When The Book Becomes The Story

It began, as life’s best days often do, with little thought and almost no planning. Eager only to escape the city and enjoy the long-awaited Texas spring, a friend and I prepared the simplest of picnic lunches, then headed south and west, into Brazoria County, to see what we could see.

As it happened, there were delights aplenty. We discovered Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) filling the ditches with color.

Near Nash Prairie, colonies of delicate Prairie Nymph (Herbertia lahue) overspread the open fields. Tiny members of the iris family, they complemented the Paintbrush as beautifully as the more famous Texas Bluebonnets.

Passing through the settlement known as Bailey’s Prairie,  we stopped to examine a set of three historical markers arrayed before a low brick wall. They marked the site of the Munson family cemetery, memorialized the old Bailey Plantation, and acknowledged the man who established that plantation, James Briton Bailey (1799-1832).

One of the earliest settlers in this part of Texas, Bailey received his league and a labor of land as a grant from the Spanish government in 1818. (Totals vary according to the source you choose, but 4,587 acres often is cited.) After Mexico freed herself from Spanish rule, Bailey’s land was included in Stephen F. Austin’s colonization grant from the Mexican government. 

Despite the fact that Bailey made it into the area two years earlier than Austin, there are reports that Austin considered Bailey a squatter rather than a settler. He ordered Bailey off the land, but Bailey refused to leave. After extensive negotiations and a certain amount of drama, Austin “sold” the disputed land to Bailey, who remained there until his death — a part of the Old Three Hundred.

Leaving the Munson cemetery and its tangled shadows behind, we traveled through Bailey’s old plantation, first to East Columbia, then onward to West Columbia, the very heart of Austin’s Colony and the site of the first Capitol of The Republic of Texas. Along the way, we discovered a thicket of historic homes, an old riverboat landing on the Brazos River, and live oaks draped with the most beautiful Spanish moss imaginable.

By the time we discovered the Sweeny-Waddy log cabin, we’d already had our lunch, but we agreed it would have made a fine place for a picnic. We did take time to read the historical plaque affixed to the front of the cabin, and marveled at all that it’s seen.

John Sweeny, Sr. (d. 1855) moved his family from Tennessee to Brazoria county, Texas, about 1833. With the help of slaves, he cleared his land and established a large plantation. This log cabin, originally located about 9 miles southwest of this site, was built soon after Sweeny’s arrival, and housed the slave family that included Mark and Larkin Waddy. The Waddys continued to live in the cabin after they were freed at the end of the Civil War.

Despite a profusion of wildflowers, a wonderful lunch and an afternoon filled with historical tidbits, I returned home still lacking a firm answer to the question that’s intrigued me for several years: where is Brit Bailey buried? **

Realizing I’d never asked a friend who lives in West Columbia about the location of Bailey’s grave, I sent her an email. In return, she provided some additional details about his life, and recommended a pair of books that would help to flesh out the story.

One of the books, James A. Creighton’s A Narrative History of Brazoria County, was available only in hardcover. Published by the Brazoria County Historical Commission in 1975, it was a little scarce, even among booksellers, and prices ranged from $50 to $175. Finally, I found a used copy that was selling for $24.95 because of “writing on interior pages.” I write in books myself, so that wasn’t a problem. I placed my order, and soon the book was in my hands.

When I opened the front cover, I was amused to discover the book once had been the property of the Butt-Holdsworth Library in Kerrville. I’ve been in that library, and it seemed singularly appropriate that my copy of Creighton’s book should carry its stamp. Presumably, it had been placed in one of their book sales, unless a library patron with a passionate interest in Brazoria County had wandered off with the book and then “forgot” to return it.

Flipping through the book, I wondered at the bookseller’s note that it “contained writing.”  The pages were clean, without a single notation in the margins. Then, I found an inscription on the reverse of the title page. Brief as it was, it appeared to be the reason for the book’s reduced price.

This book gained by “hook and crook” for Randy Johnson, a fellow student of man and events.
Nolan E. Fry, August, 1987″

If there had been only the inscription, or only the library stamp, I suspect that would have been the end of it. But taken together, they piqued my curiosity.

I began an internet search for Nolan Fry and Kerrville. After multiple dead-ends, I added “obituary” to my search terms, and discovered the obituary of John Lewis Pevehouse, a man whose own life had been deeply rooted in Texas history. He died in Corsicana on August 28, 2007. Nolan Fry and his wife were mentioned in the obituary as family members, and listed as residents of Houston. Surely, I thought, it would be possible to find Mr. Fry in a city of only twenty-six million.

Between LinkedIn pages and archived news clippings from civic organizations, I eventually found a business that seemed promising as a lead. I called twice without leaving a message. What could I say? That I was attempting to track down a man I didn’t know, whose name I’d found in an old library book?

After I placed a third call, a gentleman was kind (or curious) enough to call back. When I asked, “Is there a Nolan Fry associated with your business?” he paused, then said, “Why are you asking?”

I explained as briefly as I could. Then, he chuckled and said, “Let me see what I can do.” Ten minutes later, I was talking to Nolan Fry.

We had a delightful conversation. I learned that Lewis Pevehouse had been his stepfather, and that Nolan had worked with Randy Johnson at a Houston financial institution. Some of their work involved family trusts, and some of it involved Brazoria County. He had given the book to Randy as a gift during that time, knowing that he was interested in the area and its families.

Although I hadn’t expected it, I was pleased when Nolan volunteered Randy’s full name, and told me he was living in Kerrville. A few more clicks of the keyboard, another call or two, and I was chatting with Randy himself. I’m not sure which of us was more astonished.

Randy had donated the book to Kerrville’s genealogical library, and was just the slightest bit miffed to find they had sold it. As he put it, “If I’d known they were going to put it in their book sale, I never would have donated it to them.”  “Not to worry,” I said. “I’m going to order another copy for myself and then, the next time I’m up in Kerrville, I’ll make a gift to you of your own book.”

We went on to chat a bit about Kerrville, and my personal connections to the town. As we did, the story became even more improbable. Randy not only knows the old Spicer Ranch, where my little corner of the hill country is located, he lives only a few miles away on a road I often travel — the very road where my beloved cactus, Godot, began life on my friend Enid’s back porch.

Today, Randy’s copy of Creighton’s book is tucked into the bag I’ll carry the next time I go up to Kerrville. We’re planning to have lunch, and may well find other connections in the course of conversation.

In the meantime, my duplicate copy of A Narrative History has arrived. In pristine condition, it appears never to have been opened, let alone read. On the other hand, it is inscribed, having been signed by the author. It’s just one more unexpected footnote to this utterly remarkable tale.

As for the book’s contents, I’ve read every word it contains about Brit Bailey, and I still don’t know where he’s buried.

But I have remembered anew this truth (with apologies to William Shakespeare):  there are reasons to prefer printed books over electronic readers — far more reasons than are dreamt of in our quest for the new.

** There’s an associated question, equally haunting: is Brit Bailey still in his grave? Some claim he’s out and about, roaming the prairie.  But that’s a different discussion, that we’ll save for another day.
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106 thoughts on “When The Book Becomes The Story

    1. That’s right, Mother Hen. Some people say that life is just one danged day after another. I like to think of it as one more interesting chapter after another.


    1. Jo, it was great fun. As we like to say here in Texas, what goes around, comes around. This certainly is a great example of that old saying — in several ways.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  1. Linda, you must have been a journalist in a past life! You did an outstanding job researching this story, following up leads, convincing strangers to talk with you and fill in the blanks. I’m impressed, as always, at your persistence and how you recreated it in such an interesting manner!

    I don’t think I ever made it to Brazoria County. I lived several years in Texas and often miss it (though I must confess I don’t miss the weather, which ranged from steamy to stormy most of the time!). But oh, yes, I do miss the Indian paintbrush and the Texas Bluebonnets — what a happy sight those two make!

    1. I know you tend to think about journalism first, Debbie, because of your own background. But many of the skills needed to pursue a story like this are simple social skills — the sort that make it easier to travel solo, or survive cocktail parties and conferences where everyone is a stranger.

      I do worry that many young people aren’t going to develop the abilty to interact with others in creative and satisfying ways. If you spend all day staring at a screen, how are you going to learn to read non-verbal cues? And so on. I’ll stop, now.

      That steamy/stormy combo did in a lot of the settlers, too. I just heard the end of a radio program the other day that was chronicling Houston’s development as a city. Let’s just say that when you’re founded on swampy bayous, air conditioning helps a good bit. I still remember my first year in Houston with no AC in my car. It was exactly as bad as you’d imagine.

      I wish you could have seen the paintbrush on this trip. It was magnificent – and I saw my first yellow ones.


      1. Yellow?? Oh, that must have been spectacular — never even knew yellow ones were a possibility!!

        Have to agree with you about the socialization. In my field of web design, I see it all the time. I even had one guy leave a message on my office answering machine with just his first name and no way to contact him (so the message had to be trashed). I wonder if he thinks he’s the only ‘Steve’ I know!!

  2. I’m not sure whether this is good news or not-so-good news: typically libraries stamp “WITHDRAWN” on the inside cover before placing a book for sale. Lack of a “WITHDRAWN” stamp may mean that the library did not, in fact, offer it for sale. On the other hand, someone (ahem) may be in possession of hot property.

    This is one of the many reasons I love “serendipity” shopping at the Goodwill (and other used bookstores). Sometimes I feel sad when I read an inscription and think about the reason the book has found its way to Goodwill. Once I found a copy of Final Exit with a man’s name inside. Wondering what happened to him bothered me for weeks.

    Another pop culture alert: recently, during Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s final days, a movie channel repeatedly showed Serendipity, in which a signed copy of Love In the Time of Cholera plays a significant role.

    Your tenacity, intellectual and otherwise, fascinates me.

    1. Hippie, it’s possible I have a hot book, but I really don’t think it’s likely. The Amazon independent bookseller I got it from is in New Braunfels, about 80 miles from Kerrville. Given that the Friends of the Library in Kerrville have some renowned book sales that pull folks even from San Antonio, it makes perfect sense that bookstore owners would beat it over to the library to look for bargains.

      Beyond that, I can’t imagine, as a bookstore owner, happily taking in books with library stamps without some serious questioning. I wouldn’t do it, that’s for sure.

      The best inscription I ever found was in one of my great-grandmother’s books.Apparently it had been given to her by a suitor, and he wasn’t shy about expressing his feelings. As for signed books — this is the first book I’ve ever had that’s been signed by the author. I’ve never quite understood the pull of book signings, unless you’re interested in resale value. But I don’t quite understand autograph collectors, either. Just me.

      I swear whatever persistence I’ve developed is grounded in my work. When I first began varnishing, I thought I understood persistence. I didn’t have a clue. A few years of literally having to make myself stay at work when it was hot, cold, humid, or hotter — and there was no boss to keep me there — shaped me more than I realized at the time. Or so I think.

      Beyond that, I just love mysteries and puzzles.


    2. I talked to a Kerrville librarian this morning. If a book is removed from the stacks, it isn’t stamped in any way. Instead, the call number is removed from the spine, and the bar code label on the back is marked through with permanent ink. On the copy I have, it’s obvious that one label has been removed. The current bar code label is from the bookstore.

      Since they have two copies at the library, one in general circulation and one in the historical/genealogy collection, the copy I have no doubt was picked up at a sale. I may not be an accessory to a crime, after all!

      1. Oh, dear! I hope you weren’t too worried about that. I was kidding, *and* I’m a fervent believer that good books always find their way into the right hands, as is definitely the case here.

        1. Not worried at all – just suddenly curious about how things are done these days, now that we’ve moved beyond jars of library paste and those funny old date stamps! And now I know — bar codes. Good grief.

  3. I see you made it down to East Columbia. Don’t you just love those old houses tucked away along the Brazos?

    And to think… Ol’ Brit is still confounding folks today. I imagine he would be happy with that outcome.

    As always your weaving of the different threads of this tale had me wanting more…

    1. I thought about you when I was there. When my friend asked how in the world I’d found out about those hidden treasures, I told her you were the first one to recommend East Columbia to me. It was terrific. I was surprised by the Dance Gun Shop. There are a couple of old photos online, like this one.

      We had our picnic on the covered patio outside the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian church in East Columbia. They had a bench out there that was perfect — as was the day.

      The hardest part of writing this was leaving out all the really juicy bits about Brit. He was a compelling character, that’s for sure – and still may be, for all we know. I haven’t run that road in the middle of the night for a few years, but I’ll get around to telling those tales, too.


        1. Those photos are wonderful. I don’t remember the yellow house. I wonder if they’ve repainted it. I may just have missed it, as unlikely as that seems. There are so many things to look at in such a small space, it’s possible.

          Do you remember that tree with the absolutely enormous vine growing around it? That’s one of the things I have to go back for. It was Easter Sunday, and I didn’t want to just walk into the yard, or knock and ask permission. Another day will do.

            1. I got back there two weeks ago, Gary, to visit the museums in both West Columbia and Brazoria. And, I saw the yellow house. I think the first time I was there, there just was too much to take in all at one time.

              I was taken with the house on the cover of the magazine. Of course I fantasized moving into this one right now! (Well, me and hammer and saw, probably.)

              I made it to Brazoria Wildlife Refuge, too. Where have you taken so many of your wonderful bird photos — at the pond? I didn’t see much but redwing blackbirds and mosquitos. I’m looking forward to going back and “practicing with my camera. The native garden was thick with butterflies.

              Thanks for the link!


            2. Linda, most of the photo’s I take down at the refuge come in the middle of winter. And what you don’t see are the enumerable trips I make when the camera doesn’t even leave the bag.

              But, yes, mosquitoes are almost always a problem. And truth to tell, the birds for the last few years have not been as numerous as they were when I first started visiting the refuge…

    1. Poor Godot isn’t with us any more, I’m sorry to say. I lost him last winter. Of course, the experts I’ve read indicate his kind normally gets to be about 3″-6″ tall, and lives for 3-4 years. He was 14″ tall, and had made it for twelve years, so I think we can say he lived a full life.

      On the other hand, I thought his friend, Godette, was a goner, too. But persistence seems to have paid off in her case, too, and she’s giving some indication that her broken self is taking root. We’ll see.
      More about them, later.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


  4. Snow Camp, NC, my great-grandmother is Martha Buckner Braxton 1862-1912, married John Wesley Braxton 1854-1920. Martha Buckner’s mother has last name Creighton – although my younger brother believes ours was spelled Crayton. Supposed to be native American blood (we the descendants).

    The son, my grandfather Robert Pearl Braxton, died in 1979 (born 1/6/1887). I know my mother’s English Thompson name has Texas connections. The Braxton family is Quaker but I do not know for certain about Buckner and “Crayton” families, Snow Camp. You do exactly what I would have been doing. Love it (and you)!

    1. Name variation seems to have been pretty common in those early days. The Crowley line from which I’m descended on my mother’s side was spelled in at least four different ways. One variation was Crawley — the name made famous by Downton Abbey.

      You’ll be interested in this. Brit Bailey was born in North Carolina. His father, Kenneth Bailey, claimed lineage from Scotland’s Robert the Bruce. There isn’t much information (at least that I’ve found) about his days in North Carolina. Eventually, he moved his wife and six children to Kentucky, then to Tennessee, and finally to Texas.

      It may take just a little while, but we’re not done with the good Mr. Bailey. Glad you’ve enjoyed the tale so far.


  5. “Withdrawn” is nicer than “culled” which is sometimes used. Who makes these decisions? Sometimes now a library cuts a book just because of publication date – or date of last time it was checked out. Doesn’t seem smart or right. Sometimes the person in charge doesn’t realize what they have in hand. Anyway – so glad that book will be wandering back to where it belongs.

    And of course they mystery (and fun) continues. Great story…and such fine stops along these winding roads

    1. I’m just thinking, here, Phil. If they use “culled” rather than “withdrawn,” would that mean there’s such a thing as a herd of books?

      I did take a minute to look through some books my mother picked up at a Seabrook library sale. Some are stamped as belonging to the library, but there’s no indication they’ve been “withdrawn.” That may be a practice in some libraries, but it clearly isn’t in all. And, as I mentioned to Hippie Cahier, I’d assume any responsible bookseller will know what they have.

      But that’s all speculative, at least for the time being. I suppose since the issue’s been raised, I might make a call to the Kerrville library tomorrow to inquire about their practices.But they don’t get their book back.


      1. It isn’t just herds that get culled. Until about 15 years ago there was a Saturday morning farmers’ market on Burnet Rd. in Austin. In the summer, farmers from the Fredericksburg area would come in with peaches to sell, We sometimes bought good-sized containers of what were called culls, which were bruised or otherwise damaged peaches. Once pitted, cut into chunks, and frozen, they became a prime ingredient for great smoothies over the weeks to come.

        1. If we were to use this form of culling, perhaps we could say, “This book’s a peach,” or “That book was the pits.”

          There’s a farm near Montalba, Texas, that makes the three-hour trip every weekend to sell at our farmers’ market. In last week’s email, they said they would have peaches in about a week, so it’s almost time for my annual trip up to the Pittsburg area. Depending on the weather, their peaches can be as good or better than those from Fredericksburg – but no matter where it comes from, there’s nothing better than a fresh Texas peach.

      2. Not sure. Haven’t heard.
        You’d think there would be a uniform symbol or phrase, but librarians are a bit like cats when you try to move them in one direction. Will be interested what you find from Kerrville. You’d think there they would hang on to any geneology book – even if a duplicate. Sometimes they tend to walk off — then people feel badly and dump them, sometimes at a local library. But it’s not like infants at fire stations – libraries don’t have return to home networks.

        The most interesting people wander into your realm…magnetic personality. Comes from working with boats. Been walking marinas again, but the thought of shoving boats around…kayaks look pretty good. The wind surfer was fun, but now kayaks are looking pretty good. You know that old “Your eyes are bigger than your plate” phrase they used to say?

        1. I left this up above for Hippie, too. I talked to a Kerrville librarian this morning. She said that, if a book is removed from the stacks, it isn’t stamped in any way. Instead, the call number is removed from the spine, and the bar code label on the back is marked through with permanent ink. On the copy I have, it’s obvious that one label has been removed. The current bar code label is from the bookstore. They no doubt removed the library bar code and substituted their own.

          Bar codes. No more pockets glued in the front with duplicate cards, or manually stamped return dates. Sigh. But at least that clears up the mystery. Oh – and the library has two copies of the book, so it makes sense that a copy would land in a sale.

    1. Well, thank you. It’s been a delightful journey, full of surprises. It’s a good thing I found Mr. Fry, or I’d still be sorting through results for Randy Johnson, baseball pitcher.

      Thanks for coming along — I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  6. Goodness, what twists, turns and coincidences! The story of your Easter escapades and the aftermath kept me laughing in delight!

    Men in suits are going to show up at my door and haul me off to the calaboose for receiving stolen goods!

    I have several books with Charleston County Library labels that I’ve bought in thrift stores and none of them have any indication that they were ‘withdrawn’ or officially put up for sale in their annual Whale of a Book Sale. No stamps, no nothing.

    I’ll have to ask the librarian what process they follow, the next time I go in.

    1. Gué, I’ve never seen a “withdrawn” label on a book. As I mentioned to Phil, just above, Mom used to buy books at our annual library sale, and even though they carry the library stamp, there’s no indication that they’ve been removed for sale – other than a couple of price tags I found.

      I’m sure practices vary from one part of the country to another, but I just can’t believe that the bookstore in New Braufels, which made this book available, wouldn’t know what they were doing. For one thing, any hint of fraud and they’d be tossed off Amazon — not a smart business move.

      But, yes — twists, turns, and coincidences. It’s the way of the world, and it’s a good bit of fun.


    2. Here’s the explanation from a Kerrville libarian, Gué. They don’t stamp the books “withdrawn” when they’re removed from the stacks. Each book has a bar code on the back – those codes are simply obscured with a permanent marker. Then, the call numbers are removed, and away the book goes. The copy I have obviously has had one label removed — probably the library’s bar code. Then, the bookstore added their own.

      Since the library currently has two copies, I’m pretty certain mine simply was put out on a sale table.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this whole story, but I laughed out loud at, “Surely, I thought, it would be possible to find Mr. Fry in a city of only twenty-six million.” Ha!

    I like a good mystery too – thanks for taking us along on the journey!

    1. Dana, I always can count on you. I loved that line, too — the sheer absurdity of thinking, “Well, sure. I’ll just do a little internet search or two, and…”

      Maybe I was more influenced than I realized by listening, over and over, to this little ditty during my teen years. (When the movie came out, I was thirteen.) In any case, the mystery of the book has been solved. Now, we have to solve the mystery of Old Man Bailey.


  8. What a cool journey to have from just a simple question! The coincidences in life are truly amazing. :)

    1. Amazing, indeed. Life’s full of these little journeys. One of my favorite poems by C.P. Cavafy, titled “Ithaka”, puts it perfectly. This isn’t my favorite translation, but it will do. You can read the entire poem here.

      “Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
      Arriving there is what you are destined for.
      But do not hurry the journey at all.
      Better if it lasts for years,
      so you are old by the time you reach the island,
      wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
      not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

      Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
      Without her you would not have set out.
      She has nothing left to give you now.

      And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
      Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
      you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”


    1. Curt, I’ve done a little research on my mother’s side of the family. I enjoyed it, and learned a good bit — not just about my family, but also about how to find information. I’m going to need those skills for a couple of future posts. I’ve discovered that one of my favorite relatives had a bit of a sketchy past. I’ve got the basic story, but now I need those pesky details!


      1. It’s the ones with the ‘sketchy pasts’ that are always the most interesting. I fell in love with genealogy– not the listing of names but the historical research. Sorry I don’t have more time for it. But you did give me a blog idea on one of the Texas relatives. :) Thanks. –Curt

        1. I’m with you. The “begats” aren’t nearly as interesting as the stories. And I’ll look forward to that post on your Texas connection.

    1. Well, montucky, having thrown out the television and refused Facebook, I’ve got to do something to fill up the days.

      And then there’s this: when I was a kid, my friends and I always were being told by our parents, “Get outside and play. Go find something to do.” And we did.

      “Finding something to do” is a life skill, too. One thing seems certain. If we learn to make our own fun as a kid, boredom’s not going to be a problem when we’re adults!


  9. It’s interesting how the best days are, in fact, basically unplanned. I’ve often wondered why this is; why wedding days, for example, can’t hold a candle to a certain impulsive day filled with joy. I suspect the answer comes down to expectations. I have trouble curbing mine, sometimes, and when I have none I am the happiest. I am, as you wrote here, more ready for the unexpected.

    1. Bellezza, I think you’re right about the ability of our expectations to cause trouble. And the trouble they can cause isn’t limited to “big” occasions, like weddings. Holidays can be troublesome for the same reasons, or even special events like a night at the symphony. We know how we want events to unfold. If things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to become unhappy.

      Even in daily life, it happens. A perfect example is my relationship with Dixie Rose. When she came to live with me, I expected certain behaviors: lap-sitting, ankle-rubbing, a willingness to be picked up. In short, I expected a typical kitty. I got the polar opposite. When I stopped imposing my expectations on her and simply enjoyed the gifts she brought, life improved immeasurably. I think about that from time to time.


  10. I do hope you find the information you are looking for. There must be an unturned stone (historian, document, archive) somewhere to help you find where Brit Bailey is buried. Good luck on your adventure. What a delight to find Mr. Fry and then find Randy. But if you leave a trail of contacts, when you least expect it, you just may hear from someone who has heard you’re pursuing information about Brit Bailey. That will be an exciting connection when that happens.

    When I was in Oaxaca photographing wrought iron, an elderly woman approached me because she had heard I was photographing the “rejas.” She was intent on bringing me to her home where she explained to me she had a very beautiful and unusual spiral staircase, “escalera de caracol.” Word got around and I will never forget her or photographing her lovely staircase. Keep getting the word out and folks may just call you rather than you be calling them.

    I enjoy reading inscriptions or finding a surprise autograph in books.
    After a class reunion trip I was intrigued by the fact several classmates had written books. I went to Amazon and picked them up for bargain prices. After reading them I ran into one of the authors on facebook and I told him the copy I had purchased had his autograph and an inscription. Then came the awkward part. He wanted to know what the inscription said. I could tell by the message he had gifted it to a friend. At that moment I had wished I had only said it was autographed, but since I had already told him about the inscription, I just “matter-of-factly” typed in the message. He recognized it immediately and seemed a bit “miffed” as Randy above, that his friend had sold off his book. Sigh.

    1. Well, I must confess. There’s a sense in which everyone in the area knows where old Brit is buried. It’s just that the location of his grave is generally described as being, “south of highway 35, somewhere between Angleton and West Columbia.” I’ve known that much for years. It’s pinning it down further than’s quite a task – and possibly irrelevant, given what some say.

      But as I noted, that’s another story, for another post, and I dare not say more, lest I give away what I do know. Or think I know. Or am willing to swear I know!

      I remember your post about the “enchanted iron,” and the wonderful acceptance you experienced while you were photographing. The story reminds me again how powerful “the word on the street” can be. Jimmy Buffet sings about the “coconut telegraph,” but your experience in Oaxaca and mine in Monrovia make clear how widespread it is, and that smart phones and social media aren’t necessary for the word to get out about interesting events.

      I had to smile about your book-inscription story. That’s almost as awkward as “re-gifting” something, then discovering you’ve given it back to the person who gave it to you originally. I’ve managed to avoid that particular horror, but I’ve witnessed it a time or two. The funniest experience came when my aunt gave my mother a gift my mother first had given to her. Thank goodness neither remembered. A little memory loss can be a good thing.


  11. “By hook or crook” is one of the best old sayings that I learned as a child when ever I heard my parents use the words. I’m still saying “by hook or crook” after all those years.

    I am in awe of how you pursue a topic or a name or an event and then piece it all together to make one helluva story. I absolutely love how you will be returning the book to the man in Kerrville. He sounds like someone anybody would be pleased to know.

    I loved reading this post. And I must say that I am saddened by the demise of Godot but as you have written his time was up. Now you need a Godot replacement.

    1. I heard the expression “by hook or by crook” used on the radio today, Yvonne. It surely is an oldie but goodie!

      I didn’t begin putting together the pieces of the book and its inscription with anything in mind. I didn’t have the slightest idea what I’d find — if anything. But once I had the whole story, there was no question I’d give the book back to Randy. How often do we get to give anyone a perfect gift? When the opportunity presents itself, who would turn it down?

      It was sad to lose Godot. In fact, it was so sad I didn’t even say anything at the time. But it seems that Godette has taken root, or is in the process of doing so. She’s produced one slightly anemic little bloom, but more seem to be coming, so in another month or so, it may be time to catch everyone up with that tale.

      And I’m glad you enjoyed this story.


      1. Linda, thanks so much for the great reply. Perhaps Randy will become a friend and if nothing else he will be very grateful to have met a thoughtful and genuine person.

        By all means take Godette to a nursery that specializes in cacti and succulents. I think with the help of an expert that Godette could become much healthier. I feel that when the winters are severe it is best to bring your plants indoors. If you get a little red wagon you can put your most treasured plants in the wagon and easily move them indoors and back out again when the temp is above freezing.

        I moved my duranta and a pinwheel jasmine in and out of the house this past winter. I did not want to risk losing them especially the jasmine that was given to me by a lady MD from India who was my friend at work.

        1. Godette’s problem actually was her healthy state. When I got her, she looked a bit like a southern belle, with her bottom portion the hooped skirt, and the next segment that pinched in waist. When she got decent soil and some TLC, she started to grow, and the upper portion became too heavy for the “pinched” portion to support. I kept it staked for a while, but then, one day, it just leaned over and broke.

          So, I brought the broken portion inside and left it on a shelf for a couple of months. I had learned that cactus need to “scab over” before being replanted, so that they don’t rot. She’s been in new dirt for a good while now, and the fact that the buds she had when she broke are beginning to grow suggest that rooting’s taking place.

          As for bringing plants in during the winter? Oh, my, yes. That’s one reason I’ve slowly been culling my collection. The in-and-out-and-in of this past winter was a real pain, in every sense of the word.

          1. Good. Yes, potted plants can be a problem. I keep only a few. I culled mine down to a few as well. It really is a pain especially when I put mine in the very back of the house in a laundry/storage room where my pets are not allowed.

            Thanks for letting me know about Godette’s growing pains. I think the broken top is going to be fine. :-)

  12. Linda, you have given me encouragement to work harder at tracking down some family members by cold calling.

    People may feel sad, or ‘miffed’, if their book gifts are sold or moved on to other owners but how much nicer is that than the sadness of books that end up in the dump.

    1. Who knows what — or whom! — you might find, Gallivanta? The worst that can happen on a cold call is that we get hung up on, or get a door slammed in our face. It happens. But in my experience, that’s pretty rare. More often than not, people are happy that someone has sought them out.

      I can’t stand the thought of books in a dump. I suppose that’s the reverence for books I learned as a child. My parents were raised without books, except for school and the library. There simply wasn’t the money for them. By the time I came along they were collecting books, and they taught me how to treat them. No reading at the table. No leaving a book face-down on a table. No breaking that spine!

      I wish I still had one of my earliest cross-stitch pieces. It said, “A book is a vase that hold flowers of words.” That’s what my folks taught me.


        1. You’ve just reminded me of another sort of care exercised on behalf of those hard-to-come-by books. When I was in Liberia — which of course is rain forest — books were stored to prevent mildew and insect infestation. Unattended paperbacks didn’t last very long!

          I enjoyed your garden-in-the-pocket post, too.

  13. Your quest to find out the burial place of Brit Bailey suddenly reminded me of the song “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?”:


    That in turn reminded me of the line “ET, phone home.” Keeping things strictly down to earth, though, I was also reminded that in 1999 I went on a local radio show to promote a CD I made containing a thousand photographs of Austin. During the interview I mentioned that I’d included a few photographs from the old Hornsby Cemetery, the burial place of Reuben and Sarah Hornsby, who were among Stephen F. Austin’s earliest colonists in this part of the state:


    I bring this up not only because of the commonality of having been an Austin colonist, but also because after the radio show I got a phone call from one of the Hornsbys’ descendants who had heard the interview. If you could manage to get interviewed about your successful search for the writer of the book inscription and your still unsuccessful quest for the grave of Brit Bailey, a listener who happened to know the location might call in.

    1. Well, Steve — now you’ve leaped right ahead of me. The tentative title for my next Brazoria County piece is, “Brit Bailey, Won’t You Please Roam Home.” I enjoyed reading the linked Wiki article, and laughed aloud at Allen Sherman’s parody — “Won’t You Come Home, Disraeli?”

      The piece about the Hornsbys is a veritable treasure trove of information. Now I know where Wilbarger County got its name. I was especially interested in the reference to the Little River. It doesn’t get much publicity, but it has been memorialized in the famous song, “The Rivers of Texas.” Finally, there’s a decent recording online, done by Mason Williams, that includes the line: “The girls of Little River, they’re plump and they’re pretty…”

      That’s a great story about your interview and its consequences. As I mentioned to Georgette, the truth is that everyone in the area knows where Bailey’s grave is, at least in a general sense. It’s south of Texas 35, somewhere between Angleton and West Columbia. Pinning it down further may or may not be possible. We’ll see.

      As for getting interviewed — who knows? I was surprised and pleased to see that this post already has been picked up – by the South African Broadcasting Corporation Media Library. How cool is this?


      1. You’ve anticipated posts of mine several times, so it’s only fair that I get to anticipate one of yours.

        The strange story about Wilbarger and the Hornsbys is one of the great mysterious occurrences in Texas history. The article linked above gives only a brief summary and leaves out much of the important material. Two years ago, probably before you were reading my blog, I included a copy of the complete account in a post:


        It makes great reading if you’re not familiar with this story—and great reading again even if you are.

        How your post got picked up by the South African Broadcasting Corporation Media Library is another mystery, but a happy one. May it foreshadow a local interview as well.

        It’s been years since I heard “The Rivers of Texas.” I hope tonight’s rain replenishes the Colorado.

        1. That’s right, Steve. Turn-about’s fair play!

          I’ve just read that Wilbarger/Hornsby tale for about the fifth time. It’s quite something. In my research for this piece, I bumped up against just a few of the facts. I remember seeing the Wilbarger name, and reading of the scalping. I had no idea about the rest of it. I certainly can’t explain the apparitions, but I don’t question the fact that something occurred. There are too many details, too many people involved, for it to be something invented after the fact.

          Funny that the second part of my Brit Bailey tale involves my encounter with him on a Brazoria county road. But his legend falls into after-the-fact enlarging on a legend. I think.

          I assume the Colorado is flowing a little faster, now. I just heard yesterday that Lake Conroe is full for the first time in four years, and, for the first time in four years or so, the love bugs are out in force. They adore wetter conditions and their numbers decrease in drought, so things are improving for at least some parts of the state.

          Thanks so much for that link!


          1. We had a few inches of rain in Austin, and of course that’s good, but unfortunately the Highland Lakes went up just a tiny amount. Looks like our water reserve is still headed down.

  14. I suppose we are like most other people. We have some books in our ‘library’ that are special. We got them because they fit into some story in our lives at one time. They have connections to other events and people important to us. When we die and our goods are scattered, those connection threads don’t go away. They are still to be found and examined. They can, with some difficulty, be followed. You have a good one.

    I have some old books from my parent’s collection. They are fun to peruse and guess what might have been their stories. One is The Cottage Physician. It is about homeopathic remedies. My g-g-grandfather called himself a homeopathic surgeon. Wish I knew more.

    1. I confess the phrase “homeopathic surgeon” stopped me for a minute. From what I understand about homeopathy, it seems like a contradiction in terms. Of course, definitions change, and what your gr-gr-grandfather understood by the phrase could have been quite different from today’s meaning(s).

      It is interesting to go though the bookshelves and see what’s stayed with us through the years. I’ve disposed of a good many books in my time, but of the ones that are left, I have only one I’d give away — a popular novel by an author I don’t enjoy, that was given to me by a friend who got bored with it!

      One of the things I love about “real” books is that they seem surrounded by the aura of the time and place where they first were read. There are a few in my collection that can transport me to other places when I simply catch a glimpse of them. In a sense, they’re totems – I wonder if anyone ever has made a totem pole of books?


  15. Linda, you have the research skills of a librarian. I love this bookish post. The library where I work stamps discarded books with “No longer the property of . . .” Libraries get rid of books for many reasons — a big one is simply lack of physical space. Technology is a mixed blessing. Scanning old books keeps the information around and accessible online. But you do lose the smells and marginalia and weight and a lot of those soul-enhancing qualities of a book in hand.

    1. At least we’ve answered the question of why there isn’t a “No longer the property of…” stamp in this book. The library doesn’t stamp books that are being disposed of. Instead, they invalidate the bar code. Since the copy with the inscription shows evidence of a bar code label being removed, and a new bookstore bar code being affixed, it’s almost certain the book was included in a sale. And, the library still has two copies: one in its general collection and one in the historical/genealogical collection. So — no book thief!

      I wasn’t especially surprised that it wasn’t available for reading online, or in an e-book format. Now, I’m glad that it wasn’t. It’s a hefty thing, that’s for sure — over 500 pages, with plenty of notes, appendices, a bibliography, and even a scanned copy of Brit Bailey’s will. It’s a real treasure, that’s going to serve me well.


  16. I love old books with handwritten notes, scribbles and inscriptions. I don’t blame Randy at all for being insulted.

    Nice post. Stories inside stories.

    1. I think “insulted” is a little strong, Martha. “Miffed” comes closer. In any event, I’m with you. I love all those little surprises inside a book that give evidence of someone actually spending time with the book and responding to it.

      I even enjoy going back and reading my own notes in my books. It’s fun to see what I thought, sometimes years ago.


  17. I enjoy so much this kind of research. I find that people are, more often than not, tickled at being asked about such things as book inscriptions, especially in a historical context. The few times I’ve been brave enough to track something down, I found it great fun, especially being much more cowardly about approaches.

    Love the story and the ‘by hook and crook’..that alone would get one wondering about the back story.

    I so agree on the loss of print media and the shortage of the handwritten note too. Who saves e-mails? But, we do save handwritten letters and books with inscriptions. Much more tangible holding in your hand something someone held way before you were born.

    From the stance of look and feel at least what the digital realm may be taking away on the one hand, it gives back in degrees as scanned original texts… captures with the color of the paper, the actual font, penstrokes, compass roses, dedication cartouches if it happens to be an old map. Since the reality is that old tomes and papers can’t last forever, digital captures will at least let us see what something looked like. While not as evocative as holding the original ..at least something is preserved that way.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    1. It didn’t occur to me at first, Judy, but back in the day — that is, 1987 — tracking down this book would have taken a bit of effort. There wasn’t any internet to speak of, no Amazon, no association of independent booksellers online. If you wanted to find a specific,uncommon book, it might well have required efforts described as “by hook and by crook.”

      Along with inscribed books and such, there are those wonderful post cards, too. It’s funny. In some ways, what we call “ephemera” seems more tangible and long-lasting now than everything floating around in the cloud – yet one MORE reminder that I have to get cracking and get some of my cloud-based stuff saved: not only to a hard-drive, but to real paper and ink.

      And as if to prove your point, the book on Brazoria County history contains a scan of Brit Bailey’s hand-written will. The ability to digitally scan is a huge plus. I have some family documents and letters that were written in pencil, and they’re nearly gone, after only about ninety-years. Even my mother’s famous refrigerator roll recipe has faded nearly to nothingness – but it’s been copied in ink, added to an online file, printed out and laminated. If I ever get invited to bring something to the heavenly banquet, those rolls are what I’ll take!


      1. The web has certainly enabled us to become amateur sleuths as never before. I’ve often been shocked at what I can find and who I can locate. Guess that makes it all the more interesting when you CAN’T locate something!

        On the faded things, if not totally gone you can use Photoshop to darken up text and thereby save the handwriting at times. Sometimes, depending on the document and the desire to preserve the original look, it is worth a try. Pencil though is one of the most archival media to date, though paper itself is the perisable link.

        In my family the receipe to take to heaven is my Grandmother Howard’s ice-box cake. Its been years since I’ve sampled its heavenly taste!!

        1. I couldn’t remember what an ice-box cake is. Now, I remember. Oh, my. We did make them, and always in the summer, when no one wanted to turn on the oven. In some ways, they’re like the English trifle, but I think ever so much better.

          You’re right about the paper. I learned that unhappy lesson. Finally, I got it through my head. Flatten it out, but it in some sort of protection, and never, ever, fold it again! On the other hand, I have wondered what they made those old aerograms from. Remember the blue ones, that folded in on themselves? Those things were tough!

  18. I love how you observe and appreciate all the little building blocks that make up the world we live in every day. I also agree with your concluding remark about books (even though I am writing this on my Kindle).

    Although the circumstances were different, the tale of this particular book reminded me of a play I reviewed several years ago. It was called “Underneath the Lintel” and the only character was a clerk at a library in Belgium. This character, played by Richard Schiff, began each day by checking in the books that had been returned overnight. One morning he came across a book that was 125 years overdue. By following the clues he found in the book, such as a laundry receipt, he traced the book’s odyssey, sacrificing his job in the process. As I said, the circumstances were different. :)

    1. No Kindle-phobia here, Charles. If I ever discover I have a need that only an e-reader can fulfill, I’ll be right there in line. Likewise with the smart phones, I suppose. But I’ve not been overwhelmed with the need to take a selfie, record every minute of my day or email photos of my cat, so for right now, I’m good.

      As I often say, the old adage about tools, specifically the hammer and nails, applies in a multitude of circumstances. The venerable Quote Investigator has a wonderful exploration of it here.

      I’d not heard of “Underneath the Lintel.” The premise is interesting, and from what I read of it, the conclusion was equally so. As for the circumstances being different — yes, of course. On the other hand, I’ve experienced just how easy it can be to get caught up in the hunt. There’s a lot of world to explore, and a lot of threads to unravel.


  19. Texas history is full of colorful characters. Brit Bailey sure sounds like one.

    I’m interested in Baileys too, but the Bailey I’m interested in is Mollie Bailey Gum who was married to Thomas Jefferson Gum and the mother of Rufus Beale Gum.. Supposedly she is the daughter of Alfred Bailey, younger brother of James Augustus “Gus” Bailey, who was married to the famous Mollie Kirkland Bailey of the Bailey Family Troupe fame. Supposedly she was named for her aunt. Thomas Jefferson Gum was a conductor on the K. T. (Katy) railroad.

    1. There had been no reason to mention the second book that was recommended to me, until now. If you haven’t read this one, WOL, you’d love it. It’s titled, “A Priest, A Prostitute, and Some Other Early Texans.” There’s a chapter on Mollie Bailey, and a quick skim picked up a reference to her brother-in-law, Alfred. I’ll give it a better read later and report on what I find.

      Except for Brit Bailey, I hadn’t heard of any of the fourteen who are profiled in the book. I’m especially interested in reading about the Wild Man of — no, not Borneo. The Navidad. Who knew?

      Hope your day’s going well, and productively.


  20. I love these connections and where they take us. I must have a book in my hands … I know the dead tree thing, but lithium, used to make all the gadgetry, comes mostly from Afghanistan, so there’s that … I love the feel and smell of a book and I cannot imagine that will ever change. Bookshelves are at the center of my life.

    On another note, my sister lives outside Boerne, and they just spent the day around Kerrville. They discovered what they thought was a great Thai restaurant overlooking the river … in case that sounds intriguing to you. Didn’t get the name. I love Thai food, but it may not be your cup of tea.

    1. Lucky for you, Teresa! There’s a group in Minneapolis who’s come up with an old book-scented candle. If they come up with one that replicates the atmosphere of the third floor stacks at the University of Iowa library, I might part with a few dollars myself. Modern libraries are fine, but our local ones have gotten a little loud. I prefer a bit of a reverential hush, and the smell of dust and old bindings.

      I’m sure I know the restaurant. I think it’s called Thai Ocha. It’s right down on Water Street, not so far from the library. I hope they do well. There are plenty of garden-variety restaurants in Kerrville, but they could stand a little variety.

      I can’t believe your sister’s outside Boerne. If you hadn’t mentioned that, I never would have gone looking for the link to the best pie place in the Texas Hill Country – Bumdoodler’s, in Boerne. And if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have known there’s a Bumdoodler’s in Kerrville, now! Oh, they do have fine pie. Their coconut cream is as good as any I’ve ever had. Your sister must know the place — such a small world!


  21. Oh,what a grand bit of sleuthing you’ve done here! And how right you are that the printed book is so much better than the cyber alternative. It’s hard to imagine it, but is it possible that one day, not too long from now, inscriptions will be lost for good?

    1. I wouldn’t argue that print always is better than electronic, Susan. I certainly appreciate the value of a Kindle for travel, and all the other reasons people enjoy using them.

      But there are experiences to be had with books that simply aren’t available otherwise, and it would be a shame to lose those in the pursuit of the new. Heaven knows the marketers are more than willing to speak on behalf of their gadgetry. Our poor books need a few supporters, too.

      As for inscriptions, I think they’ll be around as long as books are with us, and despite the supposed advantages of battery-powered gadgets, I think books are going to be here for quite some time. Well, I hope they are.


      1. Linda: Yes, you’re right about the convenience, and I take advantage of that as well, for all the reasons people do. “Better” as I meant it, had to do with the beauty, in all respects, of a printed book, of holding it in your hands, etc., etc. It’s not unknown for me to buy a cyberbook for convenience, then end up having to have the book-in-print. But yes, may they co-exist for a long time to come.

        1. Of course. And that beauty is a reminder that “reading” a book isn’t merely a matter of comprehending words on a page or a screen. Reading’s a whole complex of activities that can involve everything from the comfortable chair to the weight of the book to the turning of the pages. I don’t quite know what the analog would be, but it seems to me that “reading” is to “XXXXX” as “Mothering Sunday” is to “Mother’s Day.” It’s that “XXXX” factor that distinguishes the Kindle experience from reading a book. How’s that for a hypothesis?!

  22. Wow, what a tale! I was thinking the same regarding e-books as I read along. Afterwards, however, it struck me that much of what transpired took place as a result of the world-wide web! I have such a vexing relationship to technology – I’m sure that is true for most of us, and I am intrigued by the way your narrative (wonderfully told I must say!) concretizes my relationship with computers!

    1. Allen, I think part of our problem with these issues is related to either/or thinking. I have friends who dumped most of their “dead tree library” after getting Kindles. And I know a few people who’ve completely rejected the computer, with all its works and empty promises. Either/or.

      But the truth is, the more tools we have, the more we’re able to produce and enjoy. Emails are convenient; hand-written cards are personal. Afternoons in the library stacks are fun and sometimes necessary, but internet search engines make research convenient and accessible. We don’t have to choose one over the other.

      Knowing which tools are available and knowing how to use them gives a tremendous freedom. Right now, I’m free to ignore the Kindle, but if, for example, my eyesight worsens, it’s clearly a useful option. Learning some html means I can keep the appearance of my blog as I like it, despite changes in the WordPress editor. And so on…

      In the meantime, I remember my mother, who insisted on bringing her snow shovel with her to Texas. It lived in her front closet until the day she died, and in mine after that. I often said, “But you’re on the Gulf Coast — you don’t need it.” Then, we got our Christmas eve snow. For two days, Mom bragged to everyone around that SHE had a snow shovel. It may have been old-school, but it worked.


      1. I agree with you on the either/or bit above, and found the list of Berry’s interesting but not quite compelling. Many would say, and have said, that the move from an oral to written culture was a technological innovation that was really a devolution. I think, at the end of the day, humans are going to develop technology because that is what we do, and the fitting response to it is to engage it a appropriately critical mode.

        1. The wonderful irony, of course, is that our “new media” and technological change have brought Berry’s work to a wider and wider audience. It isn’t necessarily only the Hollywood sorts and politicians who cultivate an image.

  23. Linda your story was so gripping, I felt I was seeing onscreen. What a wonderful job of research, turning up memories you will keep forever. One page just opened another. Bravo.

    The young people today are not open to the wonderful opportunities which oral transmission gives. I’m not sure if they are afraid to open a conversation or if they simply don’t care. The history of any place is there for the taking with a little (lot) legwork. Remarkable story. Thanks again.

    1. That’s a wonderful compliment, Kayti. Even as I was working on it, I felt as though it were unfolding easily and naturally. I could have done without all the information I got about the pitcher Randy Johnson’s baseball stats, but never mind that.

      Sometime in the medium past, I glanced at an article about the current frustrations of managers in corporations and businesses. It seems that some new employees are arriving without any skills in such arcane procedures as talking on the telephone. Apparently texting has so overtaken talking in certain demographics, the thought of actually talking with someone leaves the young ‘uns quivering.

      What they probably don’t realize is that voice carries personality to a degree impossible with texting or tweeting. They’ll learn — perhaps around the same time they learn that history is a matter of individuals, as much — or more — than the collective.


  24. You’re definitely right. A book is an artifact, has history on its own, while eBooks are just that, electronics, digitalized texts.

    Again, your investigative journalism has reaped great results. I’m amazed that everywhere you drive, you encounter history and legends. But what I’m really hooked here are your wild flowers. You know, before my craze for birds, I was an avid wildflower presser, if there’s such a term for it, and had enjoyed making crafts with them. Well, those were the days. Now it’s photographing birds. Don’t know what will be next though. ;)

    1. You know, Arti, it’s just now occurred to me that words are similar. Each of them carries its own history, which shades its meaning this way or that, and our experience with each of them will be different.

      Your mention of flower-pressing made me smile. I had one book which belonged to my grandmother, and which I passed on to my aunt after Mom died. In that book, there were multiple little bouquets tied with ribbon – no doubt memories of this suitor or that. (Grandma seems to have been fairly popular.) The art of flower pressing is different, of course, but its results are beautiful.

      Really, aren’t flower pressing, bird watching, and writing just different ways of trying to capture an experience so that it can be savored in memory? Seems so to me. Your bird photography certainly makes it possible for us to savor things we’d never see, otherwise.

      As for what comes next? What about indie film-maker? That would be fun, no?


  25. “What they probably don’t realize is that voice carries personality to a degree impossible with texting or tweeting. They’ll learn — perhaps around the same time they learn that history is a matter of individuals, as much — or more — than the collective.”
    Ain’t it?

  26. When are you writing your book. Please write your book. Because as many people who visit your blog, there is a much wider audience and your incredible writing, research and detective work deserves a much wider audience! (And more pay than none!)

    I love this story — and for a lot of ways. But one that struck me is this — if you’ve been to the Gypsy recently, you know I’ve had blog company and it was a little challenging to find great spots to take them. (Part of this was weather related and part of it was related to them, but that’s another story.) As I was reading this I thought, “If Linda was here, I’d take her here and there, and this spot too!” Some are places I’ve never been and none of them are in the guide books (well, we don’t have guidebooks here. We have the Chamber’s visitor’s guide but that’s lame.) They aren’t spots anyone else would be interested in but you would find every meaty little bit of history and off we’d go!

    1. Jeanie, you just make me laugh. You make writing a book sound like turning out a pan of brownies! Of course, it’s true that I’ve been known to whip up a pan of brownies when I get a hankering for some. Maybe some day I’ll whip up a book, when I get a taste for that.

      I can’t imagine anything better than a trip through Michigan — especially the UP, maybe during summer when the fruit stands are open. Since I love the little spots, the hidden spots, the quite ordinary spots, I’m pretty easy to entertain. I’ve often fantasized a trip to Michigan’s lighthouses. I still remember my sense of shock when I realized there were lighthouses in – Michigan?! Clearly, I don’t have any sense of the “great” lakes. When I first heard about the Edmund Fitzgerald, I thought it had to be fiction. Not so much.

      You would make a great tour guide, that’s for sure. Maybe one day we’ll pull it off.


    1. Thanks, Andrew. The second part of the story is just as interesting – at least to me, since it involves an encounter I had on a Brazoria county road with the good Mr. Bailey himself!


  27. This was a delight to read! Thank you. I appreciate your point about this additional, neglected reason for owning hard copies, and used ones at that. Little mysteries. You are clearly comfortable calling strangers on the phone — I’m a little jealous.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the tale. I do love research of every kind, and this had some particularly pleasing results. As for calling strangers on the phone, one of the downsides of our increasing use of mobile phones is that numbers are harder to find. Beyond that, people often won’t answer a call from an unrecognized number, thanks to the flood of robocalls coming in. But, there are ways — we just have to be more creative!

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