TGIF: Turning pages and taking some trips down memory lane

Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

The late Blackie Sherrod was mentioned in an exchange of emails this week, and that reminded me. For a couple of columns this summer, I had invoked his name while borrowing his format, “scattershooting.”

After introducing a similar hop-scotch approach to my columns, I thought it might continue longer than it did. But coming up with one topic each week isn’t easy. When you use a pinball style structure, multiple topics are needed.

I looked it up. “Scattershot” is in the dictionary. It’s an adjective. It appears “scattershooting” is a word Mr. Sherrod created. At least, his name appears in every online search I made.

Younger readers — assuming I have younger readers — may not know that Blackie Sherrod was a writer and columnist for newspapers like the Dallas Times-Herald and The Dallas Morning News. He was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2011, and I was privileged to be in the audience for that ceremony. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend. Known primarily as a sportswriter, Sherrod was named Texas Sportswriter of the Year a total of 16 times. But he also authored three books and co-authored two others. He received his bachelor’s degree from Howard Payne in 1941, and he died in 2016 at the age of 96. Sherrod’s flagship fixture was his weekly “Scattershooting” column of small nuggets of news, and that also happens to be the title of one his books.

This summer has been a blur. I took a vacation, and when I got back to the keyboard, any momentum was lost. But the mention of Sherrod’s name refocused me. With no promises about how things might go in the future, let’s press forward.

ROVER, A CAT? — The headline mentions memory lane, so perhaps you’ve forgotten last week’s column. Here’s an update.

Rover, the nomadic might-be-our-pet cat, is still hanging around the house as this is written. He’s not ready for anyone to touch him, but he eagerly anticipates heaping bowls of cat food and water. He also will maintain the CDC-recommended 6-foot distance away from us while we do yard work. Rover must know a trip to the veterinarian’s office awaits if he gets any closer.

Did any English literature majors catch the “Easter egg” in last week’s column? The headline “A cat by any other name would look as cute” alluded to the famous rose quotation from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare also referenced a dog named Rover in “The Winter’s Tale,” one of the earliest recorded mentions of a dog named Rover.

BAKER STREET AND BEYOND — Even as the COVID-19 Delta variant surges here and around the country, people continue to socialize while (hopefully) taking proper precautions to curtail its spread. I couldn’t help but notice on the “upcoming events” tab of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s webpage that the second anniversary of Pioneer Tap House is being celebrated Saturday night with a Baker Street block party.

I mentioned this a few weeks ago. Downtown Brownwood has become a bona fide destination, with plenty to see and do, to stop and shop, and to eat and drink — up and down main streets and side streets in the heart of the city. This weekend appears to be a great time to check everything out, with several special events also scheduled at other venues. Throughout the year, compelling options abound. Along with the Tap House, check out 10 Mile Crossing, Shaw’s Marketplace, Steves’ Market and Deli, Stone’s Grove Cocktail Bar, Teddy’s Brewhaus, the Brown County Museum, the Lyric Theatre, The Turtle, and more. I fear I missed some.

The chamber also lists a number of interesting future events, so as the temperatures get cooler and the virus (hopefully) tapers off, there will be lots happening.

FINALLY, MEMORY LANE FOR REAL — I’ve been hesitant to request membership in a private Facebook page whose title suggests it’s for people who grew up in Brownwood — which excludes me. However, I’ve lived here as long as some of its members who did grow up here, so the worst the administrator might do was to reply “denied.” I was pleased to have been approved.

The cover photo features a scene looking up Baker Street, taken around 1930 soon after the towering Brownwood Hotel was built. The Great Depression had already arrived, but judging by the traffic, the full effects of economic calamity had not yet hit home.

The photo looked familiar. I found a copy of “A Pictorial History of Brown County, The Early Years,” published in 1999 by the Brown County Museum of History in cooperation with the Brownwood Bulletin. There’s the photo, courtesy of the museum, consuming the entirety of Page 73. The image is certainly worthy of such display.

Many hands, including mine, played a role in producing the book, as well as a second volume printed the next year. Members of the community provided photos for publication, and the museum opened its files to help complete the books.

Downtown Brownwood was obviously booming during the first several decades of the last century, based on the evidence we see in historic photos. Decades later, that energy has definitely returned, and we can now experience it firsthand.

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at tgifcolumn@yahoo.com.