water levels at Lake Granbury and throughout the Brazos basin. Lower lake levels are not unique to Lake Granbury. It is a state-wide issue,” Ford said. Williams refutes Ford’s claim, saying that not all lakes are at historic lows. “If Lake Granbury is in a drought and Possum Kingdom is part of the drought, Lake Granbury is at record lows – why isn’t Possum Kingdom at record lows? They’re not. They can create more water that way – by drawing down Lake Granbury,” he said. While there may be a debate about what is causing the low water levels, no one can deny that it is having a negative economic effect.

don’t live on the lake and may not care,” he said. “They should care if they care about the valuation of their house dropping. If those valuations drop and the county is losing money, what do you think the county does? They’ll either raise taxes overall so it affects everybody in the county or they start cutting services.” Ford says residents have nothing to worry about and that any reports to the contrary are simply propaganda. “Numerous residents have also said they’ve been told that they will lose everything they’ve worked for. In all honesty, none of these concerns are correct,” he said. There are plans for a System Operation Permit for two new reactors at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant. Members of Save Lake Granbury, including Williams, and other residents are concerned a majority of the water needed for the reactors will come from the already depleted Lake Granbury. Williams said there would be a need of 100,000 more acre-feet of water. In order to make this happen more water would need to be held back at Possum Kingdom. “The water is low because of a scenario they wanted to create,” he said. In his statement, Ford said he worked to assure residents that Lake Granbury would not bear the brunt of the work for the reactors.

“The other problem it’s causing is we have a lack of tourism. Businesses don’t want to come in and build with the lack of tourism,” Williams said.

“Misinformation about this permit application has caused many people to believe the System Operating Permit would utilize water throughout the Brazos basin’s 42,000 square miles,” he said.

Cherlon Childress, manager at Irby’s Burgers & Catfish, said the low lake levels have affected their business.

Williams is asking residents all across the Cross Timbers area to get involved with Save Lake Granbury.

“We have a boat deck out back, but we only saw about three or four boats,” she said. “It definitely slowed down summer business.”

“The next thing we’re doing is getting out a petition at the start of the year against the Brazos River Authority. We’re trying to create leverage and get the Brazos River Authority to the table and tell them we want our water back where it was for the last 38 years and we’ll drop the opposition,” he said.

Stumpy’s Bar & Grill also had a slow summer, according to manager Tanner Taff. These negative economic effects have the possibility to get worse before they get better. Williams said the lake levels will start to affect residents that do not live on the lake. “This is a county-wide issue. We have to get to the people that

While Williams is trying to bring back what once was, Ford assures that there is plenty of water to go around. “We may be assured that there is enough water supply to fulfill the necessities of life including water from our faucets and electricity for our homes and businesses,” he said. | 13

A character from Risher's favorite anime, "Record of Lodoss War." Photo courtesy of

The Way of Anime By Julie GutiĂŠrrez

14 | Fall/Winter 2013


argaret Risher, the director of the Anime Club at Tarleton State University, knew about anime before it was popular in the United States. Her eyes gleam with enthusiasm when she speaks about her personal life, how the Anime Club was formed and this year’s anime convention, TexanCon. One of the reasons she knows so much about anime is that her mother was stationed at Kedena Air Base in Japan when Risher was a child. When she was young, Risher loved to watch anime on television. To this day, her favorite anime is "Record of Lodoss War," and she is also interested in historical anime. In addition, her husband, children, grandchildren and mother all share a love of anime. One facet of anime is cosplaying. Cosplay, which is short for “costume play,” is when people wear costumes and accessories to portray a specific character or idea from a piece of fiction. Risher has been cosplaying for 15 years. Anime is a Japanese word for “animation.” It is a term that arose in the 1970s. One of the common traits of anime is characters having large eyes, but they do not appear in all anime. Another common trait in anime is exaggerated facial expressions. For example, upset characters may have bulging lines appear on their foreheads, and embarrassed characters tend to produce a big drop of sweat, which has become the most widely recognized expression in anime. In anime, there are five general types of animation – action/ adventure, drama, horror, science fiction and progressive. Action/adventure anime emphasizes war and physical competition. These include marital arts, weapon fighting or other action-oriented material. In drama anime, a large amount of character development, relation complications and emotional themes takes place. Horror anime normally uses dark and supernatural themes. Science fiction anime depends on futuristic elements, especially science

and technology. Progressive anime tends to be extremely schematic. Anime in Japan targets five main demographics: “Shojo” for young girls; “Shonen” for young boys; “Seinen” for teenage boys and young adult males; “Josei” for young women; and “Kodomo,” a genre for all children, regardless of gender. The Anime Club at Tarleton was formed by a group of students at the university two years ago. The club came into existence when the Texas Legislature cut funding for scholarships to the university. One of the purposes of the club is to help students with their financial needs. The Anime Club organized the TexanCon convention to provide scholarships to Tarleton students. The event is used to raise money for student organizations and scholarships. The first TexanCon was held in March 2013. Friends and family of the university funded the convention. Risher made personal money donations to the convention. This year’s TexanCon will be funded by ticket sales. Risher hopes to graduate this spring and continue her involvement in the Anime Club. Last year’s TexanCon was held largely in the Thompson Student Center. There were vendors on the bottom floor selling costumes and anime paraphernalia. It was rumored that Jim Parsons, also known as Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory,” might attend TexanCon. Those rumors were confirmed when Parsons’ badge was picked up at registration that Saturday.

Studios, is returning this year for the convention. The Steam Engine Intrepid is a renegade steampunk group that has bases all over Texas. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction and usually features steam-powered machinery, as opposed to more advanced technology. Carson is a voice actor for many anime characters in popular TV shows, such as Hetalia, Fullmetal Alchemist, Dragonball Z and Soul Eater. Carson is also a voice actor for many popular video games. He is the voice of random ghouls and specters in the video game Ghostbusters, and he portrays the voice of Mega Man in the game Street Fighter X Tekken. Branson is a music producer, mixer, writer and performer. He creates Nerdcore pop music, which is a sub-genre of hip-hop music. “We decide who to invite by how much money we have to spend,” Risher said. “More celebrities will come as TexanCon nears." When Risher invites celebrities to the convention, she asks them how they would like to participate, and if they would be willing to sign autographs for their fans. Risher is confident in the success of the upcoming convention, and hopes it will become better known and that revenue will improve. “We should double the number of people who will attend. People can buy a ticket specifically for things, such as the dance and the ice cream social,” she said. “I am also hoping that, at the end of the year, we can increase the amount of scholarship funds.”

The date for the upcoming TexanCon is Feb. 14. Risher has invited a few celebrities to come to the convention, including R.J. Woods, Michael Champion, The Steam Engine Intrepid, Chris Carson and Richie Branson.

Student organizations that help with the convention will get funds, which they can use for their own activities. Risher hopes that students will continue to support the convention so that it can become an annual tradition at Tarleton.

Woods is the creator and writer for New Myth Comics, a small comic book company. Champion, a full-time freelance illustrator from Texas and founder of Epic

She is quite optimistic about the convention. When asked how much it could help the university, she replies, “The sky’s the limit.” | 15

Bluff Dale’s

Finest by Megan Kramer

Photos by Landon Haston 16 | Fall/Winter 2013


Curren Dodds opened Let's Eat in Bluff Dale nine years ago. People from all over the Cross Timbers area, as well as throughout the state, country and even Europe, fill up the tiny restaurant every weekend to be wined and dined by the native Dallas chef. • • •


t’s easy to blink and miss Bluff Dale Orders line up as guests choose when passing through – so easy, in their meals for the night. fact, it may come as a surprise that the small town is home to one of the finest dining establishments in the Cross Timbers area. Sitting on the edge of U.S. Highway 377 is the tiny, shed-like building that houses Curren Dodd’s almost decade-long success story, Let’s Eat. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night around 6 p.m. cars line the shoulder of 377 and spill over into the patch of gravel next to the restaurant that serves as a parking lot. Hungry diners wait outside on and near the patio until Dodds, dressed in frayed jeans and his ever-familiar red bandana, pops out to shake hands and welcome his guests for the night. The restaurant holds roughly 40 people, and the majority of diners sit shoulder to shoulder at a long table in the middle of the room. The table is also about a foot away from the open kitchen, making it nearly impossible not to socialize and strike up conversations with fellow guests or even Chef Dodds himself. "I've seen people share food right off their forks, and strangers sharing food," Dodds said. "It's nice to bring people together to let down their boundaries." Pork chop with baked sweet potato and bacon butter, one of the various entreés currently on the dinner menu.

The dinner menu consists of hearty meats like flat iron steak and grilled pork chops, seafood such as salmon and shrimp, and savory sides of collard greens, mashed potatoes or baked sweet potatoes with homemade bacon butter. Even familiar dishes are made with a twist, like the chicken and waffles with smoked jalapeño maple syrup. Dodds says the inspiration for his meals is derived from “one spectrum to the other.” For example, the Thai curry on the menu is inspired by time he spent in Amsterdam, and, according to Dodds, you can’t go wrong with a staple like steak and potatoes. “It’s all food I love to eat,” he said. “There’s no better inspiration for what to cook than knowing what I’d want to eat.” When it comes to the ingredients for his many courses, Dodds likes to go through local avenues when possible. “It’s crazy how this is an ag county and there’s an ag college, yet it’s hard to find products,” he said. “But I try to source local as much as I can.” Dodds talked about looking into sourcing fish – tilapia, to be more exact – through Aquaponics and More in Granbury. The business builds self-sustaining environments for the healthy growth of herbs, vegetables and fish with minimal resources. Continued on page 30 | 17

Strange Brew {

Beans and Franks Finds a Winning

Combo with Hot Coffee and Hot Dogs

By Drew Isom Photos By Megan Kramer

he aroma of coffee wafts from the roaster at Beans and Franks as the espresso maker spews and hisses. After enjoying a sip of coffee, the customer orders something else. The barista brings out a hot dog. That’s right – a hot dog. Beans and Franks is a Stephenville coffee shop and café near the Tarleton State University campus. It specializes in gourmet hot dogs along with freshly roasted gourmet coffee. The owners, Jeff and Jodi Weyers, run the business together while raising their two children. Jeff has a Ph.D. in animal nutrition and also works at Compass Nutrition Inc. in Stephenville. The couple’s original plan was to test the market in Stephenville by opening a hot dog stand in a concession trailer adjacent to their Washington Street location. The proximity to the Tarleton campus led them to add coffee – a source of energy for college students studying for a test or writing a paper. Jeff says that he wants Beans and Franks to be known for “atmosphere, customer service, and product.” He knows that many people go back to a coffee shop for its vibe. He wants “people to come back feeling welcome.” A frequent customer, Kelly Dodd, says she returns again and again for “the atmosphere, the coffee and the people.”

18 | Fall/Winter 2013

It’s a cozy spot with couches, wooden floors and a rustic wooden serving bar. Music, from folk to Christian praise songs, adds a soothing touch. But the focal point of this coffee shop is the roaring coffee roaster placed in sight for coffee lovers to watch and enjoy. The beans typically are roasted during early morning hours and after lunch, with the process taking about 15 minutes. Then the coffee is placed in containers, where flavors such as Southern Pecan and Cinnabun are added. Then the beans are ready to be ground, brewed and turned into some delicious coffee. Customers voted Beans and Franks as having the “best coffee of 2013” in Erath County through a contest sponsored by the Stephenville Empire-Tribune. You can freshen up in the middle of the day with Beans and Franks’ signature chilled drink called the Cool Bean. If you’re looking for something to get you wired, then Beans and Franks offers the Ludicrous Latte, which jolts you awake with four shots of espresso. If you’re not at Beans and Franks for the fresh coffee, then you’re definitely there for the gourmet hot dogs. If you’re really wanting spicy and juicy, then the Big Nasty likely will satisfy your craving with smoked jalapeño sausage, spices, chili and cheese. You can also stuff your stomach with the Half-Pounder, a foot-long hot dog.

What makes the hot dogs better than your average ballpark dogs is not only the bratwurst, smoked jalapeño sausage and turkey dog that Beans and Franks offers, but also the 30 kinds of toppings. The Weyers say they want Beans and Franks to help customers feel better about their day than when they walked through the door. With the odd combination of fresh hot coffee and gourmet hot dogs, they succeed in doing just that. Beans and Franks is located at 1296 W. Washington St. next to Barefoot clothing store; see or call 254-965-4224 for more information. Founded in 1856 Cities: Alexander, Bluff Dale, Dublin, Huckabay, Stephenville County Seat: Stephenville Population: 39, 321



Trails into Nature By Kaili Dellinger


unning shoes hit smooth pavement. Wind rustles the treetops. Nature is all around the trail that winds along the river. This is the peaceful scene when hiking, running or biking along the Bosque River Trail in Stephenville. About 15 years ago the City of Stephenville reviewed a master plan of the city park and the desire to expand the trail along the perimeter. Through a federal grant administered through the Texas Department of Transportation, the city applied for and received $2.2 million, with the city providing a 20 percent matching contribution of $443,000. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in September 2009 to begin the first phase of 8,000 feet of the Bosque River Trail extending from City Park under the Graham Street bridge to Tarleton Street. The construction of Phase I began in October 2009 and cost $1.77 million to complete a year later. A dedication ceremony of the 1.5-mile Bosque River Trail took place on Oct. 28, 2010. The trail connects City Park with the downtown area and Historical Museum. Amenities include benches, lighting, bike

Photo by Landon Haston

storage, rest stops and natural landscaping. Realistic animal tracks have been sandblasted into the trail, but walkers or runners may also catch a glimpse of wild turkey, raccoons, armadillos, opossum, birds and deer. Since the completion of the first phase, the City of Stephenville has been moving forward with plans for the second phase to lengthen the Bosque River Trail by seven miles. Drew Wells, the director of community services for the City of Stephenville, says the plan is to extend the trail from Tarleton Street, where Phase I ended, to Lingleville Highway. The City of Stephenville has received a grant for $1.8 million to begin the trail’s second phase. It is currently waiting on the Texas Department of Transportation to send an agreement form to move forward with the expansion. Wells notes the city is about two years from beginning construction on the trail’s expansion. Meanwhile, the next time you are looking for a peaceful place to walk, run, bike or just relax with nature, head to the Bosque River Trail and enjoy being in the great outdoors without having to leave town. | 19

Tin Building Theatre Story and Photos By Dallas Burch


he mid-day, partly cloudy fall sky enhanced the warm red bricks that make up the former Clifton Lutheran College. The old college then connects to a tin building, or better known as Tin Building Theatre. Once I got out of my vehicle and into the old warehouse, I was instantly taken aback. I was welcomed with a quaint Founded in 1854 Cities: Clifton, Cranfills Gap, Iredell, Meridian, Morgan, Valley Mills, Walnut Springs County Seat: Meridian


Population: 18, 125

20 | Fall/Winter 2013

hallway and the sounds of trumpets wailing, drum rhythms and a warm jazz voice pouring her heart out through the microphone. Before I could even enter the actual theatre, I couldn’t help but notice a large trophy case, vintage photographs from previous shows and a nice bottle of red wine sitting on the table. I was so entranced already that I completely forgot the fact that I was in Texas. It seemed as if I were in a studio flat that overlooked the New York City skyline. As I was lost in my New York daydream, a man with a mission came from the theatre. His name is Steve Schmidt and he does all the technical work for Tin Building Theatre. Schmidt is tall and slender, with salt-and-pepper-colored whiskers and bright eyes framed by black Nike glasses. I asked him if I could take some photos and without hesitation he said, “Sure, go ahead! We’re just doing sound check for the big dress rehearsal. We’re having our variety show tonight.” I entered into the small theatre and to

my astonishment there was nothing normal about this theatre. There were steel chairs where the audience would sit, a small sound booth which could be entered through one set of stairs, and a soundboard behind the audience. Totally captivated by the moment, a woman wearing a slimming, longsleeved black turtleneck and blue jeans caught my attention. I noticed that she and Schmidt both were frantically pacing around; Schmidt going up the stairs to the booth and the woman going behind the soundboard. “Do you still want that channel padded?” Schmidt yelled. The woman replied, “Channel 23 or 24?” This small conversation did leave me confused, but I figured they must be trying to balance sound. It wasn’t long after that, Schmidt was standing by my side and explaining what was going on. He said that the small-framed woman was Debra Evans. Evans works in the

main office, but also helps with sound. They were trying to get the sound to work for the numbers tonight. I asked Schmidt, if he could describe Tin Building Theatre in one word, what would it be? After a few moments of chewing on the question, he replied, “Technically challenging, because the ceiling is the wrong shape and the acoustics [make it hard for sound]. It’s an old warehouse. Technically challenging, but forgiving.” I could hear it in his voice that despite the challenges he truly loved this place. He made it seem as if there was no other theatre that could compare. Schmidt continued to tell me more about his life and the “ole’ warehouse.” He described that the theatre had just recently put in new speakers near the back to the main entrance doors. He told me that he has been doing technical work for the theatre since about 1993, and prefers it as opposed to onstage. He confessed with warm laughter, “[I] don’t like learning lines.” I soon discovered that the group that performs at Tin Building Theatre used to travel around high schools and put shows on. Typically, the theatre performs spoken word, but patrons want more musicals. As Schmidt was explaining a brief history of the place, he quickly brought Evans to the main stage and asked me if I could ask her the same questions. Evans told me that “live theatre is electric.” She has been with Tin Building Theatre for roughly 10 years, and performed in her first Tin Building performance last November. Prior to that, she has been involved with about “20-30 other plays” and acted in “7 or 8 shows.” She has experienced behind and on-stage, and loves both. I asked her if theatre ever gets old, and

with a big smile, she said, “[You have to] constantly keep it fresh!” She and I continued to discuss various theatre moments and she told me that she once wanted to do film. However, she became fascinated with live theatre in her high school performance for "Our Town." Before another question came out, Schmidt brought out Janet Jackson, a woman with a chic, silver-hued pixie cut.

Meet the crew: (from left) Janet Jackson, Debra Evans and Steve Schmidt Jackson is the director of the variety shows, and Evans described her as same question I had previously asked the “the queen of the variety shows and tap others – what is the one word she would dancing extradoinare.” use to describe live theatre? Jackson put on her fifth variety show the weekend after Thanksgiving. “The world needed variety," she said. She instantly started to talk to me about the shows, scholarship offerings to college students and fun stories about previous performances. For example, the Thanksgiving performance consisted of 12 women over the age of 60, who got together and learned to tap. They wore elaborate costumes so the audience would "look at that more than our feet,” Jackson jokes. She wore a smile the entire time we spoke, and brought so much laughter into the room that her enthusiasm for live theatre was contagious. Jackson brought me onto the stage to show me the props she and the women made. We then went backstage to look at the costumes and dressing rooms. In the midst of this, I asked Jackson the

A big, pearly-white grin and sparkling eyes appeared across her face and she said, “Oh my gosh, live art! Art and music lives on and on and on, but theatre is art for the moment. People become enveloped in dance … it’s art for the moment. It’s a spectacle!” Tin Building Theatre is a spectacle and the people who make each performance take place are far greater. A theatre is just another building, but it is people like Schmidt, Jackson and Evans who make someone want to come back. They are each unique, charismatic, inspiring and full of passion. They are the personality and pulse of the theatre. With its welcoming doors and individuals who instantly treat you like family, there is never a dull moment at the Tin Building Theatre. Whether you come as an audience member or just as a visitor, Schmidt said it best as I was leaving the theatre: “Come back and just hang out with us!” | 21

Cleaning Up, Texas Style Story and Photo By Ashley Husbands


ucked away in the rolling hills around the Palo Pinto County town of Strawn is a shop that sells something people all use, but with a unique style- soap. Entering An Ancient Art Handcrafted Soap Company, the visitor catches the scent of cedar from the most recently made soap. Other fragrances float up from various soaps stacked on the shelves – cinnamon, citrus, clove, rosemary, roses, even bluebonnets. The atmosphere in the store feels calming and peaceful, a side effect of the essential oils used in the handcrafted soaps. The shop’s owner, Shanah Coe, devotes her time to creating a product that is serene and soothing as well as functional. Sitting on a cushioned bench inside the store, she relates how she built the store from humble beginnings and the lives changed by the products she creates. She always had an interest in the healing powers of essential oils and had seen the success of candle companies in the area. Founded in 1856 Cities: Brazos, Gordon, Graford, Mingus, Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto, Santo, Strawn County Seat: Palo Pinto

Palo Pinto

Population: 27, 856

22 | Fall/Winter 2013

Products on display at An Ancient Art Handcrafted Soap Company in Strawn. She began to ask, “What sells well with candles?” Her answer was soap. The company began in spring 2000 after Coe moved to Strawn as a single mother looking for a way to support her family. Over the years leading up to starting her business she had read about many different essential oils, not knowing how valuable it would be to her future. In the process of first creating soap she was able to use her knowledge of essential oils and healthy blends to create her first type of soap, Cinnamon Almond Oatmeal Spice. The success of her first soap lit a creative spark in Coe and she continues to read about making soap. She used her previous knowledge of essential oils and what she learned to create Tea Tree blends, Citrus blends and many more variations. The soap at An Ancient Art Handcrafted Soap Company is made through a different process than most soaps today. The process is called saponification, a method that produces soap using lye, water and, in this case, healthy fat. Olive oil is used as the fat base for her soap, and the three ingredients are combined in a cold pro-

cess in which each ingredient is brought within 5 to 10 degrees of each other. The cold process is beneficial because the oils are not heated up as high, which causes the soap to be much more gentle for the user and easier for the way she cuts her soap. Coe creates her soap in 50-pound increments in long bars, which later are cut to make individual bars of soap. The products used in her soap are food grade and cosmetic grade, handcrafted ingredients that are very closely monitored by Coe when they arrive from their varying locations. Her ingredients are gathered from three trusted perfumeries across the country, herb companies in California and distribution companies in Dallas. She explained that each ingredient used in her soap is carefully examined personally to ensure the quality of the products before any soap is made. A unique benefit for customers is that Coe can custom blend any ingredients a customer desires. Continued on page 29

Paddle On, John Graves By Julie Gutiérrez


ohn Graves wrote 10 books in his lifetime before he died in Glen Rose at the age of 92 on July 31 of this year. His books moved people, especially his most famous one, Goodbye to a River, about the Brazos River and the impact it had on his life. Originally published in hardcover in 1960, the book remains in print and has become a Texas classic. Graves was described by many critics as one of the most important writers in Texas and the United States. Graves was born in Fort Worth in 1920. He received his education at Rice University and at Columbia University. During World War II, he served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following the war, he lived in Mexico, Spain, and for a short period of time served as an English professor at the University of Texas. He was married to Jane Graves and had two daughters, Helen and Sally, and several grandchildren. He contributed articles to many different magazines. Many people interviewed John Graves about his writings and about his life. I have the privilege of knowing someone who knew him for almost 40 years. That person is my father, Gilbert Gutiérrez. His knowledge of John Graves is more of the man than of the writer. In the following interview, I asked my father about his impressions of Graves as a man, an author and, most importantly, as his friend. How did you meet John Graves? When I graduated from Tarleton State, I took a job teaching science in a small Texas town near Glen Rose. Each day

Gilbert Gutiérrez recalls fond memories of esteemed writer and close friend. • • • as I drove to work, I passed a Nubian dairy farm owned by Honzie and Eulene Rogers, friends of John and Jane Graves. One day in 1974, I dropped in on the Rodgers and inquired about purchasing some milk goats from them. All of their stock was already sold for the year, but they had sold some goats to John Graves’ wife. The Rodgers took me over to John and Jane’s ranch in Glen Rose and introduced them to me. I purchased three goats from the Graves. One of the first things John said to me was, “Gutierrez, one of your ancestors gave broom weed its scientific name. It’s named Gutierrezia dracunculoides.” John knew the scientific names of almost every wild plant and animal that lived on his ranch. His home was a simple white, framed house with a very large screened in porch at its entrance. To the right of his home, was a barn that contained his office. After talking for a while, I asked him why he had a bed on his back porch and he told me, "I love to sleep on the back porch and fall asleep to the sound of the birds, the cows, the goats and the chickens and I love to wake up to those same sounds and the beautiful sunrises.” What is your fondest memory of Graves? My fondest memory of John is that the man you first met was exactly the man he was. I rarely thought of John as Texas’ most famous author. To me, John was just a friend. He was a warm, kind man, full of wisdom. Some of my fondest memories of John are when he would drop in at the ranch with Jane and the

girls to visit the goats I bought from them. Goats, to those who have never owned one, are really like the family dog. They all have very distinct personalities and you learn to love them. John loved his goats. Unfortunately, they tie you down to your farm or ranch. Luckily for me, John had to sell his milk goats and that is how I met him and his wonderful family. How often did you write John Graves and how fast did he reply? As I said earlier, I met John and his family in 1974; I didn’t really begin to write him until I moved away from the area in 1982. I moved to College Station to work on post-graduate work at Texas A&M University. It was at that point that I began to write him. I can’t tell you how many times we wrote each other, because I only saved a few of his letters. As to how fast he replied, most of the time it was several months before he had time to answer my letters. I remember one letter, which he answered a year after I wrote him. He was a very busy man but because we were friends, he always answered my letters. In 2003, a mutual friend of ours died, and John wrote me and said, "I have reached an age when good friends drop fairly often, and there’s not much point in dwelling on such things.” When John Graves died, the world lost an iconic figure, and Texas lost one of its most famous writers. But I lost more than an iconic figure. I lost a friend. Continued on page 28 | 23

Dilophosaurus, the "double-crested lizard"

Dinosaur World

Where Dinosaurs Rule, but Don't Bite Story and Photos By Katherine Gibbs


he outdoor theme park Dinosaur World near Glen Rose may be meant as a place for children to have fun, but everyone can learn about dinosaurs, enjoy the park and experience their “inner child.” Upon entering the arched gate, I could hear the children laughing and see them running around with their parents following behind with restrained enthusiasm or relative disinterest. Starting the adventure, walking down the path and not knowing what I was going to find, was part of the fun.

24 | Fall/Winter 2013

I used to be scared of dinosaurs thanks to the “Jurassic Park” movies, but Dinosaur World helped dissuade my fears. Well, mostly. Until I came upon Dilophosaurus, the “double- crested lizard” that appeared in “Jurassic Park” – the collar was added in the movie to make it appear scarier. It worked because in the movie this dinosaur scared me to death, along with the velociraptors. The dinosaurs at Dinosaur World, however, are frozen in time. More than 100 life-size and life-like dinosaurs made of fiberglass, steel and concrete, are nestled along

the wooded paths in natural settings. Some are up to 80 feet long. “The dinosaurs are so believable that some visitors claim to see them moving through the shadows cast by the many native trees,” Dinosaur World says in its promotional material. I could almost lose myself in the wonder of the dinosaur age, until the occasional group of people walked by and drew me back to reality from my imagination. Explanatory signs by the dinosaur models describe how they lived and where their remains have been found.

day of it.

arrange for pizza delivery at the park. Dogs on leashes are welcome.

At Dinosaur World, kids can search for fossils in the fossil dig area and act Dinosaur World is located at 1058 like a paleontologist digging through Park Road 59 immediately before the sand in the “boneyard.” the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park. It’s open every day except for The park also includes a museum Christmas and Thanksgiving days. with everything from dinosaur eggs The hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to raptor claws, and a gift shop with books, toys, educational materials Prices are $12.75 for adults, $10.75 and other dino-related items. There’s for senior adults and $9.75 for also a playground for children. children ages 3 to 12. Bring a picnic lunch (there is Call 254-898-1526 or visit www.dino food service at the park) or for more info. Tyrannosaurus Rex

Christer Svensson, a Swedish businessman who was in the entertainment business for 30 years, moved to the United States and started planning ideas for an entertainment park. In addition to the park in Glen Rose, Dinosaur World also operates parks in Plant City, Fla., and Cave City, Ky. The setting at Glen Rose is ideal because Dinosaur Valley State Park is down the same road, so visitors can see real dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River and make a dino-themed Brachiosaurus

Founded in 1875 Cities: Glass, Glen Rose, Nemo, Rainbow County Seat: Glen Rose


Population: 8, 598 | 25

Battling Back from the Brink By Brittney Smith


indsay Riffle was looking forward to her senior year at Eastland High School when tragedy struck and changed her life.

slowly started to come back to life, even remembering who his family was. But a long journey was just beginning. So was something within Lindsay.

In June 2012, her father, Mitch Riffle, was driving his small pickup truck on Interstate 20 when it was struck from behind. The crash’s impact threw his crushed vehicle down an embankment. Riffle’s severe injuries sent him into a coma. The driver of the other vehicle involved never even stopped to help.

“I watched nurses and doctors take care of him every day and I wondered if that was something I'd be interested in doing after high school,” she said.

After the accident, doctors told his family he may never wake up. His wife, Kay, recalls that one told her it was pointless to even try because he would be a “vegetable” if he came out of the coma. Still, they didn’t give up hope. After a month of what seemed like endless waiting, Riffle woke up in a hospital bed in Abilene. Beating all odds, he Founded in 1858

One of the first doctors who influenced her to lean in that direction was the same doctor who told her family that there was no hope. Riffle was moved into Baylor Rehab in Dallas. It was there that Lindsay met another one of her father’s doctors who touched her life. “I could tell she truly cared,” Lindsay said. “She was so sweet to our family and my dad loved her.” This put Lindsay on her chosen career path as a trauma surgeon or emergency room physician. She said she wants to

be able to relate to other families facing similar situations because of what she’s been through. After the accident and beginning her senior year, Lindsay tried to not let the accident take over her life. Kay beams when recalling how persistent her daughter was with her schoolwork. The initial plan was for Lindsay to graduate with her associate’s degree from Cisco Junior College in December 2012. Though this goal was set back a little after the accident, she managed to reach that goal by May 2013. Kay said one Eastland teacher in particular helped her daughter reach her goal. “Without Marcia Vermillion I don’t think we would have made it through,” she said. Kay adds that so many people in their community helped the family through all the struggles. Continued on page 29

Cities: Carbon, Cisco, Desdemona, Eastland, Gorman, Olden, Ranger, Scranton, Rising Star County Seat: Eastland


Population: 18, 421

26 | Fall/Winter 2013

Lindsay with her dad after the accident. Courtesy of the Riffle family.

Veteran turned Radio Host Story and Photo By Beccalynn Jones


atthew Householder has gone from Eastland to Iraq, and he’s come back to his hometown where he is now the voice of radio station KATX – a job he never thought he’d have. “Before when I would just tune in, I thought these guys just get to talk for a little bit and then go home,” Householder said. “But now, I know that isn’t the case and that there is actually a lot more to it.”

medic). He was stationed with the U.S. Marines and completed one full tour of duty in Iraq before being honorably discharged in 2009. He didn’t feel like it was quite time to come back home so he stayed in Virginia Beach, Va., for a couple more years. During that time he ended up working for Step in Time, the largest

Indeed, KATX is a small operation with a three-person crew. Householder is the program director as well as the salesman. Anything and everything they do is coordinated just by them, whether it’s events, bands, shows, and all produced audio productions. They even designed their own float at this year’s 2013 Old Rip Festival. Householder hosts all the morning shows, including the “Bargain Box” that has aired for 25 years. Today it’s called “Tradio” and is the station’s No.1 show during which people in the area can announce items for buy, sell and trade. “It’s like Craig’s List but ‘G’ rated,” Householder said. Householder was born in Houston, but moved to Eastland by the beginning of the first grade. He graduated from Eastland High in 2005 and then joined the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman (also known as a

well-rounded person.” But eventually Householder became homesick and returned to Eastland. Terry Slavens, the station’s general manager and operator, hired Householder as a salesperson. Slavens has been in the radio industry for 28 years, but he was also Householder’s youth minister from Daughtery Street Church of Christ. Slavens even attended Householder’s boot camp graduation. “Terry has always called me his seventh child,” Householder said. Slavens told Householder that he wanted to offer him the job because he felt that by bringing him in they could make the station more local-oriented like it was when Dan Scaggs started KATX in 1985. “By being truly local, we mean by announcing local sports, news and community events,” Householder said. He created a Facebook page for KATX that he says help bring in more locals.

chimney sweeping company on the East Coast. “It was interesting and it allowed me to expand my surroundings and experiences inside and outside of Virginia Beach,” Householder said. “And since I was out of Texas for so long, it had helped me kick my accent. Having those experiences have made me out to be a more

“This job was something I needed because of the type of personality I have,” Householder said. “So the job keeps me on my toes and I couldn’t ask to work with a better crew. "Coming back to Texas was probably the best thing I could’ve done because I am truly blessed for all that has happened to me since I have returned.” | 27

Paddle On, John Graves Cont. from page 23 What did you have in common with Graves? We were both born in Fort Worth and we both loved the Brazos River, ranching, conservation, Texas and its past history. The part of the Brazos River that John navigated when he wrote Goodbye to a River is the same part of the river that my brother and I would camp along during the summers of my youth. For some unknown reason, I loved the peace and quiet of rural areas, and like John, they became a part of my soul. I loved where John built his home in Somervell County. The way he built his home at the foot of the hills on his ranch was so serene and beautiful. When you visited John, it was like going back to a time, which was more peaceful. The world and its pressures seemed to disappear when you spoke with John and Jane. What is your favorite book by Graves? Like many other people, my favorite book by John Graves is Goodbye to a River. There are many reasons I love the book. I’ve read the book over 30 times. I know that sounds like an excessive number of times to read a book. Other than the Bible, I’ve never read a book that many times. I like the way that John describes the river and its surrounding country I love the stories he tells about the people who once lived along the river and it reminds me of my youth. A few years ago, I told John how many times I had read his book and how much I liked it and he replied, “I am delighted that my river book has meant something to you through the years. That is what one hopes for when one writes, that the result will speak to some good people out

28 | Fall/Winter 2013

there. Or at any rate, it’s what I hope for.” John wrote that to me in 2001, when he was 81 years of age. I always admired that he had the courage to navigate the river alone. When John traveled down the river, there were no cell phones, and he traveled the river, during a time, when it was a solitary place and prone to flooding. He could easily have drowned, become ill or broken a limb. I always thought it must have taken a brave man to travel such a long distance, without many provisions or contacts. When I was a young man, my brother and I would go down to the river, below Possum Kingdom dam. We would take a tent and provisions and spend the weekend on the river. You could leave your car near the dam, and two or three days later it was still there, unharmed. I’m not sure you could do that these days. At any rate, when I read John’s river book, those memories come back to life. What did Graves think about technology, and did he love writing all of his books? John wrote most of his works in the barn next to his house. His desk was positioned so that he could look out of a window at his beloved ranch. He worked on an old-fashioned typewriter, even after computers were technologically easier to use. The letters John wrote to me, even as late as 2004, were all written on a typewriter. One of his 2004 letters was corrected with Wite-Out. John was not impressed with technology. I once wrote him that I thought the cell phone and computers were two of the best and two of the worst technologies ever invented. I told him that they took away our freedom and privacy and he wrote back, “I fully share your resistance to ‘progress’

as usually defined these days, and both Jane and I are grateful to be finishing out our time in the relative isolation of these cedar hills.” But he wasn’t always pleased with all of his books. He once told me that he was not really pleased with his book, Hard Scrabble. He felt that he had been forced to finish the work too rapidly and he wasn’t really pleased with the results. I, however, loved the book. Hard Scrabble fully describes the joy of living on a Central Texas piece of land and I found it quite enjoyable. One passage in the book describes one of the many things I admired about John. John was an electrician, a plumber, stonemason, farmer, rancher, botanist, historian and an outstanding writer. In his Hard Scrabble he writes, “The book is concerned with my part of the world insofar as I have a part, and I know a few things about it and into some subjects have dug deeper perhaps than most people have. In none am I truly expert.” John later told me that the book was an attempt to convey to people what a small patch of land meant to him. I believe it meant a great deal to him because it was a great part of his life. To me, living in the country is like living in a peace of heaven on earth and I think John felt the same way about his ranch, Hard Scrabble. Back to your original question, did John love writing all of his books? At the age of 81, he wrote me: “I am still writing, of course: in fact am afraid to stop, since I don’t want to end up watching TV with my mouth open.” After writing Goodbye to a River, John wrote several more books. I enjoyed reading all of them and to answer your question, yes, my friend loved writing his books.

Cleaning up, Texas Style Continued from page 22 As we stood in front of a row of shelves containing small bottles, Coe explained that although soap sales dominate the majority of her revenue, she also sells essential oils that can have numerous uses in customers’ homes, from household cleaners to creating an aromatherapy bath with healing benefits. She explained that each oil has certain benefits, varying from stress management to body detox aids. Her most popular oil is lavender, which is known to aid in sleep, and mint, which is best known for helping ease headaches, pain and congestion.

All of Coe’s products are plant-based, including her lavender peppermint comfrey soap for pets. The pet soap not only cleans your pet but also helps relieve itching, heal bruises and diminish the appearance of scars. Other products include lip balms that do not contain petroleum, making them safe to use for those individuals on oxygen, cleansing olive cream, lotions, foot rubs, Dead Sea salts and cuticle cream. An Ancient Art Soap Company, 108 N. Central in downtown Strawn, is open Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 254-6725421 or visit the website,

Battling Back from the Brink Continued from page 26 “Most 17 or 18-year-olds don't know what it's like to be a caretaker,” Lindsay said. “The summer after I graduated I spent a lot of time taking care of my dad by myself when my mom was at work and my sister was gone. I knew every medication he had to take, what it was for and when he had to take it. Sometimes I had to give him shots. I showered, dressed, fed him and took him to the bathroom. “To some teenagers, I guess that would be a burden,” she continues. “But it was the least I could do to repay him for everything he ever did for me. I absolutely love my dad more than words can describe and my goal is to let him know that. The wreck completely changed my outlook on life and I just want to reach my full potential and use that to help others who aren't as fortunate.”

The next step for Lindsay was college. She decided to attend Texas Christian University in fall 2013. With her father still making “amazing” progress in therapy and throughout all his surgeries, Lindsay made the decision to become a doctor. She took 15 semester hours at TCU and is working toward her biggest goal in life, making her dad proud. Mitch Riffle is now home in Eastland with his wife. Lindsay reports he’s still making progress through his therapy and undergoing some surgeries that are mostly cosmetic. His personality shows through more and more each day. The person responsible for the hit-and-run – identified by authorities as a white male driver in a blue graphite metallic Chevy four-door or extended cab pickup with chrome wheels and a white emblem in the middle rear window – still has not been found. Kay, Lindsay and the rest of the Riffle family still plead for the person responsible to step forward and take responsibility. If you or anyone you know has information on this accident, please contact the Department of Public Safety in Eastland at 254-639-2849.

Lindsay and her dad now. Courtesy of the Riffle family.

Riffle with his grandchild. | 29

Bluff Dale's Finest Cont. from page 17 Dodds moved to Bluff Dale from Dallas, where he apprenticed under a baker from Germany at the Omni Mandalay in Las Colinas. After settling into the much smaller town, a neighbor told him the business in the little shed-like building, originally built as Bluff Dale's post office, was moving out and that Dodds “should do something in there.”

“It was the first time I opened a restaurant on my own, for myself,” Dodds said. Even when Chef Dodds isn't at work in the kitchen, he's busy running the business side of the restaurant, making trips to the bank and paying various bills. "It's funny because people think since we're only open three days a week that's the only time I work, but that actually gives me time to do everything else," he said.

Let's Eat invites guests to bring their own wine and other alcoholic beverages to dinner.

When he does have free time from work, however, Dodds spends time with his son doing "guy things," like restoring old cars and martial arts. Let's Eat is open Thursday-Saturday from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The restaurant also holds special six- to eight-course tasting menus for Valentine's Day and New Years Eve, and occasionally hosts cooking classes and other events. Space fills up quickly in the small building, so reservations are recommended.

Fried PB&J with ice cream, a popular dessert.

Your news source for the cross timbers area 30 | Fall/Winter 2013

Mustang Makeover Cont. from page 9 The Mustang Million was held in September at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth. The Kerr family loaded up their horses and headed off to the competition, prepared for a long week of hard work, performances and little sleep. Kerr competed in different divisions, some she was prepared for and others, she admitted, was not. As a new trainer and with little time to prepare for this challenging competition, she focused on her strengths and didn’t let herself worry about anything else. She had chosen a song that she named Drifter after – Marty Robbins’ “Saddle Tramp” – that they listened to each day when they practiced. When their song came on, it was like they were back at Smooth Water Ranch. “I sang this song to Drifter every day, so he knew it and it made me feel a lot more at ease when it came on over the loud speaker,” she said. In the freestyle competition, Kerr won her first buckle. She and Drifter took home first place. When the scores were posted online she didn’t think she had made it into the top five, but learned

Courtesy photo by Whitney Shadden Photography the following morning that the scores listed were not in her division. Kerr and her brother, Cody, who had flown halfway around the world from Australia to be part of the event, ran to see the final scores: Kelsey Kerr and Drifter, 110.5 points. First place! “Cody picked me up and swung me around in his arms when we saw my name at the top of the list,” she said. Her dad was a champion, too, winning first place in the Legends Division for horsemanship and for pattern. While Kerr accepted the challenge of

training a wild mustang, she said she never imagined it would change her entire life. Many horses are adopted after the Mustang Million competition, and Kerr had many offers for Drifter. However, she said she would never dream of selling him. After all they’ve been through, Kerr and Drifter are continuing on their path together and don’t know yet what the future may hold. “I would like to start doing acts with my dad, but we need to find out what our niche is first,” she said. One thing is certain – their journey together is just beginning.

Dream Big Build Smart | 31


Start planning your trip, the adventure begins here...


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.