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Words of Wisdom

"Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst."
~William Penn

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Moments in Texas History ~ 8.9.2011

Birth of Texas blues pianist Robert Shaw
August 09, 1908
On this day in 1908, blues pianist Robert Shaw was born in Stafford, Texas. His parents had a Steinway grand piano and provided music lessons for his sisters, but Shaw's father did not permit the son to play. Years later Shaw told an interviewer that he would "crawl under the house" to catch the musical strains coming from the piano lessons, and he played the piano when the rest of the family was away from home. Reportedly, the first song he learned was "Aggravatin' Papa Don't You Try to Two-Time Me." By the time he was a teenager, Shaw would slip away to hear jazz musicians in Houston and at the roadhouses in the nearby countryside. In time, despite his father's opposition, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz musician. Shaw learned his distinct brand of "barrelhouse" piano playing from other musicians in the Fourth Ward, Houston, the center of black entertainment in the city. His career flourished in the 1920s and 30s, then suffered a thirty-year hiatus while he ran a grocery store in Austin. Shaw began performing again in 1967 and gained international recognition before his death in 1985.
Last reunion at Camp Ben McCulloch
August 09, 1946
On this day in 1946, the last Confederate reunion was held at Camp Ben McCulloch. This Golden Jubilee included a memorial service for the camp's last two members, who had died the previous year. The camp, near Driftwood in Hays County, was organized in the summer of 1896 as a reunion camp for Confederate veterans and named for Confederate general Benjamin McCulloch. Annual three-day reunions were held at the camp, often with 5,000 to 6,000 persons attending. In 1930 Ben McCulloch was said to be the largest Confederate camp in existence. Subsequently, the camp became the location of the annual meetings of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, with various activities and services spanning a week in early June. The campsite, on a branch of Onion Creek, also remains a popular picnic area for residents of northern Hays County.
"Bet-a-Million" Gates dies
August 09, 1911
On this day in 1911, barbed wire promoter and oilman John Warne (Bet-a-Million) Gates died. Gates was born in Illinois in 1855. Gates arrived in Texas as a barbed wire salesman for the Washburn-Moen Company in 1876. He rented San Antonio's Military Plaza, constructed a barbed-wire corral, and filled it with longhorn cattle to demonstrate the holding power of barbed wire. His demonstration resulted in orders for more wire than the factory could produce. Gates returned to Illinois and, upon being refused a partnership in Washburn-Moen, quit. He went to St. Louis, where he helped build the Southern Wire Company into the largest manufacturer and distributor of unlicensed "moonshine/non-patented" barbed wire. Gates became a prominent industrialist and a notorious bon vivant. He controlled the Kansas City Southern Railway and formed the Texas Company (now Texaco), in which he owned 46 percent of the stock, to finance the drilling efforts of Pattillo Higgins at Spindletop. Gates's nickname derived from his fondness for gambling at poker, the stock market, and horse races. According to rumor, he bet a cool million and won two million in a 1900 horse race in England; in actuality, he bet $70,000 and won $600,000.
posted by Jeff ~ 8.9.2011  The Texas State Historical Association

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