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Peggy McCracken

Dial all 10 digits

or play it again Sam

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All last week I found myself having to re-dial long distance telephone
numbers because nothing happened on the first try. And sometimes on the
second. I soon realized the problem - I wasn't dialing 915 for calls
within this area.

Yes, Virginia, you have to dial 915 even to call Monahans. That's
because Ma Bell has run out of local numbers. We're multiplying too fast
and spreading out too far. And with portable phone numbers in the
offing, we will all need a personal 10-digit number so anybody can reach
out and touch us anywhere in the world.

That's frightening, in a way, knowing we could never get out of reach.
Then again, with instant travel, it's not practical to give everyone who
might need to talk to you every phone number along the route. I am so
thankful for those busy people who carry a beeper so that no matter
where they are, they can get my message to call home. Just last week, as
I was trying to get information about Pennzoil Sulphur's operations
being taken over by the new owner, Freeport McMoRan, my public relations
contact at Freeport was in another city a state away from the office.
But his secretary paged him and left a message for him to call me. It
would have been even easier had I been able to dial his personal phone
number and reach him "on the road" myself.

Changing my speed-dial phones to add 915 to all the numbers may be a
headache. Unless they are already programmed that way. So far, my speed
dialing has worked better than my own fingers, so maybe they are already
programmed right. I hope so. People my age don't need to be fiddling
with these modern technological marvels that only teenagers understand.

I'll be 60 in a few days, and tomorrow is the 23rd anniversary of my
first day on the job at the Enterprise. Thank God we don't
still have those rotary-dial phones. I would never get all those numbers
dialed. And even if I did reach a distant city, I'd have to have those
touch tones to "talk" to the answering machine. Which in some cases is
more pleasant than a live receptionist.

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is
wise." Proverbs 10:19 NIV

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.



Peggy McCracken

Tax man comes to mar

happiness of New Year

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I wouldn't list paying income taxes as one of my favorite past times.
And starting off the New Year by receiving tax forms in the mail is not
my idea of happy days. But I do like some of the changes the IRS is
making to simplify filing.

That is, on the surface it seems simpler. But when you start dialing a
touch-tone phone to get information, you can find yourself in a
wilderness of voices. Press 1 now. Enter three-digit number for
the tape you want to hear. Press 2 now. If you want to inquire about
your refund press 1 now.

I tripped my fingers through three tapes to learn that only approved
tax preparers can file electronically (I was hoping to do my own), that
I can print out my tax return by computer (saving pages and pages of
forms) and that I will have to itemize deductions to get all the credit
due me.

Electronic filing seems to be the way to go if you have money coming
back, because you can get it in three weeks. And maybe even sooner if
you have it deposited electronically in your bank account. But since
professional tax preparers charge a fee to file electronically, it might
cost more than it's worth unless you are due a bigger refund than I am.

When I saw the provision for 1040PC, I thought I could do my own
electronic filing by modem. But no, I still have to print it out and
mail it. I haven't seen one of the tax software packages, so I have no
idea whether they are simpler to use than the paper forms. I suspect,
though, that by the time I installed it on my PC, figured out how to use
it, entered the information, printed it out and mailed it, I would have
used more time than the old long way.

So it looks like this year will be the same as last. I will fill out my
Schedule C for the little dab of freelance writing I did this year,
taking all the expense deductions I can find, and probably registering a
net income loss as usual. Then I'll give my W-2 from the
Enterprise to my husband and let him figure out the rest. He
is extra careful to have more withheld from his wages than he will owe,
so we wind up getting some back. The sooner we get with this project the
sooner we will have money to spend.

Happy New Year!!
"Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts
his affairs with justice." Psalm 112:5 NIV

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and
editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Dipping or chewing

as bad as smoking

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I met the Texas commissioner of health Thursday, and I was impressed.
David Smith, a former pediatrician, told me he likes to get out of
Austin to be reminded what the real world is like. And he wanted to
encourage emergency service volunteers who rescue and hold together
people from all over the country who are hurt in accidents on our

Smith's staff is also working to save lives in another area that
concerns me: tobacco use by children. Patricia M. Hohertz heads the TDH
department of tobacco education and prevention. She is concerned with
tobacco sales to minors, which are being made despite a law against it.

Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans every year; more than
AIDS, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, automobile accidents, fires, suicides
and homicides combined, she said. More than 90 percent of new smokers
and dippers are under the age of 18.

Here are some facts Hohertz wants kids and adults alike to know:
*Smokeless tobacco includes both chewing tobacco and snuff.
*The typical new dipper is 10 years of age.
*Smokeless tobacco quickly delivers nicotine to the central nervous
system of the body.
*Nicotine is rapidly absorbed through the lining of the mouth.
*Nicotine level may rise and fall making users display signs of mood
swings. Students find it hard to concentrate on school work.
*Spitting tobacco contains nitrosamine, a carcinogen substance, known
to cause cancer.
*Snuff is NOT a safe alternative to smoking. It contains 10 times the
amount of nitrosamine as found in cigarettes.

Smokeless tobacco increases the heart rate, blood pressure,
vasoconstriction, blood coagulation factors, and decreases peripheral
circulation and firbinolytic activity. If you know what that means.

When you go into a place that sells cigarettes, snuff or chewing
tobacco, check to see if they have a sign posted: "SALE OF TOBACCO
PRODUCTS TO PERSONS UNDER 18 IS ILLEGAL." And watch to see if they ask
for positive identification and refuse to sell to minors.

"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the
law of the Lord." Psalm 119:1 NIV

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



Peggy McCracken

Grandma got the jump

on cordless iron idea

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I nearly fell off my stool laughing when I came across the very latest
in irons while perusing Consumer Reports. Would you believe
someone has invented a cordless iron? Yep, you use it much like a
cordless phone - taking it from the heating base to your iron¬ ing board
or to the bedroom to cure a sick child's ear¬ ache, or wherever you need
an iron. When it cools off, you take it back to the base to heat up
again - much like you recharge a cordless phone.

Now I know you young sprouts are wondering what is so funny about that.
Sounds like a good idea, right? Sure it does, and Grandma would agree
with you. Grandma, you see, had a portable iron in the 18th Cen¬ tury.
My senior sidekicks know what I'm talking about, because they used them
too. You probably can find a few used for door stops or in today's
fashionable "country" kitchens as decoration.

The kind Mama used - and I pushed many a mile over starched Levi's and
white shirts - were small hunks of iron in the shape of an oval pointed
on both ends and a shiny, flat bottom.
One detachable handle served all the irons, which were heated on the
wood, coal or kerosene stove we used to cook with. It was necessary to
have a detach¬ able handle, because it would have gotten too hot to hold
if it were left on the iron while it heated. We would put two or three
irons on the fire, and when one got hot, we'd pick it up with the
handle, rub it across an old cloth to clean off the soot, then test it
on the shirttail to make sure it wasn't too hot before we started ironing. If it was too hot for the material, we cooled it down with a wet cloth.

Cotton takes a real hot iron, and we didn't have many delicates, so too
much heat was seldom a problem if we kept the iron moving. Too long a
pause would leave a brown oval on a white shirt.

The modern cordless iron does have one feature that Grandma's didn't.
It will steam or spray the article as you iron. We dipped our hand in a
bowl of water and sprinkled it ahead of the iron or used a wet press
cloth to accomplish the same purpose. I still do that if I have just one
item to press, because it is easier than hunting up the distilled water,
pouring it into a tiny opening in the iron and then emptying it

I do have the solution to the problem of re-heating the portable iron,
which Consumer Reports seems to think may hurt its popularity. Make a double base and provide two irons so one can be heating while the other is in use.

I shoulda been an inventor.

Or not.

"A man who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who
chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty." Proverbs 28:19 NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



Peggy McCracken

Grieving families fill

empty chair at table

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Memories of Christmases past are a big part of this season each year.
But for those who lost a loved one since last Christmas, those memories
can be mighty painful. How do those who are grieving cope with that
empty chair at the table?

Kenneth J. Doka, editor of the Hospice Foundation of America newsletter
Journeys, said he asked that question to a group of widows
and got a variety of responses.

One woman said that, instead of a sit-down dinner, she served buffet
style so the family would not have an empty chair.

Others asked the eldest child to sit where the husband and father had
been. The one I liked best was to have the youngest great-grandchild sit
there to reaffirm the family of its own continuity, even in death.

One woman said she left her husband's chair empty to remind the family
who had sat there for so long and of the loss they felt. But another
survivor said, "I sat there."

Doka said that no one solution will work for everyone, and "It is
important to learn to trust your own inner feelings, to do what seems
best. There is no inherent right or wrong."

It is sad that an occasion to celebrate life is marred by death. But
death is a part of life, so we all have to face it. Knowing that the
absent loved one "graduated" to a much better place eases the pain of
his or her absence. I wonder if a mental picture of that person having
Christmas dinner in the presence of God with his parents and others who
went before him would cheer up those gathered here without him?

My parents, father-in-law and grandparents are at that table, and I
wouldn't call them back if I could. Rather, Christmas is a reminder that
Jesus's birth makes it possible for me to join them there one day.

Doka also recommends support groups to help those who are grieving get
through the holidays.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they
comfort me." Psalm 23:4 NIV

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



Peggy McCracken

Not all on the streets

choose to be homeless

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Whenever I get to feeling pretty secure in my mundane, middle-class
life with good health, a loving family, an interesting job, food on the
table and a roof over my head, I am reminded that these are blessings of
God that can be taken away in a flash - for no good reason. Remember
Job? He had 10 adult children and big herds of livestock with servants
to tend them. He worshiped God and even sacrificed for his children just
in case they sinned during their parties. One day God let Satan wipe it
all out, leaving Job with nothing but a crabby wife and sores on his

Job kept the faith, and in the end he got everything back in spades.
But he sure was miserable for awhile. You may know somebody in Job's
shoes who has lost everything and is sleeping on the ground and
scrounging for scraps of food to stay alive.

Mindy Allgood wrote a poem about just such a family spotted sleeping on
the ground along I-20 on a cold December night. Here's an excerpt:

"He said: `I never thought debts could get so out of hand,
To make ends meet the wife and I sold our wedding band;
I thought we would make it 'til the job I had fell,
Now my family and I live in a nightmare of hell.
We never know where we'll get our next meal,
Those who have homes don't know how we feel.
My daughter and wife, they cry sometime,
Cause from day to day we don't have a dime.
We don't ask for pity; we don't expect sorrow,
We just want a home and food for tomorrow.'"

Often when I see someone in that condition, I think they brought their
problems on themselves. But that is not always true. After reading this
poem, I will think twice before judging. And I might even look around to
see if someone I know sleeps in an abandoned refrigerator or on the
floor of a boarded-up building at night.

Yes, I know that some of the homeless roam the streets by choice. And I
believe they have that right and should be left alone. But if someone
needs a hand up, I wouldn't want to be like Job's friends who insisted
he brought all his troubles on himsslf. Elihu said: "If men are bound in
chains, held fast by cords of affliction, (God) tells them what they
have done - that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them to repent of
their evil..."

Job held his temper better than I would have, given such good advice.
He said:
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be
praised,". Job 1:21b

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

River rafters float

thanks to wise judge

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I'm proud of my favorite federal judge! Yes, Judge Lucius Bunton
ordered the federal government to open up Big Bend National Park for
river rafters. And I'll bet if other people who are hurt by the
disgraceful shutdown would file suit in his court, they probably could
get in the parks too.

I knew when I saw the suit filed by Texas River Expeditions Inc. and
three other companies that offer charter trips down the Rio Grande that
Judge Bunton would rule in their favor. He does not cotton to government
silliness, and closing down the parks while paying the employees anyway
is silliness of the highest order.

The park closing is probably the best way to raise the public's ire,
and I think that's why our so-called leaders chose those employees to
tab "non-essential" when they couldn't agree on a budget.

And it's not a budget that starts Jan. 1, guys. Our federal fiscal year
starts Oct. 1. They've had plenty time to get their House (and Senate)
in order. Personally, I am glad the freshmen Republicans are holding
their ground, and I think President Clinton is off base in vetoing their
best effort. But maybe there is some middle ground that both can agree
on. If not, we can just declare all of them non-essential and take back
our parks and rivers and everything else that's tied up in red tape.

While I'm chastising feds, I guess I should chide my favorite judge for
holding hearings on this particular injunction in Midland. No doubt he
has other cases there, and it may not be possible for him to make the
trip to Pecos. But here we sit with a $20 million courthouse, four court
security officers guarding the front door, and nobody going through it.
(Except for people looking for the county courthouse.)

Well, at least the judge assigned to us - Royal Furgeson - finally has
a docket set for the new courthouse. He has been turning most of his
work over to Magistrate Louis Guirola, so we don't see much of him. He
has four pleas and three sentencings set for Jan. 8.

Maybe we'll discuss our open house plans that day. I understand it has
been pushed back, probably until February, because the furnishings are
slow to arrive. Didn't they know this was coming? What was the delay in
ordering furniture? The whole thing took so long, I wondered at times if
it would ever become a reality. That's the government for you, though.
It takes forever to get anything done.

"What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hstily to court, for
what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?"
Proverbs 25:8, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



Peggy McCracken

New courthouse offers

plenty room for all

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Business was booming the first two weeks "my" new federal courthouse
was open. In fact, there was a little more than I could keep up with and
keep my sanity. But I so enjoyed that marvelous, big building where
there is room for everyone.

If you never visited the old courtroom over the Post Office when court
was in session, you missed a hoot. Jurors lined the hallways and
stairwell waiting for docket call to end so they could be seated in the
courtroom. Witnesses and defendants mingled in the hallways and
marshal's office, while lawyers huddled with their clients wherever they
could find a little space.

Law enforcement people generally congregated in the marshal's office,
while court personnel from out of town drifted to the clerk's office to
use the equipment and telephones.

It was interesting, but not a very professional way to hold court. Now
we have an assembly room for jurors, witness rooms, interview rooms
where lawyers can talk with criminal defendants in privacy and security,
lots of room in the marshal's office for visiting lawmen, an extra desk
in the clerk's office for visiting law clerks and deputies, and separate
quarters for prosecutors and judges so they can work without

The first floor of the building even has offices for pre-trial and
probation staff, something the old building just didn't have space for.
They had to walk over from the Executive Center on Oak Street.

And there's a smoking room for those who just have to light up. I
noticed during the three civil jury trials and several criminal matters
handled by Judge Lucius Bunton that the vents are not quite adequate to
move the smoke outside. You could smell it all up and down the hallway.
They'll have to improve on that situation if they want to call it a
non-smoking building.

Temperatures throughout the building are computer controlled, and
nobody can mess with the thermostats. If they want more heat or more
cool, they have to call the owners in Oklahoma to get the thermostat

Negative publicity on national television and in numerous regional,
state and national newspapers has irked me a little bit. They are so
determined to label it a boondoggle just because we are out here in the
desert. Yet a story in the December«MDUL» Reader's Digest «MDNM» details
how drugs are flooding across our border with Mexico. The only reason
we're not having dozens of drug cases filed here every month is because
federal prosecutors are either turning violators over to state courts or
are taking them to Midland or El Paso courts.

"The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste
away..." Psalm 112:10, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Jogging in the dark

has unseen hazards

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I've been spending too much time in court, listening to testimony about
dope deals, prison riots, and jail beatings, and watching guys dressed
in white jail clothes being appointed lawyers.

Early Friday, as I took my usual walk in the pre-dawn hours, a man
dressed in white clothes ran across my path, evoking a bark from Manuel
Rubio's German Shephard and startling me. He seemed a little startled,
too, when I spoke to him. As he raced down the ditch known as Orange
Row, I took a good look at those white clothes. "Are they jail whites?"
I wondered. When the young man stopped at the footbridge across the
ditch at Eddy Street and crouched down as a car passed, I really got
curious. So I jogged back to the house and called the Reeves County
Detention Center to ask if they'd had anyone escape. No, not that they
knew of, and they'd just had a head count an hour earlier. "But please
call the police," the guard said.

So I called our friendly police dispatcher and told him about the guy,
then took my cellular phone and went back to look for him myself. I saw
the police car go by, but nobody else was in sight. The dispatcher
called back and said the guy was probably just a jogger. No, I said, he
wasn't a jogger. He was running, and he looked like he was hiding at the
bridge. I turned around and started back for the house, and who should I
meet in the dark ditch but my guy in white? He was walking toward me, so
I spoke and kept on going, then called the police again and gave them
his location. In just a few minutes, the dispatcher called back and said
he was not an escapee or anything. Now I felt like a nosy old fool
instead of an alert citizen. And I owe some nice, healthy young man an
apology for suspecting him.

Now the moral of this story might be not to wear white clothes while
jogging before sunup. But I know dark clothes make you a target for
vehicles because the driver can't see you. And a black, hooded jacket
can make the police just as suspicious as jail whites. I was walking
around my private track early one morning when a police car cruised by
and stopped to shine a spotlight on me. Realizing I probably looked like
a burglar casing the neighborhood, I just stopped and waved to let him
see I was a bespeckled grandmother trying to get the blood flowing to
the brain.

Thank God for police who patrol our streets at night watching for
anyone suspicious. I think they know all the street joggers by name.

"Because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path."
Psalm 119:128, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.




Peggy McCracken

Modern bride chokes

on promise to `obey'

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Amanda Lea McCracken was born July 17, 1976 in Reeves County Hospital.
The prettiest, sweetest baby you ever saw. On Dec. 9, 1995, she made the
prettiest bride you ever saw as she agreed to love, honor, and
(reluctantly) obey John Bejarano.

"I don't know about that `obey' part," Amanda said at the rehearsal.
But Dr. Lonnie Green, pastor of the Bible Way Christian Church, said he
would not change the vows. Other parts of the service could be altered
to suit the bride and groom, but the vows are sacred, he said, and the
word `obey' is part of it.

When Amanda repeated the vows, stumbling over that offensive word, Dr.
Green laughed and said, "I'm not sure you meant that."

She and John will get along fine, though. He seems like a nice young
man, and I like his parents, too. His dad is a junior high
coach/teacher, and his mother works for a CPA as data entry clerk - the
same work my husband does. John wants to be a coach, too, and has two
years of college as a start.

And the church wasn't just one they found in the phone book. Amanda's
mother's boss is a leader in the church, and he read scripture and led
in prayer to open the wedding ceremony.

Amanda said they only invited immediate family and close friends
because John's family alone numbers 500. The church only holds 300, and
it was full. Although her mom, grandmother and aunts had prepared 250
sandwiches and lots of other food, they began to worry that it wasn't
enough. It was, and everyone seemed to enjoy the reception.

Yes, I did wear my red dress. It clashed with her chosen colors of moss
green and mauve, but nobody threw tomatoes at me.

Oh, I forgot the best part. The frantic rush to find the church on
Saturday. I had followed Amanda's mother there on Friday and thought we
went west. But the street leading to it was Margarita, and the map
showed it to be east. I went west anyway and found myself in downtown
Del Rio. I stopped a pickup in the middle of the street and asked for
directions. Then as I got in the neighborhood but couldn't find the
right street, I stopped at a house and asked a man raking the yard where
the church was located. He didn't know and couldn't speak English, so I
asked in Spanish for la calle Cortina. He knew the street
and directed me around the corner to Hernandez street and " dos
blockes." When I got to Hernandez I could see cars and people in
the street about two blocks away, so I knew I was home free. I parked a
block away and puffed up to the church with one minute to spare.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than
rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of
value." Proverbs 31:10-11, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE:Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.



Peggy McCracken

Wedding bells evoke

memories of old days

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This coming weekend will be the first I haven't worked in two months or
longer. And the reason is that I will be out of town attending my
granddaughter's wedding.

Yes, my precious Amanda will pledge her troth to John Bejarano Saturday. It should be a joyful celebration, so I am wearing my
red party dress. Can you wear red to a wedding?

Del Rio is the setting for the nuptials. I will drive down on Friday
and meet my daughter, Peggy Lynn, there. She is flying in from St. Louis
with my other granddaughter, Dana Kay Goddard.

We're not supposed to use personal stuff in the paper, but Amanda
didn't send the photo and engagement announcement I requested. She must
be her father's daughter.

Old-timers will remember that when my son, David, married in Germany I
wrote about it in my column, "Peggy's Peckin'." I had received an Easter
card signed in feminine handwriting, "Love, David & Kathy."

"Who is Kathy?" I asked each time I wrote David, but none of his
letters gave a hint until he requested that I send him a set of wedding
rings he had on layaway at Fonville's. "Who is Kathy?" I asked once
again when I sent the rings.

But all he ever said was, "I thought I told you about Kathy. She is
this chick I have been seeing." Then came his letter in October, 1978
describing their wedding and honeymoon. O.K., now I know who Kathy is.
She is the mother of my precious Amanda.

That is, one of Amanda's mothers. When she was 3, David married again,
this time in my church, with me as organist and photographer. That
marriage "took," and his lovely bride, Helen, has been Amanda's mother
ever since. Helen insisted that Amanda be married in church so the deal
would not be so easy to call off.

December is a busy month for weddings, and Amanda and John hunted until
they found a church that wasn't busy on Dec. 9. I have worshiped in
Black churches and they in mine (including last Sunday at West Park),
and most of them put body and soul into it. I look forward to the

I would say to my granddaughter and her beloved, "Remember your creator
in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years
approach when you will say, `I find no pleasure in them.'" Eccl. 12:1,

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.
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Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321