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TEXAS: BIG AND LITTLE
             DIGGIN’ UP BONES

For many years, Linda has done research on her family, tracing the Helms’ line (her mother’s) as far back as 1428 in England, and the other line, the Hannon’s back to the royal families of Europe.  So, in early May, we traveled to Texas to visit gravesites of the Helms, to spend time with Linda’s sister, Judy, and to see some of the historical highlights of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  On May 4th, we flew out of Bakersfield to Phoenix and landed in Dallas about 5:00 p.m. Central DaylightTime.

Our first big adventure was the failure of America West to get our baggage on board our flight in Phoenix.  We called and it was delivered to Judy’s home about 8:00 p.m. just after we finished with supper.  From our delivery man, we learned that it is common practice on the airlines to pack the planes with freight for which they receive large revenues, then add as much baggage as will fit.  Linda’s case got on board.  Mine did not.

While our original plan had been to leave Dallas that night, we adjusted it to meet the baggage issue and left the next morning for Wingate, Texas wherein resides, Linda’s second cousin, Ora Lee Dean.

We stopped first at the Wingate Cemetery, and Linda was able to find the gravesites of her grandfather P.C. Helms, and her great-grandparents, W.R. and Sophina Helms.  The cemetery was really nicely kept, considering especially that Wingate is a small town of about a dozen buildings that shows signs of getting smaller.   

Then we went across the street and down the road about 100 yards to visit with Ora Lee and her husband, C. R. Dean.  We did not say that we were coming because we did not want to put people to any bother, and Linda was not sure if Ora Lee was still there or still alive. She was both, and welcomed us into her home where we visited for about an hour.  She had photos of her side of the family which were distinctive, and she and Linda went through the scrapbook with the appreciation that family has about family.
TEXAS BLUEBONNET
TEXAS BLOSSOMS
TEXAS CACTUS IN BLOOM
ORA LEE AND HUSBAND C. R. DEAN
CEMETERY AT WINGATE, TEXAS
LINDA RECORDS EPITAPHS
A GREAT UNCLE AND WIFE
FIREANT BITES LINDA'S TOE
GREAT GRANDMOTHER & GREAT GRANDFATHER HELMS
ADMIRAL CHESTER NIMITZ MUSEUM,  FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS
Then, it was off to Fredericksburg and a stop to the Admiral Chester Nimitz Museum.    After Pearl Harbor, he was elevated by FDR over 28 other commanders and placed in charge of the Pacific Theatre.  FDR told him to get out to Pearl and not come back till the war was won.  He was secure enough in his leadership to choose outstanding commanders of key Task Force operations, including Captain Richard Fletcher, Admiral Raymond Spruance and Admiral Bull Halsey all of whom were aggressive in their efforts to engage the Japanese Navy and reclaim American territories in the far Pacific.

The Battles over which Nimitz approved engagement plans include the Mitchell Bombing of Tokyo, the decisive battles of Coral Sea and Midway, the capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the general destruction of the Japanese Navy.  It was under his overall command that submarine actions were taken, such as those of the USS Barb aboard which my cousin, Jim Richard served.  (see page
on Pearl Harbor).

Nimitz commanded the largest gathering of U.S. Armed Forces in history, including as they did both Army and Marine land divisions, hundreds of naval vessels, both submarine and surface ships and air force mixtures of fighter planes, torpedo squadrons, and bombing missions, especially effective after the capture of Iwo Jima and the range of the new B-29. 

The museum  was a thoughtful presentation of his early life and career, highlights of his naval career where placed throughout the museum and the exhibits included rare film footage of interviews with several persons who have become legends of the war:  Ensign George Gay, only survivor in his Torpedo Squadron Eight, as they engaged the Japanese at the Battle of Midway;  Lt-General Billy Mitchell, who led the surprise raid on Tokyo with his stripped down B-24 Bombers; Colonel Rex Barber who led the flight that shot down Admiral Yamamoto’s plane, eliminating one of the powerful, thoughtful persons in the Japanese war planning schemes; and Brigadier General Paul Tibbets who flew the B-29 “Enola Gay” and dropped the first Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.

It was interesting for me to note that Admiral Chester Nimitz came out of the Texas Hill Country, and that a bit down the road, near the Perdenales, we found the home town of another Texan who did well, Lyndon Baines Johnson, appropriately named, Johnson City.
BRONZE CASTING OF IWO JIMA FLAG RAISING, NIMITZ MUSEUM
CUT-AWAY HALF OF B-24 BILLY MITCHELL BOMBER FOR RAID ON TOKYO
TALK ABOUT IRON-CLAD COMMUNICATION
NEED ONE SAY ANY MORE?
NIMITZ SIGNS DOCUMENTS OF JAPANESE SURRENDER ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP MISSOURI.  SEE MY PAGE ON PEARL HARBOR FOR PRESENT DAY LOOK AT THAT SPOT. CLICK HERE

We spent the night in Brady and the next morning drove down to San Antonio.  There we took some time to learn our way around the city a bit.  It was a hot, humid day and the freeways there were especially confusing.
 
But in the end we found our way down the River Walk in the heart of San Antonio and enjoyed strolling along the river, eating at the Hard Rock Café and just enjoying the sites and sounds of people embracing their evening.

I learned there something that I did not know (the “did not know” list is quite long, and now one item longer).  Polyester clothing does not “breathe.”  I was so hot when we were at the River Walk, and I could not seem to shed heat.  So I went into the Hard Rock Café and bought the only shirt in my size that was 100% cotton.  I was immediately cooler and tossed my polyester shirt into the trash.  Good Riddance!  ?

The next day, we made our way again into the city and lunched in the Tower of the Americas, meeting Linda’s cousin, Allan and his wife Jackie.  The food was great (club sandwich which I could not finish), conversation thoughtful and enjoyable, and the view was spectacular.  Of course it would have been even better if the skies were not obscured a bit by smoke from fires being set in Mexico and other parts of South America where they are preparing fields for cultivation.   The overcast, smokey atmosphere continued on our trip all the way up to Dallas, and we saw blue sky only once, Sunday, the day we flew out of the state. 
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH SAN ANTONIO
CRUISE ALONG THE RIVER AND EAT SUPPER
IN MY HOT SHIRT
SPURS DEFEATED LAKERS IN 6 GAMES CITY WAS VERY, VERY HAPPY !
TOWER OF THE AMERICAS:  It is 750 feet to the top of the antenna, 87 feet higher than the Seattle Space Needle, 67 feet higher than the Washington Monument and 52 feet higher than the San Jacinto Monuiment. 

Restaurant on top of tower rotates about every 45 minutes.  Elevator ride to the top is a treat with one side all glass so one can see the city come into full view.
IN MY COOL SHIRT...AND COOL TO WEAR TOO!
LINDA WITH COUSIN ALLAN AND HIS WIFE, JACKIE IN THE TOP OF THE TOWER OF THE AMERICAS
REMEMBER THE ALAMO !
We drove from San Antonio to Austin following lunch, checked in at the Holiday Inn there and had a very restful evening, making a meal on fresh fruit following the large lunch.  The next morning, we visited the Alamo, a large square block of space surrounded by walls that date back to the 1840s and featuring two buildings that were there when Davy Crocket, Jim Bowie and  James Butler Bonham, along with volunteers from Ireland, Scotland, England, Norway and such other states as Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania gathered together to defend the newly declared Republic of Texas.  It was the first state since the American Revolution to travel into the Union following its own successful revolution for independence (in this case, from the Mexican government).  Thus alone, it has named itself, the Lone Star State.

I was especially impressed at the Alamo with the large number of school children who were visiting as a class tour, complete with their notepads to make observations and answer questions.  In general, here at the Alamo, at the LBJ Library and at the JFK Book Depository Museum, the numbers of school children were truly extraordinary.  Texas takes its history seriously!

In 1998, about 2.6 million people visited the Alamo, captured by the history of a group of men who stood and fought a certain losing battle.  It is curious today to see that the Democrats in Texas have forgotten the lessons of Bowie, Crocker, and Bonham.

On May 13, 2003 fifty Democrats fled the state for Oklahoma to avoid being outvoted by the Republican legislature.  Without the Democrats in attendance, the legislature could not find a quorum and could not pass legislation redistricting the state in favor of Republicans.   Texas takes its politics seriously.  Don’t mess with Texas the bumper stickers say.

The morning after visiting the Alamo, we had a wonderful breakfast at the Holiday Inn where we were staying.  I ordered blueberry pancakes.  There were three of them filled with blueberries.  As I ate, I thought that I was pretty full after two of the cakes, but I persevered, cause I had been taught to eat everything on my plate, and besides, they tasted SO good. 

As we left the table, I knew that I had gone too far, and the blueberry pancakes just seemed to fill a spot in my abdomen and settle there.  I was pretty uncomfortable the rest of the day, but after all, it was time to visit the LBJ Library and then the next day tackle the JFK Museum at the Dallas Book Depository.
JIM BOWIE AND JAMES BONHAM IN FRONT OF THE BRAVE ONES.
ORIGINAL MISSION CHURCH, ALAMO
FIRE WHEN READY, BOYS AND FIRE A LOT ! ! !
ALAMO MONUMENT
LINDA UNDER A SPREADING OAK TREE WHICH IS ABOUT 120 YEARS OLD, ALAMO
CHILDREN  ENJOY KOI AT ALAMO
CHILDREN WITH ANSWER SHEETS
DAVY LIVES ON IN THE HOTEL ACROSS
THE ALLEY FROM THE ALAMO
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