28 November 2004
Time to start thinking about Christmas, and today I took care of my online shopping and travel arrangements. My only corporate gift this year is a Master and Commander DVD for my brother. Mom is getting a print by an artist I found online named George Boutwell. He specializes in Texas scenes and has done two paintings with family significance. The first, which I gave Mom last year, is of Osterman's General Store in Windthorst, a landmark right up there with the parish church and the house she grew up in. The second pertains to my previous posting about the Last Picture Show, and is a painting of the theater in Archer City as it looked in the 50's. It even shows the cast from the movie going inside. Here is how it looks today (1995 actually):
No, north Texas in winter is not very pretty.
20 November 2004
My mother and brother visited Tallahassee this past August. Here is a picture of Mom holding Connor, the two year old son of my friends John and Sherry, and the closest thing she has to a grandson at this point.
Here is a picture of me with my brother, Nathan. People say we have the same smile.
16 November 2004
Proquest has just made Revolutionary Pension claims available online, and I have found two records concerning my ancestors.
Here is a belated Veterans Day salute to the known family vets:
Cpt. George Waterhouse
Sgt. Sherburne Sanborn
War of 1812
Pvt. Dowrst Rand
Pvt. George R. Dow (8th New Hampshire)
Pvt. Johan Bernhard Jansen (44th Missouri-Provisional Enrolled Militia)
Pvt. Heinrich Schneider (17th Texas)
World War I
Pvt. Joseph E. Zihlman
Pvt. Fred P. Rogers (3rd Cavalry)
World War II
Pvt. Ben Schneider (506th Infantry)
PO2 Red Zihlman (USS Cassieopeia)
and my father, William Eli Rogers who joined the Navy out of High School and served on the Sub Tenders USS Bushnell, and USS Holland. After his discharge he enlisted in the Air Force in the late 60's and became a helicopter mechanic. The military lineage ends rather pathetically with my one semester in Jr. ROTC.
13 November 2004
A note on Texasville and the McMurtry family. Larry McMurtry is a writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove, and many of his books have become hit movies. He has retired to his hometown of Archer City, Texas, and pretty much turned the whole town into one big bookstore. Peter Bogdanovich filmed two movies based on McMurty novels in Archer City, The Last Picture Show and Texasville, both of which give you a pretty clear picture of the kind of town it is. My mother grew up in an even smaller town called Windthorst just a few miles away. The McMurtry's had a ranch right next to my uncle's dairy farm, and one of my cousins apparently had a crush on Larry's sister. However, Protestants never had much to do with the German-Catholics, and that was all there was to our families acquaintance. However, ever since the filming of Texasville in 1988, and Larry's retirement, he has hosted a musical showcase for singer-songwriters in the building next door to the burned out Picture Show, where Sam the Lion used to run his pool hall. My mother has been volunteering to work this monthly showcase, known as the Late Night Lazy Boy Supper Club. Along with updating me on what the family in Texas is doing, Mom calls to tell me that Larry did this, and Larry did that, and gives us something else to talk about when there is no more gossip about our family. A few years ago I located an account of the County Commission race my great-grandfather, Lukas Zihlman, won in 1902, and noticed that one of his opponents was a McMurtry. Whenever I worry that my mother is needlessly pestering the McMurtry's out of misplaced celebrity worship, I think of Lukas and my poor Scheffe cousin and think that it feels right somehow that these links, indirect as they are, should be continued.
I myself have only had one encounter with Larry. I was browsing his store over the Christmas holidays one year and recognized that he was working the counter that day. Mom keeps pointing him out to me, but I refused to be impressed. This time I approached him, pretending to not know who he was, and asked where he kept the local history books, hoping an interest in Archer County might provoke a conversation, but he just pointed them out and went about his business. I should not be surprised, for although Larry is a brilliant writer, history takes backseat, and sometimes a shot in the back, when it comes to his plots. I consider myself more of a historian than a writer, and though I am frequently appalled at the liberties he takes, I can read the Lonesome Dove series over and over again without getting tired of them.
11 November 2004
Last Saturday we helped Allen unload a shipment of goods he received from Vietnam. Allen is in the business of Fair Trade wholesale, in which he brings handmade goods into America from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bali, and makes sure the workers get the full benefit of their profits. He has opened a store in the Tallahassee Progressive Center, another project of his. The idea behind the Center is to provide a central location for progressive groups to have office space and meeting rooms, as well as having a chance for them to talk to each other and maybe share ideas on organizing that could benefit everyone. They are still in a bit of funding crises in trying to buy the building, but things are picking up for now (they are able to pay their monthly utilites). A fund raising effort is being organized to allow them to make a crucial payment, which I'll post details for, even though I think there are only three people who even know about this site. Speaking as a liberal organizer, this is a major task, as liberal organizing has been compared to cat herding. For every one liberal, there are five organizations, and all these organizations hate each other.
01 November 2004
Cautiously optimistic about the voting tomorrow. There seems to be such a wave of outrage against Bush. At best he polls about 50%, which is not good for an incumbent. Plus, the Democrats seem to have shaken off the Gore malaise and are willing to fight back. No predictions, I'm just hoping to sit back and enjoy whatever surprises appear as political theater. Earlier this week, Jon Stewart said something like "If you don't believe voter fraud will be a factor in this election, well, you're officially adorable."
Election night will be celebrated at Tallahassee's Progressive Center, a project started by former roommate, Cpt. KAOS himself, Allen Joseph. I'll explain more about it in a future posting. We've tried to get Michael Moore to join us, but I'm not sure if we ever got through to his people. Beer will be flowing, at least four bands are playing, and we'll probably have a drunk tank set up in one of the unused areas of the building. I've taken Wednesday off from work to either recover from one hell of a victory party, or plan a move to Canada.