Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rest in Peace, Elmer B. Dillard

The last of a generation, my uncle Elmer Dillard, died on Monday morning at the age of 92.  What a wonderful man he was!  What many problems, trials, and joys he helped me through.  When my daddy died in 1961, Elmer was there.  When Raf and I began living together in 1977, he called me on the phone to ask, "What do you think you are doing?" When Raf needed a place to live in Midland for several weeks, he took him in.  He was my rock after Daddy died, and I sorely miss him.  He was smart, handsome, witty, courageous, loving, helpful, and a good Christian man with a huge heart.

He was married my daddy's youngest sister, Silva Louise.  She was 18 and he was 20 when I was born in 1942.  They pampered me.  She called me "cupie doll".

Oh, the memories.  I shall never, ever forget this man.  He made such a difference and such an impact in my life.

Uncle Elmer, you will always be loved and missed.

His funeral is Friday, April 18, at 2 pm at the First Baptist Church of Buffalo Gap, Texas.

Elmer, rest in peace with the love of your life, Silva (picture here in 1942).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reflections on Interesting People I Have Met

Now, there are a lot of interesting people in the world - both famous and not - I have met a few of each.  Our new friend Gene Long has been posting photos on Facebook of famous people he has met, and I thought that it might be fun for me to do that here - tell a tale or two of various famous people I’ve met.

Probably the most famous person I’ve ever met is former President of the United States, George W. Bush.  Fortunately for us the Republican Party in Texas was headed, at one time, by our local Chet Upham.  Chet assisted future President George W. when he was stumping around Texas for his father, George H. W. Bush’s, campaign.  It was a sort of whistle stop experience meeting in a darkened parking lot at the Brazos Shopping Center, but I can say I shook the hand of a President!

The first famous person I ever remember meeting was Gene Autry.  When I was a child, growing up in Stephenville, Gene Autry owned part of the Dublin Rodeo.  You see, Stephenville, Cowboy Capital of the World, did not have a rodeo arena.  We all went to Dublin to the rodeo, and Autry alway rode in the parade.  Mostly, each year, he was as drunk as a skunk and almost fell off his horse, Champion.  My daddy used to be very disgusted that someone who was such a kid favorite would be such a terrible role model!  On the other hand, Daddy often sang Gene's song, Sioux City Sue, to me!

The second famous person I remember meeting was Rex Allen, another cowboy actor, with his horse Koko when he made an appearance at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo.  As you can tell, we were a rodeo family.  Daddy and I attended lots of rodeos, and I was a barrel racer.

Two men who impressed me when I was a department manager, windows designer, and public relation person for Cokesbury in Dallas were Richard Harris, later famous for his Dumbledore character in the first Harry Potter movies, and sports journalist Howard Cosell.  I had them both in for signings.

Harris came in wearing a light tan leisure suit with bell bottoms, his shirt unbuttoned to the waist,  gold chains around his neck, and a blond dripping from his arm.  He had just made a recording reading the story Jonathan Livingston Seagull which was written by Richard Bach.  Harris had won a Grammy for his recording.  He seemed very stuck-up and acted as though he shouldn’t be bothered.

Howard Cosell, who had a very bad rap at the time, was totally different.  He came into the store with his wife.  He had several books out, and when the autograph session opened we had little boys and teenagers lined up around the building trying to get Cosell’s signature.  When time came for the session to be over, there were still fifty or so boys waiting to have their books autographed, so Mr. Cosell called his wife aside, told her to change their airplane tickets to a later flight, and continued to autograph his books until the last child was through the line.  That impressed me greatly!

I held signings for people like Texas authors Lon Tinkle and Larry McMurtry, as well, and I got to know quite a few of the television and radio personalities of the day.

I have met a few other celebrities, as well.  When I was a child Pat Boone had a “Dance Band” sort of program on television from the Metroplex, and I went to it and met him.  Of course, at UNT I met his mentor, “Fessor Graham, who was my music appreciation teacher.

I have also met my favorite singer/songwritier Guy Clark on many occasions, both in Nashville and here in Texas.  I met Willie and lived down the street from Waylon in Nashville.  I met Johnny Cash and June and his parents at their studio where his mother entertained us on the piano.  I met Webb Pierce at his home and would have been able to swim in his guitar-shaped swimming pool had I wished (Raf did).  I met Lamar Alexander and helped with his campaign for governor of Tennessee.

I’m quite sure there are others whom I have missed, but it’s been really quite interested, and, in most cases, a pleasure to meet these folks and to have tales to tell about them!

*This week's Reflections column from the Mineral Wells Index.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Throwback Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yesterday a Woman's Club we were reminded that next month, May, will be in honor of our mothers.  My mother, Rose Elizabeth Bowden Ficke Sparks (don't know the last name of her first husband), was a flapper, and my husband, Raf, says he never got over it.  He's right, you know!  She posed for some of the sultry flapper photos of the day.  She was born in 1910 in Rising Star, Texas.  She was lovely, but more so when she actually smiled!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mothering Sunday

Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent, know in our Anglican tradition as Mothering Sunday or Rose Sunday.  In history this was the time when folk returned to their "mother church", the main church or cathedral in their area, to celebrate Laetare Sunday or mid-Lent or Simnel Sunday.  The liturgical color is pink or rose.  For many Church of England churches this is the only day in Lent when marriages can be preformed.

Allan Titchmarsh, English landscape gardener and television journalist and writer, has written a wonderful column in the Telegraph on his memories of Mothering Sunday (not to be confused with Mother's Day).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chasing Our Tales, December 2007

 Steam Shovel Crew
 Steam shovel yard

I do love this job!  I really do!  I get to hear from all sort of folks about their family histories, their ancestors, and I get to make new friends and renew old friendships!  How can you beat that!

I recently heard from a new friend, Susan Reedy, , of Sherwood, Arkansas, who said:

“Hello, I thought the attached photo might be of interest to Thurber researchers.  My great grandfather, George Lamar Faggard (1872 – 1940) was an engineer of a steam shovel crew at the brickyard.  The family lived in company housing for many years.  The photo went through a flood in 1921 so there is some damage but the images are still clear.  My great grandfather is standing on the left.  I believe Rudolph Hanks a fireman is standing on the right and Cleto is sitting – a ground man.  I would love to know more about these fellows and maybe they will be someone’s relative and be able to give a little more information.  George is buried at DeLeon Cemetery in Comanche County.  He married Amazona Broughton in 1893 in Comanche County.  They had 3 children, two surviving to adulthood.  Alpha Fern Faggard Gibson and Joseph Ward Faggard.  The infant son is buried at DeLeon.”

“I have another Thurber photo to send you.  It’s great.  Has the smokestack in the background and the company homes sort of to the side I believe.  I also have a 1924 photo of the USS Shenandoah (dirigible) that flew over Thurber in October of that year. It unfortunately crashed in 1925, killing 13 of the 29 officers and men aboard. My great aunt made a notation on the photo if that would be of any interest. And finally a photo of Coal Camp #52 in the1920’s.”

In looking up BMD (birth, marriage, death) indexes on the Faggard family, I discovered that George Lamar (Bud) Faggard married Amazona  (Zona) Broughton 21 June 1893 in De Leon, Comanche County.  They had both been born in Old Hico, Hamilton County on 7 December 1872 and died in Hamilton County on 13 January 1940.

His parents were John McLain Faggard and Malissa Jane Fox.  George’s occupation was a boiler fireman in Thurber, and later an engineer of a steam shovel.  He registered for the draft in World War I in 1918 and was a clerk at a mercantile.  In 1920 he was a Justice of the Peace in Precinct 7 in Erath County.

Amazona was born to Joseph N. Broughton and Alpha Joann McAdams on 28 February 1875 in Kaufman County and died on 2 March 1960 in Hico, Hamilton County.

Do you know more about George and Amazona?  If so, let us hear from you.

Now, harkening back to a previous column dealing with Billy the Kid, I received this from John Watson, , The Texas Traveler, in Cleburne, Texas:

“Several years ago my wife and I visited the Billy the Kid Museum in Ft Sumner. While there I saw an old news clipping about Billy’s tombstone being stolen and later found in the front yard of a house in Granbury, Texas. When I told the curator that I lived 30 miles from Granbury, he paused, took a deep breath, looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘Tell me something. With everything you have to brag about in Texas, why do you come out here and steal the only thing we have to brag about?’ Hmmm…. What could I say to that?”

John had written a similar story to mine, regarding Billy the Kid, for his local paper.

Finally, an old friend, actually my grandson John’s best friend, recently went to a garage sale at the home of the Pilgrim family.  He purchased a set of very old encyclopedias.  He and John both enjoy history.  Anyway, in looking through the books when he got home he found that Mrs. Jim H. Lyles had purchased the books on 1 July 1924.  In one of the books was some school writing by Addie B. Lyles, dated 7 October 1909, who, on the internet, he had found had died as a child and was buried in a local cemetery.

In yet another volume was the name Mary Elizabeth McBrayer dated 4 July 1924.

Here is what I discovered about the Lyles family.

Jim H. Lyles was born in Georgia about 1875.  His father and mother were both born in Georgia.  He married Ada Bell Daniel.  In the 1920 census in Mineral Wells he was a white man who owned his own home, and had living with him Ada Bell Lyles age 46, Clara Bell Lyles age 6, and L. R. Daniel, age 77.  L. R. Daniel died in Palo Pinto County on September 2, 1926.

I found a 4-year-old Ada Bell Daniel in Freestone County TX in 1880.  This "could" be she, but then I found Ada Bell Lyles and husband James H. Lyles in Parker County in 1900.  They were both 26, and the census says she was born in Georgia, so...that rules out the Ada Bell Daniel in Freestone County, I think.  On this census, probably living next door, were James (or John) Daniel, wife Oaksie, with children Fredie and Edith.  This was probably Ada Bell's brother and his wife, as he was 25 and she was 18.

I found a Mary Elizabeth McBrayer Kelley, married to James A. Kelley who had a child, Tressa Elizabeth Kelley, born April 9, 1937, in Palo Pinto County.

Do you know about the Lyles or McBrayer/Kelley family?  If you have any information on any of the folks mentioned in this column or if you would like to tell us a tale of your family, as Susan Reedy did, please contact me at P O Box 62, Mineral Wells TX 76068-0061 or online at

And, have a Happy New Year!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Three-in-One, Wordless, TBT, Sky

 This is for Wordless figure it out!

Throwback Thursday shows my father, John McBee Ficke - next to last on the right back, with his mother, my mother, and two of my cousins.  From left to right - Marguerite, Lois, Rose (Mother), Bessie Mae, Ferrol, Silva, Harriett Elizabeth McBee Ficke - my grandmother, Leona, Fay, John (Daddy), Ray Gwyn (Fay's husband).  The children are Wilma and Gary Hall (Leona's children).  Taken about 1939-40 in Wheeler, Texas.

Skywatch Friday shows a spring sky in Mineral Wells, Texas.  Misty this morning, bright sun this afternoon, temperature about 80˚F.

Sorry about missing two days - doctor visits, but all is well!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crochet, you say?

I was asked what I was crocheting, so I thought I would show you.  I have just completed this newest "Little Sweetie" baby dress from a pattern by Crochet Crowd.  You can also find Crochet Crowd on Facebook, and they really have some great patterns and ideas for patterns.
This dress is going to Georgia to a little friend.  First I tried it without the ribbon, but I thought the ribbon added a lot to it.

 This "Little Sweetie" was made for a little friend down Austin, Texas, way.  While the other is made of heavier yarn, this one is made of cotton.
Between the "Little Sweetie" dresses, I made this afghan.  I love, love, love the colors.  This is my fourth afghan this year.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Family Dinner, March 16

 Darrell, Carolyn, Christi, Todd, Beth, John

Warning, there are lots of photos here.  I hope those of you who know our family can recognize everyone.  I won't name everyone on every photo.

 Mary Lynn, Helen, Raf

Think I have named everyone who is pictured.  We had a wonderful day.  It was the day before St. Patrick's Day, and we had corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, southwest Irish stew, and a pastry with strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  We had a salad and lots of snacks, too.

A good time was had by all.  Our next family gathering is Easter, April 20, at 2 pm.  If you are joining us, please let us know.  We are having ham and a dessert...and veggies, etc.  So you all come!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Week Lost!

As I gaze upon this tranquil photograph, taken at Lake Jacksboro in Jacksboro, Texas, I do realize I have lost a week.  I have had a sore back, and without the ministrations of Sylvia Saucedo I don't think I would be sitting at the computer right now.  Sylvia is our massage therapist, and she is trying gifted.  Tomorrow is our regular bi-weekly massage day, but Sylvia fitted me in last Monday as well, and I believe I am slowly on the road to recovery.

Also, over the past week Raf has had to have a stress test (which takes the better part of a day) and an echo the next day.  And, to top it all off, the plumbing in the back of the house has, once again, decided to stop working.  But tomorrow Steve of Norman's Plumbing is coming to fix it - once and for all, I hope!

So, I will slowly begin to blog after a week's absence.  Sorry to all you who are faithful readers. 

See you tomorrow with photos from last Sunday's family dinner.

Sending love, kisses, and prayers on this Lord's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Skywatch Friday - March 14

The sky over North Central Texas is the same almost every day.  The wind is blowing strong, and yesterday there were 16 fires in Texas over 260 acres burned.  This is fire season.  Winds gust up to 45-50 miles an hour.  Our sky doesn't change a lot.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday ~ Grandmother

My grandmother, Harriett Elizabeth "Bessie" McBee Ficke was born January 18, 1883, Ray County, Missouri.  She was one of 17 children, all whom lived to adulthood.  There was only one set of twins - Grandmother was not a twin.
Grandmother died May 29, 1954.  I was 11, and I don't remember a whole lot about her, as we lived in Stephenville, Texas, and we were not able to visit her in Midland, Texas, that often.  She was a beautiful woman with white hair and black, black eyebrows.  She told me we were Scots-Irish, but after doing the DNA test, I found mainly Irish in my DNA.
Grandmother married my German grandfather, John "Johannes" Ficke on March 8, 1905.  This was taken about the time of their wedding.  Grandfather had arrived in the United States from Germany in 1888.  He had become a citizen and established a huge ranch in Wheeler County, Texas, close to his brother who lived in Canadian, Texas.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birds in my Life

Photo by Raf Seibert

As many of you know, birds are an important part of our lives.  As you can see in the photo here, we had lots of birds, cardinals, goldfinches, woodpeckers, during this terribly cold winter, and we were able to provide them with food and water.  Actually, we do this all year long.  The variety and number of birds change, but they are there - we enjoy them, and they enjoy the sustenance. 

My friend, Jan Crawford, sent me the following today, and I wanted to share it with everyone.  This is Dylan Winter and Starling Murmurations.  It is amazing.  This is in the countryside in England.

If you are interested in birding, even from your arm chair, I have a perfect app for your phone or computer.  It is called Merlin, and it is provided by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York.  This can assist you in identifying many North American birds.  

If you don't have a phone or pad, you can go to All About Birds, also provided by Cornell, and use their guide to identification.

Birds, like many animals, can bring joy into your life.  I encourage every one of you to check out bird watching, or twitching, as they say in England!

Have a great evening!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Please continue to pray for Carrie and Charlie

Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Day Missed

Doggonit!  I missed a day of blogging.  I missed yesterday!  Grrrr.....

So let's see.  We got up, ate donuts, went to church, ate Chinese food.  We came home and I wrote a column.  I did a little art.  I fed the birds.  I washed three loads of clothes.  I cooked a chicken in a crockpot.

I read my Bible, I prayed, but I did not blog.

Apologies! I will try not to do that again.

Have a nice day!  I'm going to...this is massage day with Sylvia!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Cat's Breath - Another Old Column

What did the new mother do with the cat when the baby came? Have you heard the express that a cat will take a baby’s breath away? That’s what they thought back in the day. In fact, that’s what my mother believed in the 1940’s.

Of course, this is an “old wives tale”, but it has persisted even until the present age. The fact is cats don’t do that. And although cats do like the smell of milk on a child’s breath, most moggies (English term for cat) don’t much like milk, or babies, or having their tails pulled, etc, and given the choice they would rather have water than milk unless they are taught to drink milk.

Of course, there is also the theory that cats, or pets in general, become jealous when a new baby comes into the household and smothers said baby. These “tales” date from the 1600’s.

In 1791 a coroner’s inquest in England rendered a verdict that a Plymouth child had been killed by a cat that had sucked all its breath away. The superstition itself is much older, with records in print back to 1607 and 1708 so that the jury in the inquest of 1791 had some precedent back to those records, and, perhaps, didn’t like to admit that nobody knew exactly why the baby had died. This was, of course, way before sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

On the other hand it is possible for a cat to lie across the face of a sleeping child. I have a cat that would do that to me if I let her. However, only rarely does such an instance cause death. A news story in December 2000 appeared to report this kind of accident, when a woman said she found her six-week-old son dead in his crib with the family cat lying on the baby’s face. Further investigation, however, put that theory to rest, and the death was attributed to SIDS. It’s so much easier to blame the cat than to simply say, “I don’t know what happened.”

Of course, cats have been viewed as evil practically since the world was created and one of the many superstitions is that it is not advised to raise a cat and a baby together lest the cat thrive and the child waste away, as the cat might be stealing the child’s vitality by magic.

An article in the Nebraska State Journal in 1929 quoted a doctor as having said he had seen “the family pet in the very act of sucking a child's breath, lying on the baby's breast, a paw on either side of the babe's mouth, the cat's lips pressing those of the child and the infant's face pale as that of a corpse, its lips with the blueness of death."

Hard to believe that such superstition lasted into the 20th Century in the United States, isn’t it?

I was playing around with what the family might do with the cat when the baby came, kidding, as it were, with my 3 felines. So I Googled cat recipes, and, if you can believe it, there are recipes for cat on the internet! Ugh!!

So, instead of a cat recipe, I will give you the recipe my father-in-law, Ralph S. Seibert Jr. (Kep) used to bake pork tenderloin. He would never have eaten a cat. Our family loves cats. In fact, once Kep postulated that when he died he would come back as a Seibert cat, they are so well taken care of. My mother-in-law, Margaret, with a twinkle in her eye, said, “Yes, fixed!”

Tenderloin Noodle Casserole for 2

Cook 1 3/4 cups noodles, rinse and drain. Slowly brown 1 1/2 pound pork slices 1/2” thick in hot fat. Season with salt and pepper. Combine noodles and cheese sauce and 3 Tablespoons each of chopped green pepper and chopped pimento. Turn into a casserole. Top with pork slices, and bake for 30 minutes at 350˚F.
Cheese sauce: Melt 3 Tablespoons butter and blend with 3 Tablespoons flour, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup milk. Cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add 1/3 cup grated cheese. Use small casserole.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Friday no Skywatch

Our sky is leaden and overcast, and one sky looks pretty much like the next, so. . . I decided to show you what I am doing in the way of gardening right now.

I have always waited until the last chance of frost and planted tomatoes, and sometimes they have done well, but mostly they have not.

Last year I got an Early Girl plant from Burpee and other plants locally.  The Early Girl did well and lasted into the fall, but the rest were no goes. 

For several years I have purchased my flower seeds from Burpee, so I decided to buy tomato seeds and plant early inside and see what happened.

Yesterday I planted all thirty seeds, and they are sitting in a bright North window where by other my other plants grow well.  The trouble with this place is that it's double grazed, and where the other plants is not - so I believe, sitting here thinking about it, I will place half up on the table with the Christmas cactus, and half where they are now.

I hope to show progress each week.  We shall see!

This reminds me of an episode of the English comedy series Good Neighbors/The Good Life where Tom and Barbara decided to see whether plants grew best playing sweet music to them or yelling at them.  It was called Talk to the Trees.  My experiment is on!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Throwback Thursday

As you can see, this was taken in the summer of 1949.  I was six.  In the front row is a relation of some sort we called Aunt Florence, then me, then my mother, Rose Bowden Ficke.

In the back another relative called Cousin Genie, then my grandmother Lora Day (Bee) Routh Bowden, and finally Mrs. Norton, who I think was Aunt Florence's mother.

This was taken at Aunt Florence's home in Fort Worth, Texas.  I remember eating vinegar soaked cucumbers...and other good foods.

Wish I knew the exact relation of these people.  I know Mother was close to Aunt Florence, and when she, Mother, married the first time they ran off to Aunt Florence's home.

Bet  you didn't know Mother was married three times!

Wordless Wednesday ~ NOT

 Carrie and her family

Today I cannot be wordless, but these two photographs show that, really, no words are needed.  These two smiling people both have had multiple bouts of the insidious disease, cancer, and now after years, they are battling once again.

Carrie is my cousin, and Charlie is a friend who is like family to us.  They are both dear, sweet, loving Christians, and I solicit your prayers for them as they continue this horrible battle.

You can see Carrie's immediate family.  She also has a mother and father and two sisters.

Charlie is married with a small daughter.  He also has a loving mother and grandmother.

They both have many family members who also need your prayers of support and courage, so today, on this Ash Wednesday, I am asking for your prayers for them and for their families, and I am asking that you spread the word, asking all your other Christian friends to also pray for the two special young people.

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servants Carrie and Charlie the help of your power, that their sicknesses may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Shrove Tuesday ~ Pancake Day

We just attended Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper at First Presbyterian Church here in Mineral Wells. . .because the Anglican Church here decided after decades and decades not to hold it any longer.  To say I am disappointed, is the least.  One more tradition down the tubes!

What is Shrove Tuesday, you might ask.  Well, it is a movable feast determined by when Easter falls each year.  The expression Shrove comes from the word to shrive or to confess.  Traditionally, many Christians, especially Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists make a point of self-examination and reflection before Ash Wednesday - which is tomorrow.  In some parishes members go to confession with their priest or pastor.

This is in preparation for Lent which begins tomorrow when we examine our lives and consider what wrongs we have done and what we can do to make our lives more pleasing in the sight of God.

On this last day before the penitential season of Lent man indulge in eating a lot of fatty foods because during Lent many people fast for the fourty-days and do not eat rich, fat-filled foods.

So tomorrow we have ashes imposed.  And Lent begins. 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may do our best to be penitent during the Lenten season.


Monday, March 03, 2014

A Cold Day in March

"March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb." The month of March usually starts with cold, unpleasant weather but ends mild and pleasant.  However, here in Mineral Wells, Texas, March 1 was 84˚F and bright with sunshine.

March 2 began with temperatures in the 20˚Fs and plummeted to 12˚F before it was done!  There was snow, sleet, and thunder yesterday, and today, March 3, is a bright, shiny 29˚F!

So did our March come in like a lion?  Nope, I don't think so.  I think it came in lamb-like, with the lion following close on its tail.

Speaking of winter coming and going, I find it quite amusing that Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog of such fame, would be blamed for 6 more weeks of winter, for, when Groundhog Day occurs, it is 6 weeks until spring.  Come on, folks!!!

Anyway, today I am making beef soup.  I browned the stew meat, then saut├ęd the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, stirred in white wine, and put it in a crockpot full of beef stock with snow peas, cabbage, potatoes, corn, a little Worcestershire Sauce, salt, tomato paste, and sugar.   Here you see the beginning, and the medium-way-through.  It should be ready by 6 or so. 

It's a good cold weather day...with saltines.



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