Written by Super User
The return of plant life to Bastrop State Park underscores the resilience that is characteristic of this year’s True, Texas, “community of the imagination.”
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Few Texans have left a greater mark on the history of the United States than Lyndon Baines Johnson. (photographed above in 1965 at the "Texas White House.") Serving as the nation’s 36th president, from November 22, 1963, to January 20, 1969, Johnson guided the country through a tumultuous era of social unrest and cultural change.
We teach our children to share our world by involving them in our interests. For this columnist that meant making travel a keystone in her son’s life.
In the September 2013 issue, writer Michelle Burgess delves into the history and restoration of the beautiful Comal County Courthouse in New Braunfels, a German-flavored town between Austin and San Antonio. You can visit the New Braunfels Chamber's website to gather dozens of ideas for things to do during your visit, but here are some of our favorites:
This refreshing and elegant cocktail is perfect for patio parties. The house-made passion fruit- coconut drinking vinegar (known in bartending circles as a “shrub”) is part of a family of old-fashioned ingredients that have come back in style with today’s craft cocktail movement.
July’s “Up Front” mentioned a few of the Fourth celebrations taking place across the state. Texas Highways Events Calendar editor Erin Inks provides a roundup of the rest!
4—AMARILLO: Amarillo Globe-News Fireworks This display, choreographed to music on KGNC-FM, originates from Southwest Park. Begins about 9:45 p.m. www.visitamarillotx.com 806/376-4488 Panhandle Plains
4—ARLINGTON: Fourth of July Parade Downtown. www.arlington4th.com 817/330-9872 Prairies and Lakes
4—ATHENS: Fireworks at the Fishery Enjoy fishing starting at 5 p.m. and fireworks at dusk. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. http://athenstx.org/things-to-do/fireworks-at-the-fishery-2013 903/676-2277 Prairies and Lakes
4—AUSTIN: Fourth of July Fireworks and Symphony Includes patriotic music and fireworks over Lady Bird Lake. Auditorium Shores. www.austinsymphony.org Hill Country
4—BEAUMONT: Fourth of July Celebration Includes local musical groups, a concert by the Symphony of Southeast Texas and fireworks. Riverfront Park. 409/838-3435 Gulf Coast
4—CANADIAN: Fourth of July Parade and Celebration Downtown. www.canadiantx.com 806/323-6234 Panhandle Plains
4—CANTON: Canton Fireworks Display Fireworks are set to music in a patriotic display at 9 p.m. First Monday Grounds. www.visitcantontx.com 877/462-7467 Prairies and Lakes
4—CASTROVILLE: Fourth of July Parade Houston Square. www.castroville.com 830/538-3142 Hill Country
4—COLLEGE STATION: I Love America Celebration Enjoy live entertainment, music, games and fireworks at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Historical characters pose for photos and answer questions about their careers. Live entertainment and games for children begin at 5 p.m. At 1000 George Bush Drive. 979/691-4014 Prairies and Lakes
4—COMANCHE: Family on the Fourth Celebration Offers one of the largest fireworks displays in the area, plus family entertainment and activities. Comanche High School Stadium. 325/356-3233 Prairies and Lakes
4—CUERO: Fourth of July Fireworks and Family Fun Carnival The city of Cuero presents a fireworks display at dusk. Also enjoy the Young Patriots Parade, carnival and contests from 9 a.m.–2 p.m., sponsored by Grace Episcopal Church. Cuero City Park. 361/275-3476 or 361/275-3423 Prairies and Lakes
4—DENISON: Fourth of July Fireworks Show Enjoy music and children's activities before fireworks begin at dark. Munson Stadium. 903/465-2720 Prairies and Lakes
4—DENTON: Fourth of July Jubilee "Liberty Fun Run" Includes American Pride Cook-Off, Yankee Doodle Parade, free children's carnival, food, horseshoe tournament, and craft show and sale. Begins at 7 a.m. Quakertown Park. 940/349-7275 Prairies and Lakes
4—DENTON: Kiwanis Fireworks Show Features patriotic music and fireworks. Begins at 6:30 p.m. University of North Texas' Fouts Field. 940/387-6323 Prairies and Lakes
4—EASTLAND: Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebrate the nation's birth with a parade, patriotic music, arts and crafts, and games. At 100 W. Commerce St. Also enjoy fireworks at LaMancha Lake Ranch. 254/629-2332 Panhandle Plains
4—FREDERICKSBURG: Fourth of July Community Parade and Patriotic Program Includes entertainment and speakers downtown, as well as a concert and fireworks at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. 830/997-6523 Hill Country
4—GRAHAM: The Red, White and You Fourth of July Parade Enjoy patriotic fun and games, children's activities, vendors, a 7 a.m. Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast and 10 a.m. veterans' ceremony. Parade begins at noon. Downtown square. 940/549-3355 Panhandle Plains
4—GRANBURY: 1776 This musical offers a passionate and funny look into the lives of our forefathers and their political struggles in colonial America. Presented by Granbury Theatre Company. 817/579-0952 Prairies and Lakes
4—GRAPEVINE: July 4 Train Rides At 10 a.m., take a ride on the Grapevine Fun Train, a shortened sample of the regular run. At 1 p.m., the train makes a round-trip visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards. Cotton Belt Depot. 817/410-3185 Prairies and Lakes
4—HOUSTON: Freedom Over Texas Houston's skyline is the backdrop for this patriotic celebration that includes educational exhibits, live entertainment, military artifacts and vehicles on display, children's activities and fireworks. Hours are 4–10 p.m. Eleanor Tinsley Park. Gulf Coast
4—KERRVILLE: Kerrville's Fourth on the River Enjoy music by Robert Earl Keen and special guests along with the largest fireworks display in the Hill Country. Downtown. 830/792-3535 or 800/221-7958 Hill Country
4—LUBBOCK: Fourth on Broadway Includes a 9 a.m. parade, street fair with seven live-music stages, a children's play area and vendors from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. From 5–11 p.m. in Mackenzie Park, enjoy a picnic and fireworks. Texas country music bands play from 7 p.m.–midnight in the courthouse plaza. 806/749-2929 Panhandle Plains
4—MCKINNEY: Red, White and BOOM Independence Day celebration includes a 9:30 a.m. parade on the downtown square, a car show, 7:30 p.m. concert and fireworks at 9:45 p.m. at the Craig Ranch soccer complex. 972/547-7480 Prairies and Lakes
4—NACOGDOCHES: Freedom Fest This old-fashioned Independence Day celebration features live music, festival food, children's activities and a fireworks display. Downtown, 200 E. Main St. 888/653-3788 or 936/564-7351 Piney Woods
4—ODESSA: Independence Day Parade and Firecracker Fandango Parade starts at 10 a.m. at Odessa College and goes down Grant Street to Fourth Street. At the festival, enjoy live entertainment, games, rides and food from 6 p.m.–midnight. Fireworks begin at 10 p.m. 432/335-4682 Big Bend Country
4—ROCKPORT: Patriotic Boat Parade and Fireworks Display Decorated boats parade through Little Bay at noon, and fireworks light up the sky at dusk. Rockport Beach Park. 361/729-6445 or 800/242-0071 Gulf Coast
4—ROSENBERG: Family Fourth Celebration Patriotic family celebration includes horse-drawn wagon rides, a carnival, food, free concert and the largest fireworks display in Fort Bend County. Seabourne Creek Nature Park. Gulf Coast
4—ROUND ROCK: Frontier Days Celebration Enjoy free watermelon, children's games, arts-and-crafts vendors and skydivers, all leading up to the fireworks display with patriotic music played by the Austin Symphonic Band. Old Settler's Park. Hill Country
4—ROUND TOP: Fourth of July Parade and Celebration Parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Enjoy music, barbecue and children's activities at the Round Top Rifle Hall afterward. Round Top Square and 7100 F.M. 1457. 979/249-3117 or 281/788-3278 Prairies and Lakes
4—SAN ANGELO: Holiday Artillery Salutes Hourly artillery salutes mark the nation's 238th birthday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. 325/234-0316 or 325/657-4443 Panhandle Plains
4—TAYLOR: Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks Includes arts and crafts, old-fashioned games, contests, the rubber-duck race, vendors and fireworks at dusk. Murphy Park, 1600 Veterans Drive. 523/352-6364 Hill Country
4—THE WOODLANDS: Red, Hot and Blue Festival Features fireworks, hot dog and watermelon eating contests, live entertainment, children's activities and vendors from 6–10 p.m. Town Green Park and Waterway Square. 281/363-2447 Piney Woods
4—WEBSTER: Fourth of July Celebration Celebrate with a salute to veterans, bingo, live entertainment, children's activities, games, and free watermelon and snow cones. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Texas Avenue Park. 281/316-4108 Gulf Coast
4-6—CANADIAN: Fourth of July Rodeo and Dances Includes rodeo events, dancing and live music, featuring Casey Donahew on Thursday, Johnny Lee on Friday and Cooder Graw on Saturday. Jones Pavilion. 806/323-6234 Panhandle Plains
4-6—GRANBURY: Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration Features a parade Thursday, a decorated bike contest, games, arts and crafts, live entertainment, car shows, and fireworks at 9:45 p.m. Thursday. Downtown square. 817/573-1622 Prairies and Lakes
4-6—KINGSLAND: Aqua Boom On Friday, enjoy parades, water activities, vendors, live music and fireworks. The fun continues at the community center with steak, barbecue and chili cook-offs Friday and Saturday. Also Saturday, head to the community park for games, a poker run and remote aircraft show. A street dance takes place at American Bank. 325/388-6211 or 325/248-3623 Hill Country
4-7—SAN ANTONIO: Freedom Fest at Market Square Enjoy local entertainment, arts and crafts, children's activities and food. Hours are noon–8 p.m. Market Square. 210/207-8605 South Texas Plains
5-6—JEFFERSON: Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks The history of July 4 unfolds in narrated day tours. Evening trains enjoy a fireworks show. Historic Jefferson Railway. 903/665-6400 or 866/398-2038 Piney Woods
6—BASTROP: Patriotic Festival Enjoy a concert of patriotic music performed by the Austin Symphonic Band, games, activities, food and fireworks at dusk. Fisherman's Park, 1200 Willow St. 512/321-2419 Prairies and Lakes
6—FREDERICKSBURG: USO-Style Hangar Dance Enjoy 1940s-style Big Band music with swing-dancing lessons, a costume contest and refreshments. Hangar Hotel Pacific Showroom, 155 Airport Road. 830/997-9990 Hill Country
6—GLADEWATER: Boat Parade and Fireworks Boat parade begins at 8 p.m., with fireworks starting at dusk. 903/845-5501 Piney Woods
6—SAN BENITO: ResacaFest A day of live music, performances, a bicycle tour and race, car show, mini market, beer garden and family events culminates with a fireworks display. Hours are 2–10 p.m. W.H. Heavin Memorial Park. Gulf Coast
In the February issue’s Taste department, Senior Editor Lori Moffatt writes about Central Market’s Cooking School, which offers classes in topics as diverse as Knife Skills 101 to Gluten-Free Baking. During Lori’s most recent class, a “pop-up” Lebanese dinner featuring London-based chef Anissa Helou, the class learned to make a variety of Lebanese appetizers, including a hummus made from butternut squash (instead of chick peas) and a white tabbouleh using cabbage instead of traditional parsley. Here are the adapted recipes.
The Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center at San Antonio’s Witte Museum employs more than exhibits and artifacts to portray the history and development of South Texas. To bring the 19th Century to life for visitors, the museum puts on plays and demonstrations throughout the week.
The spring 2013 schedule for interpretive presentations includes a daily Ropes and Brands demonstration that explores how cowboys and vaqueros used ropes and teaches visitors how to use a branding iron.
Other demonstrations shown periodically throughout the week are Chuckbox Cuisine—about cooking on the range—and Dressing for the Job—a lesson on cowboy protective work wear.
The plays on the Heritage Center’s spring schedule include Chili Queens, Longhorn Connection, Vaquero Y Cowboy and Tasura: A Comanche Remembers.
Chili Queens is about the popular street cooks that sold Tex-Mex in San Antonio’s plazas. Longhorn Connection is about a 19th-Century character named Lizzie who has a job cleaning the marrow out of horns for a furniture maker.
Vaquero y Cowboy is about two boys—José and Luke—and their journey to San Antonio to have their pictures made.
Details on the demonstration and play schedule are available on the center’s website.
The woodcarving legacy of Swiss woodcarver Peter Mansbendel (1883-1940) has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, thanks in part to the research of Texas woodcarver Doug Oliver, whose website, www.petermansbendel.com, provides details about Mansbendel’s contributions throughout Texas.
Senior Editor Lori Moffatt caught up with Oliver by phone from his home in Flower Mound to discuss his upcoming Mansbendel biography and the rewards of savvy sleuthing.
“My initial discovery of Mansbendel was a fluke,” says Oliver. “I’m a professional woodcarver, and I have long been a fan of British woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, who worked from the 1650s to 1720s or so in England. His work was featured in Hampton Court Palace, Buckingham Palace, and in many estate homes in England.
“I have Swiss heritage, and one day I was messing around with Google and did a Google search for ‘Swiss woodcarvers in Texas.’ And out of the blue, up pops a catalog by Al Lowman (from the Texas State History Association) about a 1970s exhibition of Mansbendel’s work at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. I was intrigued to learn that this fellow Swiss woodcarver was an admirer of Grinling Gibbons, too.
“The catalog had some information about the homes that featured his work, but in most cases just listed the original owners’ names and a date. So I asked myself, how could I find out where they were? Maybe from someone who’d been in Texas a long time? I thought of Dallas realtor Ebby Halliday, and I wrote her a note. She told me that the Shepard King home I’d been looking for is now the five-star known as the Mansion on Turtle Creek.
“The Kings were big into cotton, and later oil, and they had traveled to the Petworth Estate in England, which had numerous works by Grinling Gibbons. And when they returned to Texas, they hired Peter Mansbendel to copy some Gibbons’ woodwork for their home. There are more than 1,100 pieces of wood carved by Mansbendel, including a Baroque mantel in the library and dining-room beams carved with angels, cherubs, and griffins.
“So that was a big discovery. And then Ebby suggested I do some research with Preservation Dallas (www.preservationdallas.org). Because Mansbendel’s most active period in Texas was between 1915 and 1940, most of the Dallas houses were in the Highland Park and Lakewood neighborhoods.
“This sleuthing was totally new to me, and it was turning into a really fun thing. And then someone at Preservation Dallas said, ‘You know, I think he lived in Austin.’ And that really turned me on.
“From there, I found the owner of Mansbendel’s longtime home in Hyde Park. He is an architect, and he led me to other places that feature his work. I probably made 15 trips between Flower Mound and Austin, visiting all the places I could find. I eventually went to Houston, San Antonio, Bryan, Corsicana, and all over San Antonio. I met his grandson and granddaughter, who were able to fill in some holes, even though they were very young when Mansbendel died.
“At some point, architectural historian Peter Maxion became aware of my work through the Austin History Center, and he suggested I write a book. I already had the website going, so a book was a natural progression.
“I’m intrigued by the fact that Mansbendel worked with so many famous architects at a period when architectural art and decoration was coming into vogue in Texas, and also with the fact that he was such a Renaissance Man. He was a woodcarver, painter, and a singer in the German choral group known as Saengerrunde, as well as for St. David’s Episcopal Church. He was the Art Director and an actor for the Austin Little Theater, and also one of the original Barton Springs Sitter’s Club. Peter kept company with artists and architects such as Fortunat Weigel, Arthur Fehr, and Godfrey Flury, whom he met through the Saengerrunde. One of the things I admire most about Mansbendel was his ability to master so many styles.
“I’m finished with the first draft of the book, and I’m still maintaining the website, and adding new research. In fact, if anyone thinks they may have a Mansbendel piece in their home, they can send me a photo and I’ll check it out.”
Contact Doug Oliver through www.petermansbendel.com.
Here, writer/photographer/artist E. Dan Klepper expands on Fort Concho’s living history programs.“Living history” programs, defined as various activities recreating the living conditions of the past, feature prominently in the events calendar at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. Not to be confused with “reenactments,” which generally recreate a battle or other historical event, living-history events provide a way to relive our heritage by witnessing the day-to-day enterprise of our ancestors.
For instance, a fiery, ear-splitting spectacle performed by the Fort Concho Artillery features the Fort’s cannon, a replica of the weapon assigned to the Fort between 1875 and 1889. The cannon has the power to blast a nine-and-a-half-pound solid shot across 1,800 yards using a pound of powder or, for a more broad spectrum target, an exploding tin can containing iron balls called a “canister.” Cannon blasts highlight a number of events scheduled throughout the year at the Fort.
You can also see Company A of the 10th Cavalry, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, who make appearances throughout the year. The Company features volunteers who follow the late-19th-Century military rank and procedures, dressed in period uniforms and outfitted with authentic equipment, all part of the accurate portrayal of the era. Also present and accounted for are members of Company D of the 4th Cavalry, a unit stationed at Fort Concho between 1871 and 1873. The regiment’s commander, Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, was considered a well-known military officer in the South. Mackenzie, instrumental as a brevetted major general in the final campaign against Robert E. Lee, assumed command of the 4th Cavalry on February 25, 1871, spending a month at Fort Concho before moving the 4th’s headquarters to Fort Richardson. Company D, however, remained at Fort Concho.
Frontier military life wasn’t all work, however. Fort Concho’s Vintage Base Ball (two words - correct spelling for the times) Program features a winning team in period clothing using authentic equipment to play ball against local civilian teams. Volunteer players and competing teams are always needed but players should bone up on the 1887 base ball playbook, as the Fort’s vintage club plays by 19th-Century rules.
Scheduled events featuring Fort Concho’s living history programs vary. Check the Fort’s website for upcoming events.
For the November 2012 “Taste” department, Senior Editor Lori Moffatt discovered the complexities and health benefits of balsamic vinegar at a class at Con’Olio, an olive-oil-and-balsamic-vinegar tasting bar in Austin. She followed up recently with Con’Olio co-owner Jeff Conarko to learn more about the business and how a sip of vinegar (trust us; it’s delicious!) may keep holiday weight-gain at bay.
“My wife, Tabatha, and I worked at Dell for many years, and our hobby has been traveling to Europe, cooking, and drinking wine. We noticed that when we went to Europe, the quality of the oils and vinegars were of a much higher quality than what we found here at home, even at the highest price point. What we learned is that olive oils are supposed to be eaten fresh, in the season they were produced, otherwise they start to lose their fragrance, flavor, and antioxidants. Most of the olive oil sold isn’t fresh.
“And the vinegar is different, too. True balsamic vinegars are made by only 55 families in the world, all in Modena, Italy. The vinegars are aged in barrels according to a 1,000-year-old, trademarked process.
“In the end, olive oil should taste and smell fresh, like it just came from a tree, and vinegar should taste sweet, smooth, and thick. Our concept at Con’ Olio is that we import the best oils and vinegars, but we also encourage people to taste them, to sip them, to appreciate them.
“I hear this from new customers a lot: ‘You want me taste olive oil? I don’t want to do that without bread!’ Or ‘What? You want me to sip vinegar like wine?’ But then they do, and they have their eyes opened.”
“The word ‘balsamic’ actually comes from the Latin word for ‘cure’ or ‘medicine.” I teach a class at St. David’s Hospital about how to use vinegar to control diabetes and bring about health benefits, including weight loss. As balsamic vinegar ages, the acidity changes and sugars come to the forefront. There’s not a lot of sugar, but it tastes sweet, and taken with food, vinegar lowers the glycemic index of whatever you eat, slowing the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. For diabetics, at St. David’s we recommend three tablespoons of vinegar in the morning to kick-start your metabolism.
“Here’s a very simple recipe to try: With our vinegar, which is already sweet and thick, you don’t need to ‘reduce’ it, a step called for in many recipes here in the United States. Just mix it with fresh olive oil, one part to one part, and use it as a marinade or as a basic vinaigrette.
“One of my favorite recipes uses our Tuscan herb olive oil and espresso balsamic vinegar as a steak marinade.
“And if you want to try sipping it for health benefits, try a little espresso balsamic to sweeten your coffee, or try a few tablespoons of pineapple balsamic in some soda water.”