A Tale of Two Texas Summers

Last summer, my old dog and I drove about 10,000 miles across Texas. From Corpus to the Alamo, the Alamo to Abilene, Abilene to Ft. Worth and back. A few more trips from Abilene to the Alamo for meetings. Then down and over to Ft. Phantom Hill, Ft. Griffin, Ft. McKavett. Then up to Palo Duro Canyon. Down to Live Oak County, back to Abilene, then back to Corpus Christi. 

I documented it all with photographs and wrote three-quarters of an article about my journey when my writing was interrupted, ironically, by more work-related travel.

Copano Bay Press celebrated its Sweet Sixteen last week. Our anniversary and recent events really got me thinking about where I was sixteen years ago…and where I was this time last year. What a year! 

As I revisit this long-moldering travelog, I am reminded that I’m one lucky lady – partly because seeing so much of Texas is part of my work, and partly because I have someone to share it all with. I have y’all. Other events and memories have piled themselves onto those of last summer like old Corsicana bricks. I don’t know what to exclude. So here’s the last year or so in photos.

I spent time with Texas historians, horses and horny toads. I learned. I marveled. I ate good food. I started a non-profit. I saw an historic dreadnought move to dry dock. And now, after a year in constant motion, I have a day of rest to jot it down for you.

My perpetual motion began in San Antonio last summer. My excellent Texas historian friend, Dr. Stephen Hardin, was receiving his THIRD Summerfield G. Roberts award for excellence in writing about the Republic of Texas. This time, it was for Lust For Glory, a spellbinding collection of vignettes about the Republic and her heroes. It  is perfect for young readers because that’s what Dr. Hardin intended it to be – a book that you could enjoy then share with your kiddos. (We don’t sell it because we didn’t publish it, but you can buy it here at Amazon).

Our mutual history friend, Justice Ken Wise, drove over from Houston for a surprise celebratory dinner at La Fonda. You may know Ken Wise from his Texas history podcast, Wise About Texas. If you don’t…you oughta! I listen to Ken while I scan books, so I can learn while I work. He doesn’t take up much of your time with each episode, but he tell you a great story that’s well-researched. You can find every episode of Wise About Texas – almost seven years worth – right here.

I have said that if we ever cut an album, this photo (below) needs to be our album cover. Dr. Hardin says he’s not growing his hair out to be in a band, and Justice Wise is willing but unable.

​In August, big things were happening at the Alamo. The earth was literally moving! Ground was broken for the new collections building, which will safely house the Alamo’s precious artifacts, including those donated by Phil Collins. The building, a  year on, is nearly complete! I was among the lucky folks who were invited to attend. A shiny official groundbreaking shovel graces the wall of my office now, courtesy of Alamo Trust Director Kate Rogers.

Kate has given generously of her time since taking over at the Alamo and does her best to answer my pesky  questions in a frank and funny way. She works long hours – almost as long as me – while working on her Ph.D.in education simultaneously. Kate is shoveling with me in the photo below!

I high-tailed it north again to Abilene for a visit with Dr. and Mrs. Hardin. They introduced me to the wonders of Belle’s Chicken Dinner House and Beehive (Abilene, not Albany, mind you). Went to the Flippin’ Egg and  have the tee shirt to prove it. Between meals, I visited Forts Griffin and Belknap. Drove around the historic Lambshead Ranch. Even hopped a fence to look for the marker of the site where Britt Johnson was killed and buried. But Mark heard hogs, so we re-hopped that fence.

Mark met me in Abilene for a journey to Palo Duro Canyon! On the way, I demanded a detour through Floydada. The birthplace of Don Williams has been on my bucket list for a good while now. The Floydada sign seemed as good a place as any to document the visit. I didn’t count on the “F” in Floydada being as hot as a damned branding iron. So the only photo I have is that of my reaction to my calf being seared. Worth it, though!

If you’ve never been there, the land up around Palo Duro Canyon looks just like the rest of what you imagine the Panhandle Plains look like – flat. All is endless flatness and one can’t imagine that any kind of landmark lurks there. The more we drove, trying to find our lodgings, the more I wondered…where in the heck is the giant crack in the earth?

Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, the canyon came into view. It shocked me, the same way the moon shocks me when it first peeks over the horizon when I’m driving down a dark road. It feels like God sneaking up behind you and tapping you on the shoulder. What a jawdropper!

Mark and I wanted to see Palo Duro as it was seen before the convenience of cars and state parks. Thanks to Phyllis and the wranglers at Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West, we were able to get the horse-eye view of what Mark calls the prettiest place in Texas. (For the record, I don’t disagree. But I haven’t seen all the places in Texas  yet so I don’t feel qualified to make that pronouncement.)

We spent a few joyous hours exploring the rim of the canyon. Only saw two rattlers. The horses were gentle and wise, the wranglers patient and knowledgeable. The saddles were made in Cuero, a little reminder of home.

We weren’t far down the trail when I made a new friend. Horny toads (horned frogs) aren’t as uncommon in Amarillo as they are here in South Texas and we’d seen a few scrambling out of our path. One of the girls wrangled one up for me. I rubbed his little belly and made him my trusty riding companion.

Next day, we ventured into the State Park for some hiking. It was a sunny day, nearly 120 degrees on the canyon floor, so we were amply surprised by a phenomenon neither of us had ever experienced – a sudden Panhandle thunderstorm. We fled to the Trading Post and had ourselves a burger and fries. Although there were more flies gathered in that place than I’ve ever seen, absent roadkill, it was a damn fine burger and we had a protected view of the dramatic Texas weather unfolding. To get a jump on the flash flooding, we pulled for Abilene.

The following day was one I’d looked forward to for months – portraits with an 1850s camera rig!

I am fortunate to know one of the most talented and darkly funny guys in the Texas history community. Cody Mobley is the director of the Fort McKavett historic site and a (real) old timey photographer. He was driving back to Menard from Oklahoma, and suggested we meet at the ruins of Ft. Phantom Hill. I invited Dr. Hardin and Col. Alan Huffines out in the hundred degree heat to have portraits made. Who could decline such an offer? So much heat and so many wasps!

Cody assembled his rig and rolled out his developing chemicals. No sooner had he set up when the caretaker of the place, who lives across the street, came over and asked what on earth we were doing. That man was right to be confused and our explanation of what we were doing didn’t clear it up any.

Later, two ladies in a Mercedes rolled up with a big bag of cat food. You heard me right. We were made to understand they were looking for some abandoned kittens. They couldn’t understand why we were out there sweating in front of an old camera wearing funny hats. 

You may recognize the image below from our 2021 Christmas card. We’d each lost about ten pounds of water weight by the time we shot this. Cody made some portraits on glass plates (ambrotypes) and others on tintype plates. This one was on metal, so we look even more careworn and sun-baked than we actually were. Thanks to Dr. Hardin for the use of his hat, Cody for the use of his camera and talent, and the 19th century frontier for the stellar backdrop.

Speaking of Cody Mobley…I rode down from Abilene with Col. Huffines to Presidio de San Saba for a quick walk around. We also peered from the fenceline at the site of Mission San Saba. Current status: no longer there and the site is located on private property.

And then on to Fort McKavett, the most complete site in our chain of frontier forts. If ruins are your thing, they have ’em. If you want to see 19th century barracks still standing, they have those, too. Because the U.S. Army hung around there so long and kept good records, we know more about McKavett and the men who served there than any other site like it. That means the interpreters there have more to share, and the exhibits are richer than anywhere else. If you want to learn about protecting the Texas Frontier, head to McKavett. Pretty country, too.

I came home to Corpus and was catching up on desk work when Mark and I were invited to another special event in San Antonio. Our friends Leigh Owen and Tim Calk were donating our Sanborn map of Alamo Plaza – beautifully framed with a memorial plaque – to the Menger Hotel, in memory of former Menger historian Antonio Malacara. It now hangs to the left of the front desk and we’re pleased to have been a part of the remembrance. The next time you check in, remember Mr. Malacara.

Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped to visit with Kolby Lanham (Alamo cannon man) and Ernesto Rodriguez (Alamo historian). It’s bad etiquette to visit  the Alamo staff without paying your respects to Bella, the Alamo calico, ​So here’s Bella, sending her love.

Back at the office for a few days before the next thing, I butted heads with one of our parking garage residents.  This little Mexican freetail guy got into our corridor and lost his little bat mind. I tried to get him to move toward the exit, but he continued to freak out. In the general confusion, he collided with my head, ricocheted off my noggin and slammed into the concrete wall. Knocked himself out cold. He came to not long after and went back to his bat business like nothing ever happened. Poor guy. Knocked out just before Halloween. Ya hate to be laid up for the busy season.

Early November is time for the annual celebration of the best storyteller and folklorist Texas has ever been blessed with. Dobie Dichos is held each year in Live Oak County. Chili con carne is served, then folks sit under the stars and listen to presentations about J. Frank Dobie and his work. It’s a beautiful time to be in South Texas. Since I had returned to Abilene just before 2021’s Dichos, I caravanned down with Abilene friends.

Dichos, then a few days in Corpus, then back to Abilene where I celebrated my birthday. (In case you’re wondering: yes, it’s exhausting turning 26 every year, Texas women either age gracefully or they don’t age at all. I’ve opted to be in the latter category until further notice.)

What a birthday it was! I was treated to dinner at Perini Ranch Steakhouse by my Tuscola friends, Sherri and Monte. The Abilene area serves up some fine dead bovine and Perini’s was no exception.When this was taken, I assume I was saying, “You call THAT Happy Birthday? Jeez, people. Again. This time with feeling!”

While I may not have gotten any older, I did pick up this bit of wisdom last year: it’s far better to spend a birthday with friends than to spend it working, as I’ve done since I started the Press. Designing books, doing research, running Texas roads, brainstorming with Mark, designing shirts for Semper Texas, maintaining our websites…it all brings me contentment, but doesn’t allow for much downtime. Taking a day off isn’t the worst thing in the world and I need to do a better job of remembering that, especially on my birthday.

As soon as the Christmas tree tents went up in South Texas, we dashed off to get a tree. Our Corpus history store had never had a real tree, you see, and I’m fond of the smell. Our 2021 tree excursion was unlike any other. When I can, I buy Texas books at auction in Mexico City. I bid remotely, then use my horrible Spanish to complete the transaction and arrange shipping. I am amazed every time it works out and that package arrives.

The night we went to buy the tree, there was live bidding going on in Mexico City. So I resolved to bid from my phone. As we walked around the tree tent, taking in the evergreen scene, the sounds of the auction caller’s voice, 90 miles per hour en Español, blared from my phone. I didn’t get all the books I wanted, but I got a bevy of strange looks from tree shoppers and did get the tree I wanted.

Walker loaded it up and we hauled it back to Corpus. We put on our Santa hats, drank hot chocolate, decorated the tree and the longhorn steer skull in our front room. Sheila agreed to wear a hat long enough for us to take pictures, in exchange for snacks and belly scratches. We conceded to her demands.

The office halls properly decked and Christmas shipping in full swing, we had a final 2021 road trip. We were to attend the ribbon cutting for the new Palisade exhibit on Alamo Plaza…another piece of the Plaza puzzle aimed to help visitors see what it looked like in 1836. At the reception following, we were entertained by the finest Santa I ever saw and Kolby’s cannon…looks like it weighs a ton, but it’s made of foam. You can hoist it up on your shoulder like a dang rocket launcher!

The Alamo at Christmas is a sight to behold, isn’t it? A print of this view hangs in my office (under my shiny shovel!) as a memento of a wonderful Christmas celebration. 

January was relatively tame. I stayed in Corpus, trying to recover from a Christmas season of frantic shipping and supply chain issues. Half of what we’d ordered in August for Christmas sales didn’t arrive until February or March. I was tired, y’all.

In early February, I had the honor of meeting with Dr. Jordan Peterson in San Antonio and attending one of his lectures at the Tobin Center. In the hurried pace of the day of his lecture, I forgot to remove certain items from my handbag. I was exhausted and scatterbrained. As we stood outside the Tobin near the metal detectors, trying to sort out where the VIP entrance was, Mark pointed at my bag. “You didn’t leave your gun at the hotel. I’ll run it over there if you want.” 

Oh no. Jeez. Okay. His offer seemed like the only solution to my self-created problem. I reached into my bag to (discreetly, I thought) hand it off to him. He could just constitutionally carry that sucker back to the Emily Morgan, I thought.

“Oh my God. She has a gun!” said a British accent next to us, no lack of panic in the man’s voice. His companion was likewise alarmed in an equally Brit fashion. Why a Texan with a gun should have been a surprise to anyone, British or otherwise, was funny to me. I hadn’t even taken it fully out of my bag yet!

Mark glared at me. “Just give me the whole bag. I’ll take it over there.”

Well, this was November. Time for fall colors. I was carrying a pretty felt tote, half of which is a huge purple bow. Mark walked through downtown, across Alamo Plaza, to the Emily Morgan with that purple girly bag in tow. Commend that man for his valor, and fashion sense. I have no doubt he felt pretty.

This photo of Dr. Peterson and I is one of my favorites. We were having a great conversation in front of one of the world’s sacred places. I omit the photo of Mark with the purple bow bag. It’s more fun, I think, for you to imagine it yourself.

A couple of weeks later, I visited Austin to attend the annual meeting of the Texas State Historical Association. After being such a vocal critic of their Chief Historian, I thought it was the decent thing to do to make an appearance. Far be it from me to hide behind a computer, cranking out criticism, when there exists a possibility for conversation.

Well, there wasn’t any.

Professors who have been hateful behind my back and online were perfectly pleasant to me in person. Chief Historian Buenger, who was the subject of several of our videos, didn’t greet me (I don’t blame him) but he did give me a great gift – He announced he will retire in 2024! The process for selecting his replacement is a messy one that involves the history department at U.T. As of this writing, I’m not aware of any potential candidates for the position.

I won some books at the silent auction and spent time talking with the wonderful staff of TSHA. There are helpful, honest folks – academic and otherwise – on TSHA’s staff. Here’s hoping that the old learned institution comes to its senses in the near future to regain the trust of Texans.

I’d be remiss if I left out a visit to the Texas Chili Parlor. Dr. Hardin wouldn’t have let me out of Travis County without a meal at the landmark eatery. A visit was also paid to Matt’s El Rancho for a bowl of Bob Armstrong. I left Austin feeling ten pounds heavier but happier for it. (Yes, I sampled a Mad Dog Margarita…I’m no heretic!)

Now we’ve arrived at High Holy Days 2022 in our timelinet. This is a busy time for many Texans. It’s a crazy time in the Texas history business. At work, it’s akin to the Christmas season. But out in the world, there’s stuff to do. Remembrances to attend, old friends to see, photos to take, articles to write.

March 2022 found me back in San Antonio, on the board of directors of the Alamo Historical Society. We hosted our annual symposium and banquet. I met lots of new Alamo enthusiast friends from across Texas and across the country.

Took part in the luncheon of the Alamo Battlefield Association, too. Had a run-in with a friendly bagpiper. And had the pleasure of meeting the most talented military artist and illustrator of our time: Mr. Gary Zaboly. He’s every bit as interesting as the men and scenes he draws. We must forgive him for being a Yankee because he’s so dang sweet. 

Ever been on the roof of the Emily Morgan Hotel? Neither had I! So I made arrangements to. It’s the only part of that building I haven’t seen. The gargoyles and spires have always fascinated me. Up we climbed, right about the time as a norther was blowing in. The higher we climbed, the louder the wind howled. Near the top, Mark renewed his relationship with his fear of heights. I left the ground without a jacket and was now standing on the roof in the biting winds. The view was tremendous. Mark had to take my word for it.

Here’s the view from the tippy-top of the EM. I write this in September and it’s broiling outside. Seeing the winter sky in this photo reminds me of what’s just around the bend, once hurricane season is over.

Next on the High Holy Days calendar is the Goliad Massacre. Walker, Joseph, Mark and I drove out to Presidio La Bahia to watch the reenactment of the bloody deed.

This was the first year of a full slate of events at Presidio la Bahia since 2020. Everyone was in good spirits and the large crowd was a happy sight for a somber remembrance. As we walked to one of the sites of the 1836 Massacre, I had another moon-canyon moment of awe! Walker pointed toward the field where the Massacre would occur, just up the road. “Is that water?” he asked.

It wasn’t. But I could see how he’d think so. Goliad, usually awash in Indian Paintbrush during Massacre season, had sprouted a sea of bluebonnets. Not many by the roadsides. Not many in front of the Presidio. But an absolute ocean of them were up in the Massacre field.

We talked with old friends, had a good lunch in Goliad, and stopped to visit the back side of Copano Bay on the return drive to Corpus. It was a good Texas day.

Houston was my target in April. At the San Jacinto Symposium, hosted by TSHA. Drs. Andrew Torget and  Rick McCaslin both gave even-handed, energetic, and interesting presentations on the causes of the Texas Revolution.

The others, I’d describe in not-so-favorable terms. One presenter made the case, popular among certain historians in Mexico, that the Texians didn’t rebel as a response to Santa Anna’s embrace of centralism…Santa Anna turned centralist BECAUSE of the Texas Revolution! Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

I ran into Justice Wise, who was likewise in attendance. And my Semper Texas shirt was recognized by one of you (Hi, Clint!!) 

I will remark that this symposium took place about ten months after Forget the Alamo was released. Professional (academic) historians were still talking about a book written by three journalists at the San Jacinto Symposium. Enthusiastically. Make of that what you will. 

May rolled around and my family life changed. My father has been in the early-ish stages of Alzheimer’s since 2018. He still knew who everyone was and where he was, etc. He was still my dad, personality wise, and he knew exactly what was wrong. I remember his father in the later stages of the disease from my childhood. Dad was nowhere near that. He was physically able and healthy otherwise, too. For reasons nobody can fathom, he fell in mid-May. Went to the emergency room – no broken bones, no head trauma. They sent him back home. He fell again the following day. Fractured his femur. 

Surgery followed and dad did great. Didn’t complain. Refused pain meds. But he also refused physical therapy. The hospital stay – the confinement, the noises, the strange people –  sent Dad into a state of delirium. He hasn’t been the same since. He is capable of walking on his new femur, but won’t. Until he wants to. Then the effects of muscle atrophy from not walking remind him that he needs help. He sleeps in a hospital bed at home now.

I thought we had years to come to grips with this disease and its inevitable result, as we’d had with my grandfather and uncles. My father chose a different route. His personality still shines through, unless he’s in pain. He will still give you the middle finger when you’re a punk, and still knows it’s me when I kiss his cheek. I already miss my father although he’s still here.

When dad was cleared to be released from the hospital, I decided I should keep a long-planned appointment in San Antonio. I had the honor of spending an afternoon with Pam Rosser, the conservator of the Alamo. Pam is the Shrine’s only physician. Every sacred stone is under her supervision and care.

We spent a fair amount of time on the Plaza, talking about all kinds of things: why the Alamo looks different from the other missions, the types of limestone each mission was constructed with, how stones are replaced when one fails, how the moisture monitors were placed in the walls above and below the grade, how the voids in the mortar joints are filled, whether the second story will be added to the Long Barrack. 

As we talked, we watched a little boy play with the cannon in front of us. We watched an Alamo Ranger ask him where his parents were. The boy didn’t know and didn’t much care. The Ranger kept vigilant watch over him. About ten minutes later, his father came up and all was well.

Pam and I went into the Shrine. We talked about the differences in temperature and humidity in the confessional, sacristy and apse. Each has its own weather patterns. We covered the lime washes on the facade and the frescos in the sacristy. Pam is a second generation mission conservator and an incredible teacher. I came away with a better understanding of the Alamo Church as a structure and as a patient…a very sick patient. A full article on this visit is coming, but was delayed by my dad’s health and preparing to launch the Texas History Trust.

In late June and early July, my brothers came down to visit my dad. My nephew came down, too. Having everyone in town was, as always, cheering and stressful all at once. 

While we were in Rockport with my folks, I took my brother and nephew to the Art Festival. More than a decade ago, at the same festival, I saw some incredible paintings of shorebirds. The most impressive of these were by a Missouri City artist, called James Offeman. I never forgot his name or his work, and determined that one day I’d buy one of those birds.

In July, cherry snowcone in hand, I found Jim Offeman and his beautiful birds. I marveled at them all and explained how long I’d wanted one of his paintings. He’s an easygoing guy and I may have disturbed him a little with my enthusiasm. It’s a thing I do.

When all was said and done, I didn’t leave with a shorebird at all. Turns out, ten years on, I appreciate more of the bird world than just those I see on the bays. I left with a pair of perfect indigo buntings and a large Mexican eagle (caracara).

There’s a mated pair of caracaras out at Padre Island National Seashore. I see them every time I’m out there. I call them Mildred and Lou. They hang out by the turtle pond where they can pick off easy prey. They gripe at each other. I’ve created a whole world in my imagination about their marital life at the beach. When I saw Jim’s caracara, I knew this was my very own Lou. Jim spent two weeks on the tailfeathers alone. It hangs above my desk now. 

Texas has produced some good and great artists. Jim Offeman is among the best.

Because I’d spent so much time with family in May, June and July, we delayed the launch of our history non-profit. It has, after all, been sixteen years since I’ve started a business from scratch. Developing the website, determining our mission, selecting a board, filing the paperwork, opening bank accounts…I could go on but I won’t. I’d been working on it for a year, but things still needed tweaking.

At the end of July, I started the tweaks in earnest. Wrote a few pieces I’d been mulling over. Tested the website every which way. Wrote the launch announcement. On August 9, we made our existence known. Texas History Trust emerged from the womb, ready to grow and be heard!

The launch was a net positive. A few people sent me hate mail about one of the pieces I’d written. Called me a psychopath. One guy even called me “Anne,” for some reason. He got so pissed he called me by another woman’s name! Ha! But all in all, y’all received it well and provided some fantastic feedback. If you haven’t visited texashistorytrust.org to see what we’re up to yet, I’d be most grateful if you did.

Part of the Trust’s mission is to provide you with source documents, so that you can do your own research and make up your own mind about history. In July, I started scanning those resources to prepare for the launch. I scanned about 15,000 pages in a month’s time! More to come. As donations come in, we’ll obtain the rights to digitize more resources. As we grow, so will the library we make available to you and to researchers everywhere.

I was invited to represent the Trust and give testimony to the 1836 Project Advisory Committee in the Capitol. The invitation was vague. Would I come give a fifteen-minute presentation about what I do in Texas history? Well, sure I would. But I don’t need fifteen minutes. I can sum it up in a sentence: I publish books, write history and raise hell.

Somehow I managed to expand that out to the requested fifteen minutes. And didn’t even use the word “hell”…or anything stronger. I finished out August fidgeting in a chair in the Capitol answering questions for the Committee. 

The 1836 Project was brought into being by a piece of legislation last year. It “established an advisory committee to promote patriotic education and increase awareness of the Texas values that continue to stimulate boundless prosperity across this state.” (That’s the state’s description.) I’d watched them receive testimony from the likes of the Bullock State History Museum, Alamo, TSHA and other Texas institutions. 

Testimony from me seemed out of place. Or did it? The more I thought about it, the more I thought the Trust’s/Copano Bay’s mission belonged in the permanent record of the legislature as much as anyone else’s. We do our part for Texas history. Convinced that I could bring some value to the conversation, I wrote my presentation, drove to Austin and delivered it. Video of my presentation can be viewed here.

To sum it up, I told the Committee what we do, and that part of what we do is keep an eye on who’s teaching Texas history in our universities. I suggested that what we need is all of the “studies” tribes in universities to just form real history departments and write a unified history of Texas…for all Texans.

The nine members of the Advisory Committee are retired SHSU Texas history professor Dr. Carolina Crimm, Sherry Sylvester of Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mac Woodward of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, The Texas Center’s Dr. Don Frazier, Heritage Foundation’s Dr. Kevin Robers, State Senator Brandon Creighton, retired classroom teacher Robert Edison, and Houston entrepreneur Richard Trabulsi. They’ve been smeared recently in Texas Monthly, so they must be doing something right.

Last year, in November, Mark informed me that we’d been commissioned Admirals in the Texas Navy. (Before you get to thinking I can command anything that floats, know that this is a service award issued by the Governor’s office. You definitely don’t want me to captain your boat unless you’re a great swimmer.) 

Now, somewhere in the mix of everything else going on this year, I volunteered Copano Bay Press to handle the fulfillment of items sold by the non-profit Texas Navy Association. I built them a new website for their Ships Store and got everything ready for their launch, which came off just as I began writing this. 

Because of my association with the Texas Navy, I found myself with an incredible invitation…to be on one of the fifteen yachts who would escort the Battleship Texas through the Houston Ship Channel to dry dock in Galveston. I could hardly believe I’d get to witness the move of this historic ship and follow in her wake as she was towed to Galveston. I had to pinch myself. I’m STILL pinching myself.

I left Austin and drove to League City, giddy as you please. The next morning, I was up before dawn to prepare for twelve hours in the sun on a boat. 

I found my way to Lakewood Yacht Club, located the ballroom and found everyone else there munching breakfast tacos and waiting for news on whether the battleship was on the move. When we got word that she was successfully floating, we scrambled to our designated vessels. I was on a 100 ft. triple decker, the Double Eagle, along with the owners, crew and eight other folks.

One of them was Chester Barnes, a longtime customer of the Press, longtime admiral in the Texas Navy and a hell of a guy. What a thing, to be part of the move of the Texas aboard such a beautiful boat and to be among friends.

The first view, below, is of our first glimpse of the Texas when she hove into sight. Following that is a shot of the ensign given to each of the escort yachts to let the Coast Guard and others know we belonged there after the ship channel was closed.

A closeup view and, following, our view after she passed us and we took up our escort formation.

As I drove back to Corpus, alone with my thoughts, I thought about gas prices and the mileage I’ve put on my car in the past year. Then I thought long and hard about a couple of things that matter far more:

  1. I am mighty grateful to be a Texan.
  2. I am blessed to know good, caring people.

Then I marveled at the realization that I started the Press sixteen years ago as a one-off idea…and it has survived. It has thrived. Because of my efforts, because of Mark’s efforts, because you give a damn about Texas history…it has been alive for sixteen years. 

From one little book on Texas land measurements that I learned to make but never imagined I could sell… to the halls of the Capitol and bringing up the rear the Battleship Texas afloat. I know that I am still here by the grace of God, and because He put Mark in my path…He put you in my path…and He put me in Texas.

So, thank you and thank God for Texas.

10 replies »

  1. Love your writing, I was born in Amarillo back in the 50’s. I am a proud Texan, as is my wife Sheila. We have purchased a few things from your wonderful site. We really are proud to show them off to visitors. Keep up the good work and we will keep prayers going for Capano Press. John Hartsfield, Tyler Texas

  2. Michelle, my own love of Texas and its history began with “Texas History Funnies”.(I was born in Corpus in 1940.) Thank you so much for “thinking right.” I envy your travels and associations. Please keep up the good work.

  3. Incredible year! A wonderful read. Thank you for sharing, and thanks for including the Goliad photos. It was a nice surprise to see myself!

  4. Glad you had the opportunity to meet Senator Creighton, he feels like one of my sons to me, and life-long friends. Also Mac Woodward, went to college with him, different fraternities, but still very good friends today. Enjoyed your writings, have always wanted to make the travels you are making. I really want to retrace my great, great great uncle’s footsteps (Robinson) as they captured Santa Anna, and he rode on the horse back to General Sam with him. I too am an Admiral in the Texas Navy, waiting for my first command.

  5. Born in Abilene, grew up in Edinburg. Only left Texas to serve my country in the U. S. Navy. My appreciation for your efforts to keep Texas history on the path of truth runs deep. Do keep up your excellent work. I, and many other True Texans will be here to support you.

  6. Thank You for this article, a most enjoyable read. Being a native Texan myself I have enjoyed many of the places you mentioned an would love to visit them again. My kids have bought me several of the books from your website and that is where I send them when they ask “Dad what do you want for Christmas”, and I truly look forward to the articles you publish on nearly a weekly basis with snippets of the books on sale. I laughed at your concealed carry episode and the Brit’s response, they really don’t know Texas or Texans that inhabit this wonderful land we Texans call home. I recently relocated from Tomball to the Davis Mountains in west Texas one of the most beautiful landscapes in the state of Texas. Let me know if any of the books record events at Fort Davis. Thanks again for all you do and keep up the good work,

  7. Thank you for this article! I really enjoyed reading it and wanted to thank you for all you do to preserve and share the truth of the history of our great state of Texas!