Page 1 --- May 2012


Take One!

Volume 5 Issue 60

w w w. M y C o u n t y - L i n e . c o m

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Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

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In This Issue: 3 Growing Up Small Town

4 Texas Conservative 7  @The Ranger Library 8  Community Calendar 8  Good Neighbors 9  Treasure Hunters: History Series

10 Tumbleweed Smith 12  Treasure Hunters 14  Love Lessons Learned So Far

15 Star Pride 16  Breckenridge

Community Page

17 Eastland Police Department

18 19  Rising Star Community Page

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vol.5 Issue 60

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20 Ol’ Doc’s Homespun Yarns

21 This Week In Texas History

21 Strange Stories 23  From the Backside 23  In Sickness and In



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The County Line

2012 Eastland HS Jr./Sr. Prom

We appreciate your support! Mike &rris Ruth No

Grand March Photos Available for viewing on our Facebook page!

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

3Growing Up Small Town ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

Growing Up Small Town

, Mike W. Norris

Where Does the Time Go?


by Mike W. Norris

This has been a very busy month around the County Line homefront. The month started off with the Big Country Airfest at Dyess Air Force Base on April 28th. I took Sherrie and her boyfriend, Cody, to the air show and we spent the day enjoying clear blue skies and thundering jets. While we were in Abilene for the airshow, Cisco was gathering for the Cisco Folk Life Festival. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to be in two places at once, so we missed the Folk Life Festival this year. On Tuesday, May 1st, I took Ruthie to Dallas to follow-up with her transplant doctors at DTI. I got in a few hours working at the park across the street from the clinic. Her visit wasn’t the best and we’ll talk about that more on her page. After we got back from Dallas, I spent the rest of the week admiring my new truck graphics that I had installed at Bryan’s Signs in Eastland! Those graphics have been in the works for over 5yrs and when I sold my old Jeep YJ I was finally able to part with the money to have it done! Thanks to Daniel and the Bryan’s Signs crew for a job well done!


It’s Like a Whole Other Country. On May 11th, the Eastland Chamber of Commerce, Eastland Economic Development Corporation and the Eastland Memorial Hospital administrators and staff, as well as dozens of local supporters and donors, gathered to celebrate the ground breaking of the upcoming Eastland Dialysis Center. Ruthie was able to mingle with many of the local community leaders as well as fellow dialysis patients to help welcome this much needed service to our area -- more on that to come! Shortly after that, Sherrie had her Jr./ Sr. Prom on the 12th. We tried over and over to get her in to take her driver’s test so she could drive herself and her escort, Cody, to the prom...but schedules worked against us and we could never get her scheduled in at the DPS office. So Ruthie and I drove the kiddo’s over to the prom and we attended the Grand March. That was a first for Ruthie and I and was more enjoyable than I expected -- after all, we

didn’t do that back in my day in Carbon. It was a night without parents for us! Somewhere in there, Sherrie participated in a photo-shoot with CL advertiser, Red Riding Hood Photography out of Breckenridge. Sherrie had a blast and Ticia is always a joy to work with! We still can’t wait to see how Ticia’s promotional work comes out as this was for her summer advertising campaign for senior pictures next year! So mothers and daughters -stay tuned!!! Sunday after the Prom, we had Mother’s Day!!! Many heartfelt thanks to all those mothers out there in County Line territory... without you, none of us would be here! On the 15th, Ruthie was back in Dallas. I’ll let her speak for herself on her page, but for the most part she is doing well -but her transplant kidney has lost some functionality and it doesn’t seem to want to come back. It’s not a serious issue yet, Continued on page 11... Mobile Command Vehicle & Paper Delivery Truck! If you see this truck out and about, take a photo and post it on our Facebook page --

Breckenridge Frontier Days got going the following weekend and I tried to help promote the event using all kinds of Facebook and Twitter posts. It was a good effort, and I learned a few things, but there’s more to learn there. I look forward to working out those kinks and being able to do live feeds via the Internet at some point in the stuff!!! Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

4Texas Conservative ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~ Texas Conservative

, Chuck Norris - The Man

Intrusions Into American Farms and Families By Chuck Norris


In God We Trust United We Stand

Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at May 15, 2012

With Mother’s Day right at our back, I want to address one of the most extreme overreaches by the federal government into American homes that I’ve seen in a long time. Then I want to call on my own 91-year-old mother, who was raised in rural Oklahoma and worked in cotton fields with her family during the Great Depression, to help set straight the rural farm and child labor record. After a national decry by American farmers (and all of us who support them), the Obama administration has just shelved its plan to severely restrict kids younger than 16 from working on family farms. But mark my words. As the feds often do, they merely are regrouping to march again on those great American homesteads. Part of the very words of the U.S. Department of Labor’s “withdrawal” statement: “The Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations. ... To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” “Will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration”? So, until Jan. 20, 2013, right? Kudos to the bipartisan group of 98 members of Congress who sent a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis protesting this rule, which would have severely limited teenagers and younger children from learning the family trade, not to mention undermined the very business fabric of rural America. It might sound legislatively crazy if it weren’t coming from one of the most overextended federal governments in the history of the U.S. According to The Raleigh Telegram, “the rule would have prevented children younger than 16 from doing ‘agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins’ while also forbidding them from using ‘power-driven equipment’ and working in the ‘cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.’” Can you imagine? What’s next? The feds’ crackdown making it illegal for kids to wash dishes, because a knife might cut them? No grinding up food, because the garbage disposer might malfunction and start suddenly while their hand is in it? No more cooking or ironing, because their hands might get burned? No more housecleaning, because the Environmental Protection Agency has designated the mixture of certain cleaning chemicals as hazardous to touch or breathe in? Let’s get real, folks! How far do the feds have to mingle in our manure before we say enough is enough? How far do we have to slide down the slippery slope of socialism before the descent becomes irreversible, before we say, “Welcome to Greece”? As my mom, Wilma Norris Knight, told me on Mother’s Day, “the federal government should keep their noses out of our business! Raising kids is the responsibility of parents, not the government. My papa and mama would have marched from Oklahoma all the way to Washington, D.C., if they tried to tell us what to do on our farm.” This past Mother’s Day weekend, many of you probably saw my mom being interviewed by Mike Huckabee, our friend the former governor of Arkansas, on his Fox News Channel show, “Huckabee.” During the interview about her new autobiography, “Acts of Kindness: My Story” (available only at http://, she said it best: Kids need lots of love from their own parents and the influence of their church teachers. Our children are on loan to us from God, and he nowhere alludes to the nurturing influence of a central government! What’s really at the heart of the Labor Department’s farm action is the continued implementation of Agenda 21, a United Nations program launched in 1992 for the nebulous purpose of reaching global “sustainable development” but which actually promotes a European socialist system that will undermine and chip away our freedoms, liberties and rights. At the heart of that global and social change agenda is the use of nongovernmental organizations, civil resistance movements and class warfare protests, just like the ones we’ve seen with Occupy’s vow to shut down businesses and even Wall Street. One major Occupy website even embraces Agenda 21 as the agenda for its movement! Of course, don’t look for the term Agenda 21 to show up in President Barack Obama’s re-election speeches. To the public, he will continue to pitch -- as he did last week -- that he is the real small-government president, even more so than former President Ronald Reagan! (I had no idea BO was running for comedian in chief.) But what about actions like the Labor Department’s farm act? Of course, that’s not creating bigger government; it’s just the passionate

concern of the federal government to swoop down like a superhero and “protect” your children. Just what we need during this post-Mother’s Day week, the federal government’s playing some further maternal or paternal role to our children, right? The feds’ actions prompt me to recall the wisdom of Reagan, who said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” IRS Gives Billions in Tax Refunds to Illegals - May 22, 2012

WTHR, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, recently reported about how millions of illegal aliens are getting billions of dollars in U.S. tax refunds without having paid a dime in income taxes. The story instantly went viral because it’s true. You won’t believe what illegals are getting away with, and our government is enabling them. Here’s how it works. Illegal immigrants cannot qualify for legitimate Social Security numbers, which would entitle them to work legally in the U.S. and file income tax returns, but the Internal Revenue Service allows them to apply for ninedigit individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs, which also are used to file federal income tax returns. In addition, a provision in the tax code permits illegals to claim “additional

©CHUCK NORRIS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM - Reprinted under license by Mike Norris

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

5Texas Conservative ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

, Chuck Norris - The Man

child tax credits,” which grant families $1,000 per “dependent” child. Roughly three-quarters of tax returns filed by illegals include these ACTCs. With the ITIN, illegals are able to get tax credits and refunds for nephews, nieces and other family members who never have touched U.S. soil. For example, an illegal immigrant who makes $13,000 a year not only pays no taxes but also can receive a refund of $5,000 by simply filling in five ACTCs. One illegal used a fake address and said four illegal aliens lived there with 20 relatives as dependents, for a grand total tax refund of $29,000! According to the Center for Immigration Studies, in the 2010 tax year alone, more than 3 million returns were filed with ITINs. About 2.3 million of them paid no federal income taxes and also collected a cumulative $4 billion from the Treasury in tax refunds for claiming ACTCs. confirmed: “The (Treasury Department’s inspector general’s) report stated that more than 2.3 million persons who did not have Social Security numbers valid for working in the U.S. got an average of roughly $1,800 each in 2010 in child tax credit refunds. That included 9,000 illegal immigrants who each got a total of $10,000 or more by retroactively claiming credits for tax years prior to 2010.” A tax consultant snitched to WTHR News: “We’ve seen 10 (or) 12 dependents, most times nieces and nephews, on these tax returns. The more

you put on there the more you get back. ... Here’s a return right here: ‘We’ve got a $10,300 refund (for) nine nieces and nephews.’” And if you think this is a relatively new IRS scam, consider the report for the Center for Immigration Studies prepared by Peter A. Schulkin, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and has taught at several universities. It was a followup to a November 2010 memorandum titled “Child Tax Credits for Illegal Immigrants.” In it, Schulkin “highlights new information contained in a report of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) dated July 7, 2011, (titled) ‘Individuals Who Are Not Authorized to Work in the United States Were Paid $4.2 Billion in Refundable Credits.’ The $4.2 billion is entirely the product of the Additional Child Tax Credit ... for the 2010 tax processing year.” Furthermore, Schulkin reported: “The July 7, 2011, TIGTA report echoes the message contained in the earlier March 31, 2009, TIGTA report in the statement: ‘Although the law prohibits aliens residing without authorization in the United States from receiving most Federal public benefits, an increasing number of these individuals are filing tax returns claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit ... a refundable tax credit intended for working families. The payment of Federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United

States without authorization, which contradicts Federal law and policy to remove such incentives.’” In fact, Schulkin’s memorandum reports a long history of IRS abuses of ACTCs by illegal immigrants -- at least seven years. confirmed, “By 2005, the recent IG report said, 796,000 persons without valid Social Security numbers claimed refundable child credits totaling $924 million, and in 2008, these claims had risen to 1,526,276 persons claiming $2.1 billion in refunds.” reported that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman was asked in April about what his agency is doing to collect taxes from illegal immigrants. He replied: “It’s a great question. And one of the pathways to citizenship that people believe is a good one is -- even if you’re not in this country legally -- to pay taxes.” additionally noted how, in 2006, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security James Lockhart said that in the year 2003 alone, 8.8 million W-2 forms had been filed on which the Social Security number and name did not match and the W-2 could not be attributed to a known taxpayer. The Social Security Administration pointed to the reason for both as “unauthorized work” being done by illegal aliens. The words that continue to echo through my head are President Barack Obama’s chastising comment about the wealthy: We all must “pay our fair share” of taxes. Illegal immigrants’ IRS abuses and theft of hardworking taxpayers’


money will not cease until Congress acts. In 2011, H.R. 1956 was proposed “to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require individuals to provide their Social Security number in order to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit.” But the legislation has had only one hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. Why? According to, “leading Democrats are resisting a bill that would stop future payments”! Please call your representative today and say Congress needs to act immediately to stop this pilfering of the U.S. Treasury by illegal immigrants. We all must “pay our fair share” of taxes? And so Rome continues to burn.

©CHUCK NORRIS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM - Reprinted under license by Mike Norris

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

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6 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~


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E HERE!!! IS T R E V D A Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

7@The Ranger Library ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~ @The Ranger Library

, Diana McCullough


Ordinary People CAN Change the World By Diana McCullough

The weather has been beautiful in Houston this week as I attended the Texas Library Association conference. Until today. The clouds were gathering a little ominously at noon and the rains started as we rode the Super Shuttle to Bush International Airport—where I now wait. Our flight has been delayed twice and I got a call on my cell phone that my connecting flight at DFW has now been delayed, too. For the most part, I like thunder and lightning and I appreciate this shelter and heightened security in a storm. By the time you read this, our 8th Get ‘Er Done Day will be history. The Ranger Citizens Task Force met yesterday without me although I was in contact with three of our volunteers. The Task Force is concentrating on Ranger’s 3rd Quadrant and we passed out flyers in that area last Saturday—lots of nice citizens in those neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to our first ever Music in the Park tomorrow afternoon—hoping for the best, realizing we are taking a chance. Success is not guaranteed—even if you are American Airlines. I am so lucky to have been able to attend the Texas Library Conference. Our PEARL Foundation Grant paid, or will pay, all related expenses, including the expense of paying for my substitute, Bob Davis—man, I appreciate Bob. Many of our library patrons have read the books of Brad Meltzer, the inspirational speaker of our first General Assembly. I didn’t realize that Brad was responsible for the Buffy the Vampire series and he’s also been consulted by National Security for out-of-the-box thinking on terrorism possibilities. He made me think of our Task Force with his beliefs that “ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary”. He encouraged us to “create your own legacy”. Your legacy is what you do for other people. What LASTS. He said we are all Clark Kent—boring and ordinary. He wants us to be FIGHTERS! Don’t let anyone tell us “No.” Brad said that “Ordinary people can change the world.” I loved his take on life. I attended as many sessions and events that I could, including the Bluebonnet Award Luncheon. The Bluebonnet Award books are chosen by Texas school children and this year’s winner is “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” written by Tom Angleberger, who happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. He delighted a ballroom of librarians with the reading of his book. He concluded with, “Asperger’s is not a Syndrome, it’s a Super Power. And Middle School is made of kryptonite.” Now I’m back in Ranger and Houston seems so distant. The weather was PERFECT for Get ‘Er Done Day and our Music in Bargsley Park. Praise God! Saturday was a nice day for Ranger. Mrs. Polly Alexander said “it’s like living in America”. I said, “Mrs. Polly, do you have a pen? I want to write that down.” Our library has received three new books from Brodart: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King; Breaking News by Fern Michaels; and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. UPS has also delivered the big box of books that I shipped from Houston—mostly children’s books. A Memorial Gift in honor of Jake Basham was donated by Mrs. Dorothy Beames. Jake Basham is the father of Roy Basham who dated my daughter, Keri. Keri thought the world of Jake, he was good to her. Girl Scout Troop #8344 also made a nice donation to our library in appreciation for meeting in our adjoining Community Room. I told them that we could buy the

new Bluebonnet Award Winner and then when I saw the amount of their contribution I told them we could buy SEVERAL of them! Two librarians from the Cisco Junior College Library visited yesterday and we are planning a Summer Reading Program in our adjoining Community Room on Thursdays, from 1:00 – 2:30—right after Lions’ Club. This will start on June 15 and will end on July 27, and will skip the week of July 4th. Participants will be encouraged to register in May, and prizes will soon be solicited. Studio 254, the new hair salon out toward the school, has once again bestowed a nice donation to our library—the fourth month in a row! This is so generous!

Dorothy Ann Fisher invited me to her mom’s house on Foch Street, and for the record--Mrs. Lorene Oliver owned a lot of books! Now two stacks of them sit near this desk. I also brought back a painting by one of her friends that will soon be hung in our kitchen. Mrs. Oliver, my 6th grade English teacher, was an accomplished painter herself and I enjoyed looking at her oil-painted landscapes. There was even one painting by Reba Rawls, another lady that I once worked with. This coming Monday, I plan to attend a TMCN Meeting in Abilene and my substitute, Bob Davis, has agreed to open our library at 1:00. Hope EVERYONE has a good book! I do! I am currently reading a donated paperback called The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella—the author that “cracks up” my daughter, Keri. I finished “Catch Me”, the newest by Lisa Gardner, on the way home from Houston. It is GOOD! In closing, a proverb from our Leadership session: “Leaders do the right thing; managers do things right.” And from a sleep shirt in the Exhibit Hall that made me laugh: “She who reads is booked every night.” Please take care, and as always… ENJOY READING!!! Send Comments to:

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

8 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~ Community Calendar

■ Good


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Boat Insurance Basics Did you know that boat insurance is one of the earliest known forms of insurance? Ancient sailors knew firsthand about the risks of a life at sea and sought to insure their vessels against unpredictable waters. Insuring your recreational boat will help give you peace of mind whenever and wherever you cast off. Boat insurance policies can vary widely in what they do and do not cover based on a number of considerations, including the type of boat, the waters it will traffic, and how many months of the year the boat will be used. Still, there are a few basic kinds of coverage you can expect to receive, as well as some potential discounts for safe boaters. Physical Damage This coverage insures your boat against damage and loss caused by common risks, such as sinking, fire, storms, theft, and collision. The property covered can vary, but the policy will

usually cover the hull and other permanent components, such as: Motors Extra fuel tanks, batteries, etc. Anchors Onboard safety equipment, such as flotation devices and fire extinguishers A trailer may or may not be covered, depending on the policy. When choosing your policy, be sure to ask whether you will be insured for the boat’s replacement cost or its actual cash value. A replacement cost policy will reimburse you the cost of repairing the boat to its original condition or replacing the boat with the same or a similar model. A policy based on actual cash value will reimburse you for the current market value of the repair or replacement (the original price minus depreciation). Liability Coverage This coverage applies if your boat causes injury to others or

damage to other boats, docks, or structures. Keep in mind that the injury or damage can be due to direct contact with your vessel or situations caused by your vessel, such as large wakes. Good liability coverage may provide protection against lawsuits, including the payment of settlements and legal fees. Other Coverage Your insurer may offer additional kinds of coverage to go with your basic boat insurance. If you have other needs, ask your insurance agent what coverage is available. Discounts The best way to lower your boat insurance premiums is to become a safer boater. For example, many insurers offer discounts to boaters who have completed an approved boating safety course. Your boat may also qualify for a discount by passing the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Safety Check.

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Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

9Treasure Hunters: History Series

9 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

Treasure Hunters: History Series

, Jerry Eckhart

TRAILING TREASURE FOR FIFTY YEARS Chapter 2: School as a Senior -- The Indiahoma Searches By Jerry Eckhart To see more of Jerry’s treasure finds, search Facebook for “Jerry Eckhart”

Indiahoma, Oklahoma proved to be a complete surprise to me. It was a small town, numbering around 200 people, with about 80% of that number being Native American, Kiowa and Comanche. We moved there in 1957 when Dad got a transfer from to Lawton, Oklahoma post office to become a rural mail carrier at Indiahoma. Our basket ball team only had one white boy on it. Those Indian boys were fantastic ball players. They could jump higher and hit more baskets than I ever imagined. It took me some time to make friends with them as I was shy and hesitated to make friends. I did make some friends within the first couple of months. When I did, I was invited to their homes, shared their meals and listened to their stories. I was in my element. Those stories stirred me to the point where I sometimes couldn’t sleep at night. In 1957, the Indians around Indiahoma were almost all Comanche or Kiowa, with some intermarrying between the two tribes. They maintained many of their old ways. Each home I visited had a memento of their cultural past. I saw original bows and arrows hanging in one home. In another there were a couple of spears mounted on the wall, while others had blankets, drums, or feathered headdresses. During the late spring and summer, the families moved outside their houses into a type of brush arbor. These arbors were usually about 20feet by 20 feet and consisted of four poles set into the ground. They were topped with branches and brush. It was there that they ate, slept and lived their lives. Many of the families did not return to the house until the first frost of Autumn. It was at the home of Eddie Chebatah, we called him Snake, that I first ate deep fried cow guts. His mother was extremely clean and would wash and scrub those intestines inside and out with a stiff brush. They were split and cut into about two inch sections, breaded and fried in lard. They were delicious and became a favorite of mine. I don’t remember the Indian word for them. I got a job at the local grocery store called Brenton’s. It was strictly a grocery store not a general store. The entire store was only about 100 feet wide and 60 feet deep. It kept a stock of canned goods, flour and the basic necessities of living along with a fairly large meat department. My job was

to sweep, clean, stock shelves and carry out groceries. In the rear of the store was a small slaughter house where ranchers brought their beeves and hogs to be butchered. That also had to be cleaned daily and disinfected. When Brenton butchered for the ranchers, he charged a fee and got to keep the hides. Those were salted, rolled up and stored in an adjacent storehouse. That place was ripe with the odor of curing hides. It was there I got a brief education in how the buffalo hunters treated their hides because Mr. Brenton used many of the same techniques as they did. It was at Brenton’s that I learned a few words of Comanche and Kiowa. It seemed to me that they used many of the same words to communicate. I have forgotten almost all I learned. I do remember the word for hello was “ahhoe” and the word for whiskey was “posovaw.” I don’t think the store ever sold whiskey. I never saw it, but some of the old men would often greet Brenton with the phrase, “ posovaw a vay a kah.” Mr. Brenton said that meant “do you have whiskey for me.” Once they said it, they would laugh as if it were the funniest thing in the world. When the Indian women came in,

they only bought one item at a time, paid for it and carried it out. Mrs. Brenton said that was so they did not have to pay tax on it. At that time, Oklahoma had a sales tax on groceries. She sat on a stool in front of the store where she could watch everything that went on. It was a game with the women to see if they could steal something without getting caught. I don’t think any theft escaped Willie Brenton’s eagle eye. When she caught them, she would simply point to wherever the Indian women had hidden something in their cloths and gesture to the counter for them to put it down. They would put it down and laugh. It was all a game they enjoyed playing. A few other words I remember were; “Hood aye koh,” which meant thank you. Whenever they wanted to know how much something cost, they would say, “Hipit?” I worked there for a year and got well acquainted with all of them. The most interesting character of all was a real, old time prospector named Silas Ison. We called him, “Old man Isom.” It wasn’t until several years later that I learned the correct spelling of his last name. Each Saturday, he came to town from his prospecting claim inside the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. His father had proved up on his claim through the Homestead Law I think and when the Wichita Mountains were turned into a Wildlife Refuge in the 1930’s, he was allowed to keep his claim. He lived there until his death sometime around 1965. I’m not real sure just when he died but it was sometime while I was in the military and away from home. I never knew just how old Silas Ison was. I do know he certainly looked old. Pictures of Mr. Ison show a short, skinny man, wearing a black tallcrowned hat, threadbare black pants held up by worn suspenders and he always wore an old worn frayed suit coat. He continually clinched an unlighted stub of a cigar in his mouth. I often wondered why he did not light it. That cigar was almost hidden under Continued on page 13...

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

10Tumbleweed Smith ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~ Tumbleweed Smith

, Bob Lewis



Jackie Bibby lives at Rising Star, or as he calls it, Twinkle City. He is the Texas Rattlesnake Man and has the credentials and bites to prove it. He does some crazy things with snakes. “I’ve been in the Guinness Book of World Records nine times for doing things like holding snakes in my mouth, suspended by their tails. I do one stunt where I get in a see-through bathtub with 195 rattlesnakes. I get in sleeping bags full of snakes both head first and feet first.” He makes his living as an alcohol and drug counselor, but he’s been fooling around with snakes as a hobby and a sport for 43 years. “It started in Brownwood when I was 18 years old and won the rattlesnake sacking event. There was a competition to see who could put the most rattlesnakes in a tow sack and I won. I won two trophies and got my name in the paper and the rest is history. I’ve been doing it ever since. I tried to enter the year before when I was 17, but they said I was too young and to come back next year, so I did.” His hobby has taken him to Europe fourteen times, to Asia once and all over the US, including several trips to New York and Hollywood. He is a snake celebrity and people at rattlesnake roundups pose for pictures with him and get his autograph. At those events he wears a derby hat made of rattlesnake skins. He has garnered tons of publicity, including a page on a Jeff Foxworthy calendar. On it, a picture of Jackie carries the phrase, “If you ask for an autograph at a rattlesnake roundup, you might be a redneck.” A couple of years ago Jackie started a television show.

“It’s called Rattlesnake Republic and comes on Sunday nights at 8 o’clock on Animal Planet. The ratings have been fabulous. We’ve had phenomenal response. It’s about four teams of rattlesnake hunters that go around Texas chasing rattlesnakes and competing against each other and doing shows, stuff like that.” If you’ve ever seen a rattlesnake safety film that shows the underside of a man’s arm with a huge zigzag scar on it from armpit to wrist, that arm belongs to Jackie. He’s been snake bit ten times. He has a few fingers that don’t work as well as they used to, but says anything you do for fun is risky. “I’ve definitely been a model for ‘don’t do this at home.’” Rattlesnake season is from February to April. Jackie says Texas has only seven rattlesnake roundups now. When he started there were forty-two. He blames environmentalists for shutting down a lot of them. “They think what we’re doing is messing up the ecology and get down on us.” During off-season he does seminars, corporate events, safety demonstrations for schools and benefits for non-profit organizations. Jackie is one happy fellow. “I never thought at 61 years old I’d be having this much fun.”

“That’s the planet of love,” says Trish Fisher of the Venus post office, “so around Christmas or Valentine it’s a good thing to have. That’s when we get requests from all over the US and some foreign countries. They are mailed to them and the envelopes that come with the requests that have foreign stamps on them go to the mayor’s office and they become part of the city’s history. Some of the requests are from dedicated stamp collectors.” City Administrator Jerry Reed has fun with the name. “The book says men are from Mars and women are from Venus. I’m the exception, I guess, but don’t read anything into that.” He says the town was first called Gossip. It dates back to the 1880’s and was incorporated in 1903. “Somewhere along the way the name was changed to Venus. A prominent doctor in the town had a daughter named Venus, so the town was named for her.” Some big movies have been made in Venus. “Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway came and robbed both of our banks,” says Jerry, “because the real Bonnie and Clyde had really robbed both banks at one time. They made a good portion of that movie here. Tom Cruise has been here for his ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ movie. Geraldine Page won an academy award for THE HOLLYWOOD OF a movie filmed here called ‘The Trip to Bountiful’. The first house JOHNSON COUNTY People all over the world want that Chuck Norris ever blew up on ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ was one a postmark from Venus, Texas.

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

11 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

God Bless Our Troops & God Bless America! Enjoy a safe Memorial Day! ~ from Mike, Ruth & Sherrie Norris

■ Tumbleweed

Smith, Continued...

of our old houses here in Venus. I’ve tried to get him to come back because I’ve got four or five more I’d like to have him blow up. We think the reason there are so many movies made here is that if Hollywood producers want to make a movie and they need buildings from the time of the depression in Texas they can come here without doing anything at all to our town square. He calls Venus the Hollywood Capital of Johnson County. “We’ve had more movies made here than any other city in Johnson County. We’re going to re-do the town square and call it ‘The Hollywood Square’ and the history

■ Growing of the movies made here will be displayed there.” Jerry says Venus doesn’t get many visitors. “Most of the people who are not from Venus fly right by on Highway 67. If they stop, they’re lost and asking for directions.” The population of Venus is three thousand, but a thousand of those are prisoners. The prison was recently annexed so the city is required to count as citizens. Jerry says that helps when the city applies for government grants because it has a low per capita income. Send Comments to:


Up Small Town, Continued...

but we know what’s waiting for her down the road -- we just don’t know how far down the road we’ll be able to get before we have to take that detour. Somehwere in there, while we weren’t looking of course, our daughter Sherrie passed her driver’s test and got her driver’s license.... Wait...what? And before the dust settled on that, Nana & Paw donated some cattle money from last year to help us get Sherrie her own vehicle! It was cheap and it looks good from a distance, and Sherrie loves it! You’ll know her if you see her, she’ll be grinning ear-to-ear and driving a blue Jeep Cherokee and looking all grown up behind the wheel! If you see her, tell her to “Slow Down!” And then we had the solar eclipse! I took a few photos of it and last night as I was posting them to my Facebook I quipped “A few brief moments in time, and it was gone...” That’s when I decided to re-write my article for this month’s paper. Growing up in small town Texas,

the time just seems to fly by. It seems just like last year that I was driving a tractor out in Flatwood watching with wild eyes as “Pinky” dove and swooped in and out of the field spraying crops...only a few months ago that my buddies and I were cruising Stephenville hoping to meet some Tarleton girls who wouldn’t notice that we were still in high school...and just the other day that my little girl would sit on the living room floor playing with her dolls and dinosaurs and look up at me with those sparkling eyes and say, “Daddy! I have idea!” I have an idea too, take my advice...if you’re always in a hurry and always trying to stay on a schedule...then you’re doing it wrong. Slow down and enjoy the days you have. It’s not just the big things that we should remember because every moment in time, is once in a lifetime. ~mwnorris Send Comments to:

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

12Treasure Hunters ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~ Treasure Hunters

, Jerry Eckhart


TREASURE HUNTERS ARE WEIRD By Jerry Eckhart To see more of Jerry’s treasure finds, search Facebook for “Jerry Eckhart”

When you have been treasure hunting as long as I have, it isn’t unusual to have some pretty strange things happen. It also isn’t unusual to meet some pretty strange people. Once, back in the 1980’s, I was metal detecting in a park, when two ladies, apparently in their 70’s walked by. They were talking between themselves, when suddenly they stopped and watched me swinging my detector. One turned to the other and asked, “What is he doing with that strange thing? Is it a radar machine?” The other replied, “No silly. It is a worm catcher. That round thing on the end makes the worms crawl out of the ground, then sucks them up into the box he is holding.” Strange? Yes. However, it is pretty representative of how people thought of metal detectors when the hobby was in its infancy. Metal detectors have been called money finders, Geiger counters, or electronic witchers. Even today, metal detectors are highly overrated as to what they will or will not do. Many folks give them powers almost equal to a magic wand. It is true that metal detectors have improved greatly, but they still do not fall into the magic category. The user must learn how to properly operate them. The general public still has an awe for them that seems to cross over to the treasure hunter who uses them. The average citizen tends to think that the treasure hunter has thousands of coins squirreled away somewhere and they are just not telling the truth. Actually, the normal coin hunter does find some nice coins, but for the most part, he finds pennies and modern run of the mill coins. It does pay to save all the coins you find, because they will gradually add up to enough to buy batteries for the detector. Occasionally, we get some strange requests. A few years ago, a lady called me and wanted me to come out and trace her sewer lines. She was trying to locate her wedding ring which she flushed down the commode. She just did not believe that a metal detector would not shoot through the metal rebar in her flooring and pick out a small ring. Others often call me to find lost rings with my metal detector, and I have been successful in a number of cases. There were times when it was impossible to find those lost items. Some were lost in high snow banks, cactus patches and quite often along highways. Those along highways were usually thrown out in the middle of an argument between husband and wife. Those have been almost impossible to find due to the speed of the car, and just where they were thrown out. I never have found one of those. Often, when I write stories about lost treasures that national magazines publish for me, I receive calls and letters from so-called treasure hunters all over the nation. They all assure me that they know exactly where such and such treasures are located. All I have to do is pay for their airfare, lodging,

meals and a small finder’s fee and they will be happy to come find it for me. Guess what my answer has been. I once had a man come by, offering to let me in on a sure thing. I would only have to pay for the backhoe to dig it up. Yep, I passed up that sure thing too. This past winter, I received a visit from a man from Michigan, who makes a trip to the southern US every winter. All he does is search for the lost treasures he reads about in magazines. That is a pretty neat hobby, and I would like to have the freedom and the finances to do so. This particular man did not want anything out of me except the real facts about the stories I publish. It seems he was convinced I was hiding all the important details. Believe me, if I had more details than I published, I sure would be out there digging it up. Since I am pretty well known nationwide, a lot of folks call just to talk. I hear some pretty weird tales, including some about ghostly treasures, while others send maps of places they have doused and are certain the treasure is there. Details are often sketchy and do require a personal visit to the area. Again, all I have to do is cover their expenses. Treasure hunting is a different kind of hobby and it takes a different kind of person to become involved in it. As such, it isn’t that unusual to get weird

requests or to hear tall tales. There is the one about the treasure hunter who saw a very rare dime at the bottom of his hole. Just as he was reaching down to pick it up, a scorpion crawled out of the side of the hole, grabbed the dime and scuttled off. The treasure hunter hit at the scorpion with his digger, missed the scorpion, hit the dime and cut off the date, making the dime worthless. And then, there was the one about a boy that swallowed a coin. This turned out to be true. The kid was taken to the hospital for an Xray where the coin was located in his stomach. The hospital wanted the parents to bring the child back each day for an Xray to follow the progress of the coin as it traveled through the child’s system. This would have meant thousands of dollars in Xrays. The father, being a metal detector enthusiast, followed the coin with his metal detector until it came to the end of the colon. When no more signal was detected, the coin turned up in the boy’s waste. That is a time when a metal detector more than paid for itself. Yes, some weird things happen with metal detectors and with those who use them. The only conclusion is that treasure hunters are truly weird. Send Comments to:

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

13Treasure Hunters: History Series ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

a gray, soup strainer mustache. His claim was originally made by Ison’s father, George and passed on to Silas. My father, Morris delivered mail throughout the facilities in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Ison was on his route. Instead of putting the mail in the old man’s mailbox, Dad would drive an extra quarter of a mile down a rutted lane so Silas would not have to make the trip. I think this was just an excuse to talk treasure with him. In spite of Old Man Isom’s appearance, he was well educated in geology and could spend hours talking on technical subjects. Every Saturday, Ison made his weekly trip to Indiahoma. We watched the north road to the mountains and could spot him by the trail of blue smoke that came from the tail pipe of his old Thirties model Ford pickup. The closer he got to town, the higher became the smoke plume. He would drive into town, pull in front of the service station across from the grocery, and after ordering five gallons of gas and a gallon of oil, he would make

, Jerry Eckhart

his way across the highway to the grocery. He bought very little, a few cans of pork and beans, some dry beans and a few other staples. I suspected the he did a little pot hunting in the mountains to supplement his meat supply. He didn’t linger to visit, but crossed back to his old vehicle, got the man who ran the station to give his battery a jump and started back to the mountains. His routine never varied from week to week. I don’t think he ever found anything of value in his mine, but lived on what little Social Security he got. It didn’t matter, because he was doing what he loved, prospecting. My senior year was the best of my high school years. During the warmer days, all year long, Dad and I spent climbing one boulder or another until they were burned into my mind. We found an outcrop that Dad called the Zircon Mine. Others had been there before us, but we continued. The large granite boulders in that area were sprinkled with brown zircons.

Dad said they had no value because they never formed into complete zircons. We chipped these out by the hundreds, looking for one perfect stone but never found one. The Zircon mine lay upslope from a small trickle of a creek and about a mile from the west refuge gate. We would enter the area, through private land and work our way south. The first thing we would encounter was an old mine called The Hale Mine. This was an open pit where an early day prospector lived and mined copper. The mine had a small concentration of native copper. Old Man Hale would dig out this ore and smelt it down into pure copper. When he had enough, he would take it to a metal scrap yard in Snyder, Oklahoma and sell it for a few dollars. Hale was an alcoholic and used this money to get drunk. When he sobered up, he would make another trip to his mine and repeat the process. By the time we came along, the old man was long dead and no one seemed to care about the copper deposit. The copper in the pits was rich, so


rich that the blue green color of the ore jumped out at you from a long distance. Several times, I found samples of native copper embedded into the ore. There was a tumbled down wooden windmill with a portion of the framework still standing. It was next to an old stone cistern. Inside that cistern, about a foot down, maybe a little more, was a stone ledge that protruded perhaps 18 inches. The first time I looked down there, I saw an old bowie knife. I claimed it as my own even though its handle was long gone. I can only imagine the ledge was used to set butter or meat on to stay cool and forgot their knife they used to cut it with. I had that knife until I went into the Army. It disappeared while I was in Greenland. To Be Continued... Pick up our next issue for more of Jerry Eckhart’s biography and treasure hunting stories.

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Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

14Love Lessons Learned So Far ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

, Vicki Stiefer


Love Lessons Learned So Far


Yes it is true what they say. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Now there are other ways that you can wiggle your way in but putting something fresh from the kitchen in front of his face and he is one fish that’s been hooked! Exhibit A-my husband, my partner, my life mate, my…hunny bunny decides he is not going home for Thanksgiving one year because he has to work on the holidays. I whipped up my famous hash brown casserole and viola! Wedding bells are a chiming. I also had a friend of mine make her delicious truffles and when I presented them to him I passed them off as my own. He was thrilled, savory and sweet all in one week! Now we had chemistry before the hash brown casserole worked it’s hash browny magic so there wasn’t that much work to be done, but putting your husbands favorite dish down in front of him says more than “here is something to fill your belly”. When your husband proclaims his favorite meal and you take note, guess what, you are listening. I know that is a foreign concept for most women. We like output instead of input but your hunny bunny needs to know he has been heard. In a previous article I talked about how men are simple creatures and they really only need five things. Thanks to Dr. Laura I know those are respect, admiration, sex, good food and a hobby. You can’t put pizza down in front of him every night and walk away. You are a complex person and he needs more human interaction that he normally gets grunting with his buddies all day. If he likes meatloaf then you make him a mean meatloaf and put that in front of him proudly. Think about the extra touches that go along with what you are serving him and make it happen. You are a resourceful woman! Use that brain for something other than gossip! Everyone works hard, I’m no stranger to a double income so this doesn’t have to be an everyday thing. Even if you are a stay at home Mom you can’t do this every night. I heard in a news story that if stay at home moms were paid money for their job, the salary would be a little over $100,000 according to Also, if you cook him up his favorite treats every night they aren’t treats anymore. Keep it special and pick your moments. Now there are some pitfalls you will want to avoid. First is his mother. She cooked for him years before you started to and she knows exactly

what her baby boy likes to chow down on; so ask him to explain his favorite food memory. If it involved mommy you should steer clear of it at all costs. You are a pirate on the stormy seas of life sailing to keep your land-lubbing man in your bed. His mom’s cooking is like the rocks at dead man’s curve. If you try to recreate her masterpiece you’re running aground on the first try. My husband loves his mother’s pot roast. It is his favorite Sunday after church meal. His description is so perfect that one would think the meal sits in a museum under glass for all to marvel. Green beans, macaroni and cheese and blessed pot roast. The pièce de résistance that won him over and mom became a momdejour. He’s been out of her house for some time and can still smell the aroma when his mind opens the Crockpot lid. Being a new bride I tried to recreate a masterpiece only to receive a lack luster response and no request for a second helping. Ladies, perfect your own dish and work on it until it is so good that Jesus wants to come back early to have a helping. The second pitfall is exposing your creation to others. You can’t gossip about the Frankenstein lab once known as your kitchen. Love is not just chemical. Keep your mouth shut when discussing your vials of garlic powder and homemade steak rubs. Other women need to figure it out on their own. You can throw them a hint or two Heloise, but that clam up and only reveal your rank and

serial number. If his buddies start bragging about how good their wife’s steak diane is when you put yours in front of the table it will not be well received. Show him he is special. Let him know you would pick him all over again. Kiss him and remind him that he makes you feel like a woman. Above all else, show him you are listening to him and notice how hard he works for his family. Make him his favorite meal this weekend. Hash Brown Casserole 1 lb bag frozen hash brown potatoes (thawed) you can go with the southwest if he likes spicy 8 oz sour cream 1 can cream of chicken soup ¼ cup melted butter or margarine 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese Crushed corn flakes Crumbled bacon or bacon bits Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter and mix in the sour cream and chicken soup. Place potatoes in baking dish (spray first with Pam). Pour soup mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle cheese on top followed by corn flakes and bacon bits. Bake for 45 minutes. Send Comments to:

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

15Star Pride ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

, by Ginger Tobin & Gwen Eberhart

Star Pride

Rising Star Clean-Up Day By Ginger Tobin & Gwen Eberhart

VOLUNTEERS JOIN MAYOR SWEENEY AT TOWN CLEAN-UP ON SATURDAY, MAY 5 Twenty volunteers’ names on the “workers list” at Mayor Joe Sweeney’s Town Cleanup on Saturday, May 5, 2012, started the day off in a great direction as various people tackled several difficult tasks that definitely made Rising Star look better. Several volunteers worked downtown on Main Street and Highway 36 including Connie and Dakota Harding; Barbara Long; Sarah Childers; Ginger Tobin; and Sleepy Gomez. Bill Medley sprayed Round-up on stubborn weeds earlier in the week; and Nancy Bostick had put her energies to clearing the 100 block (West side) of North Main earlier also; it certainly does look different! City Councilman, Scott Rutledge, was seen with his pickup and trailer scouting the town for another load to dispose of, after hauling brush to the County Barn, West of town. City of Rising Star employees, Greg Clay, Gary Westerman and Clay Ireland donated time on Saturday to help citizens who had phoned in requests for debris haulaway. Josh Constancio (Volunteer Fire Dept.) and William Kelcy (Chief of Police) and his daughter, Tenlee, were among the eager volunteers in Mayor’s Sweeney’s Clean-up. Trash was collected by trash company employees Robert Rodriguez, Josh Foster, Jamie Auvenshine, Bud Buchanan, Greg St. Cyr, and Armando De Luna. There were others who cleaned their own property this week and perhaps some who helped in the general clean-up on Saturday whose names did not appear on the list. Many thanks also go to these generous and civicminded citizens; I am sorry we did not get your names; but your work is very appreciated. First Financial Bank was very generous in supplying the two large roll-off dumpsters which were full to overflowing very quickly. The community is very thankful for a “hometown” friend like First Financial Bank. A picnic lun ch was sponsored at the City Park on Hwy. 36 by the Economic Development Corporation, Nancy Bostick, President; and Star Pride, Barbara Medley, President. Delicious cookies were home-baked and donated by Teresa Fraley and Dee Martin. Photos: (Top) Volunteers who enjoyed the picnic lunch at City Park after cleanup; in addition to six trash collector employees, shown also are Gary Westerman and Sleepy Gomez, on right. (Middle) Left to right: Connie Harding, Barbara Long, Ginger Tobin, and Nancy Bostick enjoy lunch and relaxation time after the clean-up. (Bottom) Saturday Club Officers elected on May 14th: Ginger Tobin, vice president, Sherry Alford, President, Barbara Medley, Treasurer, Dorothy Whiteside, Corresponding Secretary, Edith Bibb, Recording secretary Photo by Gwen Eberhart

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16 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~


Breckenridge Community Page

If you do business in Breckenridge, contact The County Line to advertise here for an unbeatable low, monthly cost!

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

17 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~


EastlandP.D. Police Department ■ Eastland , by Roma Holley

In April 1992 the average price of gasoline was $1.13 per gallon, postage stamps were 29¢ and the Eastland Police Department had a job opening for a patrolman. Eight people applied for this job and the young man that finally got the position has now been with the Eastland Police Department for 20 years. Ray Darden finished the West Central Texas Law Enforcement Academy in November 1991 and worked for the Munday Police Department for a short time before applying here in Eastland. Cecil Funderburgh, Terry Harbin, Frank Saylors, Don Walls, Scotty Roberts, Jerry Mathews, Charlotte Clark, Susie Quinn and the late Doug Fairbanks were on the interview board that determined the fate of young Mr. Darden. As nervous as he was, he still managed to impress them with his knowledge of the law, his command of a situation and his compassion for people. Radar (as he was nicknamed when he was a teenager) began his career here at the Eastland Police Department on April 27, 1992 and has never looked back. Through the years Ray has become a very integral part of this family. Always willing to do “whatever it takes” to get the job done! From pulling double shifts and overtime to working off duty to make sure that everyone has what they need. Ray has always loved firearms and is an expert marksman. He is the firearms instructor for our police department and is very knowledgeable about many different weapons. Ray has been involved in every aspect of the department and has been our Detective Sergeant for several years. He is our lead investigator and specializes in fingerprint recovery and identification. Ray is a trained Arson Investigator and holds that title at the Eastland Fire Department On April 27, 2012 the Eastland Police Department hosted a celebration of Ray’s 20 years of service to the community of Eastland. Retired Chief Cecil Funderburgh attended this celebration and was asked to say a few words. Cecil said “in all of my years of law enforcement, hiring Ray Darden was one of the best decisions I ever made”. Eastland Police Department Chief Billy Myrick states that he is very fortunate to have an officer of Darden’s quality in the department, setting the example for all to see. We thank Ray Darden for his many years of commitment and hope that we can continue to rely on him for many more.

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

18The County Line ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

■ , Mike W. Norris The County Line Distribution Area


Published by Michael W. Norris d.b.a. Wolverine Design P.O. Box 1156 Eastland, Texas 76448

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●


19 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~


Rising Star Community Page


Support Your Local Businesses! -----This “Rising Star Community Page” is provided in association with the Rising Star EDC as a service to Rising Star businesses and residents. If you’re looking for new customers, you have to get the word out! Take advantage of The County Line’s devoted readers and wide area distribution! Our readers are your customers! -----For only $20/month, your business card can be featured here in full color! If you pre-pay for 6-months, get all 6-months at half price!

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20Ol’ Doc’s Homespun Yarn ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

, Dr. Luther Gohlke

Ol’ Doc’s Homespun Yarns


Spaghetti and Meat Balls By Dr. Luther Gohlke

Have you ever seen a drunk person eat spaghetti? Well, I have, first hand as a 10 year old boy. My younger brother Gene and I were rolling on the floor with laughter. He held the fork in his hand to get a better grip on the situation, instead of the usual petite thumb and forefinger grip. Anyway when he tried to get a mouth full of spaghetti every long piece would slip through the fork. He also tried getting his mouth closer to the plate almost with his nose in the food. He would grab quickly with that fork, try to inhale a mouth full. Same end result, empty fork all the spaghetti would beat him to the draw and slide through that fork back to the plate. He then tried a spoon, same end results. At that evening meal at our home in Denison, TX, he left the table having eaten only a little sauce from his fork and a part of one small meat ball. He even had trouble with the meat balls, they would slide right back with a splash. This is a true story and I shall never forget it. Seemed like at least once a year my mother’s first cousin and his wife would come to our house for an afternoon and evening visit, then they would leave to visit other relatives. Every time they came they were both drunk as a skunk on red label whiskey because they couldn’t afford green label. My mother was more or less pushed into fixing supper. Which I am sure they expected. He would try to get our dad to drink with him, going to their car frequently for another nip on the old jug. My mother was adamantly opposed to alcohol of any kind. We did have whiskey in our house which was used only for medical purposes! Since my dad would not drink with him, he insisted on leaving a small glass of whiskey which my dad placed in the refrigerator. This was my first and only experience with whiskey. It smelled good and after all, the Saturday afternoon “Shoot-em-ups” showed the rough tough cowboys taking a shot or two in the local saloon. Everyone but Roy,

Gene and Hopalong our super heroes who would drink milk or sasparella. So I had to get a shot of that whiskey, next day , of course, when no one could see me. I took a large swallow and did the action start. It burned my mouth, burned going down and even burned my stomach. I coughed, I sputtered, I gagged, my eyes watered, my face felt hot and red and a little later my head hurt. I learned a hard lesson that day, one I have never forgotten! End result, I am not prone to alcohol in any form. My mom’s cousin learned a hard lesson too. During the evening meal described above, he accused her of preparing that spaghetti dish just to spite him or get even, because he knew of her dislike of alcohol. Looking back on this event I think he was right. The next year when he and his wife came to call they were completely sober. No alcohol at all. My Mom’s “plot” really worked.

“In 1863, when he dedicated a small cemetery in Pennsylvania marking a terrible collision between the armies of North and South, Abraham Lincoln noted the swift obscurity of such speeches. Well, we know now that Lincoln was wrong about that particular occasion. His remarks commemorating those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” were long remembered. But since that moment at Gettysburg, few other such addresses have become part of our national heritage—not because of the inadequacy of the speakers, but because of the inadequacy of words.” ~President Ronald Reagan, 1982

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Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

21This Week In Texas History

21 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

This Week In Texas History

, by Bartee Haile

Texas Tanker Vanishes In Bermuda Triangle By Bartee Haile

On May 27, 1963, a Coast Guard board of inquiry wrapped up a six-week investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a Texas tanker in the Bermuda Triangle. The “SS Marine Sulphur Queen” began life in 1944 as the “New Haven,” an oil transport owned and operated by Esso, the foreign face of what Americans know today as ExxonMobil. For the next decade and a half, the 504-foot, 7,240-ton colossus crisscrossed the oceans of the world. Then in 1960 the Marine Transport Company of New York bought the “New Haven” and had her refitted for a revolutionary new cargo – liquid sulphur at a piping hot 255 degrees. The first tanker of its kind was renamed “SS Marine Sulphur Queen” and leased out to Texas Gulf Sulphur, which ran a plant near Beaumont that extracted sulphur from the salt dome at Spindletop. Certified for service in January 1961, the “Sulphur Queen” stayed busy making no fewer than 63 round-trips to ports up and down the Atlantic coast from its home base in Beaumont. It was not, however, smooth sailing for the tanker which was plagued by problems that included accidental spills of the hazardous cargo and frequent fires in sulphur-soaked insulation. The “Sulphur Queen” set out for Norfolk, Virginia on the evening of Feb. 2, 1963 with a full load of the molten yellow liquid and a full crew of 39. The routine voyage was supposed to take five days, unloading another two and the return trip five more putting the tanker back in Beaumont on Valentine’s Day. At 1:25 a.m. on Feb. 4 and approximately 200 miles off Key West, a seaman used the ship-to-shore radio to place an order with his stockbroker in Florida. That was the last time anyone heard from the “Sulphur Queen.” When the Texas tanker was a no-show at Norfolk on the night of Feb. 7, the Coast Guard initiated its search with an “All Ships Urgent Broadcast.” This request for any information from other vessels that may have seen the “Sulphur Queen” or had been in radio contact with her turned up nothing. Under the direction of the Coast Guard, planes from the Navy, Marines and Air Force took to the sky on Feb. 8 to scour the sea from Beaumont to Norfolk for signs of the missing ship. But a meticulous survey of 350,000 square miles of water over a five-day period proved frustratingly fruitless. On Feb. 14, the families of the three dozen crewmen received the telegram they all had been dreading. The chairman of Maritime Transport Company informed them the Coast Guard had suspended the search and that “present indications indicate probable loss” of all hands. A naval torpedo retriever came upon a floating flea market of debris 12 miles southwest of Key West on Feb. 19. A number of life jackets and rings pulled from the drink bore the label “Sulphur Queen.” A second and more focused air-sea search was immediately launched, but the seven ships and 48 aircraft had no better luck than their predecessors. The hunt for the “Sulphur Queen” was officially called off on Mar. 14. By that time, the Coast Guard investigation was already in its third week with three more weeks to go. The exhaustive hearings featured a long list of expert witnesses, who testified about everything from the volatile nature of sulphur in liquid form to teeth marks on a life preserver that suggested an attack by “predatory fish,” a scientific euphemism for sharks. Speculation centered on the possibility the “Sulphur Queen” broke in half in rough seas as had three tankers of the same vintage over the past 11 years. But even that catastrophic theory could not explain why there had been no SOS since the other vessels had stayed afloat long enough for most of the crews to safely abandon ship. Other causes considered were a freak wave that capsized the tanker, an explosion resulting from a leak in one of the sulphur compartments and a “stray mine.” When it was all said and done, the board of inquiry basically punted, to use a football analogy. Speaking for his fellow officers, an admiral admitted they could not say with

any certainty what really happened to the “Sulphur Queen” much less when or where. Relatives of the missing and presumed dead crewmen filed a wrongful-death lawsuit claiming reckless overloading was the cause of the unspecified disaster at sea. After almost a decade, a federal appeals court ruled in their favor and awarded the grieving plaintiffs millions of dollars in damages. In 1974 author Charles Berlitz immortalized the “Sulphur Queen” in his international best-

■ Strange

seller “The Bermuda Triangle.” The book, which sold 20 million copies in 30 different languages, fired the public imagination but came no closer to solving the mystery of the missing Texas tanker than the Coast Guard. Do you have your copy of “Tornadoes, Hurricanes & Other Disasters,” the latest “Best of This Week in Texas History” column collection? Order today at or mail a check for $14.20 to Bartee Haile, P.O. Box 152, Friendswood, TX 77549. Send Comments to:

Strange Stories Stories, by County Line Readers

A new State Park is proposed a few miles West of Strawn, Texas. Thousands of acres of pristine wilderness is already acquired and plans made. Lake Tucker is going to be for fishing, and hiking trails for the public. A man and lady, and dog recently made plans to hike up the trails before the park opens and encountered a large upright animal that looked more human than beast. They ran like blazes to get back to their truck and managed to take one fast picture with their cell phone. These people do not wish to be known, they have many

kinfolk in the area and do not want the ridicule, and publicity. As far as they know, they were in the Wild Canyon area , part way to Ranger when a low growl from the bushes, and two large rocks were thrown very close to them. The dog howled , and ran for his life. I personally do not know if the story is true, all I know is these people have lived in this part of the country, and will never go back to “ Wild Canyon.” ~Submitted by Robert Stogsdill of Strawn Send Comments and Strange Stories to:

Bartee Haile lives in Friendswood, TX and is the author of one of the most long established Texas History newspaper columns in the state. Column collections available at or request list from Bartee Haile, P.O. Box 152, Friendswood, TX 7754

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

22 ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●


23From The Backside ■ ~ May 2012 v5.60 ~ From the Backside

, Henry J. Clevicepin


??? By Henry J. Clevicepin Collaborated by Nellie Frecklebelly and Agnes & Ophilia Fudpucker

Well, it is shore heatin up here in Buzzard Roost….wonder if we are fixin to have another one of them hot dry 100 degree days summer again. And grasshoppers, worms & all kinds of little varmints are startin to show up. Ol Nellie Frecklebelly’s been doing exercises & training in case she has start doing those naked rain dances again up behind the Buzzard Roost Bar & Grill….boy, I hope it don’t get that dry again. I don’t know about ya’ll but me & ol Estee K. Bibbles, my mule barn partner, are tired of all the regulations our dang government puts on us. Now the other day, this fancy dan sucker showed up & said he was from the Labor Dept. He said he was here to check to see if we were paying the proper wages to our employees. Well, I told him there was ol Bubba that worked here at the mule barn & we paid him $600 per week & room & board. And we got a cook that we pay $500 a week plus room & board. Then we got two half-wits that put in about 18 hours a day, make about $10 a week, pay their own room & board & I buy them a bottle of whiskey every Saturday night. The ol boy says”that’s the guys I want to talk to”. I said, well you are talking to them….that would be me & ol Estee K. That would be funny if it weren’t true. Dang regulations & now Obama’s Labor Dept has submitted 50 more pages including one where anyone under 16 can’t work on a farm that has a bull, stud horse, cow with a calf or a sow with suckling pigs… that’s shore brilliant ain’t it ??? Now speaking of regulations, have ya’ll heard about the little Sand Dune

Hello everyone. What a great month April was! Aaron Insurance hosted a benefit yard sale. There was so much stuff! The Saturday before the yard sale, Charla and her boys came by the house and helped me and my family load our stuff and we took it to Aaron’s. The ladies at Aaron’s had their hands full with donations by the time Wednesday got here but it was all organized and ready to sell before the first visitors arrived! Way to go ladies! I also have to thank several of my family members, Linda, Dara and Shealee, to name a few! We also had a big surprise on Wednesday, the first day of the yard sale, when KTAB came by and interviewed me! After that, we were all excited knowing that more people were going to know about the yard sale! Every day of the yard sale was a success! Sue had a goal set in her mind and was very determined to meet it and in the end, the event turned out “GREAT”! The ladies at Aaron’s are SUPER -- Thank you, Thank you! What a great community we live in! Speaking of community, on May 11th, Mike and I went to the ground breaking ceremony for the new Eastland Dialysis Center. It’s going to look good and Eastland really needs this service! There was Follow Ruthie’s Progress online:

Lizard out in West Texas. The Parks & Wildlife are now checking to see if they might be an endangered species. If put on the endangered species list, you know what kind of wreck that is gonna cause. The oil consultants say it would reduce drilling & cost hundreds of jobs. Now, folks we need oil….not some little lizard. Me & ol Estee K. was wondering if you could cook the little sucker (probably taste like chicken) or mash them up & make Ethanol or something….I mean….what are the little suckers good for?? Since the government owns so much land all over the country, why don’t they round up some of them little suckers, fence off some of their land & hire a bunch more government employees to herd the little sapsuckers. That is their answer to everything isn’t it…make government bigger…never mind the

quite a few people there that were just as excited about this project as I am! There is a generous family that continues to give back and invest in Eastland and we would like to Thank You for all you do! I would also like to thank all of the friends that I have who come by and check on me every day. Everything you do is so much appreciated! Thank you! As far as for me, we are still going to Dallas every couple of weeks. In April I had to go to Abilene for a week for steroid treatments. The kidney is still in rejection and has lost some of its functionality. I went to Dallas the first part of May and took a 24hr urine collection. That visit wasn’t the best. And I’m also having trouble with my blood pressure. They put me on more meds for that. My creatinine number went up again and I had gained a little weight. These are all bad signs for my transplant organs and there’s not much that can be done, so please keep me in your prayers. A little Faith goes a long way! Follow Mike & The County Line:

Love, Ruthie

loss in jobs & putting companies out of business. Folks we got to get this BS stopped & when I say we….I don’t mean I got a mouse in my pocket. Me, you & everybody got to start raising hell with these politicians & send some new ones up there that will do something about it. Well, me & ol Estee K are goin down to the Buzzard Roost Bar & Grill & have a beer & ask the cook if he has any recipes for Sand Dune Lizard !!! Words of Wisdom from Henry J : Guns have only two enemies….rust & politicians You can email ol Henry at:

Send Comments to:

In Sickness and In Health

Donations may be made to: Farmers & Merchants Bank

Ruth Norris Benefit Fund

930 East Main Eastland, TX 76448 (254) 629-3282

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

Published by Mike W. Norris dba Wolverine Design ● PO Box 1156 ● Eastland, Texas 76448 ●

The County Line - May 2012 v5i60  
The County Line - May 2012 v5i60 Speak up, join the discussion, take part! Business & Community Journal --- May, 2012 Volume 5 Issue 60 The County...