Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Wet & Wild"

Actually, you're just witnessing the wet part of this activity. Before a rowdy bunch of summer campers can get wild as they participate in the much-anticipated water-bomb melee, someone has the behind-the-scenes chore of filling these colorful missiles of moisture.  Thankfully, dedicated volunteers are always on hand to make summer camps memorable, and the Nocona TX Historical Museum's "Mystery of History" is no exception.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Making a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord"

If you're of my vintage, you probably remember Vacation Bible School (VBS) down in the basement of a stodgy, old church....maybe on Main Street in the central business district of your hometown. You might have even had Miss Inez (or an equivalent), the local piano teacher, sitting at a rickety, seldom-used upright (usually just a tad out-of-tune) lending her talents to fill the room with the familiar "Jesus Loves Me".  Well, things have changed.

When I agreed to photograph the final session of VBS activities at Church of The Incarnation in Dallas (my parish), I was blown away by the professionally packaged Vacation Bible School curriculum, complete with pre-recorded music, props, apparel and a study plan to follow should one chose.'s now an audio board mixing big sounds of catchy sing-a-longs, choreographed activities, and a happy-clappy atmosphere that's infectious.   These pictures prove the approach is a rousing success.  Miss Inez would be thunderstruck at the changes.

Make a joyful noise, indeed!!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"BlackJack, A Quick Look"

For nearly a decade on trips to Eastern Tennessee, passing billboards touting the Jack Daniel's Distillary tour,  I'd say to myself, "Gotta make that trip".  About two weeks ago, I finally fulfilled this desire.  After all, just the name, Jack Daniel's, is an institution starting back in 1866.  No matter where you imbibe in the world....Melbourne, Toronto, Rome, Caracas, or the Lone Star State....that little jigger of amber Jack Daniel's had its beginnings in the little town of Lynchberg. This is true Tennessee Sour Mash sippin' whiskey and it's made today the same way it was since the inception of this historic distillery.  And the trip to appreciate the process, along with the folklore that accompanies this brand, was fascinating.

If you're lucky enough, as was I, you'll take a tour on one of the days when they make the charcoal from their own inventory of sugar maple slats.  Reaching temperatures of 1800 degrees, these burning skids are an imposing sight with the resulting charcoal playing an integral part in filtering what will eventually become one of the most recognized products anywhere.  

On the grounds of the distillery, silos hold corn, rye or barley malt prior to being moved to the still house where ingredients will be measured, ground and mixed before the patented distilling process begins.

During distilling,  the raw grain products go through a series of steps including the adding of sugar to begin fermentation.  At one point on the tour, one observes a clear liquid with an alcoholic punch of 140 proof flowing endlessly as it makes its way to the charcoal-filtering phase where it will be further purified and cleansed during a 5-day process.  Next up:  barreling, aging (5 to 7 years), bottling and distribution.

Finally,  after approximately an hour-and-half of touring and learning, the moment of truth arrives: the actual sampling of the finished product (if you signed up for the "Tasting Tour").

So, what did I learn?  Well, simply put, years ago there was a man small in stature (5'2") who had a grandiose dream that has exceeded his wildest expectations.  His name:  Jack Daniel.   And his legacy lives on.