Katy Vine has been a staff writer at Texas Monthly since 2002. She has written on a range of topics including barbecue pit masters, spelling bee champs, Warren Jeffs, the moon landing, bass fishing, a three-person family circus, chess prodigies, and a reclusive musician named Jandek. Her stories have been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing 2005, The Best American Sports Writing 2006, and Best Food Writing 2011. Her 2005 feature story about an Odessa prostitution parlor was the inspiration for the Lifetime television series “The Client List.”
On March 18, 1937, the residents of New London, southeast of Tyler, endured the worst small-town tragedy in U.S. history: an explosion at the combined junior-senior high school that killed some three hundred students and teachers.
Fernando Spada and Fernando Mendez are the Karpov and Kasparov of Brownsville: chess champions whose lifelong competition has produced a rivalry every bit as fierce as those of Ali and Frazier, McEnroe and Borg, or Nicklaus and Palmer. Did I mention that they’re in the fourth grade?
At the Giddings State School, violent teenagers come to terms with their horrific crimes—and learn how to avoid committing them again—through role-playing exercises in a jailhouse version of group therapy. This is what your tax dollars are paying for? Well, it works. For a while, at least.
How the fire to end all fires obliterated Ringgold—and how residents of the tiny North Texas town are putting their lives back together.
Katie Wernecke is many things: a precocious, freckle-faced Bible-drill champ; the valedictorian of her seventh-grade class in Banquete; and—since she was diagnosed with cancer last year—a pawn in the custody battle that pits her parents against the State of Texas.
The prison affected me personally. I grew up parking cars at the prison rodeo. I had a stepfather who was a prison guard.
For going on five years, my admiration has grown for the weekly paper in the tiny Panhandle town of Miami (above). The New York Times it ain’t, but it tells me everything I could ever want to know about local births and deaths, windblown mail, bad potholes, and good yards. And Theo.
As mythical creatures go, Bigfoot is right up there with the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. But in Jefferson, the search for the hairy, hulking beast with the, er, big feet is big business—and deadly serious.