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May 6, 1997



Peggy McCracken

Mountains, ranches
kites and marbles

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I know you've been waiting with bated breath for a report on my
vacation, which I spent in part at Fort Davis. Thank God I left before
the shooting started, and I refused to go back when Mac caught me by
cellular phone in Sanderson. Hordes of reporters taking pictures of each
other is not my idea of a vacation, nor even a work day. And Rick
McLaren has caused enough trouble. I have no intention of letting him
mar my fun.

The highlight of my week was Saturday and Sunday when my son, David,
and family met me in Sanderson. We climbed a mountain behind the Desert
Air Motel, flew kites in the somewhat cold and very windy weather, then
pigged out at the Kountry Kitchen. After dinner, we holed up in grandson
Jason's motel room (he and his friend, Ryan, had two beds and a table).
First we played a little marbles, but I quickly lost my taw (shooter) in
the wall heater. Then we broke out the double-nine dominoes for a quick
round, which Helen won. She also won at cards in a game I had not played
before but liked. Casino, I think they called it.

We talked briefly about making the Saturday night dance, but opted for
an early bedtime instead. A late Sunday brunch, church, and a round of
HORSE and 21-or-bust on the school basketball court. We wanted to tour
the museum, but it didn't open at 3 p.m. like the sign promised, so we
just ate again and then parted ways - they to Del Rio and me back to
church, where I learned about the Fort Davis flareup.

Had a nice visit in the home of the Sanderson News publisher, Albert
Gilbreath. He told me what he had seen on television about Fort Davis,
and his daughter called with details she had learned from the Internet.
But our conversation was mostly about his wife's beautiful artwork and
about our Christian experience.

The two days leading up to the weekend were some of the busiest of my
life, but still a vacation, because I saw new country and was out of
telephone range of the office. First I went to Terlingua, where I
interviewed two members of my church who were there on a three-day
mission trip. Spent the night in Lajitas, where I gathered gobs of
information for the tourism website I am developing for sale to hotels,
restaurants and other tourism-service businesses.

Driving upriver to Presidio, I marveled at the beauty of the mountains,
desert plants, deer crossing the road and the Rio Grande itself. I did
get carsick from the ups, downs and curves, but felt better after a
salad lunch in a little Mexican food place in Presidio. I phoned ahead
for an appointment at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, where a "Bed & Breakfast"
publication said an overnight stay costs $420. I just had to find out
what that $420 entitles a guest to. That story will be in the Enterprise
later, so watch for it to find out what I learned.

Stopping in Marfa, I visited with Robert Halpern, owner/publisher of
the Big Bend Sentinel and International, Presidio Paper. Then on to Fort
Davis and the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute to buy some desert
plants. Judge Lucius Bunton nearly dropped his teeth when I told him I
paid $18 for a creosote bush. Yes, I know that was silly. But it was
there. And it was sleeting, and I was in a hurry. I did get some pretty
yucca and other flowering plants.

While in Fort Davis, I had dinner at the famous Limpia Hotel dining
room and stayed in a suite at the Veranda country inn. Both are fabulous
places, and I recommend them if you are in the area. Saw Jim and
Jeannene Ivy at the Limpia. They report snow and sleet at Indian Lodge,

I had lunch and breakfast at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, going and
coming from Sanderson. Visited at Mitchell's Furniture Warehouse in
Marathon, a gigantic place filled with all kinds of furniture at low,
low prices. Such a nice man, Mr. Mitchell. Then back to the Alpine
Avalanche, a stop at Big Bend Regional Medical Center for an interview
with Jeff Davis County Sheriff Steve Bailey, a former Pecosite. The
Rowes weren't talking yet, Steve said, and I missed their press
conference later in the day. Hurried on to Fort Stockton, had a lovely
lunch at Sarah's Cafe, missed the Pioneer publisher but had a quick chat
with the chamber exec about tourism. By 3 p.m. I was back in the office
to report on the week, stopped by federal court to see what our famous
Judge Bunton was doing, then went home and plopped down for a breather.

Leon said it was a wonder I didn't get knocked in the head down on the
river. But I wasn't worried. God was with me all the way, keeping me
safe and helping me solve the myriad of problems that could have ruined
the whole trip.

Oh, I left out one of the most important aspects of the entire
vacation. On Wednesday before I left for Terlingua, I went to Midland to
buy a laptop computer and took my granddaughter, Amanda,
great-granddaughter, Jasmine Lee, and friend Brenda Virgin to lunch at
the Olive Garden. Took their photos with my digital camera, and they
came out great! Now instead of wallet photos, I can show a full-page
color photo of my great-grand in the first-birthday dress I gave her.

You may be wondering why I am chattering on. It's because nobody took
the "Today in History" columns off the wire while I was gone, and I need
to fill up space. Just quit reading if you get tired.

Aren't vacations wonderful? I can hardly wait for the next one. My
siblings have planned a get-together in July when my baby brother comes
over from England. That should be a blast.

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not
parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek
its own, is not provoked; thinks no evil..." 1 Cor. 13:4,5, NIV.
Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears
each Tuesday.

Your Views

Army veteran offended by official's statement

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To the Editor:
I noticed in the Enterprise a prison officer referring to the our
military uniform. "The new uniform will take away the stigma of a
military uniform."

I was proud to wear the Army uniform before and after my comrades and I
fought the enemy in the South Pacific in 1942.

It saddened me very much to read that statement. It was in the April
29th paper.

Harold Gustafson


Tax reform resolution offers simple, low rate

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This Friday, May 9 is Tax Freedom Day. That's the day when Americans
stop working to pay their tax bills and start working to provide for
themselves and their families. Doesn't New Year's Even seem like a long
time ago? Well, that's how long you have been working for the federal

Each year Tax Freedom Day falls later and later. Since 1993 it has been
pushed back one week. The tax burden has become so immense that, now
Americans are forced to give more of their incomes to the IRS than they
spend on food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined. Americans
are fed up, and rightly so. Americans want, need and deserve a better,
simpler system.

One administration Treasury Department official recently had the gall to
assert that Americans who want to keep more of their own money are
motivated by "selfishness." Looks like they're satisfied with the fact
that American families and businesses spend 5 billion-plus hours filling
out nearly 500 different tax forms. Well, some folks in Congress aren't
satisfied with the status quo and aren't going to take it anymore.

To get the ball rolling toward debate on ta reform, I am introducing a
tax reform resolution. The resolution is simple. It says that the
current code is too complex and should be replaced with a new, low,
single-rate system and that the IRS, as we know it, must be abolished.

Everybody agrees that the current system is inefficient and unfair.
Whether it should be replaced with a flat tax or a consumption tax or
something else, is something we need to discuss. These ideas are better
than what we've got now. We won't get out of the mess we're in unless we
start talking about the issues. Americans deserve a simple, fairer

Henry Bonilla represents the 23rd Congressional District in the U.S.
House of Representatives.

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