Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

Dominos at Granger Gin
Beauty Tea Party
Beauty and the Beast
Light Painting Red Barn
Cemetery Tour
2015 Veterans Day
Sharp, Texas
151103 THORNDALE, TEXAS:  Downtown Thorndale, Texas is pictured on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.  This is a long-hollowed out structure on Main Street.   According to a local resident taking a stroll through town, the area once was  a bar, but it's been dormant for many years.   Thorndale is a town in Milam County, Texas, with a population of just over 1300.   Photo by Andy Sharp.
2015 Wurstbraten
2015 Halloween


Dominoes at the Gin

This may or may not be common in other places, but farmers getting together for a friendly game of dominoes has been a tradition in many parts of Texas.  When not in their fields, it’s been a good way pass the time and catch up with old friends.   My wife had childhood memories of the farmers on her mother’s side getting together in their little domino hall in Streetman, Texas back in the 1950s.   In Granger, Texas today, a group regularly gets together for a few games at the Blackland  Co-Op  Gin.    The fellows I watched figure their games date back to at least the mid-1970s, so long, in fact, the dominoes are personalized with the gin’s name on them!   When weather slows down farm work, it’s a good place to be.   I do like that some of these venerable traditions continue.

A Palace Tea Party

In conjunction with the Palace Theatre’s incredible production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” currently running on their Springer Memorial Stage, the theater hosted a tea party Saturday evening, complete with cast members on hand to inspire and enthrall the children.   52 kids signed up for the fun.   I was happy to see at least a couple of little boys among that group.   The children were particularly enchanted with Palace regular Kelsey Kimble, who stepped in to be Belle in order to get Kristin DeGroot onstage on time!   Near the end of the 90-minute party, Belle treated the children with a bit of story time.  Since this was only minutes before the curtain call for the night’s show, it was good to have an extra, really good “Belle” on hand!   The kids were happy, and that’s what counts.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” Comes to the Palace

Georgetown’s Palace Theatre  is presenting Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” on their Springer Memorial Stage for this holiday season.   The very colorful production, directed by Ron Watson, will be keeping people happy through December 30.   In the role of The Beast is Ismael Soto III, a gifted young fellow who’s graced this stage many times before.   Everyone, however, is just grand.   I’ll let the photos do the talking on this post.


A Visit To The Little Red Barn

It’s been a while since I made a stop at one of my favorite structures, the little red barn near Jonah, Texas.    Last evening, after completing a difficult freelance assignment, I decided to unwind with a visit.   The rain had been pouring steadily for most the previous 24 hours, but finally, the skies cleared.  It was a very pleasant and cool evening.  Before the sun went down, the light was truly golden.   For this post, I’m tossing in the farm house that shares this bit of land, such a nice old house it is!   Also included is a snapshot of my very handy rubber boots.  Us old Boy Scouts always come prepared.  The fields surrounding the barn were loaded with Blackland Prairie mud!    I should mention how grateful I am for the family who owns the property for allowing me to pay an occasional visit to their barn.  If I had the funds (and I may figure it out yet), I’d make them some prints.   Did anyone notice the little sliver of moon last evening?   It’s included in a few of these images.

A Moody Cemetery Tour

Each year, the Williamson Museum, in Georgetown, Texas, conducts a tour of the city’s I.O.O.F. Cemetery.   It’s a self-guided affair, where visitors stroll through the grounds.   Along the way, museum docents, in the roles of people buried where they stand, tell a bit about that person.   Just as last Saturday’s tour began, the bottom dropped out, the skies filling with rain, heavy at times.   Being the troopers they are, the docents stayed the course.   And people showed up to listen.   The weekend before, early Saturday rains forced cancellation.   This time, event organizers were determined to make this happen!   For me, the rain just added to the allure of the cemetery.  I love these places.   Shortly after coming home to Texas a few years ago, I visited this cemetery, coming upon the gravestone of Nannie Morrow, the eldest daughter of Sam Houston.   Born in 1846, she married Captain Joseph Clay Stiles Morrow, the family settling in Georgetown.   Captain Morrow was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War.   That grave, of course, was on tour last Saturday.   And that dapper young fellow in the straw hat, under the pecan tree?  That’s docent Philip Jones, who played the part of Frank T. Roche, an early editor of the Williamson County Sun, my client for this assignment.

Veterans Day in Sun City, Texas

Again this year, I was honored to attend the annual Veterans Day observance at the Georgetown-Williamson County Veterans Memorial Plaza, held in Sun City for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.   As usual, it was completely packed, with probably well over a thousand people in attendance.  Among those on hand was a little boy holding the American flag, 2-year-old Jake Cisneros, who came with his grandma, Rosanne Cisneros.   Jake’s great-grandfather, Raymond Gomez, was a World War II  Navy veteran who was at Pearl Harbor.  He died just last year.   This is always a poignant event to cover.

A Visit to Sharp (Texas)

Maps, old-fashioned maps, the kind you see in a road atlas, are something I enjoy.  It’s easy to spend hours looking at names of places.   Coming home to Texas a few years ago, I discovered a town in Milam County called Sharp.  Since it was only about 45 minutes from our home in Taylor, I had to check this one out.   Sharp is tiny, a dot on the map, along F.M. 487, not far from Cameron, or Rockdale.   The latest census figures I found for it lists the population at around 75.  My wife and I saw at least one resident last evening, taking a shirtless stroll on a night too cold for that particular attire.  It was founded in the 1870s by William Franklin Sharp, an area physician.   It prospered with the addition of a Presbyterian church, and later, in 1896, the Davis General Store (in the opening photo), also called Sharp General Store, opened for business.  It was a hub of the community until it closed in 1985.  People, many of them farmers, would spend hours on the front porch, visiting.  There’s also the Sharp School building, almost next door to the general store.  In 1900 Sharp sprouted a post office, which closed six years later.

The school system there began in 1931, eventually including nearby communities of Lilac, Duncan, Oakville, Friendship, Val Verde and Tracy.   In 1960 the school system consolidated with the Rockdale Independent School District.  The first three photos are of the store, the final two, the school.  This is just another of my little slice of life towns in Texas.

Thorndale, Texas

Thorndale, Texas is a town in Milam County with a population of just over 1300.   If you’ve seen the movie “The Rookie,” starring Dennis Quaid, you’ve seen the baseball field (Thorndale High) shown in this series.   The hollowed-out building, along Main Street, was once home to a bar, according to gent walking with his wife when I was here earlier in the week.   These are a few images added to my continuing project documenting slices of small-town Texas.

Wurtsbraten in Walburg, Texas

On an otherwise serene Monday evening this week, Walburg, Texas was smoking, at least it was at Zion Lutheran Church and School as the church held its annual Wurstbraten, their biggest fundraiser of the year.  In this community nestled in the northern reaches of Williamson County, German culture was celebrated with a huge feast of sausage, all 13,100 pounds of it handmade by church members, then lovingly smoked out back before being served up in the school gymnasium.  For those preferring to take their meals home, you could get a to-go plate, including the sausage, and sides of sauerkraut, coleslaw, green beans, sweet potatoes and bread, all for $10.  As usual, the line of cars was long, but the lines moved quickly.  This is always a fun event to cover for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Halloween On Main Street

Until we moved back to Texas a few years ago, photographing Halloween trick-or-treaters held little interest.    The idea of a grown man wandering along a neighborhood street, snapping photos, just didn’t sit well with me.   Until, that is, I discovered Main Street in Georgetown, Texas.   This street of graceful old homes, large and small, is nothing short of amazing.   Main Street residents, for the most part, encourage both children and intrepid photographers.   Now, when Halloween comes each year, I can’t wait to get out there again for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.  Here are a few from this year.