Stephen Woody

Good morning, Montrose.

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Reminiscing……Tickets are starting to move quickly for the Little River Band concert at The Bridges June 29. Eric Feely and his friendly crew provide hospitality for this annual event, a fund raiser for The Dolphin House and the Montrose Community Foundation. The Grammy-winning group from Australia had a slew of top-ten singles back in the day and sold 30 million records. Not only is it the music: it’s a chance to dress up in summer finery, catch up with friends, hang out on a summer evening with a great view. Tickets ($35): Timberline Bank, The Liquor Store, The Bridges Pro Shop……Counting noses……Local music mover-and-shaker Dave Bowman says about 1,200 to 1,500 showed Friday night at the city’s Black Canyon Golf Course for the first of four free 2019 summer concerts. Groovement and Peachy had the crowd moving early and often. Groovement’s bass player brought a fat bass line and a smile – it’s hard not to like a guy who plays well, moves well and wears a cape……Oh, the irony……Two giant lizards, King Ghidorah and Godzilla, slug it out in front of the Monster (Fenway Park’s left field wall in Boston) at the film’s denouement. The movie, ‘Godzilla, King of the Monsters,’ is 83 percent better than I thought it would be. There’s plenty of whiz-bang, glow-in-the-dark action from the monsters and a lot of derring-do from the humans who are faced with sharing the world. Showing these days in the comfortable confines of the San Juan Cinema, out east.

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Recalling Dad……We didn’t travel together much. Once, on an airplane ride, a man in the next seat asked him what he did for a living. “I’m a newspaperman,” he replied. He took pictures from horseback in Oklahoma. He was a lithographer (printer). He sold advertising. He could schmooze with the best, often leaving my brother and I with my mother, who fumed, while he worked a room full of business types in a restaurant. When he was 16 in 1930, he recognized a small-time bank robber, Frank Bailey, from a wanted poster, jumped on his running board of his moving Model T Ford pulled him to the curb until Ardmore, Oklahoma police arrived. He pocketed a $100 reward. Big money during the Great Depression. For his effort, he had his name in a page one story in the Daily Ardmoreite. He played right field for the Ardmore Reds, a farm team of Cincinnati. He made homemade gin, smoked hemp and married my mom after a missionary dumped her. He didn’t talk much about his WWII service. Later, he liked good suits and after he had put on weight, told people that Omar the Tentmaker made his. William M. Woody died 40 years ago this month. You don’t quite forget your father, of course, but after a couple of generations, he starts to slip from view. You have kids of your own, then grandkids. He didn’t meet any of them. (One of the family secrets was the curiosity of his middle initial, M. As a kid, I bugged him for years and he always replied, nothing -- it was just an initial. Twenty years or so after he died, his older sister fessed up: born poor on a farm in Oklahoma, his mother couldn’t think of a middle name, so she came up with May, for the month he was born.)……Wiley College is in Marshall, Texas. It’s private, Black and during the early days of the Civil Rights movement, protests began to bubble up there as well. As the publisher of the local newspaper, these demonstrations were news. Meriting page one coverage. Business people, back when shopkeepers were almost all independent and chain stores were virtually non-existent, didn’t like anything uncomfortable in the local press. Bad for the community’s image; nothing to see here, that sort of thing. One story is that the local drug store owners, all of them with lunch counters and fiercely competitive, broke bread one day in private and agreed to pull out their kitchens. No one wanted a repeat of Greensboro, North Carolina where lunch counter sit-ins forced the great Woolworth chain to integrate. He wasn’t a crusader, certainly not in the mold of a Claude Sitton or a Gene Roberts. More pragmatic. Yet there was an editorial where the News Messenger encouraged the city to get its schools in order before the National Guard and the television crews came to town. There was a great economic migration, coincidentally, during this time as well as industrialists from the northeast looked to the south for cheap land, cheaper labor, fewer unions and better weather. Communities were competitive in trying to land one of these big factories. Integration of public schools, which may boggle the mind now, wasn’t the norm or welcomed and those charged with relocating manufacturing clear across the country had to reassure employees that their children were a priority. Civic rival Longview, 20 miles to the west, got their schools in shape earlier and generations later, it’s a thriving east Texas economic hub, doubling its population while Marshall is pretty much unchanged from 1960. I like to think what he did was brave. With that bank robber when he was 16, and with city leaders years later.

Happy Father’s Day, Montrose!

Stephen Woody was the publisher of community daily newspapers for 38 years in four cities, including the Montrose Daily Press, 1997-2011.

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