Friday, November 6, 2015

The Producers

If you're in the mood for a healthy snack or some fresh ingredients for a new recipe then you're in luck.  The newest episode of East Texas Explorer features Graham's Edgewood Market in Edgewood, TX!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fire on the Mountain

The old timey area near First Monday in Canton, TX caught fire last night.  Thankfully no one was hurt but there was significant damage done to several buildings.  We weren't around to get any pics of the fire but we stopped by today to check in on the damage done.  Here are some pics of the still smoldering aftermath:

Hopefully the rebuilding will be speedy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Post-Show: 2015 Rains County Fair

So last week we checked out the "Classics Round the Square" Car Show in Emory, TX which was the kick off of the Rains County Fair.  This week is the fair itself and we checked out:

Rides and Games:


 The Kids' Sheep Riding Contest:


The Chili Cook-Off:


And, of course, the Parade:



See you next year!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Round About Town

Usually the "Classics Round the Square" Car Show in Emory, TX happens at the end of the Rains County Fair.  This year though, it kicks off the Fair and we were lucky enough to check it out.  And now, because YOU demand it, here are our top ten picks from the show:

10.  1923 Ford T-Bucket

9.  '56 Chevy

8.  The General Lee! (1970 Dodge Charger)

7. 1948 Ford F3 1 Ton

6.  1955 Chevy Sedan

5.  1940 Mercury Eight Convertible

4.  1961 Corvair Pickup

3.  1962 Buick Special Wagon

2.  1933 Dodge DO

1,  1976 Chevy Corvette

Agree?  Disagree?  (You better not disagree about that Corvette!)  Tell me in the comments.  And stay tuned for coverage of the actual Fair.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Junk Find Five: First Monday Sept 2015

It's time to start a new recurring segment.  We'll go to flea markets and swap meets in East 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.

This time we we visit First Monday in Canton, TX (and to be honest, most of these will probably be First Monday since that's the one I go to the most).

5.  Elephant Playground Ride

A little elbow grease and some cleaning supplies would turn this rusty antique into a top notch backyard playground toy.  It has the benefit of not needing extraneous tools or supplies to install (like a McDonalds Playland piece that you find from time to time).  Just clean it up and set it out and the kids are happy.

4.  Tyson Corporate Award

I probably can't articulate why I think this is so cool.  It's just a rare piece that you can't find in any store.  It's an award for "Excellent in Safety Slaughter Facilities Finest".  I'm not exactly sure what that is or what it means but I'm sure Tyson doesn't just hand them out like sticks of gum.

3.  Horseshoe Certificate

Just like the Tyson Award, this is another one-of-a-kind item.  I'm not exactly sure what the significance is but it appears to be a certificate denoting exceptionalism in the field of shoeing horses by some type of national body that regulates that type of thing.  The date is from the year 1907 and I really love that it is framed.  This was important to someone.  And it could be important to you for the right price.

2.  Mickey Mouse Kazoo (Megaphone?)

This has all the traits of a great flea market find: a long lasting character, a weird/vague purpose (it says kazoo, but it's clearly in the shape of a megaphone), and a general retro vibe.  What was this thing?  What was its purpose?  I guess I could just Google it but that would take all the fun out of it.

1.  Grand Canyon Souvenir Plate

These things used to be THE top souvenir from old-school family road trips in the 60's and 70's.  They then adorned the walls of baby boomer houses above the shag carpeting and adjacent to the China Hutch containing the family's prized fondue set.  They all had original artwork and the Grande Dame destination was always the Grand Canyon.  This plate has it all!

I'm very happy with what we found on this outing.  But there's always something else just around the corner at the next flea market.  I guess we'll see...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Review: East Texas Burger Company

The East Texas Burger Company has spent decades practicing the fine art of cooking great hamburgers.  It’s one of downtown Mineola’s oldest and most popular feedbags.  Expect crowds and a line if you go during meal times. 

While burgers are their business, they have a fairly extensive menu of standard American fare and southern favorites.

The decor is typical of a small town Mom & Pop burger shack with one exception.  Patrons are encouraged to doodle, scribble or proselytize on their napkins which end up thumb tacked along the walls.  This custom wallpaper includes jokes, cartoons, non sequiturs and even political commentary.

Orders are placed and paid for at a counter in the back and patrons can fill up their drinks and pick their table while they wait. Our wait was not very long at all and when our food arrived our feast began.  I went with that day's "Special" which was an East Texas version of brunch.

Most people, when they think of brunch, think of a little bit of breakfast combined with a little bit of lunch to create a new, light meal for late risers who enjoy leisurely grazing.  The “Sunrise Special” takes all of breakfast and all of lunch and combines them into an action packed wrestling match of a meal.

By adding bacon, eggs and hash browns to their signature burger they succeeded in creating a stomach expanding colossus that more than makes up for two meals.  The bacon is cooked well without being too greasy or too crispy.  The addition of fresh fruit may not seem to fit the theme but they work well as a palette cleanser between great big ol' bites.  All in all, both the patty and the egg could have benefited from a little less cooking but that may just be personal taste.

So with sufficient street cred in ambiance, history and especially food, the East Texas Burger Company should be your first choice for a meal in Mineola.  I still need to go back to try the pie.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Marking Time - Salt Palace

It's that time again and this time our history has some legitimate geology to go along with it. Welcome to the Salt Palace Museum in Grand Saline, TX.

Grand Saline is what you would call a "salt town." It is home to a major salt mining operation and honor's the world's tastiest rock by hosting a yearly Salt Festival in addition to being the home of the Salt Palace Museum seen above. The museum was closed when I stopped by but when it is open it is packed with salt memorabilia and free salt samples. And it's here where we find today's historical marker, which seems to have nothing to do with salt.

The marker reads:

"Pioneer aviator Wiley Hardeman Post was born on November 22, 1898, in the community of Corinth in Van Zandt County, to William Francis and Mae Laine Post, who moved to Oklahoma when Wiley was a boy. Wiley was inspired as a youth to learn to fly.
      In the late 1920s he obtained flight training, made his first solo flight, and acquired an air transport license. Despite the loss of one eye in an oil field accident, Post worked as a barnstormer, commercial pilot and flight instructor.
      Post set many flight records and won the national air races in 1930. He and Harold Gatty circled the world, flying 15,474 miles in less than 9 days in 1931. Post soloed around the world in less than 8 days in 1933.
      Post invented and developed the first pressurized flight suit, explored stratospheric flight, and used an early Sperry autopilot mechanism. He worked with the U. S. Army Air Corps on an experimental automatic direction finding (ADF) radio compass, and was a pioneer in the use of liquid oxygen for high altitude flight. Post and humorist Will Rogers died in a plane crash on a trip to Alaska in 1935. His plane the "Winnie Mae" is in the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C."

Post seems like a fascinating and accomplished guy and I'm genuinely surprised that he's not more well known. Here are some interesting facts about his life that I insist you memorize:
  • He lost an eye in an oil field accident yet still went on to become a pilot
  • He was the first person to fly solo around the world
  • He invented pressure suits for high altitude flying
  • He died in the same place crash as Will Rogers
Now take that handful of factoids to your next cocktail party and impress your friends.

We'll leave you with a good look at the pride of Grand Saline: a great big hunk of salt, which is on display outside of the Salt Palace and brings joy to local wildlife searching for a little small town flavor.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Flushed With Civic Pride

The East Texas town of Sulphur Springs has a great downtown area.  The Hopkins County courthouse anchors an outdoor collection of attractions including giant board games, a splash pad/fountain and a host of monuments and memorials to veterans. 

But the town's most unique and perhaps most famous claim to fame is the world's only see-through public restrooms.  What exactly is a see-though bathroom, you may ask?  Well, here's what it looks like on the outside:

Thanks to the magic of one-way mirrors, the townsfolk can easily relieve themselves while still observing the downtown hustle & bustle.  Here's what it looks like on the inside:


The result is the feeling of complete freedom and superiority that can only happen with the combination of peeing in public and not being in trouble for it.  In fact, it's officially our Number 1 recommendation for Number 2!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Marking Time - Gladewater, TX

The East Texas town of Gladewater is known as the "Antique Capital of Texas" and with that title comes a fair amount of history.  Our first stop is the East Texas Museum at Gladewater where they have a historic marker right out front:

The marker reads:

     "The W. E. Nunnelee Bus Lines began passenger service from Tyler to Gladewater and Mt. Pleasant in March 1925; later added buses from Tyler to Henderson and Nacogdoches. Twenty-six vehicles were operated over the 205 miles. These included 7-passenger automobiles and 12-, 15-, 16-, and 19-passenger buses.
     Fare from Tyler to Gladewater was $1. with stops in Winona, Starrville, Friendship, the 30-mile run took an hour, over roads paved in 1919 and 1923.
     On Aug. 1, 1927, buses were placed under regulation of the Railroad Commission. This line had franchise No. 1; it was one of 247 companies running 865 public passenger vehicles on 20,348 miles of Texas roads.
     Many of these "buses" were autos built for private use. Others had "stretched" auto chassis seating 10 or more passengers. Several models had doors that opened along the side. Uncomfortable and hard to drive, they constantly needed new tires and repairs to brakes and valves. Breakdowns were frequent. Overhauls (often made, or necessity, by the roadside) were handled by mechanics lacking suitable tools.
     Although far different from the airconditioned, safety-engineered bus of today, early buses showed the way to a new era in convenient transportation. Incise in base: Early travel, communication and transportation series erected by Moody Foundation."

Not too far from this location is the site of the Snavely #1 Discovery Well:

The Gladewater Heritage Society was kind enough to add their own historical marker to this site:

The marker reads:

     "On April 7, 1931 this wildcat well drilled by Selby Oil and Gas Co. of Tulsa, OK. came-in at 1000 barrels an hour.  Located in the Sabine River bottom a mile south of town,  it connect Gadewater to the vast East Texas Oil Field stretching from Longview's Lathrop Well 7 miles north, to Kilgo's Crim Well 14 miles south.  Royalty owners were the Snavely family of Martinsville, IL. headed by judge Herschel Snavely, nine relatives came to watch the drilling.  L.C. Snavely acquired interest in this land when several Illinois investors underwrote the sawmill, lumber operations of James Moore who in 1906 bought 4200 acres for $20,000 and moved his enterprise to Gladewater by train.  Moore's mill was destroyed in 1913 by a boiler explosion.  In 1914 he surveyed and divided the land into equal sections.  Investors drew lots to determine their parcels.  Oil was discovered under the entire 4200 acre tract.  Texaco, Inc. operated the well from 1938 until its shut-down on November 30, 1957.  Texaco closed its local office in 1987 after 54 years in Galdewater, and donated to the city this pumping unit from the Texaco-Snavely "A" Lease #1.  The original derrick was wooden."

The discovery of oil had a huge impact on not only this East Texas but the rest of the country as well.  Here is some video we shot that explains a little more about the formation of the East Texas Oil Field: