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Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Research brings

back rain memories

While doing research for my memoirs, I found some photos of the 1950 flood that washed out the bridge on a river between Quitaque and Flomot. Also a newspaper clipping of Leon and his friends who rafted down the river while it was at flood stage. Last week when rain fell for several days, I was beginning to think we might have another such flood.

We have had some big rains in my 51 years in Pecos, and two of them flooded the town. The first came in 1973 after a general rain that fell steadily for 11 days. The whole country was saturated, and there was no place for the water to go. Even the shallow aquifer filled to overflowing, and water oozed from the ground for weeks afterward.

It was on a Sunday that flooding reached its peak. Water was pouring out of fields, gushing down barrow ditches, overflowing creek banks, making canals of streets, and invading homes.

I was managing editor for the Enterprise, so I grabbed a camera, enlisted my husband as driver, and we headed out to record the phenomenon for the Enterprise and for the history books. Everyone on the staff who could handle a camera had the same idea, as did Alton Hughes, who was writing a historical column for us at the time.

As a result, Monday's paper had full coverage of the flood, and our picture page helped win the team effort award that year in the Associated Press Managing Editor's contest.

I had retired as managing editor and was writing for the San Angelo Standard-Times about 10 years later, when we had another 11-day rain. I heard on the scanner that a wall of water was heading for Pecos from the mountains to the west and called my editor to warn him that flooding was imminent. He sent a columnist and a reporter to help me cover it.

Again, Leon took the wheel while I operated the camera, and we got some outstanding pictures. My story and photo appeared on the front page of the Standard-Times, and I was able to follow up with some interesting tales.

One involved the late Sheriff Raul Florez, the most colorful character I dealt with in my tenure as a reporter and editor. One of the rumors coming out of the flood was that the bridge over the Pecos River near Mentone had washed out.

I had been to Mentone during the height of the flooding, and the river wasn't even up much at that point. But to satisfy my editors, who had heard the rumor, I asked Sheriff Florez if the bridge had washed out.

"No, the bridge was not washed out," Florez said. "Me and Ras (DPS Sgt. Melton Rasberry) were up there, and if the bridge had washed out, you would find my drawers in the Imperial Reservoir."

Knowing my editors at the Standard-Times, I changed the word "drawers" to "pants," and the quote survived the cutting board.

I didn't enjoy covering the floods, despite the good stories and pictures they provided. However, I think covering the drought that has lasted more than 10 years has been worse.

After the Quitaque flood, the whole state of Texas was dry for the next 10 years, evoking a plethora of stories. San Angelo's Elmer Kelton wrote, "The Day It Never Rained" to chronicle the suffering of ranchers and farmers during that decade.

We at West Park Baptist Church sing a "rain" song every once in awhile as a prayer for God's intervention in our drought situation. The Sunday before it started, we sang "Showers of Blessing," so are taking the credit. You ranchers can send your donations to our treasurer, Selma Carrell.

"We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Romans 8:26b, NIV

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is the business manager of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears every third Tuesday of the month. She can be e-mailed at:

Sage View

Nuking Hiroshima was a good thing

The Enola Gay exhibit opened up at the National Air and Space Museum last month amid a chorus of whining from the weenies of the world.

The Enola Gay is the B-29 Super Fortress heavy bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. That bomb, along with the one dropped on Nagasaki, ended the war.

So, why are the weenies whining?

Because the exhibit fails to mention that the bomb killed more than 140,000 Japanese civilians.

For once, I agree with the weenies - at least in part.

Peter Kuznick, a professor at American University, backed by the likes of Oliver Stone, is leading this charge of the Light Weenie Brigade.

If it had been up to Pete and Oliver, we would not have used nukes to end the war.

Of course, the Weenie Brigade is also opposed to nuclear power in general, a United States that does not kowtow to the would-be socialist world government known as the United Nations, eating red meat, moms, baseball and apple pie.

It really chaps this crowd that we should display this killing machine in any way that makes America, the plane, and the men that flew her look good.

They want to use it as a pulpit to preach their no-nukes, America is evil, socialist Europe that brought us the horrors of two world wars is wonderful, no one is responsible for their own actions, blather.

In their history book Japan is the poor victim of capitalist America rather than the devil that killed over 1,000 Americans in a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and who then waged war in a manner so brutal it would make an Apache warrior blush.

Well, like I said, I agree with the weenies on this one.

On one point.

I agree completely that the display of the Enola Gay replica should mention the 140,000+ Japanese lives taken that day.

It should do so proudly.

If it were up to me I would paint 140,000 stick figures on the fuselage under the cockpit with x's over them, just like our boys did for missions flown, aircraft shot down, etc...

I am cruel and heartless, right?

Maybe. But I have known a lot of men who were sitting on islands and boats across the Pacific waiting for that final invasion. I have read about the Japanese preparations and listened to firsthand accounts of what our boys would have faced when the ramps went down on the landing boats.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the Publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

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