Tag Archives: East Texas

Where are the signs?

BEAUMONT, Texas — Having just driven through what I suppose you could call “The Heart of Trump Country,” I am surprised by the lack of what I expected to see on my five-plus-hour trek through Deep East Texas.

I didn’t see a single banner, or yard sign on any residence or business. Indeed, I saw only one decal plastered on the back of a Tacoma pickup, and I had to squint to read it on the rear window.

What does this all mean? Beats the bejabbers out of me.

I surely saw nothing extolling the candidacy of Joe Biden. I didn’t expect it, either. However, the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee is supposed to be exhibiting “grassroots strength” in communities such as Jasper, Kountze, Lufkin, Rusk, Huntington and Jacksonville.

Didn’t see a thing out there. Maybe I’ll see it on the way home, if I take a different route. My Ranger pickup GPS guided me through Greenville and then south along U.S. 69. The drive was gorgeous. The trees are lush, the grass is deep green. The pavement was dry. When I arrived at where I am staying overnight, though, I was greeted with that oh-so-typical Southeast Texas humidity.

I must be home. My family and I lived here for nearly 11 years. I came back to attend a funeral of a man I loved very much. Our friendship hit the skids a few years back over political differences, but it never negated the feeling I had for him and the friendship we forged during our time working together for the newspaper in Beaumont.

I just felt the need, though, to offer a bit of a surprise observation as I trekked south through the Piney Woods.

It’s a good thing, I suppose, that I didn’t have to grind me teeth for 275 miles.

Happy Trails, Part 115: First house guest arrives

I am happy to report that our first house guest arrived, spent the night and then departed for points north.

Why is this a big deal? Because it occurred in our new home.

Our dear friend lives in Roanoke, Va. He was visiting his mother-in-law in East Texas. His wife, another dear friend, had stayed behind to spend more time with her mother.

I’ll stipulate that we’ve actually had another person spend the night with us prior to our friend. That other person, though, is our granddaughter and, given that she is family, I won’t count her as a “first house guest.” Emma isn’t a “guest” in our home, if you know what I mean.

This is a big deal because of the hard work my wife — aka Wonder Woman — has done to assemble our new digs in Fairview, making them livable and comfortable not just for us, but for those who choose to visit.

I know there will be others who’ll come to see us. We will welcome them.

Just not all at once. Our new place isn’t that big. It is, however, big enough for us, for our granddaughter, for Toby the Puppy and those who want to share some time with us.

I’m just thrilled to have spent some fellowship in our new dwelling with someone who came from far away.

‘Celebrating’ the Klan’s birthday?

Hooded and robed members of the Ku Klux Klan hold their hands apart as they rally around a 15 foot high burning cross in Ephrata, Pennsylvania Saturday, Oct. 3, 1987. (AP Photo/Bill Cramer)

Some things simply defy one’s ability to comprehend.

Such as whether you should in any way, shape or form honor the existence of a certifiable hate group.

An East Texas newspaper, the Longview News-Journal, did what I — and many others — consider to be the unthinkable when it published a front-page story commemorating the 150th year since the founding of the Ku Klux Klan.


The paper had a big front-page picture of a cross-burning with hooded Klansmen standing around.

The outrage in the community has been profound. It also was expected. Residents in the town tucked in the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas are calling for a boycott of the paper.

Indeed, this is a remarkable thing to witness in the second decade of the 21st century.

The Klan deserves only to be condemned for the violence it has brought to Americans over the past century and a half.

I once lived and worked not too far from Longview. The southeast corner of Texas has a community or two perceived by many to be havens for Klan-type activity. You mention the name of the town Vidor to anyone near Beaumont — where I lived and worked for more than a decade — and you often get a sort of knowing glance and wince.

The town, about 10 miles east of Beaumont on Interstate 10, is full of fine folks. But they all live with the knowledge of what their town symbolizes to many people.

Indeed, East Texas has been scarred — as have many regions throughout the South — by the Klan.

As the Dallas Observer reported: “After the story — which was adapted from an Associated Press wire story — ran on Saturday, reader Hillary Sandlin laid out the case against the paper on Facebook. ‘This makes us look like a bunch of backwoods racists and only further reinforces incorrect stereotypes about most of the people in this area. These ‘chapters’ could be six guys who made a group, but the map makes it appear like it’s a thriving organization,’ she says.”

For the newspaper of record in Longview to single out a hate group has opened up some deep and festering wounds.

Simply unbelievable!

Panhandle might fall victim to intra-party squabble

Having taken note of the political demise of a soundly conservative lawmaker from East Texas to an even more conservative challenger, the thought occurred to me: Is the Texas Panhandle susceptible to this kind of intra-party insurrection?

State Sen. Bob Deuell is about to leave office after being defeated in the GOP primary by newcomer Bob Hall. As the Dallas Morning News columnist noted, the “farthest right” defeated the “far right.”

So, what does this mean for the Panhandle?

I’ll admit that the GOP primary contest for the Texas Senate seat held by Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, frightened the bejabbers out of me. Seliger almost got beat in the March primary by former Midland mayor Mike Canon, a nice guy who’s also a TEA party mouthpiece. Canon suggested during the campaign that Seliger, a mainstream Republican former Amarillo mayor, was somehow in cahoots with them crazy liberals in Austin.

The Panhandle, indeed all of West Texas, dodged a bullet by re-nominating Seliger in the primary and allowing him to coast to re-election in an uncontested race in November.

What does the future hold? What might occur if, say, state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, packs it in? Smithee has served in the Legislature since 1985 and has developed a reputation as one of the smartest, most legislatively savvy members of the Texas House.

Who’s lying in wait out there for a key retirement? Who’s waiting in the tall grass waiting to seize the moment to launch a sound-bite campaign the way Hall did against Deuell?

It happened in a Texas Senate district down yonder. It can happen here.