Tuesday, June 28, 2016

History in the Making

A recent trip along the back roads of East Texas led us to a quick stop at the Rusk County Depot Museum which had tons of history on display in the form of documents, antique equipment and restored buildings.  There is way too much to cover in one blog entry.

I also didn't have a lot of time for this stop so I spent most of it strolling the grounds to check out the old buildings.  One thing I learned was that I was genuinely interested in knowing how brooms were made.  I honestly didn't know this until I came here.

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All right, so brooms don't grow in the wild...we've learned that today but there's an even bigger lesson to take away here.  In my opinion the most memorable building on the location is the "Arnold Outhouse":

Sure, it may not be as exciting as the See-Thru Bathroom in downtown Sulphur Springs but it is historically significant.  So much so that it has its own Historical Marker:

The marker reads:

     "Prominent Henderson businessman and civic leader John R. Arnold moved his family to this property in 1908. He added a second story to the home (razed in 1966) that already existed at the site. He also built a number of structures around the property, including this outhouse. It was larger than most standard outhouses of its day, and the milled pattern on the door and window facings matched that of the large Arnold house. The Arnold Outhouse is preserved to illustrate part of the lifestyle of 19th and early 20th-century Texans."

But that information is no substitute for witnessing an outhouse firsthand:

Yes kids, that's how it used to be.  This was the best case scenario for getting your "thinking done."  Ask your grandparents why there are catalogues and corncobs in there.

And when you start thinking about how bad the world is now, I would encourage you to always look on the bright side.  Despite political, economical and environmental turmoil...at the very least...we get to poop inside.  And sometimes that makes all the difference.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Eat and/or Be Eaten

As you can imagine, the "East Texas Gators and Wildlife Park" in Grand Saline is packed with various wildlife but the main event is definitely the gators.  And the best part of watching gators is: feeding time!  Each day at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM a park employee will bring out the feeding bucket the frenzy begins!

The gators' menu seems to consist of (at least during scheduled feeding times) chopped up chicken parts.  When a piece hits the ground it doesn't take long to end up inside a gator's belly.  Here's a little glimpse at supper time:

 If watching that makes you work up an appetite then the Park has a way to turn the tables and put you in the role of predator by offering a small selection of dishes with alligator meat at the Park's Grill (bottom left):

Behold the Gator Kabob!!

A little small for the price but the gator meat was fantastic.  It was perfectly seasoned and well textured.  The old cliche is that it "tastes like chicken" but this had more of a red meat vibe, probably since it was grilled with similar spices that would be used on a steak.  It wasn't gamey at all.  The veggies were good too!

So whether you're interested in gators eating or eating gators, this place is definitely worth a stop!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Founder's Keepers

A quick look at the annual Founder's Day event and some of the history of Rains County and the town of Emory, TX in an all new episode of "East Texas Explorer":

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tragedy in New London

Tragedy struck the small East Texas town of New London when a freak accident caused a massive explosion that destroyed the New London School and took the lives of over 300 students and staff.  Today, in the center of town, visitors can see a monument to the 1937 catastrophe:

The giant cenotaph was constructed two years after the explosion.  Composed of granite, it stands 30 feet tall and sits across from the current New London school.  There is also an official Texas Historical Marker commemorating the event:

The Marker reads:

     "On March 18, 1937, a massive explosion destroyed the New London Junior-Senior High School, instantly killing an estimated 296 students and teachers. The subsequent deaths of victims from injuries sustained that day brought the final death count to 311. The explosion was blamed on a natural gas leak beneath the school building. Within weeks of the disaster the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring an odor to be added to natural gas, which previously was odorless and therefore undetectable. This memorial to victims of the explosion was erected in 1939."

Across the road is the London Museum Cafe & Soda Fountain that serves old fashioned breakfast and lunch:

I got there little after lunch so the kitchen was closed.  Thankfully though, the Museum portion was open.  It contains an exhaustive collection of antiques and memorabilia about the explosion, the school and the town itself:


Two of my personal favorites were personal keepsakes of the students.  On the left is a text book and pocket knife belonging to student Perry Lee Cox.  On the right is a bar of soap carved into the shape of the Alamo belonging to sixth grader Glendell Sutherlin:

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The explosion was covered on a news reel at the time which you can watch below:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Halt and Catch Flyer

The Hunt County Fair in Greenville is in full swing so we had ourselves a fair day.   It's a great little event with tons of kid friendly activities.  Instead of trying to cover all of them we decided to pick our favorite this year.

Disc-Connected K9s were performing multiple shows in the Big Tex Kids Zone.  The organization travels the country with their furry phenoms performing stunts and tricks for packed crowds.  Here's a taste of what they do:



The Fair runs through May 1st so you still have time to grab a turkey leg, ride some rides and catch the dog show! 

BONUS:  For a little historic perspective, check out this pic of a young stud showing a Black Angus heifer at the 1988 Hunt County Fair:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Texas Education on iTunes U

Our podcast, East Texas Explorer was recently selected to be a part of Texas Education on iTunes U, a free multimedia content to educators, students, and parents in Texas and around the world from the Texas Education Agency!  You can find it on iTunes HERE.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016