If a fortune teller tells you something, maybe you should listen.
We traveled from Marble Falls to San Antonio for our 1970 senior trip. Whoopee, that was a dandy trip of less than a hundred miles, after putting in 12 hard years. Late in the afternoon we ended up by Breckenridge Park at an amusement park and arcade. Several of us, Madeline included, which is now my wife of over 47 years, decided to go to a fortune teller. When it was my turn she read my palms or something and said ” one day you will write a book”.
I don’t remember what it cost for the fortune teller but we all laughed until we cried at how wrong she was. You see I would never have graduated high school if not for the help of several of my girl classmates that helped me through every miserable hour of English Class. I left the 12th grade with no clue of the difference between and verb and a noun. I only knew that adverbs ended in LY sometimes or all the time. Is that right? I was always a numbers guy.
I got busy with life shortly after that trip and went into the civil construction business at age 19, married that same year, and raised 5 sons. All that left little time for much other than work. Sometime after my sons were grown and I started a collection of grandchildren, I started sitting down at night and typing out stories of what my life was life growing up in a small town in central Texas during the 1960’s. I thought it would be something I could put notebooks and pass on to my sons and my grandchildren.
Along the way I began adding stories about some of the most memorable people I’ve met along the way of being in the construction business for well over 45 years now. Email was becoming popular by then so I could send those stories to various friends that were involved or had common knowledge of the events. It seems like I had between forty and fifty stories I’d written over several years.
Then it struck me that maybe others would also enjoy some of my stories. That was how The Angora Chronicles Face Book Group was born.
The Angora Chronicles Face Book Group
The Angora Chronicles being 4 years old, I thought for the ones that are newer to this group I’d explain how it all came about. A little over 4 years ago I started a FaceBook Group that is called – “and then there were Three Thousand”. That name was taken from a book about my mother’s family that was published back in 1976.
The 3000 refers to the total family members that started out as 2 sisters, the Miller Sisters as they married, left Kentucky in the early 1800’s, and came to Texas. They settled around the Smithwick area and had large families. Eventually they, along with some of the family members, moved on to California and the family continued to grow. Many others stayed in Texas.
The lady that wrote the book to, Donna Hull, was part of the California bunch. Madolyn Frasier, of Burnet County, Texas was a great aid in supplying information for the Texas contingent, as she was the local unofficial area historian and our family archivist.
This book became the major resource for most of us to connect to our relationships with others. Almost everyone in Smithwick and many around Burnet Co. and Texas has a connection to the 3000, by blood or marriage.
I thought by getting a FB Group together there was a possibility of doing a 40 year update to the book to see if it has become “and there were 4,000 or 6,000 or 10,000”. People became interested in the project and now things are moving forward for an update to the book in the coming months.
To help stimulate the group and keep it moving I wrote some stories that I had been told about the meager circumstances that my mothers family lived through back in the depression and beyond.
Several people told me how much they enjoyed me telling those stories. That started to feed my ego I suppose. I remembered all the past stories that I had written and we’re just sitting on the hard drive of my computer. A few but not many of those stories fit the 3000 book, but they needed another outlet I thought.
One day standing in line at Luby’s Cafeteria in Corpus Christi I decided to start another group and selected the name The Angora Chronicles. That was the name suggested by friend and high school classmate Grant Ray Thompson. It fit well because angora goats had been very much a part of my upbringing. The “Musings of an Old Goat” seems to also be a great byline to go with the title, as suggested by Grant.
As the cafeteria line inched forward that day, the group was created before I reached the salads. I pushed the POST button before I reached the cashier and The Angora Chronicles was born. I invited everyone on my friends list that I thought may want to read and participate and also asked others to invite their friends. Now the group has grown to more than 1800 members and continues to pickup new membership.
I had between 40 and 50 stories that I used to seed it with to start. Knowing that wasn’t going to carry it for long, I started asking others (it was more like begging at times) to add stories. I went on a story writing binge myself, adding 4 or 5 daily. I had, besides writing stories for years had also compiled a list of possible stories. Every time I’d think of one I’d write a title down. Many times writing a story would cause me to think of another and another. Now there are over 600 stories that I’ve submitted. The pace of those submittals have slowed with time. There are only so many things that happen in a lifetime that can be written about.
I decided to supplement the stories with historical news items from around the area and beyond. Some would be old newspaper clippings or “who remembers when this building in town was whatever”. Pictures started being added of things Marble Falls and Burnet Co. We would also add stuff about Austin, where many of us migrated to and visited often since our earlier days.
Nothing historical in nature is off limits. We have a show and tell that resembles the variety of stuff kids would bring to show off to their classmates. In fact anything entertaining is welcome. A good, fairly clean joke is good at times. We have vowed to stay away from current political and religious topics that seem to become inflamed at times. Vulgar profanity is shied away from, but the talk here is not so sanitized as to make it boring.
A while back I was entrusted with the many many boxes of pictures, letters, research and old newspapers that Madolyn Frasier and her mother had accumulated over decades of collecting. I started scanning and sharing that stuff as well.
What we found out that by having this open forum of exchange, there are mysteries solved, other mysteries raised and family connections made that no one had an idea about. While genealogy sites are great for tracing family roots, this forum is giving us a chance to peel back many layers that otherwise would be lost forever. It is not known how the information collected here will benefit future generations or how we should leave it. While the information contained here is not easy to catalogue, it has at least given us currently a better look into our past generations. I have the feeling the information here will be an archivists dream or nightmare. I just don’t know which.
Friends have been made and old acquaintances have been renewed as a result of “The Group”. As a way to further connect, back on April 25th and 26th of 2015 we had our 1st Goat Gathering down at Smithwick. It was a 2 day event that gave many people an opportunity to connect. It was piggy backed onto the Boultinghouse – Evans (3000) reunion that was held earlier in the day on the 25th. We had around 300 people on Saturday and 200 on Sunday. The whole affair was reminiscent of a big family reunion or a community homecoming. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way it all came off.
My hope is to see The Angora Chronicles continue on as long as it is beneficial and being enjoyed. Who knows, maybe a 2nd Goat Gathering will be in order sometime in the future. We had hoped it could be a yearly thing, but like so many things in our lives, it’s easier to talk about than to actually pull off.
My Surprise (from Nov. 2014)
I had a very pleasant surprise this evening. I got a text from a very dedicated employee, Chris Chapman and his wife Jeni. Jeni is the daughter of my wife’s brother David. Chris has worked for my company almost his entire adult life, just short of 20 years.
They had left a box by our back door here in Bertram. When I went out and retrieved and opened it, there were 5 copies of The Angora Chronicles, volume one. It has 67 stories, mostly some of the first stories I submitted.
It is so professionally done. When Chris heard about my stories (he isn’t a FaceBooker) he contacted his mother, Wanda Winters-Gutierrez, who has several of her own books published. She became a member of our group and started working to put this book together.
There will be a link that I’ll post soon on how to order it, if anyone wants one. We are establishing a price of $9.95 each for these little gems. After my wonderful visit to the Falls on the Colorado Museum today, I am designating all the proceeds for now to the museum. Therefore more than 1/2 of the $9.95 will go helping make the museum even better. Of course they can be ordered on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller.
I am truly overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of Chris and Jeni along with the hard work of Wanda. My most heartfelt thanks to you each.
Time has progressed and it’s now December 2018.
The book has sold a few thousand copies, that is if I include the hundreds that I hand out to people wherever I travel. I am always pleased when I can give one away. “It always comes with a money back guarantee. A lot easier to do when you give them away”.
I am now working on to my second book of true stories. I’m not sure yet how to title it. I may move away from The Angora Chronicles. Some people just think it’s about smelly old goats.