During the first week of February I had the pleasure of presenting Texas historical programs to two diverse groups. On the first day of February I was in Richardson to participate in a two-day event for Texas history teachers, mostly fourth- and seventh-grade instructors. The event was sponsored and arranged by the Texas State Historical Association, with the cooperation of the Region 10 Education Center in Richardson. The sessions were put together by Charles Nugent, TSHA Adult Program Manager. Charles spent 17 years as a public school teacher before joining the TSHA staff. With his long background in the public schools, Charles has a special feel for the instructional needs of teachers, and he has demonstrated an excellent touch at organizing events for Texas history teachers which stress content over methodology. Charles lined up numerous presenters, experts in various fields of Texana who would offer rich information for attendees to take back to their classrooms. In addition, participants would be credited with two days of professional development (the requirement for professional development has been increased from three days per school year to seven days).
I was asked to lead off the conference with a program on a favorite subject of mine, “Musical Traditions of Texas.” I opened with my conviction that Texas has the richest and most colorful history and culture of any state, emphasizing that a program on Texas music would combine important elements of both history and culture. Music, like any art, is a reflection of life, and since schoolkids like music – granted, their music – it is relatively easy to interest them in musical heritage. Of course, Texas has produced a parade of talented musicians in every genre: Scott Joplin, King of Ragtime; Jack Teagarden, King of the Jazz Trombone; Broadway star Mary Martin; classical pianist Van Cliburn; pop star Jessica Simpson; Hispanic musicians Selena and Johnny Rodriguez.
|With Charles Nugent|
But for all of the gifted Texas artists in various genres, Texans have dominated Country and Western Music. Marion T. Slaughter of Jefferson – popularly known as Vernon Dalhart – was the first artist to record popular C&W, and to record a million-seller (Wreck of the Old `97” – country people loved train songs). Ernest Tubb of Ellis County became a fixture at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. Fiddler Bob Wills created Western Swing. Two of the top three Singing Cowboys – Gene Autry and Tex Ritter – were Texans, and the third – Ohioan Roy Rogers – was married to Texan Dale Evans. Willie Nelson is a Texas icon. George Strait has released his 60th Number One C&W hit. And with the aid of a PowerPoint I quickly indicated more than a score of other C&W stars from Texas.
|By the time I began the opening address at |
Region 10, 115 teachers had gathered.
The TSHA conference took place on Monday and Tuesday, February 1 and 2. On Saturday I was in Nacogdoches for a luncheon address to a regional meeting of ICE. Not an acronym, ICE indicates the Packaged Ice Industry. Indeed, I picked up a copy of ICE World Journal, the international publication of the Packaged Ice Industry. The regional meeting in Nacogdoches was open to industry members from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
|Meeting room of ICE|
|With James and Connie Browning Dorsett|