Texas now and then

This week in the Hill Country


Central Market – North
4001 North Lamar Blvd.shark
June 29  – Jaws
July 13   – Napoleon Dynamite
July 27   – The Goonies
August 10 – School of Rock
Time: 8:30 PM
Price: FREE

Abendkonzert, Boerne

German band music, my kind of sound.

June 27, 7:30. Free.

402 E. Blanco, Boerne, TX 78006


Yesterday’s News

1810    François Jean Cantagrel, first director of the colony La Réunion, was born in Amboise, France. He went to Paris as a young man to study engineering and architecture but soon found that socialist theory interested him more. Due to his socialist activities while a member of the National Assembly, Cantagrel ran afoul of government authorities.To avoid exile to a penal colony in Algeria, he fled the country in 1849; then, sentenced to exile, he stopped in Belgium and England before settling in the United States in 1854. Cantagrel was an employee of the European American Society of Colonization and served as its main agent in America, with the responsibility of choosing a site in Texas for a utopian community. He bought land at the site of present-day Dallas and hired Americans to help put up the first buildings and plant the first crops in order to be ready to receive the new colonists. Cantagrel is claimed to have complained, “I am sent here to direct an agricultural colony and have no agriculturalists to direct.” The problems eventually wore out his enthusiasm, and he resigned from the directorship in 1856; he remained with the colony until 1857. Then he went to Belgium and, after being granted amnesty in 1859, to France.

1878    Roy Bedichek, writer and folklorist, was born in Cass County, Illinois. In 1884 the family moved to Falls County, Texas. In visiting schools over the state he formed the habit of camping out because suitable lodging was often unavailable. Camping stimulated his interest in wildlife, especially in birds. Urged by his close friends, J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb, he took a leave of absence for a year beginning in February 1946 and went into seclusion to write Adventures with a Texas Naturalist (1947). Bedichek liked to rise several hours before daybreak and study or write in a separate building beside his home. Every day he worked in his garden, swam, or walked. Without ever having been seriously ill, he died suddenly of heart failure on May 21, 1959. He was an excellent storyteller, a fine conversationalist, and a delightful correspondent.

anna-castle1956    The sometimes amusing author Anna Castle is born, not precisely in Texas, but her family moved (with her) to Houston by the end of that famous year. Stars shone, somewhere, perhaps portending the great event. She grew up, had a variety of interesting careers, and ended up in Austin writing novels. She counts herself luckier than poor François Jean Cantagrel, to say the least.


Bacon's Essays: Of Superstition

goblinOf Supersition is my new candidate for worst essay. Francis Bacon emphatically did not approve of superstition and he makes that clear enough, but there isn’t a single good quote in the whole piece. It feels lackluster. We might chalk it up to a bad day — all writers have them — but for the fact that he noodled over these essays for years before publishing the first round and brought out two revised editions in his own lifetime.

One odd thing about this essay is that it presents a weak defense of atheism, which Bacon blasted pretty thoroughly in last month’s essay. Now he says, “Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not [if religion did not exist]; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy, in the minds of men.”

Sense, philosophy, piety (respect), laws, and moral virtue – what else do you need?

The OED defines superstition as “A religious belief, ceremony, or practice considered to be irrational, unfounded, or based on fear or ignorance.” That’s where Bacon is going with it. I tend to think of superstition as that subliminal or non-rational sense of connectedness among things and events that most people seem to experience at least in some areas some of the time. Most of don’t really believe leaving our car windows open will cause it to rain, but even very rational persons will, at least jokingly, draw lines between such obvious temptings of fate and their inevitable smackdowns.

Ancient rituals

Bacon is focused on wrong religion and considers superstition to be an aspect of foolishness. He lists several causes of superstitions (numbers inserted by me). (1) “[P]leasing and sensual rites and ceremonies; (2) excess of outward and pharisaical holiness; (3) overgreat reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church; (4) the stratagems of prelates, for their own ambition and lucre; (5) the favoring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties; (6) the taking an aim at divine matters, by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations: and, lastly, (7) barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters.”

The first four of these are criticisms of the Catholic church. Bacon was reared by a Calvinist mother, remember, for whom proper religion required study and amendment of the inner man, not fancy altar cloths and incense and endless, meaningless rituals.

I don’t understand (5). Maybe it means we should value deeds over intentions. That sounds Calvinistic to me. You can’t go to confession and say, “Sorry; I meant well,” and just get a slap on the wrist.

(6) has to do with his defense of science, I think. We humans can and should study everything on earth, but leave heaven to God. Don’t bicker about how many angels there are and what they can or cannot do. I have not idea what “mixture of imaginations” might mean. It sounds like the goal of the modern visual artist.

kahoutekBarbarous times, calamities, and disasters, definitely bring out all the superstitions. Anyone out there remember Kahoutek and the end of the world? That would have been 1973, y’all, except it turned out to be just another comet.

The Children of God people posted flyers all over the country proclaiming the end of the world. I forget why it was supposed to be so terrible but it was huge. Bigger than Y2K, which was another non-apocalypse. If you live long enough, you get through lots of ends of the world.


Although a lot of people, me included, started leaving our car windows open during the terrible drought of 2011, when the great state of Texas caught on fire.


Texas now and then

This week in the Hill Country

Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 N. Congress Avenue
April 22, 2016 – September 18, 2016hill-country-food-truck-fest
Recurring daily
Phone: (512) 936-8746
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Price: $8-12

Hill Country Food Truck Fest

Luckenbach Texas
Time: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Location: Luckenbach TX
Price: $15pp Kids under 12 Free!
Category: Entertainment


Yesterday’s News

1875    Margie Belle Boswell, poet, was born in Pueblo, Colorado. She studied at Parker Institute, Whitt, Texas, from 1889 to 1892, then taught in the Fort Worth public schools until 1897, when she married W. E. Boswell. They had eleven children. Mrs. Boswell conducted a poetry program over Station KFJZ in Fort Worth, taught verse technique, contributed poems to literary journals, and published eight books of poetry: The Mockingbird and Other Poems (1926), Scattered Leaves (1932), The Upward Way(1937), Wings Against the Dawn (1945), The Light Still Burns (1952), Starward (1956), Sunrise in the Valley (1959), and Selected Poems and Little Lines (1962). She wrote feature articles as well as verse and, beginning in 1937, contributed a column to the Fort Worth Press. She was president of the American Poetry League and a member of several poetry societies, including the Poetry Society of Texas. She won several poetry prizes and established the Boswell Poetry Prize at Texas Christian University. She was a member of the University Christian Church in Fort Worth. She died in Fort Worth on May 29, 1963, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery there.

1942    Gene Roddenberry married Eileen Anita Rexroat. They had two children and divorced in 1969. Later that year Roddenberry married Majel Leigh Hudec, better known as Majel Barrett. Roddenberry visiting-enterprisewas born in El Paso in 1921, although he grew up in Los Angeles and received an A.A. degree from Los Angeles City College. He qualified for a pilot’s license and served in the United States Air Force from 1941 to 1945. He flew a B-17 Flying Fortress on eighty-nine missions, including Guadalcanal and Bougainville, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and several other decorations. After the war Roddenberry became a pilot with Pan American Airlines and survived a crash in the Syrian desert in which fourteen people were killed. From 1949 to 1956 he worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was a sergeant from 1954 to 1956 and worked as departmental spokesman and as Chief William H. Parker’s speechwriter. He also began writing for television. Roddenberry is best remembered for Star Trek, which premiered in 1966 and ran until 1969.