Some recommendations on what to do, see, and buy this month.
By Bread Alone
The small-town bakery is a disappearing thing. If it vanishes, a whole generation of children may never savor the unforgettable aroma of fresh-baked bread or experience the special affection that used to flourish like a grandpaternal bond between a baker and the kids who clustered in front of his glass cabinets gravely pondering how best to spend their dimes.
In a few places, most notably the towns settled by Central European ethnic groups like New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and West, superb historic bakeries remain in business, bringing out the child in all of us. But our favorite is the tiny Lone Star Bakery in Round Rock, twenty miles north of Austin on Interstate 35. Baker Charlie Baird and his wife have a limited but utterly delicious repertoire that includes rum cakes, pound cakes, sweet rolls, white and Swedish rye breads that make other bakery loaves (even the best of them) seem as tasteless as the store-bought kind. Four or five times daily they also fry the finest doughnuts in America. Among the crowds of doughnut votaries who assemble to snap up every new batch is a portly local matron, diet-bound, who orders a dozen in a bag, takes them to her car and sniffs them beatifically for a few minutes, then relinquishes them one by one to delighted children.
Lone Star Bakery/106 West Liberty Ave. Round Rock/ 9-5, Tue thru Sat/Bread in afternoons only/(512) 255-3629.
Crawfish, Pass By
Memorial Day weekend will bring again the opportunity for Texans and others to witness the Sport of Cajuns: we refer, of course, to Crawfish Racing. This sport makes cock fighting seem about as exciting as a prayer meeting.
Preliminaries in the Texas Championship Races will be held at 6 p.m., May 24, in conjunction with Port Arthur’s Cajun Festival. One of three Crawfish Racing Commissioners, Jim Brand, cautioned us not to confuse the ordinary eating variety of crawfish with the Registered Racing Breed. The Racing Breed is larger, redder, longer-legged, and shorter of claw, in addition to having better stamina, fancier whiskers, and a more amorous disposition.
Bill Taff, owner of last year’s third place winner, “Stocky” out of Braud’s stable, will be entering his new stud, “Stocky II.” The stable of Dr. John Eitel of Port Neches will be represented this year by “Mini Paws” who is out of his Champion “Pap Smear.” Eitel’s crawfish have won several years and his prize winning stock includes “Blue Ointment,” who took the title in 1971, and “Preparation H,” winner 1972. In some circles a dark crawfish named “Duplex,” owned jointly by Lester Tinlin of Beaumont and a Houston investment syndicate, is being touted.
In addition to the Crawfish Races, this year’s Festival will feature a repeat of last year’s thrilling Cajun Chair Rocking Contest, the Mme. and Mons. Cajun Contest, the King and Queen Contest, and the Diapered Doll Contest.
All crawfish must be registered thoroughbred Racing Crawfish and a check will be made prior to the races to make certain that no illicit methods are being used to make the crawfish more aggressive.
Cajun Festival/Pleasure Island, Port Arthur/May 24, 25, and 26/For more info: PO Box 460, Port Arthur 77640/(713) 985-9373/Free.
Music in Houston may never be the same after May 11. That’s the evening comedian Danny Kaye picks up his baton to conduct the Houston Symphony Orchestra in a concert that will resemble ordinary symphonic fare about as much as Kaye himself resembles Toscanini.
Kaye has conducted orchestras in more than 25 cities, among them Boston, London, Chicago, Stockholm, and Oklahoma City. He’s been doing it for twenty years, and in that time he’s raised more than $4 million for orchestral pension funds; he accepts no fee himself.
His antics (he’s been known to conduct “Flight of the Bumblebee” with a fly-swatter) can’t entirely conceal the fact that he has a retentive mind and an excellent ear for music. A good thing . . . since he can’t read a note.
The concert, says the Symphony Society soberly, “will open with an overture.” After that, who knows? Kaye will announce the rest of his program from the stage. A couple of hours and a dozen broken batons later everything—and everyone—will very likely be a shambles.
Proceeds will go to the Symphony Society.
Danny Kaye & The Houston Symphony/May 11 at 8:3O/Jones Hall/Houston/224-4240/$5 to $25.
The Home Stretch
If you are wild for old houses, craft shows, melodramas, and horse and buggy rides, grab your sunbonnet or Stetson and head to Columbus May 18 and 19.
This quiet town on the Colorado will be decked out for its thirteenth Annual Magnolia Homes Tour. For $1 a house or $3 for the set of six, you can see marvelous Victoriana as well as the 1886 Stafford Opera House.
When you get tired of walking, stop and have some down-home cooking. Like German sausage. Homemade ice cream. And old-fashioned lemonade. Or go grab a cool draft beer at “Red’s Saloon” (usually known as the American Legion Hall).
After that, browse through an art show, an old crafts display, an antique show, or watch demonstrations of quilting, black-smithing, and soap-making. Get in the buggy and surrey and drive by the corral of longhorn steer in the square.
On Saturday night at eight you’ll probably want to go over to the American Legion Hall again to cheer on “Ragweed Cowboy Joe” as he fights and sneezes his way through a homegrown melodrama. For $2.50 you get to boo the villain while you eat pretzels and beer and afterwards you can help push back the chairs and stay for the big dance.
Magnolia Homes Tour/Columbus/May 18 and 19, 1 to 6 p.m./(713) 732-5881.
Fuel crisis notwithstanding, the Third Annual Concours d’Elegance, in which up to 200 models of MGs and other exotic cars will be shown, will go on. The event, held May 26 at the Houston MG Car Club, promises glamor as well as nostalgia to those who admire the auto qua auto.
The MGs entered will include models from the Thirties up to the latest, with slick sports and racing cars predominating. There are also classes for other makes of cars and here one might view entries from as far back as the Twenties, plus some of the fancier cars from this year.
This is an exhibition show, not a race, honoring some of the finest models of cars of the last 60 years.
Concours d’Elegance/May 26 from 10 a.m./Houston MG Car Club/5555 West Loop South/782-8294 or 666-6281/Free.
If you want to find out what an Itik Itik, a Tinikling, and a Singkil are, plan to be in San Antonio for the first-ever Fiesta Filipinas, sponsored by Filipino Americans in San Antonio. It begins on the river with singers, dancers, musicians, and girls scattering flower petals from their boats. Everyone will be in native costumes as bright as the lotus flowers, orchids, frangipani, poinciana, and passion flowers carried on board. Leaving the Crockett St. Bridge at 11:45, the parade will travel past the main part of the Riverwalk to the Arneson River Theatre where there will be a fashion show of American styles based on Filipino dress, dignitaries, and a show of Philippine songs and dances.
That’s when you’ll find out what an Itik Itik, a Tinikling, and a Singkil are: native dances using poles and bells, and imitating birds’ movements.
Fiesta Filipinas/May 25/Noon, Arneson River Theatre/San Antonio/655-9584.
Cows and Dolls
Boogie papas, be alerted. “Texas’ Largest All-Girl Rodeo” will be held this month in Joshua, a little town in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area. Women, formerly relegated to the barrel racing event in the heretofore manly sport of rodeoing will now compete in bronc riding, ribbon roping, goat tying, breakaway calf roping, and even bull riding. Rules are slightly different from cowboy rodeos, with concentration on balance and precision timing rather than brawn. The calf roping requires only that the calf be caught, not actually thrown and tied down, so goat tying has been added for color and excitement.
Actually, all-girl Texas rodeos originated some 30 years ago—the first was held in 1943 in Bonham. Interest grew for a time, then the cowboys took over and women turned to the barrel races. But now women want to do it their way again, and all-girl rodeos are gaining aficionados.
Judges, of course, are all women and members of the Texas Barrel Racing Association which is sponsoring the rodeo. Even the clowns will be women—but the contestants are serious.
Texas’ Largest All-Girl Rodeo/Mountain Valley Recreation Association grounds/US Highway #174, Joshua/May 10 and 11 at 8 p.m./$2/Advance tickets: Box 946, Burleson 76038/(817) 295-2195.