"In 2008, citizens of Stephenville gained national media attention when dozens of residents reported UFO's the size of a football field, similar to the historic Arizona mass sighting of March 1997." Says Wikipedia.
I received a letter from the one and only Jane Hickie, one of the most effective and smartest of the late Gov. Ann Richards' strong right arms when she was in power in Texas. (Jane was a particular thorn in the flesh for Ann's enemy Karl Rove.)
But Jane has made a post-Ann life in the well-known little city of Stephenville, Texas, population about 17,000, where she and her partner, writer Michele Dunkerley, run a ranch and branch out into all kinds of community good works.
Here's Jane for the delectation of Ann Richards' trivia:
"These columns you have been doing on burlesque are so fabulous, Liz. At least I have some idea what you are thinking about. ... We need rain here. But the cows and calves are fat, there is a huge red bull in the pasture, and I just blew away an armadillo that was rooting up the front yard.
"Our neighbor, the singer Jewel, was just great in last week's biopic on June Carter Cash.
"Michele bought the saloon and bank building on the town square. Both these were James Riely Gordon buildings, but he finally ended up in NYC where he built the Gramercy Park apartments. He also built courthouses all over Texas and they are being restored. I personally bought the church at the corner of our ranch. It is becoming the Venable Hill Events Center. The Venables gave the land for a church, a school and a cemetery all over what is now our property. The Methodists died out so if you need hymnals, pianos, a paint-by-numbers Last Supper or a blond Jesus, not to mention pews galore; I am your girl!
"Michele and a friend, Metta Collier, are cleaning up the Bosque River, building wetlands and an eight-mile trail through town with the help of a National Parks Service grant. And, Michele is thinking on her next book and researching Helen Corbitt, who died in 1978 but was the chef called "The Tastemaker of the Century" in Texas. We went to Dallas recently to interview the 97-year-old Louise Cowan, who was a friend of Corbitt's. She is now writing a book on William Faulkner and says that 'The Snopes family has taken over the Texas education system!'
"We are taking Michele's niece and friend, ages 16, to New York, London, Paris and Normandy. My fear is that these teenagers will think every trip in the future bears a resemblance to this grandeur. But their "Auntie Mame" itch must be satisfied.
"I am coming back to New York to see Susan Tanaka of your pal Pete Peterson's Foundation. I'd like to buy you lunch on June 18 at Michael's."
Great I say! I'll have just recorded for Fox's Lips-and-Ears TV show and I'll be made up and looking good with false eyelashes. How can I refuse the dynamic Jane?
What are the odds of my having two sets of friends in the town of Stephenville, Texas, even though we are all ages and light years and probably ideologies apart? But also a big deal in this former Comanche territory, is my first college roommate, Nita Mae Boyd, onetime wife of the late champion Cowboy of the World Louis Brooks. She is now wed to Texas entrepreneur G.K. Lewallen. He owns the western store the Grand Entry, which is an institution in Texas.
Both Nita and G.K. Lewallen are in the Cowboy Hall of Fame. They even tried to get me admitted at the same time that Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor was taken in and I didn't know a spur from a lasso. So, I decided not to fake it. Stephenville has more members in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association than any other community in the world.
You've heard about this town because our quote at the beginning says in 2008 its citizens kept citing UFO's in the skies and it caused worldwide attention. CNN's Larry King covered this story and so did the History Channel.
The U.S. Air Force has stonewalled any such story!
And I already imagine that even if I went to Stephenville to visit, I might not manage a rapprochement between these two sets of my longtime friends. I have a feeling Jane and Michele are lonely Democrats and Nita and G.K. are conservative Texas Republicans.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
A chatty letter from Texas
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