Freedom Beat Across America: In Search of America's Heartbeat

Archive for the tag “Texas”

More from Dottie’s Journal

More from Dottie — remembering the adventures of the four broads as they drove across the southern U.S. in the summer of 2011:

August 7th, 2011

We arrived in Boswell, Oklahoma to meet up with Don “Pappy” Papin.  He is State Captain for the Patriot Guard [Riders](OK).  He was a wealth of information.  (unlike the publicity-shunning members in Oklahoma City)

On Monday we met up with three others in the Guard.  They are “Chief”, “Judge”, and “Leatherneck”.  (even here we met with the reluctance of the Patriot Guard Riders to have any light shine on them rather than on the veterans they seek to honor. So I am not giving the real names that Dottie recorded in her journal.   However:

(Three of the four were veterans themselves)  Pappy was an Air Force Airman 1st Class.  “Chief” was a Navy Seaman (of course), and “Leatherneck” was a corporal in the Marines (natch — name’s kinda a giveaway) until he lost a leg and knee in Viet Nam.  Judge was a civilian Patriot (just wanting to do something for the kids coming home).

The Dixie Café in Boswell was host to our breakfast and after explaining that we would not alter what was said, the men agreed to our recorded interview.   Don gave us a DVD with mission footage [that he said] we may use. (in the documentary which is still in production at this time)

August 10th:

Corsicana, Texas

We visited the Pearce Museum at Navarro College campus in Corsicana.  Pearce Civil War Museum is an interactive museum featuring firsthand accounts of the Civil War, through letters, diaries and journals from civilians and soldiers of that time period.

As we drove up to the front of the building, out front was a retired Air Force fighter plane.  The building, red brick with a porticoed front, reminded me of the front of Monticello (Tom Jefferson’s place, which we actually didn’t get to see this trip, so I have to take her word for it!)  [There was also] a bronze statue of an American Indian making an offering to the Great Spirit, a preview of the Western-themed art exhibit waiting inside.

The foyer was a dome with stained glass discs of Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, Isaac Newton and the German responsible for rockets.  (We think she meant Wernher von Braun, but don’t hold us to it.)

The building houses the museum and planetarium.  Behind the receptionist’s desk was a wall of glass bricks with frosted scenes depicting an astronomer and the solar system.

We waited for the museum administrator to see if we could have permission to take pictures or video record inside the museum.  We met with the Director, and she explained that it was bad timing since they were installing a new exhibit.  She explained that there could not be any photography or video recording in the museum and in the art gallery.  We were given free admittance (appreciated deeply!) and fell in with a tour group and went along as a curator gave a very informative tour to us and about five others.

After the tour I spoke with [the director] again, and she agreed to provide us with a DVD with film clips from the Civil War footage they have, some stills, copies of letters and information with full permission for use in our documentary.  (Unfortunately, to date we haven’t received any of it and she has never returned our phone calls or emails.  Dottie thinks perhaps she got a “no” from above.  Personally, I’m thinking ‘outa sight, outa mind’.  It happens.  Too bad – we were very excited by her promises, and would have featured the museum prominently in the documentary.)


Days 7& 8!

Dottie and Sally

Spent the weekend with family and good friends (either-or-both). Saturday we arrived in Durant, Texas, and had lunch with Dottie’s son, Thomas. Then we went on to a tiny town, where the only store is a Dollar General that sells groceries and anything else you can name. We descended on Don “Pappy” Papin and his wife Sally. All of us immediately got a crush on Pappy, who is six-foot-something with a deep voice and a twinkly eye. We also fell in love with the two bitches – not to be confused with “broads”, folks, I’m talking about a pair of female dogs. Ushia is a sleek and gentle blonde German Afghan hound who immediately made me think of Celine Dion. Lure-lang is a puff-ball Pomeranian who made sure we all knew when anyone went in or out of the door. Who knew such a noise could come out of something the size of a racing lure? Pappy was the only male in a house chuck-full of females, and he seemed to alternate between being a bull in a herd of heifers, and the proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Pappy is state captain of the Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders. He talked to us for hours and gave us many insights into how the PGR works and what their mission is. With reservations and cautions, he arranged for us to have breakfast Sunday morning with three of his compadres. Like Pappy, they avoid publicity, preferring to have the cameras and attention on the veterans themselves. But they allowed us to film them for our documentary, and the four of us broads, plus Sally, sat around the table reveling in everything they had to say.
“Leatherneck” is, of course, a Marine vet. He came back from Viet Nam with a wooden leg and one knee-replacement and is more than able to empathize with our military today who come home in much different condition than they left. Among other patriotic and worthy causes, Leatherneck is a member of BACA, “Bikers Against Child Abuse”.

Leatherneck's colors

Just Talkin'

“Chief” is a Navy vet, soft-spoken but expressive. I believe he would’ve been happy to sit quietly and let the others speak, but when we asked what drew him to Patriot Guard, his answers were eloquent and moving.
“Judge” doesn’t have a military background himself but his family has a military history. He feels deeply that veterans deserve much more than they are getting, and wants to do whatever he can to honor, assist and protect them and their families.

Chief's colors

Pappy taught me a lot about the MIA (Missing In America) which tries to find the remains of vets who had no family to claim them.  MIA makes sure they get buried with full honors, and there is no one there but the people of MIA.  Doesn’t matter — they’ve honored a forgotten vet.

There was so much we learned from them, so many notes taken, that it cannot be fitted into one post, but I will be referring back to it throughout our trip. And of course much of it will be a part of our documentary.

Pappy's colors

After we left on Sunday morning, we again saw more of Texas than we’d planned, or at least more of Dallas, since I had trouble spotting the separate signs for the highways. Thank heaven we stopped at a Cracker Barrel and checked the maps over meat loaf, or we’d probably be in Mexico by now. Actually, Melissa seemed quite happy to do a complete circuit of the city and get plenty of skyline photos. Skylar put her earphones on and did whatever with those pad-things kids have today. For once I was happy to see a kid zone out.
I have to say they are real boyscouts in Texas; I mean, really prepared. We spotted a large store with a big sign that said “Condoms to Go”. Next came a billboard extorting us to forgo pornography, which was — intentionally, I’d bet — right next to a store selling adult videos. I guess there’s nothing wrong with covering all the angles.

Time to take off

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