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Thursday, 02 February 2012 11:27

Web Extra: Lady Bird Centennial Events

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The March issue of Texas Highways features writer Barbara Rodriguez’ essay on the legacy of Lady Bird Johnson, who championed environmental and educational causes until her death in 2007.  December 22, 2012, would have been the First Lady’s 100th birthday. In honor of this centennial, various sites in Texas—including the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower Center, the LBJ Library & Museum, and LBJ National Historical Park—will host special events. It’s best to check individual websites for details (,, and, but this list offers an example of what’s in store.

  • March 17, 2012 —A Bouquet for Mrs. J, an outdoor exhibit of giant metal wildflowers by artist Logan Stollenwerck, opens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin. The exhibit runs through May 23.
  • May 19, 2012 — Opening of the 16-acre Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum  at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
  • April 27, 2012 – “A Bouquet for Mrs. J” Gala is held to honor the founder  of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which also celebrates its 30th anniversary.
  • May 5, 2012 — A centennial barbecue will take place on the Pedernales River at the Lyndon B. Johnson  National Historic Park, with presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin.
  • July 29, 2012 — Free admission in honor of Lady Bird Johnson Tribute Day is held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which will showcase a new exhibit about her environmental legacy.
  • Sept. 1, 2012 —  Lady Bird’s Lake, an exhibit of photos and mementos about Mrs. Johnson’s work beautifying Town Lake and creating the hike-and-bike trail in Austin, opens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and runs through Dec. 2.

  • Nov. 15, 2012  – A First Ladies Symposium and Evening Program that features Laura Bush and Barbara Bush will take place at the LBJ Library & Museum.
  • December 2012  – A new permanent exhibit on life at the White house during the LBJ administration opens at the LBJ Library & Museum.
  •  Spring 2012  – A conference on Lady Bird Johnson’s environmental legacy will be hosted by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 11:22

Web Extra: Your Own Bed of Roses

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When you’re trying to grow roses in Texas’ challenging climate, everything doesn’t always come up, well, roses. Editorial intern Claire Ronner chatted with Mike Shoup, owner of the Antique Rose Emporium outside of Brenham, to collect tips for TH readers on growing and maintaining the thorny, flowering plant. Here’s what Shoup had to say. 

Don’t be daunted by roses

“There’s a lot of prejudice out there about roses. A lot of people feel they’re very difficult, that they have fussy spray schedules and have to be pruned a certain way, but it really depends on the kind of rose you have that determines its success. Many roses available in nurseries have been bred just for their flowers. Breeders have essentially made weaklings out of those plants. Homeowners get frustrated because their roses die and it’s not even their fault.

But the antique types that we grow at the Emporium are tough. They don’t need man’s hands in order to grow. Those are the ones we’ve embraced, that the public would enjoy having. They give you fragrance, which ha been bred out from many of the modern breeds.

There’s a little tagline we have, since we found the antique roses thriving in cemeteries after years without any attention—if dead people can grow them, anybody can.” 

Look for older shrub types

“The antique roses don’t have the inbreeding of modern roses, so they’re tougher and easier to grow. I’d say make sure you get some of the older shrub types, the garden types, unless you want to have a show-quality rose, which in many cases requires a greenhouse and many other things that aren’t normal.

People plant roses that don’t survive because aren’t adapted to our climate in Texas. Some of the good old garden types will be sure to bloom a lot, have a wonderful fragrance, and don’t require spraying and pruning. We’ve got roses in our garden that are 20 years old and don’t require any effort.”

Start with the soil

“If you’re gardening in clay gumbo, sandy loam, or caliche, you can use the existing soil as long as you mix it with good organic matter. That matter is best in the form of a composted material, like manure, leaf, or bark derivatives (scraps of manure, bark, and leaves), or compost. The compost doesn’t smell bad, it actually smells earthy and mushroomy. 

Add about two inches of your chosen organic matter to about every 4 inches you dig out, mix it together and put the roses in the mixture. Put coarse bark on top of the roses, not in their soil. This bark converts into byproducts that are good for the plant.” 

Plant at the right time

“In the South, the best time to plant is from September until about February. Once you get into when roses start growing, which is March, you don’t have a whole lot of time until the worst part of Texas climate hits the roses. The more time you give them, the better.

Roses can survive the Texas heat, but if you plant them late your challenge is to keep them watered until you get a root system developed.”

Take time to enjoy your hard work

“I love the personalities of the roses. I love being privy to their growing process—they’re so diverse and so different in how they present themselves. They’re begging you to use them in certain ways in the garden.

The memory associations with a fragrance definitely are another favorite part for me. One of the best things is walking around the garden and listening to people who might not know I’m the owner, and they’re having conversations about family, about their memories of a smell. It’s like the garden takes them away from the busy bustle of their lives and allows them to be who they are.”

The Antique Rose Emporium began outside of Brenham more than 30 years ago when Shoup and his employees stumbled on wild roses growing in unlikely places. The Antique Rose Emporium has since expanded to include a branch in San Antonio. Call 979/836-5548 for the Brenham display garden and 210/651-4565 for San Antonio;


Byzantine Fresco Chapel Will Close Sunday, March 4, and successive Sunday programs include musical tributes and a panel discussion.

Final Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America: Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Menil Collection announced that March 4, 2012 will be the final day to see the Byzantine frescoes currently housed on its campus in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, after which time they will be returned to the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. In celebration of the frescoes, their time in Houston, and the purpose-built Chapel that has been their home for fifteen years; the Menil will present special public events commemorating the return of this sacred art.

The works, the largest intact Byzantine frescoes in the Western hemisphere, have been on long-term loan to the Menil from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus following their rescue by the Menil Foundation 28 years ago. They are being returned to Cyprus following the conclusion of the loan agreement between the two parties.

At the heart of the Menil’s mission is the belief that art and spirituality are powerful forces in contemporary society and central to a shared human experience—and that institutions have a responsibility to preserve and present objects as stewards, safeguarding their future.

“We are honored to have been entrusted as stewards of these extraordinary frescoes and to have exhibited them for the people of Houston and the world in a remarkable building,” said Menil Director Josef Helfenstein. “The return of the frescoes to Cyprus is just one chapter in their long history. I hope everyone will join us for these programs as we celebrate the frescoes’ time in Houston and their return to their home country.”

Public Programs

  • Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 5:30pm Menil Collection Foyer Chant Sonata Duet A Musical Tribute to the Byzantine Frescos

Gather in the Menil foyer to join members of the St. Paul's Methodist Choir in a chanting procession − inspired by medieval traditions − to the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. The music continues inside the chapel with performances of J.S. Bach's Cello Suite #2 in D Minor (BWV 1008), and Osvaldo Golijov's Mariel (1999), a duet for marimba and cello.

  • Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 7pm Menil Collection Foyer Constructions of Art & Faith: The Byzantine Fresco Chapel and the Menil Collection

Marking the momentous occasion of the Chapel closing, a panel discussion will examine how art and spirituality inform the entire Menil campus. Joining Menil Director Josef Helfenstein will be: • Annemarie Weyl Carr, University Distinguished Professor of Art History at S.M.U. • Pamela Smart, Professor of Anthropology and Art History, SUNY Binghampton • William Vendley, Secretary General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace

  • Saturday, March 3, 2012 Byzantine Fresco Chapel (4011 Yupon Street) 8:30 a.m. Matins 9:00 a.m.           

 Divine Liturgy Final Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. Following the service, a reception with concluding remarks and music will be held at the Menil Collection.

Admission for all events is free; seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

About the Byzantine Fresco Chapel

In 1983, Dominique de Menil was presented with the opportunity to purchase two frescoes dating from the 13th century. Even though the frescoes had been dismantled into 38 pieces, Mrs. de Menil immediately recognized he exceptional quality and spiritual significance of the works and she resolved to rescue them.

Provenance research revealed Cyprus as the place of origin for the frescoes and, with this knowledge in hand and permission from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the Menil purchased the frescoes on behalf of the Church. The Menil subsequently entered into a formal agreement with the Church, which granted permission to restore the frescoes (a three-year process), resulting in a long-term loan of the works so they might be exhibited in Houston.

A key aspect of the shared vision of the Menil Foundation and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus was that the original spiritual purpose of the frescoes be restored. To this end, a consecrated chapel was constructed on the Menil campus especially for the exhibition of the works—a space that honors the spiritual significance of the frescoes without creating a mere replica of their original home. Designed by architect Francois de Menil, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel opened to the public in 1997; hundreds of thousands have visited since. As announced last September, the frescoes will be returned to Cyprus following the conclusion of the loan agreement. The Byzantine Fresco Chapel has served as a place of peace and contemplation, as well as host to liturgical ceremonies, sacred music performance, and education programs. The Menil is currently exploring options for the Chapel’s continued use within the larger context of the Menil campus master site plan.

For more information on the Byzantine Fresco Chapel visit or


Tuesday, 10 January 2012 16:30

TH Deal: Spring Getaway

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See related: Greetings From (Just Off) I-35

It’s time to plan your springtime getaway, and have we a deal for you! At New Braunfels’ Prince Solms Inn, built by German craftsmen in 1898, mention the “Texas Highways Spring Getaway Deal,” and you’ll receive a 20% discount on room rates through May 24.  The Inn’s cottages, for example, which normally sell for $175, go for $140 for Texas Highways readers. Standard guest rooms normally sell for $125 and go for $100 with the discount. (There is a two-night minimum on weekends; one night is fine during the week.)

This discount includes the room portion of the Inn’s many special packages, including the Wine Lover’s Weekend Package and the popular “Discover New Braunfels Package.” The latter— which includes two night’s lodging, a full country breakfast for two each morning, a bottle of Hill Country wine, a $50 credit towards dinner at a New Braunfels restaurant for each night, and a picnic basket loaded with goodies to enjoy at nearby Dry Comal Creek vineyards—normally costs $480 (plus tax), but Texas Highways readers can enjoy the package for $430.

The Prince Solms Inn is at 295 E. San Antonio in downtown New Braunfels, and is famous not only for its longevity (since 1898!), its architecture (made of cypress from the banks of the Guadalupe River), its shaded patio, downstairs piano bar, and its easy access to New Braunfels-area attractions (tubing the Guadalupe, golf, Schlitterhbahn, Natural Bridge Caverns, Gruene Hall, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch), but also for its breakfasts. The Inn’s chef prepares morning delicacies such as bananas Foster pancakes, cranberry streusel muffins, and ham & Swiss breakfast pie.

To make reservations or for more information, call 800/625-9169; Happy spring.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012 09:49

Web Extra: Lufkin’s Ellen Trout Zoo

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The 20-acre Ellen Trout Zoo remains one of Lufkin’s pre-eminent attractions. Open every day of the year, it’s home to some 700 reptiles, birds, and mammals from around the world, including the ever-popular Komodo dragons, Masai giraffes, white rhinos, and river otters. The newest addition is “Rusty,” a two-month-old bay duiker (small African antelope), which brings the world’s total population of bay duikers to eight.

One of the first zoos to be accredited in Texas, the zoo is completing the final project in a master plan begun in the 1990s—the design for a gorilla exhibit. “We’re excited about this because only 52 or 53 zoos have gorillas,” says Zoo Director Gordon Henley. “This gives us an opportunity to offer our visitors something new and exciting, as well as provide homes for additional endangered animals bred in captivity.”

With so much ground to cover and so many exhibits, many visitors opt for an overview aboard the Z&OO Railroad, whose track takes passengers around the perimeter of the zoo and across Ellen Trout Lake. The train operates every day during the summer and on weekends and by special arrangement the rest of the year.

The zoo is at 402 Zoo Circle in Lufkin.

Monday, 28 November 2011 11:32

Lubbock Lights: Barton House Memories

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See related: Lubbock Lights

While covering the National Ranching Heritage Center’s Candlelight at the Ranch event last year, I had a chance meeting with Pat Bridgers, a Lubbock resident who had a special reason for being there. We were waiting to enter the 1909 Barton House, a two-and-a-half-story ranch home that was moved to the NRHC from Hale County, She told me that her mother, Alma Wilson, had worked for the Barton family (Jack and Josephine Barton) in this very same house in the 1930s.

 “She helped Mrs. Barton with the cooking and housework, and my dad, Earnest Wilson, helped Mr. Barton with the cattle and sheep on the farm,” she said. “The fact that my mom and dad, who are both gone now, spent a lot of time in the house makes it very special to me. I wasn’t even born then, so I think it’s neat that after all these years, I can come and see it.”

Barton decendants have also given the house good reviews. “In 2009, some 30 family members traveled to Lubbock to join us when we celebrated the centennial of the house,” says Dr. Robert Tidwell, the NRHC's curator of historic collections. “During the visit, the family delightedly expressed their approval of what we have done for the structure and how we have cared for it.

“Visitors often relate to us how other structures revive memories of personal experiences or remind them of stories that they heard from parents and grandparents about life in West Texas and the South Plains, as well as in other parts of the country.”

Tuesday, 22 November 2011 16:30

Web Extra: The Original Lubbock Lights

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See related: Lubbock Lights

One of several photographs taken by Texas Tech freshman Carl Hart Jr. of the mysterious “Lubbock Lights” on the night of August 30, 1951. Courtesy Southwest Collection, TTU (Original photo by Carl Hart Jr.)

Lubbock made the national news in late August and early September 1951, when numerous area residents reported seeing a series of mysterious light formations racing across the sky over a period of a couple of weeks. The sightings gained early credibility because some of the first viewers to come forward were three Texas Tech science professors. The men were sitting together in a backyard south of campus when they witnessed the phenomenon around 9 p.m. on August 25. They were baffled by what they had seen—a semicircular formation of spots of light flying at a high rate of speed—and discounted the possibility that the lights were meteors.

Other South Plains residents from farmers and ranchers to teenagers at a drive-in movie reported similar sightings, usually describing the lights in a U- or V-shaped formation. A Texas Tech freshman shot photographs of the mysterious lights on August 30 and took them to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, which printed them. The photos eventually ran in newspapers across the nation, as well as in Life magazine.

A passage about Lubbock from the Texas Plains Trail Region website ( gives the upshot: “Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force’s official study of the UFO mystery, did an extensive investigation of the Lubbock Lights. They concluded that the photographs were not a hoax and showed genuine objects. However, they did dismiss the UFOs themselves as being either ‘night-flying moths’ or a type of bird called a plover. The Air Force argued that the underside of the plovers or moths was reflected in the glow of Lubbock's new streetlights at night. However, other researchers have disputed these explanations, and for many, the ‘Lubbock Lights’ remain a mystery.”

Dr. Monte L. Monroe, Southwest Collection Archivist at Texas Tech University, concurs. “The Lubbock Lights incident persists in the memory of many older citizens, and to this day captivates researchers from across the country,” he says. “Mention the event, and everyone has an opinion. Some believe the bright, semicircular, so-called ‘string of beads’ crossed the sky at great speed, high in the stratosphere. Few agree with the streetlight-illuminated, migratory duck-bellies theory ventured at the time by skeptics or in the Air Force report. Eventually, the three professors and the young student who photographed the objects tired of crank calls and the negative publicity surrounding the event. By the 1970s, they refused interviews.” 

Monroe adds that UFO buffs query Southwest Collection staff several times a year about the incidents. The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library features a small collection called “Lubbock Lights Papers, 1951-1995,” which includes oral histories from several witnesses, letters, numerous news articles, photocopies of photographs, and a copy of the U.S. Air Force report relating to the phenomenon. To find out more, contact the Southwest Collection’s reference department at 806/742-3749 or

—Nola McKey

Monday, 17 October 2011 15:15

Web Extra: Monument Cafe recipes

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See related: A Monumental Dining Experience


Georgetown’s Monument Cafe, which opened a few blocks north of the courthouse square in 1995, recently added a farmers market and beer garden—and plan to open a new bakery by the time December holidays roll around. The Monument’s lively website includes details about daily specials and market offerings, and also features popular recipes adapted for home use. We thought this recipe for Black Bean Lasagna sounded perfect for an easy fall meal, and Zucchini Bread makes a healthy (and delicious) breakfast or snack year-round.

The Monument Cafe’s Black Bean Lasagna

  • 3 small (15 oz.) cans tomatoes, stewed or chopped, drained
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, firmly packed and chopped fine
  • 4 cups cooked black beans (or 2 small cans, drained)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of: salt, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne or bottled red pepper sauce (optional)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese, shredded, divided
  • corn tortillas

Combine tomatoes and cilantro in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine black beans, broth, and seasonings. In a third bowl, combine ricotta cheese and 2 1/2 cups of Monterey jack cheese.

Assemble like traditional lasagna: In a medium casserole dish, layer tomato sauce, corn tortillas, black beans, and mixed cheeses. Repeat twice, ending with corn tortillas and tomato sauce, then topping the dish with reserved Monterey jack. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Monument Cafe’s Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs with sugar until pale yellow and thickened. Stir in butter; set aside. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Fold dry mixture into egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla. Spoon and scrape the mixture into a buttered loaf pan (9x5x2 1/2). Bake for one hour or until bread pulls away from side of the pan.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 14:10

Web Extra: On the Trail of Charles Goodnight

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See related: Charles Goodnight's Legacy

By Nola McKey

Like many legendary historical figures, Charles Goodnight sparks strong passions and sometimes differing opinions. The following authorities provided valuable input and feedback for one or both articles in our two-part series on the storied cattleman. Each of their related institutions offers additional information about the life and legacy of Charles Goodnight.

Andy Wilkinson, poet, singer, songwriter, playwright, and a distant relative of Charles Goodnight. He wrote the award-winning Charlie Goodnight’s Last Night, a one-man play with Barry Corbin. Wilkinson is currently artist-in-residence at the Southwest Collection of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and a visiting assistant professor in the university’s School of Music and in the Honors College. For details about the Southwest Collection, call 806/742-3749;

William Elton Green, Curator of History Emeritus at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. (As a public historian in Canyon, Green is available privately for historical and genealogical research, exhibit development, artifact research and evaluation, and public speaking.) For details about the museum, call 806/651-2244; To contact Green, call 806/674-0969 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

J. P. “Pat” McDaniel, director of the Haley Memorial Library and History Center
 in Midland. For details about the library, call 432.682.5785;

Montie Goodin, board chairman of the Armstrong County Museum in Claude, which has raised almost $2 million to transform the Folk Victorian house near Caprock in which Charles Goodnight once lived into the Charles Goodnight Historical Center. Goodin was born in the house in 1931. For details about the museum and the status of the center, call 806/226-2187;

Although author Julia Robinson relied heavily on J. Evetts Haley’s 1936 biography, Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman, while researching our series on Goodnight, she consulted the following sources as well:

  • Charles Goodnight: Father of the Texas Panhandle by William Thomas Hagan (2007)
  •  The Butterfield Overland Trail 1857-1869: its organization and operation over the southern route to 1861; subsequently over the central route to 1866; and under Wells, Fargo and Company in 1869 by Roscoe Platt Conkling and Margaret Badenoch Conkling (1947)
  • 900 Miles on the Butterfield Trail by A. C. Greene (1994)
  • “Charles Goodnight of Amplitude," an essay by J. Frank Dobie that appears in his book Cow People (1981)
Monday, 06 June 2011 16:29


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June 2011 Texas Highways features a story on the AIA Sandcastle Competition in Galveston, along with Port Aransas’ Texas SandFest and South Padre Island’s Sand Castle Days. Here, Helen Anders provides the scoop on learning to build a castle of your own.

Sand Blasts

         Walter McDonald, better known in South Padre Island as The Amazin' Walter, remembers learning to make a sandcastle when he was a Boy Scout.

         "We were on the beach, and a kid showed me how to make little dribble things," he says. "I've been dribbling ever since."

         He's far too humble. As one of Texas' veteran sand sculptors, McDonald now enjoys teaching others the tricks of his trade, such as building arches and using a variety of tools, including a pastry knife, for details.

         "I teach kids of all ages," says McDonald. "I had one lady and we built a castle for her 85th birthday, and we have a date for her 95th."

         McDonald's colleague Lucinda Wierenga, better known on South Padre as Sandy Feet, says she loves watching the light-bulb moments for her sand-sculpting students.

         "Once they get the trick, the delight and sense of accomplishment is real and obvious," she says. “People realize,” she adds, “that they can just cut away what they don't like—or start all over.” McDonald and Wierenga both typically charge $75 an hour for lessons.

         "I remember how excited I was when I learned to carve sand and want to pass that excitement on to others," says Mark Landrum, known as the Port Aransas Sand Castle Guy, who charges $60 for lessons that take between an hour and an hour and a half. "The thing I enjoy most about giving lessons is seeing families work and play together to create memories that will last all their lives. There is a lot more to sandcastles than just sand."

Contact Walter McDonald at 956/761-5943; Lucinda Wierenga at 956/459-2928; and Mark Landrum at 361/290-0414, —Helen Bryant


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