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Lana Payne Barnett
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Lonely Graves - an Introduction
Lonely Graves, a Texas Murder Trilogy Journalist and
novelist Pete Hamill once said, “There is a growing feeling that perhaps Texas
is really another country, a place where the skies, the disasters, the
diamonds, the politicians, the women, the fortunes, th...
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HOTEL TULIA
                                        HOTEL TULIA Growing up in Tulia I remember the old Hotel
Tulia, it was where Tiny Preston, our “gentle giant” resided. Tiny,
half brother to “Amarillo Slim,” would respond when asked how tall he
was, "6 feet 14 i...
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                                       HOTEL TULIA Growing up in Tulia I remember the old Hotel
Tulia, it was where Tiny Preston, our “gentle giant” resided. Tiny,
half brother to “Amarillo Slim,” would respond when asked how tall he
was, "6 feet 14 in...
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HATS OFF TO THE COWBOY BOOT   T exas
designated the cowboy boot as the official state footwear in May, 2007 thanks
to the efforts of Social Studies teacher Kay Pechacek and her 7th grade
students at Bleyl Middle School in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston. M...
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Streetcars in Amarillo Electric streetcar lines were opened for transit by the Amarillo Street Railway System in Ama...
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TEXAS PLAINS TRAIL Region Lana Barnett at TPTR Roundup Photo by: Jim Brokenbek A great big “Happy Birthday” to Texas Pl...
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                             WHAT A DEAR, JOHN

I have many Facebook friends I have never met; most have come from my Facebook site “Panhandle Tidbits.” One of those is John Brooks of Dimmitt, 30 miles west of Tulia. I don’t know why John and my paths never crossed because we both were in the newspaper business at the same time. I worked for the Canyon News and John the Castro County News and Hereford Brand. I met many newspaper people through the years but, unfortunately, not John.

I first became aware of him when he would comment on Panhandle Tidbits and it quickly became apparent that he knew a lot about the history of our part of the state. We eventually became personal Facebook friends. Then one day I learned that he had been inducted into the esteemed Panhandle Press Association Hall of Fame during the 103rd PPA Convention on April 5th of this year. Wow, what an honor and was I impressed.

To be among legends like Gene Howe, H.M. Baggarly, Wes Izzard and Mary Kate Tripp, among others, is a great tribute. Below is the write-up in Panhandle Publisher, the online publication of the Panhandle Press Association:

“John Brooks’ résumé includes working at the Castro County News from 1967 to 1973, then from 1984 to 1987 and again from 1993 to 1997. He worked at the HSU Brand at Hardin-Simmons University from 1973 to 1974 and the Hereford Brand from 1987 to 1993 and rejoined the Here-ford Brand staff in 2012. He was an active member of Panhandle Press Association from 1984 to 1997. He served on the board of the association from 1987 to 1993, including a term as President from 1992 to Jan. 10, 1993. Brooks has received many awards through the years, including a Personal School Bell Award in 1991 from the Texas State Teachers Association for education coverage in Hereford. He has received dozens of individual and staff awards from PPA and Texas Press Association. Brooks left the Hereford Brand in January 2012 due to health reason, but he continues to write a weekly column.”

At the time of induction Hereford Brand General Manager/Managing Editor Dana Jameson described Brooks as a great man with a good heart toward people who possesses excellent writing skills.

“John is a prolific writer. Anybody who has had any contact with John, or read anything he has written, or listened to any of his broadcasts, they have learned from it. They have come away enlightened. The man can just write.” Jameson said.

Over the past months John and I have messaged back and forth, and he always has something interesting to relate, below is from one of his messages:

“Back in the 70s and early 80s I was a radio guy who moonlighted with the paper. Later, from 1984-97, was newspaper guy who moonlighted on the radio, doing sports. That was a tough job, covering all those state championships. I was very fortunate to live here and work here when I did, with a hometown boy in Congress (Hance) and some leaders on a national stage in various fields. Once had Anwar Sadat in Dimmitt ... not too shabby lol.”

John is not only a great writer, but an incredible photographer as well. He shot the gorgeous photo  below recently near Hart, a few miles southeast of Dimmitt. And…he is great at predicting weather. A lot of Facebook friends tune in to see what John has to say if bad weather is expected, and most times he gets it right. He not only tells you what’s going to happen, but where and why.  Goose Ramey would be proud.

I’ve invited John to come to Tulia and let me treat him to a meal at the El Camino Dining Room so we can meet face to face and talk Panhandle history, newspapering, or maybe weather. Someday soon I hope he takes me up on the invitation.
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