Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Jessica James at Jose Luis Salon, Austin, Texas.

Jessica James at Jose Luis Salon, Austin, Texas.

Everyone talks to her hairdresser and I am no different. Jessica James is an awesome hair stylist and a terrific conversationalist. We talk about everything. I don’t know what it is about sitting in a hair salon that makes it so easy to talk about the most personal of things while someone is standing behind you, messing with your hair, but there it is. Jessica is marvelous company. We start talking the moment I get there and carry the conversation on through to the end.

Anyway, the other day I was at my regular six-weeks appointment at Jose Luis Salon, getting a cut and some color. I was in the chair wearing the snap-up gown. Jessica was sectioning off pieces of my hair, brushing on highlights, and wrapping the pieces in foil while we did some catching up. It’s kind of awkward because you can’t turn and look each other in the face while you talk; you have to look at each other in the mirror. Plus, she’s standing up and I’m sitting down.

As I was saying, we were talking. We talked about the book, Unbroken, which we have both read, and whether or not we will see the movie, “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie. I volunteered that I wouldn’t see it because I didn’t want to see the scenes at the Japanese prisoner of war camps. (I had to skim those parts in the book. Unbelievably brutal) Jessica had heard that a good chunk of the movie is devoted to that part of Louis Zampirini‘s life and wasn’t sure what her plans were regarding seeing the movie.

Next we compared notes about what each of us had been writing. We like to encourage each other in our writing because writing is a lonely business and writers are so hard on themselves. Jessica is writing a picture book inspired by her 3-year old son’s delight with the night sky. It is her first book. I told her that I had been blogging (on this site) about Bob Mackie.

“Bob Mackie?” she asked. “You mean the clothing designer, Bob Mackie? The guy who is sometimes  the judge on ‘Project Runway?”’

“Yes,” I said. “That’s the one. I’ve been blogging on the clothes he made for Cher and Carol Burnett. He’s really a funny guy. You can see his interviews on…” I started to say but was interrupted.

“You’re kidding!” said Jessica, laying the paint brush down in the bowl. “You aren’t going to believe this! The girl who cuts hair over there,” she said, pointing at a 45 degree angle to an empty hair cutting station, “Her name is Mandy – she’s wearing a Bob Mackie original today!”

“Get outta here!” I said, copying Elaine Benis from “Seinfeld” but without shoving her as Elaine does Jerry.

At that very moment, a petite and shapely woman came into view, taking her place at the work station Jessica had just pointed out.

“There she is,” said Jessica. “That’s Mandy.”

At first I could see only the back of her.

Mandy Denson

Mandy Denson poses in her Bob Mackie original blouse.

Fringes of her dark, asymmetrical bob peeked out from under her felt matador hat. Then she moved to the side and I caught her reflection in the long mirror.IMG_2655

The Bob Mackie shirt had a Spanish look, with embroidered neckline and sleeves, with sunny gold and orange paisleys cast against a blue background.

Mandy had some time between clients so she came over to Jessica’s station to talk to us. She told me all about the Bob Mackie blouse she was wearing. Mandy Denson is one-of-a-kind, a lovely girl. She has bewitching beauty. She is an accomplished hairdresser, fashion model, style maven, and vintage clothes hound – and a genuinely nice person.

IMG_2657 Here’s what Mandy has to say about shopping for vintage clothes here in Austin:

“The places where I shop most for vintage around town are Charm School Vintage, Frock On Vintage, and Prototype Vintage. The fabulous Bob Mackie shirt was scored at Frock On for a very reasonable price. The hat is from Charm School.

The tag from Mandy Denson's vintage Bob Mackie shirt.

The tag from Mandy Denson’s vintage Bob Mackie shirt.

“I’ve been hunting vintage for about ten years now, and what I love about the culture in Austin is that most of the shops support and admire one another. My favorites around town are owned by women who really take the time to get to know their customers. I visit them almost weekly just to catch up, look around, and talk about the beauty of our common interest.

“Vintage clothing has helped me shape my personal style into something that feels unique and interesting and a true reflection of myself.”

Mandy Denson in her vintage Bob Mackie.

Mandy Denson in her vintage Bob Mackie.

READERS: For more on Bob Mackie, click here

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Jackie Kennedy wears the famous pink suit in this 1962 photo. She is looking at plans for Lafayette Square.

President John F. Kennedy looked out the window of his Fort Worth, Texas, hotel suite. The November sky was dark and threatening. It looked like rain. Forecasters predicted cool weather. The president advised his wife Jackie to dress warmly for the long and demanding day and personally selected her oufit. He chose a pink wool suit with three-quarter-length sleeves and a blue underblouse. To it, Jackie added a pink pillbox hat and white gloves.   

Jackie, 34,  had worn the suit before – she called its color “raspberry” – and it was one of the president’s favorites.  He had told mutual friend Susan Mary Alsop that Jackie, his wife of ten years, looked “ravishing in it.” (1)   

President and Mrs. Kennedy at the White House, October 1962. Jackie Kennedy is wearing the pink wool Chez Ninon she wore in Dallas, November 22, 1963

Jacqueline Kennedy‘s pink suit was made in 1961 by the New York dress salon, Chez Ninon. It was a copy of a Chanel pink boucle wool suit trimmed with a navy blue collar. (1)   


Jackie Kennedy was a style icon. People noticed what she wore. Kennedy critics were quick to pounce when Jackie wore Paris fashions. Jack urged his wife to buy American and she did. Such a move was both financially and politically savvy. The Chez Ninon knockoff cost between $800 and $1,000 compared to over $10,000 for a custom-made Chanel suit.  Plus, he and Jackie were in Texas with Vice President Lyndon Johnson and wife Lady Bird to officially kick off their 1964 presidential campaign. They had to minimize the fallout from Jackie’s expensive French taste.   

Jackie’s pink suit was a hit at the Fort Worth breakfast that morning. The president beamed at the attention she drew, noting that “nobody notices what Lyndon and I wear.” A short plane ride later, they were disembarking at Dallas Love Field to a promising reception. Jackie was presented red roses.   

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

The sun had come out and the day had become unseasonably warm. The Kennedys climbed into the back seat of the presidential limousine to begin the winding 11-mile route through downtown Dallas where the president was to speak at a Trade Mart luncheon. Texas Governor John Connally and wife Nellie got into the jumpseat in front of the Kennedys and behind the driver and two Secret Service agents.   

The presidential limo was a midnight blue 1961 Lincoln that had been flown in from Washington, D.C. Because the weather was so nice, the plastic bubble top had been removed and the bullet-proof side windows were rolled down. This is how President Kennedy preferred to ride. At 11:50 a.m., the 12-car motorcade with its motorcycle escort and Secret Service attendants left the airport “on its rendevous with fate.” It was November 22, 1963. (2)   

The crowds lined the parade route so thickly that the motorcade moved at a crawl of only 6-7 miles an hour. The president clearly loved the warm Texas welcome, smiling and waving at all the friendly faces.   

JFK and Jackie ride in the presidential limo through the streets of Dallas, November 22, 1963. Texas Governor John Connally sits up front.

The temperature was 76 degrees. The sun was blindingly hot. Jackie was wearing wool.  She shielded her eyes from the big Texas sun with her trademark sunglasses.   

The people shouted, “Jack, Jackie!” recalled Nellie Connally. “They seemed to want her as much as they wanted him.” She could hear Jack say to Jackie,” Take your glasses off….When you’re riding in a car like this, in a parade, if you have your dark glasses on, you might as well have stayed at home.”

November 22, 1963: Up front, Texas Governor John Connally and wife Nellie ride with the President and Mrs. Kennedy through downtown Dallas.

Nellie Connally smiled to know that Texans were treating their president with such courtesy. She turned to him and said,   

Mr. President, you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you.” (3)

Thirty seconds later, at 12:30 p.m., three shots rang out. The 35th President of the United States was shot. As the car sped toward Parkland Hospital, Kennedy slumped in his wife’s lap, his blood and brain fragments staining her pink wool suit, gloves, stockings.  Jackie crawled out the back of the limo for help from the Secret Service riding in the car behind them.

In an image from the Zapruder film, a fatally-wounded President Kennedy slumps over as Secret Service agent Clint Hill leaps onto the president’s car and pushes Jacqueline Kennedy back.

At the hospital, the doctors worked feverishly to save the president but it was futile. President Kennedy was declared dead, his once vital body loaded limply into a coffin. Jackie accompanied his body to Dallas Love Field where it was loaded onto Air Force One to be flown to Washington.

In her bedroom on board the plane, Jackie’s personal assistant had laid out a fresh outfit for the First Lady. Despite urging from staffers and handlers to “clean up her appearance,” Jackie  refused to get out of her bloodied clothes. She shook her head hard:

No, let them see what they’ve done.”  

Just hours after her husband's assassination, widow Jackie Kennedy stands next to Lyndon Johnson on Air Force One as he is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States. Although her personal assistant laid out a fresh change of clothes on her bed aboard the plane, Jackie refused to change out of her blood-spattered clothing. Also aboard Air Force One was the casket carrying the body of President John F. Kennedy, age 46.

Somehow, that was one of the most poignant sights,” Mrs. Johnson later wrote, “that immaculate woman exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.”  

At Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., JFK's brother Attorney General Bobby Kennedy meets Jackie Kennedy when she arrives on Air Force One with the coffin carrying her slain husband's body. Note Jackie's bloodstained suit. Her left leg is caked in blood.

It was not until 5 a.m. the next morning at the White House that Jackie took off the bloodied suit, bathed, and changed outfits. Her mother put the suit in a plastic bag and stored it in her house for many years.   

The suit was never cleaned and never will be. It sits today, unfolded and shielded from light, in an acid-free container in a windowless room somewhere inside the National Archives and Records Administration’s complex in Maryland; the precise location is kept secret. The temperature hovers between 65 and 68 degrees; the humidity is 40 percent; the air is changed six times an hour. (4)  

Meanwhile, the whereabouts of the pink pillbox hat remain a mystery. It has never been found.  Somewhere inside Parkland Hospital, the hat came off.  Jackie’s personal secretary, Mary Gallagher recalls:

While standing there I was handed Jackie’s pillbox hat and couldn’t help noticing the strands of her hair beneath the hat pin. I could almost visualize her yanking it from her head.”

What happened to the hat after that is unknown. Mary Gallagher lost track of it.

(1) Source   

(2) Source   

(3) Source   

(4) Source: The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 30, 2011. 

Readers: For more on Jackie Kennedy, click here.

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"Comanche War Party on the March, Fully Equipped," oil painting by George Catlin, 1846-1848. By the time Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, the frontier war between the settlers and the Comanche Indians was at full throttle, with brutal attacks being waged on both sides.

Here is an article that appeared in an 1840 Texas newspaper:

A little remedy against Indian arrows:

Take about 16 or 24 sheets of common blotting paper; lay between them some thin layers of cotton or silk; make a kind of jacket of it to be put on in the moment of danger, and you will be invulnerable from the chin to the leg, from the most of Indian arrows and even bullets. It is no more cowardice than to stand behind a tree or to be a cuirassier [a mounted soldier wearing armor]; and in our big European wars, the lives of many thousands of brave soldiers were thus preserved. I recommend it by experience.

H. Mollhausen, captain of artillery                          

Texas Sentinel, March 1840

Readers, other posts of similar interest are:

The Scalping of Robert McGee

“The Scalping of Josiah Wilbarger”

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Michael Jackson unveiled his moonwalk dance on March 25, 1983, when he performed his hit song, "Billie Jean," on the TV special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

Michael Jackson unveiled his moonwalk dance on March 25, 1983, when he performed his hit song, "Billie Jean," on the TV special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

I was 29 years old when Michael Jackson and his brothers blew through Texas with their 1984 summer Victory Tour. It was July. I was a fifth-grade school teacher during the regular year. During the summer I was waiting tables at the Night Hawk Steakhouse. Michael Jackson’s record-setting album and video, “Thriller,” was a huge hit.

On Fridays during the school year, I gave my students a treat. At lunchtime, I ordered out for pizza. Then I rolled a TV on a tall stand into my classroom, turned out the lights, shut the blinds, and showed my students the “Thriller” video. We got up out of our chairs and danced. Michael Jackson gave us the chills. We just couldn’t get enough of his energy.

Back to the Victory Tour. It was July 15, 1984 – a Sunday – and I’d just finished my wait shift at the Night Hawk. I clocked out then jumped into my un-air-conditioned Honda and headed South to my apartment. I turned on the radio. The announcer was talking about how exciting the Victory Tour was. Michael Jackson was in Dallas! He had performed Friday and Saturday nights. He was to perform just one more night at Texas Stadium before continuing on his tour. Hasting’s on the Drag across from U.T. still had tickets.

I exited IH 35 and headed straight to Hastings, bought a ticket, raced home, changed clothes, and hit IH 35 for Dallas. When I got there, I realized what a crummy seat I had. The concert started and the lights went down real low, low enough, I discovered, for me to jump over a concrete wall, hunker down, and slither all the way down to the wheelchair section at the front of the stage undetected. A mother sitting in a front row seat gestured to me to come over. She was holding a child in her arms and offered me the empty seat to her right. I took it. I watched the show from a front row seat.

The show was great.  Michael Jackson performed all the songs from the tour, but what I most remember was watching him moondance to “Billie Jean.” Wow. He didn’t sing “Thriller,” which confused me at the time. Now I understand that he didn’t think the choreography translated well into a stage song.

Curtis Jerome Haynes

Curtis Jerome Haynes

On a previous post, I’ve written about Marcel Marceau‘s influence on Michael Jackson’s moonwalk (“Michael Jackson and the Moonwalk“). Here’s a video sent to me via an old friend, musician Curtis Jerome Haynes, showing the origins of the moonwalk. Some of the “Origins of the Moonwalk” dancers featured in the video are Cab Calloway, Fred Astaire, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

In reference to the youtube clip shown below, Curtis Haynes writes that, 

Missing from the montage are James Brown, the Nicholas Brothers, and Marcel Marceau.”

Thanks, Curtis!

Readers, for more on this blog on Michael Jackson, click here.

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The following is an excerpt from my book, Get Along, Little Dogies: The Chisholm Trail Diary of Hallie Lou WellsAlthough it is fiction, the book is historically authentic, and the event it recounts really did happen in August, 1844, outside Austin, Texas, near Pecan Springs. The narrator is a young woman named Hallie Wells who is traveling up the Chisholm Trail on a cattle drive with some cowboys: 

Get Along, Little Dogies by Lisa Waller Rogers

Get Along, Little Dogies by Lisa Waller Rogers

Sunday, May 12, 1878
Northeast of Austin at Wilbarger Creek

Late at night

This was a golden day. I want to write about it before the memory fades. The lamplight already grows dim.

Today we didn’t travel. It was a true Sabbath, a day of rest – except for Mrs. Bubbies, our bell cow. She gave birth to two heifers this morning. When we resume travel, Joe One-Wing will toss the calves into the supply wagon with the other calves born on the trail. He’ll put loose sacks on them so that their scents won’t get mixed with the other calves as they jostle along the trail. In that way, Mrs. Bubbies will recognize her young and give them milk every evening when we break for camp.

We’re starting to feel like a family. Tonight, after dinner, the off-duty cowboys hung their saddles in the low live oak branches and spread bedding for us to sit on. We sat around the campfire. Cookie even got in the mood and passed around tin plates of “bread and lick” (molasses). John R. read a Bible passage aloud. Will and Henry serenaded us with banjo and a fife. Jeb played “Get Along, Little Dogies” on his harmonica. Will took my hand and we danced a slow waltz. The cows loved the music. They made a soft lowing sound. It was like a big city symphony! We wanted to laugh but that would have made those crazy cows stampede for sure.

The Scalping of Josiah Wilbarger, a woodcut by T.J. Owen, AKA O. Henry, found in Indian Depredations in Texas, 1889

The Scalping of Josiah Wilbarger, a woodcut by T.J. Owen, AKA O. Henry, found in Indian Depredations in Texas, 1889

Joe One-Wing told a scary story. We’re camped beside Wilbarger Creek, named for a brave pioneer named Josiah Wilbarger. Just a few miles from here, Josiah was attacked by Comanches and scalped. The Indians left him for dead.

The Indians were mistaken. Josiah was not dead. He managed to drag himself to some springs, drink, and bath his aching head. With his fingernails, he dug until he found some snails to eat. Then he crawled over to a live oak and collapsed.

Around midnight, he heard a voice softly calling his name. He awoke to see his dear sister, Margaret, walking toward him. “Josiah,” she said, pointing to the southeast. “Help will come from that direction.” Then she vanished into thin air.

At that same moment, six miles to the southeast, Sarah Hornsby, was having a strange dream. In the dream, she saw her neighbor, Josiah Wilbarger, leaning against a an oak tree, soaked in blood and dying. She awakened her husband, Reuben, and told him her incredible vision. Reuben immediately organized a search party.

The men found Josiah exactly where Sarah had said. He was taken home and nursed back to health. Slowly, Josiah began to recover from his many injuries. Three months passed. One day, a letter arrived for him from Missouri. The letter told him that his sister, Margaret, had died. The mail had been very slow. Margaret had died three months before. She had died the very night she had appeared to Josiah at midnight. It had been her spirit that gave Sarah Hornsby the marvelous dream that saved her brother.

Josiah’s wound never really healed. His wife made him little caps to cover the hole in his head. However, he lived another eleven years until one day he bumped his head on the door frame. Wilbarger County, Texas, was established in 1858 to honor Josiah and his brother Mathias. The bodies of Josiah Wilbarger and his wife are buried in the State Cemetery at Austin.

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