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A Celebration in Alpine

December 30th, 2016 Comments off
Robin, Grainger, Sperry and Lalu

Robin, Grainger, Sperry and Lalu at Reata Restaurant in Alpine Sept. 21, 1996

If you’ve been reading this blog,  you’ll know what a special place Alpine, Texas is to our family. Alpine was our mother’s artist retreat and our father’s vacation home. It was where my sisters spent many of their summers making friends among both the town folk and the ranchers as well. It served as my brother’s respite from the terrible summer asthma he suffered as a boy. It was in Alpine that Grainger got his masters, and his wife Barbara, her bachelors. And it was there that my childhood friend Mary Bell Lockhart and I roamed the hills and streets, and our imaginations thrived.

It was in the dark, in the rear seats of the college auditorium, that I watched Grainger and his classmates rehearse and perform Shakespeare’s Henry IV. (Grainger had the title role, in fact.) It was during those performances, as I repeatedly viewed the follies of Sir John Falstaff, the courage of young Hotspur and the coming of age of Prince Hal, that the seed of my film script Texas Dick was planted. (I’ll have more on that in other posts.) It was my attempt at producing the script that drew the four siblings to Alpine on this occasion in 1996. More importantly, it was a celebration of our connection to Alpine, our shared affection for William Shakespeare, and our deep love for one another. These were three of the happiest days of my life. You can see it in all of our faces. I have footage of us reading the script and romping around Alpine and Marfa. I will share clips with all y’all later.

Eugenia Howard Hunt’s memory of Alpine, Texas – January, 1945

October 23rd, 2016 2 comments

All y’all.

I have a cache of Jeana’s journals. This account is from a steno book she wrote in San Francisco and Marin California in the early 1960’s. Sperry

Snowfall Alpine, TX 1946

 

 

It was in the middle of a dry, freezing winter we first came to Alpine. It was in Jan. of 1945. Robin and Grainger had been ill in Houston. Lalu was healthy excess baggage and Annie, our beloved housekeeper, came with us. Mother came along because we had been relegated to a wild, high, uncivilized spot. The fact that it was on route route of the South[ern] Pacific Railroad, highway 90 to California and had a state teacher’s college, had no bearing on the matter. Mother had never heard of Alpine. Mother [Nancy Flewellen Howard] had never seen Alpine. Those facts took it out of the civilized world. So along she came. Gasoline rationing for war times made five hundred and fifty miles too many for our gar ration books. We traveled by train. My father [Dr. Alfred Philo Howard] was chief surgeon of the Missouri Pacific. That lent further primitive attributes to this foreign spot. As the six of us alighted in the onslaught of a dust-laden Alpinian winter night. I though mother was going to turn “The Sunset Limited” around on the tracks and return us all to Houston. The wind lashed at us with an icy ferocity – and skin, mouth and eyes dried out on that moment.

Southern Paciic of the 1940s

Not a living creature was in sight. Our heavy grips, a round dozen of them, were sitting between the tracks. I can’t remember a lighted spot. I’m sure there was. Here came a car, a lovely Spanish-speaking couple alighted, and helped us to the hotel, just out of gracious kindness. But their Spanish accent terrified Mother who thinks anyone who doesn’t speak southern Texas is a suspect who is intent on immediate murder. Any foreign language spoken in her presence is a silly pretense. She feels they are shutting her out from something she definitely know. She feels the same way about scientific discussions. She will not put up with it. She makes fun of anyone who is interested in something she is not. She feels she is absolutely normal and that on one else should be otherwise.

She is adorable once you understand these facts.

[To read more of Jeana’s excellent letter click on the Read More link below:]
Read more…

1954 – Jeana composes a letter to Grainger

October 11th, 2015 Comments off

Alpine, TX; Early circa 1954

The following is a draft of a letter to Grainger, who is fourteen and at Moye Miltary Academy which he recently said was, “run by nuns.” I doubted that, but turns out to be true!!!  ( http://www.moyecenter.org/about-moye-retreat-center ). Actually Jeana and Judge were taking their girls to California and leaving their boys behind. I was left (happily) with the Lockharts in Alpine. Mrs. Gard ran a wonderful day care that had a rusty old jalopy to play in as I recall.)

We had a modest summer house on a hill facing the sunset in Alpine. Jeana called it the Gate to Heaven because of the view, and because it was behind the houses of people named the Crosses and the Sohls (lovely people, by the way).

The journal entry ends with a working sketch noting colors she will use to paint the California hills.

———–

Dearest Grainger,

Well – we finally left this morning – as I fell apart and had to stay in bed yesterday.

We left Irene and Mrs. Sanchos1 at the studio cleaning up for our tenant – Mrs. Sanchos is taking Amigo even after knowing what he did last night. He chewed up Lalu’s good black shoes and her brand new blue hat, and the poor thing wept.

Sperry was furious because my being sick delayed his going to Mrs. Gard’s an extra day.

Finally we got off – Mrs. Lockhart lent me her movie camera. We are going to take a film of the trip – and then if they turn out good we’ll show you when we get home.

Down the road and right out of Van Horn with Lalu at the wheel and blow out. The tire was in complete ribbons. Robin and Lalu changed it in about 15 miinutes and on to Van Horn where we had to buy a new tire. Now Robin is at the wheel.

Next day

Well we spent last nite in the La Fonda in El Paso. You remember it used be a motel. Well they added another group of rooms around a patio and a swimming pool and a beautiful dining room. We enjoyed it so much.

Then we left about eight this morning with me driving. About 50 miles from El Paso the car began to giggle and I drove into a station, and lo and behold another puncture. Well we got that fixed and on.

We have been in Texas today, New Mexico and Arizona. We are now nearing Phoenix, Arizona. We stopped at a wonderful place and saw some gorgeous rocks. We could hardly get Lalu out – there were 1000’s of rocks and she wanted to see them all – and found out about them all.

Friday Morn –

Here we are in Phoenix – I think it is the land of motels – hundreds upon hundreds

Another tire down – so we have decided to buy extras, and now they are being put on and Robin and I walk down the streed and find a metal dog – painted about four feet high. So we confer with the furniture store owner and find the enormous fellow was made in France 100 years ago. He’s been in this country 60 years. So we went back and told Daddy we had purchased an antique dog – and we were going to load it on. Poor Daddy’s had so many surprises, I think he believed it.

[New Topic]

Cal. Fall

For gold mountains – under-painting with raw umber and whit. When dry use white brush and brush on Mars yellow for grass. The undulating shapes are almost done across half a side ridge sometimes grew black. Oaks leaning into the wind.

1954 Sketch of California Hill in the fall to be painted by Jeana

1954 Sketch of California Hill in the fall to be painted by Jeana

Splitting (and Tying) Hairs, Grainger’s Story of Dr. Howard

October 24th, 2014 Comments off

DrPhiloHoward GraingerCirca1948

There was the 12-year-old, hammering nails up in the tree-house, the head of the hammer sporting a hatchet blade on its other side. Now imagine: Hammer… hammer…hammer…chop! Uh..Oh! Running to the house with a bloody scalp, on to down-town Houston with Mom at the wheel, Dal, the resourceful doctor, tying pinches of my hair across the wound as sutures, muttering “Gotdammit, Gotdammit,” correctly identifying me as a stone-age moron, an opinion regularly corroborated, past and future.

[The photo of Grainger is from earlier, but certainly pertinent nonetheless. And, boy, does Wil McCorquodale look like him, or what??? – Sperry]