This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for April 30, 2020, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.
It’s hard for me to believe that I have been writing for newspapers in East Bernard, first for the Tribune and then for the Express, for 28 years, writing over 1,400 “Images” columns alone, plus numerous news articles and feature stories. A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me if the well wasn’t going to run dry pretty soon. My response to his question was and is that every week I think the well has run dry, and then, all of a sudden, I feel inspired to write something. But, one day, it will.
That’s an appropriate metaphor, because Pegasus, the flying horse in Greek mythology, kicks open a well of inspiration for writers. The problem is I have been taking out buckets of the waters of inspiration from that well for a lot more than 28 years. As Feature Editor for the Giddings High School Traveler, I wrote feature stories, similar to my “Images” column from 1949 to 1951. Then as Feature Editor and Co-Editor of the Jolly Roger’s Log at Blinn College, I wrote more light-hearted romps and stomps for two years. And, as a journalism major at Sam Houston State Teachers College, I wrote more features and news stories. I’ve been at it far too long, but Pegasus keeps kicking up another bucketful.
It must be in our family DNA. We see it all the way back to the 1800’s, when my grandmother’s first cousin, J. A. Proske owned and published a newspaper. I am indebted to Daphne Dalton Garrett and her excellent book, Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, 1899-1949, for details about J. A. and his newspaper. J. A. Proske, who started out farming in Serbin, Texas, in 1885, moved to Giddings in 1899, where he founded, owned, and published a German and Wendish newspaper, The Deutsches Volksblatt. Most of the paper was in German, but a portion was in Wendish.
The Volksblatt published a variety of interesting features, including chatty columns written by folks from the small towns in the Lee County area, such as Warda, Fedor, Loebau, Manheim, and Thorndale. There was a very fine poet, Michael Sohns, in Loebau, Texas, whose poems were published regularly in the paper. J. A. was a patriotic American and saw no reason not to publish a paper in the German language, even when World War I made German unpopular. In 1918, J. A. ran this note regularly in his paper: “This is not a German newspaper, but an American newspaper published in the German language.” He ran many pictures of the American flag in The Volksblatt.
After J. A. sold his newspaper in 1938, it eventually became an English language paper, The Giddings Star, with a German section in it. Very few people could still read Wendish by then. And by the time my generation came along, we couldn’t even read German very well, if at all.
The family’s pursuits in journalism continued after my entry into the newspaper world when my youngest daughter wrote for the East Bernard High School Brahma Beat, and after high school, worked for The Daily Texan, and earned two degrees in journalism from the University of Texas. She then worked for the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper before earning an MFA in design from the Tyler School of Art, after which she went to work as a designer for book publishing companies. And so the beat went on.
It looks like the family proclivity toward journalism, newspapers, and publishing won’t end with my daughter’s generation. My youngest granddaughter, who had followed in her aunt’s footsteps by working enthusiastically on the EBHS Brahma Beat before the Coronavirus closed the schools, and who continues to work on the school paper now that classes are online. In fact, she and her fellow journalists just finished a current issue of The Brahma Beat, and plan another before the school year is over. So, in spite of COVID19, the Beat goes on! She told me she’d like to be a newspaper Editor someday. She’s good, too; she often edits my “Images” columns, like this one, before I send them off! The flair and fervency for journalism has stayed alive for many decades in our family!
So, to borrow a term from our town’s high school newspaper, the beat goes on.
Ray Spitzenberger is a retired teacher and pastor, and author of a book, It Must Be the Noodles.