Thursday, March 28, 2013


"One semester at TCU while living with my father was enough, so I left Ft. Worth to enroll at the University of Texas and to be near the lady who later became my first wife. It was that easy in those days. You just showed up at the registrar's office, presented your transcript, and you were in.

My father, of whom it could have been said treated his sons with benign neglect - had it been benign, said goodbye. I headed to Austin in a 1931 Model A Ford with my belongings, two checks for $125 each, and two pints of Old Crow, which my father had thoughtfully bestowed.
It was January 31, 1949. I had just turned 17. Some will recall that date, as it got to 0 degrees that morning; more will remember four days later when it reached -5 below, the record for Austin. Weather forecasting in those days was rather primitive. Cold and snow was predicted for Ft. Worth, but as I was headed south and being 17 and bulletproof, I took to the road with no qualms. I made Waco by dark on roads that by then were covered by snow, and was cautioned not to proceed, as conditions were deteriorating. Reason with a teenager? Forget it. South of Waco the problems started.

My '31 Ford had an electric fuel pump, which was not designed to function at zero degrees. When it froze up, the engine would stop and I would sit by the side of the road until the heat from the engine would thaw it out and I could then proceed another 5-10 miles before it froze again. This process was successfully repeated and got me to the edge of Austin where the pump said "No Mas". The radiator was okay as I had previously, with tears in my eyes, had the foresight to pour in a pint and a half of perfectly good whiskey, saving enough for emergencies like snakebite. By now it's around midnight, and not considering my circumstances a problem, I put on several layers of clothing and settled in with Mr. Crow to await the thaw.

Some may remember the Skyline, a country and western dance hall and beer joint, where my second, and last, wife introduced me to Waylon and Willie and the Boys in the early 70s. It sat at what is now North Lamar and Breaker until replaced by that fungoid growth, the shopping center. My resting place on what was now February 1st afforded me a view of the Skyline about a mile away on the next hill. The snow and ice covered Dallas Highway, now North Lamar, dipped down from my hill and up to the Skyline, making a perfect toboggan run for the unsuspecting motorists. About every 15 minutes or so a vehicle would creep past me and, reaching the downslope, begin a slow motion, out-of-control slide to the bottom of the hill and join, with a gentle crash, the growing detritus of cars and trucks which had previously made the run. I, of course, thought this was great fun as it looked like a surreal illuminated ballet, with the pirouetting headlights illuminating the surrounding woods as they hastened to join the growing light display below. What with snow in the air and on the ground, there was no sound.

I don't know how long I enjoyed this hypnotic silent movie, but I was dozing when someone rapped on my window. It seems that the wreckers and police with chains on their tires had arrived and were hauling the reluctant sledders up the hill, and most could proceed without assistance. My visitor was a policeman and my waking thoughts were, "what have I done now?" He asked if I was okay, and I replied that I was just fine and inquired about his health.  Fate sometimes protects the innocent. This cop was a genuinely nice guy, and was concerned about me. He said I could not survive where I was and asked if I had a place to stay, and with the information in hand, tied onto my front bumper. Autos had functional bumpers then, thankfully, instead of the disposable paper mache stops with which we are now blessed. He delivered me to the boardinghouse where I was to share an 8x10 room with two other unfortunates, on the corner of 22nd and Rio Grande. It was an aging and deteriorating mansion, which has since been restored and now displays an historical marker."
After publishing Doctor Bob's first post a few days ago, my son Matthew told me that he doesn't think of Doctor Bob as a father figure, but more like an uncle or a good friend. I asked why, as I thought the age difference might be more like father/son. Matt went on to inform me that their relationship did not place all the expectations upon him that a parent would! No demands, just friendship. I've given that a lot of thought! 

Doctor Bob (aka Robert Roberts, DDS) is also a fine cook. Here he is last Thanksgiving getting ready  to carve the turkey he cooked and brought to our dinner.
Now about that Easter ham, Bob...

Love, Peace, and a blessed Easter to you all,

Monday, March 25, 2013


My last blog post generated a lot of hits on the internet. Gun control is on the minds of many. Not only here in the U.S., but in other countries as well. 

From my friends I have some feedback that I thought I would toss out there for you readers. The first is from a good friend and former classmate from high school who now lives in Oklahoma City. Here's what June had to say:

"I couldn't agree with your latest blog post more. I just don't understand all the paranoia concerning all these guns, especially assault weapons, and the people in this country (especially in Oklahoma) who cannot feel fully clothed without these atrocities. If the latest horror in Connecticut didn't get through to these people, I don't think anything can."

Another old friend, Jack Garner (John Nance Garner, V), who has written a couple of guest columns for me, is also a frequent  published contributor to the Denton Record-Chronicle (DRC). Never one to pull any punches, he sent me the following:

"I was eating breakfast at What-A-Burger after my morning bus run when this man walked in with a friend. Both are older men, and both were dressed in camouflage shirts and pants. 

I knew one of the men. His name is Floyd V*** who retired from the University of North Texas where he taught math.. and he's very good at finance. I believe he is a millionaire. He is also a right-wing religious nut job.

He saw me and walked up, but paused at a distance from my table and said, 'Well, I guess your man got to be President.' I said, 'Heck, Floyd, you know he did.'

Floyd answered, 'You know he's going to take our guns away from us.' And I told him, 'Floyd, he's never said anything about taking our guns. He wants to ban assault rifles and multi-shot clips.'

'Do you have any guns,' he asked. 'Sure I do.'

'Well, I hope he gets yours.' 'I'm not real worried about it, Floyd.'

'When I handle my guns, I think about shooting you.' And he turned and left. In spite of his math ability, he is really an Oklahoma redneck, and he was gone before I thought, 'Heck, he sounds like he's making a death threat!'

Takes all kinds to make a world, unfortunately.'"

After this encounter, Jack was inspired to send the following letter to the editor of the DRC, and they published it:

"The Government is coming to take your guns, and if that makes you shake in your BVDs; if it makes you want to rush out and buy another gun, the NRA and the gun manufacturers of America know how to push your buttons. I've heard that tired old pitch for fifty years, and you know, nobody from the government has knocked on my door and said, 'Gimme!' 

Be honest, has President Obama said or even suggested he wants your guns? No he hasn't, but the NRA has tried to twist a stand against assault rifles and multi-bullet gun clips into 'The Government is coming to get your guns.' The NRA is supported by and takes its marching orders from the gun manufacturers of America, and they couldn't care less what happens to and with their guns once they leave the manufacturing plant and are sold in the stores.

They don't care if their guns kill fathers' and mothers' babies or you as long as the cash keeps rolling in. 

They don't care if their guns eventually make their way into the hands of criminals.

When is the last time you had to pull a gun in self-defense? When is the last time you had to repel a mob with an assault rifle? The weapon manufacturers want you to fear that you will have to in a hypothetical future. Why? That fear translates into gun sales. Gun sales mean more cash, and that is the only goal and purpose they have."


Another family friend, Cliffie, from the Dallas area sent me links to two good articles. One reflecting the NRA's position:    NRA Speaks

The second one amazed me. Can you believe that some think that we need assault weapons because Iran may invade the U.S.?   Protection Against Invasions

(From the Minnesota Post)
Dallas Gun Shop
Finally, another family friend took issue with my comment about the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. I explained to him that my main argument regarding that killing was that the self-appointed "vigilante" type man who did the shooting ignored police warnings to stand back and wait for a patrol car when he called and told them of the "suspicious" person he was following. This man was not a legitimate security guard or any kind of law enforcement. I think he was just some guy who felt the gun he had made him macho, and he wanted to prove himself by taking down a would-be intruder in the neighborhood. Even our law enforcement people are suspended and sometimes even charged for shooting an unarmed suspect -- even if the suspect was a known criminal.

'Nuff said on this subject. I really hope and pray that our representatives listen to the majority of American people who wish to see the gun control laws strengthened -- especially the ban on assault weapons and high volume gun magazines.


Sunday, March 24, 2013


Recent Headlines on Shootings in U.S.

There have always been shootings in this country. Mass killings, domestic violence, police shootouts, and homicides. With very, very rare exceptions -- and I do not count "stand your ground" killings such as the Trayvon Martin one in Florida (that man went "hunting" for his victim armed with a gun), you do not see headlines about people shooting someone in self-defense or defense of one's home or property. Every gun owner I know of who talks of the "right to bear arms" cites their reason is that they wish to protect their home and loved ones. How often is that really necessary in our country? Not nearly so often as the senseless gun violence we hear or read about every day .

Then there are the ones who refer to the notion we may need to protect ourselves like the patriots of old.. from an oppressive government. Really? Recently, I saw the image below on another blog. I think it relates to what I feel is the stupidity of these people. As if even an arsenal of assault weapons would keep them safe if the government wished to come after them. And we sure don't have to worry these days about being attacked by Indians (unless you are a female in India, that is). Even if you were to be burglarized in your home, a handgun would be easier to keep close at hand for protection than an assault weapon. Wouldn't it? Or an old time shotgun? What logical reason can be given for wanting to own an assault weapon unless you are a member of law enforcement?

No, I don't think we are a stupid nation. However, I do think the majority of the public is being duped by the gun manufacturers and the NRA. It's all about the money. Our representatives in Congress who are against the assault weapon ban are fearful of losing the powerful support of the gun lobbyists. Or maybe their seat in Congress. It truly is a shame that doing the right thing is no longer true of our representatives.

Daily News Cover March 20th
Children of the Sandy Hook Massacre

There are way too many guns in this country. Stopping the sale of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines will only be a drop in the bucket, but at least it will be a start towards more responsible, sensible gun ownership. If this is not done, as the newspaper says, "Shame on U.S."!

Then all we have to worry about are all the weapons already out there in the hands of criminals and white supremacist groups. 

What do you think? 


Saturday, March 23, 2013


Special people show up in our lives from time to time. Affectionately known by my family as "Doctor Bob" (aka Bob, Bobby, or Robert L. Roberts, DDS), he is one of those very special people. When my younger son Matthew married Amy they moved to a lovely house on Doe Valley Lane here in Austin. Doctor Bob and his adorable wife Betty were their neighbors, and quickly became close friends. After more than ten years, I would have to say they are more like another set of parents for Matt and Amy.

Doctor Bob holding court.

When Doctor Bob "speaks", we wish to hear what he has to say. He shares his wisdom freely with the young folks. I recently asked him to furnish me with some of that wisdom and some of his "stories" to share with my friends and other family members. This is the first installment.

A little background info first. Doctor Bob spent 8 years in the University of Texas system - four years here in Austin and four years at UT Dental School in Houston. He then practiced general dentistry in Austin for 36 years, retiring in 1994. "Retiring" certainly didn't mean tired to him! Not even slowing down.

Pictured left to right, Doctor Bob, Rich Harrison, and Ernie Fortenberry, members of a group who enjoy two hours of doubles at the Pharr Tennis Center two or three times a week. Bob and Rich are 80 years young and Ernie is the youngest at 79 years.

Doctor Bob states, "They are not unusual. You'll find their likes at almost any tennis center anywhere. It is indeed a game for life!"

"I was 8 years old when I was handed a racquet at Camp Stewart outside of Kerrville, Texas, and told to go hit a ball. It was love at first stroke, and I have been a tennis player all my life. In my youth, I played for the exercise; in my dotage I find that I must exercise to play the tennis...Morning stretching, 5-pound weights and elastics when I'm not swimming in the lake or cutting firewood. Anything to keep the joints and muscles moving. With the aging process in each muscle fiber, some protein is being replaced by fat no matter what we do. All we can do is slow the process. Senescence is a bitch.

The mental benefits of stepping on a tennis court are equally important. At this age, with the testosterone levels disappearing, winning is reduced to a side benefit. We play as friends, laugh at our dumb shots, and cheer the perfect ones. It's the camaraderie along with the cardio stress that is important. Exercise is nature's reboot of the psyche -- you may quote me on that."

Matthew and his surrogate dad, Doctor Bob

Thank you Doctor Bob for the insight into your magnificent lifestyle and physical fitness at age 80! We all should heed your advice in hopes to be as healthy -- and happy as you when we reach your age.

Now where are my hand weights? Hmmm.. mine are only 2 pounds. Will that help?

Peace and good health to you all,

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Last week was Spring Break for my grandchildren, so we got together in Austin. It was the first time I've had all my children and grandchildren under one roof in 11 years! After a family dinner here, most congregated at my daughter's and son-in-law's lot on Lake Austin. There were RVs and campers, and one family friend furnished a big boat. The weather was extremely cool the first couple of nights and day.. in the 30s at night. The first full day, it never got out of the high 50s, but that did not deter the kids from having fun in the water!   Tanner and Travis both joined the polar bear club. Here's Tanner after his dip on Monday:
Tanner was chosen to be in the "Royal Court" at his school, which his mom said is comparable to  being a class favorite in public school. He is on the A honor roll and in the National Honor Society, plays the cello in the school orchestra, and is now competing in tennis. He and big sister Ashlyn (age 17) are traveling to Colorado Easter weekend for a school orchestra competition. Ashlyn plays second chair, first violin, and Tanner fourth or fifth chair cello. However, he is a middle schooler playing in the advanced orchestra.

 Before joining us in Austin for Spring Break, he and his dad attended a tournament in College Station. He won the first match, but lost the second. Dad said he played well.
 "I love playing tennis now and I have improved a lot! I recently competed in a USTA state Zonal Area Tournament (ZAT) and I won first in consolations! Unfortunately, I had somewhat dropped my movie making hobby because of lack of time and inspiration, but thankfully it's been replaced by tennis! I will be playing a lot more tennis now! Thank you for your support." (Tanner)

Hannah, a student at Marsh Middle School, recently won third place in an essay contest conducted by a Dallas radio station. It was a take on Alicia Keys' song "Girl On Fire".. "What Does It Take To Be On Fire?"  Hannah states, "It takes courage, confidence, and most of all, inspiration." Here she is being interviewed:

I'd say our Hannah is a "Girl on Fire"!

Hannah is a straight A student still, and sings in the Marsh Middle School choir. She told me about an upcoming spring recital which will consist of Disney songs. She sang a solo from "Little Mermaid" at the Christmas program, and will sing it as well as others at the spring recital. The acting bug has bitten Hannah, though, so I expect more theater productions to come!

Craig and Hannah on Spring Break

(Jasmine) Grandchildren Kelly, Hannah, and Cameron
Spring Break 2013

Audrey, Ashlyn, Hannah, Cameron
Kelly and Travis

Not only getting into the frigid water, the kids also went on hikes, played ball, Cameron played guitar and sang, the teens did a little sunbathing (legs only), and Ashlyn and her friend Shaylee took Uncle Matt's kayak for a run on the lake. Lots of good food and drink, camaraderie, and fun for Spring Break. (The adults had a good time as well.. just not quite brave enough to test the water!)

Ashlyn, besides playing violin in the school orchestra, is on the A/B honor roll and has been invited to join the National Honor Society. A sports lover, she played basketball and volleyball this year. Her mom says that she now wants to get a part-time job!


I must say that besides Spring Break, I know it must be Spring because grandson Travis played his first two Little League baseball games. I went to both and cheered him on. And oh, yes, another sign of Spring? I painted my toenails!

Until next time..

Happy Spring!