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Web Extra (Archive) (94)

Tuesday, 08 December 2009 14:44

Web Extra: Quirky Houston

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Carol Barrington presented a collection of oddball Houston attractions in the January 2010 issue. Two more quirky sites follow.            

Edgy Arts

Individual expression of a higher sort headlines at DiverseWorks Art Space, a non-profit gallery cum theater that has prodded Houstonians into new ways of looking at life and contemporary art for 27 years. Expressions of assorted social messages—notions of time, ethnic relationships, cultural histories, personal roots, ecology, and so on—tend to headline here, most often presented via unique juxtapositions of visual, performing, and literary art.

This may mean creative audio accompanies you on a quest for the gallery’s restroom, a theatrical performance viewed through “peepholes,”  or an evening of food and art that features rising stars in both disciplines. Every season brings new surprises; simply reading their calendar will stretch your art horizons. Coming up: the U.S. premier January 21 of The Voyeur, the latest performance installation by Australian-based Company Clare Dyson.

Narrowing that visual art focus to cinema means catching the Aurora Picture Show. This non-profit micro-cinema curates and screens experimental and independent films and videos by new artists in various venues. You never know what to expect here; some showings are hilarious, others thought-provoking, but all put you on the cutting edge of today’s independent-flick scene. Coming up January 23: rare performance footage of ’60s soul music  by James Brown, Etta James, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Ike and Tina Turner, and many others. The screening site, the Eldorado Ballroom, adds to the evening’s time-warp; this venerable venue hosted numerous major blues and jazz performances during its 1940-1970 heyday.

—Carol Barrington

DiverseWorks Art Space, 1117 East Freeway, 713/223-8346.

Aurora Picture Show, 1524 Sul Ross (office and video library), 713/868-2101.

Friday, 18 December 2009 13:53

Web Extra: Texarkana's Mansion on Main

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See related: Texarkana: Twice as Nice!


altTexarkana’s Mansion on Main

On my most recent adventure to Texarkana, I stayed at the charming Mansion on Main (802 Main). This Texas Historic Landmark, known as the Moores-Burke-Ragland Home, was designed by Henry Koerner, and built in 1895 by pioneer Charles Moores’ widow, Rachel, who loved to entertain. The Victorian neo-classical beauty lies in the heart of the city near the Perot Theatre, the Federal Courthouse/Post Office, Wadley Medical Center, and many of Texarkana’s shops, restaurants, and attractions. The home’s veranda, accented by towering, two-story columns, is the perfect place to relax and contemplate the past, present, and future. Gracious hosts Marilyn and Robert Costa provide helpful insider tips about what to do and where to go. The home’s interior, including five lovely guest rooms and several cozy parlors, exudes a peaceful vibe of intimacy and relaxation, and gently evokes the distinguished property’s history of three different centuries. Call 903/792-1835 or 877/535-5380.

—Marty Lange

Texarkana’s Biggest Annual Events

Jump, Jive, & Jam Fest presents live music, art, and a burger cookoff, downtown every May. Call 903/792-8681.

The Four States Fair & Rodeo happens during nine days in mid-September, starting the weekend after Labor Day. Call 870/773-2941.

Quadrangle Festival features live music along with arts and crafts, food, a 5K race, heritage fair, cheerleading competition, Battle of the Bands, street dance, and barbecue contest, downtown during mid-October. Call 903/793-4831.

Friday, 13 November 2009 08:04

Web Extra: More Oyster Tales

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More oyster tales from Robb Walsh’s Sex, Death & Oysters © 2009 Counterpoint

When water temperatures get colder at the end of the summer, oysters begin storing a carbohydrate compound called glycogen, marine biologist Dr. Sammy Ray explained. To humans, glycogen tastes like sugar. As the water gets colder, more glycogen accumulates, and the oysters get plumper and taste sweeter. Gulf oysters are at their absolute peak at the coldest part of the winter.

Misho's Oyster Company in San Leon processes tons of oysters from Galveston Bay. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)Some oyster experts are predicting that the problems caused by summer oysters will soon be resolved, not by the FDA or the oystermen, but by the insurance industry. “The handwriting is on the wall,” Lance Robinson, of Texas Parks and Wildlife, told me. At the most recent meeting of the ISSC in Texas, oystermen were warned that insurance companies may stop writing liability policies for restaurants that serve raw oysters in the summer.

“He’s right,” oyster boat captain Misho Ivic agreed. “Some kind of law is going to be passed that allows only post-harvest treated oysters to be sold in the summer. I am building a facility to freeze oysters for summer sales right now.”

I won’t be eating any of Misho’s frozen oysters. Post-harvest treated oysters are the Gulf oyster industry’s favorite new product, a half-shell oyster that is safe to eat all year round. I have sampled them all, the frozen, pressurized, and heat-treated varieties, and I can say with some authority—they all suck. Dead oysters just don’t taste the same.

I would rather wait until the winter and eat big fat oysters like the ones sitting on the table at Gilhooley’s. “How did you like the oysters?” Misho asked as I finished off the last of them. The oysters were absolutely succulent, big and fat, with a flavor that was both salty and very sweet. “I picked them out myself,” he said. Gilhooley’s is Misho’s favorite hangout, so they get his choicest oysters.

I was still savoring the flavor as I drove home. And I kept turning the story over in my head: a record oyster harvest a few miles from the Houston Ship Channel, of all places. And hardly anyone seemed to know a thing about it. Newspaperman that I am, I wondered if there were more oyster stories out there waiting to be discovered.

That’s how I got hooked.

Oyster snobs

Shortly after an oyster-boat excursion in Galveston Bay, I attended a holiday party in the Montrose neighborhood of central Houston, where I ended up in a discussion with two women, both relative newcomers to Texas. One woman was from San Francisco; the other was from Cleveland. They were complaining about the less-than-pristine beaches of nearby Galveston Island and the disgusting waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

“How could anybody swim in the oil blobs and Styrofoam floating in that ugly brown water,” the one from San Francisco asked. I smiled and shook my head amiably. Personally, I swim in that water every summer, and I have marinated my children in it for most of their lives. But if Galveston was too unsightly for the newcomers’ beach-going tastes, well then, “bless their hearts,” as we say in Texas.

I didn’t bother pointing out to Miss San Francisco that only blubbery seals and surfers in wetsuits are insulated enough to venture into the icy waters of the Pacific around San Francisco. Nor did I bother reminding Miss Cleveland that the Cuyahoga River is legendary among pollution watchers for its tendency to burst into flames.

“And who would eat oysters that come out of that water?” the San Franciscan continued. Suddenly, I felt my jaw muscles tighten and my stomach contract. Newly informed about Texas oysters, I had a strange need to defend them.

“I would,” I volunteered. “But actually the oysters don’t come from the Gulf, they come from Galveston Bay. In fact, it’s one of the most productive oyster reefs in America at the moment. And the oysters are fabulous this year.”

“Where is Galveston Bay?” the San Franciscan wanted to know.

“It’s between Kemah on the west and Anahuac on the east,” I attempted to explain, but she had no idea where I was talking about. “You know where the ships enter the Houston Ship Channel?” I continued helpfully.

“Oh, gross,” remarked a vegetarian woman who was listening in on the edge of the conversation. “So you think all those chemicals spewing out of the oil tankers give the oysters a special flavor?” Cornered now by skeptics, I felt my adrenaline begin to flow.

I still had the Texas Parks and Wildlife oyster map in my car. I considered going out to get it.

“What I resent is that I can’t get good oysters in Houston because they have so many cheap ones here,” the Californian said. “Gulf oysters are big and tough. I don’t want to chew on an oyster. I would never eat an oyster any bigger than this,” she said, making a silver-dollar-sized circle with her fingers. “I like Kumamoto oysters.”

“How much do they cost?” I asked her.

“I think the last time I had them, it was like $12 for six . . . ”

“I like cultivated oysters too,” I admitted. “They’re delicious. But six little-bitty oysters for $12? You live in the last place in America where you can get a dozen oysters for a couple of bucks—and you want to import $24-a-dozen cultivated oysters from California?”

“That’s right,” she said.

“You’re an oyster snob,” I shrugged.

“Okay,” she said. “I have no problem with that.”

I tried to put things in a cultural perspective. “You know, there were once oyster houses all over the country—Chicago, New England, Chesapeake Bay—but those places are all gone. The native oysters are all fished out in most of the United States.

“The Gulf Coast is the last place in America with wild oysters. It’s the only place where you can still sit down in an old-fashioned oyster saloon and eat oysters for pennies apiece. The end of the golden era of American oyster culture is happening right here in front of our eyes. And you still have a chance to see it,” I ranted, perhaps a little too dramatically.

The women backed away from me and struck up other conversations.

Thursday, 12 November 2009 14:54

Web Extra: More San Antonio Holiday Fun

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From shopping a German market to celebrating the season with sea lions, San Antonio shines with a range of holiday events. The following Yuletide offerings are sure to spread the season’s spirit.  (Find more San Antonio holiday fun in the December issue.)

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, Nov. 2 – Jan. 3

Make a splash this holiday season with Shamu, sea lions, Santa Claus, and others at Sea World’s Christmas Celebration. Special events will be held each day throughout the park:

Watch The Polar Express 4-D Experience at SeaWorld’s Sea Star Theater.

See what the sea lions are up to during their special “Deck the Halls with Clyde and Seamore” holiday show full of Christmas skits and laughs.

If you are an early riser, don’t miss a chance to enjoy a special breakfast with Santa Claus or get your picture taken with him at the Candy Harbor candy shop.

Catch the “Shamu Christmas Miracles” show, where Shamu the famous whale will put on a festive performance.

24th Annual Light the Way, Nov. 21

A million glistening lights will line the trees at the University of the Incarnate Word for the 24th Annual Light the Way. The event begins at 5:30 with a celebratory Mass at Our Lady’s Chapel, followed by the lighting ceremony at 7:30 in the McDermott Convocation Center. The ceremony will feature music from the choirs of University of the Incarnate Word, Incarnate Word High School, St. Anthony Catholic School, St. Peter Prince of Apostles Catholic School, as well as the St. Anthony Catholic High School jazz band.

Once the campus lights are turned on, the procession of guests led by a mariachi band will walk through the campus and end up at a complimentary reception at Central Market H-E-B. Guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Elf Louise Toy Drive.

La Villita Holiday Open House, Nov. 28

On the River Walk at the La Villita Historic Arts Village in downtown San Antonio, the first Friday after Thanksgiving means shop, shop, shop! Stores and galleries in the district will host a holiday open house complete with special seasonal sales and holiday décor. Mariachi bands and folk singers will liven up the shopping experience at each gallery and complimentary holiday beverages will be served. The event begins Friday and will continue throughout the weekend.

Kristkindlmarkt, Dec. 5

Come shop, eat, and explore the traditional German Christmas outdoor market this holiday season. The 18th annual event (in downtown San Antonio on Pereida Street) features handcrafted gifts, seasonal decorations, quilts, clothing, and much more.

Gluehwein (warm spiced wine), Reuben sandwiches, and erbsensuppe (Split Pea Soup) are just some of the many festive foods that will warm you up as you shop. Children can visit with Santa Claus –known as Saint Nikolaus in Germany – when he makes his special visit to the market. The event is free to the public and sure to exude the “Gemuetlichkeit” of the season.

Windcrest Light Up, Dec. 15

For the residents of Windcrest – a suburb in northeast San Antonio – the holiday season brings an ample serving of competition. Residents line their roofs with lights, display holiday scenes on their lawns, and cover their trees with colorful ornaments in hopes of outdoing their neighbors.

For 51 years, a contest has been held to name the most festively decorated homes in the area. The contest features various categories, and brings in visitors from San Antonio and the surrounding area. The Light Up Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall and is followed by refreshments served at Fire Bay. Visitors are encouraged to drive through the neighborhoods and see the sparkling homes of Windcrest throughout the holiday season.

Thursday, 12 November 2009 12:04

Web Extra: Christmas Tree Farms: A Texas Sampler

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Visitors at the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm take a hayride out to the tree fields. (Photo by Michael Amador)

From the Piney Woods to the Plains, Texas farmers produce an array of choose-and-cut Christmas trees to make that special time of year a bit more festive.

In the southeast Texas town of Magnolia at the Red Caboose Christmas Tree Farm, four generations work together at each holiday season. Visitors can choose from a variety of trees such as Virginia Pine, Leyland Cypress, or Blue Ice (a cultivar of Arizona Cypress). If cutting down your own tree works up an appetite, barbeque is available for purchase. Or, bring a picnic lunch and eat on a wooden table beside a scenic lake. Hayrides take everyone to and from the field, and a mini-train takes kids on rides around the farm. Call 281/259-9776.

Haynie’s Green Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Crowley offers families a full slate of events with each visit. Enjoy a ride on an antique tractor to and from the field, as well as complimentary coffee and hot cider. Each child receives a candy cane and coloring book as special treats. And if holiday lights aren’t enough to brighten up your tree, the staff can give you a white Christmas with a twist. Snow-covered (flocked) trees can be found in purple, blue, and hunter green. Call 817/297-3970.

The Watson Christmas Tree Farm in Tyler offers Virginia Pines, flocked trees, and a gift shop full of holiday decor. Watson’s also has tree-care products available, such as a handcrafted tree stand and a mix to keep the tree fresh. When visitors find the perfect tree, Watson’s staff uses a mechanical tree-shaker to remove any brown needles from the tree and ready it for decorating. During the day, children can take wagon rides, and special evening rides can be scheduled for private events.  Call 903/566-1282.

The Ivanhoe Christmas Tree Farm in northeast Texas, just three miles north of Ivanhoe and one hour from Dallas, turns picking out a tree into a day of fun.  Throughout the season, the Ivanhoe farm offers live music ranging from bluegrass to traditional Christmas carols. In addition, local vendors come out to sell handmade goods such as soap, jellies, and Christmas ornaments. Take advantage of the fire pits by roasting hot dogs and sipping apple cider, the perfect combination to warm you up after a full day of tree-hunting. Call 903/583-5460.

Cut-your-own-tree farms can be found even in West Texas. Celebrating its fifth year of business, the Concho Christmas Tree Farm in Christoval offers a little something different for the holidays. Kids can pet alpacas and llamas at the farm’s petting zoo, roast s’mores over a fire, and learn all about planting and growing the different trees sold here. In addition to trees, fresh, handmade wreaths are popular items. Call 325/896-7575.

To find out about other choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms in Texas, visit

—Kate Hull

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 09:47

Web Extra: Millennium Seed Bank

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On Mount Livermore, in The Nature Conservancy's 30,000-acre Davis Mountains Preserve, Michael Eason, right, and Wildflower Center nursery manager Sean Watson study candidates for the Millennium Seed Bank Project. (Photo by Christina S. Murrey, UT-Austin)

By Melissa Gaskill

Michael Eason, conservation program coordinator at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, constantly traverses the state, hiking into remote canyons and up the side of mountains, bouncing down unpaved roads, and wading through swampy woodlands. The literal fruit of all his labors—thousands of seeds—fill a deep freeze in a secure room on the Center grounds.

“For me, seed banking is about preserving the natural heritage of Texas,” Eason says. “We’re mostly targeting common plants, not rare ones. But many of the collection sites face threats such as development. We’ve revisited collection sites that are now erased by housing developments or strip malls, so those genetic populations are gone. Other plants, while found throughout an ecoregion, grow only in certain habitats, which makes them uncommon and under threat.” The Wildflower Center is the only organization collecting across Texas, he explains. The majority of collecting takes place on private property, and seven years into the project, the Center enjoys access to a great deal of land.

Successful seed collection depends on a number of factors, with timing one of the most important. Only mature seeds can be collected, and a week one way or the other makes a world of difference. Simply finding plants often presents a major challenge, because some seeds are no larger than a pencil point, and offer the challenge comparable to that of finding the literal needle in a multi-acre haystack.

“We may have a list of 1,000 species that occur on a particular property,” Eason says. “But we don’t know exactly where the plants are or whether numbers are sufficient for collecting.” The Nature Conservancy’s Davis Mountains Preserve, for example, encompasses 30,000 acres of rugged mountain terrain, which is largely inaccessible except to hikers. For collecting there, Eason and his staff determine 30 to 50 target species based on what other groups around the country have collected, growing conditions that particular year, and when a plant produces seeds. Last June, collecting on the Preserve focused on one trail up Mount Livermore. Eason and another staff member monitored plants every other week on the property through summer and fall, then in late October, brought in 15 volunteers over one weekend, gathering more than 20,000 seeds for ten species.

Texas weather regularly disrupts collection plans. In one case, Eason slogged through the East Texas landscape for many hours in pouring rain, far from ideal collecting conditions due to the threat of mold. Last fall, Hurricane Ike destroyed many plants targeted for collection. In West Texas, heat can thwart even the most enthusiastic collectors.

Depending on the species, collectors pick individual seeds, ripe fruit, or pine cones, holding them in paper or cloth bags. They record GPS coordinates, other species growing in association with the plant, date of collection, geology and other data. Back at the Wildflower Center, dozens of volunteers assemble for five or six hours to clean seeds, which are then packed in aluminum envelopes. These are labeled and heat sealed before going into the freezer.

The Millennium Seed Bank Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, determined that banking 20,000 seeds per species provides sufficient numbers for conservation in both the U.K. and the U.S., for germination tests, research, and restoration. Of 20,000 seeds collected, usually 7,000 remain at the Wildflower Center—with most species, enough to fill about a quarter of a cup. Another 3,000 end up at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation’s seed bank in Fort Collins, Colorado. The other 10,000 go to Kew, joining seeds from nearly 500 different Texas plant species residing in underground freezers. The Bank’s total deposits represent roughly 10 percent of the world’s upland flora species, or more than a billion seeds from some 19,000 species, says Flo Oxley, director of conservation for the Wildflower Center. And Eason and his colleagues continue to search for more.

Monday, 28 September 2009 09:52

Web Extra: Texas Railroad Museums

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This list was derived from the Texas Rail Tourism Alliance membership directory of railroad museums in Texas.

B-RI Railroad and Historical Museum, Teague

Contains old photos and railroad artifacts including a 1928 Baldwin Locomotive and a BN Caboose.

254/739-2061 or 254/739-2153

Buttel Railroad Museum, one mile south of Amarillo

Features standard gauge rolling stock and other equipment on a 1 1/2 acre site.


Flatonia Rail Park, Flatonia

Home of the old SA&AP freight depot and the GH&SA passenger depot.


Friends of the LaGrange Depot, LaGrange

Contains the original stationmaster’s equipment and a gold-headed cane commemorating successful efforts to bring a railroad to LaGrange in 1880.

979/968-9416 or 979/237-4506

Galveston Island Railroad Museum & Center for Transportation, Galveston

Holds the largest collection of vintage railroad equipment in Southwestern U.S. and one of the largest model railroad exhibits in Texas.


Houston Railroad Museum, Houston

Contains railroad artifacts, locomotives, cars, and a research library.


Marshall T&P Depot Museum, Marshall

Contains memorabilia of the Texas and Pacific Railroad.


Martin & Francis Lehnis Railroad Museum, Brownwood

Includes railroad historical artifacts and interactive telegraph equipment.


Museum of the American Railroad, Dallas

Visit the Whistle Fair, see the world’s largest steam, diesel and electric locomotives, and tour a first class sleeping car and the Texas Special dining car. 


New Braunfels Railroad Museum. New Braunfels

Houses a steam locomotive, caboose, I-GN velocipede, and two model railroads, HO & N.


Railroad & Heritage Museum/Santa Fe Depot, Temple

Focused on the influence railroads had on westward expansion of Texas. 


Rosenberg Railroad Museum, Rosenberg

Located right next to the busy BNSF and UP main lines where, in the peak railroad era, ten lines traversed.


Railway Museum of San Angelo, San Angelo

Celebrating the 100th anniversary. See the Web site for anniversary events.

San Antonio Railroad Heritage Museum, San Antonio

Contains SP794, one of the four remaining T&NO/SP Mikados and

Yoakum Heritage Museum, Yoakum

Heritage museum featuring a railroad room with artifacts from the R.O. Witte Collection, and artifacts from the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad.

Friday, 14 August 2009 14:36

Web Extra: More Fall Festival Picks

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More Fall Festival Picks

See related: Fests up!

Check out the lineups for Lexington’s Chocolate Lovers Festival and the George West Storyfest. We’ve also added a few more details about the Blues Fest and the Texas Clay Festival, featured in the September issue. For a comprehensive list of festivals, visit, click on “Events,” and search for “Festivals.”

Blues Fest, Denton, September 19. Held in Quakertown Park, this year’s fest includes headliner Michael Burks, the UpAllnight Blues Band, and other professional acts, as well as a Blues Idol Contest. Vendors sell barbecue; soul food in the form of greens, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and cornbread; roasted corn; tacos; burritos; and fresh-baked pies and cakes. Call 940/382-9100;

Chocolate Lovers Festival, Lexington (15 miles north of Giddings), October 17. The temptations start with a Gourmet Chocolate Pancake Breakfast and continue with Chocolate Alley, an area that offers 10 different “chocolate experiences,” from chocolate ravioli to chocolate-banana-peanut butter crepes. Participants work off some of the calories with 3K and 5K Chocolate Dash Fun-Runs and pie-throwing, pie-eating, and ice cream-eating contests. Two Fear Factor contests for ages 10-18 include physical challenges, as well as eating chocolate-covered insects. Other kids’ activities include face-painting, pony rides, rock-climbing, cupcake decorating, a Slip ’N Slide, and bounce house. Music, arts and crafts, and food vendors round out the fun. Call 979/773-4337;

Texas Clay Festival, Gruene Historic District (three miles north of downtown New Braunfels), October 24-25. This year’s lineup features more than 60 artisans with works ranging from functional pottery to decorative sculpture. Four tents offer demonstrations throughout the festival. Raku-firing demonstrations also take place both days, as do silent auctions. A children’s area provides supervised opportunities for little ones to work with clay. Restaurants and entertainment (including Gruene Hall) lie close at hand, adding another dimension to this festival experience. Call 830/629-7975 or 830/833-2860;

George West Storyfest, George West (60 miles northwest of Corpus Christi), November 7. Folklore, fables, history, tall tales, ghost stories, and cowboy poetry are all part of the mix at this unusual event that celebrates the art of storytelling. The fun takes place downtown under a canopy of live oaks, with hay bales serving as seats and storytelling and live music alternating on three stages. One of the highlights is the Texas State Liar’s Contest. Other activities include a Little Red Wagon Parade, classic car show, living-history demonstrations, arts and crafts, children’s games, petting zoo, and street dance. Festival food ranges from fajitas to funnel cakes. Some people choose to stay over until Sunday morning to hear sacred stories told in partnership with a local church. Call 361/449-2481 or 888/600-3121;

                                                                                                            —Nola McKey

Friday, 14 August 2009 14:11

Web Extra: Rum Recipes

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Galveston Sunset (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)In our September issue, we tell the story of the Railean Rum Distillery in San Leon, a little town south of Houston, which manufactures the sugar-derived spirit in small batches—a concoction that’s perfect for sipping and mixing.

And in honor of the magazine’s 35th anniversary, we took some classic cocktail recipes and gently stirred things up to reflect Texas culture. Each recipe makes one drink.

Galveston Sunset

This is similar to the one prepared at the Green Parrot Bar & Grill. Those who like Tequila Sunrises or Screwdrivers will recognize the elements. Enjoy!

  • 1 ½ oz. white rum
  • 5 oz. orange juice (fresh-squeezed, if possible)
  • 2 dashes grenadine syrup
  • lemon slice for garnish

In a tall glass filled with ice, pour in rum. Slowly add orange juice. Add grenadine down the side of the glass; it’s heavier than both the rum and the orange juice and will sink to the bottom, giving the drink a pretty look. Garnish with lemon. (Stir before drinking.) 

Frozen Blue Topaz

The official Texas state gemstone, the Blue Topaz, is found almost exclusively in Mason County, where you can hunt for the uncut stones at a place called the Seaquist Ranch. While you plan your trip, mix up a batch of these frosty blue concoctions, which resemble the familiar piña colada. Option: Skip the blender and serve ‘em on the rocks.

  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • ¾ oz. rum
  • ¾ oz. blue curaçao (you can also use orange curaçao and toss in a few blueberries for color)
  • 3/4-oz. cream of coconut
  • cherries for garnish

Add to blender with 1 cup ice. Pour into a tall glass and garnish. Watch the world sparkle.


The Yellow Rose

Legend has it that in April 1836, a woman named Emily Morgan so preoccupied Mexican General Santa Anna that he didn’t notice the advancing Texian army—and thus Morgan helped secure Texas independence. We created this intoxicating concoction in her honor.

  • 1 oz. light rum
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • ½ oz. orange curaçao (we like Paula’s Texas Orange, an orange liquor made in Austin)
  • ½ oz. amaretto
  • 1 oz. dark rum
  • cherries and lime slices for garnish

Shake first 4 ingredients with ice, then strain into an old-fashioned glass half filled with ice. Top with dark rum, and garnish. Prepare to be diverted.

Windmill Wowee

Simple and effective. Just like the whirling workhorse that helped settle the west.

  • 2oz. dark rum
  • 3 oz. ginger beer
  • lime wedge for garnish 

Pour rum into a highball glass filled with ice, add ginger beer. Garnish. Turn gently into the breeze and enjoy.

Thursday, 13 August 2009 10:02

Web Extra: An Retrospective of Abilene

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"Downtown was the only place to go."

altThe thrill of 1940s movie theaters, playing hooky at the pool hall, and greetings from the Drake Hotel. Abilene old-timers tell all.

“Where the Grace Museum is now,” says local geologist Gilbert Korman, who graduated from high school in 1950, “that was originally the Drake Hotel. And there was a pool hall in the Drake … through the 1940s and 50s and probably into the 60s. I wasn’t a pool shooter, but we’d all go down there.”

Financial planner Eddie Hodges fills in additional details: “Right next to the Drake, across the alley, there was another pool hall. The bigger boys used to go there to play snooker and pool. And yeah, I did play hooky from school and go there once or twice. I was probably about 10.”

“Downtown was the only place to go,” says Korman. “And there were three movie theaters on Cypress—the Paramount, the Majestic, and the Queen. The Paramount got two shows a week—the top movies—and we’d usually make both of them. In grade school, the place to go was the Queen. The Queen had the serial cartoons.”

 “I think my mother used to give me ten cents to go to the Queen to see the serials…Batman or something,” says Hodges. “You know, you’d have the action and drama, and then the character would have a crisis..and the cartoon would end. You’d have to go back the next week to see what happened.

“Everything at that time was local, independently owned,” Hodges continues. “There were two or three department stores, a few drug stores, and an old bowling alley about four blocks from the hotel. Bowling was a very popular sport back then.

“When I was a young child, during the second world war, Camp Barkeley was still operating as a military base here—for awhile they housed German prisoners there. There was a huge USO in the downtown area. Always lots of activity to engage a young boy’s imagination.”

–– as told to Lori Moffatt

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