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Texas Standard: February 18, 2021

What did ERCOT know and when did they know it? As millions of Texans still struggle with power outages pressure builds for clear answers. Members of Congress among others demanding straightforward explanations for the collapse of the power grid and uneven distribution of so-called rolling blackouts that left many in the dark and cold for days. Compounding matters, sources for safe water drying up in several parts of Texas as supplies are shut off to deal with cracked pipes and treatment issues. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Artist Tom Lea’s ‘Sarah In The Summertime’

As Valentine’s Day is approaching, I thought I’d share a romantic story about one of Texas’s greatest artists, Tom Lea.  This is a love story, expressed in one painting, titled “Sarah in the Summertime.”  I’ll tell you the story of that painting and how it came to be.

Tom Lea was a true renaissance artist in the sense that he was both a gifted painter and writer. He was a muralist and a novelist. His murals are, to this day, in public buildings in Washington, D.C., El Paso, his home town and Odessa. President George W. Bush had one of his paintings hanging in the Oval Office. Lea’s novels, “The Brave Bulls” and “The Wonderful Country” are considered Southwestern classics.  His two-volume history of the King Ranch can be found in any home with a good Texas library.

Tom met Sarah in 1938, when he was working on his celebrated “Pass of the North” mural in El Paso.  He was invited to a small dinner party where she was also a guest. Sarah was from Monticello, Illinois, and in town visiting friends. He was immediately enchanted by her and decided that evening that he wanted to marry her. Tom had the good sense not to confess to that wish right there. No. He waited until their first date two nights later to pop the question. She didn’t say “yes” until he met her parents. Several months later, they were married. It was a storybook romance that spanned 63 years.

Tom and Sarah were only apart for one extended period of time during their marriage, and that was during World War II, when he was an artist for Life Magazine, embedded with the U.S. Navy. He documented the realities of the war in drawings and paintings, the most famous of which was “The Two Thousand Yard Stare.” Naturally, Tom missed Sarah terribly every day.

Here I will let the famous novelist take over the narration. He wrote:

I had a snapshot of Sarah which I carried in my wallet during the whole war. I looked at it, homesick, all over the world. When the war was over, the first painting I began was a full-length, life-size portrait of Sarah in the same dress, the same pose, the same light as the little snapshot.

I worked a long time making a preliminary drawing in charcoal and chalk, designing the glow of light and the placement of the figure against a clearness of blue sky, the mountains like Mount Franklin, the leafy trees and green grass and summer sunlight, before I transferred the drawing to the canvas. It was a detailed and precisely measured drawing. For instance, Sarah’s height of 5 foot 6 in high heels was drawn on the canvas exactly 5 ft 6. The painting was done with devotion and without haste. First the background, then the figure, and finally her head. I remember that I worked 26 days painting the pattern of all the little flowers on the dress. … 2 years after I began work on it, longer than any other painting ever took me, I signed it framed it and gave it to Sarah. I see it everyday in our living room and I see Sarah [too]. 20 years have passed. “Sarah in the Summertime” means more to me that I could ever put on canvas.

Adair Margo, his agent and decadeslong friend, and founder of the Tom Lea Institute, told me that Tom Lea would never let that painting leave the house, not for any showing or exhibition. Only once was she able to convince him to put it in a local exhibit, but only for a few hours, and it had to be back that night.

Tom and Sarah are buried side by side in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. There’s one headstone with divided inscriptions for each. On Sarah’s side it says, from Tom, “Sarah and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side. It is the side to see the day coming. Not the side to see the day is gone. The best day is the day coming, with work to do, with eyes wide open, with the heart grateful.”

Texas Standard: January 28, 2021

As the governor announces a plan to get more COVID-19 vaccines to rural Texas, a major urban county could be reaching a vaccination milestone. El Paso is fast approaching vaccination levels of 10 percent, though it’s a trade off that could leave many in areas hardest hit by the virus without being vaccinated. That story coming up. Also, the impediments to getting vaccines to people in more rural parts of the Lone Star State. Speaking of: president Biden under growing pressure to do more at the federal level to reach out to help rural communities nationwide. And is tech trendsetter Elon Musk getting into the Texas gas biz? Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 27, 2020

Today we once again present our Ofrendas: our offering of sounds honoring the lives of those who have left us.This a re-broadcast of Ofrenda – A Decimation of People, A Celebration of Life. We’ll take a look at the soothing tradition of remembering the dead through food, color and music. In a year when Texas has been hit again by natural disasters, a global pandemic and an economy that is fighting to stay afloat, We’ll see Texans pulling together to feed each other. And how the mystery of the Monarch butterfly invites us to think about re-birth and the afterlife. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 16, 2020

Texas’ top law enforcement official Ken Paxton faces more legal hot water, this time from some of his own former top aides. We’ll have the latest. Also, a city’s convention center transformed into a field hospital as COVID-19 cases soar in El Paso. We’ll have more. And lessons for the lockdown era: a book to help kids cope with the Coronavirus. Also the twists and turns of Texas elections without straight ticket voting. And we’ll take a closer look at what drove so many young latinos and latinas to the polls. Plus the re-release of a mid-century classic offers a critical re-examination of Texas small town life. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 6, 2020

The magic number is 270. Is this the end of the general election of 2020? Texas-based political analyst Matthew Dowd joins us for an overall look at where we stand in the presidential contest and what it means long term for Texas. Also as COVID-19 spikes once more, it’s not just El Paso and more rural hotspots that need to be concerned. We’ll have an overview of the state of the virus in the Lone Star State as we approach the holidays. And new findings about covid spread among Texas contruction workers raising danger signs nationwide, plus the week that was in Texas politcis with the texas tribune and a whole lot more when the TS gets underway right after this.

Texas Standard: November 3, 2020

It’s the final countdown to what some fear may not be a final countdown tonight. As Texans go to the polls, we’ll tell you the latest and what to watch for. With a presidential race that appears to be more competitive in Texas than it has been for decades, and 8 million voters having already cast a ballot in Texas, and more in line as we speak, Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post and Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune join us live to talk about the issues on this election day. Also a closer look at how the vote counting process will play out across the Lone Star State, professor Steven Vladeck with the legal issues at play and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 23, 2020

News of the first FDA-approved COVID-19 treatment comes at a time when cases in Texas are starting to spike. We’ll explore the details and what’s next. And: Did you get a chance to watch the presidential debate last night? What are your thoughts? We’ll have a recap. Also: A new documentary about the life of Horton Foote who won an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Plus: The week in Texas politics with our friends from The Texas Tribune and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 14, 2020

A spike in COVID-19 cases in El Paso prompts the governor to send a surge of medical teams and equipment, we’ll have the latest. Plus, with early voting now officially underway, an overview of how to cast a ballot in Texas. And a claim that property crime is going up amid a cutback in the police department’s budget in the Texas capitol city. Politifact checks it out. Also tens of thousands of layoffs and furloughs: Texas based airlines send Washington an SOS and warn of greater turbulence ahead. And one of this year’s cover stories: the changing face of the American magazine. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 5, 2020

After first asking for an extension to complete the census count, a sudden u-turn. The impact on Texas could last for a decade or more, we’ll have details. Also, more women are unemployed now than at any time since the late 1940’s, and women of color are among the hardest hit. What some are calling America’s first female recession, and what’s behind it. And residents along the gulf coast finding more effective ways to deal with an active hurricane season amid a pandemic. Plus a claim that 1 in 3 texans can’t access health insurance. A Politifact check and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 4, 2020

New numbers on COVID-19 testing in Texas tell us what, exactly? An investigative report by the Houston Chronicle says many Coronavirus test results are not included in official counts trying to chart the spread of COVID-19. We’ll hear why not and what it means for efforts to stem the spread of the virus. Also, El Paso students reflect on the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern U.S. history, one year on. And newsman Dan Rather on a plan to improve education. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 31, 2020

Ready for the new school year? School administrators across the Lone Star State say wait a minute. We’ll explore. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton offers guidance but, it’s not enough. What school administrators are asking for. Could local police academies be scrapped? Are they a natural place to trim city budgets? We check in with one of Texas’ top police academy experts. What Title 42 Expulsions mean, our report from Mexico City. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 17, 2020

For many school districts: competing mandates from state leaders and local health officials leaving teachers parents and kids in limbo. Our conversation with superintendent of EL Paso ISD on the practical challenges of reopening public schools. Also, more on a newly unveiled proposal to cut 130 million dollars from state health services as the Coronavirus fight continues. And 5 years after the death of Sandra Bland, the mark she left at her alma mater, and on a movement. Plus the week in politics with the Texas Tribune and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 13, 2020

5 years after the death of Sandra Bland, how much has and hasn’t changed? A conversation with two top Texas lawmakers on the changes to criminal justice in Texas since the death of Sandra Bland and what more needs to be done. Also, how Texas colleges and universities are trying to address changes in student visa rules. And as organizers push for greater Latino representation at the polls, a parallel initiative to preserve the history of one of the groups that led the push. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 28, 2020

Stay at home has done its job, but it’s getting to be time to get back to work, says Governor Abbott. We’ll take a look at the blueprint for the incremental re-opening of Texas. Plus the role of testing and contact tracing. Also, how a city that brands itself the wedding capital of the world hopes to outlast the wedding bell blues brought on by COVID-19 concerns. And from bluebonnets to blue light, screen time in Texas under quarantine. Is too much still considered too much? Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 2, 2020

Despite big spending by the candidates in Texas including rally’s, robo calls and door to door canvassing, many Texas democrats say they’re still not sure who’ll they’ll vote for tomorrow. We’ll hear how they’re doing the political math. Plus, fear fueling a major price drop in a clash between the Texas energy industry and the coronavirus. All of that and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 7, 2020

In what’s been described as the worst anti-Latino mass shooting in U.S. history, an alleged shooter indicted on federal hate crime charges, we’ll have the latest. Other stories were tracking: high benzene levels outside 6 Texas refineries setting off alarms among industry watchdogs, we’ll take a closer look. Also, health officials in San Antonio prepare for a coronavirus quarantine at a military base. Plus the week that was in Texas politics and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 15, 2019

A show of resilience in El Paso: for the first time doors re open at the site of the August mass shooting at a WalMart, we’ll have the latest. Also, the Supreme Court hands a rare victory to plaintiffs trying to hold gunmakers liable in mass shooting cases. And how to make democracy better? Smarter ballots. We’ll hear one professor’s big idea. Plus the week that was in Texas politics from the Texas Tribune and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 14, 2019

Hundreds gather to protest the Ft. Worth police shooting of an innocent woman inside her own home. Less than two weeks after the Amber Guyger trial, another police shooting inside an innocent person’s home raising profound questions about the use of lethal force by police, we’ll have details. Also, time for a rethink about rebuilding on the coast? How water unites and divides us, our series Drop by Drop begins. And why a Texas state researcher says the War on Drugs has unintentionally become a war on the climate. All of that and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 28, 2019

As fall approaches the political season heats up: and a shift in the role of Texas in one of the most consequential election seasons in modern memory. Coming up a conversation with Gromer Jeffers, political writer for the Dallas Morning News, on why the Texas factor in the 2020 election year goes way beyond the presidential race. Also the homeless crisis in San Francisco: most of those homeless are Texans, says California’s governor. Politifact takes a closer look. And an especially wooly war for survival in the Trans Pecos. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard: