Growing Up In The Lone Star State

For many, the moniker “Texan” brings forth images of big hats, leather boots, horses bearing fancy saddles and Spring roundups. Popular American TV, movies and songs have romanticized only a few characteristics of Texan’s ways and means. However, real Texans are even more colorful, diverse and genuinely impressive than the Hollywood model many people consider accurate. 

The authors of Growing Up In The Lone Star State, Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods; Gaylon Finklea Hecker and Marianne Odom are themselves perfect examples of why Texan’s take pride in their state’s fellow inhabitants.

Marianne Odom, Co-Author

This pair of seasoned Texas journalists, have revealed their personal grit and gumption through the ups and downs of their marathon, 30 year project. Withstanding a bevy of fits and starts, Hecker and Odom spent countless hours researching, interviewing subjects, curating and editing the stories resulting in this compendium of childhood memories as told by 47 notable Texans. A Herculean effort which produced a rare and poignant glimpse into the formative years of these handpicked, unique, widely known Texans who, through hard work and often sheer determination, saw them endure many hardships, disappointments, Illnesses, hunger, poverty, economic depressions, loss of loved ones and for some, racism and it’s first cousin, segregation. All the while dreaming 47 big dreams yet to be lived and success in each of their impressive careers waiting to be fulfilled.

Gaylon Finale Hecker, Co-author

Presented first person, in their own words and style, the stories seem to blend into one unified voice as if accompanied by a common soundtrack or synchronized in some special way. As you read, the individual stories meld into a clear description of similar experiences. With family, friends, teachers, employers, church and school all contributing their part, each of the 47 developed the fortitude, perseverance and character required to see them through the hardships presented to them by life. 

The 47 are from all walks of life. Examples are individuals such as Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jimmy Dean, Richard Overton, Dan Rather, Dr. Denton Cooley, Sandy Duncan and Jerry LeVias.  Each had separate paths and destinations. They all had or have the common thread of confidence and self esteem for which Texans are well known.  A certain pride in their upbringing no matter how poor or difficult. An attitude of success in spite of circumstances. 


It’s difficult to describe,

but you know it when you see it!


I could go into more detail regarding the stories included in this tome, however I’d rather not spoil the positive first impressions you will receive upon reading the collection for yourself.

So, get out your biggest hat (or biggest hair), pull on your boots, saddle up your remuda and prepare for a roundup of wonderful childhood memories, anecdotes and tales that will shed light on the real Texan residing in all of us who call the Lone Star State home.

By Steven Dickey Arnold

To order, click link below:

Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods

Tyler’s Azalea Trails minus the Azaleas

The SNOVID freeze of 2021 really did a number on some of our annual blooming beauties. The azaleas are having a really bad year. However, the redbud and dogwood trees are having the time of their life. Among the plentiful background of brown they are spectacular. They usually provide a beautiful backdrop for the featured azaleas, but this year they are the star of the show. Other trees with blooms that are making an appearance are crabapples and wisteria (although I have seen buds, but no blooms, yet). The homeowners will make sure that the Tyler’s Azalea trails are beautiful. It is a passion that requires endless hours. I encourage you to drive or walk through the trails this year. See how many other blooms you can find while the azaleas are recovering or being replaced. Click on for an update on the blooms and trail activities!

We’ve been “Shot”!

We did it! We made the appointments. We jumped in our Subaru and we drove to the other side of Tyler. We sat in the “Chick Fil A like” lines. We got vaccinated against COVID 19. Not once, but twice!

As we sat in the line, I still had difficulty wrapping my head around what we were doing. It felt weird. Why was I there?

Here is why. At this stage in my life, it was the lesser of all the evils, so to speak. I haven’t hugged my family in a year. We have several in our family that we are protecting. And frankly, even though I am extremely healthy, the virus itself seems more unpredictable that the side effects of the vaccine….so far.

A shout out to the Northeast Texas Public Health District and all of the volunteers that are making this happen. George Roberts is running a first class event. Also a thank you to the Tyler Police Department that kept us in line!

Health and Wealth to all!