Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead – Really?

We are in San Antonio for the start of the Mexican celebration of “Dia de Muertos” the “Day of the Dead”. This is a big deal here. It is celebrated from October 31 to November 2. I had a discussion with a gal near where we went for dinner. She explained the celebration. It is to celebrate the life of those that have passed, something that I could understand and truly appreciate. However, the motif of the celebration is decorated skeletons. That is kind of creepy. The date coincides with Halloween, which has evolved to be a big celebration. My puzzlement over this phenomenon is not to be explored here. It also coincides with the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the Catholic and Anglican religions. I am reminded of this by a fellow blogger.

I was nearly caught by one of them.

There are also elaborate shrines erected for some. This one was for Emma Koehler, the wife of the founder of the Pearl Brewing Company, the only brewery that stayed in operation during prohibition. They brewed non alcoholic beer.

There is also a special pastry that is made only this time of year, “Pan de Muerto”, “Dead Bread”. Sounds yummy – NOT! It probably tastes good, I may try some tomorrow and update this blog. Pan de Muerto has pieces of dough on the top of the bun to represent bones.

I did try one and it actually does taste good. It reminds me a bit of one of my favorites, “Hot Cross Buns” at Easter.

So, I like the idea of the celebration but I can do without the skeletons.

Met this local gal, she’s kind of cold

Libraries and Barbeque +

This post will lack deep thoughts and inspiration. But, I will include some photos. This may be a refreshing change

In Dallas, as an afterthought, went to the George W Bush Library. It proved to be a fun experience. We got a good, yet sanitized, look at the second President Bush’s presidency. A look at the times as well as the policies and challenges. And, we got our pictures taken at his desk in the reproduction of the Oval Office.

President Tina and her Sketchy VP

The Bush Library was so much fun that we went to the LBJ Library when we got to Austin. We had a special treat there as there was an exhibit dedicated to Motown Records. Very interactive and fun.

In the LBJ Library you cannot sit behind his desk in the Oval Office. For some reason it is pointed out several times during the narration that this Oval Office is 1/8 smaller than the original. I didn’t really see a difference.

The library is great although sanitized. I have always taken the position that although JFK got the Lion’s share of credit for civil rights legislation, it was LBJ that made it happen.

Now on to BBQ. I should change the title of this blog to “Eating across Texas”. The BBQ has been great but the breakfasts have been stellar. We had BBQ at the legendary Lockhart Smoke House in Dallas. And, would you believe? we got into Franklin’s in Austin. At Franklin’s we were told that they were out of sausage when we ordered, settled on a pound of brisket with all the sides. We were eating after the closing time and a staff member said that they had extra sausage. We took a free link. The four people next to us had a pound of brisket, a pound of turkey and it looked like two pounds of pulled pork. They took four links. Wow! Well, our assessment was that Lockhart’s was a winner.

The best meals we had in Texas has been breakfast.

We had a great breakfast with my High School friend, Sam and his wife Eileen.

The next day we made it to Waco to have a great breakfast at the Magnolia Table. Anyone who watches “Fixer Upper” knows about this place. We were really fortunate that we arrived early and got a table. When we left there was a long line.

While in Waco we did a tour. Again, only of interest to those that follow “Fixer Upper” and the associated Chip and Johanna Gaines. For those that follow, do you recognize the fellow in the center?

In Austin we went to a place that had brunch with Jazz.

And, yes, with a nod to Rome we had Aperol Spritzers. I am the one going nuts over variations on Eggs Benedict. With a biscuit in Waco and Cuban in Austin.

Does anyone care at all what we are eating? I truly doubt it. But, I have noticed that the thing to do is to photograph food.


In Dallas we visited a friend from High School, Sam. I had not seen him for 54 years. Unbelievable visit. It was like we were picking up a conversation from 54 years ago. Sam and I had very different upbringings. We were friends at NMMI. Then lead very different lives. But, we reconnected and remain friends. Meet Sam with his lovely wife, Eileen, was comfortable. The four of us really clicked.

Although Sam and I took divergent paths in life, we have a number of similarities. Neither of us had a completely easy life without challenges, we both returned to our Christian roots, we both sought education (Sam got a PhD so he is much more driven than I), and we both were able to find and marry darned great gals.

Is there something deep to be learned from this reunion? I have been trying to come up with something. The only one is to cherish friendships. They are true treasures.

No photos, what happened??? We either had a collective senior moment or photos were not meant to happen. Or, perhaps this is the take away from the reunion, “expect more senior moments”.

Big “D”

First day in Dallas. The high point of the day is a low point in history. We visited the Sixth Floor Museum. This is the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald positioned himself to assassinate JFK. The museum is very well done and well worth a visit.

As it was in 1963

I believe that most of us who were alive on November 22, 1963 remember that infamous day. Like Pearl Harbor for our parents and 911 for us, we remember where we were and what we were doing on days if national tragedy. I was a sophomore at NMMI. When we were told the news of JFK’s assassination, we were dismissed to our quarters. I recall being with a silent group of cadets setting on the floor. My back was against my closet door and I was thinking that this might be the end.

Some Background

Although Tina has not been to Texas, I have a little history here. When I was about to complete the 7th grade in Eureka, California, my family moved to Lubbock, Texas. I completed the 7th grade in Lubbock. The Lubbock Travelodge was the first hotel he bought.

What a culture shock. People talked differently. I had to take a month of Texas history and Spanish. A new item was present in nearly every classroom; a paddle hanging beside the door or on the teachers desk. The paddle was liberally applied to the behinds of the students for even the most minor of infractions. Most all of the time it was boys that got the paddle; however, remember one time a girl got a seat.

The giant just under the surface was segregation. Some of the things I remember aking my mother about were: what a colored water fountain was, why the street downtown had whites on one side and blacks on the other, the small cotton farm on the edge of town where people picked cotton by hand. Hispanics were another subculture. Three groups of people in very separate groups livingĀ  very separate lives. Although it seemed odd to a 13 year old, but in those days in Lubbock Texas it was just the way life was. We loved Salina, the housekeeper. It was a great job for her and she worked really well with mom. Mom ran the operation, dad was the visionary. We will see none of that on this trip.

When I entered the 10th grade I went to boarding school in New Mexico and a year later my family moved to Ohio. However, my connection with Texas did not end. Many of my friends at the New Mexico Military Institute were from Texas. The fellow we will be visiting in Dallas was a friend at NMMI. No paddles at NMMI, they had more rigorous ways to maintain order.

Off to Texas

This afternoon we will be heading off for the great state of Texas. We have long been talking about a visit but until now it has not materialized. I will be writing about our adventures in the Lone Star State. We have few plans in place but we are intending to:

  1. Visit a friend of mine, Sam, in Dallas. I have not seen Sam in the last 50 years.
  2. Make a visit to the Magnolia Market in Waco. I am making the leap that everyone is aware of Chip and Joanna Gaines of the “Fixer Upper” television show.
  3. Visit Austin. My neighbor, Sherm, believes that there is so much liberalism in the air in Austin that I will return and put a “Bernie 2020” sign in my front yard.
  4. See if the Alamo is still in San Antonio.

This will be Tina’s first trip to Texas. Changing planes does not count as a visit.

At the game

We made it to State College in about six hours, ran into a bunch of road work that slowed us up a bit.

Tina and I met up with Jim and some of his friends. I went completely off any thoughtful diet. Had a burger and fries.

Game day. Jim picked us up and took us to a great bagel place. Then took a local bus to the stadium. Got to Beaver Stadium a couple hours before the game. They are playing the Purdue Boiler Makers and it is Homecoming weekend. Tremendous crowds of fans, ninety percent with Penn State garb. I take that back, by a very unscientific count less than one percent do not have Penn State garb.

We got to the stadium and joined one of Jim’s roommates, Max, and his parents for a pre-game tailgate. Great hospitality. They are from Somerset, a short distance from Pittsburgh. There is a bond between anyone who has ever lived in the environs of Pittsburgh. Having lived in Pittsburgh for seventeen years, I truly feel that bond.

The stadium is filled and we have great seats.

Penn State won which made the game all the more fun.

After the game we attended yet another tailgate. This one was with another roommate, Tom, and his family. They are from Texas with deep roots in the Philadelphia area. And deep roots at Penn State. Again, great hospitality.

Some of Jim’s Buddies

Tomorrow we go

I will not say that I am ready for our trip. Haven’t packed or filled the car. But it’s easy for guys. All I need is a change of clothes and a credit card.

We have gathered the things that Jim said he wanted: Pecorino Romano, cans of Marzano tomatoes. Sounds like the Italian major is getting serious. In addition I have some things I brought back from Ireland and Tina has been making cookies to bring.