Wednesday, June 17, 2020


I was fortunate to study with Professor Joe Feagin at The University of Texas who developed a 

theory on Systemic Racism (


Feagin is the top specialist in his field, winning numerous awards and prestigious positions. 

 In his book, Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression (2006),


Feagin demonstrates systemic racism encompasses a broad range of racialized dimensions of

this society: the racist framing, racist ideology, stereotyping, attitudes, racist emotions, discriminating habits and actions, and extensive racist institutions developed over centuries by whites. 

I highly recommend Joe Feagin's  books to everyone, especially those who work with law and social justice.


Saturday, June 6, 2020


                                             D-DAY SURVIVOR


The first hint that Reuben was a "Tough Hombre" was seen in his role as a  survivor from the sinking USS Susan B. Anthony, the day after D- Day, on June 7th, 1944,  during World War II.  The ship on which he rode to the shores of Omaha Beach near Normandy, France,  the USS Susan B. Anthony, won world recognition for having no fatalities when it sank close to the beach.  All 2,689 survived. In fact, The Guinness Book of Records documented it as breaking all kinds of records since it had the largest number rescued without loss of life.  Reuben was one who escaped the burning ship and went ashore with no weapons. He was a tough Hombre. Reuben was also a member of the 90th Division in World War II and moreover, it was properly nicknamed, the Division of Tough Hombres.

"T O" was the original name given to the 90th division because it was made up of men from Texas
and Oklahoma. During World War I there were many dangerous missions and consequently many losses. During World War II the reputation of bravery followed the 90th Division and so much so, the famous General George Patton nicknamed them "Tough Hombres."

After my father, Reuben Koether, arrived on Omaha Beach, he survived long enough to move inland, but I don't know where he went exactly or how long he remained in France. I don't think it was long. Eventually, he was hit by shrapnel that punctured one lung and shattered it. And later, he was sent to England to a  hospital that was set up for the injuries of the June 6th D - Day and the battles that followed. He told us the story about his being triaged and left at the end of a hall in an old British hospital to be treated after the less serious were first treated. He said he waited for days and days before they finally operated on him. The main provisions given to the injured were GI cigarettes. They depressed their appetites and their state of boredom. At last, Reuben was operated on and most of his damaged right lung was removed. After convalescing for months in the hospital, he was then sent home to the United States with one lung intact and only a piece of the other.  He was a tough Hombre.

                                       D-DAY HOSPITAL, THE NETLEY HOSPITAL

The old British hospital, the Netley, was declared a military hospital during World War II. It provided care for the patients connected with the D-Day operations. It has an interesting history but was not a positive memory for Reuben. However, he persevered because he was a Tough Hombre.

Reuben returned to his home after his long convalescence in the old British hospital. He returned to his work as a civil engineer and was a city manager in Yoakum, Texas for 24 years. During that period of time, he developed a city park with a swimming pool, golf course, and eventually an airport on the north side of the city, all for his love of Yoakum.

When Reuben was in his 60's he retired to his surveying full time and died in 1980 from lung cancer. It was probably connected with many years of smoking. The smoking of the cigarettes was what he had been taught to exist on while doing his duty in the army.  And the shattered other lung, as a result of war injuries, was no use to him.  For several years before his death, while living with cancer, Reuben kept working in the south Texas heat, surveying and working cattle on his family ranch.  During this time he also applied for 100% VA disability from his military injuries because he had always felt that he deserved more than the VA gave him, which was only partial disability, rather than 100% disability. However, he was never able to convince the Veterans Administration that he was entitled to more disability because of his war experience. The VA always answered that his present health problem with cancer was "not connected" to his wartime injury because it was his other lung that had been ripped apart in France, not his cancerous lung.  In Reuben's heart, he knew it was related to his injury so he applied over and over and each time was rejected.

While dying in the hospital in Victoria, Texas, an attending doctor injected a medication into a hole that they had drilled in his back. When he asked the nurse what they had administered in the hole, she told him it was mustard gas. Of all the years I had known him, I never saw him so upset. He immediately associated the mustard gas with what he knew about the two world wars. And of course, it was terrifying to him. He asked, "Why?" I told him I would find out. That evening I called the doctor at his residence and asked him. He answered, "Don't worry about it. I'm the doctor and I'm in charge." Needless to say, this made me very angry. I had seen enough of Phil Donahue shows which were similar to the later Oprah Winfrey shows that appeared years later on TV. They were famous for exposing the idea that doctors were not gods. And that patients had rights. Reuben seemed to give up after that experience and died about a week later. He had been tough, but cancer won the final battle.

I promised my mother that I would try to help her receive the VA benefits that were rejected. I asked for the paper on which I needed to write a summary of why Reuben's World War II injury and his present cancer were service-related. I had learned to write summaries and abstracts at UT. So, I proceeded to write in as few words as I could in the small amount of space provided. I simply stated that had Reuben not lost his one lung while serving his country in the war, he more than likely would have been able to depend upon that lung to serve him when cancer took away the other lung. We had his home doctor sign it and alas it finally was approved. I know that PaPa Reuben was happy and smiled down from Heaven when that occurred.

Reuben was indeed a  Tough Hombre and I'm glad his government finally recognized his valor in fighting the Nazis on the shores of Normandy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


It was a beautiful morning for a drive to a neighboring country town for lunch. We enjoy a
change of pace and dining at an interesting restaurant in Schulenburg. I didn't see any clouds in the sky and the sun shone brightly. I was enjoying our stereo music from our fairly new car as we drove up the highway. When we drove near the first business in the town of our destination, our cell phone suddenly rang.

I answered the ring and suspected a marketing call. We were receiving many of those that
week. At the other end of the call, there was a garbled message I could not understand. I thought I would play along with the marketer from the other end of the world.

"What?" I hollered back into my phone.  He repeated the garbling and I answered, "I can't understand you." For some reason, I thought it could be Sterling, our grandson. Maybe his grandfather had told him we were leaving town. I then said, "Is this Sterling?" The response was again in a garbled voice,  hardly in an understandable voice, "Yes, I've been in a car wreck and the airbag went off and it busted my lip and broke my nose. I can hardly talk."  I said, "Oh my God, are you okay? What happened?"

This had happened to him in Houston, three years before. I started to say, "Again?" But I didn't.

"Well, I can't talk well. You remember my friend, John, who had cancer?  He died and I went to his mother's house to pay my respect. I only had two drinks. Then on the way home, a woman in front of me ran a red light and I ran into her. The police made me take a breathalyzer test and I was only one point over the test line so they jailed me. I now need help getting out of jail."

Our grandson borrowed our extra car the last time he visited us. He left his older car because there was smoke billowing out the tailpipe. We were going to fix it. His grandfather worried all week that something might happen to his nice extra car. I turned to his grandfather and said, "Pull over into that parking lot, your worst fear just happened."

Sterling said, "Do you have a pencil and paper? I need to give you my case number and the name of my court-appointed lawyer. They said I was probably distracted on my cell phone, so they took it away from me. Now here is my case number, case: 64273775 AP. My lawyer's name is Mark Bailey and his number is 339-220-1001." I read back all the information I had written down. Sterling said, "Expect a call from the lawyer and he'll tell you what to do. Please don't tell anyone about this."

We were parked in the first drive we had come up to and it was only a few minutes before our cell phone rang.  Grandfather behind the wheel decided he better talk now. "Yes, this is Sterling's grandfather, what happened?"

The caller identified himself as Sterling's court-appointed lawyer, Mark Bailey, and said Sterling is in a lot of trouble.  He said Sterling failed the breathalyzer test and the car he hit broad-sided had a pregnant woman driver. This is really serious, the lawyer told him and that he had worked hard to scale down the cost to bail him out. They took Sterling's phone because they believed he was using it at the time of the wreck.

 Sterling's grandfather said, "That much?'

"Yes, and I worked hard to get it reduced since it was his first drunk driving offense." said the lawyer.

When he hung up I asked, "What does he want?'
"I knew it, I knew it. It's going to cost us a lot of money before this is over. He said I should get a cashier's check for $9500. And place it in a 9x15 padded envelope. And he would call us back in a short time and tell us what to do and where to mail it."

I could see the grandfather was visibly shaken and that one of us had to stay calm and think logically. I told myself and then him that this doesn't sound right. I needed to call son, Bryan, who was on the way to Houston.

The grandfather said, "They told us not to tell anyone."

" I don't care. No one should tell me what I can do. It's our grandson."

After relaying the story to my son in an almost hysterical voice while he was trying to find a parking place in a lot at a lawyers' office in Houston, he called me back on his cell phone. He said this had happened to a friend of his in Austin and it cost his family much money and his friend spent time in prison.

I thought, "Oh great, this is getting really bad."  Next, I thought I needed some reassurance that this story was real. I was obviously not getting anywhere, by then.  I picked up my cell phone and said, "I'm calling Sterling on his cell."

The grand-father said, "Remember, they said he didn't have his phone."

I answered that this sounded fishy to me. I knew it was a gamble, but we could maybe find out for sure what's going on. Sometimes Sterling doesn't pick up his phone because he works late hours and likes to sleep late.

I dialed his number and after two short rings, a voice answered. "Sterling, are you okay? Where are you?" I asked.

 "Nana?  Yes, I'm okay and I'm home. What's wrong?"

I proceeded to tell him what had happened. He started laughing and laughing. And said, "Nana, you got scammed."

"Oh, I'm so thankful you are okay and we don't have to empty our bank account. Here, talk to your grandfather so he knows you are okay." I next called my son back and told him what I found out. He said he started to tell me to leave him in jail because that was too much money.

 Next, we pulled up to The Garden Company-Schulenburg, Texas. We went in and ordered the day's special: wonderful snapper fish with shrimp sauce, wild rice, and green beans.  It was fabulous and a nice way to celebrate our escape from being scammed.



Saturday, July 28, 2018


He's good looking, I know. But there are no excuses for this. He had just told me he was trying to get rid of her kind that morning. But there they were, he almost asleep for his afternoon nap and she curled up on the same pillow next to him. She was a brunette or redhead. I could not tell which. She looked comfortably sleeping and he lay there almost asleep with a smile on his face, as the afternoon sun shone brightly through the window. I couldn't believe I saw them together in bed, in broad daylight.

I wanted to kill her. But how? I had no weapon that was handy and I had to act fast. As he opened his eyes, he said, "Come join me for a nap." I thought to myself that I would not risk this kind of needless pain.

I knew we had to kill her, but it had to be done very quickly before she made an attempt to escape. I said, "Now don't move too fast. But you have to do it slowly and not make any noise. We don't want to startle her so that she might flee and disappear. She might prey upon some other innocent victim."

He did as I instructed. He slowly rose from the bed and then looked down as he gradually picked up the pillow, as she lay in an embryo position.

"How are you going to kill her?" I asked.

"Very carefully," he answered, as he grabbed his gimmy hat, sitting on a chair, next to the bed. He then proceeded to smash her to bits with his fingers, wrapped around the inside of his cap.

"I sprayed all around the house this morning. I can't believe I chased her inside where she decided to take a nap beside me on my pillow."

I answered, "As allergic as you seemed to be when the last scorpion bit you on the hand, I would hate to see the damage this scorpion would have done to your face."

"Thanks for alerting me."

Thursday, December 7, 2017


   I awoke this morning and decided to give a tea party. I want to invite three of 

my childhood girlfriends, Judy, Elaine, and Faye.  They all live in Yoakum and I only 

live ten miles away in the country. We were all blessed to have a safe, memorable 

time growing up in the fifties in our hometown of Yoakum. We lived close to each 

other and were within walking distances to almost everywhere we wanted to go. 

And I’m proud we’ve been quite successful, despite our small-town background.  

    I was a skinny little girl, who moved with my mom and sister to my grandmother’s 

house when I was in the fourth grade. Mom left my father in Oklahoma, not long 

after “the war” ( World War II). His partying and drinking left too many unpaid bills

and crying nights. So mom bravely decided to start a new life and move to her 

mother’s in Yoakum, a state away. My grandmother said she would help.

    Elaine and I walked to school together in the fifth grade to West Side Elementary.

Elaine was a cute little girl, who always complained about her freckles.  Her family 

moved to Yoakum from California, near the time we did and her father became a

manager of Tex Tan, the major industry, which manufactured an array of leather 

goods. In high school, students took leather classes and were able to slip right into 

the Tex Tan factory and work there for the rest of their lives. Leather goods were in 

such demand, years later, Elaine’s family built their own leather company and 

named it Torel. It marketed goods all over the world.

    Elaine and I married young as many did in the fifties. And each of us had three 

children. Later when our children were older, we returned to school and finished 

college. She bought a boutique in Yoakum and she also helped manage her family’s 

leather company.

   I became a Liberal Arts major, teaching in high schools and junior 

colleges for thirty years. The last twenty years I taught college courses at a state

prison and met some of the most interesting people I have known. 

        Judy and I were good friends early in elementary school, as well. When I lived at 

my grandmother’s she biked over to greet me and we rode bikes together. I 

remember her having the first portable radio I had seen. She placed it in her bike 

basket and we would have music wherever we rode.  

    When we were in junior high mother remarried and we moved across the street 

from Judy and her parents.  In high school we walked to school together every 

morning. But that was only after I waited for her to practice Bach and Mozart for 

thirty minutes to an hour on her piano. Then we started on our trek two 

blocks away to school. I learned to love Bach and Mozart.

    Judy married her childhood sweetheart, Charles. He moved to our small town in 

the fifth grade. When we started having girl-boy parties in each other's homes we 

played spin the bottle. Each of us had a turn and whomever the bottle pointed to we 

would have to walk around the block with them, holding hands. When Charles spun 

the bottle it always pointed to Judy, for he declared his love early for her. We all 

knew it was a match made in heaven because Charles, as a very young child, aspired 

to be an architect and build houses.  Judy’s dad owned a lumber yard and 

building houses was what he did. Judy and Charles went off to college, married, and 

returned to Yoakum. Charles worked with Judy’s father and eventually took over the 

business. Judy taught school and was a very supportive wife for Charles. They, too 

had three children. And Judy became a most successful and popular hooker in 

central Texas. She hooked all sizes of rugs and all colors. Many asked her to teach 

them her skills.

    Recently, Charles died and Judy and her family gave Charles a memorial at the 

Lutheran Church,  in Yoakum. The church overflowed with people of all ages because 

Charles built many houses and friendships in his life. With his giving personality and 

constant smile. Hugs were his specialty. After the memorial the family served lunch 

and I saw Judy, Elaine, and Faye. That was when I thought about our getting 


            While the rest of us moved away for a while and returned close by, Faye stayed

closer to home. She married her high school sweetheart, as well. But, success did 

find her. A fast-growing new cable company that stretched into the rural towns of 

South Texas was quick to hire Faye.  She climbed fast in the company when they saw 

her bright intelligence and electric personality. She traveled around the country 

in her management positions. On one flight we accidentally ran into each other.

    I met and became more acquainted with my friends when I was asked to join the 

Polly Pigtail Club There were about six of us in the fifth and sixth grades who met 

every Saturday.  I don’t know about the club’s early history or how and why it was 

organized. We met every Saturday at the Grand Theatre for the Saturday matinee.

We saw other friends at the shows, except for those who sat upstairs. We didn’t 

know them. They went to separate schools and drank from different water fountains 

that were identified by “Color Only." Their restrooms were identified similarly. 

    We watched movies starring Gene Autrey and Dale Evans  on the big 

Screen. Sometimes there were movies with children, such as Margaret O'Brien, 

Natalie Wood and Our Gang shows with a gang of kids that roamed around town 

causing trouble. Sometimes,  we were able to see adult movies during the week 

or in the evening with Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck, 

Van Johnson. They were about beautiful people falling in love, marrying, and living 

happily ever after.

    After the movies, we met alternately at each other’s homes. Most of us lived 

walking distance from the Grande. After short walks, our mothers prepared cookies 

and punch and sometimes tuna sandwiches served with tea in hand-painted tea 

cups. If we had seen western movies we went outside to play cowboy and Indians, 

hiding in lush gardens planted with magnolia trees, chinaberry trees, oleanders, 

rose and zinnia beds and thick green carpet grass all around. One girl, 

was fortunate to have an old wash shed behind her house where laundry was done in 

the past generation. That is where we prepared the most beautiful mud pies with 

sawdust sprinkled on the tops for coconut. Other times, we played office inside the 

house where our mothers set up card tables, paper and pens.  They gave us receipt

books and ledgers. We wanted to be like the lady secretaries we saw in the movie.

Or we played school and pretended to be screaming and grouchy 

teachers with misbehaved children. We didn’t have many role models in those days.

 We didn’t have lady astronauts. We never even knew of them unless we read Buck

Rogers comic books.

    When we moved onto junior high and high school our attention turned to other 

events and Polly Pigtails was soon forgotten. Early in junior high a band director 

visited school with all kinds of instruments and told us to choose what we would 

like to play. Mother bought me a clarinet and I became part of the Junior high 

marching band at the Friday and Saturday night football games. That was our new 

adventure. Our Bulldog stadium was where Yoakum’s HEB is today. That is where

 we first got to cheer and strut our stuff.  

   The summer in junior high I attended twirling school in Huntsville and by the 

time eighth grade began I helped lead the band down the field as I twirled my baton 

and tossed it in the air from time to time. Elaine was a twirler, as well.

    When we attended high school I continued twirling school and twirled at varsity games.

Faye was a varsity cheerleader and voted football sweetheart four years in a row. Judy and

Charles were the UIL state winners for the One-Act Play and Charles was a fierce football

 player who helped his team go to state playoffs.

    The second summer of high school Yoakum celebrated its yearly tomato festival, 

called the Tom-Tom. Elaine rode a horse around a rodeo arena, dressed in a dazzling 

leather outfit that made Dale Evans look dowdy. She was crowned Yoakum’s Rodeo 

queen for 1955.  I entered Miss Yoakum’s bathing beauty contest, at my mother’s

insistence. In a black stretched suit with a wide yellow satin ribbon that bore

letters spelling Rotary Club I was instructed to walk all around  the swimming 

pool by my self and twist in a circle at the judges stand as I winked at them, while 

attempting to be as graceful as a 16-year-old could be and hoping to not pee down my 

legs in front of god and everyone. I was chosen the runner up Miss Yoakum bathing beauty.

    After these events college, marriage and babies followed. We sometimes met 

in the summers at Tom- Tom celebrations. We took our children to the parades

we once marched in and rode floats in other small-town celebrations. Those who 

live close enough still follow the Yoakum Bulldogs at the Friday night games.

Now if we’re lucky we get to see each other to celebrate the lives of those who move 

on, as we did at Charles’s memorial, recently.

    The other morning I had a problem standing on my left leg as I arose from bed. 

Dang it, I thought, I kicked too high when I was a majorette. I knew that knee was

giving out like the right knee did a few years ago. The squeak it made as I moved it

sounded like my clarinet when I first started practicing on it, many years ago.

    As I thought of all this in the early dawn I decided to turn over in my bed and go 

back to sleep for a quick nap before I arose.  I wanted to remember all the names in 

Polly Pigtails and think about my Tea Party. And my friends I will invite.

    I wondered if I still have my taffeta tablecloth for my round table. I know I

still have my beautiful wedding china, the hand-painted teacups and silver


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Deja vu Sighting At An Historical Church in the Country

                       A Deja vu Sighting At An Historical Church in the Country

We had an interesting drive through the country today. We had an unplanned visit to a couple of painted churches in central Texas, built in the nineteenth century. One was at High Hill, outside of Schulenburg, Texas. The church from the outside "does not clue you in on what is in the inside". It has hand painted art all over the walls and ceiling, hence, to which all the painted churches in Fayette county are referred. The alter, cabinets, and wood work are beautifully carved and constructed at the St. Mary's Church at High Hill.

The churches were created by 19th century immigrants from Austria and Germany. But the art is said to have been painted by itinerant artists later around the turn of the century, who advertised in the San Antonio paper.  The other beautifully painted church, St. Mary of the Assumption, we visited is at Praha, outside of Flatonia,_Texas)

 It was Deja vu when I spotted a rock grotto,, the grounds, outside the Praha church.  St. Mary of  the Assumption's rock grotto that's on the left of the church in front, is a replica of one I sketched out on my canvass, to paint next. The grotto, I'm going to paint is to be next to the sketch of the oldest church in U.S.,San Miguel. It's in Taos, New Mexico, The grotto outside the painted church is positioned in the same place, as the one in my sketch. I was just trying to fill in some space(an artist privilege) on my canvass. It was spooky because I had never seen it or planned it that way. I use the image of San Miguel church to fit my Hispanic southwest themes. The Taos church will serve as a background to other images in my painting. I am most attracted to the Spanish Colonial history and its art.

 Now, I'm beginning to think I better paint another picture of the church at Praha to have an authentic image of the Grotto and what I saw today. I don't want to get into trouble with any ghosts who may have been hanging around the Grottos that I saw today.  And I'm looking forward to visiting the other painted churches in Fayette County on other day trips.

Yes, it was a beautiful day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Many Christmas Eves ago, I remember going to the Koether farm for presents, food, and firework display. My what a celebration it was. This afternoon as I was mixing my easy microwave fudge recipe, I thought of all the goodies Aunt Willie Mae and Grandma cooked for us. It was a mammoth table full of all kinds of candies, cakes, sandwiches, dips, potato salad and seasonal meats. They must have had to start getting ready weeks in advance. Their fudge was not instant like mine. And their divinity was devine. The Koether family was most generous with numerous gifts for all their children and grandchildren. When the night become dark, we gathered outside to watch the outburst of color from the tons of fireworks our uncles, Bill and El set off to the excitement of us all. Afterwards, we returned to our home to collapse in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing through our heads and tummies. Oh what a Christmas eve those were.