|Saving El Chico
by Meta Strauss
From Lulu Belle Swartz, owner of Be Lovely Boutique, to Ed Hawkins,
proprietor of Ed's Salvage Yard and Golf Course, citizens of El Chico
struggle to survive. The small west Texas town was once a thriving
community founded at the base of a mineral rich mountain. Years
ago the natural resources were depleted stunting its growth.
When a devastating drought appears to be the final blow to the
mainstay cattle ranching business and Bea McPherson's Circle McP
Ranch, Ex-Dallas Cowboy football player Nicholas Graystone arrives
offering to spearhead the building of a water pipeline. The
unsuspecting citizens don't realize their mayor has teamed with the
fast talker to swindle them.
Jake Johnson, a cowboy born a hundred years too late, is suspicious
of the fancy-booted outsider from the day the city slicker arrives. His
best friend, Silver Crow Parker, mystical chief of the Comanche
nation presents an alternative, spiritual solution to the drought.
Graystone doesn't anticipate the shrewd opposition to his scheme
that could unravel the conspiracy. His infatuation with Bea further
complicates his plan. She is torn by her attraction to the charismatic
newcomer who wants to whisk her off to Dallas, her passion for the
land, and her secret love for Jake, who won't acknowledge his
feelings for her.
Graystone's supporters are convinced El Chico will have enough
water to survive with the pipeline but they don't have the funding.
Others think with prayer the area will return to the days where prairie
grass grew as high as the eyes of the millions of bison who used to
As the town sinks deeper and deeper into oblivion the diverse cast of
Texas characters continues to celebrate their unique, fun and
charming lifestyle with the belief if they pull together El Chico will
thrive and there will be a remarkable resolution to the hopeless
situation. Perhaps it is inevitable that El Chico will become another
barren, forlorn Texas ghost town powerless to support even these
To read more of Saving El Chico, and order from Amazon,
|TOM NEWELL - Trip to Barrow, Alaska - 2015
They were very generous with their time as they were busy loading a Ryan Air plane with
passengers and cargo with Jim shepherding passengers and Ferno driving a forklift.
They were very, very welcoming and gracious and just fun to talk with. Alaska is
incredible how much how much of it is so remote. Of course, when you're flying over it in
your own plane, alone, it can seem like forever before you get close enough to
civilization to be able to say to yourself Well, if I have to go down out here at least they'll
have a good chance of finding me. For instance, there are no highways into Barrow. All
shipments get there by air or barge (when the ice melts). The ice as still very present
when I was there in mid-June. The Yukon River is just immense and goes on forever.
And I swear there are more float planes and tail dragger airplane types than people in
To email Tom: firstname.lastname@example.org
I wanted to take Marty Hooper and Tom Raguse over there before it
was gone and have us walk through rooms re-living old memories.
As fate would have it, after several attempts to contact the builder
for permission, I drove by the house one day with a friend, Randy
McKinney (Bird Keeper at BHS 2001), and we saw there were
bulldozers at the house working away! My house was going-going
and nearly gone!
I called Marty and Tom and a crew and bless them, they were all
there the next day. Our full crew was shooting as the foundation
was ripped apart! It was traumatic but it turned out to be great film
I've entered the film several film festivals and was thrilled it was
accepted at the 45 year old Worldfest Film Festival, one of the
oldest in the world, and it's right here in Houston where it won a
major award. I've entered it in other festivals and will know soon
where it will next be accepted.
With rare 8mm film footage,Tick Tock Clock is a historical film
showing the fun, innocence and joy of 1950's teenage life in Texas
during the birth of rock and rol from those who played and danced
their way through it.
As we journey through time to 2014, three of these same teenage
friends from the 1950's, Marty, Tom and Gail, all now 70+ years of
age, meet at the old house the director grew up in to watch as
bulldozers tear up the foundation to make way for a mega mansion.
Memories and emotions tear at their hearts for what once was their
young life. Authentic 50s rock music, such as that of Buddy Holly,
surrounds the past moments of teenage bliss. Some Screen Shots
from the film:
|At Worldfest Film Festival Awards Dinner. Marty
Hooper Greenberg, Blaze Tucker and Gail Reaben.
Photo by Tina Tucker.
|Tom Raguse, Gail, Marty, Robert Leake,
Cinematoagrapher for film. Photo by
|Paying Hommage to
Ralph passed away in the 1990's.
Just a little over a year ago, I was attending a meeting of the Bellaire (City of) Historical Society, when I was
introduced to a young man named Randy McKinney who graduated from BHS in 2001. When I told him I
graduated in 1960, the first thing he said was, "Did you know Ralph Coatsworth?" My jaw dropped. Here was
someone, 40+ years after we were in school asking me about Ralph! After composing myself, my response was,
"Know him, he was my first car date!" Its seems Randy was a Bird Keeper too, like Ralph was, and the legend of
Ralph had come down all these decades from 1960 to Randy's class of 2001!
Randy never met Ralph but he so captured by Ralph's nearly half-century reputation that he did extensive
research on the history on him and on the Mascot, even documenting it on video. As an aside, he was actually
out in the courtyard with his video camera the Saturday at Bellaire during our 2000 reunion to talk and ask
questions about Ralph.
I took him to have lunch with Ben Coatsworth (Ralph's brother), Class of '61, and his family, and Randy
recorded his interview with them.
According to Ben, it was Ralph, who one day, and I'm condensing the story from more than a year ago, that was
talking about how the school needed a Mascot. Ben thinks he remembers he got together with the shop teacher
to work up a loose design. He got the Student Council involved and they made the first one out of paper mache.
Ben or some of the other birdkeepers can tell us more or correct what I've remembered from that lunch a year+
Anyway, after it was built, someone decided it needed a name. Mr. Andrews announced one morning over the
speakers in our homerooms that every class was to turn in a name for the Bird and every one would vote on it. I
was in Mrs. Dee's homeroom. I turned in "The Colonel" or "Colonel" and that name was chosen. There was no
prize or even mention I don't think! So, Ralph first created the Bird and I named it.
Because of Randy's admiration of Ralph, who again he never met, but so admired, he got the school to have a
another smaller Bird made as a companion to the big Bird. in honor of Ralph Coatsworth and his contribution to
Bellaire High School,. The school officially named it Little Ralph. Now, Ralph will always be remembered at
Bellaire High School and his legend will continue.
Ralph was the greatest friend to Bellaire High School and carried it's incredible, go-team and spirit wherever he
went. That spirit extended even to the City of Bellaire Water Tower but that's another story for the Rats and
Cutters to write. While he passed on many years ago, before the internet and this website, I want to express our
appreciation for his many contributions to our school and our lives.I feel fortunate that we remained friends until
shortly before he passed away in the 90's. I still miss him, especially when we have a Bellaire party or reunion!
Besides his other talents he was one heck of a dancer.
His brother Ben's email is: email@example.com
Taken shortly after the smaller bird was named after Ralph! Note his b/w
photo from high school on the far right! Ben Coatsworth ('61), in the white
vest, is just to the left of Ralph's picture.This photo was from 2000 I think. That's
Judye Galeener Hartman on the far left in the red shirt. Randy McKinney is
seated just under the "E" in Bellaire. The boys in the blue shirts are
|Ralph, Ben and sister Nancy around 7th grade
watching that new fangled gadget, television. That's their
Mom on the back left. Thanks to Nancy for the photo.
|Ralph and his wife Pat's beautiful children:
Ralph IV, Cathie Moore, Jimmy Coatsworth
and Ralph's wife, Pat.