Jacksboro Gazette-News (Jacksboro, Tex.), Vol. 131, No. 36, Ed. 1 Tuesday, February 1, 2011 Page: 4 of 8
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Page 4 • Jacksboro Gazette-News_WWW.IACKSBORONEWSPAPERS.COM_Tuesday, February 1,2011
I was checking the news last week and was
reminded of the 25-year anniversary of the
Challenger tragedy. Everyone immediately
starts remembering where they were at the
time they saw or heard the news that the space
shuttle exploded just 73 seconds after leaving
the launch pad.
It was a time when shuttles had been launch-
ing, orbiting, exploring long enough that a
“regular” person could imagine going up into
A schoolteacher is part of everyone’s life at
some time or another. And she was going into
space! It made us all believe we might do the
At that time, Jan. 28, 1986,1 had two years
of my education degree completed. I can re-
member vividly substituting myself in Christa
McAuliff’s rocket chair, thinking how excit-
ing it would be to look out your window and
see nothing but stars everywhere you looked,
learning new things, exploring the unknown.
The possibility of that future opportunity
loomed large before us all and I was exhila-
rated at the thought of space travel becoming
routine. I can remember as though it were
yesterday watching the crew walk the cat-
walk to the shuttle, smiling and waving.
I know they must have felt some trepidation,
maybe fear, but it probably measured small
compared to the adrenaline pumping through
I guess it might be somewhat like being the
first riders on the world’s newest, greatest
roller coaster. You know the risk, but can’t
squelch the thrill. Ironically enough, I don’t
like roller coasters, but would go up in a
By Pain Hudson
space shuttle mission without much thought.
Each member of the crew had to have mea-
sured the risk countless times within them-
selves and with their families.
I discussed the issue with my family as mil-
lions of other Americans might have. I would
be interested to know how many times this
question was asked the weeks preceding the
launch. “How would you feel if I had been
offered a chance to go up in space?”
I’m sure the answer at my supper table was
the same as the one around the world at most
other tables - “I would be a little concerned,
but could never stand in the way of you do-
ing something you wanted to do, despite the
I know very few of us can choose the way
we die, but the risk is not really any different
than when we walk out our doors each morn-
ing. Statistically, there are a lot fewer deaths
in space travel than earth travel. The space
crew may have been laughing and shouting
and having the time of their lives one moment
and then blinked and been in Heaven. I think
to die instantly doing something you love is
right there next to dying in your sleep peace-
Still, nothing could soften the shock for
those left behind when the shuttle exploded
within sight of the launch pad and their fami-
lies. I cannot begin to imagine their hurt.
I wasn’t able to think of much else for the
rest of the day. I know time softens grief
somewhat, but we never forget.
If the boundaries of our understandin
as expansive as H. Bryan Poff’s c
to sharing, our world would be one of unprec-
edented benevolence, stronger friendships,
heightened prosperity, elevated spirits and
unbounded faith in Almighty God.
We’d have a preview of the “land of milk
and honey.” Handshakes would seal prom-
unbounded faith in Almighty God.
a pre^ ‘
ises, and spoken words would
have value equal to details of
Positives abound with ex-
posure to this man whose late
wife thought he would “make
a preacher.” Indeed, he has a
ministerial manner, and his
application of Christian prin-
ciples has been foundational
to oil exploration in Texas and
Kentucky. During his 73-year
career, this pioneer has drilled
more than 600 wells, and at
age 100, is still at it, working
phones on oil deals daily.....
Bom in Oklahoma, Poff
moved with his parents to Fort Worth at age
three. He graduated from Central High School
in 1929 before beginning his career with Lo-
By Don Newbury
discovery came in 1948 <
: next 20 years. He felt
a Cooke County
i Mapping Con
1930, he '
ling land lea
massive East Texas oil boom.
After studying geology at TCU, he was “off
and running” as an independent operator and
consultant in 1938.
Over the years, his motto has been “always
go down one more foot.” His first personal oil
rels of oil over the next 2U yean
divine guidance on that first well. Much de-
pended on it, like whether he’d be able to af-
ford to drill a second one.
And he hit oil by drilling a
few more feet....
Drilling results in a major-
ity of dry holes, and Poff
knows the life of a wildcat-
ter is “iffy.” Still, he loves
the journey, and 16 of his
first 22 wells were produc-
He’s a favorite at Fort
Worth’s Petroleum Club,
where he was a founding
member 58 years ago.
A living legend, Poff tried
retirement twice, and he
didn’t fare well either time.
For a short spell, he thought raising race hors-
es might be fun. It wasn’t, nor did ownership
of five drive-in restaurants pique his interest.
The allure of wildcatting has long since had
him by the throat, and he’
the next well....
he’s always planning
Friends threw £
beloved Petroleum Club Dec. 5.
day party a
. Don Wooc
See IDLE, Page 6
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Not much information exists about “cedar
choppers,” tough folks who lived in camps
among the junipers in Palo Pinto County.
Journalist Winston Bode called them a
“proud, independent, robust tribe of trans-
planted Southerners who came to Texas to
flat-cut cedar and bum charcoal.”
The hardy outdoorsmen and their fami-
lies have about disappeared like the pioneer
muleskinners, trappers and trailblazers. More
cedar choppers lived in the Hill Country than
anywhere else in Texas, but plenty worked in
the juniper cedar breaks where Possum King-
dom Lake lies today.
In the past, the reclusive people moved from
place to place wherever there was work. From
1870 to 1940, the cedar breaks provided work
because cedar logs were in high demand for
fence posts, railroad ties, stove wood, founda-
tion piers and charcoal. The cedar choppers
reclaimed land so thick with junipers that a
man could barely walk through them. Ranch-
ers hired cedar choppers to clear their pas-
tures from a red-berried tree just as thirsty as
Like other workers doing hard manual la-
bor, they became known for getting drunk
and playing hard. One Marble Falls editor de-
scribed them in unflattering terms:
“A ‘cedar chopper’ is a no-count, shiftless
rapscallion who works sporadically, drinks
religiously, fights regularly and worries rare-
These maligned workers were also labeled
cedar hackers,” which is like the term “red-
neck,” “hick” and “hillbilly.” Such deroga-
tory names have always floated around about
rustic people. But as Austin American-States-
man reporter Mark Lisheron pointed out:
“Call someone a cedar chopper, and you’ve
pegged them as ignorant, backward and may-
By Gay Schlittler
be a little dangerous, but unlike a hillbilly, the
embodiment of indolence, a cedar chopper ...
worked brutally hard for a few dollars a day.”
Cutting cedar began at sunrise and lasted
until sunset. Men were paid for the number
of posts and stays cut in one day. If a man
got sick or was badly injured, he stayed in
the camp and received no pay. They had no
safety net for themselves or their families,
and wouldn’t have accepted if it was avail-
able. Like the proud Appalachian people they
came from, they shunned government wel-
fare. Common injuries like snake bites and
injuries were doctored with home remedies.
Doctors didn’t make house calls to the camps.
Locals thought of them as primitive because
they lived out in the open close to where the
work was done. Some used tents, others slept
under the stars or used small trailers to get
shelter from the cold rain and wind. Poverty
was an accepted way of life, and money was
for purchasing the bare necessities needed to
They ate a simple diet based upon staples
like coffee, flour, sugar, salt, bacon and
beans. If wild game was around the area, then
meat was on the menu. Food was prepared
as needed, and there were no leftovers. Of
course, there weren’t any comforts such as
ice boxes, stoves or conveniences that towns-
folk enjoyed. They wore mostly work shirts,
blue jeans or overalls, which were worn until
they got too dirty or worn. These were thrown
away and replaced, but there was no need for
fancy clothes in the cedar breaks.
The days of the cedar chopper are still
See STORMS, Page 6
On Sunday, Emma will celebrate her sixth
birthday. She turned six back in December,
right after Christmas, but she’s having her
birthday party now, at the end of January
when she can get a crowd together easier and
will not get the Christmas gifts mixed with
her birthday gifts.
For those bom on a holiday, or even dur-
ing a “season,” celebrating can be a problem.
Those July 4 birthday kids probably are tired
of red, white and blue cakes, fireworks, and
The “turkeys” atop my second daughter’s
birthday cakes were probably a little exhaust-
ed by the time she turned ten. Valentine ba-
bies probably would have liked to have had
some power rangers or princesses on their
cakes instead of love-knots and candy hearts.
But, alas, no one picks his birthday.
My birthday didn’t come on a holiday, but
it did coincide with the end of school, and
my mother used to send my birthday cake
... a big one from the bakery.. .to my end-of-
school-picnic. No dime-store gifts, no crown,
no glory. Just cut the cake and get to the foot-
race. I hope Mother, up in heaven, doesn’t
feel bad, but I really wanted a birthday party.
Up until this time, Emma has been happy
with her family gatherings. There have been
presents, a friend or two who happen to be
in town, and lots of relatives finishing off the
turkey and eggnog. Now, she’s going to be
the center of attention, and that’s good.
My daughter has done some great planning.
I can remember the birthday parties we had
when my girls were little. I even made a few
of the cakes myself.
Once, I decided to make those little
squeezed-out stars all over the top of the cake.
I couldn’t hold a pencil for a week and a half.
Luckily, a friend is a master cake-maker, and
she’s pretty much taken over that job, but
there were always a few problems.
My girls’ birthdays are a week and a day
apart. So, to have two parties that close to-
gether required some planning.
Furthermore, our living room was small.
The dining table, surrounded by even ten
children was like trying to stuff a telephone
booth. We went to the park a time or two, but
that is a problem in itself. We tried.
I can remember an Indian party complete
with paper sack costumes and coffee-can
drums. I can remember one pre-teen slumber
party that gave me twenty more gray hairs
and almost drove daughter number-one to run
away. I couldn’t help it if I’d been teaching
for many years and knew how to organize a
group of screaming girls. There was some-
thing about “embarrassing her for life.”
But Emma’s mother is smart. They are go-
ing to have the party at the mall... in the food
court ... on a Sunday afternoon. There will
be plenty of room in the reserved section. No
Christmas tree will get in the way. There is
no cake to make. I’m bringing undecorated
horse-cookies (made by the afore-mentioned
They are going to decorate the cookies, eat
them with ice cream cones, and then ride the
carousel. It’s a huge carousel ... complete
with fancy horses and loud music ... to cover
the screaming and giggling of the eighteen
kindergarten kids who are planning to attend.
And much to Emma’s delight, every one of
them will be bringing a present. Happy Birth-
Here’s what’s next.
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Hudson, Pam. Jacksboro Gazette-News (Jacksboro, Tex.), Vol. 131, No. 36, Ed. 1 Tuesday, February 1, 2011, newspaper, February 1, 2011; Jacksboro, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth707692/m1/4/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Gladys Johnson Ritchie Library.