Austin Stories B. C. – A Variety of Voices

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. I am behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to V.

By the time I thought of a way to incorporate the letter V into a post last weekend, it was too late to get it done. I had finally landed on the word “voices” – a pretty general idea for including some random memories as my alphabet challenge nears a conclusion.

My husband and I heard the voice of Ray Benson and the other members of Asleep at the Wheel on January 20, 1979 at the Austin Opera House, or Austin Opry House, as it was also known. They were recording the album Served Live.

What a cheap date night! $5.00! My husband took a few photos with that TLR camera I mentioned in my previous post. Some turned out better than others.

Asleep at the Wheel 20 Jan 1979 Austin Opera House

This shot of Ray Benson isn’t that great.

Ray Benson 20 Jan 1979

But he got a pretty good one of Johnny Gimble. (below the video) You can clearly hear Johnny Gimble on fiddle in the song Miles and Miles of Texas. Surely you can hear our voices too!

Johnny Gimble 20 Jan 1979 Austin Opry House. © Martin Morales


Some voices are expressed and heard through books. Graduate school kept me busy reading textbooks in the field of Social Work. I wrote a research paper evaluating a bunch of the parenting books that seemed to proliferate during the 70s – a variety of voices that confuse parents, I thought.

College and graduate school basically ruined me for reading fiction. After graduate school, it took some time to accept that I didn’t have to “learn” from every book and I really could read simply for pleasure. But … what to read? I had lost touch. I tiptoed back into fiction, depending on a recommendation of a friend for starters. Since I can be a bit of a hoarder, I was surprised that I didn’t find many books from that time still on our shelves. Maybe I was better at borrowing back then instead of the constant buying I seem to do today.

Of course, The Road Less Traveled was not fiction. I enjoyed it and bought M. Scott Peck’s next book, People of the Lie, when it came out in paperback. I was pregnant with my first child at the time. After reading about his experiences with exorcisms, I had a terrible nightmare that the baby I was carrying was possessed by the devil. My dream was so real and upsetting that I stopped reading the book and removed it from the house.

I sometimes wrote down a few quotes.

I read quite a few books by Kurt Vonnegut and saved a quote from Slapstick that resonated with me.

A couple of quotes I wrote down are rather long. A quote from The World According to Garp by John Irving about the Under Toad, for example. The undertow/Under Toad made a lasting impression on me – an image I’ve never forgotten. The same goes for quotes from The Color Purple and the image of the purple field that God doesn’t want us to ignore. I also read books by E. L. Doctorow, Joyce Carol Oates, and Anne Tyler. I’m sure there were others.

Then babies happened, and I dropped reading for leisure again and took up books about and for children.

My husband heard the voice of John B. Anderson, an Independent candidate for president in 1980, at a rally in Austin in June of that year. A Republican from Illinois, Congressman Anderson lost some early primary elections and chose to remain in the race as an Independent, running against Ronald Reagan and incumbent Jimmy Carter.

6/1980 John B. Anderson. Photo by Martin Morales ©

I did not attend the rally with my husband, so I don’t know exactly what he heard that day. Perhaps he heard Congressman Anderson speak to women’s issues as recorded in a Nova Law Review paper entitled John B. Anderson: The Exemplary Dark Horse.

“His remarks before another crowd of women were also remarkably outsider-sensitive. He said he was proud of the fact that twenty-one of his state coordinators were women. He said he supported the women’s movement during the 1970s because it was “a vital force in our society” despite the great opposition. He told the crowd about all the particular laws that treat women in a disparaging manner. For instance, Anderson said that it was a national disgrace that approximately 3.5 million women were beaten by their husbands each year, and further, that women were only receiving fifty-nine percent of what men earned.

What would Anderson have done differently for women if he had become President? He listed ratification of the ERA as a top priority, followed by freedom of choice and making sure that poor women are able to get funding for abortions, among other things. Anderson wanted to have women treated as equals. While he opposed the draft, he thought that if men were going to be drafted, women should also be subject to the draft.”

A voice that I heard almost weekly was that of our senior pastor, Rev. Jack Heacock. He used his voice in both the pulpit and in numerous letters to public officials and letters to the editor of the newspaper.

01 Jan 1980 Austin American Statesman

01 Jan 1980 Austin American Statesman

I liked having a pastor who made me think, question, and get a little uncomfortable if the shoe fit. Not everyone felt that way. There were times when church members thought he had taken a step too far and they moved their membership elsewhere.

I got the idea for using “Voices” as the central idea of this post after returning home from the Women’s Rally at the Texas Capitol last Saturday. I gathered with thousands of other women, men, and children, to be a visible voice through numbers and to listen to the voices of those who spoke at the rally. The women I stood with in these photos are women from our church, one a pastor.

The rally came at the end of a week when my first ever letter to the editor was published in the newspaper. Sometimes, you feel like you need to use your voice.

I’ve been thinking about the circumstances of Gov. Abbott’s life and how he is uniquely situated to do so much good. He has the power of his position, of course, but there is more. Physical injuries as a healthy young man left him unable to walk and, I would assume, with other health issues. His wife is the granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico. His daughter, adopted. 

These circumstances might render him a man of compassion and an advocate for women, immigrants, people with disabilities, children in foster care, and more. Instead, he makes life more difficult at best and life-threatening at worst for those whose lives echo his personal circumstance. 

He exudes “righteous anger” as he distracts attention from his own failings, makes spurious correlations, instills fear, and utters illogical nonsense to defend his positions.

I sense a hole in his heart the size of a ballot box.

And then, this happened:

If you read the article above about our former pastor, you saw Congressman Doggett’s name mentioned from back when he was a state senator and we attended the same church. I didn’t know him, but knew where he sat. What a surprise to receive such a personal letter from him last week!

I don’t know what happens. I start writing a post about the past, meander around, end up in a place I didn’t expect – like the present, and then things circle back around again.

The woman in the prompt photo looks as though she will walk right up to you and say what is on her mind. And maybe hand you a bouquet of flowers as encouragement.

There are many ways to use your voice – in song, photography, letters, books, art, and spoken word. Please visit other bloggers who have used their voices to respond to the prompt photo. Find them here: Sepia Saturday

Austin Stories B.C. – A Camera and the Letter U

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. I am behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to U.

The prompt photo this week includes a woman with her camera.

As undergraduate students at Baylor, we were required to take three two-hour electives. My husband took a photography class that he really enjoyed and he encouraged me to take it the following semester, with the promise that he would help me. I enjoyed it too, but not enough to become proficient at determining the best shutter speed and light meter settings. I did enjoy the developing and printing process, though.

The university cleaned out some old model cameras and my husband bought this Kodak Duaflex II twin lens reflex camera. It was fun to use and he tells me that, although he had another camera, all of the photos he printed himself were taken with this one.

While we were still Baylor students we had access to the photography lab and my husband continued to take and print photographs. One of the things that was fun to do with this camera was to intentionally take double exposures. He enjoyed experimenting with different techniques and has always had an interest in architecture, so he often took photos of architectural details.

Once we moved to Austin, he found The Darkroom, located in a nondescript one-story building adjacent to the original Hyde Park Bar and Grill on Duval. The Darkroom would develop and print photos for you, or you could pay to use the darkroom equipment and do it yourself. That is what we did. After a while, we started developing film at home in the the windowless bathroom in our apartment and only did the enlarging and printing at The Darkroom. It saved a little money and was easy to do. I remember clipping developed film to hangers, then leaving them on the shower curtain rod to dry.

I really enjoyed the times we spent at The Darkroom together creating black and white photographs. Sadly, The Darkroom closed sometime in the early 80s, I guess, and that was the end of that.

I have shared quite a few of my husband’s black and white photos in this Austin Stories series. As I was looking through his photos again, I found one featuring the letter U, bringing me closer to completing my alphabet challenge.

May 1977 Middle Amana Cemetery. © Martin Morales

This photo is one of a series of photographs taken in May of 1977, when my husband experienced Iowa for the first time. We went to the Amana Colonies with my Grandmother Abbie (my father’s mother). The photo above taken at the Middle Amana Cemetery. The photo below somewhere in the villages.

The Amana Colonies is a National Historic Landmark and a fun place to visit. I’d like to go back one of these days. A few years later, my husband bought me an Amana rocking chair, a favorite of mine that I have written about previously.

1977 May, Amana Colony woolen mill. © Martin Morales

Another photo of the two of us at the end of the day. Or maybe at the beginning of the day?

My husband and I also spent a day in Pella, Iowa during the Tulip Festival.

© Martin Morales. May 1977, Pella, IA. woman spinning

©Martin Morales. May 1977. Man making wooden shoes

© Martin Morales. Pella, IA May 1977

My favorite photo from the day.

© Martin Morales, May 1977 Pella, IA. Man with dog

And because it was a tulip festival, I must show a few photos in color.

Street sweepers.

My husband’s impression of Iowa was that there was a lot of corn. I’m not finding any photos of corn, but he did get one of a farm near Hedrick, where my dad (Jerry) lived with his wife, Josephina, and their daughter, my younger sister.

© Martin Morales. Farm outside Hedrick, IA May 1977

The old train depot in Hedrick. I think someone converted it to a restaurant for a short time.

© Martin Morales, May 1977. Old train station Hedrick, IA

And a couple of family photos. My younger sister at the playground in Hedrick.

© Martin Morales, May 1977. Hedrick, IA

Me with my mother’s parents, Eveline and Tom Hoskins, in Ottumwa, IA. I had lots family in Iowa!

© Martin Morales May 1977. Me with Tom and Eveline Hoskins

It is too bad that there isn’t a Darkroom today. I think it is a hobby my husband would enjoy again and I wouldn’t mind being his assistant.

**** I finished and posted this and was putting away a few things when I found a foldout postcard set from the Amana Colonies that my husband sent to his parents. Ha!

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday this week. Please visit other bloggers at Sepia Saturday, where I always find something to delight.

Austin Stories B. C. – Imperfectly Good Therapy

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. I am way, way behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to T.

As I go through photos for this series, I sometimes chuckle at what I am wearing. Or what my husband is wearing. And I have been surprised to see how many of the clothes were ones I made – like these plaid bell bottoms with cuffs I shared in the previous post.

Nice matching of plaid at the seams, if I do say so myself.

I don’t sew much anymore, but It was a favorite pastime then. I remember one time when I had the week off but my husband didn’t, so we couldn’t go anywhere. I spent the week just sewing. I was either working as a social worker or doing a social work internship at the time. I later realized that my week of sewing was so enjoyable because it was an antidote to working with people on people problems that are not easily solved or completed. While I was sewing, there was no conversation other than the thoughts in my head, or an old movie or As the World Turns on the television. I could make what I wanted with fabric I had chosen. If I made a mistake, I could rip it out and do it over. I had instructions to follow, including illustrations. I made the pieces fit together, even if I had to force the fabric to do my will. I could finish it to my satisfaction, or just stop and leave it be.

I can’t find any scraps from a dress I made that week, nor the pattern. It was a turquoise wrap-around dress – no buttons or zippers. I wore it fairly often, but wished I had used a lighter-weight fabric.

Imperfectly good therapy.

I suppose it could be embarrassing to admit that I still have scraps from almost everything I ever made, but I’m not. I could have worse traits. I thought it would be fun to make a mess in my sewing nook and pull out scraps to match with some photos. I wonder when it will be fun to put everything back?

I shared this photo in a recent post.

A simple loose-fitting sundress or jumper. I wore it to my husband’s high school reunion in 1981.

Me and my mom around 1983. At first I couldn’t figure out what that “bunny ear” is at my mom’s wrist. Then I remembered that I tied a hot pink belt at the waist of this dress. When she put her arms around me, it must have flipped an end up to reveal the back side.

Most of the clothes I made were pretty simple. (I promise, that dark top on the right was bright green.)

Sometimes I took on a pattern with sleeves, buttonholes, and pockets. And stripes.

Bad photo of us with me in a jumpsuit.

I even made a shirt for my husband. Silky synthetic fabrics with vintage images were popular. I’m just wearing one of his flannel shirts here, but I made a few things for myself with that 40s vibe.

This was one of my favorite dresses to wear around. I made the pattern twice. The other one in a light blue calico, but I preferred the print of the brown one. In my grad school graduation photo, you can see a sliver of this dress peeking out. They ended up in my girls’ dress up box.

I found a couple of skirts still intact. Was I ever that size? And I found more fabric scraps, but now things are such a messy mess from me looking through pictures and fabric scraps that I think it is best that I stop.

I stopped sewing for myself when I had kids, and started sewing for them. The only sewing I have done the past few years are port pillows and masks. The oncology center I go to stopped taking handmade items because of Covid, so I haven’t made port pillows in over a year.

Recently I have been thinking of making a few simple dresses that would be cool and comfortable. I wonder what size pattern? I wonder when someone will clean up the mess so that there is room to sew? I wonder if it will still be imperfectly good therapy?

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday, where other bloggers are responding to the prompt photo for today – not the one from August 21st. Pay them a visit. It will be good therapy. I promise.