December 2020

Texarkana Magazine





TEXARKANA MONTHLY December | 2020 | Volume 1 | Issue 2

36. ENTERTAINMENT Page Thirty-six 40. LIFE Christmas 2020—YAY or YIKES?

10. BUSINESS The Business of Mankind 14. POLITICS Right or Left to the Promised Land



26. CULTURE Texarkana Forte 32. SPORTS Family Matters


42. STYLE The Twelve Gifts of Christmas 44. STYLE Timeless 50. TXK ROOTS Molly C. Quinn

18. cover/COMMUNITY A Texarkana Story 24. COMMUNITY Grace… The New Normal


2801 Richmond Road • Suite 38 Texarkana, Texas 75503 903.949.1460 Publisher CARDINAL PUBLISHING Staff CASSY MEISENHEIMER

CASSY MEISENHEIMER loves Christmas lights, Hallmark Channel, pecan pie and

TERRI SANDEFUR loves holiday music and the chaos that comes with too many people in too small a space.

KARA HUMPHREY loves watching It’s A Wonderful Life , sausage balls and

reading the daily Advent scriptures.

Christmas Eve with my guys.



LEAH ORR loves all the family times and holiday traditions.

MOLLY KENDRICK loves folks dressed up like Eskimos.

MEGAN GRIFFIN loves watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation a million times.




Local Sources


MATT CORNELIUS loves A Charlie Brown Christmas , pecan pie and spending time with family and friends… while eating pecan pie.

LIZ FLIPPO loves the carols, the cheer and the Savior born so we could live!

BAILEY GRAVITT loves starting drama over Christmas dinner and Christmas Eve candlelight services.



JOHN HUMPHREY loves his yearly subscription renewal to the Jelly of the Month Club—it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

NOAH RAYBURN loves seeing everything lit up at night—it’s like the world is showing

MOLLY RILEY loves her grandmother’s


Aspen Mulling Cider recipe that she made every year.

it’s happy for a little while.


EMILY SARINE loves Christmas songs, Christmas trees and the fact that Christmas calories don’t count until January 2.

SUZIE TYLER loves presents,

JONATHAN WEAVER loves decorating the tree, opening presents after Midnight Mass and his grandmother’s chicken and dressing.

Texarkana Monthly is a multimedia publication showcasing the Texarkana area and is designed and published by Cardinal Publishing, LLC. Articles in Texarkana Monthly should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Ideaology, products and services promoted in the magazine are not necessarily endorsed by Texarkana Monthly .

even at her age, but mostly she loves the family time to open those presents.




T here are technically only five love languages, but I believe there is a sixth option… food. Food is one of my love languages. When I ask my family, “What do you want to do?” I’m really just asking, “What do you want to eat?” We’ve planned stops on road trips around meals, scheduled girls’ trip itineraries by who has the best brunch, and I have made meaningful

Yet, I look forward to the moments our team gets together. Whether it’s around a dining table or a ping pong table, we feed off each other’s enthusiasm. I am grateful to share my table with this team. Over lunch the idea of bringing a donkey and Santa Claus together took form. We had just completed the November cover photoshoot and were feeling confident. This group of creatives believes anything is possible. Fast forward. Due to the revitalization projects happening downtown, we needed to change our photo date. With the urgency, the pieces started falling apart. The original donkey was no longer available, and the cones and barricades seemed to multiply by the day. Fortunately, my team made it happen. I can depend on them. It’s what happens when those you’ve invited to your table take your vision and make it personal. Molly, and her husband Justin found Polly, our cover donkey model, and got her to the early Saturday morning photo shoot. The rest of the team showed up to offer helping hands and bring this idea to life. I appreciate all of them more than they know. I’m also thankful for Officer Les Munn from the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department for coming to help. I’m pretty sure he got more than he bargained for with this project, but he did it all with a grin. Everyone that morning had a blast recreating this iconic Texarkana image while adding a little Christmas spirit. Plus, is there anything like your first sighting of Santa to lift your holiday mood? Our hope is you will share this Christmas season around your table with the ones you treasure, and you will enjoy this issue of Texarkana Monthly ! From our table to yours,

memories cooking meals for family. Hello Fresh is a nightly routine at our house. My 10-year-old, John Henry, will sometimes help me prepare the meals. Those are minutes I will treasure for a lifetime. I take pride in preparing a good meal for my family and friends. It is one way I show my love for them. I’m pretty sure God thinks food is a love language too. Think about it, He loves us so much that He gave us thousands of taste buds so we could experience the delight of delicious things, and when it’s time to eat, we all gather side-by- side around the table. So, it’s not just that I enjoy food, but I value how a meal can slow us down for a bit to enjoy time together in fellowship. A table is a somewhat sacred space we occupy together. It’s a place where we laugh and where we shed tears. Dreams are born, prayers are lifted, stories told, sins confessed, and games are played seated together with the ones we love. The abundance of life happens when gathered around a table. It is fascinating to me that

sharing a table is one of the most uniquely human things we do. No other creature consumes its food at a table. It reminds us that eating food may keep us alive, but to be gathered gives us life. Texarkana Monthly is made up of new moms, seasoned moms and stepmoms who all work from home. Working from home allows each of us the opportunity to fulfill the roles we play in our families.




photo by Molly Kendrick

F ew holiday stories are as well-known or as well-loved as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol . It’s a timeless story that has entertained generations of readers. There are truths that play out in the life of the story’s main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable man who is blinded by his insatiable appetite for money. At the beginning, Ebenezer is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, whose spirit returns for the sole purpose of warning the bad-tempered old miser of the awful reality that Marley has discovered after his death. “I wear the chain I forged in life,” Marley said. “I made it link by link,

and yard by yard... I am here tonight to warn you that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate.” There comes a time in the life of every leader when they must decide their purpose. Will they set their focus on power? On money? Or maybe on building a reputation? It’s a widely held belief that the purpose of business is to maximize profit for shareholders. It’s this line of thinking that paved the way for that cold dark night of ghosts and life altering lessons for Ebenezer. He would require a change of heart. In the words of Marley, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance and



benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” Ruth Ellen Whitt has been proving for years it doesn’t always take a rendezvous with spirits in the night to recognize that mankind should always be our first priority. She has made it her business to focus on the people of Texarkana and their success as leaders and business owners. “If you think about it, the capacity of each human being is our civilization’s greatest asset. Imagine if every individual was given the opportunity to tap the joy of knowing and realizing their own greatest potential. What would our world be like? What

could we do? What should we do? What will we do? The alternative would be really sad,” Whitt said. Ruth Ellen was born in College Station, Texas. She found herself surrounded by Aggies and immersed in Aggieland. “I grew up in a wonderful A&M-focused family, the youngest of four children, with treasured roots and humble relations. We lived traditions of family gatherings, singing, and games, with scholarly parents who shared scientific explanations of the world on nature walks and insights on the Latin roots of words we used in dinner conversations.” Growing up, the study of performing arts was a passion for Ruth Ellen. From




dance and piano, to theatre, choir and voice, “with a bit of flute thrown in,” she considers herself lucky to have been trained by incredibly talented instructors. Ruth Ellen completed ten years of graduate and post-graduate studies, becoming a Nationally Certified Speech Pathologist, as well as teaching in classrooms of every age student from Pre-K to undergraduates. Soon after, she and her husband, Dr. David Whitt, along with their two daughters Emmy and Carlynn, moved to Texarkana so Dr. Whitt could begin his medical practice as a Head and Neck Surgeon. “The Perot Theatre had just been renovated, TRAHC’s (Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council) Perot Theatre Series was so enticing, and TRAHC was just launching Women for the Arts (WFA). My wise mother called and told me:

planning of the newly formed Texarkana Symphony Orchestra board and also accepted a position on the Leadership Texarkana Board of Directors. Having been part of Leadership Texarkana’s graduating class of 1988-1989, she remained involved and led many opening retreats and curriculum sessions throughout the following years. She also attended national conferences for the affiliation of community leadership programs around the country. “At the end of the first year as a Leadership Texarkana board member, I was asked if I would consider a position as Executive Director of Leadership Texarkana. I have served as Executive Director of Leadership Texarkana since 2010. It’s a good fit,” she said. “By its very nature, Leadership Texarkana annually attracts groups of incredibly invested and positive individuals who are ready to contribute to and serve our community, which makes it one of the best jobs in Texarkana.” Making people your business

‘If you care about that theatre and what’s going on there, call them up and tell them you want to help, or else you will find yourself being pulled into all sorts of other volunteer positions that are not really your passion.’ Best advice ever. Thanks, mother!” It was a perfect opportunity to tap into all the performing arts of her past and to pass on to others her love for all their benefits. “The arts grow smarts. Seriously! It’s a fact well- evidenced in decades of research, AND they bring joy.” Ruth Ellen followed her mother’s advice and was asked to be on the founding board of WFA as the volunteer head of Perot Theatre Tours. That position led her to becoming part of TRAHC’s

must be accompanied with an understanding that the exact mix of personality, gifts and talents is rarely or never repeated from individual to individual. Ruth Ellen has a gift for seeing people as they are and for helping them to see and know themselves more clearly. “Leadership looks different in every individual. It’s not so much developing leaders as it is developing people, turning them on to their own potential, and capacity for being the change they want to see. I believe our Creator made each of us to be creators… contributors… but it takes some work sometimes to uncover one’s

own strengths, passions and possibilities. We all want community excellence. It benefits ALL of us! Leadership is that path; working together is the key.” Ruth Ellen’s parents were her greatest support and her greatest influence. They told her, “you can do ANYTHING you want to do, but you cannot do everything.” She took this statement to heart and determined to make sure that everything she commits to is beneficial for the sake of others. Just as Jacob Marley encouraged Ebenezer Scrooge to do, she makes mankind her business and the success of those around her the focus of her endeavors. Texarkana is a special place. The people of Texarkana are special too. It’s the love of this area, “that it’s home and that I’m connected to it, that my husband and I can go out to eat and can be surrounded by people we know and care about,” that motivates Ruth Ellen to get involved in making it an even better place to live. “The people. The civility. That people care and are good.” It’s people like Ruth Ellen herself who have set that high standard. Let’s follow the advice of Jacob Marley and in the footsteps of Ruth Ellen Whitt and make “mankind our business.” In the eloquent words of Tiny Tim, “A Merry Christmas to all; God bless us, everyone!

education staff as part-time Education Coordinator, working under the Arts Education Director. “I spent the majority of the next 20 years of my career working through multiple positions at TRAHC, focused on becoming an articulate and effective advocate of the arts and arts education, for developing our children, our schools, our workforce, and our community.” Ruth Ellen has such an enduring belief that the arts can make all the difference in the lives of individuals and the community as a whole. “What I’d REALLY like to accomplish is to convince Texarkana leaders that we could maximize our workforce and develop our very own ingenuity and talent pipeline by making arts education a priority… We could build the creative workforce and grow the knowledge economy that would make Texarkana, USA into the best small community in the United States and EVERYONE would want their children to go to school here!” Ruth Ellen retired as TRAHC’s Executive Director in 2008. When most of us dream of retirement, we think of it as a time to slow down and relax a little more. Instead, for the next year, she took on several volunteer positions. Life for Ruth Ellen is simply more fulfilling when she can invest in the lives of others. For her, it’s a calling that can’t be ignored. She began leading the strategic







A s the fervor of the recent election season slowly recedes, it is helpful to reflect on what has transpired over the last few political cycles. Though reasonable people may disagree over methods, models, and modalities, it is undeniable that the concept of ‘identity’ rests at the core of our struggle. Firmly establishing who we are, both individually and in the broader social context, is critically important to building healthy relationships, and when our sense of identity is challenged, it undermines the integrity of our structural framework. At times, this is necessary for growth and development. Constant renegotiation of identity, however, leads to nothing but discontent, doubt, and despair. The solution is to exercise discretion when determining who we allow to shape our sense of


identity. It is helpful, even necessary, to take inventory and identify precisely who holds sway in constructing our personal identity map. When faced with the emotional turmoil produced by the conflict unfolding around us, it is deeply embedded within our nature to search for reliable ‘sense-making’ sources. It is critical to our survival to learn vicariously from a trusted community. From the perspective of human-as-organism, natural reflex is to respond to alarming external stimuli and then promptly restore the body to a resting state without engaging voluntary faculties. From the standpoint of human-as-conscious-being, we wrestle with reconciling a similar dilemma when confronted with the need to process information and promptly determine whether it is actionable. The amount of input from external stimuli is infinite, yet our ability to consume, sort, prioritize, and mobilize pales in comparison. To handle this task and still maintain the emotional capacity to successfully engage with the outside world, we frequently look to trusted sources to assist in filtering and interpreting the activities unfolding around us. Historically, the bulk of this ‘outsourcing’ has been entrusted to two primary partners: the nuclear family and the local church. In

the modern era, however, this role is increasingly assigned to social media and political institutions. Put simply, we have constructed the modern equivalent of the golden calf and we have sold our souls for a sense of belonging. Politics has always been tightly stitched into the American fabric. Our nation owes its existence to the outcome of a protracted political revolution. Yet, despite having our birth as a republic tied directly to a political putsch, our desire for independence did not fundamentally change the core values of the people. The reality of this was clearly communicated in the founding documents. With the facts boldly “submitted to a candid world,” these rebels championed a complete paradigm shift in the role of government. Rather than taking the form of master, this new nation would limit the authority of the political establishment and narrow its scope to ensure each individual’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” While enjoying the privileges afforded to us as citizens of modern-day America, it is easy to miss the signal importance of this event in 1776. Long before we had any assurance of winning a violent military struggle against the world’s largest superpower,






our political framework; but in Europe, the primary impetus was the exaltation of human reason, while the American system demanded that reason be tempered by virtue. This model of moral reasoning produced the sustained rise in America’s global prominence throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. As our knowledge of the physical world has advanced, we have been forced to re-examine many of the assumptions of our forebears; meanwhile, the increased pressure produced by a constant barrage of information from sources scattered

our Founders courageously penned a document accusing the most powerful monarch on the globe of unforgivable tyranny and bravely affixed their names as a sign of solidarity. It is no wonder Benjamin Franklin quipped, “we must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.” Brutal warfare ensued for five more years before the decisive victory at Yorktown in 1781, and another six years passed before the Constitution was drafted in 1787. Perhaps most impressive in this unprecedented shift of political power was the formation of the Bill of Rights in 1791. This document was specifically created to address the most persistent objections to the rights and responsibilities enumerated in the Constitution. Rather than use the pressing political uncertainty as an opportunity to garner power, our leaders clarified and amplified the fundamental rights of the individual to ensure its citizens, not their government, remain in control; therefore, the first amendment protected the individual’s freedom of religion, speech, press, and the right to assemble and peacefully seek a redress of grievances. As our political future dangled in the balance, our forefathers remained stalwart in their commitment to this new model which declared the Creator as the Source, the individual as the Aim, and the political institution as its Defender. For this new system to work effectively, the Aim must stay firmly connected to the Source, and the Defender must suppress its natural inclination to wrestle power from those it was created to serve. John Adams underscored this point in 1798 when he conceded that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” This precept, I would argue, is the key difference between the American Revolution and the principles undergirding the French Revolution. In France, the Third Estate demanded Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity and built their demands atop the shoulders of the great Enlightenment philosophers. In America, these same Enlightenment ideals were woven into

1960; hence, we are experiencing a shaking of the other pillar as well. We have traded pastors for podcasts, replaced fathers with Facebook, and asked the media for meaning. The mention of these facts is not intended to cast disparagement nor induce panic; rather, it provides some important context, I believe, is helpful in understanding the reason behind the trends. Nature abhors a vacuum, so, in the absence of an easily accessible, more trustworthy source, the human heart clings to the nearest alternative on which to cast its hope for identity affirmation; there is always an ample supply of golden calves eager to fill the void. It should come as no surprise when these modern-day Towers of Babel break ground and commence construction. There is a longing within us, part physical and part spiritual, to find a place of rest in the face of conflict. As we rebel against the proven pillars of a bygone era, we increasingly find ourselves moored to the flimsy foundations offered in their place, only to discover they are the inept creations of an emperor who has no clothes. At risk of oversimplifying, most all of us are seeking three basic things: a place to belong, a place to contribute, and a source of meaning. Modern political affiliations are fantastic outlets for belonging and contribution but are woefully inadequate as purveyors of purpose. Similarly, social media can provide a wonderful platform for sharing information, but it is merely a counterfeit at facilitating real interpersonal communication. In sum, I encourage you to engage politically. Take full advantage of the many benefits of political affiliations. Stay informed on matters of social import and, above all, let your voice be heard at the ballot-box. My only caution is that you keep politics in its proper place as you plan your future and make decisions that affect your reality. Rightly viewed, politics can add richness and vibrancy. As a golden calf, however, it will become rancorous and divisive, and lead you to wage war against your neighbor for something as silly as a yard sign.

Loyal friendships, tried and true Abruptly over, because they vote Blue Civility ceased, long since dead

around the world and the impact of economic globalization have eroded away our emotional buffer. Now unfortunately, rather than seeing the rapid updates to our understanding of the Book of Nature as supplemental to the Book of Faith, they are overwhelmingly pitted against one another as irreconcilable, warring factions. This false dichotomy has led many to accept one Book and completely reject the other. Sadly, and unnecessarily I might add, this has sparked a steady erosion of the trust granted to our local communities of faith, and their leaders, in the important role they play as one of the key pillars of our outsourced ‘sense- making.’ To further complicate matters, the overall well-being of the American family has suffered harm as well. Tracking the percentage of children who grow up in two-parent homes is one of the best proxies to gauge the health of the family. The latest figures show a 20% decline since Once discovered that they vote Red In days ahead, regrets will swell With passion cooled, showing friendships felled From sleep arise, as time expires Flee, my friend, from these pits of mire







This month’s issue of Texarkana Monthly is a sentimental look into the history of Texarkana. These twin cities have been deeply enriched by so many people with fascinating stories, traditions, and resources. We are taking the opportunity this holiday season to reflect on where we came from, who we are, and where we are going. So much of our incredible past is completely unknown to most of the community, but it’s a history that is worth knowing and passing on to the next generation of Texarkana residents.


Many consider December 8, 1873, to be the date our city was formally established. On that historical day, the first selling of town lots took place. Local historian, Dr. Beverly Rowe, explains in her book Historic Texarkana-An Illustrated History , that “Men from all over the region rode onto the site and camped out in order to be there on December 8, when the sale of town lots began. One of the first purchases made was by J.W. Davis. He is said to have purchased the lot where the Hotel McCartney was later built and still stands today, across from Union Station.” “The establishment of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, was more the result of national railroad expansion than it was the actions of the earliest settlers,” writes Dr. Rowe. Texarkana’s early economy was built on timber, wood products, cotton and rail transportation. By way of the railroad industry the Texarkana area served as a gateway to the Southwest. It wasn’t long after the Civil War ended that “The establishment of Texarkana as a ‘railroad town’ was a story repeated across the nation in other towns by the hundreds, if not thousands.” Today, whether you are in downtown






Santa has been visiting the good boys and girls of Texarkana, on both sides of State Line, since December 1873. Every year, he makes appearances at Main Street Texarkana’s Christmas Parade and other jolly events, spreading joy across the area. He always looks forward to hearing from each child, so don’t forget to get your Christmas letters post marked as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for him and check out Page 36 to find extra opportunities to bump into him around town during this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Texarkana!

photo by Kara Humphrey

Texarkana or on the outskirts of town, you can see our foundation in the winding railways that trail through our city. Word quickly traveled about the abundance of job opportunities in Texarkana. Dr. Rowe states, “The predominantly male population of the city in its earliest years spawned gambling houses, barrooms, and brothels.” A cheeky mural depicting the “ladies of the night” of that era can still be found on Spruce Street. According to Dr. Rowe, “Texarkana’s rough and tumble beginnings certainly created a rich field of work for religious denominations and their preachers.” As mentioned in the Gate City News of January 2, 1875, Catholic services during Lent and a service at the Methodist church are among the first references of Texarkana’s religious founding. While growing up in Texarkana, you often hear about different legends that have made their way through generations. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, better known as “Bonnie and Clyde,” are two infamous examples. Les Minor, Editor of the Texarkana Gazette says, “Local folklore reports that a lot of gangsters hung out in this part of the country, partially because they could move easily in and out of jurisdictions in the four state area and avoid the law.” Sources online report Bonnie and Clyde could be found at the Hotel Grim prior to being gunned down in Louisiana in 1934. It is even rumored they robbed the Texarkana National Guard Armory before leaving town. Merely a decade later, the Texarkana community was tormented by its own infamous criminal, the Phantom Killer, whose reign of terror began February 22, 1946, and lasted through May 3, 1946. In the book, Images of Texarkana-A Visual History , Sheriff William Presley said, “This killer is the luckiest person I have known. No one sees him, hears him in time, or can identify him in any way.” Though many students and individuals alike have researched these “Moonlight Murders,” and documentaries have been made regarding the subject, the Phantom Killer remains at large. Though the Phantom Killer’s exploits put Texarkana on the map, there are many other notable, positive references to Texarkana. Have you ever seen the 1977 classic, Smokey and the Bandit , with

Burt Reynolds and Sally Field? If you have, you know that Reynolds’ (“Bandit’s”) challenge is to pick up 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana and take them to Atlanta, Georgia in 28 hours. This iconic movie, with Texarkana at its center, was the fourth highest grossing film of the year and raked in more than $126 million at box offices. The first official reenactment event took place May 15, 2007 and was called, “The Bandit Run,” which retraces the route traveled by Bo (“Bandit”) and Cledus (“Snowman”). The run is said to have included about 30 Trans Ams, and both Texarkana city mayors gave a send-off speech at the Four States Auto Museum downtown. This three-day event received local and national media coverage, including Automobile Magazine and The New York Times . In the year 2000, we gained national attention again. With no time to prepare on Christmas day, weather conditions took a quick and drastic turn for the worse. As many celebrated Christmas festivities, and others traveled to attend family gatherings, freezing rain began falling and soon, our city was almost entirely without electricity. Nita Fran Hutcheson was quoted in the LA Times as saying, “Everywhere you look, trees are snapped like matchsticks. Power lines are down everywhere, and most of the streets are impassable because we don’t know which lines are live.” When food in our grocery stores was scarce, family and friends all came together to share what they had with one another. Manager of Distribution Systems at AEP/SWEPCO, Craig Harland recalls, “There was not a light bulb burning anywhere, and it took about six weeks to get all the lights back on.” That period of time was definitely a memorable one for the residents of Texarkana and the surrounding areas. The National Weather Service reported, “At one point, much of the cities of Texarkana were without power, telephone and water. Ice accumulations were estimated by observers to be as much as an inch in Southwest Arkansas.” Not every Christmas in East Texas brings snow and ice, but one thing you can look forward to is the annual Main Street Texarkana Christmas Parade. It’s been said that every year the float lineup increases, as does the size of the crowd. From camels to Clydesdales



the parade lifts Christmas spirits. Main Street Texarkana’s Executive Director, Ina McDowell, says, “This year’s 36th annual Christmas parade will be a bit different from years past. We wanted to make sure that it took place as it’s a traditional event that everyone looks forward to. Therefore, we want to make it happen for our community!” McDowell shares, “As Christmas floats line up on the parade route, there will be an open lane for spectators to drive through and view the parade. It’s called a ‘reverse parade,’ and several other towns will be doing this as well.” Among the most notable features of our city is the State Line Post Office and Federal Building. It’s rare because it is located in both states of Texas and Arkansas. Built in 1933, the walls were constructed of Arkansas limestone and the base is laid with Texas pink granite. It’s said to be the most photographed courthouse in the country, after the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Daily, visitors and natives alike, can be seen snapping selfies and photos in front of this iconic sign with our famous courthouse serving as the backdrop. “Photographer’s Island,” as it is often referred to, is a truly unique landmark of our beautiful cities. The history of Texarkana includes several individuals from this community who went on to do great things. Arguably, the most notable is the late H. Ross Perot. He was born in Texarkana, Texas on June 27, 1930, and passed away last year on July 9, in Dallas, Texas. An American business mogul, Perot was not only a billionaire, but also a great philanthropist. As a very young man, he worked as a paperboy for the Texarkana Gazette . He attended Texas High School and was involved in Boy Scouts, earning his Eagle Scout. He later attended Texarkana College and eventually joined the Naval Academy, where he helped establish the honor system. In 1992, Perot ran as an Independent candidate in the Presidential election against George H. W. Bush (R) and Bill Clinton (D). Perot ultimately secured 19% of the vote, surpassing all third party candidates for the previous 80 years. He would run again in 1996, this time representing the Reform party. Perot had a genuine love for Texarkana and believed in giving back. He and his sister, Bette, in



THE MAN AND HIS DONKEY BY HORACE SHIPP I n the 1890s the U.S. Congress made the mailing of “penny” post cards legal. Their use became an instant success—specifically among business and vacation travelers on railroads all over the nation. These postcards were very slow, but they were an economical means of communicating. Basically, it was a penny for the card and a penny for the stamp. In a week or two, the kinfolks in Chicago could get word on their family traveling to Waco, or the Texarkana businessman could send a note to a client in St. Louis thanking him for his recent order. The use of the penny postcard became even more popular as automobiles became less expensive in the mid-1920s. Travel increased at an unbelievable pace and Texarkana, USA was a transportation and travel hub. Thousands and thousands of penny postcards, with their pictures of flowers, parks, magnificent homes, public buildings, cartoons, jokes, and all sorts of attractive and interesting subjects, were sold in Union Station and the cafes, bookstores, drug stores and soda fountains on both sides of the city. One of those cards was a stand-out. It was unusual, funny, and even over-the- line with a lot of people. It featured a photo of a man and his donkey standing

postcards courtesy of Horace Shipp view more versions on our website

on the Arkansas and Texas border in front of the U.S. Courthouse and Post Office. The caption proclaimed, “Man in Arkansas and His Ass in Texas.” Eventually, the card was offered with the man standing in either Arkansas or in Texas—neither side to be offended. That card was the most popular, most purchased, most mailed in the history of the many hundreds of thousands of Texarkana postcards sold. It was the only Texarkana card that held a copyright. Of course, that right expired fifty years after its publishing ca. 1912. The story goes… the man in the original photo was a Native American from Broken Bow, Oklahoma. He had a peg leg and the donkey was his animal. The two were posed in front of the old red brick post office and federal court that was constructed ca. 1888. In the background a horse is seen drinking from the public water fountain. A horse and wagon are visible on the right side of the photo. The elegant Central Christian Church building dominates

the left side of the photo. The peace and quiet of that day is quite evident by the lack of any street activity. The man and his donkey very prominently occupy the foreground of the photo. The photo was updated and modernized, to some extent, over the years. The new Post Office and Federal Court Building replaced the old facility in 1933. Remarkedly, the original photo continued to be used. It was printed, marketed, sold, and mailed for 50-60 years. There have been many variations of this card. Some were real photos, some artist renderings, some cartoons, and even a few recent real photos. They have all attempted to replicate that original depiction and its success in gaining public acceptance. Many later variations were commercial successes, but none have recaptured the attention and connection that the postcard of the man and his ass did so very, very well for a very, very long period of time.

Texarkana Monthly’s iconic remake would not have been possible without the talents of Molly Kendrick and Michael Ulmer. The history revealed in these images throughout the years is priceless. As the downtown landscape has changed, each new remake of this image is proof that our sense of humor, community comradery and love for our cities has been constant. So, whether you find your “ass” in Texas or Arkansas, we can all stand together and say “there’s no place like home.”



honor of their parents, contributed almost a million dollars to restore the old Paramount Theatre, renamed the Perot Theatre. It is also noted that he donated a million dollars to Texarkana College in 2012, initiating a community challenge to match his million. He then gave annually on the 15th of February for the next four years. Mr. Perot is considered a legend in Texarkana. He is remembered as saying, “There are but two things worth living for: to do what is worthy of being written, and to write what is worthy of being read.” Whether you’re a Texarkana native or a newcomer, Texarkana has a lot to love. Texarkana native and professional baseball player, Michael Wacha shared, “When I think of Texarkana, I think of my family and friends, the Texarkana community. It just feels like home when I come back. I appreciate the support that I’ve always received.” Gate City News , January 2, 1875, described Texarkana as, “neither large nor small, this city was loud, boisterous, and fun with a bit of a split personality,” This month’s cover photo of Texarkana Monthly definitely exhibits a bit of that “fun” vibe. It’s a recreation of a historic Texarkana photo— with a little Christmas spin. Leadership Texarkana’s Executive Director, Ruth Ellen Whitt will always joyfully share the many superlatives Texarkana has to offer. “Texarkanians want to have a community that is not only ‘Twice as Nice’ and ‘One of a Kind’ but also ‘Second to None’—a thriving center for business, education and culture that attracts and serves us all.” Texarkana is often thought of as a small town, but the Texarkana Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 150,098 as of 2016. That is no small number! Eleanor Roosevelt says, “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” Well, this is our city, and it’s what WE make it. Always has been, and always will be. Because of our great residents, Texarkana continues to grow and offer more opportunity. At our roots, you find hard-working men and women who believe in the potential of these cities. We will continue in their footsteps and add what we can as a legacy of excellence for Texarkana residents. Texarkana’s potential is endless.




F riends, we have made it to December. It is the final month of this crazy year of COVID-19. Hallelujah! For so many of us, 2020 has brought fear, uncertainty, loss, anxiety, and memories we want to leave behind a locked door. Through the chaos, I have been able to find a few experiences I hope to carry with me into 2021 and beyond. The Brothers, our twin boys, were born in January 2019. We had been a comfortable family of three for almost four years, and I knew growing to a family of five would force me to let go of some things and lighten up a little. I made a promise to my anxious, striving-for-perfection, alter-ego that 2019 would be the year of giving grace to myself, to my husband, and really, to all the people on all the days. I was going to give all of us permission to throw away old expectations. It was going to be okay if the bed wasn’t made every morning or the dirty dishes stayed in the sink while my husband and I watched a movie after the kids went to bed. After our daughter was born, we fed her plain flavored yogurt for quite a while. I thought I was winning at this mom thing by not introducing “sweets” until later in her life. Poor child. I remember watching her drink her first Capri Sun at two years old, after swimming lessons, and she sucked that juice down in .02 seconds. Fast forward to my year of grace and guess what… The Brothers were eating macaroni and cheese, like the powdered, unnaturally orange kind, by eight months old. Whether it was plain yogurt or microwaved pasta, I found the result was still the same; my kids were fed, they were happy, and they were so incredibly loved. Do you know what could force someone to extend that year of grace indefinitely? A shelter-in-place order with a five-year-old girl and 18-month-old twin boys! Our baseline for success went from the middle of the road straight down to the ditches. If we were all alive at the end of the day, we won. The Brothers pulled down a set of the living room curtains one day. The next day, they pulled the other set down, and the curtains are still not back up because they will probably just do it again, anyway. Our daughter slept on a twin sized blowup mattress in a tent in her bedroom, right next to her actual bed, for six months because it made her happy. The glass from a small glass top table has been removed after one of the boys crawled under the table and stood up with the glass balancing on his head. Silverware was picked up by little fingers reaching from tiptoes, licked, and put back in the drawer. Someone is usually standing on a table, dumping a bucket of toys, or zooming by on a scooter. Our home is in disarray at all times. I’m ok with it though, because I know one day, I will have fresh flowers and pretty coffee table books back where they once were. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” Let me tell you, this is not our season for a perfectly decorated home or prime organization. GRACE… The New Normal




watching her walk, with total confidence, into her first day of Kindergarten all by herself. She is braver than I could ever be and God answered our prayers with the sweet friends she has made. The Brothers started Mother’s Day Out and knowing they have each other calms any fears created by not being able to walk them into their classroom. At home, I have watched those three become the best of friends. Sure, they make each other crazy, but the laughter we hear and the playtimes

As our country approached the thick of this pandemic, and we were encouraged to stay home and refrain from social gatherings with our friends and families, birthday parties, graduations and wedding showers were canceled or replaced with drive-thru celebrations. Then, virtual learning was introduced… bless it y’all! As time went on, our leaders began to understand what we all were feeling; we cannot sustain mental health and well- being in isolation. We need each other!

Easter 2020—the quarantined Flippo Family— Liz, Hutchins, Gabbie, John Allen and John.

Eventually, we were allowed to expand our inner circles. Our bubbles grew, but only slightly, to include only those we really knew and trusted. Let me tell you, the ones with whom you’d order curbside pickups while wearing yoga pants and t-shirts, those are your people. For what it’s worth, I vote we hold on to those easy nights with neighbors and family after all of this mess is over. We’ve created a completely new level of love and friendship in my book. Keep those people close. You are surviving a pandemic together! The past 11 months have encouraged me to be still. I have watched our children grow in ways I may have otherwise missed under normal circumstances. Our daughter is really, really funny, and she wins Connect Four every time. I almost burst with pride while

we get to witness are just the very best. This year has been hard y’all, but we’re going to get through it. As for my home, our kitchen cabinets won’t have locks on them forever and my white walls and baseboards can be repainted. Until that time comes, we will try to keep our focus on what is important to us: protecting our family time, modeling for our children what a loving, committed marriage looks like, having dance parties in the kitchen, and being kind to each other. As we go into 2021, let’s find the good, the fun, the less-fluff-and-stuff moments, and carry those with us. Love your people. Praise God for the blessings He has given. Move your baseline for success. Help someone who needs it. Give all the grace to all the people, all the time, including yourself.




Many times an idea is birthed from a casual conversation. Such

is the case with the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. Remica Gray and Mary Scott Smith, two friends dedicated to promoting music in the Texarkana area, talked about offering live orchestral music locally. Unsure if there was an interest, they inquired about the amount of funding needed for such a venture and formed a committee. The duo asked area music patrons to be founding members by donating a thousand dollars each. Much to their surprise, the response was overwhelming, and they received more money than needed to sponsor the program. They were thrilled! The concept was the beginning of the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra (TSO), a non-profit performing arts initiative organized in 2006 under the leadership of Maestro Marc-André Bougie. It has grown and is now a major part of Texarkana’s music scene, bringing great symphonic music to the four states area. The TSO raises over $500,000 annually and is of vital importance to the economic growth of Texarkana. Sixty plus professional musicians perform during the September to May season and come from Houston, central and northwest Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Dallas, Texas. The economic impact can be felt locally as orchestra participants and their families spend the concert weekends in our town, bringing income to local hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls. A community that embraces the arts is a major attraction of new businesses to our area and enables the Chamber of Commerce to use it as a selling point for corporations seeking to locate in Texarkana. On more than one






occasion, it has been the determining factor for the decision of those entities. The Symphony is a major asset to the cities of Texarkana and enhances the musical culture with their performances. Governed by a 29-member Board of Directors, there is one full-time employee, four part-time employees, and one contractor. The mission of the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra is to pursue for all, the transformative power of symphonic music through excellence in live performance and education. Their core values are artistic and education excellence, leadership, community connection, partnership and collaboration, and economic impact with organizational viability and innovation. Besides their annual patron campaign to raise funds, private foundations provide money for the Symphony. Along with the National Endowment for the Arts federal and state grants through the Arkansas Arts Council and the Texas Commission on the Arts, they are also supported through sales tax funding for the arts of Texarkana, Arkansas and Texarkana, Texas. Community support is vital to the Symphony’s success, and they are always in need of volunteers. They accept gifts and donations of any size year-round. There are multiple ways to donate with payment options set yearly, quarterly or monthly. The TSO designs donor benefits for up close access to the music, musicians and guest artists with invitations to special events and post-concert receptions. Endowments can be made in your will to continue providing funding for a wonderful organization. The Celebrity Conductor Competition is a major fundraiser held at Christmas time. Local community members raise money by getting their friends and family to vote with dollars to achieve the coveted position of conducting the orchestra. In 2019, the board hired Music Director Philip Mann, and he has been a major asset to TSO. His resume is very impressive. He was born in Canada and elected a Rhodes Scholar, won the Vienna

Remica Gray, TSO Board Member and Volunteer Director of Operations

Mary Scott Smith, TSO Principal Pianist

Philharmonic’s Karajan Fellowship at the Salzburg Festival and named an American Conducting Fellow. As a teacher and Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas Tech University, Mann’s orchestras have become known for bold and innovative projects with superlative quality. His diverse collaborations have garnered him much praise for leveraging music’s power toward poignant conversations, enhancing the relevance of symphony orchestras to communities and successful audience development. He was the recipient of a commendation from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and recognized for extraordinary community engagement as the winner of Arkansas’ “Communicator of the Year” and PRSA “Diamond Winner” for enhancing the image of the entire state. His Brahms collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra and pianist Norman Krieger on Decca Records has received many rave reviews. A recent 2019 recording with the Royal National Orchestra in the works of Michael Fine has garnered extensive praise and has been named to major award watch lists.



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