Tourin Texas Monthly Newsletter
Tourin Texas Letters to the Editor

Have a favorite day trip you'd like to let folks know about?
Did we miss one of the best places on our trip?
Just want to say howdy?  Please write.


2004 /   2003   /  2002

 July 8, 2004  Ira, I wanted to let you know that I am still around and still working on the Kelly/Kelley Family History.  Have made progress and now have Professional Genealogists in Salt Lake City, UT at work on the history with me.  More about that later.
       I was afraid something was not right in your life but I didn't want to e-mail and ask a bunch of dumb questions about your personal life.  Therefore, I was very glad to receive the latest newsletter from you and to see you so open about your problems.  I am making every effort to keep in touch with my Kelly cousins as all of them have been important to this "family history" thing and am glad to be back in touch with you.
       I hope you are making a good job of recovery.   You seem to be.  Good luck.  I've been down that road and know what it's like however, we are made of tough stuff and we can always pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and pick another road.  --Take care, D. S. "Dodie" Ford

Dodie, Thanks for the genealogy update (not posted).  For general information, our 3 x great grandfather was Tobias Kelly born in AL abt. 1805.  He pledged and Oath to the Republic of Texas in 1837 and received 1/3 league of land in Coryell Co, TX.   --Ira

July 8, 2004  Glad to see you're back in the saddle. --Hugh D. Lester
,   Thanks.  I hope I don't get throwed again. --Ira

July 8, 2004  Ira, Good to have you back. -- JJackson

Jan, Glad to be back & thanks for the donation. --Ira

 July 8, 2004  Dear Ira, First let me say, "welcome back". I've been wondering from time to time where my monthly (monthly?) newsletter filled with new destinations, adventures and witty writing has been. Now I know.........
        Second, I understand your financial situation but I have a problem too..........I'm lazy. Is there some way I can "donate" to the cause via a credit card so I don't have to lick a stamp and walk all the way to the mail box?
       Finally, where did you get Nigel and why in creation do you drive a Land Rover? What's wrong with a good 'ole F150? You KNOW the insurance is less, you can haul more and believe me Ira, it looks a LOT more Texian! Think about it, please?
       Anyway, as I said, glad you're back. Keep up the great work and get back to me on that credit card thing, will ya?

Jeff Cunningham-Magnolia, Texas
       oops, read the instructions further (why don't guys read directions?) and found out you DO accept e-donations. Sent you 50 bucks......ignore the request, thanks, jc 

Jeff,   First let me say Thank You!  If you will send me your address I'll send you a nice signed and numbered print. (They don't sell anyway.)  About Nigel the Land Rover... I didn't know nothing about them machines.  The salesman said "You interested in a good deal on a used Land Rover?"  "I already have a good Hog Dog what do I need with another critter?" So he straightened me out on that score and and well... there's no good excuse.  But it'll be all mine sometime next year, then I can get the windows to stay up without duct tape. 
       Do F150s come with four wheel drive?
       Why don't guys read directions?  Lack of proper training.  If there were real complicated instructions on how to open a longneck we might'a been prepared for life's more annoying details early on.  These days, what with all the different gas pumps all operating first one way and then the other, I pretty much put pumping gas right up there with a trip to the library.  (Too bad those pumps don't come in braille for those times when I forget my reading glasses...) --Ira

July 8, 2004  Ira, I'm so glad your Funny Bone is all healed up! WHY DON'T HE WRITE? made me laugh out loud ... for a long time. (What a relief. I'm not the only one whose plea's for "more time to pay" don't seem to translate well when I'm talkin' to those new-found friends in India.)
       And DID I SAY THAT? made me think Will Rogers reincarnated real fast! Matter of fact: you're funnier. Cherokee's both of you, still he (as Ann Richards put it) "caint hep' it" ... He was only an Okie. A real disadvantage for a Cowboy. You and your friend Ollie are the real McCoys! (Er, whatever you call the real deal when that's a hilarious Cherokee Texas Cowboy Humorist.) Keep those tours coming. --Linda C, Austin

Linda,   I'm getting kinda lightheaded what with all the kind words and such from folks.  If   I'da known this was going to happen I mighta quit writing for a spell some time back.  Truth be told it makes me want write more real quick like.  Like Ollie was telling me when I was stuck in the big middle of the last missive, "You've got two personalities.  Use one of them.  Better yet, you do the alter-ego part and I'll get this thing done quicker than thought."
       What do you call a hilarious Cherokee Texas Cowboy Humorist?  "Nut case" comes to mind.  --Ira

July 7, 2004  Hey Ira!  Well, I KNOW you will be OK NOW.....cause your back in the territory you love! That - I can sure identify with! Ira, you get your strength from this "Enchanted" land - so stay put - put on a big smile and enjoy life again!   I'm sorry about you and Holly - but life ALWAYS comes up with "Suprizes" and sometimes they are great - and sometimes - they STINK!
       Ira, YOU were the one with all the talent - YOU are the one we all looked up to - YOU are the one that has the opportunity for a new, great beginning! Go for it! We are all right behind you! I was thrilled to see the newsletter message today! I too had been wondering where you were - but thought I neglected to subscribe - or something stupid like that!
       Maybe we need another Writer's Rendezvous - to bring back great memories and help "Jump Start" it all again! 
       Take Care!  -- Pam Moorman, Arlington, Texas

Pam, Thanks for the kind words. (blush)  For the folks who were out of the old loop -- The Writer's Rendezvous was an annual event on Triple Creek Ranch for all of the writers for Enchanted Rock Magazine.  Barbecue, beer, tall tales -- all of the rituals Texans hold sacred.  Actually Cork and I have been planning a similar event: Tourin' Texas at Triple Creek Ranch. Anyone interested? (Details later.) --Ira

 July 7, 2004  Dear Ira:   Sorry to hear about you "getting single again", however, it has been my experience that it isn't all a bad thing.  But a truly good thing is that you are publishing again and we look forward to seeing you pop up on our screen pretty regular.   --Jackie Wayman, Cleburne TX

Jackie, Well, I've been throwed a time or two before and fortunately my funny bone is on the mend.  --Ira

July 7, 2004  Ira - Thanks for the plug in your letters to the editor.  Also, I appreciated the "links" to your site and the opportunity to read some of your writings. After reading some of your experiences, I have decided to keep looking over my shoulder to see if you are following me in in effort to obtain material for your next writings. You know, "Dumb and Dumber" or "Whachawannadothatfor?".  Thanks, Lyndell Rogers, Merkel (Abilene), Texas

Lyndell, Who knows I just might be there.  Remember, "If you don't care where you are you ain't lost." --Ira

June 5, 2004  I have read your article about all the events in Gruene, Texas, however, I am lodging a complaint that I feel you should know about since you seem to "taut" the events.
       I live near Abilene, Texas.  My daughter lives in San Antonio, Texas.  My daughter asked my wife and I to come down and we would all (other friends of hers included) go to Gruene for diner and an evening of entertainment.  Reportedly, Couter Graw was playing at Gruen Hall, his performance was advertised in the Internet to start at 9:00PM and a sign inside the Hall also stated 9:00PM and another stated 9:30PM.
       However, we were early after having a fine dinner at the local "Grist Mill" and arrived around 8:00PM at the Hall and around 8:30 a band started playing that must have been found in someone's garage - you could not understand but a few of their words, the music (??) was extremely loud and consisted of a lot of twanging and banging without regards to music notes what-so-ever.  We tried to endure because we knew Cooter Graw would be coming on stage in a short while.
       At 9:50PM, we finally decided we had all the garbage can racket we could stand, so we approached the "manager", asked for a refund of our money because we had been grossly mislead -- their advertising was obviously a fraud and we had been duped into buying $15.00 tickets falsely.
       We did not get our money refunded!  Management agreed we had a right to be upset and feel mis-represented but stated they had no authority to refund our money.  By the way, we finally got out of the Hall at 10:15PM and Cooter Graw still was not performing!  The impression left on us will be one that extends to all of the businesses in Gruene, Texas, I am sorry to say.   The rest may be as good as our experience with the restaurant, however, just one enterprise, which was largely our attraction and main reason for going, ruined our experience completely.
       Just so you would know, your glowing report has a "briar patch".  Hope you are proud.  When you-all come to "West Texas", you will find satisfaction is guaranteed and the "hospitality" outstanding.  --Lyndell L. Rogers, Merkel, Texas 79536

Lyndell,  Jeez, I don't know why you are all over me for something that happened at Gruene Hall. Yes I did have a good time at Gruene Hall and I hardly feel responsible for something that happens two years and five months later in a business I have absolutely no control over.
       I am proud of my work on and just so you know, most complaints to me are about the critical comments I make regarding a particular community or business. I write what I experience.
       By the way, I had to look up "taut" in the dictionary to see if there was a usage of which I was ignorant. I don't think that's the word you were looking for ( tout works), but your upset came through loud and clear. Out of curiosity, did my article inspire you to visit Gruene or am I just a convenient soul to which you can vent your displeasure?
       I have no doubt that the hospitality in West Texas is outstanding. You've convinced me on that point.

Ira,  Sorry to dump on you.   Perhaps you should think about re-visiting Gruene to re-validate your experience or remove the site from the Internet.
       Your article was inspiring, without a doubt - I loved it!   I think the Internet is a wonderful tool and use it quite a bit when visiting points which may be of interest.   My daughter had heard of the place, mentioned it and we looked it up to see what was there.   I pay attention to sites like yours because it is not generally someone blowing their own horn (advertising).  The experience written is personal which I can relate to.  --
Lyndell L. Rogers

Lyndell,  With your permission I will post your letter to the editor, my response and your reply which I appreciate. -Ira

Ira, Thank you. You are welcome and I appreciate your kindness. --Lyndell

May 24, 2004    Ira,  What with life getting in the way, it just dawned on me that I hadn't received your newsletter in a while.  Checking in, I discovered you have been going through major "life changes".  Having done this myself SEVERAL times, you have my sympathies and best wishes. 
       What's the saying, if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger...some years I seem to be headed toward becoming Hercules!   Anyway, glad to see you are 'coming back' and I look forward to your future newsletters.  Do I need to subscribe again to get them?   Sincerely, Darlene VanEvery  (Psychology Professor, USAF Retired and, after living there on-and-off for 14 years, Texan at heart)

Darlene, You don't need to subscribe again, I just need to get my head straight and write again. --Ira

April 4, 2004  I have lived in Texas for the last 20 years but have seldom traveled outside the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It's time I got to know this wonderful state. I would enjoy receiving your newsletter.  Thank you, Mike Funk

April 8, 2004 Just was browsing through the internet and found one of your articles about your visit to Richland Springs in San Saba Co. It just occurred to me that I haven't gotten a newsletter from you in awhile. Are you still doing it or did I get dropped from your mailing list? Charlotte Epps

Charlotte, You didn't get dropped.  And I apologize to you and everyone else for the long delay.  Please see the Commentary page... -- Ira

March 23, 2004  Thanks!  I love your site and look forward to recieving your newsletter. -- Rita & Ken

March 4, 2004  Ran across your site by accident, looks very interesting, looking very forward to the news letter. --Johnny Shouse

May 1, 2004   Child of Kerr County---finding this site is, well, actually finding an oasis in the Oregon rainforest.   THANK YOU!  --Clare 

February 8, 2004  Love the site!  Best regards,  G.D. Sanders 

February 18, 2004  Not only am I interested in your unique interpretations of my homeland of Texas, I am thrilled to discover how many other people's lives were directly affected by the people of 1970's Luckenbach.
       I am a self-proclaimed "Child of Chili" and spent much of my childhood weekends at chili cook-offs around the state.  I was born Jan. 1969 and Mother and Daddy discovered chili early in the 70's.  They were very much a part of the early days of chili cooking, before Luckenbach had PLUMBING and an official parking lot. 
I remember Willie Nelson playing dominoes under the oak trees outside the general store and Jerry Jeff Walker recording his live album in the dancehall.  I attended a multitude of "First Annual" Women's State Chili Cooking Championships, eventually graduating to adult status in the 90's and being allowed INSIDE the judges tent for more than slave labor. 
       A.W. "Tex" Schofield was my "uncle" and bestowed me with a nickname, as he did with all those he loved.   I was his self-appointed assistant, setting up games like the egg toss, the lemon roll and the mosey contest.  I raced armadillos with Sam Lewis and received "bladder balloons" (blown up condoms) from the SackaHockey Indians.  I learned to 2-step on my Daddy's boots in the dancehall.  I manned Tony Shamroski's art booth outside the blacksmith shop, while he roamed the cookoff in search of beer or chili samples.  I was paid in pen and ink drawings, which are now framed in handmade wood frames bought from the then starving artist Janie Schofield.   I watched streakers, singers, and washer pitchers.  I sat on Hondo's lap and Ken Morgan was one of the funniest people I can remember. I used to travel with Mother to Houston on "stuffing weekend" for the Goat Gap Gazette.  We'd sleep on Hal John & Judy Wimberley's floor (surrounded by the outhouse collection) and help fold and stuff the GGG for mailing.  I remember many trips to the printers with Judy to pick up the still damp GGGs.  What amazing people I have known in my life.
       Thank you for unknowingly playing a part in my current walk down memory lane.  I wonder if you have pictures from cookoffs in the 1970's.  I am a burgeoning artist, and want to do a series of paintings of the characters of my childhood.  Any images you could share of people like Hondo Crouch, Hal John & Judy Wimberley, John Raven, Sam Lewis, Maggie Montgomery, Shorty Fry...would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Sara Lynn "Lynnie Tin Tin" Leatherland-Grindy, Milpitas, CA 

Sara Lynn, Sorry but I don't have any.  I once had some 8mm footage of Hondo and G. Kooch (?) pickin' and grinnin' on the Post Office porch, but it got stolen. --Ira

February 28 2004   We’re trying to locate information and pictures of six of our former sheriff’s. We feel fortunate to have located as many as we have. If you feel you might run across some info and would like to pass it on, I would appreciate it. Also would like to get on the newsletter list.  -- Nila, Llano Co Sheriff’s Dept

Nila, Thanks for joining up with Tourin Texas!   I don't have any photos myself but I'll ask around and if any of the readers can help I'm sure they will. --Ira

February 15, 2004  Please include me in your  list to receive the newsletter.  Love to "road-trip.:  Thanks   Judy O'Rourke

January 29, 2004   Hi Ira, I happened across your Touring Texas newletter and of course it brought back more than a few memories---I am not sure if you will remember me- I bartended in Ben Archer's bar while in school there. I didn't finish at Southwest but went on to Tech and finished there in 78. I have been in Virginia since 85. I recently reconnected with Boyd and he visited me out here on the coast of Virginia a few times last time slips away... anyway, I hope you will add my address to your mailing list for the newletter and I hope this finds you well. Sincerely yours, Debra Brown

Debra, I tended bar at Ben's Fat Friar's too and remember you well.  Thanks for the note.  BTW Boyd's letter is posted below.   --Ira

January 29, 2004          \\\///
                                    / _  _ \
                                  (| (.)(.) |)                Cliff McCullough
                             (    )   Oooo.
                              \ (    (   ) 
                               \_)     ) /            

January 27, 2004   Hello there.  Absolutely love your website!!!  Just found it tonight.  We had to move away from San Antonio last year, and I miss it so much.  Please add my husband and I to your e-mail list for the newsletter:  Thanks!   Stephanie

December 28, 2004  Hi Ira!     There is a Texas Dept of Highways sign on Interstate 45 (Between Dallas/Houston) that reads TEXAS  OSR  NORMANGEE.  Do you know what OSR stands for.  I have checked THD websites to no avail. --Jerry LaRose

Jerry, Normangee is located in East Texas, Off Interstate 45, Served by Farm Roads 39 and 3, and the Old San Antonio Road (OSR), South of Jewett.  

June 28, 2004    Hey Ira,  Just checking to see what happened to your monthly newsletter. Do you still offer this? Sure did enjoy while available.  -- Allan C.

Allan,  Please see the Commentary section for my response.

Jan. 29, 2004   I'm glad you liked the painted doors at the OUTRIGGER in Palacios.The Outrigger has a website up and announces the quarterly ARTISTS in ACTION  dates, so if you're ever down this far....  Liked your article on the coast. Finally got to your website. I'll admit to enjoying my Andy Warhol moment. So to better enjoy this moment, I'm compelled to give you my right and proper name. Courtney L. Grigsby. I looked at where I signed and can see how somebody 'd have a time making out what I wrote. Keep ridin' and writin' for those of us who don't. --C.L. Grigsby in Palacios, Texas

December 9, 2003  Hey there Ira,  A somewhat minor yet important correction to your cover story in the April 2003 issue: Kelvin Rueb was and still is 6' 8" tall while his now deceased (January 30, 1984) twin brother, Kevin, was 6' 4". Kelvin is now in Kerrville prize hare raising and still playing occasional guitar and Kevin is still dead but quite well remembered. Its funny how even the most innocuous of facts still tend to stand out...there you go. -- Take care. Sincerely, Boyd Pidcock

[ Boyd, thanks for the correction.  It may be an innocuous fact for some folks.  But if your 5'6" like me, another four inches of height is a substantial improvement.  Great to hear from you after all these years [mid 70s] --ira.

November 25, 2003  In the 2003 spring bluebonnet preview, in the Packsaddle section, you mention turning on county road 302 to look for mountain heather. Wrong plant. It is the mounatin laurel that cover the side of Long mtn that is so pretty when in bloom. Also farther down the road is the cabin of the Whitlock masscare. Loved your story and pics on the Llano River Run. I have always heard of the 700 Spring country, but havent been there. --Kathy, Native Kingland girl.

November 8, 2003  Ira, do you really believe your tip jar will fill after readers in and around those seven communities read your first paragraph? It's apparent that you have a gift, but, in my opinion, this article does not reflect it. -- S. Merlin McAnelly, M. D.

[ Well, Doc...   Perhaps the next installment will be more to your liking.  --Ira]

November 7, 2003  Ira: hello from Iraq. We haven't corresponded for awhile. Last time we talked I was working with KBR in Houston and commuting back and forth to my home outside of Belton. That seems like a long time ago, but I guess only a couple of years, eh. I enjoy your travels and descriptions very much, and my wife and I have been in a couple of the "towns" in this month's article...keep up the good work. Two other Texans here would like to be on your monthly list to receive your newsletter. Addresses are: [withheld by Ira] -- J. David, Bagdad

[ Consider it done. I can't possibly imagine the circumstances y'all are having to contend with, but just maybe a little bit of Texas will brighten up your day now and again. -- Ira]

November 6, 2003  Ira:    Just a note to tell you how much I enjoy your tales of adventure..... I always receive the newsletter at work and it never fails to come but at the most opportune times..... in the middle of the day I can just travel away and no one is the wiser.... Always a treat.... I do enjoy your sense of humor and view of the world.  Your ability to describe or re-tell an event is sometimes so vivid it is like peeking into someone's mind....... I too enjoy the old and aged buildings; shadows of towns that once held life and drama and who knows what else..... so I really enjoyed this trip immensely.... Thank you for sharing.... I hope all is well with you and yours..... Hazel   

[ Hazel, Thanks for the kind words. While you're peeking into my mind, if you find an old set of car keys let me know. -- Ira]  

November 6, 2003  Ira, love your updates! I do have a question about your website. You have your pics cascading at the top (overlapping one another); would you mind sharing what software you used for this? Thanks and keep 'em coming! --Susan

[ Susan, I don't mind sharing at all.  The software can be found here:  -- Ira]

November 6, 2003  Hi Ira! Just wanted to send a "thank you" for the wonderful newsletter! Im sure I speak for everyone you send the letters too. You really have some great pictures and articles on your webpage, and I wanted to say thanks for all your hardwork and dedication! I live just south of Dallas and I love traveling and visiting small Texas towns. Llano is my favorite place on Earth, and I hope to live there someday!  We have to visit at least once every summer..........Thanks again, Vicky Brandon

November 6, 2003  Ira, LOVE your Tourin' Texas!!!  Please change my email address to my new one, so I don't miss a thing!!!  Thanks!  Kimberly

October 1, 2003 Dear Ira, I really enjoyed your newsletter this time. Of course, I enjoy all the other ones too, but this one really hit me in a soft spot, head. All you did was take me back about 45 years to my college days in San Marcos, you may remember the college they used to have there, Southwest Texas State. Sadly, it has been dismembered by some outsiders and no longer exists. Instead, they put up a new school in its place; I think it is a branch of  TSU in Houston. I talked to the president once, and tried to get her to name the school after a grain, but Rice was already taken. Then I suggested that it be named after a color, like Maroon and Gold University, but Brown University was already taken. I agreed with her that no regionally named school ever became famous, for example, Southwestern, Northwestern, Univ. of Southern Cal California, but she thought those were not significant. But as you sometimes say, that’s another story.
       Anyway, enough digression. You took me back with that Luckenbach story. Except it was a green and white 56 Crown Victoria, and my friend’s name was Jerry. And, we didn’t go to Luckenbach, we went to Hunter, can’t you get the facts straight ( or was it OST?) but you did get the girls right. And you got the beer right. Best beer I ever had ( and that is 3 or 4 cases, maybe a few more) was one when my roommate from Burnet and I went perch fishin’ one May on the Blanco at 5 Mile dam. We didn’t have any suds, and I suddenly had a brain flash. There might be ONE can under my car seat! It was only about 95 degrees, and that beer was there cooking a little more at about 2110. We shared that one and I still remember how good what didn’t fizzle out was. MAN!!
       Anyway, you inspired me enough to send you a check. You used to say $15 was a kind of a yearly fee, but here is $20; go out and get us a six-pack and write us some more nostalgia. --Regards, WildBill from Liberty Hill, Never Worked, and Never Will
       (being a research chemist for 35 years was not really work to me)
       I grew up in Liberty Hill. My real name is not WildBill but Bill Perry. I am 39 years old (for the 26th time). I live in Lake Jackson.. My wife moved to Liberty Hill from Llano, (here her daddy was principal) when she was 13 and I said to myself, "Self, there is your future wife." So I went off to college to allow her to grow up, which she did. We just celebrated our 41st anniversary. So, you see, I have roots all over the Hill Country, and I really enjoy your work. Come to Lake Jackson and stay with us anytime.   -- Regards, again, Bill

[You sure do write good!  I started SWT in 1959 and graduated in 1983.  Frankly I think the name change was kinda silly.  I mean, do you want to graduate from a famous school or a good one?  I had some right smart teachers at SWT -- one, a Phd from Rice University taught me epistemology and another, Dr. Edgar Laird (born in the same place as me -- San Saba -- and delivered by the same doctor -- Ira Stone -- is a Rhodes Scholar.  Changing the name won't make them better teachers or the students any more intelligent.
        The place was Southwest Texas State Teachers College when I started, Southwest Texas State College when I returned with the GI Bill, and Southwest Texas State University when I finally finished up.  I reckon I'll have to re-enroll just so I can claim having gone there.  I think my first transcript was on stone tablets. 
       Anyway,  if I'm ever in your area I'll take you up on your offer.  And if you're ever this way call and we'll have a few beers on me. --Ira

September 29, 2003 Hi Ira, I was surfing the web looking for information on Richland Springs TX when I came across the notes in your web site,.   I wish to use the photo of the bank provided to you by the residents of Richland Springs for a web profile I'm doing on a WWII veteran and resident of Richland springs.   
       The Junior Class of the local school also wrote to your site about their renovations and support to the revitalized town but I can not find a web link to the school.    Do you have any e-mail contacts.   I would like to get some assistance from the school librarian to help me find some photos of Press ( Pressley ) for his web profile but there does not seem to be a town web site as yet... --Regards,  Ken Arnold
[ I have given permission for Ken to use the photograph.  If any readers have an information for Ken please e-mail me and I will forward the details. ]

September 29, 2003  Mr. Kennedy:  I have really enjoyed reading your internet articles on the small towns in Central Texas.  I must make it a point to visit my surrounding towns as well.  Just a quick FYI: your April 2003 article on Lockhart included a photo of Mary with a girly Jesus.  The reason Jesus is girly is because it's really not Jesus at all.  It's Mary, as a young girl, and the woman is her mother, Saint Ann.   She is revered by the Catholic Church for having raised Mary, who was God's choice as a mother to His son.  So, yeah, don't get too anxious about having seen a very feminine version of Jesus.  It was actually his mother.  I'm sure it freaks out a lot of people to see such a feminine version of Christ.
       Keep up the good work.  I like to read your articles to get ideas for my weekend road trips.
       Thanks a lot!!!!!!  -- Luis
[ I reckon the artist should'a put name tags on them for us less literate types.  Thanks for clearing things up.  -- Ira. ]

September 16, 2003  Hi Ira, Thanks for the reply. I looked over your website and enjoyed the writings. I had originally heard of your Luckenbach travel story on my Jerry Jeff Walker email list. My girlfriend who lives with me now on Lake Austin was from Fredericksburg and worked with Velanne as a travel agent before Velanne went to Luckenbach. When I saw your had published the Enchanted Rock Magazine, I knew you sounded familiar.
        Coincidentally, my girlfriend's son has opened a business in Kingsland. He is Chris Putnam of Putnam Funeral Home. I love that area. My Dad and Mom retired to Granite Shoals just as I graduated from High School in Houston, so I lived (and bar hopped) around the area for a few years.
       Here is the big coincidence. My next door neighbor is Mike Kelley (ex-columnist for the AAS). I mentioned that I had just read some of your writings on your website and that I saw you had graduated from SWT(or "THE" Texas State University as it is now known) I knew that Mike had taught a few classes there and asked him if he knew you. Of course, he said yes and then said that we had just talked with an old collegue of yours. Just last week, Mike had a visit from an old friend who is also now a friend (read drinking buddy) of mine, Dana. I saw on your bio that you had worked for the Highlander and Mike reminded me that Dana had also worked there.
       So it's a small world. I am a big fan of road trips so reading your unique slant on travels thru Texas was right up my alley. Since I had spent a LOT of time in Freddy, I have spent a LOT of time driving the backroads of Central Texas (read really bored in Freddy, had a dad who was a "rock" geologist, like to drive and stop for a cold beer, etc.) Anyway, maybe we'll meet someday for a cold beer ( And yes, I do know where Fuzzy's Corner is--I turned 21 in it and several other joints on that strip)  See you and thanks for the writings, -- Jim

[Small world indeed. Velanne and I went to SWT together and met up again during her tenure at Luckenbach. My Mom and Dad retired in Granite Shoals as well, and Mike Kelley was out at my place on the Whitman Ranch in Burnet County when I worked at The Highlander newspaper with Dana.  In fact, Dana and I worked on a story for The Highlander that won second place for Enviornmental Coverage from the National Newspaper Association.   ...About that cold beer, my favorite spots apart from Fuzzy's Corner are the Granite-O-Bar in Llano and Knot in the Loop just off HWY 16 to Willow City.  Call and most likely I can be there (325-247-3260)  --Ira]

September 16, 2003   As soon as my husband goes back to work in a couple of weeks I would like to donate some money to your cause.  I have certainly enjoyed reading about the different places in Texas and so has my husband. 
       I noticed in your letters that you have relocated to Llano.  We have bought some acreage just outside of Llano in the Rio Llano Subdv and hope to retire there next year.  Glad to know we have a celebrity in our area.
--Mabel Williams

[Celebrity?  I reckon I'm the most famous unknown artist in Texas. --Ira]

September 3, 2003    Dear Ira, I really enjoyed your newsletter about the area around Llano, Enchanted Rock, Willow City, etc. I could almost imagine I was there with you guys in Nigel taking it all in. Your photos are outstanding. You have a way of writing about something that to some people is absolutely nothing, and making it into something beautiful. Some how God has given you this gift to do this. Thanks a million.
       As for the trip to Enchanted Rock with the Friend of Un-named ...I think you ought to go. For some reason this is a divine appointment. Either the person will "find himself/herself" by realizing God is bigger than Enchanted Rock (after all He made it!) and find a reason to live, or will go back home, thinking everyone else in the world is crazier than they are, and you will get another trip to the Rock.
       Keep us informed. Hope your friend can move into the school house!
       I look forward to your newsletter.  -- Lois, Roanoke, Texas

September 3, 2003  Outstandingly funny.  Maybe I loved it cause its in my backyard, but I think you're really good.  --bjf

September 2, 2003 Dear Ira: You are not hearing things. I have heard those drums late at night all the way over to the Franklin Ranch on Big Sandy creek. Good trip as always.  May run in to you the next time I attend a fiddle contest in Llano. I like that town.  -- Froggy

June 27, 2003   Dear Ira,  First of all, you must have been starved for entertainment when you struck out for Laredo. I can certainly empathize with you about getting lost in that metropolis. Out of boredom, I agreed to drive a truck for a friend of mine to Laredo to pick up a load of onions and from there to Brownsville to complete the load with cabbage or some other vegetable. (I was the Olds, Pontiac, Buick, GMC and Jeep dealer in Weatherford at the time.)
       I found the shed where I was to pick up the onions okay but it was well after dark before I was loaded. I stopped at a truck stop to eat on the way out and discovered the trailer lights were not burning. That took a while to find the broken wire and was about two in the morning before I left. Somehow I missed an exit and wound up in a residential neighborhood on one of those one way streets you mentioned.
       I started looking for a place to turn the rig around. I was driving a cab over International with a forty foot plus trailer and that old song kept running through my he ad. "Give me Forty acres and I'll turn this rig around." I finally came to an intersection that looked large enough to make a U-turn and retrace my route back to the freeway. I almost made it.
       The rear tandem on the trailer rolled over a "dead man" cable on a light pole. There was a loud explosion as the transformer on the pole exploded and street lights started going out all over place. I didn't stick around to see just how much damage I had caused. My last trip to Laredo thank you. Give me a call in Fort Worth. Might be able to steer you on to something for your website.   -- Froggy

June 24, 2003   Dear Ira,  I have to give you credit, you made the June issue just barely interesting enough that I read the entire thing. You warned me on the first page not to bother so I guess I shouldn’t complain.
       We all get a little bummed out from time to time but the negativity expressed in this issue was sort of overwhelming. I do not think you were fair with the people along this route nor the route itself. The fact that you did this issue as sort of a "Why Not?" while doing a paying job was all too evident. Your viewers deserve better. If you get assigned to a detail you find desperately uninteresting, I can see no reason to inflict that misery on your readers.
       In other words, this piece failed to live up to what I have come to expect from you. Perhaps I am "Bummed Out" myself, reduced to sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time, recuperating from neck surgery, but frankly, my infrequent visits to that part of Texas do not bear out the absolute state of nothingness you described and to say, even in jest, that it wasn’t worth the loss of life it took to wrest it from Mexico was in bad taste.
       You usually do better so I know this isn’t the best you can do.  --  Cliff
[ Cliff, you're absolutely right.   The piece was depressing.  Should I take the trip again on anti-depressants and do a rewrite?  That "paying job" that came up at the last minute was the only thing that stood between me and eviction.  When I come across something delightful I write about it.  When the other extreme shows up I say so.  I don't write puff pieces and barring a serious episode of schizophrenia I only have one opinion.   I think you'll find the next installment more to your liking  -- I did.   Sorry if I was a pain in the neck and hope you're better soon.]

June 24, 2003   Ira,  I really enjoy reading about your trips through Texas. I also enjoy the way you write. You have such a good way of putting things. It’s great!
       The trip you wrote about going through South Texas.....was depressing. True but depressing. I was raised southwest of Floresville, in the country, during the 30’s and 40’s. I have lived in the Ft. Worth area since 1968.
       I agree with what you said about that loop around Floresville, it is so tacky. Why they ever did that, who knows? But, the downtown main street is not bad. I was down there several weeks ago, to visit the Floresville Chronicle Journal. Their courthouse is very pretty. I have a great picture of that structure. If you drove around the town, you can always find something interesting to take a picture of. I just think you missed it. And then going out on 97 toward Pleasanton, why didn’t you stop at the Promised Land Dairy? Those rolling hills at the dairy is beautiful. So is the dairy itself. And didn’t you go in and have some of their famous home made ice cream?......yummmmm.....
       And Pleasanton, well, my husband grew up in Pleasanton, and periodically, we take a trip down there to class reunions. The last one was a couple years ago. He graduated there in 1943. So it was his 57th class reunion. So, naturally there weren’t many of them left.
       We drive around and look at the old places. It is not a bad looking little town. I took a neat picture of the old ice house in North Pleasanton, still standing, covered with ivy and weeds.....where he and his little brother used to go to in the 30’s, to get "snow" shaved off the ice blocks there.
       Some of those little towns are really sad and depressing. Especially when the weather is hot and dry. But you can always find something interesting in every one.
       I wish I would have known you were coming to Ft. Worth, I would have loved to have you come visit our very unique book shop and coffee house in Roanoke. We opened in January, it is called Sullivan Street Book Shop Sullivan Street from outside.jpg (96663 bytes)and Coffee House. We are in a renovated old brick building that used to be an old hardware store, built in 1906. My daughter and her husband restored it and painted it and stocked it with old furniture,, antiques, vintage stuff, and even an old 1964 pool table, which everyone loves to play pool on. We have old and very rare books and NEW books. We have old leather couches, and mismatched tables and chairs, and a huge coffee bar, where also serve great home made sandwiches and panini sandwiches, and soft serve ice cream and sodas, and drinks and all kinds of gourmet coffee drinks, hot and cold. We have live music on the weekends, and this is a very alive place to come, in this little town. We sit right in between Trophy Club,and Grapevine on the East, and Westlake, Keller on the south, Haslet and Alliance Airport and Justin on the West, and Argyle and Denton on the north. Our place is on Oak Street, which is situated in what everyone calls Old Roanok Town.
Looking south on Oak St.JPG (87160 bytes)       Next time you are up this way, drop by, and let us know who you are. I am enclosing a few pictures. I can’t wait to read next months newletter.  
       If you ever get a chance take the trip from Medina on 337 west, through Vanderpool, check out Utopia, south, then Lost Maples Park north, then on over on 337 to Leakey., That drive especially in the fall, probably during November is the most beautiful in Texas. My daughter used to live in Vanderpool on a ranch, her kids went to Utopia schools, and she and my son owned a newspaper in Leakey. He also lived in Rio Frio. Take that little side trip through Rio Frio, crossing the Frio River a few times, then over to Con Can, and back to Leakey then over to Camp Wood, west of Leakey.
       There is a road northwest of Leakey, can’t remember the name of it, but it goes by an old log house and barn, where the family lived where the mother was killed by Indians, the last Indian Massacre in that part of Texas. The house is still there and the barn, I have taken great pictures of them. I also have an picture of the old picture show in Leakey, no longer in use. Very picturesque. Some interesting shots around that country.
       Have fun. -- Lois,  Roanoke, TX

June 24, 2003   Ira, my love.... Next time you are going on a road trip, give me a call. I am in no shape to drive myself around the country and am always looking for someone to do the driving. I am a rather plumpish 54 woman, married, 2 adult sons and lots of time on my hands. I love the west. Just finished an 11 day 4,100 mile road trip through all of southern Utah and western Colorado. Beyond AWESOME. My driver was 80 year old army buddy of my late beloved Dad. And we made it home to PA ALIVE!!   :o)
       My husband and I love your stories. My husband loves Texas.
       I sent two mission groups to Seguin.... one in Dec. 1998 and one in Feb. 1999 after the flooding.... My husband and two sons were among the dozen or so on each flight down.... they literally rebuilt several houses. Having experienced a flood in Ohio when I was a child, I thought we needed to lend a hand. My boys, Nick (24) and Will (26) have those two trips under their belts and  about 16 trips (combined) to Appalachia.... rebuilding houses. Nick build his own country home when he was 19 and moved in way to soon for me at 19-1/2 years. The boys work for American/LaFrance now building hook and ladder trucks. They love to restore cars/trucks/tractors.... I have lost count as to how many are on the three different properties.
       We are just good old Redneck type people.... who love God and Country.
       I have been an architect, helped build two of our own houses, and was a parish secretary for 3 different churches in our area among other things of little interest...  :o) I now have degenerative arthritis and FMS and want to see all of God’s land here in the good old US of A before I can’t move at all....... Well, doesn’t that info just crack your whip!?!?!
       I love to laugh and have fun... I love sunsets and God’s handiwork. I love to take photographs of scenery and scrapbook later. Have done well over 40 scrapbooks. Keep up the good work and we totally enjoy Tourin’ Texas. Y’all take care... --Sharyn  [E-mail your location and phone number.  Maybe I'll be our your way sometime...]

June 24, 2003 Shoot! I wish I had realized where you were touring. It’s a route I (unfortunately) take frequently to work my day job. Too bad you missed the most fascinating vista out there in the Middle-o-Nowhere. If you had taken a hard right in Charlotte (a notorious speed trap which I hope didn’t get ya)onto the road to Pearsall you would have passed through a vast and solemn graveyard strewn with row after row of giant pteradactyl carcasses. (Those travelers suffering less sensory deprivation might perceive them as huge rusted out mobile irrigation machines.) The air of reverence here is reinforced with a profusion of monolithic spires soaring to the sky in worship of their most feared diety — the wind. (Again, less impaired travelers might see those as huge windmill farms.) Actually, all that is rather photogenic. So...if you ever lose your mind (or your way) and go there again ...  -- Linda

April 25, 2003      I have been lucky enough to make it to Texas twice in the past year and you just can't believe how refreshing those to trips were for my spirit.
       The first trip was for a course in Austin, where I did the club crawl for a week. This is very taxing physically. I found myself falling asleep in class. This of course did not stop me from doing it all over again that evening. I made it to the Continental Club, the Broken Spoke, Saxon Pub, Threadgills, and Antones.   Needles to say I needed some significant recuperation when I returned home to Ottawa the next week. I must say though that it was time well wasted. The course, oh yeah. It was time well spent but I don't think I could get away with that again.
       My second trip was of a personal nature, and once again involved a stopover in Austin for the Jerry Jeff Walker Birthday Bash. This of course means the Broken Spoke (again), the Paramount Theatre and this year Gruene Hall. But, as well as all of this musical self-indulgence, I was also able to travel out and do some looking around.
       So anyway we just drove out looking for antiques and ended up in Johnson City. The blue bonnets were (I think) at the peak of their bloom and blanketed the the hills all around us. Going back to Austin we somehow ended up in San Marcos, but then that's the good thing about vacation. You are never lost. You are making new discoveries. We made other side trips and excusions on our vacation including Gruene, San Antonio, and Corpus Christie.
       Anyway, all of this babbling is to say that I got your link from a friend of mine in New York. I sure am glad. Your stories remind me of and prepared me for the great scenery and friendly people of the the hill country. Thank you.
      Wish I was in Texas.  -- Clarke

April 25, 2003    I’m an old Texas girl, born and raised, and now living in Phoenix for about four years.  You sure do make me homesick, Ira, and raises the question of why I left that beautiful State in the first place.  We’ll be coming "home" soon, and I just can’t wait; but for now, we have to live vicariously through you.  Thanks. --Susan Rains 

April 25, 2003 Ira,  We really enjoyed this month's letter and we especially appreciate the references to the Lockhart Antique Emporium and our web page ( Hope to see you again sometime.  -- John & Mary Porter

March 12 Dear Mr. Kennedy & Ms. Intrepid,   I just happened to stumble onto your website as I was hunting around for a place to stay in the Texas Hill Country.  I must say I was delighted with what I found and had more than a few good laughs at your travel musings.  After reading your newsletter and still in a quandry about where I could stay in the hill country, I decided to put the two together and inquire of you, wise sage, your ideas on great places to stay.  My problem is this:  I am trying to find lodging for 10 adults & 7 kids!  My siblings and I are trying to find the perfect spot so we can celebrate our parents 50th wedding anniversary. 
       We are trying to find something for the weekend of July 11 and 12 and to my surprise many places are already booked up for that incredibly hot time of year.  It has been an arduous task trying to get the 10 adults to agree on something.  The kids just want ample swimming opportunities.  We are a family that loves Texas and all that it stands for.  Growing up my parents took us camping to all sorts of interesting places.  Our favorite was a private campground outside of Wimberley called Howell Camp at Little Arkansas.  It had a wonderful spring where we could gather drinking water for the day and 2 great rope swings into the Blanco River.   It has now been sold and closed to the public, being developed to death I suspect.
       If you do know of some place or places that might fit our needs, would you please forward the information on to me?  I am in the middle of my third pregnancy and trying to deal with all of these people and changes is driving me crazy.  Your help would be very much appreciated.  By the way, I picked up a copy of "Roads of Texas" for $2.00 at Half Price books, probably the best $2.00 I ever spent!  --  Sincerely, Jennifer Phelps 
[ If any readers have suggestions e-mail me at and I will forward the message. I have a strict policy of not releaseing subscriber's e-mails to anyone. ]

February 28  It was interesting to read your thoughts about Bartlett Texas in your news letter. I spent about 6 months there in the mid 70's as a VISTA volunteer.  I am a lot older and wiser know, but before my time is up am planning a trip back to Bartlett to see how it has held up all these years. Living there I was able to see the dark side of the place.  Unlike you, I hope Bartlett continues to thrive pretty much the way it is or has been. Some things are better left unchanged. --Ray
[ I understand your concern and I imagine if you went back to Bartlett today you'd find it pretty much the same.]

February 22    Dear Ira: One of my favorite trips especially the CLICK ROAD. I mentioned before I shared a deer lease on the Franklin Ranch. My son and nephews spent many hours in Big Sandy looking for fossils and points. Deer hunting became secondary, they were easy but Indian sign took some doing. Keep taking those trips. -- Froggy

February 17     appreciate sitting in my chair here and seeing SO much.  You may want to change that date of Hurricane Carla to 1961.  I remember it well.  I have been many, many places; Indianola/Magnolia and Lighthouse Beaches are really my favorites.  Wonderful stuff...   Church in Cuero is St. Mark's Lutheran .  Thanks for the entertainment.   -- Nancy
[ Thanks for the corrections.   Adding a century to Carla's age was a typo, but my conversion of a whole congregation from Lutheran to Episcopalian can't really be explained away. ]

February 15  Please send us copies of your newsletter, we love it.  You are just the thing we were looking for, we are avid "day trippers".    Thank you in advance.   -- Tim & Deloris Stevenson

February 13  Your java roll of the images on your site ought to have a click where they can be turned off!. They dissolve too fast -- a pesty thing. --terri o
[ Okay, I'm always open to suggestions and this is an interesting one.  I found some relatively inexpensive software which will auto-run or allow the viewer to control the images back and forth and even stop on a single image.  It will be featured in the next issue... ]

February 13   Love reading your articles. Hopefully someday we’ll be on the road more full-time. Anyhow, I’ve changed e-mail services. Could you update my record... Thanks.   Joyce

February 13 enjoyed the article, makes me wonder why i have not spent more time touring the hill country. jm

February 13   I’m still laughing my head off, after your tour of Bandera...  I don’t want to miss another adventure like that.What a breath of fresh air.     Thanks for making my day,   Shirley

February 13  Hi Ira, I have moved to Memphis to help my son with his new baby. My new email address is: xxxxxx    Please transfer my newsletter to my new email. I don’t want to miss hearing of your travels. Thanks, Helen D.   :-)

February 12   Love the website.  Wanted to suggest...that perhaps, maybe, .......  how much trouble would it be to have and maintain a link that lists various Bed and Breakfasts that a A+ rated throughout your escapades   ???    We are always looking for really good ones throughout Texas.  Just a thought  Julie L.,  Pearland, Texas
[ Well, I thought about that awhile back... Here's the problem: Lets pretend I went to good ol' Fredericksburg where there are over 300 B&Bs.  Some are top notch while a few are basically garage apartments.  How would I sort all this out?  Now if some of my  readers own a B&B and want to offer me a free night's lodging I'd return the favor with a few kind words -- maybe more. ]

January 29, 2003 To Whom It May Concern,  The Junior class of Richland Springs High School would like to provide you with the information that our town has been renovated and is not a ghost town anymore. As far as graffiti on the bank building, it has been replaced with stained glass windows.The downtown cafe has been painted and is now in business.  Recently Richland Springs has also added a new City Hall, a city park, R.V. grounds, and a new Rodeo and Fairground facility is in progress. The reason the Seniors no longer draw graffiti is not because we care who sees it, but rather because we have grown to respect the new additions to our town. So please come visit again, and update your website. -- Sincerely,  The Junior Class of Richland Springs
[   I'm sure y'all understand that I can't rewrite a road-trip taken some seven years ago, and I can't promise that I'll be up that way any time soon.  Like I said in the article: "I find myself wanting to revisit the places and things of the past.  And that's what I found so appealing about Richland Springs.  It wasn't all done over in sheet metal and plastic signs, fast food restaurants (isn't that what you call an oxymoron?), and chain stores.  I'd like to think that the place just quit, holding out for something better." Looks like I was right. If you want to see what something better looks like, please read the article on Richland Springs and then check out all the improvements. ]

January 13, 2003 I love a good road trip. Especialy through my beautiful state of Texas. I love all the litte side roads and small towns. I have been looking for just such a thing as would get me arround Texas and on all the little side roads. Bless you for makin it possible.   --Rena

January 8, 2003 Thanks, Like 3-D & it does work.   --Vern
[ For some folks it works and others just get annoyed.  There are more 3-D pics HERE    HERE and HERE.]

January 8, 2003 Great newsletter!  I don't get back to Texas as often as I would like, but it sure makes me homesick for The Lone Star State!  Just reading your newsletter and seeing your pictures brought back great memories of the ads on the radio for the Taylor Motor Company ("Great Prices, Great Deals" That Dog'll Hunt!) and those Saturday night dances at the Possum Creek Inn in beautiful Theon. (I doubt if you'll find Theon on many maps.)
       We pass on your website to all of our friends.   Keep up the great work! -- Bill A.

January 8, 2003 I really enjoyed this episode of Touring Texas. Having being born in Lone Grove Texas, the first time I saw the coast, I thought I had gone to hell with a lot of water. I first saw the coast at Seadrift and Port O’Conner. They were about the most desolate and weather beaten towns I had ever seen. Since that time, I spent 26 years living and working in the coastal area near Galveston. I am glad to be back in the Hill Country, but do miss the good seafood and fishing.  I don’t know if my sister ever subscribed to the newsletter or not. I told her about it. In case she hasn’t, please send her a copy. Have a great day. -- Tommy


tourism newsletter for texas