Friday, November 27, 2015

A Square Meal in Waxahachie

Gingerbread house
Since it was a lovely autumn day, we decided to take a leisurely drive down to Waxahachie. The town is not named after an ‘Indian tribe’, but may mean ‘river of buffalo dung’ or simply ‘buffalo’; it depends on who you talk to as to the meaning of this name.  Of the possible Native American language origins, the Alabama language, spoken by the Alabama-Coushatta people who had moved to eastern Texas in the 1850s seems the most likely point of origin. However, in the Alabama language, waakasi hachi means ‘calf's tail’. In any case, Waxahachie was founded as the seat of Ellis County in August, 1850. The land was donated given by Emory W. Rogers who had come to Texas in 1839. With the arrival of a rail line from Waxahachie Tap Railroad to Garrett, Texas, the population increased, making Waxahachie a viable community. This area was once home to thick groves of sycamores as well as one of the largest primary cotton markets in Texas. A textile mill using the lower grades of locally produced cotton, manufactured duck and other heavy materials. There were also two large cottonseed oil mills and a cotton compress. During the Civil War a powder mill was operated by the Confederate government in Waxahachie, but an explosion ended the enterprise in 1863. The city was also the site of Trinity University. This school was in operation for about 40 years, moving in 1942 to San Antonio.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Off to Alvarado

Top L to R: Horse sculpture, downtown area
Bottom: Downtown area
It was a rainy, fall day in North Texas and we wanted something to do so we took a drive to Alvarado for lunch. Alvarado is the oldest town in Johnson County and is fairly calm until Saturday nights when it gets marginally more exciting, according to local residents. Located just fifteen miles east of the giant metropolis of Cleburne, it began when David Mitchell established a trading post near Alvarado in 1849, about the time colonists of M.S. Peters’ empresario land grant began of settle the area. William Balch settled this area, then returned with his family in the spring of 1851. He established the Sprawler Hotel, so named because his many guests sometimes had to sleep on pallets in the front yard. Balch became known as the ‘Father of Alvarado’ for having the town site surveyed in 1854, establishing the first general merchandise stores on the square and for donating land for a cemetery, school and union church. This first school had a sturdy, eight-foot fence to keep the students from being trampled under the hoofs of passing north- and west-bound herds of cattle.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Retreating in San Diego and Reviews

Dome of new San Diego Public Library
In the 1990s I spent several summers teaching hands-on science to elementary teachers in San Diego, California. It was also in this lovely city that I acquired my obsession with tiny glass beads and my passion for making beaded jewelry. So when the opportunity arose to come back to one of my favorite places and to indulge my appetite for beady creations, I didn’t hesitate. On all of my previous visits, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wildlife Park were on my list of things to do, but this time I decided to forego these two favorites for the exploration of some places I hadn’t seen. Each earlier visit had also required that I rent a car, but on this occasion I decided to use other methods of transportation to get around the city; this turned out to be a good idea.

Friday, November 6, 2015

White Rocks and Foreign Food

White Rock Lake
There aren’t too many times that I actually go to downtown Dallas, but I do end up in ‘North Dallas’ rather frequently. Although ‘North Dallas’ used to be thought of as just north of downtown, the area has grown to include the area all along Central Expressway. However, this visit took me to a spot very near White Rock Lake. Although I’ve never been there at night, many people have reported offering a young woman who is dripping wet a ride to her home on Gaston Avenue. When they get to the house, the woman has disappeared, leaving the car seat covered in water. The ‘Lady of White Rock Lake’ was drowned during a boating accident in the 1930s.