Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
By Peggy McCracken
Christmas this year
will be different
For the first time in 69 years, I will spend Christmas alone. Those
first 16 years, I had four siblings and two parents to share the joys
of the season. Then Leon took me to his mother's house, and I enjoyed
extended family Christmases at grandma's house for years until our
grown children and grandchildren came to Pecos on holidays.
Both our parents died long ago, and Leon died in May. I visited my
daughter, Peggy Lynn, in St. Louis in early November when her oldest
son married, and I have encouraged her to stay home at Christmas time.
David's family will come for an early Christmas to celebrate
great-granddaughter Cieara's first birthday.
No, I do not dread spending the holiday alone. Velma Bradley has me
lined up to help with the Christmas dinner at the Reeves County Civic
Center anyway, so I will be busy.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I am writing my late husband's
memoirs to give to the kids, partly for them and partly to help me
through the grieving process. Half a century is a long time to live
with one person, and it is not easy to make the transition.
I was only 14 when Leon came to our farm with his friend, Bruce, to
pick up my sister. He invited me to go to the movies with them, and of
course I jumped at the chance. You don't meet a lot of interesting
people in Flomot, Texas.
Leon and Bruce lived at Quitaque, a drive of about 15 miles from my
house. Since Flomot had no movie theater nor any other entertainment,
we drove to either Quitaque or Turkey (also 15 miles) on dates. Over
the next two years, Leon would come over every Saturday night, Sunday
afternoon and Tuesday and Friday nights without fail. When I was
playing basketball, he came more often to see my games and then take me
We double-dated with Sister and Bruce some, but mostly with his best
friend, Slug, and my best friend, Joan. When Slug bought a new Pontiac,
I jokingly asked him to marry me. He refused, but Leon offered himself,
so we were unofficially engaged.
Shortly before I was to graduate from Flomot High School in May,
1951, he made it official with an engagement ring, and we married in
April. I didn't do much studying after that, and missed school a few
times, so my grades suffered. Leon was a bookkeeper, and he did some of
my bookkeeping workbook for me, but instead of the A+ I was accustomed
to seeing on my report cards, I got a C. (Don't tell my boss.)
He kept books at the Paymaster gin in Quitaque two seasons, then we
moved to Pecos where he kept books at the cottonoil mill for 30 years,
until it closed in 1982. Then he worked for accountants J. Robert Scott
and Card & Co., retiring at age 72.
You already know Leon was my cook, so besides missing him at the
table, I miss those delicious meals. I froze enough leftover funeral
food to last me a long time. I watch his favorite cooking shows and
read cookbooks, so when the time comes for me to do for myself, maybe I
can survive. I have a lineup of automatic appliances to keep me from
burning stuff. (I can't boil water without scorching it. Ask Velma. She
was there last week when fresh spinach on the stove not six feet from
where I was sitting scorched. I ate it anyway.)
Velma told me what Leon always did. "Turn down the burner." He
cooked everything slow. I don't have that much patience.
Patience was just one of Leon's many virtues. As I sort through his
footlocker for photos and keepsakes, I am reminded what a jewel he was.
I not only lost a cook, I lost a walking encyclopedia.
Yes, Christmas will be different. But not sad. Not lonely. Jesus,
the reason for the season, is always near.
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you
are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and
when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When
you walk through the fire, you will not be burned..." Isa. 43:1-2, NIV
EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is the business manager of
the Pecos Enterprise. She can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Saenz has outstanding skills for city manager job
The City of Pecos is advertising for a new city manager. The people of
this community are extremely fortunate to have, as an applicant for the
position, a candidate with outstanding managerial skills as well as an
intimate knowledge of the town and a love for it. That person is Mr.
Oscar is known to many as the former Managing Director of the Anchor
Foods onion processing plant on I-20. He oversaw the expansion of that
facility from a startup operation with 32 employees to an enterprise
employing 750 people. Production went from 800 pounds per hour to
17,500 under his guidance during the course of his 11 year career
Previous to coming to Pecos, among other endeavors, he was employeed
by the Quaker Oats Company and managed a budget of $35 million with
Besides being an exemplary organizer, Oscar has displayed his
committment to the community by serving as a volunteer on the school
board, the tax appraisal district board, the Rotary Club, and is
presently serving as Chairman of the Pecos Economic Development Corp.
He was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen of the
Year Award and has held many industry association posts, being elected
to the Texas Food Processors "Hall of Fame" as a highlight of that
Oscar is a graduate of Texas A & M and a patriot having served
two tours in Vietnam after which he was honorably discharged with the
rank of Captain. He and his wife, Mary, are faithful members of the
Catholic Church and he is a devoted family man.
I am aware of the qualifications of a city manager having served
nearly three terms on the Pecos City Council. Were I in that position
today my overwhelming choice for the job would certainly be Oscar. I
pray that the public and the present Mayor and Councilpersons share my
Certainly, in this time of crisis in the community, the occasion for
the employment of a senior executive with Oscar's outstanding
leadership capabilities cannot be overlooked.
In closing I wish to state that Mr. Saenz neither solicited my
endorsement nor does he have knowledge of this letter.
MIKE A. BURKHOLDER
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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