Friday, June 27, 2014

Home in Huntsville

Last night we pulled into Huntsville, Texas for a visit -- yes Texas, that is, not Alabama. We are located off of I-45, about 70 miles north of Houston and 160 miles south of Dallas. 

"Old Sparky" Texas Prison Museum.
Huntsville is most famous, or infamous I might say, as the home of the Huntsville Unit, formally known the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, warden James Jones, which houses the most active execution chamber in the United States of America. The town is also home to the Texas State Prison Museum, featuring "Old Sparky," the electric chair used to execute 361 prisoners from 1924 to 1964. The prison houses approximately 1,700 inmates and, as Huntsville's second largest employer, has 450 workers on its payroll. 

The largest employer in Huntsville is Sam Houston State University. Serving 18,000 students, "Sam" as it is locally known, offers "over 80 bachelor's degree programs, more than 50 master’s degree programs, and six doctoral programs, including nationally-recognized programs in Business, Fine Arts, Education, Mathematics and Criminal Justice." We have a Sam MFA degree represented in our household.

If you have ever traveled along Interstate 45 in these environs, you cannot have missed the 67 foot tall Sam Houston statue. Everything is big in Texas. 
When you're done admiring the shivs and contrabands displays [at the prison museum], head south of town for a glimpse of the world's tallest statue of an American hero -- Sam Houston. 
The 67-ft. tall (plus 10-ft. base) statue is named "A Tribute to Courage." Sam Houston, celebrated political architect of Texas, towers in concrete above Interstate 45, with walking cane and snappy duds of a 19th century statesman (though he could also be mistaken for a statue of P.T. Barnum). In the summer humidity of east Texas, we appreciate the tensile strength of one who could dress like this and still lead. 
Stupendous Sam is touted in attraction literature as the second largest freestanding statue in the US -- only bested by the allegorical and over-promoted Statue of Liberty (pssst ... Roadsiders know others beat Sam too -- Tulsa, OK's 76-ft. tall fiberglass Golden Driller, and Butte, MT's 90 ft. tall Our Lady of the Rockies....). 
Artist David Adickes, born and schooled in Huntsville, sculpted this colossal monument to the man who still inspires Texans to reach lofty heights. Sam Houston (1793-1863) remembered the Alamo with his surprise victory/slaughter of Santa Anna's more experienced and professional Mexican Army at San Jacinto, then went on to become President of the Republic of Texas, Governor of the State of Texas, and a US Senator. 
Adickes started in early 1992, not exactly certain how he would accomplish the massive project. The 25-ton steel-and-concrete colossus is comprised of 10-foot sections, each containing five layers of concrete reinforced with steel straps. The outside layer includes a fiberglass mesh. It was dedicated on October 22, 1994.

Huntsville's favorite son is buried in town in a cemetery that the locals are working to make a tourist attraction too. 
June 26, 2014Oakwood Cemetery gets updated walking tourStephen GreenStaff Reporter
HUNTSVILLE — Huntsville is revamping efforts to show off its historic Oakwood Cemetery.
The Huntsville Cemetery Advisory Board approved a bid to print 10,000 brochures to be distributed around town that provide a free, self-guided tour of the city’s most well-known burial grounds.
“There are 35 different points of interest in old Oakwood Cemetery we have marked,” said Scotty Cherryholmes, who helped research and produce the brochure. “But in truth, there are a couple of hundred. The idea is to give you a couple of points that get you deep into the cemetery.”
D’Anne Crews, chair of the cemetery board, said the tour starts from the westernmost point (the oldest) and continues to the east before looping back around.
“Mayor Mac Woodward, who is a wonderful historian about our history and development of this area, says if you start west and move east, you can come up with the history of Huntsville,” she said. “As (people) move east, they are the most recent gravesites. Oldest at the west, which include some very good friends of Gen. Sam Houston.”
Houston, Huntsville’s biggest namesake, is buried at the western point of the cemetery where a monument stands. Nearby, Crews said, his old friend Henderson King Yoakum, who served as Houston’s family lawyer and as the author of the first comprehensive books on Texas history, is buried.- See more at:
Huntsville has its own hot shot high school golfer, Chandler Phillips, who beat a course record previously set by a touring pro.

June 25, 2014HORNETS GOLF — Phillips catches fireHornets fires 8-under-par 62, a course record, in second round of junior golf tourney in DallasThe Huntsville Item
HUNTSVILLE — From start to finish, there was hardly any stopping Huntsville’s Chandler Phillips in the second round of the HP Byron Nelson Junior Championship on Wednesday.
The Hornet senior-to-be had a red-hot putter in the Legends Junior Tour event and also saved par on a few troublesome holes. Phillips sank six birdies and an eagle to shoot a course-record 8-under-par 62 at Northwood Club in Dallas.
“It meant a lot,” Phillips said. “It was a fun round. It was a real fun day.”
Phillips’ 62 established a new competitive course record, besting PGA Tour pro Hunter Mahan’s 63 that was set in June of 2007 in a U.S. Open qualifying tournament.- See more at:

Meanwhile, our local high school golfer guy back in Montana, Tate Tatom, went to Kansas last week, and kicked butt.

No comments:

Post a Comment