“TEXAS”


“TEXAS”

“Some people find themselves closer to God in church,

but some people find themselves closer to God telling stories,

and I’m one of these people.”

Julian Arrendondo IV

Amarillo Magazine April 2012

photo

PATCHWORK

by Sharon Stevens

So many years ago when I was a little girl my parents bought us a set of “The Children’s Hour” books. I loved to read and pored over these time after time. One of the most treasured was “Favorite Fairy Tales” and one of the stories within was “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde.

Sunday evening I remembered this story but wasn’t sure which book it was in. I googled the one phrase that came to mind which had to do with plucking out the jewel in the statue’s eye and sharing it with another who was poor. It didn’t take me long to locate the book and then to find the pages and then to read the words out loud that Wilde had written so very long ago. I wept with the beauty and the memory as my heart was so full.

On Monday morning I was looking through some old magazines and came across the Amarillo Magazine with the cover story of the Lone Star Ballet titled, “FULL CIRCLE” and I wept with joy of all these kids. How was I to know?

I wept again when I heard of the tragedy of the loss and destruction of the wonderful kids of the “TEXAS” cast and crew! I had just attended “TEXAS ORIGINALS” and saw these kids perform. In fact I congratulated Eric Harrison as he made his way up the aisle after receiving his scholarship that night. And to think that I witnessed these kids who choreographed and performed with Tim Johnson, Clint Diaz, Amanda Starz, Andrew Duncan, Julian Arrendondo IV. I also can’t tell you the number of performances I witnessed at the Branding Iron Theater under the direction of Royal R.Brantley and Stephen Crandall. “Anatomy of Grey” will always be one of my favorites.

For those of you who have read my Wordsmith six blog over the past year know that I hold a precious place in my heart for memories of “TEXAS”. There are so many wonderful people to numerous to name, but my thoughts and prayers are with all of you not only in the cast and crew this year, but since the beginning of time that this dream began. The Dowlen’s, Gene Murray, Lois Hull, HR and Thelma Fulton, Claudia and Mike Wilson, the entire Brantley, Raillard, Moore, family..the list goes on and on and I remember each and every one.

And the canyons themselves. I hear the echos, and see the flashes, celebrating the music that resounds against the walls and through our hearts. I marvel each time I go to see a performance at the names engraved in stone in the front wall of the Phebe Warner’s and those on the back wall of all those who gave their time and their very soul to this endeavor.

And Jerry Williams. Kris Miller does an awesome job, always, but I still miss Jerry and always will.

Jerry and Ruth Holladay performed together as “Patchwork” storytellers. Jerry wore a silk patchwork top hat and Ruth wore a patchwork vest with pockets. In fact the last time I saw Jerry was at “TEXAS” when he would walk up and down the line of visitors waiting to buy tickets and visit and share stories. You could always see his colorful top hat as he moved from one guest to the next. Ruth never knew what story she would tell until she got on stage. She would put her hand in her pocket and pull out an item and what ever she held in her hand would be the story she would share.

There are no words for the grief we all share together! How can the Kunherts and the Hernandez and the Bertrands families bear it? And Christie Spring, how many lives have touched hers as these kids came through. I know Vickie McLean has an ache deep in her heart. And David Yirak, what a tremendous man to feel such loss!

I know Timothy Johnson will carry the pain forever, but I wish for him such peace. And Theron McSay…I pray has comfort for him and his family and friends as he heals from his injuries.

After the death of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana I wrote a letter to the editor of the Canyon News that there were so many wonderful people among us that didn’t make great speeches or hold office but they touched our lives just the same. I wrote of David Schutte who rode the Canyon rim night after night with the Texas flag unfurled. I will always miss David.

Our thoughts and prayers also go out to Harry Haines and their family as they mourn the loss of wife Shirley. She will be missed as well. Shirley was the one who invited me to join the Friends of the Fine Arts Club as she knew I so loved the fine arts. She was very precious to me. So much loss for our community.

The final words of “The Happy Prince” are so simple, but so touching and I hope that sharing these will bring a tinge of comfort to anyone who reads them.

“What a strange thing!” said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. “This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.” So they threw it on a dustheap where the dead Swallow was also lying.

“Bring me the two most precious things in the city,” said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird. “You have rightly chosen,” said God, “for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing forevermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince will praise me.”

I have no doubt in my mind that these kids are singing and dancing forevermore on the streets of the city of gold, and they will always have the best seats in the house. Break a leg to all! The performances you will all have to give in the coming years on the world stage will be the hardest to bear.

“TEXAS”


“TEXAS”

“Some people find themselves closer to God in church,

but some people find themselves closer to God telling stories,

and I’m one of these people.”

Julian Arrendondo IV

Amarillo Magazine April 2012

photo

PATCHWORK

by Sharon Stevens

So many years ago when I was a little girl my parents bought us a set of “The Children’s Hour” books. I loved to read and pored over these time after time. One of the most treasured was “Favorite Fairy Tales” and one of the stories within was “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde.

Sunday evening I remembered this story but wasn’t sure which book it was in. I googled the one phrase that came to mind which had to do with plucking out the jewel in the statue’s eye and sharing it with another who was poor. It didn’t take me long to locate the book and then to find the pages and then to read the words out loud that Wilde had written so very long ago. I wept with the beauty and the memory as my heart was so full.

On Monday morning I was looking through some old magazines and came across the Amarillo Magazine with the cover story of the Lone Star Ballet titled, “FULL CIRCLE” and I wept with joy of all these kids. How was I to know?

I wept again when I heard of the tragedy of the loss and destruction of the wonderful kids of the “TEXAS” cast and crew! I had just attended “TEXAS ORIGINALS” and saw these kids perform. In fact I congratulated Eric Harrison as he made his way up the aisle after receiving his scholarship that night. And to think that I witnessed these kids who choreographed and performed with Tim Johnson, Clint Diaz, Amanda Starz, Andrew Duncan, Julian Arrendondo IV. I also can’t tell you the number of performances I witnessed at the Branding Iron Theater under the direction of Royal R.Brantley and Stephen Crandall. “Anatomy of Grey” will always be one of my favorites.

For those of you who have read my Wordsmith six blog over the past year know that I hold a precious place in my heart for memories of “TEXAS”. There are so many wonderful people to numerous to name, but my thoughts and prayers are with all of you not only in the cast and crew this year, but since the beginning of time that this dream began. The Dowlen’s, Gene Murray, Lois Hull, HR and Thelma Fulton, Claudia and Mike Wilson, the entire Brantley, Raillard, Moore, family..the list goes on and on and I remember each and every one.

And the canyons themselves. I hear the echos, and see the flashes, celebrating the music that resounds against the walls and through our hearts. I marvel each time I go to see a performance at the names engraved in stone in the front wall of the Phebe Warner’s and those on the back wall of all those who gave their time and their very soul to this endeavor.

And Jerry Williams. Kris Miller does an awesome job, always, but I still miss Jerry and always will.

Jerry and Ruth Holladay performed together as “Patchwork” storytellers. Jerry wore a silk patchwork top hat and Ruth wore a patchwork vest with pockets. In fact the last time I saw Jerry was at “TEXAS” when he would walk up and down the line of visitors waiting to buy tickets and visit and share stories. You could always see his colorful top hat as he moved from one guest to the next. Ruth never knew what story she would tell until she got on stage. She would put her hand in her pocket and pull out an item and what ever she held in her hand would be the story she would share.

There are no words for the grief we all share together! How can the Kunherts and the Hernandez and the Bertrands families bear it? And Christie Spring, how many lives have touched hers as these kids came through. I know Vickie McLean has an ache deep in her heart. And David Yirak, what a tremendous man to feel such loss!

I know Timothy Johnson will carry the pain forever, but I wish for him such peace. And Theron McSay…I pray has comfort for him and his family and friends as he heals from his injuries.

After the death of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana I wrote a letter to the editor of the Canyon News that there were so many wonderful people among us that didn’t make great speeches or hold office but they touched our lives just the same. I wrote of David Schutte who rode the Canyon rim night after night with the Texas flag unfurled. I will always miss David.

Our thoughts and prayers also go out to Harry Haines and their family as they mourn the loss of wife Shirley. She will be missed as well. Shirley was the one who invited me to join the Friends of the Fine Arts Club as she knew I so loved the fine arts. She was very precious to me. So much loss for our community.

The final words of “The Happy Prince” are so simple, but so touching and I hope that sharing these will bring a tinge of comfort to anyone who reads them.

“What a strange thing!” said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. “This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.” So they threw it on a dustheap where the dead Swallow was also lying.

“Bring me the two most precious things in the city,” said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird. “You have rightly chosen,” said God, “for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing forevermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince will praise me.”

I have no doubt in my mind that these kids are singing and dancing forevermore on the streets of the city of gold, and they will always have the best seats in the house. Break a leg to all! The performances you will all have to give in the coming years on the world stage will be the hardest to bear.

GEMS


GEMS

 by Sharon Stevens

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought

into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

George MacDonald

 

William, our son-in-law who is a classically trained executive chef at Blaze Sports Grill in Arlington Texas loaned what was to me a priceless gem… “MOTHER’S RECEIPT BOOK”. He had received this book from one of his colleagues, and immediately thought of me. Imagine, holding in your hand a book from 1906 filled with hundreds of “receipts”, and chapter upon chapters of household hints. Each page helpful advice for the busy wife. Even though this book wasn’t from around this area I could still relate. The year was 1906, after the city of Canyon was founded in 1888, and already a thriving city. The college, which would later become WTAMU was a dream in the minds of the city fathers, and in four short years would become a reality. At this time many of the residents of the city were still living in dugouts.

I wonder how many newlyweds carried these kinds of books over the plains in a covered wagon or on a train, packed in trunks in the baggage car along with the household goods. Can you believe how frightened a young bride was of making a happy home hundreds of miles away from the nearest neighbor. Who could she ask? Who would be there for her? Who would hear her cry? How in the world could she know what foods her husband liked, or what favorites HIS mother made especially for HIM. And what would become a family gem through the years for the family and the children.

I remember reading in Loula Grace Erdman’s book, “The Wind Blows Free” of a young woman coming out to start a life with her husband. As their team pulled up to the dugout she told her husband that the first item she wanted to put inside was the cloth calendar her mother sent with her where everything had been marked as to when to plant or to set the hens. She wrote that this was the one thing that she knew would make the earthen walls pretty in her new home reminding her of the treasures left behind.

My grandmother was a cook at the old Neblett Hospital and every time I saw Dr. Nester he would give his stomach a pat and tell me that his expanding belly was due to my grandmother’s creamed eggs on toast. He loved her cooking and she was the only one who could make them.

As writers we come across these “gems” day in and day out. We can use them as prompts, or as writing exercises or character analysis. With each sentence we can imagine the setting, the rooms, the colors, the mood. We can either celebrate the life contained in the book, or delve deeper into the sentiment expressed within. Imagine the loneliness with only a book to keep you company, or the joy of remembering family as you turn each page. And how in the world did so many woman find time to write when faced with all that they had to do? Phebe Warner and Laura Hamner, founders of Panhandle Professional Writers, were indeed miraculous women!

The “receipt” I found in this book was for “Gems” or otherwise known as muffins and I just had to include it in my blog as well as the instructions below for washing. And I am sharing it simply so that all of us can count our blessings! Thanks Chef Williams for sharing such a “gem”!

Enjoy!

I cannot leave this weeks blog without honoring the memory of George Koumalots and James L. ”Bunk” Brashears. Both veterans, both served in World War II. Koumalots was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne that jumped on D-Day into Normandy. Brashears served in Japan and the Philippines and was on a ship parallel to where the Japanese commander was signing the end of the war. He got to watch it through binoculars. I took creative writing classes from George’s daughter-in-law Jodi Thomas and I was able to write this blog with the gifts she shared with me and her inspiration. May all of the families celebrating the life of these brave men have such sweet peace as they share memories together.

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”Few know how necessary care is in the making and baking of gems, and that often the recipes which they find unreliable would prove very different, if they were rightly used….Make a hotter fire for baking gems than for anything. If the oven is right, the gems will rise until about three times as large as when put into the oven, and but a few minutes will be required for baking them.”

 

BANANA GEMS

1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup water, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder

Make batter and stir in 2 bananas sliced thin. Fill cups half full and steam an hour.

 Eat with thin cream.

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“To Wash With Kerosene-Soak white clothes over night, or an hour or two in the morning, in hard water. Fill a No.9 boiler two-thirds full of soft water. Slice one and one-half bars of soap into a basin of warm water; let it dissolve and come to a boil. Wring the soaked clothes dry. If the water is boiling in the boiler, and the soap ready, pour a little more than half of the liquid into the boiler, and immediately add three tablespoonfuls of kerosene; one tablespoonful of kerosene to one-quarter of a pound of soap is a fair proportion. Shake out the clothes, and put them into the boiler, leaving the coarse articles for the next boiling. Let the clothes boil ten minutes, stirring them almost all the time. If the water looks milky, greasy, or a little scum rises, pour in enough soap water to remove any such appearances. Take the clothes out from the boiler into the tub. and cover them with plenty of fresh water. Dip out part of the water from the boiler, add more hot water, soap and kerosene, and boil the rest of the clothes. Wring the clothes from the suds into plenty of clear water, rinse well, put them through the bluing water, and hang them smoothly upon the lines. Calicoes may be washed in the suds water, as enough of the soap and kerosene remain there to cleanse them well. Rinse, blue, starch, and hang them to dry. Plenty of soap and water with the kerosene, if these directions are followed, will give clear, white clothes with very little of the hard work necessary in rubbing clothes according to the usual manner of washing.”

“If time and strength are to be saved, be careful to shake out the clothes well, and see that sheets, pillowcases, towels, etc., hang smoothly from the line. When perfectly dry take down the sheets, fold and roll them into a smooth, tight roll, and pin down the hems. They will be without a wrinkle on the beds, though they may lack the gloss the iron gives. If there is time to iron pillowcases, treat them in the same way. Take the towels, snap them, fold them in the usual manner, and crease them with an iron. They will take less room on the shelf or in the drawer. Roll the nightgowns like the sheets. It is better to iron tablecloths, napkins and handkerchiefs, but they look fairly well if rolled like the sheets. Turn, shake, stretch, in shape stockings and flannels, and fold them ready for use. The starched clothes alone remain to be ironed. Let busy women try this plan of ironing.”

TRADITIONS


TRADITIONS
by Sharon Stevens

“If I were a rich man…yubby dibby,dibby,dum…”

In “Fiddler on the Roof” you can just hear the music building, see Tevye dancing and waving his arms as he sings of what he would do if he became rich? With his glee you forget that his horse is lame, and he has had to pull the milk wagon home with the harness around his own body. At this point you don’t know that when he enters the barn there will not be enough feed for his animals, or when he goes into his house that along with his wife cooking a meager Sabbath supper, that she is also cooking up grand ideas with the local matchmaker to marry off the eldest of their three daughters, and the means to do this without a dowry.

I bet he wishes he had a band-aid.

When our oldest daughter was born, my husband’s co-worker passed on a simple tradition to a new father. He said to always carry band-aids in his wallet, ready for any emergency that may befall a child. He told him that he raised two daughters and these came in handy, and he continues this tradition for his grandkids. Ever since then when anyone needs a band-aid I know I don’t have to scrounge through every drawer in the house littered with useless odds and ends. I can go straight to my husband and he will reach into his wallet and share what he carries within. It may be a strip of Snoopy, or Batman or just plain, old, everyday adhesive. Any will do the job. On a side note, he knows he doesn’t have to worry about exposing his cache of money for me to raid, there isn’t any there.

Our oldest daughter, Andrea Keller, carried this tradition out to Camp Kiwanis as a Girl Scout counselor. Every year we packed a supply of band-aids for her stash. She noticed early on that so many girls were home sick or had an imaginary hurt that needed some attention. All it took was choosing a band-aid and applying it to the site of the damage, and the girls instantly had something to cover their so-called wound, but now also had something to show off to her fellow campers.

All of us in the Wordsmith six blog write differently. There is room for all. I write of tradition…simple joys…family memories. Precious stuff to me. But so many times I harbor a rage, a pain, a sorrow, a wound that slices deeply, unseen to the naked eye. I alone know it is there. The cut only comes from an outside source, never from within. I need to keep this in mind when I feel the stab fester and fill with pus until the angry edges explode spewing everyone within range with the stench of filth, decay, and death. If only I had kept it covered from the beginning. One, it would have healed quicker and not scared as badly. Two, no one would have known it was there in the first place. You don’t question a band-aid.

From now on I will apply an imaginary strip of adhesive as a cover. When I write of the wonder and blessings that surround me, under the surface I may feel doom and despair. But knowing I can stick on a band-aid to provide shelter, and that this will shield me with the love of my husband and the sweet memories of my daughters, and also my friends, neighbors, teachers, mentors and community already lessens the pain. I feel I can be at peace knowing that this can protect the wound, no matter how ugly it has become, and will also hide what others perceive only visible to them.

Shawn Smucker came through with the invitation of Jason Boyett and spoke at the Palace Coffee Shop in Canyon. His blogs, “Writing Across America” share of his travels with his wife and children. His most recent blog was concerning cutting his journey short to make it home to be with his failing grandmother. While he was here we made up a gift basket from all of us. Bless Stevens Flowers for always going the extra mile sharing the gifts God gave them in putting this together. We filled this basket with everything we could find about our community. I even put in a patchwork, bling hat that Nikki Stevens Sams crocheted. At the last minute I found a package of colorful band-aids on the counter and asked Debbie Stevens to tuck them in, having no clue what they would be used for. Well of course I knew of their primary purpose, but as a writer I imagined the thought would reach much farther and deeper than the words on the package. You don’t need printed directions to apply or for the adhesive to stick. I just hope and pray he received the message.

I remember reading when Phebe Warner’s husband, Dr. W.A. Warner came in from making countless house calls as the only family doctor for miles around. He told Phebe that these pioneer women “weren’t sick, but homesick and what can we do about it.”  This could only mean they longed for family and memories and neighbors close by. Phebe began the first libraries, and the first Federated Womens clubs in the entire area. She along with Laura Hamner formed Panhandle Professional Pen Women now Panhandle Professional Writers for just that reason. As the wife of a doctor and his personal nurse as well, she was applying band-aids long before they were invented.

I know band-aids hold no magical potion. There is no way they can heal long festering damage already done. But in my thoughts and with their eternal image I know I have absolute proof of a greater healing power.

In the July issue of Reader’s Digest I came across a Memoir in the Book section about “The Secret Life of Objects” by Dawn Raffel that relates how simply powerful any object can be. This also reminded me of my blog written about “Insignificant Objects” and the Blue Bird Restaurant and “Needful Things” next door in Centerville Iowa.

Father’s Day is this weekend, and I invite everyone to give their fathers, along with the tie, or the grilling apron a simple and inexpensive gift. Go to the store and choose a packet of band-aids that they can put in their wallet to carry with them daily as a reminder of whatever they need. Share with them the story of any memories when as a child you needed help. Your mother figure probably was the one in the family who may have applied the band-aid, but it was the dad who provided the means to cover the pain. Also get your dad to bring up thoughts of when he hurt as well. In this day and time I am sure he has many open sores. I, for one will remember when J.D. could have whispered the fire out of a burn.

Continue to make this an annual tradition and tangible evidence to show your dad he means so much more. It will remind him he is quite a wealthy man. “For without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.” Yubby, dibby dibby dum.

Sharon Stevens

GEMS


GEMS

by Sharon Stevens

Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cummings died forty years ago this month. She had fallen down the basement steps of her crumbling home and laid there several days in a heap on the floor, no one hearing her cries before a neighbor came to check on her. Old age and pneumonia then tore her down and she succumbed, her features clawed and withered with severe arthritis. She spent her last days in a clinical environment in a local hospital where everyone saw her as ancient.

We called her Aunt Molly and knew her as neighbor in my years growing up. How many times I wished I had visited with her. What could she have taught me with her stories and her memories. What could she have shared with her artist’s eye and her love of all that surrounded her. We will never know. She carried everything to her grave. She was old, her joints knarled and ugly, pain marring every feature. Nothing is left. She is dead and buried. All is gone.

But wait. I have her picture from a photograph that once hung on the walls of the Randall County Courthouse. There is no notation of when it was taken or where or why. It doesn’t tell the story of when she was born, or her passions, or her pain, but her beauty and the sweet face of youth is captured within.

Phebe Warner had urged her to come to the plains of Texas to apply as an art teacher at Goodnight College. Molly and Charles Goodnight welcomed her with open arms and gave her a glimpse of the empire they had established as the J.A. Ranch. Coming from Dallas and encountering dirt streets of Amarillo and the limited comforts of home must have been an eye opener. But the first meal at their home she remembered how the lemonade looked in the glass pitcher, the tour of the gardens, the bee hives, and of course the ranch itself.

She met Charles Lennox Gordon-Cummings at the Goodnights, and they married and moved to land west of Canyon on the Tierra Blanco Creek. Later they built a magnificent home and raised three daughters out here on the Texas plains. Mr. Gordon-Cummings died in the 1940’s and Molly lived out her life alone except for her brother that lived with her until his death in a train accident. You can read the story of her life in “The Randall County Story” by Grace Warwick.  We became her neighbors in 1952 when my dad bought land and moved us out to the country in the hottest year in recorded history.

I was reminded of Aunt Molly at this year’s annual “Night At The Museum” at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I volunteered at the kit house in my role player costume. Armed with my picture of Molly in her youth, a glass picture filled with colored stones, and with my storytelling patchwork hat perched on my head I shared the story of Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cummings and hoped I made her come alive.

I chose the bright gems in the pitcher because my mother had shared with me that Aunt Molly used to take broken pieces of glass and paint the images that flooded through from the sunlight. What rainbows she must have seen. What colors and prisms must have shown through. What beauty she must have witnessed among the shades of dirt and shadow.

And this brings me to this week’s blog on writing. On the season finale of “Castle” his daughter is agonizing over her valedictory speech after researching speeches by the famous such as Steve Jobs, and presidents, and historical figures and famous celebrities. Castle advises her (and I will never forget his words), “write whats true to you”.

In my writings I could pen about how Mary Elizabeth died a horrible death, abandoned, without neighbors to care whether she lived or died. I could write a horror story about how arthritis had turned her body into a mass of ugliness with her hands so gnarled she couldn’t even pick up a spoon to feed herself, much less a brush to paint. But I CHOOSE to write of her beauty, and imagine the sunrises and the sunsets she must have seen from the top floor of her great home. My heart CHOOSES to remember the smell of the lilacs that lined the walk, and the massive, shimmering cottonwoods that shaded her memories.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read all kinds of stories from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” all the way to zombies, murder and mayhem. I have troubles with “Flowers in the Attic” but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good writing. I don’t mind being led to an author I haven’t read before such as Harlan Coban and I absolutely fell in love with Stephen King’s, “Dorothy Claiborne”.  I will always treasure stories like “E.T.” and “The Goonies” (celebrating 25 years), “Toy Story” and any story that encompasses good versus evil. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is just one of my favorites with the connection to being filmed in Palo Duro Canyon on the Christian Ranch. And don’t get me started on the musical drama TEXAS. More importantly, I remember those who struggled and faced adversity, but found strength within because they were surrounded by friends. I treasure community and neighbors and family, those that touch our lives on the level of all that is good and honest. My passion is to share of heritage, legacy, the pioneer spirit, beauty, patriotism, and freedom. OH sweet freedom. I feel that there is always room for that

I will always treasure the spirit of Aunt Molly and the artistry she shared. And even though I read anything and everything in sight, I just want to write what is true to me, myself and I.  To me each word and every memory is a gem.

By the way this week celebrates the Queens Diamond Jubilee and since Charles Lennox-Gordon-Cummings was titled nobility from Scotland I am sure he would have received an invitation to the festivities. This week also marks the anniversary of D-Day during World War II and may we stop to remember not only June 6 but also each and every day past, present and future that we honor not only those in service, but those on the home front and the veterans and their families that share this common bond that ties us all to conflict and peace.

Last but not least…WTAMU is hosting the SUMMER STORYTELLING CONFERENCE on campus June 8-10, 2012 at the Sybil Harrington Fine Arts Complex. Friday and Saturday there will be concerts in the FAC Recital Hall at 7pm with a Sacred Story Concert Sunday from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Joseph Hill Chapel. Dr. Trudy Hanson has all the registration information and Eldrina Douma has been instrumental in sharing her stories. The guest speakers are from around the country and our own Jodi Thomas will be front and center speaking on creative storytelling.

And don’t forget the Frontiers in Writing Conference June 28 with the best guest speakers ever, Natalie Bright is the conference chair. And then also we celebrate the Writing Academy at WTAMU with Jodi Thomas and Tim Lewis. WHEW what a lineup!

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

MYRIAD


MYRIAD

by Sharon Stevens

 In honor, memory and celebration of Anna Corn and James Hartwell

 I’m such a slacker! And I don’t mind admitting that fact. “Hi, my name is Sharon and I am a slacker.”

Let’s face it, here I sit in my jammies nestled in a cocoon of quilts in my favorite chair with the TV remote in my lap, a 32 ounce soft drink by my side with a sack of chips and a bowl of chocolate Kisses within easy reach, working on my weekly blog on the laptop perched on a soft cushion. You can’t get any more slacker than that.

Oh sure, at any given moment I could set my work aside, get up and stretch, put a load of clothes in the washer to wash, or transfer them into the dryer to dry. Or if I so choose I could fold any number waiting in the laundry basket.

While up I just might open up the refrigerator and stand there as long as I like perusing the leftovers contained therein. I could choose out of a myriad of the selection before me to select any number of goodies to microwave. (Note to self-remind me to google “myriad” in the online dictionary and compare it to my 1890s Webster’s)

If I want I might load a sink full of dishes in the dishwasher. I didn’t say I would, I just said I might. On second thought who needs to do dishes with a stack of paper goods on every shelf that will fill any need. Silverware, cups, plates, bowls…it doesn’t matter I’ve got it all.

What about if I wanted to go soak in the tub. My words would still be waiting and with just a gentle touch instantly I could bring them back to life and “home“ or “end“, “page up” or “page down”, delete, or insert, or backspace wherever I pointed the arrows..

Or I might just throw on some clothes, run into town and pick up a burger or pizza or chicken or any other kind of take out anywhere at any time. The grocery store is open twenty four hours a day for whatever my sweet tooth desires. All it takes is my keys, my car, a little gas in the tank and with my garage door opener I am good to go. Wait a minute, who says I need to change clothes. “jammies” are an acceptable choice of apparel now a days.

Yep, there is no other word for it and I give no excuses. I am a slacker through and through and I can only hang my head in shame.

I was slapped in the face with this fact while doing research on Panhandle Professional Writers and their history of dedication to the Panhandle Press Association. Their annual convention was being held in Canyon for the first time in their 102nd history on the campus of WTAMU and also at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I had come across a reference from the book, “Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs” by Betty Holland Wissepope. In it she writes of the history of PPW and the bylaws for continued membership in the group.

To be an active member you must have sold a book, two articles, a poem, a short story, a scenario, or a play that had been produced by a theatrical company. In addition to presenting proof of publication active members had to demonstrate they were writing 30,000 words a year. Associate members had to write only 15,000. Complimentary memberships were for beginning writers but expired at the end of the year.

I know thirty thousand words a year doesn’t sound like a lot, especially in this day and time with spell checker, Ipads, Facebook, cell phones and the like and the opportunity to blog like on my Wordsmith Six blog site. But lets face it, in the 1920’s when PPW was formed by Phebe Warner and Laura V. Hamner the entire population of women didn’t work outside the home and some still lived in dugouts. Electricity was a luxury and not even in every household and was shut down at night. Refrigerators could not be stocked with a days worth of groceries and microwaves had not even been invented yet. Laundry washing was done by the hand of the washee, and clothes hung on the clothesline outside to dry. Which meant that after they were dry they had to be gathered in to be folded, and/or starched, and/or ironed, and/or hung, and/or put away, stacked on shelves, hung in closets, or heaven forbid, placed on towel rods in the bathroom. Likewise to the dishes in the cubboard, (oops, spell checker alerted me to a mispelled word I need to change.) cupboard. It automatically change my misspell.

Each meal included full courses with accompanying silverware and plates. This meant every pan, every bowl, every napkin used for three meals a day had to be washed, dried, and put away each and every day. And before this everything had to be cooked fresh, not frozen accompanied by homemade biscuits or fresh baked bread made from scratch. And I don’t even want to discuss the meat. Chickens were alive in the morning and fried chicken for supper that night by their own hands no less. As for red meat, “Pink Slime” hadn’t been invented yet which tells you if it hadn’t been bought fresh from the market that day it probably didn’t smell that good.

And as for transportation, husbands were the only ones who held the keys to the car and HE was the one who drove it to and from work and out on the road for the family weekend excursion.

Lets face it, with raising the children, sewing the clothes, cooking the meals, cleaning the house I can’t see how women were able to write a hundred words, much less thirty thousand. In fact, I found a reference to Olive K. Dixon as one of the original members of PPW. Her husband was the one who made the longest shot in history at Adobe Walls. She was very involved with the museum in preserving the history of our area while raising seven children.

And when you think of Phebe Warner. How did she write all those newspaper articles with jotting notes on a piece of paper with just a pencil? When did she find the time to sit down at a typewriter with carbon paper in between, all the while correcting mistakes, polishing the words, and then getting up to find an envelope and a stamp, much less mailing her manuscript to the Amarillo Globe News, Canyon News or to any of the other area newspapers in the surrounding towns.

All the while she was helping to gather stories of the pioneers and helping to build the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to house them in. She served on committees of various and sundry civic groups while participating in every community, school and church function centered in her town. Phebe not only formed the first federated women’s clubs in the country she helped form libraries all across the panhandle. AND then to be named as a representative for the state park board and to work tirelessly to get Palo Duro Canyon established as a state park was above and beyond. Think of it, as a woman and a mother in the 1920’s while still maintaining a household and supporting her husband’s practice as a small town doctor is a feat many women in this day and time would find at the very least as tiring.

Who knows what she could have done if she had been a suffogete, (oops-spell checker again), suffragette.

Yep, I’m a slacker through and through. I admit it and embrace it. But I think the founders of Panhandle Professional Writers regardless would be proud of me for the efforts I make on their behalf. They might not cut me any slack, but they would still give me kudos for my contribution. My words might not be as significant as theirs but from their vantage point in the heavens above they know the passion hasn’t changed over time.

Oh, and for your information the dictionary definition of the word myriad is a noun meaning a great number. The description said that recent criticism of the use of this word and to paraphrase… “seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. However the noun is in fact an older form dating back to the 16th century. The noun has appeared in the works of Milton and Thoreau and continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.”

The winning motto chosen for the founding years of PPW was, “The elevator of success is not running; take the stairs!”

I was just lucky enough to be born in a time where I had the choice to do one or the other, the elevator or the stairs, to slack if I wished to, or to even fly if I wanted.

Just not on Jet Blue.

Sharon Stevens

MYRIAD


MYRIAD

by Sharon Stevens

 In honor, memory and celebration of Anna Corn and James Hartwell

 I’m such a slacker! And I don’t mind admitting that fact. “Hi, my name is Sharon and I am a slacker.”

Let’s face it, here I sit in my jammies nestled in a cocoon of quilts in my favorite chair with the TV remote in my lap, a 32 ounce soft drink by my side with a sack of chips and a bowl of chocolate Kisses within easy reach, working on my weekly blog on the laptop perched on a soft cushion. You can’t get any more slacker than that.

Oh sure, at any given moment I could set my work aside, get up and stretch, put a load of clothes in the washer to wash, or transfer them into the dryer to dry. Or if I so choose I could fold any number waiting in the laundry basket.

While up I just might open up the refrigerator and stand there as long as I like perusing the leftovers contained therein. I could choose out of a myriad of the selection before me to select any number of goodies to microwave. (Note to self-remind me to google “myriad” in the online dictionary and compare it to my 1890s Webster’s)

If I want I might load a sink full of dishes in the dishwasher. I didn’t say I would, I just said I might. On second thought who needs to do dishes with a stack of paper goods on every shelf that will fill any need. Silverware, cups, plates, bowls…it doesn’t matter I’ve got it all.

What about if I wanted to go soak in the tub. My words would still be waiting and with just a gentle touch instantly I could bring them back to life and “home“ or “end“, “page up” or “page down”, delete, or insert, or backspace wherever I pointed the arrows..

Or I might just throw on some clothes, run into town and pick up a burger or pizza or chicken or any other kind of take out anywhere at any time. The grocery store is open twenty four hours a day for whatever my sweet tooth desires. All it takes is my keys, my car, a little gas in the tank and with my garage door opener I am good to go. Wait a minute, who says I need to change clothes. “jammies” are an acceptable choice of apparel now a days.

Yep, there is no other word for it and I give no excuses. I am a slacker through and through and I can only hang my head in shame.

I was slapped in the face with this fact while doing research on Panhandle Professional Writers and their history of dedication to the Panhandle Press Association. Their annual convention was being held in Canyon for the first time in their 102nd history on the campus of WTAMU and also at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I had come across a reference from the book, “Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs” by Betty Holland Wissepope. In it she writes of the history of PPW and the bylaws for continued membership in the group.

To be an active member you must have sold a book, two articles, a poem, a short story, a scenario, or a play that had been produced by a theatrical company. In addition to presenting proof of publication active members had to demonstrate they were writing 30,000 words a year. Associate members had to write only 15,000. Complimentary memberships were for beginning writers but expired at the end of the year.

I know thirty thousand words a year doesn’t sound like a lot, especially in this day and time with spell checker, Ipads, Facebook, cell phones and the like and the opportunity to blog like on my Wordsmith Six blog site. But lets face it, in the 1920’s when PPW was formed by Phebe Warner and Laura V. Hamner the entire population of women didn’t work outside the home and some still lived in dugouts. Electricity was a luxury and not even in every household and was shut down at night. Refrigerators could not be stocked with a days worth of groceries and microwaves had not even been invented yet. Laundry washing was done by the hand of the washee, and clothes hung on the clothesline outside to dry. Which meant that after they were dry they had to be gathered in to be folded, and/or starched, and/or ironed, and/or hung, and/or put away, stacked on shelves, hung in closets, or heaven forbid, placed on towel rods in the bathroom. Likewise to the dishes in the cubboard, (oops, spell checker alerted me to a mispelled word I need to change.) cupboard. It automatically change my misspell.

Each meal included full courses with accompanying silverware and plates. This meant every pan, every bowl, every napkin used for three meals a day had to be washed, dried, and put away each and every day. And before this everything had to be cooked fresh, not frozen accompanied by homemade biscuits or fresh baked bread made from scratch. And I don’t even want to discuss the meat. Chickens were alive in the morning and fried chicken for supper that night by their own hands no less. As for red meat, “Pink Slime” hadn’t been invented yet which tells you if it hadn’t been bought fresh from the market that day it probably didn’t smell that good.

And as for transportation, husbands were the only ones who held the keys to the car and HE was the one who drove it to and from work and out on the road for the family weekend excursion.

Lets face it, with raising the children, sewing the clothes, cooking the meals, cleaning the house I can’t see how women were able to write a hundred words, much less thirty thousand. In fact, I found a reference to Olive K. Dixon as one of the original members of PPW. Her husband was the one who made the longest shot in history at Adobe Walls. She was very involved with the museum in preserving the history of our area while raising seven children.

And when you think of Phebe Warner. How did she write all those newspaper articles with jotting notes on a piece of paper with just a pencil? When did she find the time to sit down at a typewriter with carbon paper in between, all the while correcting mistakes, polishing the words, and then getting up to find an envelope and a stamp, much less mailing her manuscript to the Amarillo Globe News, Canyon News or to any of the other area newspapers in the surrounding towns.

All the while she was helping to gather stories of the pioneers and helping to build the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to house them in. She served on committees of various and sundry civic groups while participating in every community, school and church function centered in her town. Phebe not only formed the first federated women’s clubs in the country she helped form libraries all across the panhandle. AND then to be named as a representative for the state park board and to work tirelessly to get Palo Duro Canyon established as a state park was above and beyond. Think of it, as a woman and a mother in the 1920’s while still maintaining a household and supporting her husband’s practice as a small town doctor is a feat many women in this day and time would find at the very least as tiring.

Who knows what she could have done if she had been a suffogete, (oops-spell checker again), suffragette.

Yep, I’m a slacker through and through. I admit it and embrace it. But I think the founders of Panhandle Professional Writers regardless would be proud of me for the efforts I make on their behalf. They might not cut me any slack, but they would still give me kudos for my contribution. My words might not be as significant as theirs but from their vantage point in the heavens above they know the passion hasn’t changed over time.

Oh, and for your information the dictionary definition of the word myriad is a noun meaning a great number. The description said that recent criticism of the use of this word and to paraphrase… “seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. However the noun is in fact an older form dating back to the 16th century. The noun has appeared in the works of Milton and Thoreau and continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.”

The winning motto chosen for the founding years of PPW was, “The elevator of success is not running; take the stairs!”

I was just lucky enough to be born in a time where I had the choice to do one or the other, the elevator or the stairs, to slack if I wished to, or to even fly if I wanted.

Just not on Jet Blue.

Sharon Stevens

TEXAS


TEXAS
by Sharon Stevens
by Paul Green
Act I
Scene I
(With Choral Overture)

The evening star hangs like a liquid ball of fire trembling above the canon’s rim in the amethyst summer sky. As the night deepens, it descends and goes on down and out of sight. The amphitheater lights fade into darkness. Far up on the rim of the high canyon wall at the rear a single trumpet sounds a call-The first two phrases of the old cowboy song, “Oh, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie”.

A halo of light comes on up there revealing a Texas Ranger seated on his horse with a lifted trumpet to his lips. The call is repeated, then the light dims down on him and his horse somewhat. The rattle of a drum begins as if under the very feet of the horse and comes down the canyon wall toward the audience in a growing avalanche of sound, building with the timpani until the whole amphitheater is enveloped in a thundering turmoil of musical tempest.

The tumult deluges the audience for a moment, then like a great ocean wave begins receding, passing backward and up the canyon side and diminishing as it goes, finally to merge itself into the ranger’s trumpet call again as the light brightens there. This time the call concludes with the last two phrases of the above song, with one repetition only. After an instant of pause, the light dies out from the ranger and his horse.

The above passage comes from the actual script of the musical drama TEXAS. What thoughts must have been running through Paul Greens mind as he contemplated the letter sent by Margaret Harper inviting him here. She had read the article about him in the July 1960 edition of the Readers’s Digest. After an evening shared with her husband Ples, and Margaret and William Moore, professors at WTAMU, they sent the note to invite Green to come to see what he thought about writing a play for Palo Duro Canyon.

Green responded quickly with excitement and to inform them of his expenses, but also asked if they could send him information about the area so he could begin to gather ideas of the struggles and joys of the panhandle settlers.

Of all the plans made from that day forward I am sure the hardest had to be with that first step. The Harpers and the Moores knew not only the Greek philosophers, and Shakespeare but George M. Cohan. They also knew and had read Loula Grace Erdman and J. Evetts Hayley as well as all the other local authors from here to Dallas. Phebe Warner and Laura Hamner, founders of the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the nation, were established writers in their own right, and probably found their way into the mix.

How do you choose? How do you fathom? How can you condense buffalos, American Indians, faith, cattlemen, farmers, merchants, families, and everyone in between in one package? What do you think will be important in the thoughts of a man a thousand miles away as he begins to form the basis of the heritage and civilization of the panhandle of Texas? What will tell the true story of the ancient understanding of man versus man, man versus nature and man versus himself?

Paul Green was a Pulitzer Prize winning author with several shrine dramas under his belt. “The Common Glory” and, “The Lost Colony,” were just two of the many sagas he had helped bring to the stage. What was important to him as he began to form a picture in his mind of the canyons, the people, and the wind, the ever draining wind?

So many times as I sit down at my computer I am totally overwhelmed with what faces me. I am not afraid of the blank screen. I am petrified of the billions of words that will fill it up. There are so many stories and plots, people and struggles that share white space. How can I tame them down, and share their memories with the respect they truly deserve without getting mired in the rhetoric sure to follow.

There is no magic formula, no book on writing, no critique group that can cure this dilemma. The only relief is to write and read, and read and write again, and again, and then again, always tightening, cutting, adding, and deleting until the words make sense. And this is why we write.

I am sure Paul Green was faced with this insurmountable task when he received the package from Canyon Texas. He knew to fulfill his mission he had to do justice to the characters found within the pages of the mountain of materials from the post office. When he visited Palo Duro Canyon they say he jumped from rock to rock, always with pen in hand, to hear where the echo sounded the best off the canyon walls to complete his manuscript. I am sure he stopped to listen and to see if he could hear the sound of a thundering herd of buffalos, or the yip of a coyote, or the screech of an owl, or a whisper of the wings of a hawk or a field lark, or a mockingbird. No doubt he witnessed the majesty of our sunrises and sunsets painted by The Master himself.

Every year when I am sitting in the audience of the Pioneer Amphitheater and follow the music and hear the overture signaling the opening scene I am reminded of the words condensed and written in the actual script by Paul Greens own hand…”The rattle of a drum begins as if under the very feet of the horse and comes down the canyon wall toward the audience in a growing avalanche of sound, building with the timpani until the whole amphitheater is enveloped in a thundering turmoil of musical tempest.”

If only my words could talk like that!

Sharon Stevens

TEXAS


TEXAS
by Sharon Stevens
by Paul Green
Act I
Scene I
(With Choral Overture)
The evening star hangs like a liquid ball of fire trembling above the canon’s rim in the amethyst summer sky. As the night deepens, it descends and goes on down and out of sight. The amphitheater lights fade into darkness. Far up on the rim of the high canyon wall at the rear a single trumpet sounds a call-The first two phrases of the old cowboy song, “Oh, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie”.
A halo of light comes on up there revealing a Texas Ranger seated on his horse with a lifted trumpet to his lips. The call is repeated, then the light dims down on him and his horse somewhat. The rattle of a drum begins as if under the very feet of the horse and comes down the canyon wall toward the audience in a growing avalanche of sound, building with the timpani until the whole amphitheater is enveloped in a thundering turmoil of musical tempest.
The tumult deluges the audience for a moment, then like a great ocean wave begins receding, passing backward and up the canyon side and diminishing as it goes, finally to merge itself into the ranger’s trumpet call again as the light brightens there. This time the call concludes with the last two phrases of the above song, with one repetition only.
After an instant of pause, the light dies out from the ranger and his horse.
The above passage comes from the actual script of the musical drama TEXAS. What thoughts must have been running through Paul Greens mind as he contemplated the letter sent by Margaret Harper inviting him here. She had read the article about him in the July 1960 edition of the Readers’s Digest. After an evening shared with her husband Ples, and Margaret and William Moore, professors at WTAMU, they sent the note to invite Green to come to see what he thought about writing a play for Palo Duro Canyon.
Green responded quickly with excitement and to inform them of his expenses, but also asked if they could send him information about the area so he could begin to gather ideas of the struggles and joys of the panhandle settlers.
Of all the plans made from that day forward I am sure the hardest had to be with that first step. The Harpers and the Moores knew not only the Greek philosophers, and Shakespeare but George M. Cohan. They also knew and had read Loula Grace Erdman and J. Evetts Hayley as well as all the other local authors from here to Dallas. Phebe Warner and Laura Hamner, founders of the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the nation, were established writers in their own right, and probably found their way into the mix.
How do you choose? How do you fathom? How can you condense buffalos, American Indians, faith, cattlemen, farmers, merchants, families, and everyone in between in one package? What do you think will be important in the thoughts of a man a thousand miles away as he begins to form the basis of the heritage and civilization of the panhandle of Texas? What will tell the true story of the ancient understanding of man versus man, man versus nature and man versus himself?
Paul Green was a Pulitzer Prize winning author with several shrine dramas under his belt. “The Common Glory” and, “The Lost Colony”, were just two of the many sagas he had helped bring to the stage. What was important to him as he began to form a picture in his mind of the canyons, the people, and the wind, the ever draining wind?
 So many times as I sit down at my computer I am totally overwhelmed with what faces me. I am not afraid of the blank screen. I am petrified of the billions of words that will fill it up. There are so many stories and plots, people and struggles that share white space. How can I tame them down, and share their memories with the respect they truly deserve without getting mired in the rhetoric sure to follow.
There is no magic formula, no book on writing, no critique group that can cure this dilemma. The only relief is to write and read, and read and write again, and again, and then again, always tightening, cutting, adding, and deleting until the words make sense.
And this is why we write.
I am sure Paul Green was faced with this insurmountable task when he received the package from Canyon Texas. He knew to fulfill his mission he had to do justice to the characters found within the pages of the mountain of materials from the post office. When he visited Palo Duro Canyon they say he jumped from rock to rock, always with pen in hand, to hear where the echo sounded the best off the canyon walls to complete his manuscript. I am sure he stopped to listen and to see if he could hear the sound of a thundering herd of buffalos, or the yip of a coyote, or the screech of an owl, or a whisper of the wings of a hawk or a field lark, or a mockingbird. No doubt he witnessed the majesty of our sunrises and sunsets painted by The Master himself.
Every year when I am sitting in the audience of the Pioneer Amphitheater and follow the music and hear the overture signaling the opening scene I am reminded of the words condensed and written in the actual script by Paul Greens own hand…The rattle of a drum begins as if under the very feet of the horse and comes down the canyon wall toward the audience in a growing avalanche of sound, building with the timpani until the whole amphitheater is enveloped in a thundering turmoil of musical tempest.
If only my words could talk like that!
Sharon Stevens