Stories From Texas

Texas Standard: June 30, 2021

To declare a disaster or to not declare a disaster? That is the question before counties along the border. The disaster declarations are part of a bigger plan from Governor Abbott that includes his wall. We’ll talk about that in light of his visit to the border with former president Trump. We’ll also look at how Abbott ending federal unemployment benefits also ends state benefits for some Texans. And Bastrop is growing. We’ll look at the plans for a new state of the art film studio. And speaking of growth, Lubbock has a plan for its growth over the next 20 years. Will communities often forgotten be included this time? Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 16, 2021

Governor Greg Abbott says he wants to build a border wall. We’ll take a look at how he intends to pay for it and who is coming to visit. Plus, methane and other emissions are a risk around gas wells. In Arlington, many of these wells sit relatively close to homes and businesses…namely, daycares. We’ll have more. Also ranking members of the Texas House of Representatives from most conservative to most liberal reveals some interesting insights. We’ll explain. And we’ll fact-check a claim about Austin’s murder rate. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 2, 2021

The walkout at the capitol over voting restrictions sparks one kind of response from the governor, but a different tone from the GOP House speaker. As governor Abbott threatens to withhold legislative pay over the house’s failure to pass a restrictive voting bill, the GOP speaker of the House defends the democratic walkout that scuttled the bill. Also in parts of Texas hardest hit by COVID-19, vaccination rates now surpass those of the rest of the state. We’ll hear why. And the real death toll from the winter freeze and power outages, a new report claims a massive undercount.Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 5, 2021

Supporters call it constitutional carry, some law enforcement officials call it dangerous policy. As the Texas senate appears poised to pass a rule allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit, Austin’s top police official weighs in on why he’s opposing such a change. Also, if you’re a renter should you be told you’re living in a flood zone? A proposed state law may make that mandatory. And the race to get more Texans vaccinated reaches a tipping point, and some wonder whether herd immunity is still do-able. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 21, 2021

Guilty on all counts. As Texans react to the verdict in the killing of George Floyd. The message: a just verdict, but not justice. Not without meaningful reforms to policing. We’ll hear from George Floyd’s former hometown of Houston, and from other voices across Texas, reacting to yesterday’s murder conviction of a white former police officer. Also you’ve heard of the UK strain, a Brazilian strain, now researchers at Texas A&M report a Texas mutation of COVID-19. What this means for vaccination efforts and the ongoing pandemic fight. And a Politifact check about herd immunity claims. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 7, 2021

The standardized STAAR test is set to go fully online soon statewide. But a glitch in testing this week has many wondering are we ready, or not? We’ll look at details. Other stories we’re tracking: the growing controversy over so-called vaccine passports quickly becoming a new culture war flashpoint. Are mandated certifications of vaccinations ethical? A closer look at some of the underlying considerations. And home prices skyrocketing in Texas cities, but if you’re thinking you can escape this trend by moving to rural Texas…think again. Also, the best chess team in the world? Look no further than the Rio Grande Valley. All of those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 10, 2021

The wait for a vaccine and the frustration of many over even getting on a list. We put some questions to a doctor on the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel today on the Texas Standard. So how is Texas allocating vaccines and why did the state open up phase 1B wider than the CDC recommendations? We get some answers. We’ll also explore the equity of vaccine distribution… and whether should teachers be higher on the priority list. Plus a push by Texas sports team to legalize betting. And the new voice that’s come out in hesitation. And Texas through the lens of a new PBS Nature documentary. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 13, 2021

The Texas legislature has gaveled into session with a new house speaker and big news on the budget front. We’ll hear more on what’s happening at the Texas capitol. Plus from the nations capitol, a conversation with a U.S. congressman from the Rio Grande Valley on the realities ahead on the presidential impeachment front. And with the muting of the president on social media…a new conversation about the future of big tech and free speech. Also, the completion of an historic sculpture in Galveston more than a hundred years in the making. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: December 2, 2020

With Texas reporting new record high numbers of Coronavirus cases, a warning from Washington that more needs to be done, we’ll have details. Also, as the fight against COVID-19 continues, setbacks reported in the war against human trafficking in Texas. Plus high hopes versus realistic expectations: with change at the White House, what Texas immigrant rights advocates think they’ll see when it comes to changes on the ground. And rarely has a nation been so well served by a people so ill treated. Now the postal service set to celebrate the Japanese American soldiers who saved thousands of Texans in WWII. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 4, 2020

A new political landscape in Texas? Not quite. On the day after the general election, what has changed, what hasn’t, any why? The dominant narrative in the run up to election day was how an historic turnout in a state seldom considered in play in recent years might change the political map of the Lone Star State. Notably: the power of younger voters, the Latino vote, and the fight for the suburbs. Donald Trumps six point margin of victory, and republican retention of control of the Texas house raise many questions about expectations and assumptions in the run up. We’ll explore that and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 7, 2020

A democratic presidential campaign raising the stakes big time in Texas. We’ll follow the money and what its telling us. Also, imagine dropping your absentee ballot in the mail, and a few days after the election finding something unexpected in your mailbox: your unopened ballot. Concerns grow in Dallas county over problems coping with mail in ballots during an election season likely to include many of them. Also as the stakes heat up in the Texas race for U.S. Senate. Politifact check weighs in on a claim by the incumbent. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: September 23, 2020

Less than 3 weeks until early voting in Texas and already some numbers are in: registration shatters records. Jeremy Wallace of the Houston Chronicle with more on voter registration records being set, what it tells us and what it doesn’t when it comes to the election outcomes. Also decriminalizing homelessness: one year on after a change in laws in the Texas capitol city. How much of a difference is it making, and are other Texas cities following suit? And far fewer cars on Texas roadways, why aren’t traffic fatalities far fewer as well? Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

The Tragic Story of Dora Hand

My friend, Jac Darsnek, owner of the always remarkable Traces of Texas webpage sent me a message recently. He asked if I had ever told the story of Dora Hand on the radio. I said, no, but I will. Thanks for the suggestion Jac. Here we go:

Dora Hand, many said, was the most beautiful woman in Dodge City, back in the seventies. That would be the 1870’s. To her rare beauty you may add an angelic, hypnotic voice that mesmerized all the cowboys who saw her perform at the Lady Gay Theater. She was a nightly singer there and performed also at the Alhambra Saloon. The cowboys coming in off the range from long cattle drives flocked to hear her. She sang in church, too, and those same cowboys, many of them strangers to church, would go just to hear her sing. Dora was much loved in the city for her singing and also because she shared her substantial income quite liberally with the less fortunate of Dodge.

Dodge City Mayor Jim “Dog” Kelley also owned the Alahambra and as such, was Hand’s benefactor and protector and probable boyfriend. One cowboy from Texas, the wealthy and handsome James “Spike” Kenedy came to hear her sing and was soon infatuated with her. Dog and Spike eventually got into a bar-room brawl over their dislike for one another and Mayor Kelley spiked, Spike, head-first embarrassingly into the dirt-street outside.

Spike Kenedy could not let this slight go unanswered. He left town a while and bought himself the fastest horse he could find so that he could outrun any posse that might pursue him. Then he returned one night to the mayor’s house and fired two shots through the plank wood at the spot where he knew Dog slept. Kenedy then raced off on his fast horse for what he thought was a clean get-away. Unbeknownst to him, Mayor Kelley was not home. Dora was house-sitting. Spike had killed her.

Famed Dodge City Sheriff Bat Masterson assembled a posse of lawmen including Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman, and Charley Bassett. Together, they took off after Spike Kenedy. It was kind of a dream-team posse, as if Superman, Batman, and Spiderman and Captain America got together to bring Spike to justice. They took a short-cut and caught up with Spike as he was ready to cross the Arkansas River. He turned his horse and ran, but Wyatt Earp shot Spike’s horse out from under him. Mastersno winged Spike in the shoulder. They took him back to Dodge and put him in jail, where Spike learned he had killed Dora, instead of Kelley , though he didn’t confess to the crime.

Spike’s father, Texas rancher Mifflin Kenedy immediately made his way up to Dodge City to arrange defense for his son’s crime. His father was no stranger to Dodge City as he provided, from his ranches in Texas, a huge percentage of the cattle brought there each year. Mifflin Kenedy, was also the co-founder of the King Ranch. Kenedy, Texas is named for him, as is Kenedy County. Suffice it to say that he was quite rich and influential.

So he arrived, they say, with a satchel full of money, and arranged for his 23 year old son Spike to get the medical care he needed for his shoulder wound. A judge conducted an inquest into Hand’s death. But after a meeting that included Marshal Masterson, Mayor Kelley — the crime’s supposed target — deputies and the judge, they came to an understanding. Spike would be released for lack of evidence. No one saw him do it.

Some say that there was a good deal of money exchanged that day, because, in the year following, each of those attending suddenly had eyebrow-raising funds for the building of nice homes and purchasing of successful businesses. No one knows for sure, but that’s what many have deduced.

Dora, just 34, was not forgotten. She received a magnificent funeral with a grand escort from all levels of society. As many as 400 mounted cowboys escorted her funeral carriage to Boot Hill, the biggest ever seen in Dodge City.

Spike, or Santiago as his mother, Petra, called him, eventually lost most of his left arm due to infections within the wound. He returned to Texas and died six years later at the age of 29 of typhoid fever. He is buried in the family plot in the Brownsville cemetery.

For a more detailed story see Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy by Jane Clements Monday and Frances Brannen Vick, 2007.

Texas Standard: August 12, 2020

Historic: Vice President Joe Biden picks his own VP. Senator Kamala Harris and the intersection of race and gender in American politics. Also, back to school this year is filled with stress and anxieties for all. A conversation about the challenges in special education during this pandemic. Plus, what is the recovery rate of COVID-19 and can we even really answer that question? And entertainment awards season is just around the corner. It’s usually fancy dresses and red carpets but it will look different this year, many hope in more way than one. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 3, 2020

Though a more peaceful evening across Texas, voices continue to rise over police force against African Americans and people of color. Amid days of demonstrations over policing, a former Texas mayor and one-time presidential candidate decides it’s time for a full throated endorsement of Joe Biden. Our conversation with Julian Castro on what was, for him, a tipping point. Also, the return of the Brown Berets to El Paso. And an attempt to get back to normal at Texas A&M. We’ll talk with the system’s chancellor and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 22, 2020

50 years ago today, what many people mark as the start of the modern environmental movement. What is the state of the Earth today? During a time of global pandemic, a pause to reflect on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Also, testing for Coronavirus ramping up in the most populous counties, whats holding back similar gains elsewhere in Texas? Plus how COVID-19 is keeping em down, way down, on the dairy farm. And a Texas congressman’s claim about a German powder that kills Coronavirus: a Politifact check and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 8, 2020

If you’re a nonessential worker and you’re out for a drive, what happens if you get pulled over? The realities of police work during a pandemic. Today, our conversation with the chief of police of the Texas Capitol City on enforcement of stay at home orders, and how police are dialing back some of what they do to keep officers safe.. Also state parks and historic sites now shuttered. We’ll hear from the head of Texas Parks and Wildlife. Plus the boom in urban bear hunts: teddy bears that is. Some practical tips for first time hunters and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 12, 2020

Iowa? Check. New Hampshire? Check. Brace yourself for Super Tuesday where Texas is sure to shine, we’ll have all the details. Also Food safety, food labels, small producers and big producers. A roundtable with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And what’s the meaning of a warrant forgiveness? We’ll explore. Plus how artificial intelligence is inspiring new music. And have you started thinking about your Valentine? Ours will melt your heart. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 22, 2020

Just ahead of Super Tuesday, voter registration hits an all time high in Texas. We’ll look at what the new record setting numbers add up to. Other stories we’re tracking: governor Abbott’s decision to stop accepting refugees, widely panned by big city mayors and major newspaper editorial boards. We’ll hear why its playing out in somewhat unexpected ways in Amarillo. And Politifact Texas marks 10 years separating fact from fiction. All of those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 17, 2020

As the senate takes up impeachment, it takes up something else in the spirit of bipartisanship with major implications for Texas, we’ll hear all about it. Also, Texas among the states becoming magnets for people from Puerto Rico. As the territory hits population lows, who’s left? And remembering a moment that made Barbara Jordan a household name 24 years after her passing. Plus the week in Texas politics and much more today on the Texas Standard: