My family moved to Denton, Texas in 1965. Denton High School was my third high school in three years, and my head was spinning. The move from Stillwater, Oklahoma (freshman year) to Warrensville Heights Ohio (suburb of Cleveland for my sophomore year) already had me confused and the move back south left me reeling. Denton was fairly small then and had only one high school. Cleveland had turned out to be a very cool city. During 1964 ad 1965, I had gone to concerts by Chuck Berry, the Four Tops, the Rolling Stones, and the Animals, among many others. The stones weren’t coming to Denton. Chuck declined the invitation.
My first contact at Denton High School occurred when my mom and I went to register for classes. We were greeted by Maxine Dibble, who, after a few frustrating minutes, blurted out “I can’t understand you, will you write that down?” I knew right then that the next two years would be fabulous and that I was now living in the town of my dreams. Soon enough I began to be drawn to tunes like the Animal’s, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” At the same time I became a fan of Marvin Gaye’s, “How Sweet It Is,” Bob Dylan’s, “Like a Rolling Stone,” James Brown’s (when he had the Fabulous Flames), “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” Sam the Sham and the Pharaoh’s, “Wooly Bully,” and the Beatle’s, “Help.” Yes, I needed help but that would come a few years later.
I’ve written about Love Field in Dallas in a previous blog, but haven’t noted the 12 foot tall, “One Riot, One Ranger” statue that greets travelers as they enter the lobby of the airport. The statue was first displayed in 1961 (I saw it first in December 1965), but was moved from Love Field in 2010 when extensive airport renovations began. Don’t worry, it’s back (2014) now that the renovations are complete. The statue is should not confused with Big Tex, the 55-foot tall statue and marketing Icon that can be found at the Texas State Fair in Fair Park.
The long time Big Tex, from 1952, caught fire (electrical) and burned on October 19, 2012—what a 70th anniversary! Some of you might remember the news stories and videos of that conflagration—quite the show. Anyway the Riot Ranger is part of Texas lore and macho image. The story (short version) behind the phrase refers to Texas Ranger Bill McDonald who was sent to Dallas in 1896 to prevent a heavyweight prize fight from being staged. McDonald purportedly quelled an unhappy bunch of folks who had assembled to watch the fight. There are other versions to this story with most claiming that other rangers were present. Walker, Texas Ranger, was not present. He was in Waco breaking bricks and sticks, thus was not available for duty. To close, my favorite Texas Rangers phrase came with a smaller statue given to me in the 1970s by a very close friend and read, “Rest easy boys, I only came for one man.”
Dallas is much different city than when we moved to Denton in 1965. It was still reeling and roiling from the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. It had lost some of its luster and bluster. The Cowboys had won a championship, yet they weren’t “America’s Team”. The Dallas Stars had not arrived, although we did have the Dallas Black Hawks, the minor league hockey club of the Chicago Black Hawks. The Texas Rangers were still in Washington, and the Mavericks were not event yet someone’s dream. Racism and sexism were “in your face,” with all black schools and whites only signs found in many places. Greenville Texas still had a sign at the outskirts of town, “The Blackest Land and the Whitest People.”
Finally, the Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to shake as a result of fracking. Irving, Texas, the location of the old Texas Stadium, is a real hotspot, with eight earthquakes of 2.0 or higher in the last month. On December 3, 2015 there was a 2.8 shaker. Citizens reported a rumbling sound, followed by ground shaking. The strongest trembler this years was 4.0 in Venus, Texas, yes Venus, southwest of Dallas. Fracking sites are now located in the middle of residential neighborhoods. I saw one such site in Richland Hills (suburb of Ft. Worth). I was surprised at how close the operation was to homes.