Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sports and Music in Texas

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College ( in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

I spent last weekend in Luling, participating in events on Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22. I was invited by Chuck and Pat Parsons, longtime friends and fellow authors. Chuck is a noted authority on Texas Rangers, and a couple of years ago he wrote an Arcadia publication about the history of  Luling. Pat is president of the South Texas Historical Association and a superb genealogical researcher. Nine years ago she and Chuck were instrumental in launching a "Meet the Authors" event in Luling. I agreed to be one of the 12 authors involved in Luling's 2014 event, and since I would be in town on Saturday, I was asked - as State Historian - to present a program on Friday evening. 

With Coach Mike Barnett
Central Texas Oil Patch Museum
The Southside Clubhouse, a handsome lodge building located adjacent to a riverside park, was the site of the Friday evening meeting. Chuck and Pat had arranged excellent publicity, and a lively crowd assembled to hear the State Historian talk about "Sports in Texas." I've enjoyed a lifelong connection with athletics, as a participant, coach, and sportscaster. In my Texas history classes I developed a strong lecture on the subject, I wrote a centennial history of the Texas Baseball League, and recently I was proud to contribute a chapter, "The Games Texans Play," to Twentieth-Century Texas, edited by John W. Storey and Mary L. Scheer and published by the University of North Texas Press. Texans boasts an incredible heritage as a hotbed of sports in America, and in Luling I enjoyed describing athletic superstars and team accomplishments, along with "firsts" and record-setting performances. To enhance the presentation I brought vintage football and baseball jerseys, leather helmets and reproduction caps, and a program from the first game ever played at the world's first domed stadium (Astrodome, Astros vs. Yankees, April 9, 1965 - my parents' 25th anniversary, celebrated with a sporting event). I was introduced to the audience by Coach Mike Barnett of Luling High School - an immediate kindred spirit! 
With Museum Director  Carol Voigt

 Saturday's "Meet the Authors" event was held at the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum, which is housed in an 1887 commercial building that was the largest structure in downtown Luling during the 19th century. The museum is excellent, and director Carol Voigt enjoys staging Meet the Authors days and art exhibits and other events that bring the public into the facility. Indeed, a large crowd circulated among the tables and purchased autographed books during the four-hour event. I already knew three of the authors, and I enjoyed meeting the others. An additional pleasure was prowling through the antique office suites on the second floor of the museum building.
Meet the Authors

A few days later I was at the First Baptist Church of Longview for a mid-day meeting of the Fifty-five Plus Group. I encountered a number of acquaintances. Two dear friends were there, Harlan and Mary Hall. Harlan spent many years as Music Minister at FBC Longview, while his gifted wife was organist. During "retirement" Harlan and Mary devoted 11 years in the same roles at Central Baptist Church, Carthage, where I have been a member for more than four decades. Following an excellent lunch, I spoke to the large crowd on the subject of "Music in Texas." I emphasized the role of church music, of gospel hymns to early Texas settlers. I demonstrated the four "shape notes" and a vintage paperback hymnal, World Revival Hymns, Shaped Note Edition. For most of the audience it was a trip down memory lane, with historical context. 

As State Historian I often emphasize that Texas has the richest and most colorful history and culture of any other state in the Union. In the two programs I presented this past week, I offered a history of two forms of culture - sports and music - that have been of great importance to generations of Texans, and to which Texans have made enormous contributions. 
Friends and lunchmates Harlan and Mary Hall and Walta Cook

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