April 2008 - Posts
Years ago, we moved to a large Midwestern city, and I went job-hunting to fund the necessities and my husband's grad school expenses. My brief resume earned me the chance to interview with the owner of an established business firm. He took one look and told me kindly that the interview wouldn't be necessary--I appeared to be too young. Customers expected the main office to exude tradition and credibility, an image this applicant didn't fit. At least I remembered my manners and rose and said something about appreciating his time, etc. My accent must have registered, because from halfway down the hall came, "Wait, don't go--you're from Texas!" Long story short: this gentleman had been stationed in Texas during World War II. He said that the kindness of Texans helped him through an otherwise miserable experience, and he pronounced Texans to be "the best people in the world". He also gave my resume another look. I was hired, bills were paid, and the job proved to be a great fit on both sides.
That's one of my favorite perks about being a Texan--praise by association. This year's Round Rock Reads! selection--Texas in Her Own Words--helps to explain why we Texans generally have stories such as this one to share. Tweed Scott's compilation of anecdotes and musings from all sorts of Texans appeals to both natives and those wishing to figure out what that mystique (Tweed calls it the "T chromosome") is all about. And the author undoubtedly has tales of his own to tell, some of them having to do with the eye-opening experience of creating and publishing a book.
You'll have an opportunity to talk to Tweed Scott on Thursday, April 24, at the La Frontera Barnes & Noble, 2701 Parker Road. This final program of 2008 Round Rock Reads! is one we've been especially looking forward to--a chance to take library programming "on the road" and enjoy Barnes & Noble's hospitality while interacting with a real, live author. Bring your questions, stories, and curiosity on Thursday evening at 7:00 PM. See you there!
Gambler, cowboy, racehorse owner, gold miner, entrepreneur, outlaw--Sam Bass was many things. No one ever accused him of civic mindedness, however. Yet, Sam Bass Road, Sam Bass Youth Baseball, Sam Bass Community Theatre, and the Annual Frontier Days re-enactment of his final shootout attest to our fascination with his career. How is it that the calculating bank robber and killer morphed into a colorful local legend? Are we sentimental about his death on his 27th birthday? No matter--the city of Round Rock has gained a bit of western glamour by association with Mr. Bass. In a way, he has given back to the community from which he intended to take quite a lot.
Speaking of names that figure prominently in Round Rock geography and architecture: haven't you wondered about the McConicos of McConico Building fame? How about the Carlins? They're everywhere and have been for about five generations, and the same is true of the Mercers. Joanne Land, who served as city secretary for over 30 years, is the daughter of Williamson County sheriff Henry Matysek, commemorated by a portrait bust on the courthouse grounds.
The first time I navigated out to La Frontera by way of Hester's Crossing, I knew there must be a story behind that street name. Hank Hester knows it, and he'll be on hand at Round Rock in Her Own Words Thursday, April 17 at Round Rock Public Library. Other panelists with history to share include Patsy McConico Anderson, Delfino Bryan, David Carlin, Jesse Mercer Carson, Robert Organ, and Joanne Land. Come at 7:00 for the ice cream social (with free Blue Bell ice cream!), then enjoy the presenters and an open mic for the audience, which will include descendants of Swedish settlers. Take an opportunity to meet and chat with Tweed Scott, author of this year's Round Rock Reads! selection, Texas in Her Own Words.
Dale Ricklefs, Round Rock Public Library director, and Chris Dyer, Williamson County Historical Museum director, will facilitate this evening of Round Rock memories and answers to those "I always wondered..." questions that occur to you as you drive around the city. Round Rock in Her Own Words will be video and audio recorded, but you'll want to experience this event in person.
First, a note of thanks to SOS (Save Our Springs Alliance) executive director Bill Bunch and author Tweed Scott: they shared in last night's screening of The Unforeseen and responded to some thoughtful questions and comments from the audience. The classy, comfortable theater facility lent to us by Round Rock Higher Education Center enhanced my appreciation of that wonderful film.
Afterward, driving home from the new RRHEC building, by way of IKEA, the outlet mall, and a few other this-could-be-anywhere suburban amenities, my husband and I passed by the Round Rock. It has witnessed much during the area's rapid growth from the sleepy town of 2700 (in 1970) to the busy city of 96,000 today. Many who were here in 1970 have moved on, but a number of the families who were part of the early heritage remain. Like the rock, they testify that the city retains its unique core identity, hidden under a few layers of modernity.
Dale Ricklefs, director of Round Rock Public Library, has witnessed close to three decades of the city's transformation. And, as she recruited panelists for Round Rock in Her Own Words, she learned even more from citizens linked to the town's past. Dale was told, for example, that Round Rock has almost always been a fairly diverse city. Of course, we've read about the segregated schools, but did you know that the Hispanic school merged with the white school in 1948?
Consider setting aside an opportunity--Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 PM--to enjoy free Blue Bell ice cream and get the scoop on Round Rock's past. Some of the historic goings-on, from the advent of the early Swedish settlers through the turbulent 20th century, might surprise you!
"In the early 1980s, the library captured the voices of individuals now passed on, such as C.D. Fulkes and Noel Grisham. Twenty-five years later, we will capture the voices and images of those who 'lived' Round Rock in the 1940s to early 1960s, before IH-35 split the city in half, the water crisis of the late 1970s, and today's traffic gridlock." - Dale Ricklefs
Am I the only local Robert Redford fan who just learned that Redford spent time in Austin during his formative years--and that he learned to swim at Barton Springs pool? A number of film reviews for The Unforeseen allude to this, along with the fact that the actor/director cites that experience as having "awakened him to the natural world."
As co-producer (along with Terrence Malick) of the film, Mr. Redford intends for another awakening to occur--one in which we realize that the outcome of the approximately 30-year battle over land usage in the Barton Springs watershed affects all of us. Certainly, Central Texans can already appreciate that, as a result of political moves that overturned Austin's anti-growth ordinance, Barton Springs is now (according to Kevin Kelly's Sundance review) "practically a beaker full of evidence" against land overdevelopment. However, as underwater views of Barton Springs from 1996 contrast with recent ones, evidence warns that this is more than a before-and-after account; it's a this-could-happen-to-you tale. Sequels to this drama could be set anywhere in the world.
The Round Rock Reads! free screening of director Laura Dunn's The Unforeseen is set for Monday, April 7 (7:00 PM) at the Round Rock Higher Education Center. The documentary offers more than a compelling true story. Called "poetic and gorgeous" (reviewer Natalie McMenemy), The Unforeseen demonstrates the influence that personal agendas and business interests can exert to devalue the environment--our ultimate long-term investment.