Austin Stories B. C. – Loitering by a post for a photo

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain, but I have made it to L – as has the Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week.

I have not, in all honesty, “made it” to letter L. I missed letter K last week. Knot much kame to mind! Our son was here visiting and we hadn’t seen him since months before the pandemic hit and I just didn’t want to spend my free time at the komputer and I really didn’t have a klue what to write about.

That said, last week’s prompt photo featured a motorcycle and sidecar …

Man On Old Fashioned Harley Davidson, Keene NH : Keene Public Library (Sepia Saturday 575)

.. which brought to mind a small memory of a client I was assigned during one of my social work field placements while in graduate school. The client was a man and his young daughter. They had just moved to Austin from Pennsylvania, I think. Maybe it was Michigan. Somewhere quite a distance, anyway. The little girl was five or six at the oldest. Maybe four. They moved to Austin by motorcycle and sidecar!

The Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week features the letter L and two people standing by a post for a photo.
Lacking lasting remembrances linked to the letter L, I looked longingly for some lingering story line to fit my 1975-1985 time line. A las – I landed on people loitering by a post. I had hoped to find lamp posts littering our lot of photos, but lo, no lamp posts. At least the photos below fit my time line.

Here we have the photo every visitor to New Orleans takes. That’s me and my sister Kristie leaning against a street sign on Bourbon Street.

And a better photo of my sister Karla on a different corner of Bourbon St.

My parents invited us to go to New Orleans with them. I think it was 1982. Here is the group – minus my husband, who was the photographer. Wait! Where is Karla? Did we leave her standing on the corner of Bourbon Street?

I don’t remember many details. It was very hot. We had the Sunday brunch at Commander’s Palace – which my dad really wanted to share with us. My first Eggs Benedict. We walked the French Quarter and took in shopping and food. An ice cream shop comes to mind. Surely we had beignets! I know we didn’t visit any of the bars on Bourbon St. that night. Mom was a teetotaler and the night life there was not her style.

The photo below was taken in Galveston – me standing beside a flag pole in front of the Ashton Villa. My husband and I went to Galveston in the fall of 1981. We toured several of the old mansions and ate seafood and he showed me the area where he and his grandfather used to go fishing. It’s funny looking at these photos and remembering the clothes. I think I made that shirt.

Not a vacation photo, and not exactly a post, but here is my father-in-law and his German Shepherd, Baron, posed beside a pine tree in their back yard. Baron was friendly, but pinned me up against the fence to lick my face, I guess. On his hind legs, he was taller than me.

My husband spent six weeks in NYC in the fall of 1983 to train to be a broker for Prudential-Bache. One of the other trainees took this photo of him near a sign post in front of Balducci’s.

I believe this photo of my husband standing beside his car, which is parked between two posts, was a parting shot. The photo was taken around June 1985. I was pregnant and he left the brokerage firm to work in a bank where we could count on a consistent monthly income.

I think I’ll be back on track with an alphabet story that’s more “Austiny” next week. If all else fails, the letter M can be for Memory – and that works for almost anything!

P.S. – If you read my post that included Turk Pipkin, you might be interested to know that he collaborated with Willie Nelson on Willie’s new book Letters to America. Turk Pipkin is doing zoom events with booksellers this week to discuss the book.

No loitering! Head on over to Sepia Saturday to see what others have shared in response to the prompt photo.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Austin Stories B. C. – I Was Once a Jogger

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain, but I have made it to J – as has the Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week.

Sometime in the early 1980s, I got antsy and took up jogging. I have never been athletic. I didn’t like to run. When I thought of running, I remembered being a kid doing lots of exercise at school because President Kennedy wanted us to be fit … and getting my first “stitch” while running laps. It was an unpleasant memory.

I think I started running because my biological clock was ticking – the ansty part – and because jogging was a trending form of exercise. One antsy day I laced up my sneakers, went out the front door, and started running down the sidewalk in our suburban neighborhood. I’m sure it was not a pretty sight. I could only run the length of two houses before getting winded.

That’s how I started: run for two houses, walk for two houses, run for two houses, walk for two houses. Then I made it three houses, a block, two blocks … I eventually increased the distance I could jog to three miles.

By then, I had invested in proper running shoes and cushion inserts, owned a copy of The Runners’ Repair Manual (which I see falls open to stretching exercises),

… and I usually ran the hike and bike trail that runs along Town Lake (now named Lady Bird Lake). I had also learned that the way to keep up my running was to take my jogging clothes to work with me and change before leaving the building. That way, I was dressed for a run when I got in the car. If I drove home first, it wasn’t going to happen despite my best intentions. Turn left! Turn left! Drive to the trail!

I would park by the tennis courts at Austin High School and cross under the MoPac overpass on a pedestrian bridge built to access the hike and bike trail. I began by running/walking on the south side of Town Lake, turning around at Lou Neff Point to complete my run.

[Lou Neff Point], photograph, Date Unknown; ( accessed June 13, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Eventually I increased my distance by running across the pedestrian bridge,

Footbridge photo taken by Will C. Fry; accessed from Flickr

… back near the main part of the lake, and turned around somewhere along the path before reaching Lamar Blvd.
The tracks for the Zilker Zephyr crossed the trail, so it was necessary to watch out for the train and to wave at the kids and parents as they passed by.

Zilker Park Train. Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. Undated

I sometimes ran into someone I knew (usually not literally) and we would wave as we passed each other, or run together if we were evenly matched. The pastor of the church I attended was also a jogger. I knew that because he sometimes mentioned it at church. One day I saw him running toward me on the trail and so I gave him a big smile and hello as we passed. I didn’t get a similarly friendly response. I realized he didn’t recognize me out of context and not in my church clothes. Sometime later, I saw him in the parking lot before or after a run and went over to him to say hi so he could place me the next time we ran into each other. We shared a little laugh about our previous encounter.

I learned to enjoy running. And working up a sweat – I earned every drop. I learned to stop and bend forward and recover from a stitch and keep going. I felt like a jock.

Once I had built up to a three mile run, I started setting my sights on participating in the Capitol 10,000. First, I ran in a 5k fun run. I don’t remember which one. I wish I still had the t-shirt to jog my memory. Once I had completed a 5k, I felt encouraged to try for the Capitol 10,000. I know I did it in 1983 because my husband dated the photos we have. (That t-shirt is also gone.)

The First Annual Capitol 10,000 was held March 12, 1978. 800 runners were expected, 3,400 registered. The course was on the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail. Ben Sargent, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, created the ’Dillo (armadillo) mascot. March 28, 1983 was the date of the sixth Annual 10K with 20,000 participants expected. The race had outgrown the hike and bike trail the first year and taken to the streets. It was expected to be the second largest 10k in the nation in 1983.

I registered and received my packet and t-shirt.

The Capitol 10,000 is sponsored by the Austin American Statesman newspaper, so there were lots of articles leading up to race day. Having never participated in a 10k before, I read all of them. There was advice on training, dressing for the weather, what to eat before the day of the race, the best places for spectators, advice to take a rest day before the race, as well as human interest stories about participants. There were numerous ads for shoes and athletic wear, a running calendar of training events and fun runs leading up to the 10k, recipes for runners, and notices of special worship services offered by downtown churches. Everyone was getting ready.

A map of the route provided information about the location of water and medical stations, just in case.

Here I am, just out of the car on that cold and windy March morning, race number in hand.

Elite and fast runners lined up at the front, behind wheelchair participants, who started before runners. Slow people like me were mostly at the back so we wouldn’t be in the way or trampled. It took a long time after the race started for runners toward the back to begin to inch forward. It must have been about ten minutes before I started.

See me? Toward the back? Capitol 10,000 t-shirt? Blonde hair?

You might notice something odd below center left. I believe that is a jogging armadillo. Yes – here’s a photo with a better view.

The first part of the race headed west and was mostly uphill. A challenge, but flowers were in bloom along the way, a lovely distraction as I ran upward. The crowd became less dense as the fast runners took off and the rest fell into their paces and places. My husband took a couple of photos as we came back east.

I think I ran about four miles before taking a walking break. Then I ran and walked my way to the finish line – running at the very end, of course. I don’t remember anything else. Somehow I found my husband, we got home and I rested.

A write-up the next day provided an overview of the event, including winners, costumes, injuries, and more.

When I read the article above, I was surprised to find the name of someone from the neighborhood.

We used to live closer and I would see her out jogging every day. I guess she’s still at it because I saw her jogging just a few days ago. She has stamina!

In keeping with the Austin propensity for weirdness, an article about some of the costumed runners.

Although I have no photos or a t-shirt, I am sure I ran the Capitol 10,000 again the next year. The t-shirt had the same design, but was a pale lavender. Why do I remember that and nothing else? Except that I ran almost six miles before needing to walk. 1984 was my last Cap 10k. I had my first baby in 1985 and, unlike Reenie, I didn’t continue running.

In 1984, a couple got married fifteen minutes before the race and then ran off with the crowd.

The bride and I met many years later, when she was a teacher at the school my children attended. And later, we became friends. She and her husband renewed their vows at the 1994 Capitol 10,000.

In looking back to write these memories from 1975-1985, I found a clipping I saved from 1982. I knew Bonnie. I worked where she lived. Perhaps Bonnie was the inspiration I needed to run in my first Capitol 10,000 the following year.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday (although it is now Monday). Please visit other participants, who have surely prepared something more closely related to this wonderful prompt photo.

Jean Weil In ABC Studios Making Transatlantic Phone Call : Jewish Women’s Archives (Sepia Saturday 574)

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Austin Stories B. C. – The Interim

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain, but I have made it to I – as has the Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week

Sepia Saturday 573 (5 June 2021) IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM

In a previous post, I mentioned that I worked for a state senator one summer. “That would be interesting,” you might think, but you would be wrong. The Texas Legislature meets every other year, January – May, unless there is a special session. There was not. It was The Interim. The time between.

I got the job because my father-in-law knew the senator. I don’t know what transpired between them. Were they having lunch and my FIL mentioned his son living in Austin, whose wife needed a job during the summer and the senator said, “Well, I need a warm body in the office”? Did my FIL pick up the phone and ask a favor of the senator? Was my FIL in the room with the senator when he mentioned that he needed to hire someone for the summer and my FIL suggested me because we were poor young things? That story has gone to the grave with both men. All I know is that I was told to apply for the job; I did; and I was hired. I probably only saw the senator in person a couple of times as he worked out of his Houston office during the interim.

It was the summer of 1976, before I was to begin grad school in the fall. I worked with the senator’s administrative assistant in his office in the state capitol building. Even she didn’t have a lot to do, it seemed to me. Someone needed to be in the office to answer the phone and receive anyone who walked in. Sometimes there were mailers to fold, stuff, stamp, and mail. I occasionally delivered something to another office. Very rarely, someone actually came through the office doors.There were no computers or cell phones, so we were left to our own devices when there was no work to do. Sometimes I read. I even practiced my typing. I may have only worked part time, but my memory fails. And because my memory is more impression than details, there may have been more going on than I remember.

One day the administrative assistant was using the conference table in the back room to make Christmas crafts. I was all about that, so I bought the necessary materials and she provided me with patterns and we did some crafting in the down times. (Maybe we did this during lunch – that doesn’t sound so bad and is probably true.) I made several of each – for my husband and me, our parents, and a grandmother or two. One of the things we made were these Noel hanging things (what do you call this? a banner?) made from burlap upholstery webbing, felt, yarn, and a pop top. I happen to have one sitting on my dining room table with piles of family history stuff. It is one of the gifted ones I got back after a death.

We also made some goofy Santa’s out of toilet paper rolls, felt, and cotton. It was on the top of a Christmas tree in a photo I shared in a previous post. Santa fits perfectly in a Pringles can for storage. I still have mine and usually set him out just for the kitsch factor. He deserves a better photo, but I’m too lazy to dig out the Christmas decorations just for this post. He has extra long, thin arms and legs. Really an odd fellow.

A friend and I went to the Capitol to register our opposition to some very bad bills being considered during a special legislative session in July 2017, forty years after my short tenure there. My friend had also worked for a state senator in her younger days, so we decided to walk around the building for old times’ sake. It is really a beautiful building. I wish I had taken more photos of the inside the day we were there. On the lowest level of the Capitol there are photographs of the senators and representatives from each session. I located the appropriate session and the senator I worked for, Texas State Senator Lindon Williams, from Houston. His photo is right above my hand.

My friend, pictured with her former employer.

I am standing by the sixty-fourth class, my friend is standing by the sixty-seventh class. In both classes, and those in between and some later, is State Senator Lloyd Doggett – just to the left of that red arrow. He is currently a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Just five days before my friend and I made this tour of the capitol, Rep. Doggett held a town hall meeting in the Family Life Center of the church we attend. I was volunteering as a member of the church that day, guiding people upstairs and to the bathrooms. Rep. Doggett and his family used to be members of this church and usually sat in the north balcony. Coincidentally, I have another friend, also a member of FUMC, who used to work for Mr. Doggett when he was a state senator.

While my friend and I were in the building, I also stopped for a photo op with former Gov. Ann Richards and asked her to haunt the halls during that special session. Texas needed her help then and certainly needs it now. C’mon, Ann!

And wouldn’t you know, Ann Richards also used to attend FUMC. She usually sat downstairs center section. And former U.S. Congressman J. J. (Jake) Pickle – farther back in the center section. I didn’t know any of these politicians, but I knew where they sat.

Our visit that day was in July in Texas and it was hot hot hot, but we wanted to explore the newest installations on the capitol grounds, so we sweated it out. I was impressed by the Texas African American History Memorial.

Close up of the emancipation section.

The Texano Monument. Texas has such a rich cultural history.

My husband took, developed, and printed these photos of another statue on the Capitol grounds in May 1980.

Shortly before midnight, May 31, 2021, Texas Democrats walked out of the Texas House Chamber, denying a quorum to vote on a bill that aimed to suppress the vote. Their actions brought to mind the legislative session of 1979, when a group of Democratic senators, known as the “Killer Bees” went into hiding for five days. The issue at hand was also elections.

Texas Killer Bees 1979

That’s Lloyd Doggett bottom left. He earned a place on the Texas Monthly Magazine best legislators list in 1979. I’m sure he made the list more than once, but they had this to say about him in 1979:

Lloyd Doggett, 32, liberal Democrat, Austin. Leader of the Senate brigade whose determined efforts to sandbag a flood of anticonsumer bills led a disgruntled Bill Hobby to refer to them as the Killer Bees. As a tactician, rivaled Clausewitz. Knew he’d be fighting a defensive battle, so made his opponents struggle for every inch of ground he gave up. His main weapons: filibusters, threats of filibusters, and—in desperation—fleeing the battleground. A selection from Doggett’s primer on legislative warfare:

Principle: the House, with 150 members, is less susceptible to lobby saturation than the Senate, with 31 members. Strategy: use the press to make bills you oppose unpalatable to fair-minded House members. Execution: mount a well-publicized filibuster against a bill weakening the Consumer Protection Act, referring to the proposal as the Consumer Destruction Act. Result: the House sponsor admits the bill needs improvement and includes amendments Doggett could never have passed in the Senate.

Understood perfectly the rhythm of the 140-day session—too relaxed in the beginning and too frantic in the end—and turned it to his advantage. His white tennis shoes became the most celebrated symbol of the session; their presence on his desk warned of his readiness to stand on his feet filibustering for hours. Early in the session the mere sight of them was enough to persuade restless senators to adjourn rather than sit through the night. Later, when a filibuster would mean certain death for the noncontroversial bills stacked up waiting for the Senate runway to clear, Doggett could win in the negotiating room what he had lost on the floor: for example, his last-night threat to talk to death the State Bar’s Sunset bill forced bar lobbyists to accept additional nonlawyers on their board of directors.

Superb at using the power of reviewing gubernatorial appointees: paved the way for the first Senate rejection of a Clements nominee by forcing potential judge Monk Edwards to admit he assumed there was money in an envelope he delivered to then Governor Preston Smith on behalf of Gulf Oil. Rid the state of nefarious bureaucrat Hugh Yantis by invoking senatorial courtesy.

Not a member of the Senate club—oldtimers occasionally slight him by not holding hearings on his bills—and succeeds mainly through hard work and attention to detail; never parties, never relaxes with lobbyists, reads during every spare moment—even in committee meetings. A Texas politician of the modern mold—a pure technician, earnest, a bit dour, like an aging choirboy. Works seven days a week and expects his staff to do the same; once went to his Capitol office on Christmas afternoon and was infuriated to find the building locked.

He exemplifies why I am not in favor of term limits, in case you were wondering.

First Methodist is located on the west side of the Capitol and during our early years in Austin, there were a number of politicians who were members. Pastors were asked to say opening prayers at the legislature. These two buildings and the people within seemed more interconnected than they do today. I can’t think of any politicians among the membership now, but the church buildings and the people within remain connected with that political building and body within it. I think being in one another’s shadow inevitably makes it so. As a member of the church, it is great to have access to the church parking lot and walk across the street to join a rally or a march, or to register my support or disapproval of a bill being heard in committee as my friend and I did that hot day in July.

The governor has called for two special sessions this year. Yes, two. No boring interim for staffers this summer. Unless, of course, the governor makes good on his threat to veto the section of the budget that funds the legislature… Would that mean there will be no staff and therefore no one to make all the things happen??? Sheesh!

Help us, Ann!

March on over to Sepia Saturday to see what others have prepared. They are an creative bunch!

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.