The Scofield & David Markson

Posted: August 17th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

A new literary magazine launches today and I’m happy to have contributed a small piece to it. The magazine is called The Scofield and my essay is on David Markson and Twitter. It’s a truly stellar magazine that has assembled a who’s who of writers working on and around David Markson. Keep an eye on The Scofield.

In other news, to support the film The End of the Tour, I wrote this article on “Why David Foster Wallace Matters” for a collection on Medium called “Just Words.”

Also, last month I published this essay on Roberto Bolaño and A Little Lumpen Novelita in the Dublin Review of Books.

Best Books: Paul Collins

Posted: July 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I first discovered Paul Collins via McSweeney’s and his imprint there: the Collins library, which is an odd assortment of out-of-print Victorian novels and other oddities. However, Collins’ own books are phenomenal, filled with some of the best nonfiction writing I have read, period. Collins has the ability to bring history to life and infuse it with his own personal perspective. I’m making it sound blander than it really is.  He appears on NPR Weekend Edition as its “literary detective” on odd old books. I don’t think Collins gets enough credit as one of the best essayists in the US. The feeling you get from reading his books is that he is genuinely curious about old things and deeply loves books. Here are three of his best books.

1. Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn’t Change the World

This collection of 13 mini-histories focuses on people who could have been great – but failed. Banvard’s story alone is incredible. He painted a mural that was to-scale panorama of the entire Mississippi River shoreline. Banvard produced shows on the scale of P.T. Barnum, but made one tragic folly.


2. Sixpence House: Lost in A Town Of Books

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own used book store or of going to the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival, this is your chance to live vicariously through Collins who up and moves to Hay.



3. The Book of William: How Shakespeare’s First Folio Conquered the World

The First Folio is without a doubt the most valuable book in the world and yet most book lovers likely don’t know much about its genesis and history. It is one of the few books printed in the 1620s that still has a definitive history. This narrative is one of the best books about book collecting and Shakespeare’s world.



SPEAK Magazine 1996 interview with David Foster Wallace

Posted: July 17th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: DFW | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I had a relatively hard time tracking down this review. SPEAK Magazine ceased publication in 2001 and doesn’t maintain much content on their website. I think it’s too valuable to leave lost in obscurity. The title of the interview is “1458 words on a book that has more than 1000 pages.”



There is also a PDF (scan of the original print magazine) you can download here: SPEAK Mag David Foster Wallace Interview 1458 words



The Fogle Novella

Posted: June 2nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: DFW | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Below is a version of the paper I presented at the Second Annual David Foster Wallace Conference in Normal, Illinois, on May 29, 2015. I’ve removed the page citations, bibliography, and images in this version.


The Fogle Novella: Catalysts in the Conversion Narrative

There is a moment in Section 22 of The Pale King when “Irrelevant” Chris Fogle feels he must change the course of his life. This moment comes, appropriately enough, when he is “doing nothing” – simply watching television. As a self-confessed nihilist, all of his life’s choices up to this point seem equally irrelevant to him. He takes pride in his ambivalence. But the great spinning ball of “As The World Turns” (“You’re watching As The World Turns”) is an epiphany for him: his carelessness has cast him as an observer of his life rather than its chief actor. He says:

I knew, sitting there, that I might be a real nihilist, that it wasn’t always just a hip pose. That I drifted and quit because nothing meant anything, no one choice was really better. That I was, in a way, too free, or that this kind of freedom wasn’t actually real — I was free to choose ‘whatever’ because it didn’t really matter.

Throughout his lengthy narrative, Fogle explains how he ultimately turned away from his life as a wastoid nihilist and became a responsible citizen and IRS tax examiner. How does this happen? The process was gradual and then rapid, but he attributes this change partly to “unexpected coincidences”, “changes in priorities” , and “making a choice of what was more important.” If we think of The Pale King as an explicitly religious novel, Fogle’s choice and his overall narrative of change can be interpreted along the lines of a conversion, like a sinner who is redeemed.

This essay discusses the structure of Fogle’s conversion narrative, the catalysts that force a change in his story, and the similarities his story shares with early American Puritan conversion narratives. Fogle’s Section 22 is long enough and self-contained enough to stand on its own and so I refer to it in places as “the Fogle novella” or just “the novella.” Throughout Fogle’s narrative, there are three main catalysts that instigate change within his life: 1) his father’s “Ozymandias” statement, 2) hearing the As The World Turns tagline, and 3) the Jesuit substitute’s speech at DePaul. As a literary construct, Fogle’s narrative mirrors the structure of Puritan conversion narratives, which Patricia Caldwell’s work has shown to be a primarily literary form masked as a religious element. Fogle’s story arc follows a surprisingly similar pattern and still adheres to the greater project of The Pale King: boredom as religious experience.

Like Infinite Jest, The Pale King is concerned with how we should live. Fogle’s story is vast and contains many important points about religion, Christianity, 1970s American history, drugs, tax, etc. Fogle is an aimless, lost young man, committed to the ethos of the 1970s: whatever. He grows up with divorced parents—a serious and stern father who is killed in a horrific train accident, and a freewheeling lesbian mother who smokes pot with him and opens a bookstore. With a transcript that looked like “collage art”, he tries to go to several different colleges, but nothing interests him. One day he stumbles into the wrong classroom and hears a lecture that changes his life. Eventually he finds his life’s purpose in the form of service to the IRS.

After high school Fogle drifted in and out of three different colleges, just going through the motions, bored to death. The first of several wake up calls that catalyzes and motivates Fogle to try to find a purpose in life is his strait-laced father inadvertently discovering him and his friends high, smoking marijuana, and covered in beer cans. It is the clichéd father coming home early and discovering the party scene. His father then quotes Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” – “Look on my works ye mighty and despair,” a poetic admission of failure in his own parenting and an embarrassment to the young Fogle since he doesn’t really understand the reference and feels small. But it provokes within him a moment of perfectly clear self-reflection and empathy with his father. In fact, Fogle says that his one occasion “sums up the whole period for me now, when I think of it.” The father’s flippant comment, combined with his lack of anger about the situation, gives Fogle a sense that true adults are capable of controlling their emotions and reacting to the world in a mature, meaningful way. Fogle realizes at this point that he has completely neglected his own emotional (and intellectual, and moral, etc.) development. The consequence of this neglect is that he is stunted, an emotionally underdeveloped child and still a burden to his parents.

The second catalyst that provokes Fogle into action is his inadvertently hearing the tagline of the soap opera “As the World Turns” repeated on television. This statement “You’re watching As the World Turns, You’re watching As the World Turns” has a profound effect on his sense of coasting through life as a passive observer, a witness to his own story. Hearing that phrase shakes his entire existential foundation. He says:

I knew, sitting there, that I might be a real nihilist, that it wasn’t always just a hip pose. That I drifted and quit because nothing meant anything, no one choice was really better. That I was, in a way, too free, or that this kind of freedom wasn’t actually real — I was free to choose ‘whatever’ because it didn’t really matter. But that this, too, was because of something I chose — I had somehow chosen to have nothing matter. It all felt much less abstract than it sounds to try to explain it. All this was happening while I was just sitting there, spinning the ball. The point was that, through making this choice, I didn’t matter, either. I didn’t stand for anything. If I wanted to matter — even just to myself — I would have to be less free, by deciding to choose in some kind of definite way. Even if it was nothing more than an act of will.

Although this is the moment when Fogle’s aversion to his previous way of living intrudes into his consciousness, his free will requires another, more forceful catalyst to affect real change in his life. And it happens the very day after he hears “You’re Watching As The World Turns.”

The Pale King, as structured by Michael Pietsch, introduces Fogle’s character in the middle of the novel, as part of the series of videotaped interviews with IRS examiners under the guise of producing an informational film about the agency called “Your IRS Today.” However, it is hinted that one of the higher-ups might be using these interviews not to actually produce a documentary video, but as revealing surveillance opportunities to spy on employees. In a note, Wallace questions the idea “Film interview a sham?”

Either way, it’s difficult to surmise Wallace’s original “tornadic” structure of the Pale King and how the IRS video device figures into the larger whole. One theory could be that Wallace wanted to show the path that leads the characters to become IRS examiners, since many of the characters are shown as children and then as adults. For Fogle, the interview as such functions as a narrative device for a confession, with the setup resembling a confession booth. Rather than the examiner speaking to a priest through a screen, he or she is speaking directly into a camera, alone.

“It’s an IRS examiner in a chair, in a room. There is little else to see. Facing the tripod’s camera, addressing the camera, one examiner after another.”

Responding to an open-ended interview question is therapeutic for some and requires the respondent to be self-conscious and reflective. Wallace uses the structure of the fictional IRS video to present a series of discussions on tax civics as well as the personal route toward redemption exemplified by Fogle’s story.

In fact, there are a number of actual IRS informational and recruitment videos, though none in the style of the fictional “Your IRS Today. One of the most powerful recruiting tools the IRS used in the mid-1980s was a widely-distributed pamphlet called “IRS: The Whole Picture.” It provides “Seven Good Reasons To Join the IRS”. They are: 1) Your Choice of Jobs, 2) Extensive Field Work, 3) A High-Tech Employer, 4) Great Benefits, 5) Make a Difference Right Away, 6) A Nationwide Organization, and 7) A Chance to Serve the Public Good. The seven reasons are presented as popular myths that the IRS can rebut. The real-life recruitment of IRS examiners strongly relied on the concepts of choice, free will, making a difference, and public service. The myths that the recruitment brochure tries to rebut force the potential employee to confront the reality of the world such as it really is, as opposed to the way the IRS might be represented in the media or the nation’s collective consciousness. This is somewhat similar to the function of The Pale King itself, and these are the same values and factors that Fogle cites when he thinks about the influence of the third catalyst in his conversion – the Jesuit substitute’s speech. He says:

“I think part of what was so galvanizing was the substitute’s diagnosis of the world and reality as already essentially penetrated and formed, the real world’s constituent info generated, and that now a meaningful choice lay in herding, corralling, and organizing that torrential flow of info. This rang true to me, though on a level that I don’t think I was even fully aware existed within me.”

This also matches up with Fogle’s father’s claim that there are only two kinds of people in the world: “people who actually understood the technical realities of how the real world worked (via, his obvious point was, math and science), and people who didn’t.” After this galvanizing diagnosis of the world, it’s somewhat easier for Fogle to be swayed by the incentives offered at his local IRS recruitment center. An epic snowstorm is presented as an impediment to his road to Damascus, but Fogle persists, unwavering in his need for verifiability and his commitment to thoroughly reading the manuals presented to him.

Conversion narratives are as old as Christianity itself, starting with the apostle Paul. The original followers of Christ had to make an active choice to follow this new religion. Although Paul’s conversion in particular was divinely thrust upon him, the event is used as evidence of the supernatural power of God. However, the theological framework of Christian conversion has evolved dramatically from the origins of the religion, through the protestant reformation, the publication of the first English Bible, and the rise of globalization. If we look at conversion narratives in the tradition of American literature, the first surviving narratives are ‘a series of fifty-one “Confessions” given at the First Church of Cambridge, Massachusetts, between 1637 and 1645, and recorded in a small private notebook by the minister of the church, Thomas Shephard. Patricia Caldwell examined these confessions in her study “The Puritan Conversion Narrative: The Beginnings of American Expression” and found that early English and American conversion narratives “share some basic literary techniques – a heavy reliance on Scripture, a certain amount of objective self-examination and orderly arrangement.”

Puritanism is unique here because Puritan churches allowed only the elect to join and new candidates were required to recite a conversion story in order to gain full membership in the congregation. This reliance on story carried over to the prominence of sermons. John Cotton, one of the first theologians of the Massachusetts Bay Colony believed the Bible could not save souls only by being read. To him the first step in conversion was the “pricking of the hardened heart” of the convert by hearing the word of God in a sermon. Unlike Catholicism, which emphasized the sacraments on the altar, American Puritanism, which favored predestination, focused on the words delivered from the pulpit. Compare this with the final catalyst in Fogle’s conversion – the lecture from the Jesuit substitute teacher. Fogle ambles into the wrong classroom only to hear a sermon on accountancy that changes his life forever. Fogle is not changed by reading a novel or an essay – it is only by hearing the Jesuit minister preach about the heroism of the everyday accountant that Fogle averts a life of wasted promise. “Gentlemen, you are called to account,” he exhorts.

All of the catalysts in Fogle’s conversion narrative—the Ozymandias line from his father, the As The World Turns tagline, and the Jesuit’s speech—are things that he heard. Unlike his father, who “read constantly,” Fogle is most susceptible to change when the meaningful words are spoken rather than printed.

The structure of Puritan conversion narratives were so consistent that it was often joked that “many spiritual narratives of the period were not so much composed as recited.” Edmund Morgan summarized the most common sequence of events as “knowledge, conviction, faith, combat, and true, imperfect assurance.” I would argue that Fogle’s narrative follows a similar formula and it would be easy enough to apply Morgan’s summary to the catalysts of change in Fogle’s narrative. The common structure of these narratives often meant Puritans “had great difficulty both in defining religious experience and in believing they had had it.” This doubt about the narrative itself manifests itself in Fogle’s opening when he says “I’m not sure I even know what to say. To be honest, a good bit of it I don’t remember.” And when he blames much of his story on “unexpected coincidences” and says “Obviously these sorts of unexpected things can happen in all sorts of different ways, and it’s dangerous to make too much of them.”

The fact that Puritans also required a conversion narrative to obtain church membership parallels Fogle’s explanation of those who join the IRS. They are the elect. “It’s not a very common type—perhaps on in 10,000—but the thing is, that the sort of person who decides that he wants to enter the Service really, really wants to and becomes very determined, and will be hard to put off course once he’s focused in on his real vocation and begun to be actively drawn to it.”

Fogle delivers his testimony, his conversion narrative, back into a camera that he believes will carry his message into the world via a documentary film, but we learn in Section 24 that Fogle is widely despised for his lengthy “vocational soliloquy”, earning him the nickname “Irrelevant.” While the details of Fogle’s story might be irrelevant in the context of the IRS office, his narrative forms the core of The Pale King’s project. In one of the Notes & Asides at the end of the book, Wallace notes that “Irrelevant Chris is irrelevant only on the subject of himself? On all other topics/subjects, he’s focused & cogent and interesting?” Wallace chose to represent Fogle’s transformation from wastoid to auditor as an overtly religious conversion partly because it fits into the greater mission he was striving toward in what became The Pale King:

“Bliss—a second-by-second joy + gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom.”

This bliss is a type of salvation, something that must be worked toward rather than graciously received. Just as Puritans demanded of their members an explanation of how they arrived at redemption, Wallace uses Fogle to illustrate how the most complex decisions of our lives, the ones that determine our fate and our careers, evolve over time. “Aversion” comes from the Latin avertere which means to turn away from. And Fogle turns away from his old life, his feckless, wastoid nihilism, not to join the church, but to simply live a more meaningful life.


Posted: March 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »



Last night, I held our dog Riley while she died. I want to write about this experience a little bit, for myself, before I forget most of the specifics. If you’ve lost a pet recently or if this is too graphic for you, please skip this. I am just writing this down for myself so that later I have not forgotten what this day feels like.

When I first met Jordan, her parents were living in London and she was keeping their Shetland Sheepdog named Maggie in her studio apartment in the West Village, against all bylaws of the building. Eventually she got caught and she had to ship Maggie off to her uncle in Kansas. After we were married and decided to move to Austin, Jordan made it clear that one thing she was looking forward to was getting a dog – specifically a Sheltie. “Of course, honey! Whatever you want! Shelties sound great,” said newlywed Matt.

We picked up Riley from a breeder in Oklahoma in 2005 and she became our surrogate child, our furry offspring. All the love and energy we had for the world was transferred onto this animal. We fretted over her nap schedule, bought her the best organic food, took her to obedience school for weeks on end, bought her a designer collar and leash, etc. There was one night where we bought tickets to a theater performance in East Austin and hired a dog-sitter to take care of the puppy (who does this??), but I forgot to put the front-door key to the apartment under the doormat. So I left Jordan at the theater, gave up my ticket, and went back to the apartment to let Riley out and dismiss the dogsitter. One night a few weeks later I thought she had a bowel obstruction so I drove her to an emergency specialist an hour away in San Antonio, where, after thousands of dollars of tests, it was determined that she just had a virus.


When Henry was born, we worked with Riley to step around a blanket on the floor–trying to show her that it was the baby’s space and she would have to be careful. But we needn’t worry because she was so sweet and loving with the new baby that she thought it was her own child. I spent several years thereafter walking her on the trails behind our house every day, listening to podcasts, meeting the other dogs in our neighborhood, that she became my constant companion. After Arlo was born, her needs definitely fell behind and she took on the role of an elder statesman who didn’t need as much attention as she’d once demanded. But she was a constant presence in our daily lives, never demanding too much, always willing to receive our love.

Last fall, we took her in for a bladder infection that wouldn’t seem to clear up, no matter the course of antibiotics we tried. The vet advised us that she had a tumor that at first looked benign. Two months ago, she had several tumors in her urinary tract that could not be removed without irreparably damaging her urinary system. We began preparing the boys for her demise, but I don’t think we fully comprehended how much we were ignoring our own emotions in service to the children’s potential feelings.

A week ago Riley took a turn for the worse and her cancer began to spread. She was no longer able to walk up and down the stairs in our back yard. She stopped eating dog food, though she would nibble on table scraps. She had accidents in the house regularly and by Friday, she had trouble standing up. Thursday was a “snow” day here in Austin and no mobile vets would come out to visit us. I tried getting a home appointment asap but the earliest anyone would promise was Monday. She spent most of Saturday in the middle of the floor of the living room, awake and just listening to us talk. On Sunday morning I had to move her into her bed; she couldn’t stand up at all. I tried again to find a mobile vet who worked on Sundays, but held out hope that she would make it through the night until her appointment on Monday morning.

I laid down in the floor with her and held her head as her breathing began to slow. She never once cried or made a painful noise. She remained very dignified and peaceful through everything. At about 12:30 this morning, her whole body pulsed several times, like she was having an aneurysm or a stroke. After that, she slept very soundly for a half hour or so, lightly snoring. Then her breathing became very shallow and she looked up at me one last time before she took her last breath.

Even though I knew she was sick for months, even though I had worked to prepare the boys for this day, I was not prepared for the full force of grief that would hit me after she died. I called a mobile pet cremation service to come and pick her up, which they did very gracefully and professionally, but of course I could not sleep after that. I was still in shock that she was really gone.

It’s been a rough day since that moment. Jordan and I have alternated between numbness and sheer pain at her absence. She had integrated herself so thoroughly into our daily lives that it had become a reflex to check on her and take care of her and just have her around us all the time. I have never mourned an animal so thoroughly and completely as I have for Riley, and my deepest sympathies are with anyone who has lost a pet, a companion, a friend. She was truly a member of our family and we will miss her forever. The house is too quiet without her.


Maude Arthur

Posted: February 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


There is a deep human need to be remembered. Most of humanity is forgotten, of course. Many, many people who were successful or beloved or wildly popular are forgotten a generation later. I’ve always been fascinated by books or projects that go back and resurrect a forgotten life and remind us that we have giant gaps in our knowledge of the past. One example is Alain Corbin’s The Life of an Unknown where he picks a name at random from a 19th Century civil registry and researches the history of that particular person as deep and wide as he can. Corbin isn’t writing an academic microhistory there, but actually trying to repair holes in our collective memory.

In previous posts on Robert T. Arthur, I was curious about how his daughter, Maude (above), died so young. She was only 23 when she died in 1916. After reading more about her life, I feel like I have discovered a remarkable person.

By all accounts, Maude had the trademark personality of a first born child: a leader, smart, willing to please. But tragedy struck her young family when she was 4 years old. Her baby sister, Lenora Fay, only 22 months old, died while the family was in Fort Scott, Kansas. (I’m not sure if Maude was also born in Fort Scott or if this was just a brief stay in Kansas. Like Denison, Fort Scott was a Katy Railroad stop and it’s likely he was on assignment there.) No doubt Maude carried some of her parents’ burden over that unforgettable tragedy throughout her life. Her parents did have another child, another girl, Marie, in 1902 when Maude was already 10. The difference in ages meant they were not likely as close as they would have liked to be. When Marie was ten years old, Maude had already graduated high school.

In high school, Maude was at the center of the social world. The Denison High School class of 1911 was small, but Maude stood out. In her junior year she was the Society Editor of the Denison High School Yellow Jacket (the yearbook which also published newsletters at the time). She was also an aspiring writer. Here is a story she contributed to the Christmas 1910 Yellow Jacket. (I transcribed it below.) I think the story displays incredible maturity for an 18 year-old girl and a real ability at crafting stories.

The Bernhardts’ Christmas Gift

By Maude Arthur

The cottage homes of the Bernhardts stood side by side in exact duplicate with the hanging baskets on the porch and the well laid off vegetable garden in the rear. So was the relation of the families. But of late the Mesdames Bernhardts, who had always begun and ended their house-cleaning seasons on the same day, whose preserves and jellies tallied to a jar and who made their patchwork quilts from the same pattern, had gotten in the habit of shaking their heads and lamenting that Herman and August were not happy any more spending their days in making their compounds or sitting on the green bench in the evenings smoking their long-stemmed pipes. Nowadays the men spent all their time in their laboratory, which stretched along the end of the two yards, and worked in bad smelling messes and evil looking mixtures. “And no good would come of this,” said Mena to Lena.

When the cousins took in a partner, a shock-headed young man with a queer uncatchable eye that never looked straight at anyone, Mena said it was nothing than the doings of the unsound minds of the cousins; for outside of this, August, her husband, had talked recently in his sleep about a “solution” that would bring him wealth beyond measure. When questioned about it, he became angry, but finally told her that he had come upon a combination of certain liquids that lacked but one ingredient to make a substance from which the most beautiful jewels could be made. This one ingredient he would find then—hey for fame. He said that Herman had helped a little, but only a very little, the idea was his, August’s and the fame would be given him when the time came.

Lena also questioned her husband about the wonderful discovery, Herman seemingly informed her that the fame belonged to him and that August was only helping him. However, she would see when the missing link was found who would get the glory. The new partner who was experienced in chemical matters had been taken on to assist in the detail work and to help along the research for the last ingredient.

Then the lives of the two fraus became miserable, for they loved their husbands dearly and they loved each other dearly. They now foresaw the troublesome times ahead. The breach between the two families soon widened; both Herman and August became cross and sullen toward each other and each bade his wife not to visit or have anything to say to the wife of the other. Sorrow and dismay descended on the good wives, whose stolen interviews could not bring much comfort since Herman and August were at the point of blows.

One morning a fearful shock came to August and Mena; during the night Herman had stolen away taking with him his wife, the rascally new partner, and all of the precious discovery.

Up and down the white-colored kitchen raged the cheated cousin, wrenching his gray hair into wild disorder and bidding Mena hold her tongue when she tried to comfort him. Then his mood changed and he vowed to find his tricky kinsman, though it cost him years of life and hundreds of dollars, and wrest from him the magic compound which he had stolen. This was a vast undertaking. Herman’s house had been shut up, and no one could be found who was able to throw any light on the subject.

Soon August prepared to leave on his strange quest. The cottage was locked up, the cat given to a neighbor, and Mena beheld but a quivering mist as, with tear-blurred eyes, she bade farewell to her beloved cabbage garden.

Then followed the long, dreary pilgrimage of the aged couple. Now and then vague tidings of Herman’s movements came to them, but finally giving up all hope of finding his cousin, he settled in a little cottage far distant from his old home and fitted up a miniature laboratory where he worked day and night to duplicate the priceless mixture which had been stolen from him. But it was useless as he’d forgotten the very ingredients as well as the details of the process.

Mena, worn out with the long and fruitless search, was glad to have some scrubbing, washing, and something to do. August, who was so low in spring, would help her in nothing, so the poor soul was obliged to potter around with her pantry-shelves, her newly sorted window plants and such balm-giving occupations. It was a good day for her when she discovered a curious closet under the stair with a ….. like this paneling that  therefore she had overlooked it. Then she bought her…. (If you’d like to read the rest of the story, please click here:


Some context about this story: Denison High School had recently built a chemistry lab on campus. It was considered the height of sophistication and scientific advancement. Marie Curie was all over the newspapers then, having won the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics (she would also win the 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry). The women’s suffrage movement was acquiring an air of inevitability and progressive young women, like Maude, were looking to do more than study home economics.

During Maude’s high school years, the Arthur family lived at 1030 W. Sears St. in Denison (they had moved from 700 W. Owings St., and in later years the Arthur family lived at 1023 W. Morton).

Screen shot 2015-01-19 at 1.37.21 PM


It was at this house where Maude hosted the high school class for a Halloween party, which she described in her society column in the 1910 Yellow Jacket.



[Maude’s boyfriend was Leslie Cash, on the bottom row here, in the center, with the dark suit. He’s also the “One Who Loved Her” who wrote the tribute to her, below.]





Leslie Cash

(These photos are terrible quality-wise but they are all I have found so far.)

Leslie Cash later moved to Oklahoma and married a woman named Glennis. Their son, Robert, was born in 1924 and served in World War II. He passed away in 2013, but his experience as a prisoner of war in Europe is quite incredible:

He trained as a radio operator and top turret gunner on the B-24 Liberator. He was with the 8th Air Force, 492nd Bomb Group, based in Norwich, England. He was privileged to fly on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Two weeks later, on his 13th mission, his aircraft was shot down over the Baltic Sea. Bob was badly burned and wounded. He bailed from the burning plane, was rescued by German Marines and classified as a POW. At the time, he didn’t know it, but Bob was the sole survivor of a crew of 10 men. Not a day in his life went by without remembrance of those crewmen. He spent more than 10 months as a POW, living on quarter rations. On Feb. 6, 1945, they struck out in the snow for what they were told was a 16-day march that ended 90 days and 800 miles later from the starting point. It was aptly named “The German Death March,” as some 2,500 POWs perished on that march. The British 11th Armored Division, one week before peace was declared in Europe, mercifully liberated them.
 Maude_3 Maude_4
Shortly after these school photos were taken, for her senior year, Maude got sick. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly after she graduated high school and her condition worsened. In the first decade of the twentieth century, tuberculosis was so common that many families had a consumptive member. The disease was little understood and prevention included anti-spitting campaigns, an increase in hygiene, and various types of supplemental air.
(A typical sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in Texas.)
In early 1914, the Arthur family decided to move to a dryer, desert climate in west Texas. Robert T. Arthur kept an apartment at a rooming house at 214 N. Mirick Ave. It was thought that dry, desert air could help cure tuberculosis. There were two smaller sanatoriums in San Angelo and a larger colony just outside San Angelo, founded in 1909 (sometimes called “Sanatorium, Texas“.) It’s not clear to me yet which of these housed Maude. Her sister Marie stayed behind in Denison to attend school. The 1915 city directory lists only Robert T. as a resident of Denison.


Alas, she didn’t survive. Maude L. Arthur died in San Angelo, Texas, at the age of 23.

(As before, I am transcribing these newspaper articles so that the text may be searchable.)


Denison Daily Herald, January 8, 1916

Popular Denison Girl Dies in San Angelo

A message received in Denison this morning from San Angelo conveyed the sad news of the death of Miss Maude Arthur, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Arthur.

Death occurred at 9:30 a.m. today. Mr. Arthur, who is a passenger conductor for the Katy, and the youngest daughter, Marie, who is attending the public schools in Denison this winter, left the city at an early hour this morning for San Angelo in response to a message stating that the condition of Miss Maude was very critical. They will not reach San Angelo until tonight. Mrs. Arthur was with her daughter when death came.

The remains, accompanied by the family, will leave San Angelo Sunday morning and are expected to arrive in Denison Monday morning. No definite word as to the funeral arrangements have reached here as yet.

Too many words of love and commendation cannot be spoken of Maude, who was universally loved in Denison. She was a member of the Denison High school class of 1911, and was a member and faithful worker in the First Presbyterian church of this city. The memory of the many charitable acts of kindness and her sweet and lovable ways will dwell forever in the hearts and minds of all those with whom she was associated in any way. Her life was one of purity, filled with the love of true friends.

Owing to the impaired condition of the deceased’s health, the Arthur family left Denison about two years ago, going to San Angelo, in the hopes that the change of climate would be of material benefit to her, but all was done that the mortal hands could do, and “He who doeth all things well” called her home.]



[Denison Daily Herald, January 10, 1916

Hundreds Paid Last Tribute to Miss Arthur

Hundreds of sorrowing friends, including many out-of-town residents, gathered at the First Presbyterian church at 3 o’clock this afternoon to pay their last respects to Maude Lorene Arthur, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Arthur, whose death occurred at 9:30 o’clock Saturday morning at San Angelo.

The remains, accompanied by the parents, the sister, Marie, and Leslie Cash of Denison, who accompanied Mr. Arthur and Marie to San Angelo Saturday morning and Mrs. W. P. Hulen and Mrs. Joe Davis, who met the party in Dallas, arrived in the city on the Katy Flyer this morning. Many friends of the family met the body at the depot and accompanied it to the Presbyterian church, where it lay in state, until the funeral service at 3 p.m. Interment was made in Fairview cemetery.

Among the societies who attended the funeral in bodies were the Madge Waples Circle of the Presbyterian church, the As You Like It club and the class of 1911 of the Denison High school, all of which Maude was a member until she let Denison about two years ago. Maude was one of whom her associates can truly say “she was a friend,” always ready to lend her assistance in any way.

The services were simple and impressive and were conducted by Rev. J.E. Aubrey. As the family entered the church the choir sang softly and sweetly “Lead Kindly Light.” This was followed by hymns, “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Asleep in Jesus,” and “Home of the Soul.” The recessional sung by the choir was “Nearer My God To Thee.”

Floral offerings of every design covered the mound at Fairview, speaking in a small way of the love and friendship cherished by the host of deeply grieved friends. The conductor organizations and railway offices of almost every station both on the North and South end of the Katy sent beautiful flowers in wreaths and bouquets.

The session of the First Presbyterian church acted as pall bearers.

Among the out-of-town friends who attended the funeral were: D.S. Mcmillan of Whitewright, Mr. and Mrs. Tee Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. M.S. Barton, Mrs. A.F. Henning of Dallas; Mrs. C.M. Stone and daughter, Miss Alta, of Parsons, Kas.; J.R. Kramer of Hillsboro.]

Researching all of this about Maude has deeply affected me. I have given great consideration to the fact that Maude Arthur has not walked this earth in almost 100 years but her headstone remains in near-perfect condition. I have considered how advances in medicine and transportation have changed our ability to prolong life over the course of a century. I have pondered the nature of success and accomplishment and how little of it truly endures, mostly due to the whims of an uncontrollable fate.


Rest in peace, Maude.

More on Robert T. Arthur and Family

Posted: January 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Since my initial post on this subject back in October, I have done some more digging and uncovered more of the story of Denison resident, and prominent Mason, Robert T. Arthur.

First, thanks to the granddaughter of his sister, Sue Major Holmes, I’ve received these photos of him. I am posting these pictures here with her permission.

I’d estimate this photo of him to be from the late 1930s.


Robert T. Arthur

According to Sue, this photo dates from 1943-46 since her mother, Martha Major, pictured here, is in her Army nurse’s uniform. It’s neat that you can also see Arthur’s pocket watch (he was a railroad conductor).



Over the Christmas break, I went to Denison to visit family and stopped by Fairview Cemetery (where both my grandfathers and one great-grandfather are buried). It’s a fairly large cemetery and the attendant was not there so I was not sure where to find Arthur’s grave. My mom and I drove around for about ten minutes before I spotted it near the front. There is a family grave marker that just says “Arthur” and headstone each for Robert T. Arthur, his wife Lenora E. Arthur, their daughter Maude, who died at age 23, and their young daughter Lenora Fay, who died at only 22 months old. The Arthur’s youngest daughter, Marie, is also buried in Fairview with her husband, W. Roy Miller, but I could not find her grave on this visit.

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Little Lenora Fay was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, and buried there in 1896. When the Arthurs moved to Denison, they had her body disinterred and re-interred in 1904 in Denison. Fort Scott was a depot stop on the MKT Railroad (like Denison) and it was Robert’s job as a conductor that brought the family to Denison, Texas.

I have collected more information about Maude and Marie Arthur and will post more about them soon.

Leo Stephen Bucher, WWI Bugler

Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This Veteran’s Day I find myself thinking of a man I never met: my great-grandfather Leo Stephen Bucher. He was born in 1890 in Berlin, Germany, and died in 1955 in Dallas, Texas. His parents were named Paul and Elisabeth Belan, and they emigrated to the US in December 1901. They settled in Chicago, working menial jobs in factories and restaurants, but Leo escaped. Sometime between 1906 and 1907 he jumped on a freight train and began tramping around the United States. (I’m condensing some of this story here.) In 1908 he fell ill while riding a train across northern Missouri and hopped off near a tiny town called Powersville. There he was sheltered and raised by a childless couple: Reuben T. and Alice A. Bucher. The Buchers formally adopted Leo at the age of 21 and he went into business with his adopted father: R.T. Bucher & Son. Together they owned several businesses in Powersville including a mercantile, a Sinclair filling station, and a restaurant. Reuben was active in the small Masonic lodge in Powersville and had his son initiated into the lodge in 1913. (In 1905, Reuben and Alice Bucher helped form Order of the Eastern Star Chapter #278 in Powersville, Missouri. They were both charter members and Alice was installed as the Chapter’s first Associate Matron.)

From 1914-1916 Leo Stephen attended Chillicothe Business College (in Missouri) and the N.E. Missouri State Teacher’s College (now called Truman State University) in Kirksville, Missouri, studying business and mathematics.


The United States formally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. One month later President Wilson enacted a draft, requiring all males age 21-30 to register for service. Leo Stephen Bucher was drafted into the US Army on June 5, 1917. He was sent to Camp Dodge, Iowa, but was sent back to Powersville because he was still a German citizen. He was not allowed to enlist and was thrown in jail. The problem was he had no proof of legal US residency, only an alien registration card and his adoption papers. His adopted father Reuben intervened on his behalf and after several tense days he was released and allowed to enlist before the next expansion of the draft. Leo S. Bucher officially entered the army on May 25, 1918. He was conveniently made a US citizen at the Polk County Court House in Des Moines on June 13, 1918.

photo 3-20140914-165849619

[courtesy of David Bucher]

At Fort Dodge, Leo S. Bucher (above, in uniform) was given the rank of Bugler, at that time equivalent to Private. Here is his Infantry Drill Regulations manual which outlines the duties of the Bugler and includes sheet music for different calls.


[courtesy of James Bucher]

Here is his bugle:


[courtesy of David Bucher]

The soldiers at Camp Dodge were almost all residents of Iowa and northern Missouri. They were part of the Army’s 88th Division and Leo was assigned to C Company, 351st Infantry, 88th Division (Clover Leaf Division) – part of the AEF, American Expeditionary Force. There is an excellent history of the 88th Division in World War I here:


[Human Statue of Liberty – 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, IA, courtesy of Wikipedia]

Company C shipped out to France on August 16, 1918, arriving in Le Havre on September 4. The Division moved by rail from Le Havre to Semur, Cote d’Or, and then to Belfort, France, freeing up the 29th Division to capture enemy artillery positions in the area. In October 1918 Leo was wounded by bomb shrapnel outside of Gommersdorf, France (Southern Sub-Sector) and recovered at a nearby farmhouse. By the time he returned to the 351st Infantry at Belfort, armistice had been declared (November 11 – 96 years ago today) and the war was over. The 88th Division spent the next nine months in France demobilizing, training, attending schools, playing sports, staging plays, and preparing for their return to the United States.


Near the end of their demobilization, the 88th Division spent several weeks in Paris sightseeing and celebrating. I am fortunate to have with me a postcard that Leo Stephen Bucher sent to his father Reuben from Paris:

parispostcard2 parispostcard1

 [Paris, April 5th, 1919
Hello Rube!–—
Am having a time with a Master Mason in Gay Par-ee! Understand we are in the Army of Occupation.
Sure am having a time]

He returned to the United States on May 31. On June 9, 1919, he was formally discharged from the military at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. {The novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald also trained at Camp Zach Taylor and mentions it in The Great Gatsby.}

Camp Zachary Taylor - folder cover

After he returned to Powersville, he met a young Iowa girl named Mary and the two were married in Centerville, Iowa, on May 20, 1924. He was 33, she was 23. They had three children: David Reuben, born 1925, Alice Allene, born 1926, and my grandfather, Leo Warren, born 1929. Reuben entered the Army in March, 1943 and after 20 years service in the medical corps, he was discharged in 1963. Leo Warren entered the Army on November 5, 1950 at Fort Hood, Texas, and was discharged November 28, 1951 at Camp Polk, Louisiana. He served in the 193rd Heavy Tank Battalion.

There is much more to the story of Leo Stephen Bucher and I am working on a longer project about his life. But today I wanted to remember him as a war veteran.


Robert T. Arthur and the DeMolay Founder’s Cross

Posted: September 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

As a Senior DeMolay, I was intrigued by Seth Anthony’s quest to track down all 137 recipients of the DeMolay Founder’s Cross. The Founder’s Cross was presented by Dad Frank S. Land, founder of the Order of DeMolay, to individuals personally loyal to him. After Dad Land’s death in 1959, no further Founder’s Crosses were awarded. The first Founder’s Crosses were awarded in 1937. Its relative scarcity, and the high profile of many recipients, makes it perhaps the most prestigious award in the history DeMolay.



In Seth Anthony’s spreadsheet of recipients, one name stood out to me: Robert T. Arthur. It was notable not because I knew Dad Arthur—he died in 1949—but because he was a resident of Denison, Texas.

My family is from Denison. I went to Kindergarten and first grade there, my brother was born there, my mom, both my grandmothers, and many aunts and uncles still live there. It is as much of a homeland as I’ve ever had. But I know they have not had a DeMolay chapter there in a very long time. I joined the Order of DeMolay in Texas (Tyler) in 1992, and the chapter in Denison was a distant memory even then.

I considered myself familiar with the history of Texas DeMolay, but I had never heard of Dad Arthur. So I enlisted the help of everyone I could find to help track down some vital details about Robert T. Arthur on the distant hope that he might have some surviving relatives who could tell us more about him or what happened to his Founder’s Cross.

One individual, in particular, stepped forward to assist me in this search: Jim Sears. To him, I owe many thanks for tracking down these newspaper articles. His research skills are second-to-none. All of the photos below are a product of his research. Thank you, Jim.


The Railroad Man

Robert T. Arthur was born in Missouri in 1867. His family moved to Pilot Point, in Denton County, Texas, when he was young. Pilot Point is the oldest settlement in Denton County. It is still an operating city (unlike nearby Pilot Grove, birthplace of Benny Binion), and is still associated with horse breeding. Arthur graduated from Denton Normal school (now called the University of North Texas). He then worked in Denton as a school teacher before moving to Denison to take a job with the Katy Railroad in 1889. He worked as a conductor on passenger rail lines for over 50 years. In 1893, at the age of 26, he was elected an officer (Senior Conductor) in the Denison Division of the Order of Railway Conductors (the union representing passenger rail workers).


These newspaper articles are sometimes hard to read (and the text should be indexed by search engines) so I will transcribe them throughout.

[Sunday Gazetteer, Denison Texas, December 31, 1893

Division 53, of the Order of Railway Conductors, held an election of officers in their hall Thursday afternoon which resulted as follows: W.S. Oldham, C.C.; W.H. Tobin, A.C.C.; E.B. Kollert, secretary and treasurer; R.T. Arthur, S. C., Burt Cox, J.C.; J.L. Tygard, I.S.;  John Smythe, O.S.; J.H. Dolan, G.F. Miller, Jeff L. Finley, local committee, John L. Tygard, Sam Proud, J.T. Strait, trustees and finance committee.

Messrs. Daffin and Quinlan, of the Central, spent a few hours in Denison Friday.

The social event of the season among the railroad people of Denison was that of Thursday evening at the Woodmen’s hall—an entertainment and banquet given by the ladies’ auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Railway Conductors.]


The ritual for the ORC was very similar to a Masonic ceremony, so it’s not surprising that these men were members of several other fraternal organizations. Here is an example of an ORC membership card around the time Arthur joined the Brotherhood:


[image via]

R.T. Arthur married Ms. Lenora Tipton in Denison on July 22, 1891. The couple had three daughters: Faye, who died in infancy; Maude, who died in 1916 at age 24, and Marie, who later married Roy Miller. Robert and Lenora celebrated 50 years of marriage in Denison in 1941. He was the organizer and first advisor to the Denison Chapter of DeMolay, founded in 1921. Much of this information is gleaned from the 1941 newspaper article below.



[From The Denison Press, July 22, 1941

Mr. and Mrs. R.T. Arthur were celebrating their golden wedding Tuesday at their home, 1023 West Morton, while their daughter, Marie and her husband, Roy Miller, were observing their second anniversary. Due to the health of Mrs. Arthur, there will be no formal gathering. Later in the fall the Arthurs plan a trip to California.

Mrs. Arthur is the former Lenora Tipton, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. J.I. Tipton, who operated a farm east of Denison after moving here from Kansas. Mrs. Arthur was born in Illinois. She was married at the age of 17 to Robert T. Arthur, then a young Katy railroad man, just arrived from a school teacher’s job in Denton county. He is a graduate of what was then Denton Normal. He was born in Missouri, but moved to Pilot Point with his family when he was a small boy.

The couple married in Denison July 22, 1891, at the home of an aunt, now deceased. They had three children, all girls. Faye Arthur died in infancy. Miss Maude Arthur died in Denison in 1915. Miss Marie Arthur became the wife of W. Roy Miller on her parents’ anniversary two years ago.

Mr. and Mrs. Arthur have been active in the Order of Eastern Star and the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Arthur belongs to a number of Masonic bodies including local chapters and the Shrine, Hella Temple, Dallas, and is a 33rd degree Mason, participating in the activities of a group of 33rd members in Dallas. Mr. Arthur organized the Denison chapter of DeMolay and is active in the affairs of the Shrine hospital at Dallas.

Mrs. Arthur’s hobbies are fancy needle work and flower culture. She is a member of the Denison Garden club and specializes in flower arrangement.

Mr. Arthur’s railroad career dates back to the days when Denison was a wild and wooly frontier town. He has served almost half a century with the Katy and continues his passenger run as a conductor.]


Through his travels as a railroad conductor, R.T. Arthur was able to travel across Texas at free or reduced rates, easily attending Scottish Rite, Shrine, and DeMolay meetings in Dallas and beyond.

It’s telling that a man, like Frank S. Land himself, who had no sons of his own, organized a group of young men into a fraternal organization that was a model for others. What tragedy to bury two daughters.

His surviving daughter, Marie, married Roy Miller and taught at Denison High School for many years.


She passed away in 1991, leaving Robert T. Arthur with no living descendants.


Denison DeMolay

The Order of DeMolay for boys was organized Frank S. Land in Kansas City, Missouri. The first meeting was held March 24, 1919. More chapters were quickly founded across the country.

The chapter in Denison, Texas, was organized in January 1921. It was the 200th chapter founded, with Letters Temporary granted on January 28, 1921. Denison was one of the first chapters of DeMolay in Texas. Ameth Chapter, in El Paso, was the first: it was founded in 1920.

The Denison High School Yearbook from 1937 includes this page of the members and a brief history of the chapter.



[Denison, Texas, High School Yearbook, 1937


TOP ROW: Jack Blackburn, Bill Conatser, Guy Cooke, Leland Cornell, Lewis Cox, and Harlston Crites

SECOND ROW: Clifford Ealer, Paul Horn, Keith Hubbard, Royden Lebrecht, James Miller, and Ben Oram

BOTTOM ROW: J.W. Ownby, Ray Shone, Bill Snoddy, Carl Thompson, Harry Whitmore, and Aaron Witz

The Order of DeMolay originated March 24, 1919, with Frank S. Land of Kansas City, who is now Secretary General of the Grand Council.

The Denison Chapter was the two hundredth one organized, receiving its Letters Temporary on January 28, 1921, with R.T. Arthur, Chairman of the first Advisory Council. On April 1, 1921, the first meeting was held when twenty charter members were initiated into the order.

The Order of DeMolay is now an international organization with over 1330 chapters located in every State of the Union and many foreign countries. Membership is open to boys between the ages of 15 and 21 who prove themselves to be worthy of affiliation.

Initiation into the order is a declaration by the member that he believes in the ideals of good sonship, good citizenship and other qualities of superior young manhood.

Its main purpose is to develop leaders for the community by encouraging high-grade, all around mental, physical, social, economic and spiritual development.

The Denison Chapter rates among the finest in the United States which position it has sustained through sincere work of its members and through the splendid leadership and guidance of its advisors.

The chapter has won 17 cups in competitive degree work and has received numerous honors from the Grand Council for outstanding leadership.

Its present membership is composed of about 50 young men under the following officers:

Master Councilor, Jack Blackburn; Senior Councilor, James Hogg; Junior Councilor, Ray Shone; Senior Deacon, Pat Perry; Junior Deacon, James Miller; Stuart Cooper, Chaplain; Aaron Witz, Marshal; James Drake, Senior Steward; Lewis Cox, Junior Steward; Bob Bailey, Standard Bearer; Harleston Crites, Sentinel; James Carpenter, Scribe; Preceptors: Clifford Ealer, Guy Cooke, Keith Hubbard, Leland Cornell, Richard Vanston, J.W. Ownby, and Ben Oram.

It has on its advisory board twelve members of the Denison Commandery, headed by Verne W. Murray, as chairman and H.H. Vanston as Chapter Advisor.]

Here are some of the Denison High School year book (The Yellowjacket) pages for the DeMolay club in the 1920s. Here is 1924:



And here is 1925:DHS_DeMolays_1924YJ_pg67

As far as I can tell, the chapter was active and productive from 1921 until the 1960s. One of the high points in the life of the chapter came in 1937 when Dad Arthur was awarded the Founder’s Cross by Frank S. Land at the Conclave in Waco.


 [Waco News-Tribune, June 18, 1937

DeMolays Receive Highest Honor at Hands of Founder

Frank S. Land of Kansas City Confers Legion Award on Members of Young Men’s Order

3 Wacoans given Special Awards

Alva Bryan, Robert Arthur and Lee Dewey Are Handed Crosses in Recognition of Work

The legion of honor, the highest distinction which a DeMolay can receive, was conferred on five young men of Texas last night by Frank S. Land of Kansas City, founder of the Order of DeMolay. Mr. Land also presented for the first time in the history of the order, his personal founders cross to three men, Alva Bryan, Robert Arthur, and Lee Dewey in recognition of their faithful work with DeMolay in Texas.

Those who received the legion of honor for outstanding leadership in some worthwhile endeavor are as follows: Mandell H. Cline, Mexia; Elwood Henry Brown, Houston; Maxwell Goodman, Fort Worth; Randolph Jackson, Hillsboro, and Robert Lewis, Hillsboro. 

Altar is in White

At an altar of white, surrounded by white candles, the five candidates for the degree knelt and took their vows from Mr. Land. Each preceptor placed a bouquet on the altar. A choir furnished the music. This degree was the first event of a three-day session of the state DeMolay conclave, which continues through Saturday. Today there will be the business sessions until 5:30 p.m. at which time there will be a downtown parade featuring stunts, and each chapter in Texas will be represented. A banquet and three-hour floor show will be presented tonight starting at 7:30 o’clock for all registered DeMolays.

Officers in Ceremony

Officers who conducted the ceremony were as follows: Commander in the east, Frank S. Land; Commander in the west, James Blundell; commander in the south, Pat Taggart; herald, Sidney Dobbins; grand marshal, J. Floyd Smith; grand chaplain, Jack H. Harrison; first preceptor, R.L. Othling; second preceptor, Hugh Keahey; third preceptor, George Denton; fourth preceptor, Billy Smith; fifth preceptor, George Lovell; sixth preceptor, Alva Bryan; and seventh preceptor, Lee Glasgow of Cleburne.

As apart of the ceremony Thursday night, Columbus Avenue Baptist church choir, under direction of Harry Lee Spencer, sang.

Former members of Waco chapter who have received the Legion of Honor degree are Tom Mabray, Hugh Keahey, Guy Blair, Pat Taggart, Jack Grove, Jack Harrison, Melvin Mailander and Theodore Lauck. Registration for Waco DeMolays began Thursday morning at 10 o’clock at the Shrine temple. At 3 o’clock that afternoon official registration for visiting DeMolays began in the lobby of Hotel Raleigh. With the exception of the legion of honor ceremony Thursday night, no admission was granted to any session without the registration badge.

Out-of-town DeMolays arriving on trains and busses were met and welcomed by Mack Byrom, Bob Hyde, pat Patterson, Billy Wigley, James Warner, and Edmund Avriett.]


This event marked the first time that Dad Land had awarded a Founder’s Cross. If they went alphabetically, Robert T. Arthur might have received the very first Founder’s Cross, though Alva Bryan was Executive Officer at the time and might have come first in precedence for Dad Land. It is a remarkable honor that Texas DeMolay Conclave hosted Dad Land personally awarding the Legion of Honor and Founder’s Crosses on this day in 1937.

Thanks again to Jim Sears for providing these images and researching all of this with me.

If you have any information about Robert T. Arthur, Marie Miller, Denison DeMolay, or the Founder’s Cross, please contact me at

Interview with Greg Carlisle and Nick Maniatis

Posted: June 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: DFW, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Over at The Howling Fantods, Greg Carlisle and I were interviewed by Nick Maniatis about the history of Greg’s books Elegant Complexity and Nature’s Nightmare.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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