THE BUS


THE BUS

by Sharon Stevens

Years ago my daughter traveled with the Girl Scouts to the birthplace of Juliet Low in Savannah Georgia. Their bus was involved in an accident in Memphis Tennessee. They reported that their bus driver saw a light pole at the intersection ahead moving back and forth. In his experience he knew a wreck was occurring and reacted accordingly. He slowed and swerved till he could safely stop the bus. With his actions he was able to avoid a horrific and deadly tragedy. There were a few minor bumps and bruises among the girls and their leaders, but nothing that prevented them from continuing their journey. It could have been so much worse!

Dad used to drive the bus for the WTSU band kids and the football kids, spiriting whoever needed a ride to a school rivalry or athletic function.

My father-in-law and my husband both drove a school bus not only to get the kids safely to and from school, but they also drove the band bus, the spirit bus, the football bus, the fan bus to away games.

I remember the story my mom would tell about my grandfather. He would come home from working all day and see how tired grandmother was so he would send her downtown on the bus to window shop while he watched the kids just to let her get out of the house.

Servicemen stationed at the Amarillo Air Force Base rode the bus to get to town, to go to dances, to go to the movies, or just to see the sights.

I rode the school bus, my sister and brother rode the school bus, our daughters rode the school bus, and our neighbors rode the school bus until such time as we could afford a car to make the journey. Precious cargo!

I wonder how many college students make ends meet by driving a school bus every week, back and forth, to and from, day in and day out?

Our Canyon High School drama group traveled to Dallas one year to see Our Town performed by the Dallas Theater. A sweet memory I will carry with me forever. The Randall and Canyon High School choirs rode a charter bus to Dallas to take a flight to New York City to see the sights and perform at St. Patricks Cathedral and several other venues. One of the highlights was to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Shea Stadium for a Met’s game. What a journey that was.

My mom rides the bus at the Craig Retirement Center to go to the doctor, to get groceries, to eat out with other residents. The bus driver is always gracious and helpful as they get on the bus as well as when they exit.

Jodi Thomas, our local best selling author and Writer-in-Residence at WTAMU told me her dad used to drive a city bus in Amarillo.

Countless times I have watched across the street as school buses from around the panhandle as well as those from the charter bus companies unload passengers to tour the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum.

Rosa Parks and also The Freedom Riders will forever be linked. Their memories of riding a bus differ from mine.

I was reminded of all these stories when I heard that members of the TEXAS Musical Drama were traveling to The Gaylord in Dallas Texas to perform for the opening ceremonies for the American Bus Company.

What an opportunity! What an experience!

TEXAS has been named for several years as one of the top ten destinations for the bus companies. Here in the panhandle this means they visit our restaurants, our museum, our shops and our TEXAS.

But more importantly when they get back on the bus they take a little bit of our heritage and hospitality home with them.

Can you imagine the stories that are shared between the passengers after each stop? Many have some tie or connection with either our community, WTAMU or the history of our area.

I will never forget standing in line at Luby’s in Amarillo several years ago. Ahead of me in line was a group from Kentucky traveling by charter bus. One of the men stepped out of line and made his way back asking if anyone knew about the area. Always the tour guide I spoke up. He shared with me that he was working on a book and was wondering where he could do research in the area. He was scoping out places he could return to later on.

The bus had visited the museum, but this man didn’t know about the archives and their rich storehouse of information for every aspect of pioneer life from architects, ranchers, cowboys, business and writing. I told him about the Cornette Library and their special collections, and I racked my brain for all the out-of-the-way spots where he could find information.

I also pointed out that we were home to the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the nation and that every year we sponsored the Frontier in Writing conference in conjunction with Amarillo College. He was excited to say the least! In one moment he had scored a hit just by getting off the bus.

This last year a tour bus from England stopped at the museum. Several tired of walking the halls and wandered across the street and came into our Buffalo Bookstore. One of the women visited quite a while with me and shared her story. Later I encountered this same group when I went by United and Hastings here in Canyon to run an errand. They had just been to Feldman’s for lunch and wandered over to visit the shops next door. The same lady who had talked with me for so long was excited to see me again. With a twinkle in her eye she smiled and said, “Isn’t it ever so nice to have a chat.”

And this brings me to the crux of my blog. A bus driver drives the bus. They may travel hundreds of miles from their home on their journey. They have a life, a family, a story. Who knows when they might recognize an adventure at hand or a tragedy about to unfold.

I have a great deal of respect for bus drivers. When passengers get on the bus they are putting their life in the hands of an experienced man or woman, trained to deliver them safely to their destination.

Who knows who they will bring to visit our community and what memories they will take back with them.

So many times as writers we are so focused on the story itself we can’t see all aspects surrounding the tale. We want to make our writing fit the page, the paper, our visions, our ideas and can’t bear the thought that we might have to go in an entirely different direction than what we anticipated.

If only we could gaze out the window at the scenery passing before us, by us, behind us and let the bus driver drive the bus.

He knows the way.

Sharon Stevens

LEMONADE


LEMONADE

by Sharon Stevens

When I started working on my Wordsmith Six blog for this week I knew I wanted to center it around Clyde and Grace Warwick. This wonderful couple will have a historical marker placed in their honor at the site of the Canyon News on May 26, 2012 by Harold and Wanda Root on behalf of the Randall County Historical Commission.

All week I had gone back and forth between the Canyon newspaper, Amarillo Globe News, United Methodist Church, Haley’s Printing, Canyon Public Library, the Randall County Story, and the Internet. I could have asked anyone, and I mean anyone to direct me for research. Lynne Guy, the historian for the Methodist Church could have given me so many leads to pursue. Warren Stricker, Archivist at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum would have given me document after document regarding the Warwick family and their contributions to the museum. At the Cornette Library on the campus of WTAMU I could have pored, literally poured over the bound issues of the Canyon News tomes housed there, and each and every staff member would have pulled related articles from the shelves. The Panhandle Press Association would have dug through their history to enlighten me.

Whew! What a journey this has been.

I realized I couldn’t pull just one memory to share. The Warwicks and the Haley’s were not only the most wonderful people involved in every aspect of our community, but they lived their faith and breathed their dedication. They are buried out at Dreamland Cemetery, but their legacy lives on and will for eternity. When I read old issues of when they were editors of the newspaper the writings shimmer and dance off the printed page, vibrant and alive and filled with the very essence of the journalistic spirit.

And this is the point and the guide of every newspaper and every journalist from time eternal. It is absolutely unreal how many avenues of documentation you can connect with for any direction you care to link. Take “The Randall County Story” written by Mrs. Warwick. After my copy disappeared I had the hardest time finding one to takes its place. Rebecca Harp, Mrs. Warwick’s granddaughter told me they were finally able to make arrangements with the University of North Texas at Denton to digitalize the book to make it available on the internet as a mission of their Portal to Texas History Project. Since then I have checked to verify stories and resources and names and family connections with just a click of my mouse any hour or minute of any given day or night.

One of my favorite people in the book was our neighbor where I was raised. Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cumming had such a wonderful influence on me and touched my life deeply. When she first came to this area she was going to teach art at Goodnight College. Charles and Molly Goodnight invited her out to supper and after visiting with Dr. and Phebe Warner (Panhandle Professional Writers) she took a tour of the JA Ranch with Goodnight. I loved her expression as an artist, and this is a direct quote from The Randall County Story the way it was told to Glenna Wilson.

“I remember so well about the evening meal;” She reminisced. “The way the lemonade looked in the pitcher. There was milk in a pitcher too, homemade light bread, fresh roast beef, honey from their own hives, turnip greens grown in the garden and jelly and preserves from the fruit of their own orchard.”

With any research I could investigate honey, or turnip greens or the Goodnights or lemonade for that matter. In only seconds I could connect with heritage and legacies, family or pioneers. It doesn’t matter, I could, I CAN link and share with ease. The hardest part is to focus and condense, but that will always be my downfall. No matter, I can find a self-help instruction manual for writers. I can’t say I will abide by it, but I can find it.

None of this may be newsworthy to the reader, but then again you never know what will inspire a heart at what moment, or how it may touch their soul. Don’t underestimate the power and insight of those who cherish the written word, and don’t attempt to choose their memories for them, but celebrate their interest and passion.

Please come to the dedication in honor of the Warwicks of the historical marker at the Canyon News office on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 10.00. Celebrate everything related to writing. And if you have an extra moment go across the street and stand on the News mosaic at the threshold of Haley’s Printing, next door to Stevens Flowers. Haley’s will be closed on Saturday, but come back again and make copies and marvel at the legacy that Mike Miller continues to perpetuate as he and his family prints all the newsletters, all the graduation or wedding announcements, and every funeral card for the funeral homes. You will be amazed what a strong and committed Canyon business they are to this day.

In the Randall County Story Grace Warwick once wrote in her Canyon News column, “Around the Town,” she mentioned some of the things in life to which she hoped always to thrill; and in closing she wrote: “And when I can no longer thrill to these, the simple joys that complete my life, then give me patience, God, to bear my cross until the fire that burns within my soul consumes the clay that can no longer feel.”

Sharon Stevens

THE BUS


THE BUS

by Sharon Stevens

Years ago my daughter traveled with the Girl Scouts to the birthplace of Juliet Low in Savannah Georgia. Their bus was involved in an accident in Memphis Tennessee. They reported that their bus driver saw a light pole at the intersection ahead moving back and forth. In his experience he knew a wreck was occurring and reacted accordingly. He slowed and swerved till he could safely stop the bus. With his actions he was able to avoid a horrific and deadly tragedy. There were a few minor bumps and bruises among the girls and their leaders, but nothing that prevented them from continuing their journey. It could have been so much worse!

Dad used to drive the bus for the WTSU band kids and the football kids, spiriting whoever needed a ride to a school rivalry or athletic function.

My father-in-law and my husband both drove a school bus not only to get the kids safely to and from school, but they also drove the band bus, the spirit bus, the football bus, the fan bus to away games.

I remember the story my mom would tell about my grandfather. He would come home from working all day and see how tired grandmother was so he would send her downtown on the bus to window shop while he watched the kids just to let her get out of the house.

Servicemen stationed at the Amarillo Air Force Base rode the bus to get to town, to go to dances, to go to the movies, or just to see the sights.

I rode the school bus, my sister and brother rode the school bus, our daughters rode the school bus, and our neighbors rode the school bus until such time as we could afford a car to make the journey. Precious cargo!

I wonder how many college students make ends meet by driving a school bus every week, back and forth, to and from, day in and day out?

Our Canyon High School drama group traveled to Dallas one year to see Our Town performed by the Dallas Theater. A sweet memory I will carry with me forever. The Randall and Canyon High School choirs rode a charter bus to Dallas to take a flight to New York City to see the sights and perform at St. Patricks Cathedral and several other venues. One of the highlights was to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Shea Stadium for a Met’s game. What a journey that was.

My mom rides the bus at the Craig Retirement Center to go to the doctor, to get groceries, to eat out with other residents. The bus driver is always gracious and helpful as they get on the bus as well as when they exit.

Jodi Thomas, our local best selling author and Writer-in-Residence at WTAMU told me her dad used to drive a city bus in Amarillo.

Countless times I have watched across the street as school buses from around the panhandle as well as those from the charter bus companies unload passengers to tour the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum.

Rosa Parks and also The Freedom Riders will forever be linked. Their memories of riding a bus differ from mine.

I was reminded of all these stories when I heard that members of the TEXAS Musical Drama were traveling to The Gaylord in Dallas Texas to perform for the opening ceremonies for the American Bus Company.

What an opportunity! What an experience!

TEXAS has been named for several years as one of the top ten destinations for the bus companies. Here in the panhandle this means they visit our restaurants, our museum, our shops and our TEXAS.

But more importantly when they get back on the bus they take a little bit of our heritage and hospitality home with them.

Can you imagine the stories that are shared between the passengers after each stop? Many have some tie or connection with either our community, WTAMU or the history of our area.

I will never forget standing in line at Luby’s in Amarillo several years ago. Ahead of me in line was a group from Kentucky traveling by charter bus. One of the men stepped out of line and made his way back asking if anyone knew about the area. Always the tour guide I spoke up. He shared with me that he was working on a book and was wondering where he could do research in the area. He was scoping out places he could return to later on.

The bus had visited the museum, but this man didn’t know about the archives and their rich storehouse of information for every aspect of pioneer life from architects, ranchers, cowboys, business and writing. I told him about the Cornette Library and their special collections, and I racked my brain for all the out-of-the-way spots where he could find information.

I also pointed out that we were home to the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the nation and that every year we sponsored the Frontier in Writing conference in conjunction with Amarillo College. He was excited to say the least! In one moment he had scored a hit just by getting off the bus.

This last year a tour bus from England stopped at the museum. Several tired of walking the halls and wandered across the street and came into our Buffalo Bookstore. One of the women visited quite a while with me and shared her story. Later I encountered this same group when I went by United and Hastings here in Canyon to run an errand. They had just been to Feldman’s for lunch and wandered over to visit the shops next door. The same lady who had talked with me for so long was excited to see me again. With a twinkle in her eye she smiled and said, “Isn’t it ever so nice to have a chat.”

And this brings me to the crux of my blog. A bus driver drives the bus. They may travel hundreds of miles from their home on their journey. They have a life, a family, a story. Who knows when they might recognize an adventure at hand or a tragedy about to unfold.

I have a great deal of respect for bus drivers. When passengers get on the bus they are putting their life in the hands of an experienced man or woman, trained to deliver them safely to their destination.

Who knows who they will bring to visit our community and what memories they will take back with them.

So many times as writers we are so focused on the story itself we can’t see all aspects surrounding the tale. We want to make our writing fit the page, the paper, our visions, our ideas and can’t bear the thought that we might have to go in an entirely different direction than what we anticipated.

If only we could gaze out the window at the scenery passing before us, by us, behind us and let the bus driver drive the bus.

He knows the way.

Sharon Stevens

STORY


STORY

by Sharon Stevens

“The telling of a tale links you with everyone who has told it before.

There are no new tales, only new tellers in their own way,

and if you listen closely you can hear the voice of everyone who has ever told the tale.”

by William Brooks

From POWER OF THE STORY

by Rives Collins & Pamela J. Cooper

I always jump at the chance when asked to volunteer as a storyteller for the annual Panhandle Plains Historical Museum (PPHM), “Cemetery by Twilight Tour”. Who wouldn’t be excited with the opportunity to research and celebrate the lives of those at rest in the historic Llano Cemetery.

For one minute after answering the call I am utterly elated, and the next terribly dejected. The task before me begins to swell like a Tsunami, simply because what I am expected to accomplish. One, I have to complete the assignment before Saturday October 15, 2011 at 3:30, and, two, condense one hundred years of community history from a mountain to a molehill within just one area family. And three, I have to limit my story to eight minutes or less. With hours of research facing me this is just a tad bit overwhelming.

The simple fact of the matter for me is this…the stories never stop. You can’t get them to slow down long enough to put a handle on the memories. You can’t just put your hand up and command thoughts to wait their turn, or to back up and make room for the important facts to come forward. It is like putting your fingers in a dike to stop the flow of water when another hole beside you opens up. In the case of the drought we have been experiencing here, no doubt it is the panhandle dust that will bury me deep underneath.

My load would also be a great deal lighter if I had limited experiences and resources to choose from. But my choices include a full weekend of programs that intersect on every level with what I am compiling.

On Thursday night October 13, 2011 at 5:30pm WTAMU in conjunction with the PPHM will be hosting The Remnant Trust lecture by Dr. Wade Shaffer speaking on “The City in Early America, The City Upon the Hill”. All free and open to the public.

Friday October 14, 2011 the Friends of the WTAMU Cornette Library will be hosting Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author and Writer-In-Residence at the college for their fall luncheon at 12:00pm. Her talk will be on “Working in Harmony-Combining Art and Craft” and also for her reception for that evening from 4:00 to 6:00pm.

Then there is the Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Chuck wagon Supper on October 15, 2011 at 5:00pm at the Palo Duro Cowboy Church on Highway 60 West of Canyon with cowboy poetry, storytelling, music and authentic chuck wagon food.

How can I choose what is relevant to my journey? Who knows where an idea might fall into place at just the right moment?

And I can’t forget about the resources. Does anyone have any idea as a writer how many places I connect with to follow the story? The Archives at PPHM or the Cornette Library, or any library within the Harrington Consortium, or every library around the country can and will assist me at any time. If I want to find out about the schools I can research through the school districts. Churches have people just crying for an opportunity to help with their faith, their members and their church history. Reading someone’s Master’s Thesis is an outstanding source of information from architecture to theater. Scanning through area magazines with a local flair like “Accent West” and the “Amarillo Magazine” unwittingly connects me forward. The Internet offers links around the world, but directs me to treasures and information right here at home in city newspapers of the Amarillo Globe News and Canyon News with archives online for today as well as years ago.

And the people, so many people. Wherever I am I mention one name and invariably someone will step out and share with me a story attached to a name, a place, a kinfolk, a time, an adventure. How can I choose? How can I limit? How can I condense?

The simple answer is that I can’t, and that’s okay!

In his book from RUSH TO DESTINY, Larry Jay Martin writes about the appreciation for the characters out of America’s past. He remarks, “Without all of them there would be no story.”

In the eight minutes I appear before you at the Llano Cemetery I can’t share every memory I accumulated while researching the epitaph carved on a tombstone. I know I will never be able to list the accomplishments of the family buried there beneath the earth.

My message is simpler than that. In that moment where we congregate together honoring the movers and shakers of our area, we are simply sharing of all that is good that surrounds us. I am a “new teller” telling the same story so that those listening might be encouraged and inspired to research on their own at the museum, or a library, or to talk with someone to connect with their heritage and history, then to pass it on.

I know that my version of the story is not the only one out there. That evening there will be storytellers throughout that will share about the people they represent. Trudy Hanson, professor at WTAMU, usually brings her students along. Hanson is a passionate professor and gifted storyteller and she is also the one who requires the book, THE POWER OF THE STORY. She is a true storyteller.

Come visit Llano or attend any of the other events in our area. If you stop at the Wolflin burial plot I can’t promise you I will limit my talk to only one story,I can only follow where my heart leads. And that, my friend, is the ultimate power of a story because…

“If you listen closely you can hear the voice of everyone who has ever told a tale.”

Sharon Stevens