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JOHNSONCOUNTYObserver.com News of interest to the residents of Johnson County, Texas
VOLUME 03 | NUMBER 02
COUNTY OFFICIALS & COUNTY ATTORNEY
FIGHT TEXAS DEPT OF
AGRICULTURE TO TAKE LAND FROM RESIDENTS THROUGH EMINENT DOMAIN FOR BENEFIT OF LOUIS VUITTON Stop Project Mustang received a copy of the following email communications through a Freedom of Information Act request. As you read, you will see County Officials just wouldn’t take no for an answer! The Dept. of Agriculture awarded a grant of $1.125 million in taxpayer funds to the City of Keene for road improvements. One of the conditions of the grant is that eminent domain CANNOT be used in conjunction with the grant. Johnson County and Keene officials are seeking approval to use the taxpayer funds to condemn the frontage property of the property owners on the south side of County Road 316 in essence taking a portion of their front yards. Property can only be seized through eminent domain for PUBLIC use. The county is arguing that the land will be used to widen County Road 316, a public road. HOWEVER, the county will actually be widening by adding a turning lane into the new Louis Vuitton factory which will only be used by Louis Vuitton employees, a PRIVATE corporation benefit. PUBLIC citizens will not have access to the factory.
JOHNSON COUNTY, TEXAS
Cleburne Water Conditions Update
“The City of Cleburne has become aware that areas of the city may be experiencing changes with the taste and odor of the water. Our first priority remains to provide safe drinking water for our community, which we confirm through constant monitoring and testing. That said we also understand the importance of the quality with regard to taste and smell. While it is not uncommon to experience variation in water taste and odor throughout various times of the year, city staff is committed to providing the highest quality of water to our customers. New personnel have been assigned to the water treatment plant and they are working diligently to address the issue with modifications to both equipment and operations. These actions will be immediate in some cases and more long term in others. Through our efforts, we anticipate that the taste and odor of the water will begin to improve in the near future with continual enhancements and more consistency over time.” Should you have questions or concerns, please contact the Water Utility Department at 817-6450946.
It could only be a coincidence…but long time water treatment employee Bob Slauson retired in November 2017 and then the not-so-good water began! Who was it that reported to the theso-n city manager that the water employees were spending more time on their iPads than doing
their jobs and earning their water certifications? Maybe just maybe….he was telling the truth and now the residents of Cleburne are suffering from those unheeded words. If you see Bob Slauson….tell him he is definitely being missed!!
Cleburne City and Cleburne School Board Trustee Elections
Cleburne City and Cleburne School Board Trustee elections will be on May 5, 2018. The time to file to run as a candidate is now and will close on February 16th. 3 positions are available in the city: mayor, District 1 and District 4. Cleburne School Board has 3 positions open. Place 3, Place 4 and Place 5. As of February 7th these are the candidates that have filed. No one has filed for Place 4 on the Cleburne School Board.
Mayor Scott Cain Council Member - Single Member District 1 Derek Weathers Council Member - Single Member District 4 John Warren School Board Trustee - Place 3 Wendell Dempsey School Board Trustee - Place 4 School Board Trustee - Place 5 Teddy Martyniuk
Don’t forget the J N LONG MUSIC JAM....
4th Sat Potluck & Music Jam. All music types welcome. Family Friendly Music and Friends - Bring a dish to share, come enjoy the music. - Potluck starts at 5pm. Music starts at 6pm and ends about 8pm. Free Event! We can’t wait to see everyone at the Regular 4th Sat Potluck & Music Jam at JN Long Cultural Arts Complex in Cleburne, Tx. JN Long Cultural Arts Complex Music Jam Potluck 4th Saturday, 5pm-8pm Address: 425 Granbury St, Cleburne, TX 76033 Hours: Open • 10AM–4PM (GIft Shop and Art Displays Closed Sun/Mon) Phone: (817) 641-4908 Keep this dates open.... February 24 March 24 April 28 May 26 June 23
Rock Art? By Jhan Beaupre I wondered why would anyone want to spend time painting rocks? But soon I found myself hooked on the hobby like some of my friends and family members. It’s touted as a global phenomenon, found in many parts of the world,
Christian Radio Broadcast WORLD WIDE From Cleburne
We are excited to announce that CLEBURNE, TEXAS HAS A NEW CHRISTIAN RADIO STATION. Cleburne’s newest radio station will bring local voices and talent to the airwaves as well as veteran DJ/Host “Sunni In The Morning”. The new radio station will rely heavily on members of the community and local churches to shape the content of it programs, serve as the talent on-air, DJs, Hosts and Guest Speakers. We are going for professional sound which will broadcast 24/7 from a beautifully furnished large blessed studio. We will air a blend of talk and music designed to give people a voice and a place to share their expertise with others. We hope to have people design and develop their own programs that could cover myriad topics ranging from Christian music, talk & teaching, to managing personal finance, kids korner, teen talk show, college class, women and men topics, sports, swap shop, comedy show and more. We have a large pool of talent in the Cleburne and surrounding area and we’d like to tap into that. The station also plans to take its microphones mobile to local fairs and festivals as well as to concerts and community events. Crossroads Radio will broadcast 24 hours a day. Now you have full access no matter where you live or are traveling, to tune into a local Christian Radio Station, without losing signal. CROSSROADS RADIO STATION is a fully integrated internet radio station accessible by ANY smartphone, computer, and vehicles with ADP app download capabilities for FREE. High power, great sound, non-profit radio station, will mainly reach to those who WANT to listen not
to those just in a certain listening area. We are WORLD WIDE!!! CROSSROADS RADIO STATION is a Christ-centered, non-profit, listener-supported radio ministry. We are followers of Jesus Christ, Son of God, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. As a listener-supported Christian station, we’re able to focus on creating the kind of radio that encourages listeners to not only “sing along, live along but to walk along with us.” We are passionate for Christ and we care for others. We want to serve our community both local and abroad. We support our churches, veterans, public officials, and children advocacy programs. The board members represent diverse denominations, backgrounds and professions to provide oversight, direction and accountability for the ministry. Once a year, during GraceA-Thon, we take three days to ask listeners to graciously help support us for the next fiscal year. We also offer Pathway Partners, so others can walk along with us financially with a monthly donation. The Partners agree to pray for those on our prayer list and support Crossroads Radio as much as they can. We play a variety of Christian genres, from Southern Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Christian Rock, Praise & Worship, Christian Rap, Christian Pop, Christian Blues and Christian Metal music. We are blessed with a performance stage so we can highlight local Christian Artists and allow them to play live concerts and talk about their songs. We also have a VIP Seating Section where we will give away special tickets to come watch these live performances.
Our Coverage…. We ARE World Wide. You can take us with you when you travel. Why Internet Radio, You Ask??? Currently broadcast towers on FM stations cost over $6,000 a day to run their stations and only have an outreach range of 150-175 mile radius. Signals can be hijacked by pirates encroaching to obtain and block Christian teachings. The fees associated with advertising is high to cover their overhead costs. Our overhead is much lower and therefore we are able to pass on those savings. The station broadcasts almost an even split of Christian talk and various styles of Christian Music. There will be programs for children and biblically based educational teachers. There’s room for up to 4 guests on any given show since we have top quality equipment and streaming service both on our app, computers as well as, social media. We’re filling in a gap that our neighboring Christian Radio Stations to the east and west are unable to reach. It’s exceeded our original expectations, as Internet Radio is the next generation of radio and most reachable form of broadcasting now. We’re reaching all over the WORLD not just here locally. If you are interested in becoming involved with Crossroads Radio or have music you want us to play please send MP3’s to our email at CrossroadsRadioStation@gmail.com.
and apparently, in Cleburne as well. If you visit Cleburne Rocks on Face Book, you may be amazed at the artistic talent. The idea is to hide the rocks around Cleburne for kids and others to find, something like an Easter Egg Hunt. Then once you find the rock, it’s yours to keep or to re-hide. Rock painting makes a great activity for kids and adults as well. On line you can find YouTube videos on Rock Painting, even Martha Stewart has a rock painting site. Now that I’ve gotten into the hobby of rock art, I’ve been hiding rocks at Hulen Park and McGregor Park for some time now. My favorite place is the Cleburne Cultural Center (the old J.N. Long School) inside of the free Library or outside around the building. My Rock Art is not as fancy as most, but I still get a kick out of creating this unusual fine art, especially gratifying when someone posts a picture that is one of my rocks on the Cleburne Rock Face Book page. Rock on Cleburne and paint some rocks! Visit these sites on Face Book: Burleson Rocks, or Sonic rocks Keene.
2 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • FEBRUARY 2018
Historic Downtown Cleburne just keeps getting better Historic Downtown Cleburne just keeps getting better. The award winning Plaza Theater has added a new Venture, Plaza Theater Company Jr - Main Street. The first show will kick-off February 24, a production of Junie B Jones The Musical. An enchanting story of everyone’s favorite 6 year old. The Published Page Bookshop, 108 E Chambers Street, Cleburne, is delighted to have in stock the three titles this play was based on. Children (of all ages) attending the performance will have an opportunity to have their books signed by the cast. So call The Plaza, reserve a seat for a fantastic event, and drop in to the Bookshop and pick up copies of the books. You and your children or grandchildren will create a memory that will last a lifetime.
Obituary Wilma “Tillie” Thrower (Mabry)
Flag at Full Staff on President’s Day February 12th
There’s always confusion on Presidents’ Day whether the flag should be flown at half-staff or full-staff. Fact is, the American flag should be proudly flown at full-staff on Presidents’ Day honoring the incumbent president and those who have served before.
ROBERT S. SHAW FOR
JOHNSON COUNTY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE PRECINCT 4 Pol. Adv. by Robert S. Shaw Justice of the Peace Campaign, Joyce Shaw Treasurer, P.O. Box 298, Venus, TX 76084
Fiber Arts Show Open - J.N. Long Cultural Arts Complex opened the 2018 Fiber Arts Show on Saturday, January 27th. One of the joys of having an annual show is the diversity of art exhibited each year. Fiber arts may include natural or synthetic materials and cover a wide range of art forms. This year’s show has hand woven baskets, quilts, needlepoint and fashions. The show will be open thorough February 24th. Exhibits at J.N. Long are always open to the public at no charge. Our galleries are located on the second floor of the main building. We are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Tuesday thru Saturday. After taking in the exhibit attendees may also choose to visit the model train exhibit, free library or gift shop. Direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at cleburneculturalarts. com
Memorial service for Wilma “Tillie” Thrower, 89, of Keene will be conducted at 10:00 A.M., Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 in the CrosierPearson Cleburne Chapel. Chaplain Benji Leach will officiate, assisted by Sharon Leach. Burial was in Keene Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be Dayne Berkner, Ben Arocho, Jordan Spivey, John Hopps and Danny Swinyar. Visitation will be from 6-8:00 P.M., Thursday, at the funeral home. Wilma “Tillie” Thrower passed away Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 in Keene. She was born November 18, 1928 in Lanette, Alabama to Joseph O. and Mary E. Talley Mabry. She married Aubrey Bob Thrower on July 15, 1951 in Lanette, Alabama and he preceded her in death on November 17, 2010, after 59 years of marriage. Mrs. Thrower worked as a secretary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, retiring with over 40 years of service. She was also a member of the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church. Survivors include her three daughters, Donna Berkner and husband Henry of Keene, Nancy Arocho and husband Tony of Cleburne and Pam Spivey and husband Ron of Alvarado; seven grandchildren; six great grandchildren; sister, Ina Claire Golden of Plainview; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was also preceded in death by her parents; and one sister, Sue Waldrip. Memorials may be made to: Keene Adventist Elementary School.
JOHNSON COUNTY DISTILLERY Jacob Weldon Blended Bourbon Whiskey
1655 South Main Cleburne, Tx
Open Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm
817-992-5105 Todd Kaufman, Owner
Coming: County officials along with the County Attorney are fighting the Texas Dept. of Agriculture in order to take land from residents of CR316 (Louis Vuitton area) by eminent domain. According to records the Agriculture Dept. has awarded the City of Keene $1,125,000.00 to improve CR316 from FM3136 to LV property entrance. However, one of the conditions of the grant is that eminent domain cannot be used in conjunction with the grant. It might be hard to widen the road if the Keene and the county cannot obtain additional right of way. It looks as if the city/county now will have to use the existing ROW (fence to fence) only and not make it wider for the delivery trucks to operate in. Perhaps this is another reason why these Alvarado residents have felt abandoned by their county officials and want a new commissioner for precinct 4. Going: to court this next week. The disannexation petition will be filed in order for 15 residents of Keene to have their properties removed from the city limits of Keene. A petition was filed and delivered to the city of Keene in late November requesting the properties in tract 4 be removed. The City of Keene had 60 days to act on the petition their failure to act opens the door for the properties owners to seek relief in Johnson County district courts. Coming: the petition for registered county voters to sign that would allow an election to be called by the Johnson County commissioners to curtail annexation power of cities in Johnson County. The needed 10% of registered county
residents would get a proposal on the ballot that would limit the power of cities to annex additional property without property owners’ permission. Currently, cities can annex contiguous property to their city limits without any recourse. Some people enjoy living in the unincorporated areas of Johnson County. www.stopforcedannexation. com to learn more about the petition and the need to sign it. This site will also give the locations of the petitions around the county. Going: Cleburne Fire Chief Clint Ishmael will be retiring after 17 years as Cleburne Chief. Scott Lail will be acting Chief until a permanent replacement can be found. Coming: The Red Horse Café has been opening for breakfast only…from 6am to 10:30am. It took them a while to open…things seem to be going their way now! It is located in the Red Horse Antique Mall, 215 E Henderson Street, but use the side door located on N Robinson Street across from City Hall. Expect expanded hours shortly. Coming: Eden Green, USA has purchased 58 acres in the Cleburne Industrial Park adjacent to Wal-Mart distribution on Wind Mill Road. They are planning on enclosing 1 million square feet (23 acres) in order to grow vegetables. They will distribute them through the Wal Mart system. Plans are to hire as many as 500 employees to prepare the land, plant, grow, harvest and package vegetables in order to get them quickly to the consumers. Now that is a big green house!!
FEBRUARY 2018 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • 3 Just for the record…the name for the company is biblical inspired. Australian based. Going: Bob Clauson, a city of Cleburne water department employee of many years retired late last year. Ever since his retirement…the taste and smell of the Cleburne water has been the topic of conversation by many residents and visitors. Not many compliments! Several complaints were filed with the then city manager several years ago about water employees spending more time on their iPads while at work than actually doing the work or studying to be certified. It was investigated with no action taken. The so-called “whistle-blower” thoroughly disgusted resigned his position. It appears that someone should have listened back then. How about bringing Bob back with extra pay?!! Coming: plans are working to bring a ladies boutique to East Henderson Street in the old Cleburne Chamber of Commerce building next to Action Signs. The 200 block of East Henderson Street will be filled with the exception of the Nate Stewart Building on the corner of E Henderson and Anglin Street. It has been under the Buildings and Standards Commission for several years and nothing has been accomplished besides having a large fine assessed against it. Going: The US bypass 67 between in North Main Street in Cleburne and Spur 102 in Keene is falling further behind. According to Paul Spraggins, TxDOT area engineer, the contractors were to have traffic switched to the new side in the first week in January. It is now February and traffic has not changed. The contractor on this project has 2 other TxDOT locations….they are all behind schedule also. Going: Need a new book? Need an old book? Check out the Published Page Bookshop at 108 E Chambers. They are open nightly till 8pm for your reading comfort. Tens of thousands of books to browse in downtown Cleburne. Go in ask for Jim Hart and welcome him to downtown Cleburne.
Coming: In 99 days? The second season of the Cleburne Railroaders according to their schedule will begin on May 18th at the Depot. Not much publicity or efforts to sell season tickets for the 2018 season in the local market. The high school has been seen using the field…there are entering the field from left field and parking on the dirt. Maybe the front entrance is limited to minor league players only. Hopefully, this weekend’s Alpine Fresh 4-Him Classic February 8, 9 and 10th will have the front entrance available. Going: Speaking of the Cleburne Railroaders…word is the concessionaire last year Sedona has declined a new contract for the Depot. They cited poor management and lack of cooperation from both the team and City of Cleburne. Coming: Councilman John Warren on February 24th in the Layland Museum Gathering room will give his memories of the Cleburne Eagles of Carver Park baseball team. That will at 1pm – 2pm. The Eagles were a well recognized and respected black baseball team of the 50’s and 60’s.
Help Kings Daughters
It is time to help raise money for a great organization right here in our hometown. The different circles of Kings daughters help our community directly in many ways. Please consider assisting them by purchasing a flower flat for $15.00 each. They have begonias, impatiens, petunias, marigolds, dusty miller, and moss rose mix. Delivery to your door will be late March/ early April. Money and order place has to be no later than Feb 28th. Checks can be written to Hearts Of Gold. Your support will be greatly appreciated. Contact Amanda Jimenez Park at Rosser Funeral Home for more information.
Bus Depot Antiques and Marketplace Celebrates 2nd Anniversary
The lucky winner for the catered BBQ Super Bowl meal was Ray Phillips. Ray works at Zimmerer Kubota in Cleburne. Ray and 29 quests were served by Melvin Clark of Spicy C BBQ on Super Bowl Sunday. Kathy Marchman drew the winning ticket out of bucket of 300 entries.
Something very special happened two years ago. Bus Depot Antiques and Marketplace opened its doors for the first time! What an awesome dream come true for Tina Hempel and friend Sherri Newton Fossett. It has been an amazing adventure. The ladies would like to say “Thank you” to all customers that made this adventure possible! Y’all are the best! The Bus Depot Antiques is located at 215 E Henderson Street in Cleburne. Open Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm.
Cleburne Toastmasters would like to congratulate our winning speakers from our weekly meeting. From left to right: Toastmaster Otis Mann, Best Table Topics and Best Evaluator Dayton Holland, Best Speaker Vonnie Delzeit for her reading of “The Highway Man”, a poem by Alfred Noyes. Cleburne Toastmasters meets every Wednesday at 12:05 in the back room of Susannah’s Homestyle Cooking and is open to anyone who wants to attend.
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office
James McClanahan was sworn in as Johnson County’s newest deputy. James has quite a bit of experience and is a former firefighter and arson investigator. It is expected that James will hit the ground running. Please welcome James to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
4 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • FEBRUARY 2018
Burleson Fire Department’s
Fire Officer of the Year
Congratulations to Battalion Chief Josh Jacobs who took home the award for Fire Officer of the Year. Chief Jacobs is known for his “lead by example” mentality and his strong work ethic, states his nomination form. In his role of Captain, he took on two new rookie firefighters and a newly promoted Engineer and began the process of educating and mentoring. He ensured every member of the crew knew their assignment and was properly trained in the execution of the task. Chief Jacobs gave his crew tasks that required them to stretch out of their comfort zone and become better as a shift. Through the department’s Community Risk Reduction Initiative the shift was able to educate the community in drowning awareness. He also was the lead for the fire department’s
open house and a major reason the event was a success. Chief Jacobs researched tactics and equipment to streamline the ways we can force entry. Those tactics and training paid off immediately when the shift had to assist the police department on a welfare check at a local residence. Since then, the tactics have been used many times with great success. Chief Jacobs is not satisfied with meeting status quo he wants his team to perform at a high level and always encourages growth. He leads by example in physical fitness, training evolutions, research and implementation of tactics, being a professional while on duty and off. Battalion Chief Jacobs began his career with Burleson Fire Department 14 years ago.
Firefighter of the Year
Firefighter Steve Burchette took home the Firefighter of the Year honor. Burchette has been an integral part of multiple projects the fire department completed this past year, states his nomination form. He often reported to the station on his days off to coordinate the department’s annual fit and flow testing which directly affects firefighter safety and the department’s ability to stay compliant with Texas Commission on Fire Protection. He also went above and beyond organizing
the department’s Personal Protective Equipment room which allows for firefighters to easily and quickly access additional equipment, with the knowledge that it has recently been tested and is ready for use. He also spent hours entering the department’s EMS training records which were integral for the department to begin offering Advanced Life Support services. Firefighter Burchette will mark 15 years with Burleson Fire Department in April of this year
Rookie of the Year
Firefighter Dennis Koslowsky has been named Rookie of the Year by the Burleson Fire Department. Koslowsky’s nomination form states that he demonstrates what every crew wants to see in a rookie firefighter. Koslowsky has been known for starting and ending each shift with a positive, can-do attitude. He is always the first person to offer to complete any given assignment and does so with a smile, no matter how hard, or difficult the task is, nor does he ever complain. He demonstrates passion, respect and is sincere with every patient and or citizen he comes in contact with. Koslowsky is also passionate about physical fitness in the department. He offers help in physical training for his co-workers both on and off the clock and suggests ways to eat better. As a rookie, Koslowsky has stepped up to the plate and pushed his fellow firefighters to take better care of themselves. Firefighter Koslowsky began his career with Burleson Fire Department December 19, 2016.
309 S Main Street
“Across from farmer’s market”
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FEBRUARY 2018 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • 5
Brett decided it was perfect weather to clean up the streets. He filled two GIANT bags of trash and one bucket with litter.
The Johnson County Commissioner’s Court recognized Detective Sergeant Cindy McGuire for 21 years of service. Sergeant McGuire is retiring and she will be greatly missed. Thank you Sergeant McGuire for your dedication and service to Johnson County.
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Iron Horse….Old Soggy No. 1
6 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • FEBRUARY 2018
You might have heard about the first airplane in Texas which was started being built in Cleburne and finished in Keene by Slats Rodgers. In his book he tells of his beginning experiences at the Santa Fe Railroad in Cleburne and that is where it all began and almost ended there, too.
Iron Horse…. Old Soggy No. 1 Part 1 I don’t know just when I started wanting to fly—maybe when I was a boy up in Dark Hollow, Mississippi, watching buzzards floating around lazy up there. I know that the idea of flying began to really get a hold on me after we moved to Texas, when I was around fifteen years old. Then, when I started shoving that switch engine around, man, I wanted wings on that thing so bad. Up in the Dark Hollow county Id spent most of my time hunting and trapping, and I sure like that. But when we moved to the little north Texas town of Keene, why I didn’t get much more hunting and trapping. I was going to a Seventh-day Adventist School, and I wasn’t learning a thing. So I start building kites, and I kept building bigger and bigger kites, all the time imagining how I was going to feel when I was up there flying on the kite, or with it. The bigger the kites, the less I learned in school. So when I turned seventeen I quit and went to work on the farm of my uncle close to Waco, in central Texas. I got paid what my uncle called a salary---fifteen dollars a month. All I had to do was get up every morning at four and fee the mules and milk four cows and ear breakfast, then I went to work. I worked until sundown. We were supposed to work by the sun, but I worked by the moon, too, coming and going, on the front end and the tail end, and when there wasn’t any moon, I work by the stars and the light of a lantern. At night, after supper, I fed the stock, milked the four cows again, shucked corn for feed for the next day, then I could go to bed if I was able to walk that far. I learned a few tricks that helped some. If I milked about two thirds of the milk from the cows and left the rest, they’d dry up. I dried up three of them and the cut the work down some. But I was about to decide there wasn’t any future in the what I was doing when I met a pretty little black-haired brown-eyed gal named Rosie Oliver who lived on a farm not far away. I got a date to see her, but we had to sit in the living room with her ma and pa. Not much of a date. After a while, when she turned fifteen and I was eighteen, I asked her how about getting married, she said I’d have to ask her dad. I wasn’t going to ask her dad anything, so we decided we’d run off and get married. I got my older brother, who was twenty-one, to get the license for us. He drove a mule the eighteen miles to Waco and got the license by telling the clerk that he was me and that the girl was eighteen. We got married. I kept on working on the farm for a while. We saved up money and went to the State Fair at Dallas that fall. On the way black I left my wife at the depot in Cleburne while I went to the railroad office to ask for a job. Pushing a switch engine around wasn’t exactly flying, but it sure beat milking cows. I got in line with the other men hunting jobs, and the gateman gave me a ticket to go and get signed up. The first man to said, “How old are you?” I said eighteen. Well here is your minor’s release,” he said. Take it to your dad and get it signed.” I took it to my dad, but he wouldn’t sign it. He said I was too young and too little to work on the railroad, “Besides, railroading is dangerous, “he said.” I didn’t give up. My wife and I got a light-housekeeping apartment at the same place where the roundhouse foreman was staying, and he sort of took a liking to us kids. He told me he would help me out, but I mustn’t let anybody know what he did. He said, “There is a different man in the office now. You get in line and when he asks you how old you are, tell him you’re twentyone.” I did that and made it okay. Got the job as night hostler helper. Forty-five dollars a month, twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Man, I was in hog heaven. For me that was short hours and long pay compared to what I’d been doing and getting. So I was a happy little man. It wouldn’t be long before I’d be pushing one of those switch engines around, then maybe something better. The hostler helper’s job was to coal, sand, and water up the engine and help in general. I made good on the job and in about three months I was promoted to day hostler helper. All the time I worked I was learning to fire up steam. I knew someday I would be promoted to fireman. I was so young and little that when some of the higher-ups came through on inspection, the man I worked for would tell me to go hide until they were gone. For nobody was going to believe I was twenty-one. I got good enough to take over for the hostler when he wasn’t around, so one day I got in the engine to run it up near the turntable so the hostler wouldn’t have to walk so far. The throttle stuck open. The track was turned crossways on the turntable pit, so into the four-foot put the engine went, front end down, hind end up. I didn’t know whether to run or stand still. Here came all the
hands and the bosses. The big boss, a man named Barnhill, said, “Son, don’t you know better than to touch one of those engines?” “Yes, sir,” I said, “But I wanted to help Mr. Johnson out a little.” “Boy, you’re fired now,” one of the men said to me. “Why?” I said. “I know better than to do that again, I’ve learned that much.” They called me into the office and asked me a lot of questions. Finallyh they got to laughing, and one of the bosses said, “Boy, we’re are going to give you another chance.” I went back to work. Figured I had to make good then. I would climb up on the engine while it was rolling slow, check the oil and water, and go over the cab and check the sand, then go down on the end of the engine. One day my foot slipped off the cowcatcher bar and I fell in the middle of the track, right between the rails. I lay there flat on the ground while the engine passed over me, and when the cab got right square over me I hollered out. The hostler heard me and stopped the ending and got down to see what was going on. He peeked under the cab and saw me.
“What the hell are you doing under there?” he asked me. “I fell off the front end and there wasn’t any place else to go,” I said. Here came all the hands again, then the bosses. One of the bosses said, “We don’t know what the hell to do with you.” “Oh, I’ll make out all right,” I said. I crawled out from under the cab and went back to work. The next day I was promoted to callboy, maybe because the boss was glad the engine didn’t squash me when I fell. It was my job to call the engine crew at night. It didn’t take me long until I knew everybody and all about their business, and pretty soon I got in trouble again. I called a switch-engine fireman to go to work at seven in the morning and he went back to sleep on me. So since I was just getting off duty and there stood the engine, why, I called myself. Right away I answered. I put on my coveralls and went to work. Tom Coyne, the engineer, looked at me and said, “Where you going, kid?” “I’m going to fire for you today, I said. “The callboy called me.” “What callboy?” “Me,” I said. He laughed and said, “All right.” I said, “All right.” And away we went. About three in the afternoon the bosses found it out and sent a man to relieve me. They sent word for me to come to the office. I went in and they looked me over and didn’t say any-
thing for a few minutes, then one of the men said, “What are we going to do with you, boy? We don’t have you insured to fire those engines.” “Oh, if I get hurt, I don’t want any credit for it,” I said. They turned me loose and told me to stay on that callboy job until I was promoted to fireman. One night, while the railroad was having strike trouble, I was at the Santa Fe Depot, where the trains changed engines. There was a passenger parked in the yard with nobody in it, and all at once started running off toward the main line, all by itself. I ran like hell and caught it and got it stopped. In another minute it would have been on the main line and gone. They called me up to the office the next day and promoted me to fireman. I started firing on a switch engine and made it okay. The in about three months they sent me over to Honey Grove to fire a branch run from there to Sherman. The run didn’t work on Sundays—laid over in Honey Grove. So all I had to do on Sundays was watch the engine. I was still pretty much of a kid, and I had got acquainted with a lot of the boys and girls in Honey Grove. I got up a swimming party for about fifteen of them. I told them to come out to the depot and we would all pile onto the engine and go over to Sulphur Creek and go swimming. That suited everyone fine. So the next Sunday I got the engine out and stopped it at the depot and they all piled on. Away we went, twelve miles to the creek. I left the engine there on the main line while we all went swimming for about an hour, then we piled back on for the trip home. I backed the engine into Honey Grove, stopped at the depot, unloaded all my passengers, and told a little Negro boy there go back and throw the derail switch so I could put the engine in the roundhouse. He didn’t throw the switch, but I thought he did. So off onto the ground she went, tank, engine, and all laid over on the side. Trouble again, real trouble. I notified the depot agent and he sent a wire to Cleburne. It took a whole day for a wrecker crew to get there and put the engine and tank back on the track and get things fixed up. I waited for word that I was fired. I didn’t expect ever to go out again. In a few days here came a man to relieve me, and along with him came word for me to go to headquarters. I went. When I got in the superintendent’s office he said, “What the hell do you mean doing something crazy like that after all the trouble you’ve been in? That’s the worst thing that’s happened on this line since I’ve been superintendent. Come back tomorrow for an investigation.” The next day I went back to be investigated. I sat in the anteroom and could hear the men inside talking. Then they would bust out laughing, then talk some more, then laugh some more. I heard them say, “That’s never happened before, leaving the engine on the main line where a train might be coming along anytime.” Finally they sent for me and asked me some questions. I said, “I didn’t think there would be any trains on that line but ours, and ours weren’t due then.” That’s about all I had to say. When you get in trouble on the railroad you are entitled to have somebody represent you. A man named Squires represented me. He must have done a good job, for after about an hour of talking they told me to go home and wait for the word, then a few weeks later the superintendent called me into his office and gave me the word. “You’re just a kid,” he said, “not twenty years old. But you’ve been here for over a year. How old are you, anyway? I mean your real age.” “I’m nineteen,” I said. “If you didn’t have that little family of yours, I’d let you go for good,” he told me. “Maybe you don’t mean it, but you’re into something all the time.” “Well, I know I can do better for now on,” I said. So he gave me a good talking-to and gave me a pass to go to Honey Grove and take the job back. But he gave me twenty-nine demerits. It took thirty demerits to get fired without any more talk. So I was twenty-nine down and one to go---pretty short step. I had to do things right.
FEBRUARY 2018 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • 7
Keene Chronicle Old Soggy No. 1 Keene Texas
You might have seen the half scale replica of Old Soggy No 1 hanging in the Hopps Museum on the campus of Southwestern Adventist University. There is a fascinating story about the builder, pilot and how he came to Keene to finish building his airplane. The following is taken from his book as told in his own words. Read why he left Cleburne to come to Keene and then how he had to go back to Cleburne to make money to fly the airplane.
Old Soggy No. 1 Keene Texas
Of course I knew all along I’d never make that switch engine fly, and I wouldn’t make the engine on the main line fly, either. But flying was all I cared about, and when I got in the cab and felt all that power in the engine, it seemed a shame to waste it just hauling something around on the ground. Maybe that’s why I kept doing things that got me in trouble—I kept thinking of flying. And I knew I’d fly someday, even if I had to build my own airplane. That’s what I finally did. After I’d been railroading awhile and had got over some of my trouble and was doing all right on the run from Dallas to Cleburne with a layover in Dallas, I decided I was going to build a model plane. So I scared the chickens out of the henhouse and cleaned it out and got it ready to use as a workshop.
I began buying tools with whatever money I could spare out of my check each month. I made drawings of a model and started buying stuff to build it with. Building it wasn’t easy at all. Most people then didn’t even know what the devil airplanes were built out of. I spent a lot of times in libraries reading all the stuff I could find about airplanes. Some of it was written by the Wright Brothers. And I worked steady on my model plane until I had finally had it finished, in about four months. Then I fastened it on the engine tank. News got up and down the line, and crowds of people began showing up in little towns to see the plane. That might seem mighty funny to people today until you stop to figure that crowds would probably show up at the station if word got around that a flying saucer from way out in space was fastened to the engine tank. Well, an airplane back in those days, in 1911, was just about as exciting to people as a flying saucer today— and to most of them it seemed just as cockeyed. “That thing won’t ever fly,” they all said, talking about airplanes. I began doing some thinking, which I never have done often. If they’d show up to see that dinky little model, then what would they do if somebody turned up with a real airplane, one that would fly? It was something to think about, especially after newspapermen and photographers began coming to me to get stories and pictures of my model plane.
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One day a man came and introduced himself to me and told me he was with the magazine put out for the men who worked on the railroad, the Santa Fe. “That little plane of yours is sure causing a lot of talk,” he said. “I’d like to talk to you and get a picture of it to put in the magazine.” I said fine. “What’s the idea of building it?” he asked me. “I’m going to build a real one that I can fly in,” I said. “Well, more power to you,” he said, and grinned. About that time a woman opened a picture show there in Cleburne. Picture shows were about as strange and new as airplanes. The woman offered me seventy-five bucks to put my model airplane in front of her show for a week, and told her it was a deal. That gave me a start toward my real plane. The magazine came out with the story about my model airplane and said I was going to build a real one. So I took my plans to a draftsman, Steve Haywood, a Santa Fe man, and he got steamed up about it and helped me all he could. I needed help because my plans weren’t accurate at all. Lots of people began hurrahing me about the plane. “Flying is for birds,” they said. “Those things won’t ever work.” I didn’t pay them any mind, but kept on getting all the dope I could find on how to build a plane, such things as the right wing curve and size of the wings and all that. I finally figured out that a thirty-foot wingspread would be about right. A lot of fellows on the railroad stood by me instead of razzing me. Some of them even offered to help. I began looking for a place big enough to build the plane in. I found a vacant store building on Main Street, near the post office, and rented it. I started ordering materials and getting ready to do the building. I ordered spruce from Oregon. There were no turnbuckles like I needed in this country, so I had to order those from France. I bought the engine in St. Louis for $750. It was a six cylinder engine, weighing 287 pounds, and was rated 100 horse-power, only it never got very close to that so far as I could tell. It carried no lube oil in the crankcase. There was a
large plug at the top of the crankcase and at the bottom of each cylinder that you took out with a big screwdriver. Then you packed in cup grease. The cups were on both sides , twelve of them. It made one hell of a noise when it was running fast. You started it by turning the prop, but it was so hard to start that they had put a pet cock on each cylinder and I was told to squirt some ether in each pet cock for easy starting. So I did. I put too much and off came the cylinder heads, pet cocks and all. After that every time the engine was hard to start, some monkey would yell, “Bring the ether.” There was a better engine being put out at that time by the Roberts Motor Company, but it was too stout for me---$1400. All that stuff I ordered was coming C.O.D., so I had to start hustling for money. I hustled everybody I knew and had pretty good luck. A whole wagonload of spruce came in, and I had it unloaded in my building. Then people began coming around, more and more of them, asking me questions. And newspapermen came around and asked still more questions. There weren’t any other airplanes being built in Texas then. Mine was the first. So everybody was mighty curious. I had a good friend, John Fine, who was a railroad engineer, and he could do any kind of building work, like brazing, woodwork, and all that. He came in to me one day and said, “Slats, what’s going on around here?” “I’m going to build an airplane that will fly?” I said. “How about laying off for a while and helping me?” “When do we start?” he wanted to know. “Right now!” We talked it over. A day or so later we got started. We got all our figures together and hauled the spruce to the planing mill, and they began sawing the pieces. Then we went to work putting things together. We had to make our own shellac, and I’ver never so much glue in all my life. We used 188-proof alcohol to cut the shellac with, and I cut the alcohol with water and drank it. We kept Continued Page 8
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8 • JOHNSONCOUNTYOBSERVER.com • FEBRUARY 2018
Old Soggy No. 1 Keene Texas
Continued from Page 7
running out of alcohol for shellac. Pretty soon we were building away, and there was plenty of building to do, for we had all the fittings and most everything else to make. After we had been working for about three months, John said, “Let’s count the pieces it takes to build it and maybe we can tell a little better where we are.” We started counting. When we got to 10,000, including screws and nuts and washers and all that, I said, “John, there’s too doggone many pieces in that thing. We’ve got to either build an airplane or count pieces. I’m for building the airplane.” We quit working and went back to work. People began crowding around all the time, blocking the sidewalk. So the city decided that my airplane was a public nuisance and told me I would have to move it out of town. I told my dad about it and he got hot under the collar and said he would fix things. So he went to Keene, about five miles from Cleburne, and rented a big old house to put the airplane in. We loaded all the parts and tolls and stuff on a mule wagon and moved out there and started working again. But moving out to Keene didn’t cut the crowds down any. They kept coming— most of them telling me things they though I ought to know, like, “You’ll break your neck in that thing, and don’t you know you have a family to think of? It won’t work anyway.” Sure, I had a family to think of. I wasn’t thinking of them much, though. Like I said, something happened the day I started to build that plane. I never was the same again. Some of the wise boys would draw pictures of me and the airplane. They though the pictures were mighty funny. Some other would say things they thought were cute. I averaged a fight a day. Now and then I won. Finally John and I got a bellyful of the yapping, and we told them to all clear out and stay out. We got the work going faster after that. Pretty soon we had it almost finished. The last job was to get the linen to cover it with. In those days there was none of that dope you use to tighten cloth on wings, and nobody knew how to make it. Back to the library I went and found out that a mixture of celluloid, acetone, either, and banana oil would do the job. I didn’t know anything about chemistry, bit it seemed to me that stuff might blow up if you put it all together. I asked John was he thought. “Let it blow,” he said. So we stirred the stuff together. It didn’t blow up, but it worked so good it tightened the cloth too much and warped the wings almost in a circle. We had to cut the cloth and put in patches. Finally we got it finished and set it up on the outside of the building. Here came the people and the newspapermen. I never did exactly figure newspapermen as people. They count separate. All the newspapers were running stories and pictures. It was the big story in Texas, the first airplane ever built in the state. And there weren’t many airplanes in the state, no matter where they were built. I was flat broke by the time we finished the
ship, so I had to do something in a hurry. I went back to Cleburne and rented a lot to park the ship in. Then I found out I had to go to the county commissioners and get a permit to move the plane along the highway to town. I went to the commissioners. They gave me a permit, but they told me I would have to move the ship at night. “Start after midnight,” one commissioner said, “and get in here before daylight. There are a lot of folks around here that don’t like the idea of this airplane thing.” “They’ll be the first ones to want to look at it,” I told him. But he just said don’t start moving that thing in the daytime and go scaring people and horses and cows—get going after midnight and there won’t be any buggies or wagons on the road. I got two little mules and hitched them to the ship and started out for town right after midnight, and I was thinking, “This a hell of a way to make my first trip with the ship.” But I needed the money. I met only one wagon, pulled by steers. The steers didn’t pay any mind to the airplane, but the man in the wagon did. He tried to get the hell out of there, but there wasn’t any place to go. I managed to seesaw past him in the narrow road and got into town and onto the lot just at daylight. Six hours to go five miles with an airplane. I put a big tent wall up around the ship so nobody could gawk at it free, then advertised that I would show it on a certain day at fifty cents a throw. The day came and so did the people. I never knew there were so many people. After showing for three days I had $700 in cash. And that’s when I began advertising everywhere. “When you gonna fly it?” everybody kept asking me. Some others asked different questions and said things like, “It’s built wrong,” and “A man can’t teach hisself to fly,’ and “Nobody but a crazy man would get in that.” One doctor who had a real handsome face and knew it because of the way women swarmed around him got a lot nastier than there was any reason for him to get, and when he called me a bastard one day, why, I picked up a pop bottle and opened his face up so he wasn’t so handsome any more. I learned to fight in Dark Hollow, Mississippi, when I was a boy, and I was always so little I figured the rules for fighting would have to be for somebody else. I just fought to win. Still they kept shooting off their heads. Mostly I didn’t pay them any mind. I just said, “How much money you have in it, and how much is it gonna hurt you if I crack it and get killed when I fly?” They didn’t have any money in it, and I knew that if I cracked up and got killed, they’d think it was funny. Real excitement. For twenty-five years I did stunt flying for people, knowing all the time they’d get a big bang out of seeing me splatter out on the ground. But I damn sure didn’t do it for free, and I didn’t squawk then and I’m not squawking now. But things like stunt flying make you get right down close to the way people are, and maybe you don’t think like other people say they do. Anyway, I was busy getting ready to fly. To be continued….
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