Every now and then I stumble onto an interesting read. The Big Bend Gazette, gathered during our stay at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas is one of those.
The Gazette is the child of publisher John Graham Waters and is a compilation of local news (“Derailed from the Information Highway”, a story of how SBC is bypassing Marathon, Texas despite hints to local officials it would not do so), personal essay (“Tracking the Lost” by Sharon Collyer, a personal essay about search and rescue in Big Bend National Park), advertisements (Terlingua Auto Service, Quicksilver Branch Bank of West Texas National, Motel Bien Venido, etc.), a few national issues germane to the local area (“Wal-Mart’s Manifest Destiny by Tim Sullivan, a story about Wal Mart’s plans for expansion and how communities are fighting back), local events (“Lajitas to Host 4rth of July Parade, Concert, Benefit for Fire Department”), recipes, and whatever else seems to strike John’s or editor Marlys Hershey’s fancy. The issue we picked up contained 20 pages and could be had for the outstanding sum of $17 per year. That’s a third of what it costs to get the Houston Chronicle for three months.
What I love about the paper is its voice. I know I’m not reading a machine but the honest to God voice of people, of journalists, who still believe in both serving the community and their own need to be heard. The main office of the paper is in Terlingua, a small little town of the edge of Big Bend National Park and that is known for its festivals, river runners, and beer. Not necessarily in that order. (I would say something about Terlingua being known for its beer drinking goats, but that was over in Lajitas, a short distance away. The most famous goat was Clay Henry, who sired two more generations of four footed alcoholics before the last was castrated at the hands of an outraged Jim Bob Hargrove, who caught the goat drinking on Sunday, Which just goes to show that the axiom “alcoholism kills” is true, no matter how one gets there. BTW, Jim Bob was prosecuted for animal cruelty and Clay Henry III, the hapless victim, survived the castration but died in 1996. I can’t find what killed him. I bet it was cirrhosis of the liver.)
It’s too bad I can’t share with you more stories from the paper, but if you’re ever in the Big Bend area, look for it. Me, I plan to subscribe to it to offset the flood of information my wife is getting in her subscription to the Houston Chronicle. Keep it simple, I say. We’ll see which one of us reads his/her paper all the way through.