Texas Country Reporter turns fifty in October 2022. Each week until then, we’ll share classic episodes from the show’s history and behind-the-scenes reflections from TCR’s creator and host, Bob Phillips.

Many of the stories we tell on Texas Country Reporter fall into certain categories. While each tale is unique (because all people are unique), there are commonalities between them. One of my favorite kind of story is how people overcome obstacles in life.

It’s odd that I am attracted to stories like that because I grew up with a person who overcame obstacles every day, yet I never even thought about it. When he was in his early twenties, long before I was around, my dad was in a terrible car accident and had his left arm amputated. He could do just about anything a person with two good hands could do—tie his shoelaces, button his shirt, drive a car—and I don’t remember ever thinking, “My dad only has one arm.” Maybe it’s because I never knew him any other way.

Only when I started traveling around Texas and sharing other people’s stories—like that of quilter Diane Rose or puzzle author Claire Mestepey—did I finally reflect on my dad’s disability, a word he would hate to hear me use to describe him, because he didn’t think of himself that way. He went about life like most other people. And although I never consciously thought about it, he was setting a formative example for me.

Michael Gregory of Beaumont occupies a space toward the top of the list of amazing people I have met who lived with a physical disability and serious hardships, and whose story is both regular and remarkable—he just went about life like most other people, while leaving his unique, creative stamp on the world.

Michael was blind, but he rode a bicycle around Beaumont, using his ability to sense the difference between light and dark. One day, the owner of an art gallery found Michael, homeless at the time, sleeping in the dumpster behind his shop. The gallery owner invited Michael inside, gave him a lump of clay, and told him to do with it what he wanted. It turns out Michael had a gift that was just waiting to be discovered. Michael was an incredible artist who had a lot to say. He started creating and never looked back.

Michael has since died, but if you watch this story from 1994, I think you’ll see why he has stayed in our memories.