These are photos I took Wednesday evening after returning home to East Williamson County, Texas, another look at the start of our summer solstice. It’s far too hot already, but the land and sky on the prairie continue to expand my mind. The first photo is a field of milo having a good early-summer period of growth. Full disclosure: I didn’t know the crop’s name, so stopped and asked a farmer’s daughter (really), who set me straight. Another stop was at Immanuel Lutheran Church, the little church on the hill, just west of Taylor. This church is one of several often-visited spots. A few photos of the church, and the sky, seemed like a good idea. Just up the county road from Immanuel, I spotted a few cattle, a shy bunch indeed, but curious critters, too. The night was topped off with (wait for it) a windmill. Some things are a constant.
The summer solstice where we live began Tuesday at 11:24p.m. Today, Wednesday, was our first full day of summer. Anyone in Texas will tell you it’s been a mite warm here for a while. I saw that Wichita Falls has already had a 117-degree day. All I can so to that is … well dang. Early this afternoon I stopped by Blue Hole Lagoon in Georgetown, Texas, where this athletic 15-year-old demonstrated his diving skills on our relatively-cool afternoon. Heck, it was only mid-90s! Stay hydrated, friends.
A book that has fascinated me for the last few weeks is “Equal Before the Lens,” published in 1992 by Texas A&M University Press. The book, authored by Barbara McCandless, chronicles the photographs of Czech-American photographer Jno. (John Paul) Trlica, a Granger resident born in 1882. He died in 1977. The images in this book are grand documents of a time spanning the early 1900s through the early 1940s. Since Granger, now with a population of just over 1400, is just a few minutes north of where we live, in Taylor, I wandered up that way tonight to take a few photos of my own. The opening photo shows city hall, up for renovation very soon. The young fellow checking his phone is near a lion, the school mascot. I was trying to find the location of Mr. Trlica’s studio, but alas, I think it may no longer be standing. My neighbor, in his 80s, grew up in Granger and knew the photographer. He thinks the building has been torn down. At any rate, I got the book from the library, but would love to have a copy for my own. A scan of the book’s cover is included in this post. The child on that cover is a little girl, but many thought it to be a boy.
We took an afternoon drive today, making our way to the trailer park where we lived from 1972-1974 (still there), then on to Lockhart, where we had a nice visit to the town square, and, of course, Whataburger. After filling up, we chose a different route home to Taylor, through Bastrop County, Texas. Motoring along Texas Highway 21, we came to Cedar Creek, a dot on the map. To our left was a sign: “Hopewell Rosenwald School est. 1921-22.” Initially, I passed on by, but about two seconds passed before I turned around to check it out. The gate was open. I got out to take an exterior photo, then went to peek in the windows. To my surprise, the door to the old school was unlocked. When I peeked inside, curiosity won out. For a few very short minutes I stepped inside, touching not a thing. The interior of this large one-room schoolhouse was adorned with materials for renovation. Back home tonight, a Google search provided more information. Hopewell Rosenwald School was formed for the area’s African-American youth, continuing as a school through the late 1950s. Once closed, it fell on hard times for many years. In 2015 things began to change when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then along comes Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, providing a $50,000 capital grant for its restoration. When work is completed, the school will become a community center. I’m glad we stopped by. And that it was open.
Each year since I’ve been back in Texas, I’m honored to cover the annual Juneteenth celebration for the Williamson County Sun. The Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association coordinates and celebrates the day, June 19, 1865, when slaves learned of their freedom in Texas. This year marks the 65th year Juneteenth was commemorated in Georgetown. The San Gabriel Community Center, a sweet respite from the oppressive Texas heat, was a good place to be. The first photo shows the 6-year-old daughter of a Georgetown City Council member helping her good friend, also 6, get the words right to what’s called the Negro National Anthem. Note that I don’t cotton to the word “negro,” but it was on the program so that’s that. There was much singing, dancing, eating and visiting. One of the highlights was a visit by 102-year-old Annie Mae Williams City, who recounted her days growing up on a farm near Belton. “We played barefooted,” City said, but “we kept our shoes for Sunday wear.” I present Ms. City at the conclusion of this post, in color and black and white. She has presence.
Temperatures are approaching 100 degrees already in Central Texas. It’s good to know we have some donkeys smart enough to seek shelter where they can. Thank goodness for large shade trees.
Forgive me in advance, but I will often revisit favorite subjects and places. One of them is Taylor’s St. James Episcopal Church, a beautiful structure at the corner of 7th and Main Street. Leaving the library this evening, I was compelled to take another photo. The play of light and shadow on its north-facing facade is soothing, at least to yours truly.
As we approach the official start of summer in the south and southwest, local folks will quickly let you know this: summer’s been here for a while. With that in mind, here’s some photos taken in early- June 1976 in Shreveport, Louisiana, where I lived for six of the best professional years of my life. I liked the spirit of these bare-foot boys as they sold three flavors of Kool Aid: grape, cherry and pink lemonade, for the grand sum of a nickel. Good times.
Flags are one of my favorite photographic subjects. Thank goodness, then, for Flag Day in the United States. I’d forgotten what day it was, but on my morning walk, I noticed an abundance of American flags billowing in the Texas wind at Heritage Square Park in Taylor. Late this afternoon, I chose that park to catch up on my reading, then transition to flag photography. After a few minutes, a group of Boy Scouts, from Taylor Troop 167, stopped by to take them down. The flags, I’m told, were to fly from 7a.m.-7p.m. The scouts placed the flags in the morning, too. I’m glad I stopped by this lovely downtown park.
Norman’s Crossing is a tiny community in East Williamson County, Texas that I enjoy. You might recall posts from there, including a former one-room schoolhouse, and a lovely pasture of horses. In the farm country where we live, it’s also common to see family cemeteries, most often placed right next to the fields many families have tilled. One in Norman’s Crossing I like is the Saul family cemetery. The photos posted tonight are taken at different times this year. My first visit there was in March. I’ve sat on those images for while, but then last week I stopped by there again. The bare trees of March gave way to almost-summer leaves…and a field of wheat just beyond that once-barren tree. The passing of seasons create new landscapes for one’s pleasure.