Look, Mom, I'm on the Radio!

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December 19, 2010 -

Among the things I learned from my December 17th appearance at Sue Patrick's in Austin:

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Austin Book Signing: December 17th

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Decebmer 16, 2010 -

I will be at Sue Patrick (5222 Burnet Road, Austin) Friday, December 17, 2010 between 5 and 7 pm to talk Texas history and sign copies of The Republic of Austin and Austin, Texas-Then and Now.  Ray Spivey, illustrator of The Republic of Austin will also be on hand with prints of his beautiful cover art for sale and signature.  Come on by!

Austin, Texas - Then and Now

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Sour Grapes in Houston

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December 12, 2010 - 

"Nature appears to have designated this place as the future seat of Government."  

So bragged the Allen brothers, founders of the city of Houston, in an 1836 newspaper advertisement.  Two months later the Texas Congress seemed to agree as it selected Houston over Washington and  Matagorda as the next capital.  Sam Houston's namesake city garnered 21 out 40 votes cast to beat out its competitors for the right to host the Republic's government.  The selection provided a significant boost to city prosperity.  With the assurance of a sizeable customer base during congressional sessions, merchants and investors began streaming into Houston.  Seemingly overnight the Allen brothers' new town transformed itself from a sparse collection of tents and shanties into a bustling boomtown in which houses were built in a single day and the capitol building lifted its "towering form above the puny buildings around, like a giant live oak amid the prairie bushes."  Houston, like the Republic of Texas itself, seemed destined for greatness.

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Book Signing

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December 11, 2010 -

Please join me at Sue Patrick (5222 Burnet Road, Austin) DECEMBER 17, 2010 from 5-7 P. M.  I'm sure I don't need to mention what a great Christmas gift my latest book, The Republic of Austin, would make.  I'll also have copies of Austin, Texas - Then and Now on hand.

Austin, Texas - Then and Now (Promised Land Books 2004)

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Scanning the Want-Ads in 1840

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November 22, 2010 -  

You can tell a lot about a society by reading its newspapers' want-ads.  Modern want-ads have, of course, expanded beyond the newspapers.  Nevertheless, websites such as ebay and Craigslist serve the same function as the newspapers of my childhood by offering up a cross-section of society's stuff.  A future historian could do a lot worse in compiling a picture of how we live today than by reading descriptions of the items the people of 2010 offer for sale.  In addition, perusal of these sites and others as well as, yes, newspapers, for they still cling to life, yields a trove of information on our land, our housing, our jobs, and our dreams.  As that astute observer Marshall McLuhan commented, "Ads are the cave art of the twentieth century."

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"Come whistle, my boys . . ."

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November 9, 2010 - 

She perhaps would have never come to Texas if her husband hadn't died of yellow fever in 1827.  But after a stint as governess for a family in Louisiana, Mary Austin Holley boarded the steamship Spica in New Orleans on October 18, 1831 and arrived four days later at the mouth of the Brazos River.  The ensuing slow upriver trip to Brazoria entranced the 47-year-old widow.  "There is nothing," she chirped to another boat passenger, "in the whole course of the Ohio and the Mississippi, for quiet beauty, to be compared with the Brazos."

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