3 more potent parties that altered Austin

Casandra Perks dances in a drum circle at Eeyore’s Birthday Party at Pease Park. April 30, 2011. Photos by Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

Recently, we detailed 17 parties that altered Austin. The story and the video were hits. Still are.

Here we offer three affairs that didn’t make the first list — and probably should have.

Courtesy of jimnicar.com.

March 27, 1925: Texas Relays. Coach Clyde Littlefield and athletic director Theo Bellmont founded the Texas Relays — now named after Littlefield — to compete with the Kansas Relays. It moved from vast Royal-Memorial Stadium to the 20,000-seat Myers Stadium in 1999. It’s always been something of a three-ring circus, with stunts, exhibitions and parties. In the past decades it’s become a national destination for African-American youths and much of downtown is given over to post-athletic celebrations. In 2006, the city’s Urban Music Festival was added to the festivities. The four-day track and field event is usually held in early April.

Courtesy of DailyTexanOnline.com.

April 12, 1930: Longhorn Round-Up. Established by Ex-Students’ Association President Bill McGill, the annual event originally included alumni reunions, campus expos and open houses. These days, many as 15,000 people gather in West Campus as UT fraternal groups stage concerts and host parties. For a long time, too, they paraded in elaborate floats down the Drag. Controversy hit the event in the 1980s when people of color and LGBT students were mocked and harassed, and, after that, Texas Exes abandoned its sponsorship. These days, part of the proceeds go to philanthropic causes. The decade previous to the first Round-Up was pretty wild around campus, too, according to Richard Zelade’s racy book “Austin in the Jazz Age.”

lhs Eeyore's 19
Eeyore’s Birthday in its 52rd year at Pease Park. LAURA SKELDING / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

May 8, 1964: Eeyore’s Birthday Party. The first spring party for UT students — started by in part by Lloyd W. Birdwell, Jr., James Ayres and Jean Craver — took place in Eastwoods Park. It moved to Pease Park along Shoal Creek, grew into a daylong fandango, and was adopted by the city’s hippies and post-hippies. It remains a countercultural wonder, with costumes, snacks, contests, face-painting, and, especially, drum circles. When locals profess to “Keep Austin Weird,” images of Eeyore’s past probably pop into their heads. So far, I have not been able to determine the exact date for that first event. Will update when I find out. Note: Just about every online source puts the first party in 1963, but this flyer, suggests the 1964 date, supported by Howie Richey and Les Carnes. But could this be for the second year?


UPDATE: The Eeyore’s flyer and a new date for the first party were added after the first post.



13 key Austin affairs to anticipate

A look at the near term for pivotal Austin parties.

Did I miss any big ones for this stretch of the season? Let me know at mbarnes@statesman.com.

Tall Grande Vent. Photo: Chad Wellington.

Aug. 30. Opening of the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. Various locations.

Sept. 2: 4th and Goal Gala for DKR Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. AT&T Center.

Sept. 4: UT Longhorns football opener against Notre Dame. Royal Memorial Stadium.

Sept. 8: Red Dot SpreeWomen & Their Work. ADDED

Sept. 9: The Big Give for I Live Here, I Give Here. Sunset Room.

Sept. 9: “Over the Lege,” a fresh set of political sketches, opens. The Institution Theater.

Sept 9. Opening of the Austin Symphony season, “The Mozart Requiem.” Long Center

The Mathis family, who filed a complaint when their transgender child, Coy, was told she couldn’t use the girl’s room.

Sept. 10: Southwest premiere of transgender issues movie, “Growing Up Coy.” Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

Sept. 14: Liz Carpenter Lecture featuring Gloria Steinem. LBJ Presidential Library.

Sept. 14: Chef’s Table Austin for Water to Thrive. Brodie Homestead. ADDED

Sept. 16: Authentic Mexico for the Hispanic Alliance. Long Center.

Sept. 17: Ballet Austin Fête and fête*ish. JW Marriott.

Sept. 17: Opening of the Austin Opera season, “The Manchurian Candidate.” Long Center.

Sept. 17: Moonlight in the Gorge GalaCanyon Lake.

Sept. 17: Little Black Dress Soirée for Dress for Success. Palazzo Lavaca.


Five Austin parties that sparkled

Kate Perez and Hector Perez with Gabriel Hardin (little) At the Ice Ball.

Ice Ball for Big Brothers Big Sisters

The first gala of this fall Austin social season turned out to be a big one. And a good one. The Ice Ball has long benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, a $1.5 million or so annual effort to mentor 1,000 kids. A repeated phrase: “We have another 1,000 on a waiting list, so if you could only help …” Mingling at the Hyatt Regency’s Zilker Ballroom, we ran into loyal friends of the Austin community, including former Statesman editor Kathy Warbelow, a model of good works in retirement, as well as Dick and Sara Rathgeber. I won the reporters’ lottery and was seated next to Mr. Rathgeber for the flavorsome dinner. I heard enough zesty tales about the evolution of Austin business and charity to last a season.

Helen Merino and Robert Matney at Austin Shakespeare’s “Wolf Hall” Salon.

Austin Shakespeare’s “Wolf Hall” Salon

It is not overstatement to say that Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” completely recast the model of the historical novel. Gone are the usual clunky exposition and the purple prose. Instead, her novels that delved into the life of English statesman Thomas Cromwell present modern characters embedded in a convincing 16th-century world, winning two Man Booker Prizes along the way. Although a national tour of the London/West End version is expected, Austin Shakespeare nabbed the rights for a staged reading Sept. 22-25 at the Long Center. At the Louis XV-style home of Annie Chandler, we munched on ready snacks, then heard company players read snippets from the script. Quite the theatrical group, including super-backers Marc and Carolyn Seriff, turned out.

Part of our booth at Thinkery21.


Millennials need their nights, too. Thinkery21 lets grown-ups eat, drink, mingle and learn at the Thinkery, formerly known as the Austin Children’s Museum. Present at the museum’s invitation to promote the Austin History Center and my book, “Indelible Austin,” I asked each young adult who stepped up to our booth: “What do you know about Austin’s past?” The most popular answer: “Not much.” Yet they asked sharp questions, especially about the dozen photos we displayed from the “Battle of Barton Creek,” the grassroots effort, mostly in the 1980s and ’90s, to protect the water quality of Barton Springs. (See the photos on the Austin Found blog.) New Austin is curious about Old Austin. We’ll continue to encourage the conversation.

Sirena Gutierrez and Jeffrey Saeling at #texas4000 Tribute Dinner.


Texas 4000 Tribute Gala

In just a few short years, the Texas 4000 Tribute Gala, which salutes University of Texas students who bike from Austin to Anchorage to raise money and cancer awareness, has become one of Austin’s essential social experiences. This year at the JW Marriott, the 66 riders — all with their own cancer stories — beamed from the stage and in three sterling videos. Some of the 660 alumni as well as families made up a good portion of the crowd. Increasingly, however, others are learning about this three-month ride — the three routes go through the Sierras, Rockies and Ozarks — that has raised more $7 million and has transfigured the lives of the participants. Rider Laura Elizondo, who got engaged at ride’s end: “I learned to front-load the pain. I now do it every day.”

Courtesy of The Feed.

South Austin Lunch Scene

After Café No Sé opened last year — just two short blocks from our house — it quickly became our default lunch place. It still is. Yet we love the fresh attention given to other lunch and brunch scenes in our walkable hood. Vinaigrette, with its tasty,  healthy but not overloaded salads, is a tempting option. June’s, the latest gem from McGuire Moorman Hospitality, encourages one to sample matching wines at every meal. Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon recently opened up around the corner from us, so we’ll test out that location soon. In our heads, we can count 50 worthy eateries within easy walking distance of our house.

UPDATE: Laura Elizondo’s and Dick Rathgeber’s names was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

Jackie Huba: Austin’s female drag queen


Austin author and motivational speaker Jackie Huba is the first woman to give a TED Talk as a female drag queen, appearing as her drag persona, Lady Trinity. She’s set to perform at the Austin Pride Festival on Aug. 27 alongside Bob the Drag Queen, Kelly Kline and Vegas Van Cartier. Her book, “Fiercely You,” written with therapist Shelly Stewart Kronbergs, encourages drag-queen-like confidence for just about everybody.

We asked her a few questions.

American-Statesman: What does it mean to be a female drag queen in 2016?

 Jackie Huba: There have been women doing drag as a female characters for decades but mostly under the mainstream radar. Because of the success of the reality competition television show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has been on for eight seasons and is broadcast around the world, more and more women have been exposed to drag and are inspired to emulate the queens they see on the show. That’s how I got started. I saw how these drag performers on the show creating confident and bold female characters and a few years ago, I was in a place where I really needed some confidence. I decided to explore creating a drag alter ego, aka Lady Trinity, and actually perform as her. Then I could channel that bold character in my everyday life when I needed her. But I bow down to female drag queens, Crimson Kitty from New York City, and Fauxnique and Holy McGrail from San Francisco, and others who are veterans in this category.

Do you encounter resistance to your inclusion in that category today?

I’ve not had that experience, though I do write in the book about some female drag queens in London who have been the victims of misogyny. Personally I’ve found the drag community itself to be extremely accepting of women who do drag. They’ve told me they love seeing anyone love the art form as much as they do. My drag mother and Kelly Kline, a 25-year veteran drag performer here in Austin, has been my biggest mentor and cheerleader. My drag sisters in Austin and San Antonio have also been extremely supportive, offering tips on costuming, wig styling, etc. And I’m so honored to have the support of RuPaul, the queen of queens, who so kindly endorsed my new book, “Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen,” with quote for the cover.


At times, some women feel insulted by the exaggerated performances of female identity among drag queens. Do you ever run across that?

 I haven’t run across this. Drag is not about mocking women; it’s about mocking the cultural concept of identity. I think people who don’t get irony, don’t get drag. Most of the women I’ve encountered love drag queens for their ability to be to unapologetically fierce and fabulous, no matter what criticism they might receive.

What kind of woman should try on this kind of drag?

 Every woman! But I’m not just talking about what one wears that can be empowering. In “Fiercely You,” we outline the “Five Keys to Fierce,” which are lessons lessons I have learned doing drag as well as from interviewing the top drag queens in the country. They are: Create Your Drag Persona. Consciously create the person you’ve always wanted to be.  Always Look Sickening in Everyday Drag. Dress for power. Strike a Pose and Embody Your Power. Use power posing and physicality to instill inner confidence. Tell Your Critics to Sashay Away. Quiet both inner and outer critics. You Better Werk! Take small risks to propel yourself to taking even bigger ones.


Actually, these lessons can apply to anyone of any age. In the book, we profile an eighty-seven year old great-grandmother who built a badass persona for herself, called Baddie Winkle, that saved her from depression. And we also feature a sixteen year old boy who because a viral YouTube star and subsequent LGBTQ activist who shares how he feels as fierce as a drag queen everyday.

 Your book is about empowerment through fierceness. Boil that down for us.

We all want to be confident and self-assured. But too often we let fear and self-doubt derail us from pursuing our passions and accomplishing our biggest goals. With Fiercely You, we want our readers to work through those fears by getting fierce, as fierce as a drag queen. Our Five Keys to Fierce are lessons from drag queens but translated into everyday life activities. The Keys are all rooted in psychological principles. I collaborated with a licensed therapist, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs, who breaks down the psychological research into layman’s terms in the book, and explains how the Keys really work. In each Key, we give our readers specific tasks to accomplish to help them get outside their comfort zone and take more risks; no wigs and stilettos are required, but they are highly encouraged!

Awesome tales of Sugarloaf Mountain on Rancheria Grande

1768-map2-lgOn Aug. 7, we shared the story of Rancheria Grande, the large 18th-century settlement of Native Americans who lived near Sugarloaf Mountain on El Camino Real de los Tejas. The sandstone-topped spot is in Milam County and his considered the birthplace of the Tonkawa tribe.

We received several notes from folks who had ridden horses or camped out around that area above the Little River, but none as vivid as this one from Gary Brantley of Cameron. We’ll share the entire note:

“I’m a native of Cameron and was maybe 6 or 7 years old when I first went up Sugarloaf Mountain. After high school, in the early to late ’70s, it was a favorite partying spot for many Milam county kids. Some nights, that sandy county road was lined on both sides with vehicles.

Sugarloaf Mountain, Milam County. Courtesy of theodysseyonline.com.

One could meet kids there from Houston, Austin or Dallas who had been told of it by parents and grandparents from the area. The site was just beautiful in those days. There were great vistas from every part and there were sitting areas on all sides. The west side ledge afforded spectacular sunsets and having camped up there overnight, several times, I can attest to sunrises just as nice.

On the north face of the “mountain,” halfway up, there was a cave. One could easily walk into it. In fact, quite a large group could huddle in there. The northeast corner of the heights, overlooking the river bottoms, had the most incredible feature of all.

There stood a large boulder, perhaps 15-20 feet tall. It had been styled into a head. All the features of a face were there, and in the open mouth was a smaller skull. There were ears carved into the sides of the large head/boulder that were really Pre-Columbian in style and appearance.

Sugarloaf Mountain in Milam County before the top was razed. Courtesy Topix.com.

All the way around the mountaintop, was a second level with a pathway. One could stand on that level and stare straight at the boulder.  A large format black and white photo of this boulder did hang in the foyer of a local law firm. I’m trying to find that in order to get a copy made. I think it dates to the 1920s or ’30s after a fire had burned away all the vegetation.

I know that indigenous people in today’s Mexico traded all the way to the Mississippian Mound Builders. A good example are the Caddos of nearby East Texas. Perhaps such a distinctive landmark as the sandstone mountain might have attracted their attention.

There seemed to be open access to Sugarloaf back then. No one was ever bothered by the authorities as long as things didn’t get out of hand (neighbors didn’t complain or the road wasn’t blocked).

As I and my friends grew older our visits up there waned. I took my two children there around 1986 or 87. We encountered several other visitors that day.  Around ’93 or ’94, the property apparently changed owners, maybe more than once.

One group decided to search for the legendary hidden Spanish gold there. They dug up the top first, then finding nothing, brought in a bulldozer and tore away more than half of the mountain. The cave and the “Skull Rock” were now gone. You know, in all of my literally hundreds of visits up there, not once did I ever envision that it could be destroyed.  Gone, and so suddenly.

There was a local uproar over the damage and a group of Tonkawa came from Oklahoma to address a county commission. They claimed it as part of their creation story, just as you mentioned. I believe this was the one thing that stopped further “development” there.

My last trip up there was on New Year’s Day, 1995. It was drizzling rain and my 13 year-old son was with me. I couldn’t believe what I found. I stayed on what was left of the top maybe five minutes. Enough to see what we’d lost.

Well, to see as best I could through my tears. We climbed back down and I haven’t climbed it again. I’m sorry for such a long email, but I felt like you might appreciate knowing a bit more about the place, and what it meant to so many people.”

Best Texas books: Who is Homer Thornberry?


“Homer Thornberry: Congressman, Judge and Advocate for Equal Rights.” Homer Ross Tomlin. TCU Press. Sandwiched between Lyndon Baines Johnson and J.J. “Jake” Pickle, Austin’s U.S. Congressman was Homer Thornberry, whose full story begged to be told. That duty was taken up by his grandson, Homer Ross Tomlin, an elegant writer who covers his grandfather’s early years in Austin — the son of deaf parents who taught at the Texas School for the Deaf — his service on the Austin City Council, in the Texas Legislature, as Travis County District Attorney, in the U.S. Navy, as Congressman before becoming a federal judge, whom Johnson nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thornberry was deeply involved in the big stories of the day, including civil rights. There’s also a lot of Austin history here. Expect an interview with the author in the coming months. Tomlin appears at BookPeople on Aug. 27


“Rounded Up in Glory: Frank Reaugh: Texas Renaissance Man.” Michael R. Grauer. University of North Texas Press. We wanted to learn more about Frank Reaugh (pronounced ‘Ray’), the “Dean of Texas Painters.” Best known for his pastel depictions of the West, he straddled the artistic trends of two centuries and two continents, since he trained in Europe and his landscapes owe a good deal to Impressionism and post-Impressionism. In 1890, he settled in the Oak Cliff part of Dallas and he became one of the prime movers of that city’s art scene, mentoring the next generations of painters. He also was an inventor and photographer. The author is a curator at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon and he wrote the companion book to the recent Ransom Center exhibit of Reaugh’s work. This volume fills out the personal canvas.


“Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Jayme Lynn Blaschke. History Press.” Is there a Texan over a certain age that doesn’t know the outline of this story, retold in magazines, musicals and movies? Sheriff protects longtime country bawdyhouse outside La Grange, run by classy, sassy Madam Edna Milton. It then is closed after a big-city media campaign coupled with some political maneuvering. Enterprising journalist and author Jayme Lynn Blaschke has done some more digging, however, and added some twists to the tale, including an intriguing conspiracy angle. He also thoroughly covers the afterlife of the story, and the ways that it has been misrepresented. Look at this: Former Lt. Gov. William P. “Bill” Hobby Jr. endorses this telling.


“Convict Cowboys: The Untold History of the Texas Prison Rodeo.” Mitchel P. Roth. University of North Texas Press. Running from 1931 to 1986, the Texas Prison Rodeo was like no other show in town. Professor and author Mitchel P. Roth, who teaches criminal justice and criminology at Sam Houston State University, devoted years to research in Austin and Huntsville in order to profile this, the first of the country’s prison rodeos. Some of the events staged in what would become a 30,000-seat stadium were mind-bogglingly dangerous and reflected an extreme prison state of mind. But Roth also looks at the Texas Prison Rodeo as pop culture. It attracted movie stars and pop musicians; it also took on meanings far beyond the Western ranch practices that spawned the first rodeos. By the way, the tradition continues at the Angola Rodeo at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, as recently recorded by American-Statesman writer Pam LeBlanc.


“West Texas Middleweight: The Story of LaVern Roach.” Frank Sikes. Texas Tech University Press. The death of LaVern Roach, a middleweight boxer from Plainview, on Feb. 22, 1950, from injuries incurred — right in front of television audiences — changed what was then one of the two most popular sports in America. But there’s much more to the story. Telling it in his first book is Frank Sikes, whose family has hailed from Plainview — located between Lubbock and Amarillo — for three generations. Roach boxed in the military and rose through the sport’s ranks to be named Rookie of the Year in 1947. He was a top contender for the world championship. Sikes was lucky to land legendary boxing authority Angelo Dundee for one of his key sources. Takes the reader back to a time when boxing was part of everyday life.


“Shooting for the Record: Adolph Toepperwein, Tom Frey and Sharpshooting’s Forgotten Controversy.” Tim Price. Texas Tech University Press. Did Tom Frey play fast and loose when he broke Adolph Toepperwein’s aerial sharpshooting record? The elder marksman (1869-1962), who grew up in the Boerne area and entertained the country with his markswoman wife, Elizabeth, had shot more than 72,000 little wood blocks thrown up in the air, missing only nine. In 1959, Frey missed six out of  100,010, but the conditions were different. Price, a freelance journalist who co-wrote “Texas Sports Trivia,” opens up a world of exhibition shooting that few probably knew existed with his careful exposition of the controversy.

Update: In the item about the middleweight boxer, the last name was wrong in an earlier post.

Three ultra-bright Austin social affairs

Dana Younger and Felice House at ‘Sum You Some Me’ opening. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman.

So great to chat with sculptor Dana Younger, whose career I’ve followed for more than 20 years, since he was a member of the utterly charming Troupe Texas, which unfortunately expired in 1995. In most minds, however, he is more closely associated with Blue Genie Art Industries, known for its commercial and architectural sculpture. After putting up a show in Grand Rapids, Mich, he and his painter wife, Felice House, have staged a larger version of “Sum You Some Me” at the Dougherty Arts Center. It’s figurative and fantastical and the opening night crowd couldn’t get enough of it. Really, they wouldn’t leave. Go by Sept. 10.

Recovery Unplugged Grand Opening, Austin, Texas - 18 Aug 2016
Director of Operations Rob Harrison, Chief Strategist Paul Pellinger, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer, CFO Andrew Sossin, CEO Marshall Geiser, and Accountant Robert Sossin at Recovery Unplugged grand opening. Suzanne Cordeiro for the American-Statesman.

Recently, a fairly novel addiction treatment center, Recovery Unplugged, opened with an emphasis on serving Austin’s music industry. The grand opening of the place, which started in Fort Lauderdale and uses music as part of the therapy, included, according to spokeswoman Anna Vaughn, live music, barbecue, tours of the facility, giveaways, appearances by Richie Supa and Joey Kramer and more. “The treatment center brings a new approach to recovery and sobriety by combining music into the process,” she continues. “They have a special music room where local sober/clean musicians come to run process groups where they talk about their experience in recovery and discuss lyrics, which helps the clients relate to what they are going through.  The center also has Playlist groups where the clients explore their feelings through songs they enjoy.  This unique approach of using music to help move lives forward on a new path is sure to thrive in a community like Austin.” What’s not to like?

Rotarians Frank Lynn and Sally Spann with happy teachers at Pickle Elementary.

Jean Nalle, president elect of Austin University Rotary, tell us that “all of the teachers at Pickle Elementary were given $50 gift cards for their classrooms as well as discounts at Office Depot to help with the coming school year. Equipment was also given to the school from a wish list along with books for the library and books from Bookspring. We have been helping this school the last year and step up our help this year. We also partner with other Rotary Clubs to help Pecan Springs Elementary along with the Andy Roddick Foundation.” Love the Rotarians.


A peek at 50 upcoming Austin social attractions

These coming Austin social events are winking at me.

Aug. 18: Black Literature MattersBookPeople.

Aug. 18: Recovery Unplugged Grand Opening. 14109 FM 696.

Aug. 20: Ice Ball for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Hyatt Regency.

Aug. 20: New Amsterdam Vodka presents It’s Your Town Party. SprATX.

Aug. 21: Austin Shakespeare’s ‘Wolf Hall’ Salon. 4211 Long Champ Dr.

Aug. 25. Thinkery21: Transformations. 1830 Simond Ave.

Among those honored at ADL’s True Colors party will be civic leader Virginia Cumberbatch.

Aug. 25: ADL True Colors 800 Congress Ave.

Aug. 27: Texas 4000 Tribute Gala. JW Marriott.

Aug. 27: Austin Originals Benefit Concert for Austin Child Guidance Center. ACL Live.

Aug. 27: Celebrando Austin for Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber. Hyatt Regency.

Aug. 27: Austin Pride Festival and Parade. Various locales, including State Capitol and Congress Avenue.

Aug. 29: HAAM’s Night of Infinite Fun. Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery.

Aug. 29: Texas French Bread 35th Anniversary. 2900 Rio Grande St. (Note: this was rescheduled due to weather threats.)

Sept. 2: 4th and Goal Gala for DKR Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. AT&T Center.

Sept. 4: UT Longhorns football opener against Notre Dame. Royal Memorial Stadium.

Sept. 9: The Big Give for I Live Here, I Give Here. Sunset Room.

Sept 9. Opening of the Austin Symphony season, “The Mozart Requiem.” Long Center

Sept. 16: Authentic Mexico for the Hispanic Alliance. Long Center.

Sept. 17: Ballet Austin Fête and fête*ish. JW Marriott

Sept. 17: Opening of the Austin Opera season, “The Manchurian Candidate.” Long Center.

LBDNewImageSept. 17: Moonlight in the Gorge Gala. Canyon Lake.

Sept. 17: Little Black Dress Soirée for Dress for Success. Palazzo Lavaca.

Sept. 21: Food for Thought for Communities in Schools. ACL Live.

Sept. 23: Jewel Luncheon for Austin Symphony. JW Marriott

Sept. 23: Opening of the Ballet Austin season: “To China, with Love.” Long Center.

Sept. 23: Hill Country Nights for Hill Country Conservancy. Fair Market.

Sept. 24: Jewel Ball for Austin Symphony. Palmer Events Center.

Sept. 24: Building Bridges for Arc of the Capital Area. Hyatt Regency.

Sept. 24: Green Gate Farms 10th Anniversary Party. 8310 Canoga Ave.

Sept. 24: TribFeast to support Texas Tribune. UT Alumni Center.

Sept. 28: Opening of the Zach Theatre season, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical.” Topfer Theater.

Sept. 29: Austin Area Urban League Equal Opportunity Gala. Hilton Austin.

Sept. 29. Caritas Words of Hope / Harvey Penick Award dinner Hyatt Regency.

Sept. 30: ACL Music Festival opening night. Zilker Park.

Oct. 6: Travis Audubon Luncheon. Austin Country Club.

Caterina Ball.

Oct. 12: Film and Food Party for Austin Film Festival. Driskill Hotel.

Oct. 20: Bridging the Gap for New Milestones Foundation. Four Seasons Hotel.

Oct. 21: Formula One United States Grand Prix. Circuit of the Americas.

Oct. 22: Barbecue on the Pedernales. LBJ Ranch.

Oct. 22: Caterina Ball for Mexic-Arte Museum. Four Seasons Hotel.

Oct. 23: DSACT Buddy Walk and reception. Reunion Ranch in Georgetown.

Pascal Mittermaier will speak at the Nature Conservancy event

Oct. 25: The Nature Conservancy Global Cities. 1111 W. 12th St.

Oct. 28: Reading Between the Wines for Literacy Coalition. Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs Mansion.

Oct. 28: B Scene: Inevitable Warhol Happening. Blanton Museum of Art.

Nov. 1: Beat the Odds Benefit for Breakthrough Austin. UT Alumni Center.

Nov. 3: Rainforest Partnership Celebration Dinner. Gilfillan House.

Nov. 4: First Edition Literary Gala for Texas Book Festival. Four Seasons Hotel.

Nov. 11: St. Jude’s Lone Stars and Angels. AT&T Center.

Dec. 4: Dancing with the Stars Austin for Center for Child Protection. Hilton Austin.

Dec. 10: Black Ball for Black Fret. Paramount Theatre.

Update: Moonlight in the Gorge Gala and Little Black Dress are Sept 17. Hill Country Nights is Sept. 23.

Horace Samuel “Sonny” Wallace Jr., 1930-2016

Horace “Sonny” Wallace with Horace Wallace Sr. at Wallace Engraving Co. in 1946.

Horace “Sonny” Wallace, part of three generations in the family Wallace Engraving business here in Austin, died recently.

I had the privilege of interviewing him just a year ago at his kitchen table. Here’s a sample from my profile of the Wallace family that ran Dec. 18, 2015.

“During the 1940s, Horace “Sonny” Wallace tried his hand at every task in his father’s shop.

“I washed the glass plates before being paid,” he says about the Wallace Engraving Co., founded by his father in 1932. “Then I worked a camera. It took two minutes to take a picture. We transferred the image from film to metal. We exposed the metal, etched with an acid bath to make a metal plate. Then we cut away the parts that didn’t need to be there.”

Virginia and Horace “Sonny” Wallace, longtime owners of Wallace Engraving Co., at Green Pastures in 2014.

As a youth, Wallace sometimes rode horses or mules to see his friends. He first lived on Taylor Street in East Austin, then on Carolyn Avenue in the Harris Park area, then on Windsor Road and, lastly, on Blanco Street.

For Wallace Engraving, he made deliveries on his bicycle. The company did a lot of prepress engraving for the American and Statesman newspapers, owned by the same company even before they were merged into one morning paper in the 1970s.

“We always wanted to be close to the Statesman, so we could deliver right away,” he says. “They couldn’t do what we were doing. I knew a lot of people down there.”



Absolute peace and quiet in Bosque County

“Nobody’s heard of us,” quips the lady at the Bosque Collection, an historical archive located on the courthouse square in Meridian. “They say: Where?”

13934581_10157195904115316_7529160715701622251_nFew in Austin knew anything about our intended summer retreat. Exceptions: Those who had lived in the Waco area, 45 miles to the east; those who remembered late singer-songwriter Steven Fromholz, who wrote gracefully about this area; and those who had discovered its lonely roads as back ways to and from Fort Worth.

As one might guess from the name of the county seat (population 1,500), and a long, silvery creek by the same name that runs through the southern portion of the the county, the area lies on the 98th meridian, which separates, according to late UT historian Walter Prescott Webb, the East from the West. So farms in one direction dissolving into ranches in the other.

Meridian is called the “Top of the Hill Country.” In addition to the conventional juniper-draped limestone outcroppings, the region also includes generous servings of open prairies and crosstimbers. The many-branched main waterway and the county are well named — Bosque means “forested river” in Spanish — for the river banks are crowded with thickets of very old oaks.

13615058_10157166271970316_3155913690206086819_nWe stayed for two weeks at the Young Ranch Guest House, located five minutes northwest of Meridian. The 100-year-old Norse stone farmhouse catches the dry breezes in the morning and evening. The ranch itself proved ideal for running our two Labrador retrievers through still-green hayfields and down to a doggy swimming hole on the North Bosque River.

Debbie and Jeff Young, who live not far away in a more contemporary house at the crest of a hill, made gracious hosts. They delivered a gift bottle of red from the local winery, Red Caboose, and must have wondered what we would do with two weeks out here during the two hottest weeks of August.

Plenty and, at the same time, not much at all.

We read a lot. Marcel Proust for me. Hard-shell writers Elmore Leonard and John D. McDonald for Kip. We indulged in creative projects and The New Yorker. Lots of Summer Olympics on TV. Birdwatching near home, hiking at Meridian State Park; swimming at Olsen Pool in nearby Clifton; a few cultural outings, such as one to the previously visited Bosque Museum, also in Clifton.

13645165_10157166350040316_7452794333759785225_nIt’s one of the biggest and best local history museums in the state, which this time offered two excellent temporary exhibits on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Texas and the German settlement of the Llano Estacado. We also learned more about the Norwegian settlers in southeast Bosque County, which left behind clear influences on language, customs, faith and enough of a connection to the Old Country that the King of Norway once visited here.

Back at the guest house, we cooked and ate light, healthy meals, having stocked up at Trader Joe’s in Austin and Fort Worth, filling in the blanks at the modern Brookshire Brothers supermarket in Clifton, and at the smaller, friendly, old-fashioned Brookshire Brothers grocery store in Meridian.

One evening, we ate out at Zur Autobahn. On Texas 22 between Merdian and Cranfills Gap, a German-American couple serve up very traditional, very authentic, very good German food.

13729110_10157188974730316_3182530215810446578_n.jpgThe dogs loved the place, including the wildlife (cottontails, jackrabbits, deer, etc.) and domesticated animals (gorgeous horses on the ranch proper) that went along with mostly leash-free adventures. (We prepared them with rattlesnake vaccine in advance, just in case.)

What about the heat? Didn’t really bother us much. We stayed inside during the hottest hours. Shade and breezes and brilliant Hill Country nights did the rest.