Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Cowboy and A Good Reinin’ Horse

A Cowboy and A Good Reinin’ Horse
By J. Bryan Wasson

The cowboy and his horse are more than a team
They form a single unit
Without any seam
The brain of the man is connected
To the brain of the horse
By six foot ribbons of latago reins

When the hide of a cow
Meets the hide of a horse
With just whisper of a touch
On the side of the neck
The man and the horse become one

With a nudge of heel
And press of a knee
From the man on his back
Is all that it takes
For the cowboy and horse to become one

A dismounted cowboy don’t amount to much
It makes him feel
Helpless, and sort of alone and old
But give a dismounted cowboy a good reinin’ horse
And a dismounted cowboy is made whole

© Copyright 2010 by J. Bryan Wasson

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Wildwood

A great Family Tribute as well as a tribute to all Veterans. A few months ago, I had the honor of swearing my Grandson into the U.S. Army. He is now serving in Germany. --- Unrelated: I have not spent much time on the web for the last few monts due to illness. Last week, I found something on one of my Blogs that you had sent to me, but due to computer problems, I lost it. If possible, please send again. Thanks, JBW

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Birth Control Chamber

Looking Back – The Birth Control Chamber
By J. Bryan Wasson

I should call this “Looking Back” column “Looking Forward” because my mind has conceived the most brilliant birth control method of the future. The applications for this technology are limitless and go far beyond birth control. This technology could also be used as an alternative to the death penalty which should please those opposed to this type of punishment.  I call this discovery, “The Birth Control Chamber.” It could likewise be called, “The Punishment Chamber, “The Execution Chamber,” etc.

I can explain both the means by which I made this discovery and the methodology for implementation in one story:

Our great grandson, Jessie just turned eight. Our granddaughter, Tara rented the indoor swimming pool at a local motel in Decatur, Texas to have a birthday party for Jessie. The room in which this indoor swimming pool is located is rather small in comparison to many such areas that I have encountered. It is no larger than 120’ X 90’. The walls and ceiling of this swimming pool area are all of concrete and tile. The echo capabilities of such construction are self evident.

When you put 18 screaming, water splashing second graders in this confined echo chamber, the noise level is far beyond that which could be measured on any decibel reading meter or any sound system that could ever be devised by the human mind.

I believe that if any young newly wed couple were placed in this echo chamber for 45 minutes to one hour that the trauma to their central nervous system would be so disastrous that they would not have the ability to ever consider having children.

The other possible applications for this simple, extremely basic yet futuristic scientific technology are endless.

Oct. 18, 2010, JBW

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trooper Killed In Line Of Duty

This Texas Highway Patrol Car was parked in front of White Family Funeral Home
in Bowie, Texas with a single wreath on the windshield. People started adding flowers
 and small flags to the back and sides of the Patrol Car as a tribute to Texas Highway Patrol
Cpl.  David Slaton. Cpl. Slaton's body was inside the funeral under the protective and respectful eyes of two
Texas DPS State Troopers pending Funeral on Sept. 24, 2010 at First Baptist Church, Bowie.
The above composite photo is a tribute to my friend, Highway Patrol Cpl David Slaton. Cpl. Slaton died Sept. 20, 2010 as he responded to a complaint of cows on the road on U.S. Highway 81. His shift was to end in one hour. He had talked to his wife on the phone about 20 minutes earlier and said, "If I don't get those cows off the road, someone is going to get killed." His Patrol car struck a cow  which knocked the Patrol car into the path of an 118 wheeler on this narrow two lane highway. He was the friendliest guy I ever met, yet tough as nails when necessary. I was Chief of Police when he came to to Bowie as his first and only duty station after graduating from the DPS Academy. He met a girl, Lynetta Boudreaux, that was a Bowie Police Department Dispatcher.  I had hired Lynetta not long before David came to Bowie. Love and marriage followed for David and Lynetta. David and Lynetta had one son, Bo who is a college student.

My wife took a number of photos of the Highway Patrol car  parked in front of the Funeral Home with its' wreaths, flowers, and flags. It was a cloudy day. As we drove away from the funeral home, I spotted the Texas flag flying in the distance against a cloudy sky background. I asked my wife to stop and take a photo of it. This flag seemed to me to be a fitting tribute to a fallen Texas State Trooper. I added more clouds to the sky and made the above composite photograph as a tribute to my friend. 

I Love you Lynetta, Bo and, LaVelle. I am sorry that I did not get to know David's parents.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Parkinson's Disease

I started developing symptoms of Parkinson's Disease about four years ago. It did not affect my guitar playing until slightly over a year ago. I was entertaining at a meeting of Senior Focus, an activity sponsored by Bowie Memorial Hospital. I noticed that I was having difficulty controlling my hands and my fingers. That was the last public entertainment I have done with my guitar.

Since that time, I have continued to sing without my guitar. I have sung in my own Church as well as many other churches for many years, always with my guitar. On August 8, 2010, I sang at my home church, First Baptist Church, Bowie, Texas for the very first time ever without my guitar. You can see a video of that song at Bowie Texas Area Music . You can also see it on YouTube along with two other videos. In one of the other videos, I am singing a song entitled, "A Little Spot in Heaven"written by Marty Robbins. Harold Goad of The Village Singers played lead guitar for me on that song. Note: If you do not have any CDs of the Village Singers, you are missing some great music. I had only one mic on that one and Harold's guitar is the only one you can hear. The other video is a Jam session at the home of Chuck and Faith Duffin.

I continue sing on a regular basis at the Friday Night Jam Session at the Bowie Senior Citizens Center. I also "plunk" around on my guitar almost daily for physical therapy. I find that it helps with the use of my hands and fingers. It has no value, however, with tremors.

I had a video of myself posted on this website, plunking on my guitar at home. I called the video Eppiphone therapy. I decided that the video served no purpose and removed it from this site.

Parkinson's is a horrible, strange and unpredictable disease. It affects the brain and central nervous system. Although I continue to sing, my voice is weaker now and I suspect it will continue to grow weaker. Some Parkinson's victims loose all oral communication. Fatigue also seems to affect the disease. Occasionally on rare days it seems that the Parkinson's does not exist. On Thursday, June 3, I picked up my guitar for my regular therapy session. I was able to play smooth, correct and without a single error. I wish I could do that all the time, but it just is not to be.

First published June 5, 2010, JBW
Revised and Video removed Sept. 7, 2010, JBW

J. Bryan Wasson
Bowie, Texas Area Music - Remember Music is Good For You !

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Business Card

My business card while assigned to the Arkansas Division.
My first duty station with UDOT was with the South Carolina Division,
with headquarters in Columbia, SC. I was in the Arkansas Division
at the time of my retirement.

Looking Back – The Business Card

By J. Bryan Wasson

The business card has become so much a part of the operations of nearly all business and governmental institutions that is difficult to consider day to day business without them. Such cards under the name of, “calling cards” were used as far back as the 1800s.

All U.S. Government agencies use them. The U.S. Department of Transportation is made up of a number of operating administrations  such as the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The Federal Aviation Administration, The Federal Railroad Administration, etc. All business cards for the U.S. Department are of the same basic design. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation logo known as a Triscallion is in the upper left hand corner with one exception, the Federal Aviation Administration which uses its own logo that predates the establishment of the U.S. DOT. (Note: During my tenure with U.S. DOT, there was another exception, the U.S. Coast Guard which also predated the establishment of the U.S. DOT and has its own logo. The U.S. Coast Guard is now under The Department of Homeland Security and at that time was under the Treasury Department.) The only thing different about the cards was the name of the individual, the operating administration, the office address and phone number as well as job title or position. The job title on my own business card was Special Agent.

All Federal Agencies Have an Inspector General (IG). In cop talk that is cop talk for Internal Affairs. The Office of the IG for the U.S. Department of Transportation also had other functions including the investigation of fraud related to construction on Interstate Highways and other Federal Aid Highways.

I had conducted a couple of investigations related to an Arkansas motor carrier. For some reason the office of the IG had become interested in that same motor carrier. I don’t know if their investigation related to my investigations of that motor carrier or something else related to that specific motor carrier.

A Special Agent from the office of the IG showed up in our office and asked for all files related to that specific motor carrier. He introduced himself and gave me his business card and I stuck it in my pocket. Remember, the job title on his business card was Special Agent, the same as that on my own business cards. There was a vacant cubical directly across from my cubical that we always used to set up folks from other offices who needed a temporary place to work while in the Arkansas Division Office. This guy from the IG office was set up in that cubical. From that location he could see and hear everything I did.

This guy had less than zero personality. One day, I answered my phone on a routine matter that had absolutely nothing to do with his investigation. He could only hear my end of the conversation. When I hung up the phone, he proceeded to tell me that I did not handle that phone call properly and that that was not what he would have said. He should not have been eavesdropping and it was none of his business. It sort of raised my hackles.

When I changed shirts, I always transferred the contents of my shirt pocket to the other shirt. His business card therefore remained in my shirt pocket for quiet some time.

A few weeks later, I encountered another person who was very unhappy about something. This guy had a bad attitude and would not have been happy if he had been about to be hung with a brand new rope. At the conclusion of our conversation, I remembered the business card that I had in my shirt pocket from the other very unpleasant guy from the office of the IG. In my mind, I thought that these two very unpleasant guys might just hit it off great. I reached in my pocket and handed the man the business card of the Special Agent from the office of the IG. I said, “Give me a call if I can assist you with anything.” That was the last I ever heard from either of these two tormented souls.

09-04, JBW

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A little Spot In Heaven

In this Video I am singing, "A Little Spot In Heaven", written by
Marty Robbins, at First Baptist Church, Bowie. I am being backed up by
Harold Goad of The Village Singers. Harold Goad is one of the greatest guitar players
you will ever find. If you have not heard the Village Singers, you need to get some of their CDs.
There CDs are available at, The Music Shed which you can find on the web.
You can also do a Google search for The Village Singers, and find other
sources for their music. If you ever get a chance to go to a Village Singers concert, you are in for a treat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flying Newspapers

Elevators in buildings today are self – serve. You just get in and punch the button representing the floor you wish to go to. It was not always this way. During the 1930s and 40s there was an Elevator Operator. This person usually sat on a tall stool and operated the controls. The controls were most often a round wheel looking device with a handle on it. The Operator used this device to stop at the desired floor and to open the doors. The method of operation was by cranking the wheel to a specific location that made the elevator go up, stop or go down and to open the doors. Most often there was no (inside) doors mounted on the elevator car. The doors were mounted to the walls of the building. The passengers could see the walls of the building as they went up and down. The floor numbers were often painted on the wall as the only means to tell what floor had been reached.

In office buildings many offices subscribed for one or more copies of the local newspaper. A newspaper delivery person would make the rounds of office buildings before daylight and place a stack of newspapers inside an open elevator. When the elevator operator came on duty, the first order of business was to go to each floor and deliver the appropriate number of newspapers to each office on that floor. This process was repeated until every office in a building received its newspaper or newspapers.

By the time I was in the second grade, I was very familiar with every square inch of one office building, including it’s’ elevator. My mother worked as a Dental Assistant on the 3rd floor of a building known as the Alexander Building in downtown Abilene, Texas. I rode the elevator frequently as I visited the office where my mother worked. Our family physician, Dr. Prichard also had his offices in that same building. I often roamed the halls of all seven floors of the building. By today’s standards, a seven story building is not very tall, but in the early 40s to a child seven stories was very high up in the air.

I watched many parades through downtown Abilene from an office window or from the fire escape of that building. Throughout World War II troops from nearby Camp Barkley paraded through the streets of downtown Abilene. There was also the annual parade for the West Texas Fair. It was always led by the world famous six white horses of Hardin Simmons University.

Now I will fast forward to 1954. I had served a hitch in the U.S. Air Force and had become a member of the Abilene Police Department. The Abilene Police Department no longer uses foot patrolmen, but when I went to work, a downtown walking beat on the mid night shift was considered to be a good starting place for a rookie. In those days, shifts were not rotated. All rookies started on the 11:00PM to 7:00AM midnight shift.

It was a very cold night with a cold Texas north wind blowing. On that night I was assigned to the Pine Street Beat. The Pine Street Beat ran from North 1st Street to North 6th Street. The East/West boundaries were from the alley east of Walnut to the alley between Pine and Cypress. I had been walking sidewalks and alleys checking doors and windows on places of business since 11:00PM. It was about 4:30AM. I needed a break to rest my feet and warm my body for a while. Officers in patrol cars could stop at an all night cafe and drink hot coffee. There was no such luxury for downtown beat walking officers. But, I knew a place I could rest my feet and warm up.

I was aware that the doors into the lobby of the Alexander building were never locked at night. I also knew that the two elevator cars were parked on the first floor with the doors open. I also knew of that tall stool used by the elevator operator.

I walked into the lobby and entered one of the elevators where I proceeded to get comfortable on that tall stool. This was nice. I was warm and cozy and my feet got a much needed rest. I had sat there in the dark elevator long enough that my eyes became adjusted to the light. At about 5:00AM, I heard the front door to the lobby open. Then a delivery person walked into the elevator with a tall stack of newspapers. Just coming in from outside, he did not see me sitting there in the dark. I said, “Good morning.” He screamed, threw up his arms and newspapers went flying everywhere. He must have been in a hurry to deliver the rest of his papers because his exit from the building was extremely rapid. I decided that this would be a good time for me to return to my beat.

Cartoon by Mack Sterling: Mack is my uncle. We grew up together and
he is more like a brother than an uncle. Mack is also a former Abilene
Police Officer.

O2-03, JBW;

Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson
Looking Back

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reunion of Retired and Former Employees of Abilene Police Department

Retired and former law enforcement officers have a special connection. They like to get together for fellowship and to tell "old war stories" from their past.
The 19th annual reunion of Retired and Former Employees of The Abilene Police Department   was held on Friday, June 25, 2010 at the Abilene Civic Center.
Retired Taylor County Sheriff Jack Dieken and Rachel Valdez,
wife of Retired APD Officer Richard Valdez
Retired Chief and Mrs. Melvin Martin:
Chief Martin is the Immediate Past President of Texas Police Chief's Association
Rafe Harshberger and Richard Valdez
Eva Pelton and her son. It was my pleasure to have worked
with Eva. She is the oldest living member of the Retired and
Former Employees of the APD. Mrs. Pelton worked both
Parking Meters and School Crossings.
Dick Dorough and Jimmy Trickett are both currently living in Arkansas.
Alfred Schaffner serves as Chaplain for the
Retired and Former Officers of APD.

President, Gene Keesee and Chief of Police, Stan Standridge
J.C. and Louise Jones: On my first night on duty with APD, I was assigned
to walk the Chestnut Street Beat with J.C. Jones. We became very close friends.
We spent many hours walking and digging through junk yards. We
brought home a lot of perfectly good junk, the value of which , our wives
were unable to recognize.
19th Annual Reunion at Abilene Civic Center:  All the above photos
are courtesy of Richard Valdez.  I am sorry that it was not possible
to post a photo of every person present at the reunion.
This was the 2nd year that Shirley and I have missed the reunion of Retired and Former Employees of the Abilene Police Department due to illness. My health had improved and it appeared that we would be able to make the trip to Abilene. We had made our reservations for the reunion and I was very excited about visiting with old friends. I was looking forward to this reunion due to the fact that due to age of our members and health of some, including myself, that it could possibly be the last time I would see some or all of these friends. My boyhood dream was to become an Abilene Police Motor Officer. My years with the Abilene Police Department are some of the most important of my life. It was while serving as an Abilene Police Motor Officer that I met and married Shirley who has been with me for 54 years. Shirley and I were both born in Abilene.

I am looking forward to the 20th Annual Reunion next year and pray that my health will allow me to make the trip to Abilene. We hope to see you there!

Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My First Motorcycle

My First Motorcycle
Pictured above is a 1942 Harley Davidson WLA Military Motorcycle,
My first motorcycle was much like the one pictured above, less
the windshield and rifle rack. My motorcycle, however had the original
military leather saddle bags. It had been painted black, the same color of
APD motorcycles at the time.

By J. Bryan Wasson

It was a motorcycle that caused me to meet my wife, Shirley. I was a Motor Officer with the Abilene, Texas Police Department at the time we met. It was also a motorcycle that came close to ending a very short marriage.

There is no doubt in my mind that the happiest period in my life as a law enforcement officer was the five years that I rode a motorcycle in the Traffic Division of the Abilene Police Department. I was on duty from the time I stepped out of the house in the morning and through my leg over that motorcycle until I got off the motorcycle at my home at the end of my shift. Can you imagine, getting paid to do what you loved to do most? Therein lays the problem.

I did not own a motorcycle when Shirley and I first got married; I just rode a motorcycle owned by the Abilene Police Department for eight hours per day. Soon after we were married, I purchased my first motorcycle, a 1942 Harley Davidson WLA, U.S. Army surplus motorcycle in mint condition. The Motor Officers rotated shifts. Some of us went in early for the early morning traffic. Some came in later and stayed on duty until the 5:00PM traffic rush was over.

Shirley was working at the S&H Green Stamp Store. She did not get off until 5:00PM or after. On the days that I worked the early shift, I would be home by 3:30PM. I would park my Police motorcycle, run up the stairs of our garage apartment, change out of my uniform and then back down the stairs. I would then mount my own personal motorcycle and be gone again. I would ride until about 9:00PM and then come home. My wife asked me point blank, “don’t you get enough motorcycle riding in eight hours?” My answer was, “well, no.” She then explained to me in a way that I could understand that this was not normal behavior for any husband, let alone a newlywed. I soon sold my first motorcycle. ---------Many other motorcycles would follow, however.

Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson
Looking Back
J. Bryan Wasson

Monday, May 3, 2010

Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Month

2010 Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
Abilene, Taylor County, Texas

 The month of May is National Law Enforcement Officers Month. Memorial Services for fallen Law Enforcement Officers are conducted throughout the nation during the month of May. The Taylor County Commissioners Court as well as the Abilene City Council proclaimed the week of May 9th - 15th as National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Week. It was my honor to answer the Roll Call for my dad, at the Roll Call of fallen Law Enforcement Officers at the Memorial Service at McMurry University in Abilene on May 5th. My dad, Taylor County Deputy Sheriff J. B. "Jake" Wasson is listed on the Lost Lawman Memorial located at the Offices of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas in Austin and on the Texas Peace Officer Memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol in Austin. Please check out the web site of the Sheriff's Association of Texas under links on this blog. Click on Lost Lawman Memorial on that site. Then check by county or by officer's name.
My dad, Taylor County Deputy Sheriff, J.B. "Jake" Wasson;
End of Watch January 12, 1967
It is ironic that as we made plans to attend this memorial service in Abilene that an Abilene Police Dept. Motor Officer, Rodney Holder was killed while in pursuit of a traffic violator at So. 12th & Sales Blvd, just a few blocks from the site of the Memorial Service.
Memorial Table at front of room, Photo by Richard Valdez, APD Retired.
Back of Program for Law Enforcement Memorial Service
Inside of Program at right below:
APD Badge with black Mourning Band
in honor of fallen officers

Front of Program
 Program For Law Enforcement
Memorial Service

Flap Pole in front of Garrison Center,
location of Memorial Service
L to R:  Retired APD Officer Richard Valdez,
J. Bryan Wasson; Abilene Chief of Police Stan Standrige
Officer Jim Davis, son of  long time dear friend,
 the late APD Sgt. Bill Davis;
Jim also has a son on the Abilene Police Force;
When he graduated from the Abilene Police Academy,
Jim pinned Bill Davis' badge on him.
(Photo by Richard Valdez)

APD Chaplin Donna Kleman, Motor Officer Mike Richer
Motor Officer War Stories:
L T R: Mike Ricker, Terry Monroe, J. Bryan Wasson
Myself and my bride of 54 years enter the Garrison
Center for the Law Enforcement Memorial Service
(Photo Courtesy, Richard Valdez)

Abilene Police Department Motor Officer, Rodney Holder;
End of Watch, April 29, 2010

Military Law Enforcement - USAF Security Forces

1st Lt. Joseph D. Heltton, USAF Security Forces
End of Watch: Sept. 8, 2009

This year fallen Military Law Enforcement Officers were honored.  To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time military law enforcement was included in this memorial service. An Officer from Dyess AFB 7th Security Forces Squadron was on the program. Police cars from Dyess AFB Security Forces also participated in the funeral procession of Motor Officer Rodney Holder. I appreciate the participation by and the honoring of fallen military law enforcement officers as my own law enforcement career started in the US Air Force in what was then known as  Air Police and is now known as Security Forces.  I once wore the badge pictured above with the wording, "Air Police" rather than, "Security Police. While a member of the Abilene Police Department, I was also in the Air Force Reserve and assigned to the Base Police Squadron at Dyess, AFB.

This Memorial Service could not have occurred without the hard work of APD Chaplin Donna Kleman. She is known to most people as Chaplin Donna. She had lots of help including Chaplins from other Departments, but my hat is off to Chaplin Donna. Surely God sent her to do a special work. Many thanks to McMurry University and to many members of the McMurry Staff for hosting the 2010 Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Service.

(Special Note:) Tuesday, May 11, 2010
APD Mourns the Loss Of Another Officer

Officer Boyd Burns
I have been informed that Officer Boyd Burns, a 25 year veteran of the Abilene Police Department,  passed away  last night at his residence in Potosi.  No indications of anything other than natural causes were present at the residence. One source advised  that it was believed to be the result of a heart attack.

Wichita Falls, Texas

The Wichita Falls Police Department conducted a Memorial Service for fallen Wichita Falls Police Officers on  May 10, 2010. Six fallen officers were honored. The name of Motor Officer Hugh Fuller was added to the Memorial Stone in front of the Wichita Falls Police Department building the previous day. Officer Fuller died on October 22, 1927 while responding to a motor vehicle traffic accident at 9th & Bluff.

Bowie, Texas

At present time, I live in Bowie, Texas. To the best of my knowledge, the Bowie Police Department under Chief David Scruggs, is the only law enforcement agency that honors fallen officers by stars on the badge. Note: The two stars at the bottom of the badge in photo at right above.
The two fallen Bowie, Texas Officers are:
William H. (Jack) Hill, EOE July 6, 1932
Tommy L. Roland, EOW:  June 4, 1959

May 11, 2010, JBW

Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson
Looking Back
J. Bryan Wasson

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Anniversary of Bombing of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

Anniversary of Bombing of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

Monday, April 19, 2010 was the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The act of domestic terrorism was an attack on the United States and a national disaster. It had a special and emotional significance to me. I lost two very close friends and an acquaintance in that bombing.

I was working at my desk in the Arkansas Division of the Office of Motor Carriers, U.S. Department of Transportation in Little Rock Arkansas when we were notified that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City had been bombed. It took a few seconds for it to sink into my brain, the seriousness of the information we had just learned.

Everyone in our office went down the hall to the office of Senator David Pryor in which we knew there was a television set. Federal employees from various offices in our building gathered around the television in Senator Pryor's office to watch as the information unfolded.

I no longer remember how long it was before we learned the names of those in the Oklahoma Division of OMC who had been killed.

At some point in time we received information that State Director, Mike Carrillo, and Division Program Specialist, Rick Tomlin had been killed. We were advised that John Youngblood was injured, was hospitalized as critical, but was still alive.

During the time I had been assigned in South Carolina, I had become close friends with a fellow Safety Investigator in the North Carolina Division, Rick Tomlin. A few motor carriers had offices in both North and South Carolina. Some of these companies attempted to circumvent Federal Regulations by providing false information related to the location of company records. If an agent went to the South Carolina office, they would claim that all there records were in North Carolina and visa versa. We often met at Rock Hill South Carolina or Charlotte North Carolina to deal with investigations related to these carriers.

A vacancy became open in the Oklahoma City Division. I was extremely interested in a transfer to Oklahoma City because it would be much closer to my home in Texas. Both Rick and I applied for the same position. When Rick was given this transfer, we had a little bit of friendly joking about it. At our Regional Conference following the announcement that Rick got the transfer, I told him that he was the best ex-friend I ever had.

Rick was talking to his wife on the telephone when the explosion occurred. She heard the explosion on the telephone then the phone line went dead. John Youngblood appeared to be improving, but died about three days after the blast.

The death of John Youngblood was extremely ironic. My friend John Youngblood was State Programs Manager and full time instructor at the Howard Motor Carrier Safety Academy of the Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) in Oklahoma City. John recruited me to the Associate Staff (Part Time instructor) at TSI when the Howard Motor Carrier safety Academy was pulled out of TSI and moved to the Washington DC area, John did not want to leave Oklahoma City. He chose to take a voluntary downgrade to a Safety investigator position in order to remain in Oklahoma City. He had only been in his new job for a short time when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed

Not long prior to this, I had taught a class on Compliance Reviews at the North Campus of TSI, the site of John's office. Although I was working for John while teaching this class, John sat in on the class as a student, in order to learn his new duties as a soon to be Safety Investigator when the transfer was completed.

Had John accepted the transfer to Washington, DC, he would most likely be alive today. Had I received the transfer to Oklahoma City that I wanted so desperately, I most likely would not be alive today.
JBW, 04 -21- 2010

Poster placed on memorial fence at Oklahoma City National Memorial

Following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, I placed the above poster on the chain link fence that became a memorial fence. This fence was placed around the site to keep people out during the clean up and the construction of the Oklahoma City National Memorial that was constructed on the site after clean up. Visitors to the site place all sorts of the items on this fence. The plan was to take the fence dwn after construction of the memorial. The fence and the items placed on it by visitors became so emotional for so many people, that a decision was made to keep the fence as part of the memorial. - See the related article that I have posted.

J. Bryan Wasson
Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson
Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Waltons

By J. Bryan Wasson

There were a number of old Television series that I really loved, but one stands out above all the others. That program was, “The Waltons.” I liked the show because it was based upon the way day to day life was in that day. Most of all I liked it because of the parallels to my own life. I had lived it.

I was born in January of 1933. We were not yet out of a period known as “The Great Depression.” This bleak period in our history started with the failure of the stock market in 1929. Throughout most of my childhood, we were still feeling the effects of the depression. Most folks were unemployed and very few had any money. I could identify will all the aspects of the old Walton TV series. The story was set at a place known as Walton’s Mountain Virginia. Whether the setting was a fictitious place or a real location is not known to me. If “Walton’s Mountain“ was a fictitious place, the circumstances, life styles and conditions were real and not unlike my life in west central Texas.

My maternal grandparents lived in the rural Truby community of Jones County, Texas. Truby was very much like Walton’s Mountain in many ways. My grandparents lived in this community throughout most of my childhood and into the years I was in the U.S. Air Force. For most of this time they lived on the Spurgeon Reeves place. The house was within 200 yards of Bitter Creek. The Clear fork of the Brazos River was located about 3 miles north on a gravel road. Steel overhead framed wooden bridges spanned both Bitter Creek and the Clear fork.

Unlike Walton’s Mountain,” there were no mountains and no pine trees. The property on which the house was located joined a mesquite pasture. I spent a lot of time roaming and exploring in that pasture and other area mesquite pastures along with my Uncle, Mack Sterling. Mack was a couple of years younger than me. He was and is more like a brother than an uncle. This was farm and ranch country. Everything was cultivated fields or mesquite pasture.

Not far from the Clear fork of the Brazos River was the Truby General Store. It was much like Ike Godsey’s store in the Walton’s shows. As best as I can remember there were two gasoline pumps in front of the store. One was for regular gasoline and the other was for Ethyl gasoline. The Godsey store only had one gasoline pump. These were hand pump, gravity feed devices. There was a glass cylinder at the top. Inside the cylinder were markers to indicate the number of gallons. The desired number of gallons was pumped up into the cylinder by hand. Gasoline was then gravity fed through a hose and nozzle into the gas tank of the motor vehicle. In those days, no one filled the car’s gas tank because no one could afford to do so. For the most part, people pumped from one to five gallons. Often it was “one dollar’s worth.” I no longer remember the price of gasoline in those days, but by the time I had joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951, gasoline was 19 cents per gallon. Oh for a return to those gasoline prices.

I sure enjoyed the trips to that store, just as the Walton children did on the TV series. I no longer remember the name of the owner of the store at Truby. Groceries could be purchased. The stock was mostly canned goods, but occasionally there was some fresh produce from one of the local farms. Sometimes there were bolts of cloth and always there was candy. Most candy bars came in two sizes. There was the penny size and the nickel size. Most often the penny size was all my uncle and I could afford. The nickel sizes were as big as or maybe bigger than a candy bar that cost 75 cents or up to more than a dollar today. My grandparents maintained a running tab at the store. The owner had a little book for each family. Things that were purchased were recorded along with the price.

When my Grandfather could find temporary work, the bill was paid. He was a carpenter. Sometimes he got work from one of two Government agencies repairing the numerous wooden bridges that dotted the dirt and gravel county roads. There were three Government Agencies designed to provide jobs to unemployed people in those hard times. One was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Another other was the Public Works Administration (PWA). I always got these two agencies mixed up. A third agency was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCP). This agency did construction jobs in National and State Parks and military camps. I do not remember if the CCC came into play in the Walton’s T.V. series.

Truby had a rural schoolhouse not unlike that on the Walton’s T.V. series. Classes in the Truby School went from the First Grade through High School.

I remember the show when John Boy Walton was given a gray mule named Blue. He acquired the mule from a Black woman who lived high on Walton’s Mountain. The mule remained a part of the show for many years. I noticed that the same mule was not always used throughout the series. The original Blue was a little mule weighing about 700 pounds. In later shows a larger mule played the part of Blue. In one episode, John Boy won an annual horse race to the top of the mountain and back riding Blue. He won the race by cutting across through steep terrain that the horses could not climb. John Boy used a McClellan saddle for the horse race. Today there is no better saddle for use on mules and donkeys than the McClellan.

On one episode, the Walton family sold Blue for $15.00. When the Waltons started to grind Sugar Cain, they regretted selling the mule. They first attempted to use the family milk cow, Chance, to power the mill. This was not very successful and they were later able to buy Blue back for the same price of $15.00 and successfully were able to grind the Sugar Cain with the aid of mule power.

The Walton family had one thing that my grandparents did not have, that was electricity. Our light was from kerosene ( we called it coal oil) lamps. The Walton Family would gather around the radio at night to listen Fibber Magee and Molly, Amos and Andy and other radio shows that I was very familiar with. There was often a lot of static and poor reception, but that did not deter the family.

The radio at my grandparent’s home was battery powered. There was a wind charger mounted on top of the house to charge the radio battery. If there was no wind, the radio battery did not charge. There were three 15 minute afternoon country music shows that I liked to listen to. They were Sheb Wooly, Dale Dunbar and Big Bill Lister. We also liked to listen to the afternoon Lum and Abner Show from Pine Ridge, Arkansas. The Jottem down Store and Library that was the home of the Lum and Abner radio show is still open at Pine Ridge Arkansas. It serves as the Post Office, general store, as well as a museum of this famous old radio show.

These shows were about all we could listed to in the afternoon as my grandfather rationed the amount of day time radio that we could listen to in order to ensure sufficient battery power for the evening and night shows that the entire family listened to. My granddad loved to listen to boxing matches. No radio program could interfere with these prize fights.

My Daddy purchased a farm in the Potosi community of Taylor County, Texas in late 1947 or early 1948 or 49. The parallels to the Walton show continued. There was a Country store at Potosi. This store was much like the country store at Truby and Ike Godsey’s Store on the Waltons show. About a mile further south on a gravel road was an old country school house, also not unlike the one at Truby and the school on the Walton’s show. The School building at Potosi was no longer used as a School, but was used as a Community Center. It was the focal point of all community activities.

When we moved to Potosi, the telephones in the area were still the old crank phones hanging on the wall. Our nearest neighbor had one of these phones, but we did not have one. When there was an emergency, we would go there to use the phone. If some of our relatives believed there was an emergency, they would call these neighbors. One of the kids from the neighbor family would deliver the message to us in person. There was no privacy. It was a party line. If anyone’s phone rang, everyone on the line would pick up their phone to catch up on the latest gossip.

Every time I see a rerun of one of the old Walton TV shows, I relive those early days of my youth at Truby and at Potosi. I think it would be nice if we could slow the hectic pace of our daily lives down a little. I do enjoy things like having electricity, central heat and air conditioning, television, a cell phone, and other modern conveniences. Looking back, however, it often seems that those days from the past were in fact, “the good old days.”

O2-03, JBW

The Walton's
Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson
Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back
J. Bryan Wasson

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Rocket Launch

By J. Bryan Wasson

To set this story up, I must bring out the fact that I can not swim. In fact I am very much afraid of water. I believe that water is for drinking. If it is not too deep, it is OK for taking a bath. I also believe that there is something seriously wrong with the wiring in folks who ride in boats.

Another factor in this story is a deep curiosity that makes cowboys and motorcycle riders always want to know what is just over the next hill or around the next curve in the road. It is a wonderful to ride through unknown territory on horseback or mounted on a motorcycle.

Another factor in this story is my strong dislike of land development and the urban sprawl that such development brings about. I strongly believe that mankind is a very poor steward of the land that God created. Long ago, I learned that when you see fences come down that once enclosed agricultural lands adjacent to city limits, you know that bulldozers, trucks and builders will soon follow. Somehow, we call this progress.

I was a Motor Officer on the Abilene, Texas Police Department. It was the end of my shift and I was headed for home. I was riding north on the westernmost street north of the rail road tracks. I observed that the fence that had enclosed a mesquite pasture had been torn down. I knew what that meant. This land that had been a pasture for cattle a few days earlier would soon be a housing development.

I observed a cattle trail winding westward through the mesquite. I could not resist. I jumped the curb and started down that trail. When I was a mile or more away from the paved street, I found myself on a gentle upward slope. Shortly the slope became steeper. At the time I did not know it, but I was riding up the backside of a dam to a stock tank. Some folks outside Texas call these bodies of water, ponds, but in Texas, they are stock tanks or just plain “tanks.”

Before I knew it, I was over the crest of the dam. On the other side, it was nearly straight down. Behold, below was a great body of water. I knew immediately that I had a serious problem. I can not swim. Even if I dismounted and climbed up the embankment, the motorcycle would go in the water, which appeared to be quite deep. How in the cat hair could I explain the loss of a police motorcycle? I put my left foot on the ground. I had my other foot on the brake peddle and was squeezing the handle of the front brake. Even so, I felt myself and the machine slowly inching down the steep embankment toward the water.

I knew that I needed help and fast. I grabbed my microphone and called for any Motor unit that was still on duty. I got no answer. All the Motor Officers except myself were probably already at home. In this case, I was not too proud to accept help from a patrol car. I could not reach any car or Headquarters by radio. It was probably because of my antenna being below the crest of this dam.

In those days motorcycles did not have electric starters. I knew that if the engine died or it I shut it off, it would be impossible to kick start the motorcycle on this steep slope. I also knew that the engine was getting hot. I was all alone and had to work this out on my own. Well, I was not completely alone, because I did some serious talking to The Lord along about then. I think it went something like this, “Lord, I got myself into this mess, now will you help me figure a way to get out?”

I dismounted and laid the motorcycle down on its side. I pivoted it around until the front was headed up hill. I then picked the motorcycle back up and mounted again. I could feel it inching backward with both the front and rear brakes locked. I put the motorcycle into first gear and twisted the throttle wide open. I released both brakes and the clutch at the same time. The big Harley Davidson 74 Cubic inch FLH went up and over the crest of that dam like it was rocket powered.

This was one time when I was glad to see civilization and the paved streets that took me home. I decided it would be a good time to have another little talk with The Lord.
02-15-03, JBW

Looking Back by J. Bryan Wasson
Wasson's Looking Back
Looking Back
J. Bryan Wasson

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Farm at Potosi

The Farm at Potosi

Pictured above: Three generations on the Farm at Potosi; Top -L to R: (Me) J. Bryan Wasson ; My Dad, J. B. (Jake) Wasson; Below: Our oldest Daughter Donna, Wasson

By J. Bryan Wasson

The advances of the 20th century sort of overtook and overwhelmed my dad, J. B. “Jake” Wasson. He was a lover of the land with his greatest desire to live on the land.

He grew up on a farm in the Noodle community of Jones County, Texas. He was a product of the great depression and I suspect it was the major factor in his leaving the farm and moving to Abilene in Taylor County. He thought it important for a man to own some land and livestock. He never gave up his desire to return to the farm.

I was born in a house on Portland Street in Abilene on January 22, 1933.. Throughout my childhood, we moved from one rent house or apartment to another. For a short period of time we lived in Eastland, Texas. In Eastland, my dad worked in a drug store owned by a family friend who was a member of the Vletas family. The Vletas family is well known in Abilene as a maker of fine candies.

We returned to Abilene in 1938 we lived for a short time in a rented house at the north edge of Abilene on what was then Pine street. I remember well the second residence we had upon return to Abilene. It was an apartment at 142 ½ Elm Street. It was located above the O.W. Jolly Saddle Shop where I became a friend of O.W. Jolly learned much about saddles, harness, etc. I had the same love of the land as my dad. There was a vacant lot next to the saddle shop where I rode imaginary horses and harnessed imaginary teams. With these imaginary teams, I plowed the imaginary fields of my imaginary farm.

Our next residence was a rent house on E.N. 18 th street directly across the street, with a large vacant lot between, from Abilene Christian Collage. It was while living there and in the 2nd grade that my dad purchased my first horse. Our landlord owned a dairy farm just east of the college campus. Part of that farm is now occupied by the expanded campus of what has become Abilene Christian University as well as houses and business property. Our landlord owned a horse named Tony that was kept on the farm. I spent much time on that farm. My dad and I often went horseback riding with me mounted on my horse and my dad mounted on Tony.

I believe it was 1945 when my parents purchased their first home at 1502 Oak Street. It was not the farm, but close to it. It was at the south edge of Abilene. Mesquite pasture was directly across the street, east from our house. I kept my horse in that pasture. South and east of that pasture was cultivated land used for wheat farming. This area is now occupied by South Treadaway Blvd. which is primarily an industrial area.

Behind the house facing South 15th street was a detached garage. My maternal grandfather built a small barn next to the alley behind our house and garage along with a pen for a milk cow and a chicken pen. A small portion of the barn was used for a chicken house. An area between the cow lot, chicken pen and the garage was fenced for a vegetable garden. There were numerous vacant lots around us which we used for grazing for our milk cow and a Holstein bull calf that I had as a 4H project.

Especially on the south side of Abilene, the oldest part of the town, it was not unusual to find a barn behind houses and many people still maintained a milk cow and chickens.

This near farm like life at the edge of town was short lived. The city closed in around us. My dad and I both longed for the farm. My mother did not share that desire. She just sort of went along with it.

I believe it was late 1947 or early 1948 that the dream came true for both my dad and me. A farm at Potosi was located, the owners of which wanted to move to town. A trade was made and we moved to Potosi. At that time Potosi was a rural community located eleven miles south of Abilene. Our place was directly behind the Potosi Methodist Church and joined the Hancock place to our north. Two churches, Methodist and Baptist remain as next door neighbors with what was the Hancock place directly behind the Baptist church. Lytle creek runs through the pasture. In those days, it flooded about once per year. There was running water much of the time and there was a water hole that rarely went dry.

Shortly after moving in at Potosi my dad started buying calves and later on some yearling steers. Grazing was plentiful in the pasture and fields that had been left fallow for a number of years.

While living at Potosi, I attended Abilene High School. My major high school interests were Vocational Agriculture (now called Agricultural Education) and FFA, Future Farmers of America. My FFA projects were beef steers, swine and poultry. I was also on the FFA poultry judging team. I also had a horse and became a pretty good pasture roper.

I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1951. While I was in the Air Force, I frequently sent money home to purchase calves. During the time I was in the Air Force, My uncle, Homer Reeves, purchased a house in Potosi for my maternal grandparents. The back of the lot joined our property. My Grandfather J.A. Sterling put in a gate to make access between the two places easier. After I was released from active duty in the Air Force, my Dad and I became partners in some cattle.

I married Shirley Mazy in 1956. We lived in Abilene for a short while, however my dad gave us 5 acres of land and we moved to the farm at Potosi. We located a man in Priddy, Texas who had bought numerous buildings from the Government located at military Base that had been closed. From him we purchased what had been an old Orderly Room type building. We leveled the place where the house was to sit with a Fresno (designed to be horse drawn) pulled behind my dad’s 1937 Chevrolet. We dug holes for concrete footings upon which concrete blocks were placed for a foundation. The result was a pier and beam foundation built form concrete blocks. When the foundation was completed, the man from whom we had purchased the house moved it in and set it upon the foundation. Our house was located in close proximity to the home of our parents with less than 50 yards between. We paid this house off in seven years. Wow – I wish that could be done now!

Extensive remodeling was necessary to turn this military building into a house with two bed rooms, a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. We lived in the house while construction was going on. Most of the carpenter work was done by my non carpenter dad. I was less of a carpenter than my dad, but helped as best I could. Shirley and my mother also did much of the work. None of us were carpenters, however we completed the job and it became our home. Our two daughters were born while we lived in that home. Over the years, we have lived in much better and nicer houses, but I have never been as happy as I was during the time we lived in that house.

Shirley and I did not know it at the time, but it turned out that we already had Potosi roots. After moving to Texas from Alabama, my mother as a child had lived in the Potosi area. Later she moved with her parents and siblings to Colony Hill, an area between Potosi and Abilene located on what is now FM1750.

In 1900, Shirley’s great-grandfather, John Revell built a cotton gin in the Lytle Cove area four or five miles southwest of present Potosi. It was located on what was the old Sumrall place. Later as a child, Shirley’s mother lived in the house on the Hancock place. That house was located very close to what is now the main entrance to Potosi Baptist Church.

Although five acres had been deeded to me by my dad, including part of the pasture and part of the cultivated land, there was never any distinction between my land and land owned by my parents. No fences separated my land and my parents land. The effect was one farm with two houses.

At some point my dad sold most of the land. The actual reason is unknown to me, but I believe it was due to his declining health. He kept the land on which the house, barn and outbuildings were located as well as part of the pasture. My five acres also remained.

To compensate for the land that had been sold, I leased the Hancock place which joined us to the north. I only had to open an existing gate to obtain additional grazing land for my horses.

In 1965 Shirley and I purchased a house in Abilene and moved to town. Was this a mistake? I often think it was. The house we purchased on Yorktown in Abilene was about a block away from a school. Had we remained at Potosi, it would have been necessary for the girls to ride a school bus to Wiley. When we moved to town, my dad purchased my 5 acres and the house back. My horses remained on the farm at Potosi. I continued to go to the farm at Potosi nearly every day to check on my horses. My love for the farm at Potosi never ceased. My Dad never ceased to have great love for this land.

My dad, a Taylor County Deputy Sheriff, died January 12, 1967 due to an injury that occurred in the line of duty as a result of being kicked in the abdominal area by a prisoner. In his dying moments he was thinking of the farm at Potosi. I was by his hospital bedside when he died. He looked at me and said, “I want you to promise me that you and Shirley will move back to the place at Potosi.” I agreed to his request and it was my intent and desire to keep that promise. Things changed; however, my mother remarried and sold the farm.

Abilene is swallowing up Potosi. Many of the former farms in the area are now residential subdivisions. I have a fear that has become a phobia that the land that was so dear to my dad and to me will be overrun with a housing development some day.

At the present time the land that my dad sold and part of the Hancock place is owned by my dear friend, Melvin Faircloth. The part of the Hancock place not owned by Melvin Faircloth is now owned by the Potosi Baptist Church. This gives me comfort because it is much like the land is back in the family.

During a visit with Melvin and Ginger Faircloth a few years ago, I dug up some prickly pear cactus from the pasture and transported it to Bowie where I set it out in our back yard where it joined an old cast iron hand pump and an old Georgia stock plow. The pump had been on a well located in our pasture that we used to pump water for the livestock when the creek was low. The plow had been retrieved from the farm many years ago. I guess these items represent a monument to the farm at Potosi.

Lawton Williams wrote one of my favorite songs entitled, "Mending Fences." That song describes my life in a happier time many years ago. I think it also describes the life of my dad, J.B. “Jake” Wasson. Part of the song is as follows:

“I grew up a country boy on our old family farm
Mending fences chasing cows out of daddy’s corn
My daddy lived a Christian life and his words sill apply
So I’ll keep mending fences until the day I die.”

02-27-10, JBW

Note: Check out the website of the Texas Sheriffs’ Association at for information about the Association and the history of Sheriffs in Texas. While at the website, to learn about Sheriffs’ Office personnel killed in the line of duty, click on Lost Lawman Memorial. For information on individual inductees, check by county. For more information on individual inductees click the “More” button. For additional information about my dad, J.B. “Jake” Wasson, go to Taylor County. After his name click the “More” button. My dad is also listed on the Texas Peace Officer Memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol in Austin. You can also check for individual inductees aphetically. You can also see some great photography of Lost Lawman Memorial Services by Taylor County photographer, Tim Hutchinson. The month of May is Law Enforcement Memorial month.

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