Cicadas season nears end later this month

*State AP Wire, USA Today

A summer without the spastic flight, echoing song and discarded shells of cicadas is unthinkable for Sherry Jimerson Price.

She was raised with a love of the ancient insects and remembers collecting their abandoned husks to wear as broaches at her grandmother’s house, not far from where she and her husband live in Henderson.

Mrs. Price, 45, said this year, she has seen more cicadas and remnants of their shells than in the past.

“I think it’s because of the heat,” she said. “I can see them flying around in our trees, and there are a bunch of dead ones around here, too.”

She said the songs even sound louder this year. Continue reading Cicadas season nears end later this month

Highway 80’s Long-Lost Predecessor Remembered

*State AP Wire

CANTON – The history of Van Zandt County, from ancient times to the 20th century, rolls along the Old Dallas- Shreveport Road.

Before barbed wire fences and paved highways cut up the historic road, it was a seamless stretch of prehistoric trade routes from Dallas to Shreveport established by the Caddo.

“Their trails were just like today’s highways with lots of places and villages in between,” said Elvis Allen, a historian with the Van Zandt County Historical Commission. “It meandered the way of the land: village to village, watering hole to watering hole.”

Today, the road has evolved to meet the needs of a new generation.

U.S. Highway 80, which runs parallel to the historic road, “straightened out a lot of the crooks and turns” when the highway was built in 1924, Allen said.

However, through the wooded countryside, deep furrows and scars alongside highways and county roads in northern Van Zandt County give way to the original route the Caddo established.

Continue reading Highway 80’s Long-Lost Predecessor Remembered

Murals serve as symbols of community identity

*State AP Wire

MINEOLA — The unassuming eye could easily ignore the remnants of the past, tucked away in paintings in corners of East Texas buildings.

But these paintings in Kilgore, Longview, Mineola and Rusk post offices represent Depression-era artwork commissioned by one of the federal government’s largest New Deal agencies, the Works Progress Administration.

photo by Rachel Seymour for Tyler Morning Telegraph
By assisting professional artists in finding work during the Great Depression, the agency indirectly left behind a trail of history and culture found not in European museums, but in the familiar surroundings of their communities.
“They renewed communities at a time when communities were falling apart,” said Rachel Sailor, an art historian at The University of Texas at Tyler. “I feel like those murals can enact the same kind of community that they were intended to do in the 1930s.” Continue reading Murals serve as symbols of community identity

Farming for gold

*State AP Wire

GRAND SALINE – Dust from Tony Phillips’ sweet potato fields fills the leather creases across the toe of his workboots. Along the soles, salt from his second job cakes the rubber bottoms.

photo by Chris Vinn for Tyler Morning Telegraph

During harvest season, he easily puts in 20 hours a day – a full night at the Morton Salt Mine and a full day in his field.

Like the dwindling number of sweet potato farmers in East Texas, he kept a second job to have a backup to the exceedingly risky farming industry.

“I’ve got to be a farmer, an accountant, a salesman and a weatherman,” Phillips said, standing outside a warehouse stacked floor to ceiling with hundreds of crates of his sweet potatoes. Continue reading Farming for gold