Why stay in those old vintage courts?

Seventy -four years ago Clark Gable was here, “cabin” number 6 – Boots Court, Carthage, Missouri.

Tonight, I sit a voyeur.

Seventy-four years ago, Clark Gable was here, fresh out of the service, still mourning the death of Carole Lombard.

I feel the movement of air – as his silhouette moves towards the door.

Eighty-four years of memories thrive in these four walls my senses discard all other and focus on Clark Gable’s visit seventy-four years ago.

I fight the bitterness.  

Seventy-four years ago, 1947, Clark Gable was here, do I smell the Lucky Strike? Is blue smoke rising – drifting slowing before diverging.

I am olfactory overtaken.

Seventy-four years ago, Clark Gable was here, his voice, torn from tobacco, blustered firm statements between drinks.

I listen intently.

Seventy-four years ago, Clark Gable was here, tonight he is here, Boots Court is still here, that is why I am here.  


Pass STAAR with only Five Correct Answers

Spring is quickly approaching, and Texas public schools are gearing up for the STAAR. The anxiety-building state assessment, loved by students, parents, administrators, and teachers, well, maybe not. The STAAR does not need to be feared or hated; it is a playable exam that any student can pass only knowing the correct response to five questions.

Keep reading if you would like to understand how.

The following “plan to pass” was developed with the collaboration of a group of my cohorts. I want to communicate what we found while compiling released STAAR data from the state of Texas.
This plan is designed to improve the scores of students and have a 100 percent passing rate.
This plan was devised for 5th-grade math students in a Texas public school. Please do your research and do what is best for your students.

Fifth-grade math success plan and how to get 100 percent passing

Historically, a student must answer seventeen questions correctly on the STAAR fifth grade math test to pass.
Except for the grid questions, the majority of problems are multiple-choice. I will refer to these as A, B, C, or D, to keep confusion to a minimum for non-educator readers. Each year the correct answers are distributed among A, B, C, or D, consistently.

We found that “A” is the right choice 12 to 14 times, “B” is correct 12 to 14 times, with “C” and “D” following suit. So, if a student were to answer only “A,” he or she would have 12 to 14 answers correct.

Teachers are aware that this could show a vast improvement for some students who historically are sub-ten correct answers. This improvement would be celebrated but would fall short of the goal of having 100 percent passing being 17 correct is the magic passing number.
Teachers know what is assessed on the STAAR test and what the questions look like. We can use this knowledge to help “play” the test to get to 100 percent passing.

It is all about the TEKS’ verbs.

The STAAR will assess TEKS with the “simple” verbs. These TEKS require the student to perform simple one-step tasks like identifying. These quick questions, coupled with the consistent distribution of correct answers among “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” are the key to 100 percent student success.
All students, I believe, through rote memory and conditioning, can find success on these questions that consist of concrete knowledge and recall.

We found five to seven questions we considered “easy verb” questions each year while examining the released tests.

Playing the STAAR.

When a student receives the STAAR assessment, he or she will answer the easy verb questions first. The student will be able to identify these due to the conditioning and the familiarity of working with released questions focused on the same TEK during class.
The student will only answer the questions he is 100% confident of the answer. There must not be any guessing.
Once at the end of the exam, the student should have at least five to eight questions answered. Again, these concrete knowledge questions are the keys to passing.
With these questions answered, the student will close the test booklet. The student will now examine the bubble sheet, aka answer document. Once the student determines where the majority of his or her correct answer are on the bubble sheet, he or she is ready for the last step to passing the STAAR.

Last step to success.

Let us imagine that the student is 100 percent sure of six of his answers. Let us assume that these correct answers fell on the “B,” “C,” and “D” column of the answer document.
With our knowledge that historically “A” is the right answer twelve to fourteen times, if the student bubbles straight down “A,” excluding his right answers, he will pass the STAAR with 18 to 20 correct.
Does it work?
With lots of focus on those few TEKS and having students understand the plan, it can succeed.

Midway Drive-In

Years ago, darkness filled the space between city limit signs, a void of life and light. These lonely stretches of blacktop created ideal spots for drive-in theaters.

In the middle of the last century, “Midway” drive-ins popped up along those segments of highway. Strategically placed midway between towns, the Drive-ins would benefit from both populations’ patronage. Mid-century summer nights would come to life in these otherwise desolate areas midway between towns.

One such “Midway” Drive-in existed along what was once known as the Bankhead Highway in Sweetwater, Texas.

The Midway.

Sweetwater’s Midway Drive-In opened on May 20, 1948, with a screening of “The Time, the Place and the Girl,” starring Dennis Morgan. Warner Bros’. most successful film during 1946 and 1947, earning $3,461,000 domestically and $1,370,000 foreign. Might this success be the reason the Midway opened with it two years later?

Owned by Jack Wallace. He, Dorothy, his wife, and son J.D. ran the theater. The projectionist was Billy Faught.

Many other outdoor cinemas share the Midway’s demise. Victims of changing culture and fluctuating populations. Today the screen still stands, a mammoth white cement wall, waiting to continue to perform its duty, frozen in time, just off West Broadway, Sweetwater, Texas.

Those we lost.

She tore through me-

She tore through my world.

With aggression that was as –

Expressive as,

The culmination of all emotions.

She tore through me.

Lost in imagination.

Lost in the expression of perfect words.

Satisfied in the realization of being lost.

Content to be damned.

She tore through the world –

Of perfect chords,

Rhymes and rhythms.

Existence in her world of right.

The right look,

In the right eye,

At the right time.

She tore through me.

She tore through my world.

Truer than God.

More brilliant than the sum of all the stars.

She tore through me

She tore through the world

Too bright to shine.

Too real to belong.

Too bright to last.

Will Evangelicals change Science Curriculum in Texas Public Schools?

The following is taken from an article published by The Texas Independent. The following ideas and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Tab Across Texas.

A shift is occurring, and it has nothing to do with the continental plates or any other pseudo science that has interfered with the story of creation. In fact, this change is a return to the static story of biblical teaching, steering our children away from the dynamic and questioning agendas of the current curriculum to the largely accepted and time-tested stories from Biblical text.

“We know what is right and what is best for our kids” an undisclosed individual stated while attending a planning session with members of, For the Absolute Truth or (FAT). This group of teachers, clergy, community, and business leaders representing a wide range of social and economic communities has one mission, to “Let the Bible Tell the Truth”.

Dedicated to the reversal of misleading progressive dynamic thought, this group is making headway. FAT is creating arguments built on fundamental teachings of hundreds of years of written and oral history.

“How can something that has been around for 2000 years be incorrect?”, a question I was presented with will attending a FAT meeting. I find the question engaging and I ponder.

FAT is working closely with educational leadership in Texas. While the seas have not yet parted for FAT the tide seems to be turning.

A popular argument with FAT concerns the Independent School Districts (ISDs). FAT believes that a community should have more input in the content and curriculum in the local public schools.

“We pay for the school with our taxes and our local folks lead the schools, they are ours, we should teach like we want, we call our own plays in football.” Heartfelt and logical arguments such as these are common among FAT member, and one must admit can be argued with merit.

“We have the curriculum written.” a chorus of FAT members exclaim. “It is packaged up and ready to go.”

FAT is not just talking, FAT is doing.

Unlike other curriculums that require re-adoption and purchase as new editions are released with updated information, FAT’s adoption never changes and the school districts are taking notice.

“A school only has to buy it (the materials) one time and only replace when worn out.”, is the sales pitch for the FAT content.

“The information starts at the beginning.”

FAT’s curriculum is divided into seven units. Each unit will encompass the acts of God on the corresponding day of creation, aligning the seven units with the book of Genesis. Building on the previous units, the curriculum spirals and scaffolds throughout, a balance of geology, biology, and love.

While the group is confident in their convictions they know many will resist the backslide to creation curriculum.

“We have some powerful and influential people on our side.” proudly states one of the leading members of FAT.

Still the group understands that it will take more than power and influence to bring about acceptance of the traditional scientific thought.

The origin of the Quanah Parker Arrows

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Charles Smith never set out to create what would become, some argue, the largest art installation in the world. Charles Smith did not create his first twenty-two-foot tall arrow to commemorate the last Comanche Chief Quanah Parker.

Charles was a welder who built metal palm trees, at his home, an hour south of Lubbock, Texas, in the heart of the Texas Plains. Charles did not intend to be honored and adopted into Quanah Parker’s family and given the name Paaka-Hani-Eti, meaning “Arrow Maker”.

Charles Smith stumbled into this honor by doing a favor for a friend.

Community is easy to define in New Home, Texas. With a population of around four-hundred Texas Tech Red Raiders alumni, family, and fans that know each other by name and neighbors who still look to help each other out – a New Home visitor feels a longing to be embraced by such a community.

This sense of community would ultimately create what is known as the Quanah Parker Trail Arrows. Over eighty-eight arrows pierce the Texas Plains. Each denotes a particular site of Comanche and Quanah Parker’s history. It all began in The Spot Cafe in New Home.

Gid Moore, New Home’s local insurance agent, was looking to create an area for local school children to learn more about literature. He imagined a yard full of art that allowed the children to experience words through a large three-dimensional permanent art display. He shared with Charles his idea to materialize Longfellow’s, The Arrow and The Song and Inspired 88 with a large arrow. Charles, a welder and metal worker, loved the idea and got to work. This was 2003.

Charles Smith’s one-off piece would stand in New Home, Texas, for many years before being discovered by a group of individuals looking for that particular piece that would become the monuments on the Quanah Parker Trail. Little did Charles know that a random wind storm would divert Holle Humphries into the town of New Home and change his life forever. This was 2010.

New Home is not normally a town that one would stumble into. Located south of Lubbock in the Texas Plains surrounded by cotton fields, located at a two-lane crossroad absent of a stoplight, a town that is hard to get to let alone pass through. New Home is a town where families dedicate their lives to sustainable farming, family and community. The chances of Holle happening upon the arrow was truly one-in-a-million.

Holle found herself in a lonely town mesmerized by an arrow stuck into the flat earth. No explanation or marker presented itself with the focus of attraction. Holle found herself in a difficult position. Who created this and where is he or she – Holle knew she found what would become the image to celebrate Quanah Parker now she only had to find the artist.

Tai Kreidlet describes Charles as not” saying much but good at listening.” One can imagine how he listens, and what he thought when first offered the opportunity to help create what would become the Quanah Parker Trail Arrows.

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Charles did not accept any money for the arrows creation or installation. Each arrow was built by Charles at his home in New Home, Texas. He customized a trailer to deliver each arrow to its planned location. Holle states that Charles was “very particular on how he wanted the arrow set”. Therefore all installation was supervised and lead by Charles. Charles’ grandson remembers how particular his granddad was about the arrow’s position.

Prior to  Charles’ passing, he created and placed over eighty arrows in more than fifty counties in the Panhandle-Plains Region of Texas. These arrows became The Quanah Parker Trail. A trip down the Quanah Parker Trail will be an adventure. One will discover  Texas history, Commanche Culture and the work of an incredible West Texas artist.










looking for some firewood

Aw, the campfire. So many senses are touched by the campfire. The glow of the embers with ever-changing blues and reds. The smell that continues to release the camping odors we love, but do not want to take home. The pops and sizzles of the perfectly weathered wood. Camping would not be the same without it.

Early in my family life we did lots of camping. It was cheap my daughter was only single digits ages when the outdoors are fun and it was before the time of iPhones and wifi. We could actually get lost and enjoy finding our way out.

Like most young families the trips consisted of state and national parks. Established campsite with nice tent pads, electric and water, with nearby flush toilets. Our trips were taking place right before, what we refer to as the explosion of the camping movement. A time when and we did show up to places like Arches National Park and get a campsite without a reservation. A time when camping was casual and cheap.

Early on Tuesday morning we headed out to do some camping in the eastern part of the great state of ——-.  A gorgeous woodsy area awaited us. We had most of what we needed packed, everything except firewood. After driving for a few hours we soon to arrive at the destination. Once setup we had little desire to leave again so I stop at a “filling station” deep in the east to ask about getting some firewood.

The others stayed in the car while I quickly made my way into the store and towards the beverage cooler. A short line had formed and I patiently waited my turn for the register. I made my purchase and asked the perpriator about a place to buy firewood.

“Sure” he said, “Mr. Shaw sells it back up the road a couple of miles.”

As quickly as the cashier finished his sentence a voice from behind be stated, “No, he is down at the shop.”

I turned to see an extremely large gentleman holding a thirty pack of beer. While his appearance and choice of breakfast drink to some would be shocking, overall he seemed to be a nice guy.

“I am heading down there right now” he said, now directing the conversation towards me directly. “You can just follow me.”

With all the confidence in the world I responded with an enthusiastic, “Great”.

I returned to the truck where my wife had been watching and wondering what in the world was happening in this redneck quick-mart.  I told her quickly about the plan as the “big guy” walked out the door with his thirty pack. We exchanged head nods and I placed the Toyota in reverse, secured by position behind the old Chevy  and started toward the shop.

Only in hindsight does things make sense. Only when you step away from the moment can you see clearly what is really going on. Like that poem about the fork in the road. Come on why are you telling us this. We wont know the right choice until we make a choice and still we can’t be 100 percent that is was correct or incorrect.

Were we making the right choice? Following the truck down a two lane blacktop road towards the “shop”.