Renaming a mysterious Arkansas town ‘Garth, Texas’

In the summer of 1980, if I remember right, we traveled from Kansas to northern Arkansas to visit my Dad’s older brother, Uncle Don. He, my Aunt Mary and my cousins lived in Harrison, near Dogpatch. I also remember something about getting some Cavender seasoning, since it’s made in Harrison. (I still use it today, although I prefer the salt-free form).

As we traveled to Harrison, my seven-year-old mind seemed to record us being on some sort of mountainous hill. One road went to Harrison while another road seemed to lead to another town down in a distant valley. A look at a map reveals it might’ve been Omaha, Arkansas.

To this day, 32 years later, I still wonder about that town. What was its name? What secrets did it hold? What stories did it tell? Or, did it exist solely in my imagination?

I have resurrected and transported the town approximately 800 miles southwest into West Texas in a short story I am working on, titled Garth, Texas. In this lengthy, in-progress short story, a road goes up a hill, reaching a zenith; what lies on the road beyond the zenith is completely unknown to anyone seeing the road from the main road it bisects.

But to those who travel to the top of the road, they will see a sharp, gradual decline as the road slopes downard for about five miles. And in the distance is a tiny speck of a town.

Garth, Texas.

Stay tuned.

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Reading Garry Kasparov’s autobiography ‘Child of Change’

Reading it, it doesn’t surprise me at all that former world chess champion Garry Kasparov majored in English (as a foreign language) when he attended college in his native Azerbaijan. His English is better than that of most Americans.

garry kasparov

Some consider Garry Kasparov the world’s all-time greatest chess player.

Including, admittedly, mine.

Kasparov’s book is so far a fascinating read. His full name is now Garry Kimovich Kasparov, but apparently it was originally Garik Kimovich Weinstein. He was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and was the son of an Azerbaijani mother (who, herself, was of Armenian descent) and a Russian Jewish father. Kasparov’s father died when he was young, and since his mother’s Kasparian family did not have any males to carry on the name, he chose to do so and Russified Kasparian to Kasparov.

I often have thought the key to success in life is find people you admire (for good reasons) and read about them. Learn from them.

Perhaps something else about Gospodin Kasparov that appeals to me is that he is well-read and well-traveled and very active. Those are three things I aspire greatly to. He notes how much English literature he’s read but marvels at how few Americans have read Russian literature extensively.

It’s not the fastest reading book in the world, but it’s an enjoyable read so far.

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When writing doesn’t pay the bills


A few months ago, a high school girl told me she wanted to become a journalist when she got older and wanted my advice.

“Don’t,” I said, and immediately laughed.

I did give her some honest advice: get a great education. Intern. Get lots of experience. Learn the industry.

Also, be prepared to work a second job; journalism is undergoing a shaky transition from print to online, and many jobs do not pay well. (Try to freelance, and you will see exactly what I mean). And if you ever get married, I told her, make sure your husband makes a good living.

Even if you don’t work in journalism or have a paid writing job, you can still blog. And journal. And write down your thoughts on whatever issues tickle your fancy. Maybe you won’t be published today, this week or this year, but perhaps someday that can happen.

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Richard’s endless reading list

We all have our pleasure activities. I have a few, myself. Venturing into bookstores and libraries. Going into cooking supply stores and admiring all the utensils I’d love to have for the day I can afford to have a fully-equipped kitchen. It can also be fun to go out on walks into the woods to just relax, let your thoughts run free and look for any interesting items. I remember long ago taking a walk along some dilapidated train tracks near my home in Beeville, Texas. Just my Dad, me and my brother-in-law. We found lots of power line insulators, which my Dad loves to collect. (I have a few of them myself today).

And here’s another thing I love to do: go to a library, get their monthly popular reads magazine and make note of all the books in there that interest me.

So far, there are about 100 books on my list. And growing. My problem is most of the books I really want to read aren’t at my local library. They have to be ordered from other libraries, and that takes time.

Still, the pursuit is very fun.

Maybe someday I’ll be stuck for 50 years in the San Antonio Central Library. Ahhhh.

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