Best parties for this rapturous Austin weather

What could go better with this glorious late October weather than unfettered socializing with fellow Austinites?

Oct. 26-Nov. 3: Austin Film Festival. Various locations.

Oct. 26: Fall Fundraiser for Pease Park Conservancy. Ella Hotel.

Oct. 26: Future Luncheon for Austin Ed Fund. Fairmont Hotel.

Oct. 26: Amazon in Austin for Rainforest Partnership. 800 Congress Ave.

Oct. 27: Tito’s Prize Winner Zack Ingram show reception. Big Medium Gallery.

Oct. 27: Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon for TAMACC. Four Seasons Hotel.

Oct. 28: Spooktacular. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Oct. 28: Bulltober Fest. Rodeo Austin HQ, 9100 Decker Lake Road.

Oct. 28: Viva La Vida for Day of the Dead. Mexic-Arte Museum.

Oct. 28: Eye Ball for Rude Mechs. Springdale Station.

Oct. 28: Austin Central Library Grand Opening. 710 West Cesar Chavez St.

Oct. 28: Zach Costume Bash. Bobbi Pavilion.

Oct. 28: Austin Sunshine Camps Carnival. Zilker Lodge & Pavilion.

Oct. 28: Barbecue on the Pedernales for Friends of the LBJ National Historical Park. LBJ Ranch

Oct. 29: All ATX for HAAM, SIMS, Black Fret and Austin Music Foundation. Auditorium Shores.

Oct. 29: Empty Bowls Project. Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center.

Oct. 30: Andy Roddick Foundation Gala. ACL Live.

 

Taking social flight with Travis Audubon, Waller Creek Conservancy, American Gateways

It was like drifting from one waking dream to another.

Heading to the Waller Creek Conservancy benefit. Contributed by © David Brendan Hall / http://www.davidhallphotog.com

I first encountered that certain fantastical aspect of the Waller Creek Conservancy, which plans a series of high-design parks along a neglected stretch of downtown waterway, at a large dinner party in the Four Seasons penthouse of Tom and Lynn Meredith. All sorts of important and influential Austinites were present on that fateful and whimsical night. Despite the mammoth scale of the proposed project, I sensed that those gathered in the room high above the creek, which included fellow Conservancy visionaries, Melanie Barnes and Melba Whatley, could get it done.

Two of the biggest guns: Gary Farmer and State Sen. Kirk Watson. Contributed by © David Brendan Hall / http://www.davidhallphotog.com

Over the next few years, a series of magical benefit parties and concerts were staged with the help of Lonesome Dove chef Tim Love and C3 partner Charles Attal at the Stubb’s complex right on the banks of the creek. This time, there was something tangible to celebrate: The group had broken ground on its Waterloo Park segment with the generous help of a $15 million grant from Ross Moody and the Moody Foundation.

The Tim Love dinner was served family style. Contributed by © David Brendan Hall / http://www.davidhallphotog.com

BACKGROUND: Grant to fund Waterlook Park makeover.

Well, this year’s dinner was like walking on a cloud. Everybody, including Conservancy CEO Peter Mullan and his gracious wife, Melanie Mullan, a strategic advisor, fairly glowed with felicity. Melanie led a group of her lively friends in a conversation at our table that could, from my perspective, have gone on all night. But then there was a concert by alt-pop duo Oh Wonder waiting just outside the door of the events room.

Isn’t it great when the photography, including this shot of Oh Wonder, is done by a pro such as © David Brendan Hall / http://www.davidhallphotog.com

Victor Emanuel Conservation Awards

Mickey Burleson wanted to set the record straight. She did not plant Blackland Prairie seeds by moonlight at her ranch with her late husband, Bob Burleson, because of some nebulous spiritual reasons. The pair, credited with restoring some of the last remnants of a critical and highly endangered ecosystem, simply broadcast the carefully collected grains after the end of long days because the seeds would have turned too hot if stored with other remnants from their old-fashioned grass seed harvester.

The ideal swag at Travis Audubon event. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

In probably the most thoughtful charity swag ever, guests at the Victor Emanuel Conservation Award luncheon, which benefits Travis Audubon, each received a small “Ecosystem in a Bag” of more than 1,000 grains from Native American Seed company. Some of the seeds in the Blackland Prairie Mix were descendants of those collected by the Burlesons. Heaven on Earth.

Nandini Chaturvedula and Brandi Clark Burton at Victor Emanuel Conservation Awards for Travis Audubon. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Mickey Burleson accepted this year’s award from titular award from Valerie Bristol, the chief warrior on the Balcones Canyonlands preservation. She was last year’s honoree. I’ve doted on everyone who has received this prize, including its namesake, Victor Emanuel, the nature guide who set next to me during the luncheon. Consider the rest of the honor roll: Bob AyresGeorgean KylePaul KyleJ. David BambergerCarter Smith and Andy Sansom.

To borrow a phrase from frequent emcee Evan Smith at an earlier benefit, they all could be my spirit animals.

Gateway Awards

You’d need a heart of stone to turn away from the stories generated by American Gateways, the group that provides legal services to immigrants who can’t afford them. The staff in Austin, San Antonio and Waco, along with an army of pro bono attorneys, deal with heartbreaking cases every day. They don’t need to be told that our immigration system is broken. They are on the front lines.

Tiffany Carlson and Keenan Wilson at Gateway Awards for American Gateways. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

The second annual Gateway Awards were distributed during a taco dinner at the new AFS event room at its complex in the Linc. (I saw the bedazzling movie musical, “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” there on my birthday last week.) The entertainment at the banquet was pretty amazing, too, starting with the New Generation Children’s Choir, made up of African refugees, and ending with San Antonio-based, all-female Mariachi Las Coronelas, who know how to get an audience going.

Mariachi Las Coronelas at the Gateway Awards. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Juan Belman, a dreamer and the University of Texas graduate who famously confronted President Barack Obama at the Paramount Theatre, picked up the Social Justice Award. Lawyer Valerie Barker of Baker Botts, LLP, was named Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Charismatic Jae Kim from Chi’Lantro Korean barbecue acclaim, won the Immigrant of Achievement Award.

New Generation Children’s Choir at the Gateway Awards. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Makes me proud that American Gateways is based right here in Austin.

Alternative Austin social options during ACL

The second week of  ACL Music Festival doesn’t stand in the way of these other scintillating Austin social offerings.

Oct. 11: Waller Creek Conservancy Dinner and Concert featuring Oh Wonder with Jaymes Young. Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater.

Oct. 11: 4 x 4 for Nobelity Project. Gibson Guitar Austin Showroom.

Oct. 12: Gateway Awards for American Gateways. AFS Cinema.

Oct. 12: Touch the Stars Gala for Imagine a Way.
Stephen F. Austin Hotel.

Oct. 14: Victor Emanuel Conservation Award Luncheon for Travis Audubon. Austin Country Club.

Oct. 14: 60th Anniversary Celebration of Montopolis Friendship Community Center. 403 Vargas Road.

Oct. 14: The Mask of Limits for ME3LJ Center. Hyatt Regency Austin Hotel.

Oct. 15: Butcher’s Ball for Urban Harvest and Foodways Austin. Rockin’ Star Ranch.

Oct. 15: Fashion and Art Palooza 3.0. Lucas Event Center.

 

Crowds amass for Dick Clark, Westcave Preserve and Parks Foundation

Sherry Matthews knew exactly how to stage a fitting tribute to her late companion and leading Austin architect Dick Clark.

A tribute to Dick Clark at the Paramount Theatre. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

She and her team gathered almost 1,000 of Clark’s admirers at the Paramount Theatre. She drafted former University of Texas School of Architecture Dean Fritz Steiner to give the event extra dignity and stature. She spared a few minutes for leaders who graciously recognized Clark’s legacies to UT students, to cancer research and to what he called his family, his firm, which has produced some of the city’s best designers and buildings, especially in the realm of restaurants and bars, but also splendid modern residences.

READ: Renowned Austin architect Dick Clark dead at 72.

Yet Matthews’ most powerful tool was a long, beautifully composed documentary film about Clark that should be seen by anyone who wants to understand our city. It also reminded me how much I wish my life was more like Clark’s. He embraced every moment and all the people around him. He didn’t sweat the small stuff and loved nothing better than to work out the infinite puzzles of design.

And, oh yes, one of Clark’s buddies, Willie Nelson, rounded out the tribute with a few songs. Going in, attendees received a clever napkin printed with the evening’s program; going out, a gorgeous little booklet about Clark’s work with words from the rumpled master: “Architecture is not just about a building. It’s about people. No matter how beautiful or functional the design, architecture’s true meaning is found in those who live their lives in the spaces we create.”

Celebration of Children in Nature

John Covert Watson must have had something to do with it. The visionary who purchased a trashed-out sinkhole above the Pedernales River and helped turn it into Westcave Preserve, a premier nature education site, must have also paved the way for the extraordinary partnerships that the nonprofit has forged with larger efforts such as the City of Austin’s Cities Connecting Children to Nature program.

Nancy Scanlan, Victor Emanuel and Brigid Shea at Celebration of Children in Nature for Westcave Preserve. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

That campaign won the E. Lee Walker Award for Collaboration during the Celebration of Children in Nature gala at the Four Seasons Hotel. Others included Bonnie Baskin of the Science Mill in Johnson City, who took home the John Covert Watson Award for Vision, and Jennifer L. Bristol, who accepted the Westcave Award for Enduring Dedication, and Keep Austin Beautiful, which snagged the John F. Ahrns Award for Environmental Education.

Each honor was accompanied by an adroit video and inspirational speeches. You couldn’t walk away without feeling the social tides were running in the right direction.

Party for the Parks

This event should make everyone who loves nature, communities and our modern city beam with pride. Brazos Hall was filled with mostly young, mostly fit, mostly fabulous fans of the Austin Parks Foundation, which picks up the tab for a lot of our underfunded parklands, including some of the total for the recently unveiled redo of Republic Square Park.

Nicholas Solorzano, Leah Bojo and Kelan Robinson at Party for the Parks to benefit Austin Parks Foundation. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Everything about this group is admirable. And wandering among all the open, accessible guests, I couldn’t help thinking about the evolution of attitudes toward big challenges in Austin. When I arrived in the early 1980s, there were plenty of leaders who felt that big improvements should be done by the federal or state governments, the latter often through UT. As time when on — and city built more resources — people turned to city government.

MORE: Visiting with Parks Foundation’s Colin Wallis.

But that’s not where the action is. No, the action is here among the people willing to roll up their sleeves and take care of our needs, among them our universally loved, but sadly sometimes neglected parks and natural areas. One last bravo to C3 and the Austin City Limits Music Festival for pumping millions into the Foundation every year. You’ve more than earned your permanent place in our little heaven.

Best Austin parties blasting out before ACL Music Fest

Austin society rushes to wrap up activity before the ACL Music Festival, which kicks off Oct. 6 at Zilker Park.

Contributed

Sept. 29: Celebrate Children in Nature for Westcave Preserve. Four Seasons.

Sept. 29: American Indian Heritage Day. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Sept. 30: Austin Area Urban League. JW Marriott.

Oct. 1: Far East Fest: Asian Food Festival. American-Statesman grounds.

Oct. 1: Lifetime Learning Institute turns 40. Red Oak Ball Room.

Oct. 1: Musical Salon for Austin Shakespeare with Jill Blackwood and Shelley Auer. Private Home.

Dick Clark. Contributed

Oct. 1: Dick Clark: A Tribute. Paramount Theatre.

Oct. 1: Austin Wine Experience for Wine & Food Foundation of Texas. AT&T Center.

Oct. 1: Big Co-Op Fair for Wheatsville Food Co-Op. 4001 S. Lamar Blvd.

Oct. 1: Rock for Relieve from Band Aid School of Music. 2309 Thornton Road.

Oct. 2: It takes 2 to Two-Step for Austin Book Arts Center. White Horse Bar.

Oct. 4: Party for the Parks to benefit Austin Parks Foundation. Brazos Hall.

Oct. 5: Chef Auction for Edible Austin. Allan House.

Oct 5: Beauty of Life for Hospice Austin. JW Marriott.

Oct. 5: Generosi-Tea for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Hotel Ella.

Oct. 6: Celebration Luncheon for the Safe Alliance. JW Marriott.

Tonight’s huge for Austin parties, but there’s much more to come

First, take a look at all the big parties tonight. Then, scope out what’s coming up in the next few weeks.

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Oct. 20: Backstage. Zach Theatre.

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

Oct. 20: Beer, Wine and Swine for Manos de Cristo. Mercury Hall.

Oct. 20: Dance for Candlelight. Getaway Motor Club.

Oct. 20: Gateway Awards. UT Alumni Center.

Oct. 20: East Night for PeopleFund. Sterling Events Center.

Oct. 20: Swan Song Serenade. Riverbend Centre for the Arts.

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Then after tonight’s banquet of socializing …

Oct. 21: Beauty of Life for Hospice Austin. JW Marriott.

Oct. 21-23: Formula One United States Grand Prix. Circuit of the Americas.

Oct. 21: Austin Way’s Formula One Mansion. Cedar Tavern at Eberly.

Oct. 21-22: Blu / My Yacht Club. The Castle.

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

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

Oct. 22: Kids’ Chance of Texas Inaugural Event. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Oct. 22: Play Bingo Ladies Luncheon for Center for Child Protection. Hilton Austin.

Oct. 22: Denise Prince’s L’enfant Terrible. Justine’s Secret House.

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

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Oct. 23: En Garde Food Fight for Les Austin Dames d’Escoffier. Barr Mansion.

Oct. 25: Champions for Children benefiting Helping Hand Home for Children. JW Marriott.

Oct. 27: Girl’s Empowerment Network Birthday Celebration. W Hotel.

Oct. 27: Cruise for a Cause benefiting Mental Health America of Texas. Lady Bird Lake.

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Oct. 27: Pease Park Conservancy Fall Fundraiser. Allan House.

Oct. 28: Preservation Austin Merit Awards. Driskill Hotel.

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.

Oct. 29: Murder, Mayhem and Misadventure Tour. Oakwood Cemetery.

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Oct. 30: Rocky Rocks the Austin Runway for FLC International Children’s Foundation. Hotel Van Zandt.

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

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

Nov. 3: Holders of Hope for Austin Center for Grief and Loss. 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd.

Nov. 3: The Stars at Night for American Short Fiction. Zilker Clubhouse.

Nov. 3: Bone Appetit for Paws Shelter. Ma Maison.

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

Nov. 4: Baby Shower Fundraising Luncheon for Hand to Hold. Hyatt Regency Austin.

Nov. 4: Blue Door Gala for Boys & Girls Clubs. Hyatt Regency.

Best Texas books: What the German Texans left us

Face facts, it’s still summer, weather-wise in Austin. So let’s look back at some recent Texas titles before rummaging through the fall books.

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“The Material Culture of German Texans.” Kenneth Hafertepe. Texas A&M Press. This is a big, beautiful book on a subject that will delight antiquarians and collectors as well as the just plain curious. Heftertepe, who chairs the department of museum studies at Baylor University, has already provided two volumes essential to understanding our region, “Abner Cook: Master Builder on the Texas Frontier” and “A Guide to the Historic Buildings of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County.” Here, he delves into a rich variety of vernacular architecture, as well as covering cabinetmakers, interiors, public buildings, houses of worship and — smart to include — graveyards and grave markers. Hafertepe speaks on his book’s subject at the Neill-Cochran House, designed by Abner Cook, on Sept. 25.

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“Haiku Austin: Vol 1.” Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz. Haiku Empire Press. Small gift books are all the rage. And we approve. Not every opus should double as a weapon. Stankiewicz’s slender volume brandishes its bright, quirky images and light, quirky words quite effectively. Don’t seek profundities here. Instead enjoy page after page of knowing smiles inspired by our town’s beloved singularities. Sample “Lucy in Disguise,” based on the costume shop on South Congress: “sequins and Spandex/drag queens flirt with evil clowns/grown-ups play dress-up.”

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“We Come to Our Senses.” Odie Lindsey. Norton. I look forward to reading this book more carefully and interviewing the Nashville-based author, who has lived in Austin and sets some of his stories here. Lindsey will appear at the Texas Book Festival Nov. 5-6. I can tell you from what I’ve read so far: His dialogue and scene-setting ring absolutely true. His prose reminds me, to some extent, of the plays and the novel, “Rules for Werewolves,” by Austinite Kirk Lynn, which I understand is being considered for movie or TV treatment. Lindsey’s vets are characters of natural interest, given the generational involvement in what seem like endless wars fought for an American public that doesn’t much care.

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“Finding Dorothy Scott: Letters of a WASP Pilot.” Sarah Byrn Rickman. Texas Tech University Press. The author is one of the key keepers of the flame regarding the nearly lost history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, who trained in West Texas and ferried planes from base to base during World War II. (We recently wrote about one of the WASP flier, Susie Winston Bain, pegged to an excellent exhibit at the Bullock Texas History Museum.) Here, Rickman presents the letters of Scott, preserved by her twin brother, which reveal the flier’s inner life, but also the day-to-day routines of the WASP forces. Incredibly ambitious, Scott died in a mid-air crash at age 23.

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“The Mammals of Texas.” (Seventh Edition). David J. Schimdly and Robert D. Bradley. University of Texas Press. I love this book. And I’ve used it in the field for years. I can’t tell you what has been improved in this, the Seventh Edition, but what will likely open the eyes of first-timers are the number of whales, porpoises and dolphins that live just off our coast, as well as the numerous introduced species, such as eastern Thompson’s gazelles, Barbary sheep and Sika deer. There are even Japanese macaques loose in Central Texas. The authors have not left out domesticated mammals, which fewer Texans could identify these days as the state urbanizes and suburbanizes. One thing: The range maps, organized by county reports, seem pretty primitive for such a image-conscious publisher like UT Press.91pymvgiw7l

“A Kineñero’s Journey: On Family, Learning and Public Service.” Lauro F. Cavazos and Gene B. Preuss. Texas Tech University Press. A Kineñero is a descendant of Mexicans who worked on the King Ranch in the 1800s. Former Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos — appointed by President Ronald Reagan — counts himself as one. His father served as ranch foreman. A longtime educator, Cavazos also was president of Texas Tech University. He is assisted here in recalling his journey by Preuss, a professor of history at University of Houston-Downtown. The father of 10 children with Peggy Ann Murdoch, Cavazos was blessed with a wide-ranging interest in learning and, especially in interactions among cultures.

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“Texas Land Grants, 1750-1900: A Documentary History.” John Martin Davis, Jr. McFarland. Despite the cover art, this is a serious book about serious history. What could be more important to a country than the claim to the land and its resources? Especially in Texas, where, until the modern era, much of what happened here happened because of land grants. Davis, a retired tax attorney who lives in Fort Davis, is an authority on maps. He patiently takes the reader through the history of Spanish and Mexican grants, military and emigrant headrights, Republic of Texas practices, grants among disputed territories in the Trans-Nueces and Trans-Pecos regions, as well as homestead, education and internal improvement grants. He also provides lots of images of sample grants.

UPDATES: References to Lauro Cavazos, Kenneth Hafertepe and Sarah Byrn Rickman have been corrected.

 

 

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.

 

Remembering Austin’s Sunshine TB Camps from the 1930s

Well, Linda Hank Thompson beat me to it.

Yesterday, four of us visited Eva May Smith to talk about the time she attended the Austin Sunshine Camps in the 1930s.

Very poor growing up in this city, Smith had responded to a Statesman story about the Zilker Park camps that were meant to fight TB.

Expect my own report — with video — on this visit at some point, but Thompson, director of the camps, captured the kernel of the story.

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Eva May Smith and Linda Hank Thompson.

“Yesterday, I had the pleasure of accompanying Michael Barnes to the home of May Smith who was a camper at Austin Sunshine Camps in the mid-1930’s. She credits the camp for giving her the self esteem she needed as a young girl growing up in poverty in Austin. Her story of hiding behind the stairwell during lunch so the other kids wouldn’t see she only had a biscuit to eat (made with water because they had no milk) was a highlight for me in understanding how far she had to come. Back in those days, kids were selected for the camp by how much they weighed. The camp was designed to nourish and feed kids in poverty at risk for tuberculosis. A great testimony, of a great lady.”

Austinites champion an adoption-match picnic

I met Patricia Kelly years ago while reporting on her incredible daughter, Ally Davidson, who not only triumphed on “American Gladiator,” she also founded a highly successful fitness company, Camp Gladiator.

Patricia has been a good and faithful correspondent ever since.

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She let me know about a recent event hosted by the Rotary Club of Austin Centennial and chaired by  Carol Lozano.

“Our club has a passion for trying to help foster children,” Kelly writes. “And we host, with Child Protective Services, an annual adoption-match picnic where children needing adoptive parents play games and enjoy time with volunteers, other children and prospective parents.”

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The group’s recent picnic attracted 72 children — 44 boys and 28 girls — along with 28 parents and 60 or so foster parents, CPS workers and maybe 30 volunteers. They played Lego robotics, volleyball and kickball. They ran an obstacle course and bounced around inflated houses. There were craft stations, a photo booth, makeup from Mary Kay for teens, a DJ and picnic fare.

“The prospective parents just casually interact, no formal interview,” Kelly reports. “Before they attend, they go through screening and are certified by authorities for adoption purposes. Many start as foster parents then adopt, I think.”

Of course, more parents are needed. Think about it.