From the Heart

I have never written in before, but I wanted to commend Skip [Hollandsworth] for his article [“Sabika’s Story,” May 2019]. It was so lovely and heartbreaking that it moved me to tears. Thank you, Skip, for researching this story and reminding us what’s beneath the headlines. I am in awe.
Julissa Topete, Austin

Skip has outdone himself on this article. It should be required reading for all Texans concerned about violence in schools. This story is a reminder of how far-reaching the effects of these incidents are, and until we actually do something about it, we could see articles such as this one in the future. I am not sure what the answers are, but as a teacher, I know arming educators is not the answer.
Brian Alford, College Station

I remember hearing about Santa Fe on the radio and the Pakistani exchange student who was killed. I could not imagine the horror or the calamity her family would feel receiving such news. Skip wrote an amazing story with sensitivity and grace. Thank you for painting such a beautiful picture of Sabika and Jaelyn. Jesus called peacemakers “children of God.” Skip gives us an eloquent story of what that should look like, particularly in light of the world we live in.
Rachael Hall, Austin

’Cue the Response

Daniel Vaughn is a hell of a writer, and the piece he did in this issue is wonderful [“The Wide World of Texas BBQ,” May 2019]. I’ve been following him since he was a blogger, and it always surprises me how passionate and well written and interesting and informational his articles are. I’m a native Texan living in Seattle. Actually own a barbecue restaurant inspired by Daniel Vaughn and barbecue summer camp at Texas A&M. You’re sustaining many Texans living in Seattle with your wonderful magazine. Keep up the great work!
Jack, Seattle

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I would like to see a list of all the barbecue joints that the writers have tried. It seems that if a restaurant isn’t within a half tank of gas of a major airport or near a ritzy resort or “classy,” then the place isn’t considered. There are a lot of fine barbecue places in small towns. A lot of your readers out here love good barbecue but aren’t wealthy snobs or on an expense account. Bless your hearts!
Hal Thomas Risner, via Email

When I want BBQ, I want brisket, sausage, and ribs slow cooked with wood smoke. I want to taste that smoke. The only side needed is a slice of white bread and maybe a Big Red.
Larry Gaston, Cleburne

Oil Change

I just finished reading your article regarding the Permian Basin oil boom [“The Price of Oil,” June 2019]. I was going to do a quick skim of the article, but within only a couple of paragraphs, I found myself captured and transported to the Permian Basin. I read every word and found myself wanting more. Thanks for taking me on this visit!
Charlie Hale, Franklin, TN

Having been born (in 1943) and raised in a Humble Oil and Refining Company camp in Andrews County, I was delighted to read Christian Wallace’s account of the incredible oil boom in the Permian Basin. The article brought back wonderful memories of my childhood and youth: attending the Permian Basin Oil Show with my father when it first met in a park on the west side of Odessa; my mother taking a hot meal to my father when he was working on the drilling rigs; working summer and holiday jobs with Humble Oil and independent oil well service companies that allowed me to pay my own way through Texas Tech; and seeing Andrews celebrate production of the county’s ten millionth barrel of oil. To read now about the amount of oil being produced on a daily basis is astounding. And who would have ever thought that to go back to Andrews now to attend a class reunion would cost me $200 to $300 a night to stay in a hotel, assuming the rooms aren’t being used by rotating shifts of oil field workers. Were my father still living, he would be flabbergasted to hear that Toyah, where he was born and raised, is now filled with “man camps.”
David T. Seay, Tyler

As a native Odessan born in 1991 not far from [Wallace] (north side of Odessa, outside city limits, now living in Houston), this article struck many chords with me. Every time I go back it seems the landscape is dotted with more and more cookie-cutter housing developments. An especially large development has sprung up around Barbara Jordan Elementary School, a school that when I was in attendance would occasionally be on lockdown because a rattlesnake was spotted too close to the building. Back then, the school was almost completely out on its own but now has been engulfed by houses that stretch to the North Loop. This may be one of the better examples of either foresight or luck on a neighborhood development front. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who didn’t know about sushi until moving out of West Texas (my seafood palate was not developed until moving to Houston). The description of an Odessa Bronchos game was a great nostalgia trip. While I am glad to be out of West Texas, it is refreshing to read about my hometown in a way that only a fellow native can report. I believe you captured the bleakness of the oil field while highlighting the human elements. Keep up the great work.
Matt Moore, Houston

Paying Respects

Congratulations for reviewing “Spying on the South” [“Spying on Texas,” June 2019]. I had the pleasure of chatting with [the book’s author] Tony Horwitz when he was in Austin gathering information for this book. He was engaging, interested, and focused. It was clear why he was such a successful journalist and writer. Like its author, the book is intelligent and just plain fun. Horwitz’s sudden death [in May] was a shock and a sad loss.
Mary Braunagel-Brown, Austin

Nativity Seen

Just read your piece regarding what qualifies as a native Texan [The Texanist, June 2019], and it really rang true. I am one of those “brown belt” Texans who, once noting the horrible mistake in birthplace, got to Texas with all dispatch, never looking back. I threw my lot into my adopted state completely, marrying a native Texan, raising two proper native Texans, and spending untold thousands of volunteer hours serving my fellow Texans in various ways, as a Red Cross disaster specialist, paramedic, and firefighter, as I plied those trades across the world, always returning to my beloved Texas. Now retired, my Texan wife and I are building a small, defensible redoubt in the Middle of Nowhere, Texas, where we can spend a few years sipping sweet tea on our porch as we watch the dogs watch the goats make more goats and plan that, upon my demise, my ashes are to be scattered into the welcoming arms of the Brazos River from the Waco Suspension Bridge so I might, over the next few million years, wander my way through the best part of the planet, on my way to the sea. After a lifetime devoted to my adopted state, I believe I can claim the title “naturalized Texan,” and as you are a respected arbiter of all things Texan, seek your approval. Or at least formal recognition of my brown belt.
Terry Dinerman, Middle of Nowhere, TX

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