Thursday, October 15, 2015

Junk Find Five: Gruene Antique Company

It's time to start a new recurring segment.  We'll go to flea markets, antique shops and swap meets in Texas and find five interesting things for sale.  They may provide some interesting insight into Texas Culture or they may not.  But they are the five items that caught my eye on that particular trip.

Today's stop was at the Gruene Antique Company in New Braunfels, TX.  They are located in the Gruene Historic District and is housed in the historic 1903 Henry D. Gruene building.  It's a huge building that is packed with interesting antique goodies.  So let's see what we found:

5.  Pillsbury Doughboy Teapot & Napkin Holder

Who doesn't love the Pillsbury Doughboy?  I'm always a sucker for advertising mascots.  These might not be too overly vintage but their ceramic nature gives them that potentially breakable and thus temporary lifespan that is a refreshing change of pace in a world of cheap plastic.

4.  Bugle Lamp

Recycling and re-purposing at its finest!  Think about it...what's your lamp at home made of?  Regular lamp stuff?  Wouldn't it be much better if it was made out of a musical instrument?  Yes, yes it would be.

3.  Fiesta San Antonio Dr Pepper Bottle

Full and unopened from 1977, this is a bottle of old school Dr Pepper from the biggest party in San Antonio and is just waiting for an adventurous soda historian to crack it open and give it a try.  (I would not recommend it though.)

2.  Weird Mask

Ok, what is going on here?  I want to assume that this was used historically in maybe the military or possibly in an industrial context but I think we all know that whoever buys it is probably not going to use it for those purposes.

1.  Rotary Pay Phone

If you have kids, a fun game you can play with them would be to give them a 100 guesses to figure out what this is.  It bears practically no resemblance to the sleek rectangles they stare at all day and was only used for talking.  It will blow their minds!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Hare Taller

Within the city limits of Odessa, TX you can find the World's Largest Jack Rabbit, a.k.a. Jack Ben Rabbit.  He stands tall in downtown at 8 feet and was named after former Odessa Chamber of Commerce President John Ben Sheppard.  He hopped into place in 1962 and two years later he was joined by a Texas Historical Marker:

The Marker reads:

     "True plains Rabbit. Lives only in the west. Burro-like ears gave him his name. color is protective, blending with sand and dry grass. Very long legs make him a swift runner, clocked at speeds to 45 miles an hour. Object of hunts with Greyhounds.
      Was prized by plains Indians for food and fur. to white man a reminder of desert-hard life. In drouth and depression, meat source for thousands.
      Subject of tall tales. Actual hero of world's only Jackrabbit Rodeo, in Odessa, May 1932.

But this isn't just any historical marker, it's the marker that just keeps giving.  Adventurous foodies can find an authentic Texas Jack Rabbit Recipe attached to the back:

On the other side of Ben is a marker placed by the Heritage of Odessa Foundation commemorating the town's former Championship Jackrabbit Roping (Odessa is clearly what you would call a "Jack Rabbit Town"):

This marker reads:

"Contest began as "hare-brained" publicity stunt during 1932 annual Odessa Rodeo. Held at 3rd and Grant Street site despite objections from out-of-town do-gooders. Local sheriff opposed event but mayor and judge ruled no violation of Texas law. Cowgirl Grace Hendricks roped rabbit from horseback in five seconds flat winning over numerous male competitors. Notorious contest revived in 1977 causing coast-to-coast outcry. Midland animal lover delayed action by liberating captive jackrabbits. Event proceeded on schedule when former prisoners returned at feeding time. Seven ropers competed on foot. Jack Torian placed first with a six second scamper. In 1978 Humane Society blocked all future ropings with court order."

So yeah, this is a town that gets excited by jack rabbits...even enough to share.  In 2002 Ol' Ben hopped out of town to take part in the "Best of Texas" Festival at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington:

There he was joined by Old Rip from Eastland, the Car Part Dinosaur from Bertram and many other Texas roadside icons.  While he had a great summer in '02, his traveling days seem to be behind him and now you can always catch him at home in downtown Odessa.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Murphy's Law

Audie Murphy is a native Texan who went on to be one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II and later became a movie star.  He lived an incredibly interesting life which is chronicled (among many other things) in an East Texas museum.

We visited the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum in Greenville, TX for an all new episode of East Texas Explorer:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Family Tradition

Before Larry Hagman's iconic role of J.R. Ewing in Dallas, he was Major Tony Nelson tasked with the job of keeping Jeanie away from Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeanie and even before that he was kicking around on a piece of ground in his hometown of Weatherford, TX.  The town formally awarded him "Favorite Son" status in the best way possible...a statue:

The statue was erected last year on his birthday (Sept. 21st...which has been named "Larry Hagman Day" by the town) and was sculpted by Kelly Graham.

Not too far from the statue is yet another famous former Weatherford resident who just happens to be Larry Hagman's mother.  Mary Martin was born there and was also associated with an iconic role: Peter Pan!

She won a Tony Award for playing the boy who never grew up on Broadway and was associated with the character throughout her career despite playing a wide range of roles on stage, film and television.

The statue has been standing vigil outside the town library since 1976 and was sculpted by Ronald Thomason.  Together these two statues are a mother/son combo celebrating the imagination and talent that can come from small town Texas.