Charlie Haldeman

The digital home of the genuine rural eclectic.

September 2018

September 30, 2018

It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else.

I don’t know who came up with that quote, but I approve of it.

My latest example:

Yesterday, we took a short trip over to Whitney, Texas to try a barbecue joint. The joint was closed for the day, so we had to try another place. The food at that place was terrible. All around.

At the other place… the place with the terrible food… the walls of the dining area were littered with concert posters, backstage passes, and other memorabilia of singers and bands.

One such souvenir was a lyric sheet with these words:

If I had a boat… I’d go out on the ocean.

And if I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat.

And we could all together go out on the ocean.

I set me upon my pony on my boat.

Hours after that disappointing supper and chance encounter with those long ago simple lyrics, we’re back in Waco watching public television and a documentary celebrating Austin City Limits is on.

Sure enough, that song comes on.

If that’s not a coincidence, I don’t know what is.


September 29, 2018

A cross-state colleague of mine from my Louisiana days loves to take pictures in his off time. He’s a broadcast journalist by trade, so John Snell already deals with pictures on the job.

You need to see what he captures when he’s off the clock though.

Photo by John Snell 2018

This one comes from Madisonville, Louisiana. That’s the Tchefuncte River just ahead of where it lets in to Lake Pontchartrain.

That’s pronounced shuh-funk-tuh and pon-shuh-train.

Or in a word… beautiful.

There’s more on John and a band full of other talented photographers in this story.


September 28, 2018

Have you ever looked at a picture or heard a place come up in conversation and you couldn’t remember if you have actually been there?

Perhaps you’ve been there in spirit. Perhaps you’ve lived vicariously through others. Perhaps it’s all the fault of Google Streetview. Let’s explore more in this Dispatch.


September 27, 2018

Five days into the new season and I finally felt fall in Central Texas this morning. Did you feel it? I had a feeling it was a little late. Now, I’m told the burst of cool air is temporary.


September 26, 2018

You know there are hundreds of languages in use around the world. You know that the spoken word is mighty powerful and fascinating when you listen to a foreign tongue.

This morning, I ran across this story claiming a village in Turkey uses whistling to communicate.


September 25, 2018

It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten fried catfish.

But that’s what I’m thinking about for lunch today.

Every September 25th, I think about fried catfish.

That’s what Lizia Shumake would want to eat on her birthday.

Mama Lizia (pronounced LIE-zee) was my great-grandmother and she loved catfish.

She also dipped powder snuff, made teacakes, and could crochet and tat and quilt. Of course, there was a lot more about her and her legacy I could tell. But let’s stick to the memorable parts. Like her candy dish that was a glass hen. Or her “stories” that came on in the afternoon on channel 6 (soap operas).

She had the loudest voice over the telephone when she’d call. She didn’t yell into the phone, but her rotary phone could amplify her voice to the point that you didn’t need to hold the receiver up to your ear to hear it.  Mind you, this was before the days of speaker phones. When she was through talking, you knew it because she would hang up the phone before she was done. She was finish her last sentence after she had put the receiver back on the hook!

On September 25, 1905, Lizia Meely Moore was born on the John Medford place, about a mile south of Avery, Texas.

She left us when she was 99 years old.

She would have been 113 had she lived today.

Lizia Moore Shumake


September 24, 2018

It turns out that strange tower I was asking about is near the town of Milford in Ellis County, and not Waxahachie. Besides, there have been enough strange occurances in Waxahachie to last us a while. The fact that Jerry Lee Lewis was kicked out of bible college there, not withstanding.

It also turns out that the many guesses about this tower weren’t that far off the mark. It’s a site under construction by a company called Texzon. The tower has something to do with electromagnetics and delivering energy without the use of cables.

I’m not making this stuff up.  I’m fascinated by it all. SO was the Waxahachie Daily Light newspaper.


September 23, 2018

This is still a mystery to me and I’m determined to find the answer.

What is this?

That oddly shaped tower there on the left stands about a mile off Interstate 35 not far from Waxahachie. I wrote about it a few weeks back. It looks like a large science project.

I’ve inquired near and far. Nobody knows. Plenty of guesses, but no one can say with certainty what it is.

My inquiries will have to be taken to the source. I’ll keep you posted on what I find out later.


September 22, 2018

Football season in Texas means wet cameras when it rains. Expensive, wet video equipment.

But our friend Darryl down in Bryan has a better solution than the simple trash bag. Why look here. It’s a form-fitted Gatorade wrapper with tape.

I’m told it works just fine. Yes, there’s a $8,000 camera under there.


September 21, 2018

DO YOU REMEMBER the 21st night of September? I’m fairly certain the chorus will be in my head all. Day. Long.

NPR has the story of the song’s co-writer, Allee Willis.


September 20, 2018

I started shopping for a new cooker/smoker recently to put out on the back porch, but the mission didn’t last long. Have you seen the prices of those things?

I’ll spare you a price list but I’ll say this. If you ever took an Introduction to Sheet Metals class in the high school or college vocational agriculture department, you can easily make some extra cash as a welder.

Go out and find a used propane tank, rent a welder and build one of these yourself.

Then mark it up 400-600% above cost and you’ll still sell it cheaper than what’s on the market.

Austin Barbecue man Aaron Franklin even gives a detailed how-to build one in his book.

Here’s a custom business in place that does great work… for people with money burning holes in their pockets.


September 19, 2018

Sometimes, subtle humor is the best humor. It jogs the mind. It’s not normally offensive. Plus, when the light bulb goes off (“I see what you did there”), it gives a joke a little more value.

Here are a few examples from some clever shirt sellers. Do you know the movies that are referenced?


September 18, 2018


September 17, 2018

Bill Geist retired yesterday. Maybe you’ve heard of him. I hope so. If you like watching the news like I do, then enjoy a look back at 30+ years of Bill’s career at CBS:


September 16, 2018

Maybe you’ve seen her on TV. She’s known at the Popeye’s lady. Until this morning, we weren’t sure if she was the Chef, the cashier, or the CEO. Yes to all three.

We also learn the actress behind the character is a flight scientist and pilot.

Thanks to the paper in Lafayette for finding answers to our questions.

By the way, Popeye’s was NOT named after Popeye the Sailorman cartoon. The name comes from Popeye Doyle, the character played by Gene Hackman in The French Connection.


September 15, 2018

One of these days, we’ll have to go to Pancake, Texas.


September 14, 2018

Television shows set in the South were a big deal in the 90’s. It seemed like every major channel had at least one. Eventually, they fell out of favor much like they did in the early 70’s (see CBS and the rural purge).

Today, if it’s not a reality show, the popular concept that’s started to appear is what’s known as a re-boot. That’s when networks take old shows and bring them back after a long absence. See Hawaii Five-0, for an example

There’s another re-boot on the horizon and I have a feeling it will get some attention if it actually happens.

The Hollywood Reporter says Designing Women is coming back.

Oh Sugarbaker.


September 13, 2018

There’s a storm out in the Atlantic they’re calling Florence. The Carolina coast is bracing for impact. Here’s a look from the International Space Station.


September 12, 2018

How about a little music this morning? It’s been a while since we’ve shared what’s on our radios, iPods, or whatever device you use.

This one is a first-listen for me. I heard it on the World Cafe on NPR while going to work this morning. I don’t know the artist but I really liked the mandolins. At least that’s what I think I hear. What do you think?


September 11, 2018

My grandparents remember where they were when they heard that Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked.

My parents remember where they were when they heard that President John Kennedy and Governor John Connally had been shot in Dallas.

and I remember where I was when Washington and New York were attacked by three hijacked airliners. Lest we forget about the plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


September 10, 2018

Now there’s a fine image captured by my mother-in-law the other day at the Cotton Bowl.

That’s my Daddy and me having a conversation. It’s worthy of a frame just the way it is.

What makes it especially good is my mother’s reaction when I shared. I’m still laughing and it’s been a day already.


September 9, 2018

If everybody had the same passion for their profession as this man, the world would be a much more productive place. You can bid on that.

Auctioneering is a fascinating profession. If you have a wad of cash and 8 days to spare, perhaps you too can become an auctioneer. There’s a school about to commence soon up in north Texas.

What’ll you bid for that?


September 8, 2018

Oddities abound all around us. What are some of the strange things you’ve encountered lately?

Here’s my short list:

We sat for 3 hours in the historic Cotton Bowl waiting on a high school football game to start. Lightning continually delayed kickoff. Once the game got underway, it was a mere 15 minutes before lightning struck again within 10 miles. The game was cancelled. So that’s not really odd. Just unplanned.

Prior to the weather fun, we saw this structure along interstate 35 south of Waxahachie. Now that’s odd. I’m still on the search for an answer on this one.

What. Is. This?

Nobody that I’ve asked seems to know.

And finally, you may remember my appreciation of Texas TV weatherman Harold Taft. Taft’s been gone for 27 years now. But it warms my heart his employer still remembers him.

KXAS-TV has a pair of trucks they use to track active weather. This one is “Texas Thunder 1.”

Check out this license plate.

So, that’s not really odd. But it is like an inside joke or a story that only you and a few friends understand. The kind of discovery that is followed by a smile and a wink between those who get it.


September 7, 2018

We’re the defenders of the Alamo really heroes?

No, I’m not asking that question. Someone else is.

I’m going to have to read this article twice more to wrap my head around this one.

Should Texas Schoolchildren Be Taught That Alamo Defenders Were ‘Heroic’?

Painting, “Dawn at the Alamo,” by Henry Arthur McArdle, hanging in the Senate Chamber of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas


September 6, 2018

I don’t listen to podcasts very often, but this one caught my ear. Texas A&M Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher is a very well compensated new arrival to the big school.

For 35 minutes, he and Andy Langer talk about everything from football to the perils of growing up in a world where cameras are everywhere, social media is dangerous, and how fear can paralyze you. I recommend listening, even if you have no interest in football or the Texas Aggies.

The Texas Monthly podcast with Andy Langer can be found here.


September 5, 2018

And the internet melts down.

On this post from Charlie Robison, there were 189 comments. Only 5 of them were in response to his plea.

The rest were arguing with each other. Is this what we’ve become?


September 4, 2018

Nike has done one of two things.

The company has either pulled off one of the greatest marketing ploys of a generation, or it has executed one of the worst marketing ideas of this generation and it will turn out to be a major mistake.

I’m not sure there is an in-between.

They went all-in.

Here are the details.


September 3, 2018

Happy “Papa was a rolling stone” Day


September 2, 2018

If you happen to know the sheriff in Bowie County, Texas, (whether or not you are among the criminally inclined), then you probably know the man is also an angler.

That’s a fancy word meaning he likes to go fishing.

This weekend, Sheriff James Prince decided he’d would help out his novice angler friends by giving them a look at one of his fishing spots.

“A lot of folks in Bowie County have asked where I catch big catfish in Wright Patman.

Here is one of my honey holes!”

I say well done there, Sheriff. I’m sure you’ll have a crowd of anglers competing for cork space the next time you venture to your spot. 😂


September 1, 2018

I haven’t felt fall yet. Have you?

Some years in late August or early September, even when the afternoon sun radiates your body to a full-on fever after 5 minutes outside, I’ve felt fall in the wind in the morning or late evenings from the porch. Not yet this year. Read more on fall here

Autumn landscape in Rybiniszki, Latvia, watercolor by Stanisław Masłowski, 1902 (National Museum in Warsaw, Poland)

September when it comes…

Since we all turned the page on our wall calendars this morning, so have we turned a page on this digital space.

You can find all of the August posts (and beyond) and links to various Dispatches here.


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