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138 Old San Antonio Rd. | Suite 504 | Boerne TX 78006
118 S. Main St. • Boerne, TX 78006
4 | EXPLORE
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8 From The Publisher
18 Art Of
34 Old Timer
EXPLORE magazine is published by Schooley Media Ventures in
Boerne, TX. EXPLORE Magazine and Schooley Media Ventures are not
responsible for any inaccuracies, erroneous information, or typographical
errors contained in this publication submitted by advertisers. Opinions
expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of EXPLORE and/or
Schooley Media Ventures. Copyright 2020 Schooley Media Ventures,
Boerne, TX 78006
Samuel holds a master
of divinity from a large
Southern Baptist seminary
in Fort Worth. He completed
coursework for a Ph.D. in New
Testament before he left, too.
He served various ministries
from 2005-2016 before
getting into something more
straightforward and honest -
Matt Kersh is a freelance writer
out of Boerne, Texas that
focuses on almost exclusively
on the local music scene. Kersh
is an accomplished musician
who plays hundreds of shows
throughout Texas and the
Southwest United States.
Texas born and bred. HR
Professional, Chef, cake artist,
recipe developer, writer, and
frequent insomniac. Habitual
do-gooder and chronic
optimist, living my best life in
Boerne. Be kind. Make wise
choices. Be happy. I love you!
I have been married for 38 years,
we relocated to Corpus Christi
12 years ago. Love living on the
coast with my husband, dogs,
cats, chickens and rabbits. I enjoy
art, music, reading and spending
time with my husband. We have
a married son and a married
daughter I also have 6 grand
daughters, and one married
grandson and 2 great grandsons.
Local alumnus and advocate,
Casey Janes Bonham highlights
her talents and purpose with
insight and focus on social work.
She prides herself on having
a network focused impact on
life, struggle and victory. Casey
is a licensed social worker
with an additional Masters in
from Baylor Texas. As a Texas
native, she dedicates her life to her family, professional evolution,
community therapy and specialty court treatment.
Old Timer Just Old Timer
The Old Timer tells us he's
been a resident of Boerne
since about 1965. He enjoys
telling people what he doesn't
like. When not bust'n punks
he can be found feeding the
ducks just off Main St. or
wandering aimlessly in the
newly expanded HEB. Despite
his rough and sometimes
brash persona, Old Timer is
really a wise and thoughtful
individual. If you can sort
through the BS.
Benjamin D. Schooley
Benjamin N. Weber
6 | EXPLORE
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DEAREST EXPLORE READER,
Dearest EXPLORE reader,
James Robertson is a factory worker in Detroit. Each
day he wakes up and begins a 21-mile journey to his job
that pays $10.55/hour. He has no car, so James walks
that distance each day. At the end of his 8 hour shift, he
reverses course, and completes his 42 mile roundtrip
journey on foot every weekday. He walks as he has no car
that he can afford, so this has been James’ routine for the
A local news program heard of James’ story, and aired it
one night on the news. A story to end the broadcast with
so that we could all revel at James’ work ethic.
A 19 year old college student named Evan Leedy was
watching the news that night and found the story to be
quite touching. The next day he logged onto GoFundMe.
com and established an account for people to donate to
James, and set the goal at $5000 to help him get a cheap
car and maybe make a few insurance payments for him.
Within a month there were over $350,000 in donations
made on James’ behalf. Evan delivered the car to his new
friend James, and Evan recounted, “Before James drove
off in his new car to go home, he gave me a big hug and
said ‘It’s not even about the money and the car, it’s about
random strangers like you wanting to help a guy like me
just doing what I was blessed to do.’”
I’ve written about my friend Pedro that I worked with
in Florida. I’ve written about my old college roommate,
the guy that mowed my yard, a dog I once found, and
Greg Noble, whom I picked on in grade school and
who eventually kicked my ass over it. I’ve chronicled
my brother’s death from cancer, the breakdown of my
marriages, and even Houston traffic. I’ve rattled on about
words of wisdom from my parents, the stupid ducks by
the river, and my children. I’ve touched on every subject
imaginable and have found great “meaning” behind some
of life’s most mundane (and not so mundane) experiences.
Almost universally, these experiences are tied back to
random moments of time where my life bumped into
someone else’s. These little moments where fate brought
us together, even if for a moment, and I was left writing
about it years later. I was changed, most of the time for the
better, and my life’s trajectory was altered.
No, I’ve never been touched by a news broadcast and
been inspired to raise $350,000 for a stranger although
I wish that I have. When I heard of this story and Evan
and James, I suppose I found some really great inspiration
not only in these two characters, but in a lot of other
characters. Let me explain.
All around us, life is occurring. Sometimes it’s beautiful,
and sometimes it is very, very ugly. Sometimes it’s just flat
out mundane. But rest assured, as this little blue marble
spins in space, we are all bumping into each other at
various times and having a variety of influences on one
another. I think that every story that our lives create can
be found to be inspiring. Much like James and Evan.
I think that we often minimize the beauty of our stories in
our lives. We shrug our shoulders at some of the obstacles
we have overcome and mumble “I just did what I had
to do.” Or we humbly disappear into the shadows when
someone wants to celebrate the impact we might have had
on someone. We put our hands out and say “No thanks is
necessary” and shyly let the subject quiet down.
If I sat down to type up the life story of the late Sam
Champion, and how he overcame alcoholic parents and
many life struggles only to become the Boerne High
School principal that impacted so many lives that his
funeral had to be held at the UTSA gymnasium in order
to accommodate the numbers of people that came to
pay their respects, you would say that he was a pretty
extraordinary man. He, on the other hand, always
laughed, gave you a hug and just told you to “Behave!”
if you embarrassed him by telling him what he meant to
I have a friend that is a single parent of three young kids
here in town, and is doing everything that she can to get
by. She works with a local ministry because her heart is
passionate about it, and makes very little income. She
pawns her household items so that she can take her kids
to the movies sometimes, and does everything she has
to do in order to keep them happy and content. And you
know what? Her kids are lights in a dark world. They
want for nothing (though they have little), and they are
learning what hard work and dedication look like via
their mother. She is up late at night worrying, but her
independence will always keep her moving forward. It’s
almost like a Hollywood script, but it’s happening at the
corner of Plant and Rosewood right here in town.
My friend Johnny quit his career in the restaurant
industry because “God told me to.” He moved to the
crummiest part of San Antonio, started a church, and
stands around on street corners in the dead of night and
prays with people. He takes people sleeping on benches
into his home and feeds them. How many lives has he
changed? How many people are out there right now
telling the story of this tattooed guy named Pastor Johnny
who helped them get out of the gutter and ultimately
on to living a great life? How many generations will be
impacted because of one guy handing out food at 2am to
broken people? And how many of you have ever heard of
The story of James and Evan is a great one that received
a fair amount of publicity. The news covered it, Facebook
posted all about it, and millions of people smiled due
to Evan’s kindness. I smiled, too. However, I think that
stories like James and Evan are literally everywhere….
if you look for them. Heck, you are probably the key
character in a story that someone is telling about your
impact on their lives at some point. You may not even
know about that impact, but I have to believe that all of
us have the ability to impact each other in very profound
ways. What seemed mundane to you, altered another’s
life. And frankly, I find that to be very beautiful.
Look around you. Breathe in the experiences of this life,
and dig until you can find the beauty in the stories you
are witnessing. The stories you need to know about don’t
always air on the evening news, but rather, they play out
every day and in every way that you seek to find them.
Welcome to August. May you take this month to really
focus on the beautiful things that your life contains.
EXPLORE your heart and witness the amazing stories
unfolding around you. They are there for the taking, and
maybe you’ll even be inspired to write your own new….
8 | EXPLORE
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Get out and enjoy the great Texas Hill Country!
The most comprehensive events calendar. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
August 1: Texas Ranger Day and History Symposium
Honoring those who have served and those still
commissioned, Texas Rangers Day is a two-part event
featuring historians and educational programs. The
day includes reenactments by Living History HQ
Company Rangers, focusing on the time periods
between 1823 and 1960, Ranger Camp setups, cannon
firing, and memorabilia displays. When: Aug. 1 Where:
Texas Rangers Heritage Center at Fort Martin Scott
FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More Information: Phone:
August 7: First Friday Art Walk Participating fine art
galleries remain open until 8 p.m. so that visitors have
time to enjoy the various events and exhibits planned
throughout the day along with local refreshments. Just
look for the galleries flying the Art Walk Flag. When: Aug.
7 Where: Various locations FREDERICKSBURG, Texas
More Information: Phone: Website: firstfridayartwalkfbg.
August 7-16: ”Smokey Joe’s Cafe” Fredericksburg Theater
Company presents this musical inspired by the songs
of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the duo who virtually
invented rock ‘n’ roll. When: Aug. 7-16 Where: Steve
W. Shepherd Theater FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More
Information Website: fredericksburgtheater.org
August 8, 9, 22, 23: Pari Mutuel Horse Racing During
summer, catch four big weekends of exciting live
horse racing. Pick your favorites for quarter horse and
thoroughbred racing as well as special races, trials, and
futurities. When: Aug. 8, 9, 22, 23 Where: Gillespie
County Fairgrounds FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More
Information: Phone: 830-997-8515 Website: gillespiefair.
August 14-16: Trade Days Shop from more than 400
vendors in seven barns and acres of antiques, collectibles,
tools, crafts, shabby chic, primitives, ranch furniture,
hunting accessories, candles, unique clothing, jewelry, and
food. When: Aug. 14-16 Where: Fredericksburg Trade
Days FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More Information:
August 15: Luckenbach Historic School Open House
Presented by the Friends of Gillespie County Country
Schools, whose motto is “preserving the past to enrich
the future,” this tour takes visitors inside Luckenbach’s
historic school, a former rural school that is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. Docents are on hand
to reminisce about school days past. When: Aug. 15 Where:
Luckenbach Historic School FREDERICKSBURG, Texas
More Information: Phone: Website: historicschools.org
August 20-23: Gillespie County Fair and Parade The
Gillespie County Fair is the oldest continuous county fair
in Texas, celebrating its 132nd year. For four days, enjoy
a carnival and midway, traditional fair food, livestock
judging, agricultural and household exhibits, arts and
crafts, antique tractor shows, live music, dancing, and
live pari-mutuel horse racing. Bring you chairs and arrive
early for the county fair parade, which takes place on Main
Street from South Washington to Edison streets on Aug. 21.
When: Aug. 20-23 Where: Gillespie County Fairgrounds
and Exhibition Hall FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More
Information: Phone: Website: gillespiefair.com
August 23: Concert in the Park: Hosted by Pedernales
Creative Arts Alliance, this month’s free Sunday evening
concert features country artists Johnny McGowan and
the Rugged Gents. Bring your chairs, eats, and drinks.
10 | EXPLORE
When: Aug. 23 Where: Adelsverein Halle at Marktplatz
FREDERICKSBURG, Texas More Information: Phone:
July 17-August 1: ”Steel Magnolias” Written by Robert
Harling, the classic comedy-drama chronicles the
bond that exists among a group of Southern women in
northwest Louisiana. When: July 17-Aug. 1 Where: Hill
Country Arts Foundation Point Theatre INGRAM, Texas
More Information: Phone: 830-367-5121 Website: hcaf.
August 14-30: “No Body Like Jimmy” Directed by Jeffery
Hensel, this hilarious comedy involves a dead body and
two people running around trying to convince everyone
that the person is still alive. When: Aug. 14-30 Where:
Hill Country Arts Foundation INGRAM, Texas More
Information: Phone: 830-367-5121 Website: hcaf.com
August 22: JC Art Walk Local galleries open with current
exhibitions, featuring artists highlighting their latest
projects. When: Aug. 22 Where: JC Art Walk JOHNSON
CITY, Texas More Information: Phone: 830-868-7684
July 31-August 2: Sizzler Disc Golf Tourney Approximately
100 teams travel to Junction, Texas to participate in the
Professional Disc Golf Association disc golf tournament.
The course is located along the Llano River, providing
a beautiful setting, lots of shade, and plenty of space for
disc golfers to enjoy the event. When: July 31-Aug. 2
Where: Sizzler Disc Golf Tourney JUNCTION, Texas
More Information: Phone: 325-446-6565 Website:
August 14-15: Hill Country Fair Association Rodeo/Dance
Both nights feature bull riding and nightly dancing.
The Hill Country Fair Association provides the best in
summer entertainment there is to offer. When: Aug.
14-15 Where: Hill Country Fair Assoc. Rodeo/Dance
JUNCTION, Texas More Information: Phone: 254-212-
9160 Website: junctiontexas.com
August 15: Martin Memorial Car Show Show off your
unique automobile or just check out other people’s entries.
Cars featured are hot rods, customized, or antique,
along with other categories. The car show is held in
conjunction with the rodeo, parade, and class reunions.
Cars from across the nation gather under the shade trees
surrounding the courthouse, and the Llano River is right
around the corner for those wanting to cool off. When:
Aug. 15 Where: Kimble County Courthouse Square
JUNCTION, Texas More Information: Phone: 325-446-
2955 Website: junctiontexas.com
August 4, 11, 18: Two Ton Tuesdays It wouldn’t be
summertime without popular rock-a-billy band Two
Tons of Steel holding court in Gruene Hall every Tuesday
evening. If you haven’t caught Two Ton fever yet, grab
your dancing shoes and get ready when the band takes
the stage at 8:30 p.m. Come early for swing dance lessons
from 6 to 7 p.m. ($10 per person). When: June 2, 9, 16, 23,
30; July 7, 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4, 11, 18 Where: Gruene Hall
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information: Phone:
830-606-1281 Website: gruenehall.com
August 7, 14, 21, 28: Friday Afternoon Club at Gruene
Hall A Gruene Hall tradition, now in its 21st year,
where hipsters, oldsters, suits, locals, and drifters mix
it up to start their weekend rite (pun intended). This
quintessential Friday happy hour celebrates the warmer
weather with great beer prices, prize giveaways, and the
best in Texas tunes broadcast live by KNBT 92.1 FM
Radio New Braunfels. When: June 5, 12, 19, 26; July 3,
10, 17, 24, 31; Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28 Where: Gruene Hall
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information: Phone:
830-606-1281 Website: gruenehall.com
August 20: Come and Taste It: Meet Texas’ Best
Winemakers Sample some of the best wines and craft
brews in the state at The Grapevine in Gruene Historic
District. A featured winemaker showcases three of their
newly released, top-selling, or hardest to find wines,
alongside a craft brew hand-picked by The Grapevine
staff.When:June 18; July 16; Aug. 20 Where: The
Grapevine NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information:
Phone: 830-606-0093 Website: grapevineIngruene.com
August 15-16: Old Gruene Market Days Nearly 100
vendors offer uniquely crafted items and packaged
Texas foods at this monthly market. Market hours
are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. When: June 20-21; July 18-19;
Aug. 15-16 Where: Gruene Historic District NEW
BRAUNFELS, Texas More Information: Phone: Website:
July 31-August 2: Summer North American Jewelry and
Gift Show Don’t miss the incredible selection of jewelry,
beads, fashion, gifts, handmade goods, and beauty
products. When: July 31-Aug. 2 Where: New Braunfels
Civic/Convention Center NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas
More Information: Phone: 210-410-0737 Website:
August 7-9: The Peddler Show Shop from talented
designers, artisans, creators, and craftsmen from
all over the country. Now is the time to shop for all
of those items on your holiday shopping list. With
customization and personalization onsite, you can
find anything and everything you’re looking for
right here. When: Aug. 7-9 Where: New Braunfels
Civic/Convention Center NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas
More Information: Phone: 800-775-2774 Website:
August 7-8: Whiskey Myers in Concert Hailing from
Palestine, Texas, Whiskey Myers is an American
Southern rock/country group with hits including “Ballad
of a Southern Man,” “Early Morning Shakes,” “Virginia,”
and “Anna Marie.” When: Aug. 7-8 Where: Whitewater
Amphitheater NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas More
Information: Phone: 830-964-3800
August 30: Deutsch-Texanischer Saengerfest Concert
Enjoy German singing at its best. The 74th annual
concert is presented by members of the Deutsch-
Texanischer Saengerbund, a German singing choir
that works to preserve the German language and
traditions. When: Aug. 30 rescheduled date Where:
New Braunfels Civic Center NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas
More Information: Phone: 830-625-2612 Website:
August 21-22: SMFEST What better way to spend a
weekend than by celebrating all things San Marcos? With
so many bands, comedians, and films to see at different
venues around town, you’re sure to be in for a unique
weekend SMTXperience. Festivities are free. When: Aug.
21-22 Where: Downtown San Marcos SAN MARCOS,
Texas More Information: Phone: 512-393-5930 Website:
1499 S. Main Street, Boerne, TX 78006 Next to Dog & Pony Grill 830-331-1391
MUSICIAN OF THE MONTH:
By Matt Kersh :: Photography by Mack Eveland
There are several Matt’s from Boerne that were born within a little over one year’s span in the early
80’s that would grow up to be musicians. As fate would have it, all three would find their path in life
as songwriters, and, generally speaking, artists. Troubadours, of sorts, if you will. I had the privilege of
being featured in an earlier iteration of a similar column in this very magazine a few years back, at the
beginning of this year I wrote on Matt Harlan, and now our feature artist is Matt McCloskey.
I began this column 18 months ago, not knowing if
it would be a longstanding piece. Ben Schooley, our
magazine’s editor, had asked me to write. It was nice to
be considered, especially being that print journalism and
art in the form of music are two deep loves in my heart.
Having grown up in Boerne, my desire has been to feature
artists that grew up in Boerne or at least had strong ties to
Matt McCloskey was one of the first people that came to
mind for this piece, and the second month I was writing
the column in the spring of ‘19, he and I talked about
getting together. Our schedules were such at the time that
we struggled to nail a specific time down to meet so I
thought I’d revisit getting him for a column at a later date..
Here we are going on 5 months now of this pandemic and
being semi-quarantined, so, I’ve been relegated to doing
these interviews via Zoom these last handful of months. I
figured it was as good a time as any to go ahead and write
about the third in the trio of Texas troubadours named
Matt from Boerne, Texas.
I first met Matt when we were both about 8 years old, let’s
call it 30 years ago. We were both homeschooled at the
time, and, for those of you that don’t know, Boerne had
an incredibly active conglomerate of homeschool families
in the 90’s and early 2000’s. We had drama, newspaper,
prom, basketball, and co-op schools where we received
excellent (often college level) instruction throughout our
primary school years.
We played at each other’s house together a handful of
times as boys, and were in a drama production together,
but never got to know one another very well. He would
make the move to the Boerne schools in 6th grade, and
our paths diverged.
“My parents put me in piano lessons when I was 5. It
was something I did obediently, but I didn’t quite love it.
When I was 12, I discovered that my dad had an acoustic
guitar hidden in the closet, and I sort of demanded that
he pull it out and teach me how to play it. He pulled it out
and the first songs I learned were Cat Stevens tunes that
he had grown up on.”
Matt became addicted to the process of growing musically
almost immediately. “Up until that point, I had been
virtually obsessed with the idea of becoming a pilot. It was
all I thought about and wanted, so music taking its place
was really something.”
He continued to grow musically throughout the next
handful of years, and ended up going to Belmont University
on a music scholarship as a double major in french
horn and guitar.
“I didn’t really see a future for myself playing the french
horn, but I could see myself on the guitar. Throughout my
college years, I envisioned myself being a side guy playing
in a band, perhaps being a session player for studio work.
When I graduated, I got some space to look at what I
wanted to do next.”
12 | EXPLORE
There was the possibility of staying in Nashville, but upon
realizing that the scene in the mid 2000’s there was pretty
much geared towards either Country or Contemporary
Christian in terms of musical genres, Matt made the call
to come back to Texas. “I was dating a girl in Dallas, so I
came back closer to home, and decided to head to Austin.
I felt that would be a much better fit for me musically on
If you listen to McCloskey’s music, you can see why the
Nashville scene wouldn’t have been a good fit. As someone
that has also been told 500 times, “You should go to
Nashville,” and realizing that I wouldn’t fit there at all, I
understand where he’s coming from on that notion.
It was around 2007 that Matt really began writing and
creating more prolifically upon moving to Austin. He
became friends with another songwriter named David
Ramirez, who a number of years back also became one of
my favorite musicians.
They were two young artists just struggling to find
gigs, hitting open mics, and working to craft a brand of
music. McCloskey had already had his first young child,
so while Ramirez set out on the road, Matt knew that, at
least at that particular juncture, that leaving out on tour
for weeks or months at a time wasn’t feasible or what
even he wanted.
He would have two more children with his ex-wife before
they split in 2015, and it felt like things were evolving for
him musically up until that event took place. Maybe really
diving into music and touring in a different way would
now be a real, viable option. Yet, in the midst of the pain
of a divorce, he didn’t pick up a guitar for about 2 years.
It wasn’t until late 2017 that he would feel like he could
again reach for his guitar.
As a fellow musician that has also endured an incredibly
challenging divorce, I can understand turning away from
music for a time. I didn’t play at all for almost three years
after the end of my own marriage. There’s something
about the process of songwriting that is just so vulnerable,
that when you’re at your most broken state, you realize
that there’s an almost frightening level of frailty that is too
much to handle were you to endeavor to allow yourself to
feel the necessary emotions required of writing music that
says something that matters.
Perhaps that kind of extended retreat wouldn’t be necessary
were you the type of person that just wrote about
hanging at the lake in the summer with bikini-clad girls
drinking Lone Star beer, but that’s not the type of music
that appeals to either my own or McCloskey’s sensibilities.
A handful of years ago, I came across a live video of Mc-
Closkey doing a full band, in-studio recording of one of
his songs called “50 Cent Heart.” It was done at Blue Rock
Studio in Wimberley, which is owned by Billy Crockett.
Crockett was a singer songwriter that heavily influenced
McCloskey when he was growing up as a musician.
“Growing up, I listened to a lot of Billy Crockett, and
actually sort of learned to play guitar from listening to his
music. So, it was pretty cool when he ended up starting
this ranch out in Wimberley. It’s really this haven for artists
to come and live at this sacred escape to work on their
recording projects. It’s an amazing place and I had a really
special time out there when we recorded that track.” This
was the first track of his I’d heard, and it grabbed me immediately
for the raw nature of it and fresh musicality.
“When I moved to Austin, at first I was envisioning this
whole ‘Tom Petty Rock and Roll thing,’ and then coming
through some really big growth stretches, I got to the
place where I truly realized, all I want to do is play acoustic
guitar and sing songs that say something meaningful.
It’s a bit difficult as a single parent of three kids that works
full time, especially in the midst of this pandemic, I’m
again finding myself having to reinvent what the next
chapter is going to look like for me with my music.”
Regardless of what McCloskey is able to define as his musical
future, I can’t help but be struck with his maturity to
juggle fatherhood, art, work, personal growth, romantic
involvement, and openness about life.
“I think that part of becoming an adult means reconfiguring
your expectations and redefining what it is that you
ought to do with that drive and passion and dream that
you have inside of you, because, what your dream used
to look like, almost never, I would say never, manifests
in the way that you first saw it. So, being willing to adjust
and redefine as you go through a life that is often trying to
smash you up both mentally and emotionally is a difficult
task, but a very rewarding one.”
My hope as you read that last paragraph that you’re able
to glean a portion of the profundity of what’s being said
there. If you’ve gone through anything truly challenging,
and I’m sure you have, the wisdom and perspective of
those words are of inestimable value. Personally, I resonate
with that aforementioned truth in a powerful way.
“Throughout this unique time of the pandemic, I feel the
sense that I have some things to say. And I don’t know
what they are yet, but I suspect that once I can start getting
more intimately acquainted with whatever those
things are, and I can start to articulate them, I feel really
excited about expressing those through music.”
I’m excited for you to do that as well, Matt. Truly.
Do yourself a solid and follow Matt McCloskey:
WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 13
ADOPT A 2020 SENIOR
By Hunter Beaton
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have seen the hundreds of newly created social media pages that start
with “Adopt a Senior from (insert city here)” or “Adopt a Senior from (name your high school here)”. The goal of these social
media pages were to address what seniors were missing out on during that final year of high school. You would be able to
read about the “needs” of these graduating seniors, the “wants” and the “like to haves”. The way the process worked is you
would join one of the Facebook pages, find a local graduating senior to virtually “adopt” during this pandemic, receive their wish
list, buy them their graduation gifts and then deliver the basket full of gifts, gift cards, wish list items and necessities for the
grad. Most Facebook pages would then post individual photos of the gift delivery with a kind stranger who took the time to buy
these incredible graduation gifts posing with the virtually adopted senior from the Class of 2020.
over $12,000 of donations. With these generous donations
from across the state of Texas, we were able to provide
every single Class of 2020 foster senior a gift a $100 gift
card and a Day 1 Backpack. We also had a special group
of graduating seniors who were young mothers living in a
foster care shelter. We had people donate more money to
ensure each mother received a Mint: Sweet Little Things
nap roll, diaper bag and Matilda Jane pajama set for their
small children. We had Amazon and Target gift cards that
were also donated to give many graduating seniors that
were facing imminent homelessness situations.
If you did not know, many of these foster students have
never been celebrated, have had their own birthday
party growing up. They have lived in multiple homes or
foster care shelters with their belongings in a trash bag
as luggage. The majority have only had hand-me-down
clothing and have never worn any new clothing, socks,
shoes, toiletries of their own. I was confident this small
gift of a gift card and a backpack would be a positive and
huge difference in many of their lives.
Behind all the great photos of the many of smiling seniors
I personally knew since I graduated from Boerne High
School just last year, I would also read the stories of what
these students have missed due to the pandemic, how the
Class of 2020 was going to deal with the pandemic, and
the anxieties so many were experiencing.
Then the moment came…it was obvious to me there was
a group of students that would be forgotten and could not
be virtually “adopted”. They were the 507 Class of 2020
Texas seniors who also graduated from high school that
were from foster care. This group of students were never
adopted by a forever family and they had aged out or
were aging out very soon at age of 18 of the Texas foster
care system. They did not have anyone to celebrate their
graduation accomplishment. Another tragedy is no adult
or caregiver is allowed to post on social media these foster
youth full names, their senior photos (if they even have
one), the “likes”, “dislikes”, the “dreams” or aspirations
because of anonymity and privacy while within the
Texas foster care system. They were a forgotten set of
students. The irony is for every one these students - all
they ever wanted is to be wanted by a family, to belong
and to be adopted. So my goal was to have them “virtually
adopted” by anyone who joined the Facebook page and
provide each one gifts to celebrate their graduation
These seniors who have graduated from high school
and were within foster care have truly overcome the
odds. Only a dismal 45% of the youth in foster care even
graduate from high school or get their GED. Despite a
system that seems to be designed to keep some foster
youth at their lowest, this resilient group includes
students who are poets, musicians, mothers, pageant
winners, students that excel in STEM and creative artists
whose work is unbelievable. I have met so many of them.
They are the most unbreakable spirits who, despite being
unable to access “love” in the foster care system, they
continue to love with overwhelming abundance, even for
those who loved them too little which inevitably landed
them in the foster care system.
Taking quick action in response to this group being
overlooked again was not an easy feat and that was okay
with me. It had to be done. I knew we could not just focus
on our region of Texas but the entire state of graduating
foster seniors that need to be celebrated as well for their
accomplishments. I reached out to Dainelle Scott who
was the administrator of our local “Adopt A Senior from
the Boerne Area” to share the “Adopt a 2020 Senior from
Foster Care” page. Dainelle, who operates Rise Property
Group, is also a foster/adopt mother and knew very well
how this group of youth is often overlooked. Dainelle
shared the Facebook page and then it started taking off.
I also joined forces with a former foster youth, 18 year
old Allie Graves, who also graduated this year from high
school in East Texas. She is currently the Miss Texas
Outstanding Teen. With a huge social media push, stories
across Texas on many news outlets, I was very hopeful as
a team, we could achieve our goal.
During the first 3 weeks of May, hundreds of people
joined and donated thousands of dollars through the
“Adopt a 2020 Senior from Foster Care” Facebook Page.
Providing the page followers with daily goal updates
on the 507 seniors, we continued to make incredible
progress. In fact, on one day within 10 hours, we received
As with any project, there are many important players.
The non-profit Day 1 Backpacks are made by local bag
supplier, Flying Circle in Boerne, Texas. Five hundred
and fifty highest quality backpacks are already on their
way to every region throughout Texas. I have to say, these
backpacks are the best backpack anyone could ever own.
I even own one myself. To add to the overwhelming
support of this campaign, all of the gift cards 3% per
card transaction fees were waived by United Texas Credit
Union. That’s a lot of money when you are dealing with
over $50,000 of gift cards. To put a final bow on the effort,
all 500 plus personalized graduation cards that contained
the gift cards were also donated. By end of July, each
2020 senior will have received these gift cards from their
region Department of Family and Protective Services
coordinator. They will have virtual parades, graduating
ceremonies and drive-by celebrations during COVID-19
We may never know their names, their unbelievable
journeys or their heartbreaks, but we did not want this
group of students, once again, to be lost in a system
and forgotten. I strongly believe we need to consider
remembering our foster youth as well during this
pandemic and provide them support they are worthy of
receiving. Too many of them are on their own and are
required to navigate the adult world without support.
These teens have many needs that continue to be
overlooked. The community and statewide generosity
does let them know that someone cared. This may be
the ONLY gift they receive for graduating from high
school. Not everything in life comes easy, and in the face
of adversity, these seniors have all risen to the occasion,
displayed their resilience and determination during this
pandemic. “Caps off ” to Class of 2020 Foster Seniors.
14 | EXPLORE
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WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 15
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ART OF THE
By Benjamin Schooley
One of the most iconic Boerne businesses, the Boerne Flower Shop has
some very deep roots in this town. Its owner, Mary Pat Williams, is focused
on not only the history and the relationships that have been created over
something as simple as a bouquet of flowers, but is also focused on the
growth and service that have made the business famous locally.
And as with any business, Mary Pat’s motivation is certainly to put food on
her own table as well as those of her employees, but as you’ll read, it goes
much deeper than that.
Originally from New Jersey, Boerne became home for Mary Pat following a divorce. “I
came down here because my sister was here, and frankly, I just wanted a fresh start.”
While Mary Pat was new to the area, The Flower Shop wasn’t. She continues, “The
Flower Shop started 65 years ago. Shirley Wilson was part owner with Mary Eckert, who
just recently passed away. Shirley bought her out eventually and she ran and operated
it since the mid ‘70s until 2016. I worked for Shirley for 12 of those years as a floral
With a pandemic, The Boerne Flower Shop wasn’t immune to the fallout. While
challenging, the changing environment has been confronted and, according to Mary
Pat, conquered. She continues, “Usually we are completely dead right now in the heat
of summer but we haven’t had that. This pandemic hasn’t effected us in some ways that
it’s effected others and that’s been a blessing also. More people are ordering flowers also
because they can’t go visit people so that has changed things a bit as well. With our new
technologies, it’s helped a lot.”
But Mary Pat’s floral expertise was polished with her own shop in San Antonio. She
explains, “I used to have a small shop in San Antonio – I sold that in ‘91 to an employee
and I helped my husband and my sons in their plumbing business for many years. I
helped them out and did my floral design on the side, as it’s truly a love of my life. I love
to see people smile and be happy and see it as sort of a mission for me. Flowers have a
way of making people universally smile, and I’ve loved it my whole life.”
As she enjoyed her work with Shirley and the many smiles she produced, the
opportunity arose. She says, “Shirley got sick in ‘14 – we were at market and she wasn’t
doing too well and when we got back she got checked and we found out she had cancer.
She’s in remission today, but she couldn’t come back. So she offered it to me. So I bought
it from her in 2016 and I hope that I’m doing right by her.”
With a new business, Mary Pat was tasked quickly with some major decisions, such as
moving the business from its location that it had enjoyed for years. She continues, “We
moved to our new location on North Main Street because we needed more space. I had
tried to do a little building in the front of the old location and that didn’t work due to
the city regulations. We needed more room to do our wedding and event rentals. That
happened just this past summer. It was a hard decision to move. It was necessary because
we had to grow, times are changing, and the world is changing. We used to be the only
flower shop for many years, and that’s not the case any more. We had to find different
avenues to bring in revenue, and now we have a 3 bay building full of every rental need
you can imagine, and that was so necessary and I’m happy with how that is going.”
With a new location, Mary Pat was tasked with leading the company through not only
a change in scenery, but a changing demographic of customers. She explains, “We’ve
noticed that with the generation now, they like to touch and see. Back in the day, people
would call and say “I have this amount to spend for this person – do what you want” but
now, people want to come in and look at their options and define their budget and make
their selections. It’s great – we love them being more interactive with what they want and
we really felt that was lacking at the old location. They can literally sit and watch us make
their arrangements, and we love that. We also have classes now and those have been
As we hopefully begin to put the pandemic behind us, The Flower Shop is also poised for
the future and Mary Pat is leading the team forward. She explains, “Maintain and grow
is what’s next. I’ve joined some professional organizations that have helped us grow our
business and expand and we’re feeling great about the results we’re seeing. We’ve learned
a lot, and now we’re really honing our design skills and growing in our tactics and
designs and minimizing waste for our arrangements so that we can keep prices down.
We’re extremely excited about what we’re working through and how that is going. Our
own professional development is increasing and we’re really focusing on that.”
Every business is built on its customer base and those interactions, and Mary Pat takes
this responsibility very seriously. And with that, she is so happy that her customers
come from this area. She smiles and says, “I think that Boerne has been amazing to this
business. Shirley knows so many people and so many people still ask for her. People ask
how she is. They call to just chat. She has made such a huge impact, and I have to follow
in those footsteps. I strive everyday to make sure I don’t lose a customer, to keep a happy
customer, and we try to go above and beyond and there’s not one person I don’t want to
satisfy. And Boerne has really responded to that. Some clients come every single week
for the same arrangement, and they are just part of our family. And I just love that.”
But at the end of the day, the motivation goes far beyond revenues and paychecks and
bills. For Mary Pat, it’s deeply emotional and something she respects greatly. She finishes,
“I enjoy coming here. Yes it’s tiring and frustrating during the holidays and slow times,
and it can be stressful. I really just enjoy making people smile really. We answer the
phone that way with “It’s a great day at the Flower Shop!” and you can hear them smile
on the phone. That means a lot to me that we can brighten someone’s day. Our drivers
and delivery team don’t get enough credit for what they do. They’re the face oftentimes.
Their personality is so important and we just so appreciate them. Everyone’s job here is
so important. Rita has been here for 35 years and people have grown to know and love
her, and she’s just an example. Liz has been here 12 years. Those relationships matter so
much to me and it just makes me so happy.”
The Boerne Flower Shop
827 N Main St
Boerne, TX 78006
18 | EXPLORE
Mary Pat Williams,
Owner, Boerne Flower Shop
WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 19
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20 | EXPLORE
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BBQ doesn’t always have to be about brisket, ribs, and sausage. Or spending
the entire day monitoring your pit’s temperature. Here are some dishes to add a
bit of interest at your next big summertime shindig...or to just enjoy around the
dinner table on a Tuesday evening.
22 | EXPLORE
BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese
3 cups chicken (shredded)
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
8 slices Texas toast bread
6 Tbsps. butter (softened, or more or less, depending on how much you use)
BBQ sauce (extra, for drizzling)
4 cups shredded cheese (or more if you need it)
In a medium bowl, combine chicken and BBQ sauce, mix well.
Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
To assemble sandwiches: place one slice of bread, butter side down, onto griddle or skillet. Sprinkle with
cheddar cheese, a scoop of the chicken mixture, drizzle with more BBQ sauce, and top with some more
shredded cheese. Place a piece of bread on top, butter side up.
Cook over medium heat until browned, carefully flip over and cook other side until browned.
1 onion (thinly sliced)
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup BBQ sauce (smoky/hickory flavored)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ Tbsps. cider vinegar
2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce
NOTE: If using a homemade recipe for meatballs, prepare them first. If using store-bought meatballs,
heat and cook according to directions.
Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce in a measuring cup and set aside until needed.
Using the same pan that you cooked the meatballs in, begin cooking the onions (medium heat) until
they are softened. If you are using a fresh pan, make sure to add a little oil before cooking the onions.
Once the onions have softened, add the sauce and combine.
Turn up the heat and cook the sauce for about five minutes.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and combine. Be careful not to break apart the balls.
Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes uncovered.
The sauce should start to thicken as it simmers.
Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or alongside fries or potato wedges as a main course. As an appetizer,
serve plated with toothpicks on the side.
BBQ Brisket Nachos
5-10 lb. well-trimmed brisket
1 bottle smoky BBQ sauce
salt & pepper
3 cups tortilla chips
1 cup cooked and shredded brisket
¼ cup smoky BBQ sauce
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup blue cheese dressing
chopped tomato and cilantro
sliced black olives and jalapeños
Brisket: Trim brisket of all visible fat and place in a large sheet of tin foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper,
then cover in BBQ sauce. Wrap foil around brisket and place in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for at
least 8 hours.
Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain for a tender slice of meat or shred meat
with two forks while still warm.
NOTE: If brisket is too large for your slow cooker, cut it into several smaller pieces and wrap it up
Nachos: On a microwave safe dish (or a small jelly roll pan for the oven), layer the first four items in the
order listed. Microwave for 1 – 2 minutes, or heat in an oven at 350*F, until the cheese is melted. Add
remaining items and enjoy.
½ head cauliflower
1 cup Mexican-style cheese (shredded)
¼ cup cornmeal
½ tsp. salt
black pepper (fresh, to taste)
2 Tbsps. BBQ sauce (your favorite)
Preheat your oven to 400*F. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
To shred the cauliflower: chop half a head of cauliflower into small pieces, place into a food processor.
Pulse until riced. Place in a large bowl and squeeze out excess moisture carefully with a paper towel.
Combine the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and stir to combine.
Scoop the mixture by spoonful into each tin and press down firmly.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with ketchup or BBQ sauce for dipping! Or, combine half ketchup half BBQ sauce for a delicious
BBQ Shrimp Skewers
1 lb. shrimp (jumbo raw, shelled and deveined, weight after peeled)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
3 Tbsps. BBQ sauce (Kansas City style)
Soak the skewers in water at least 20 minutes to prevent them from burning.
Combine the shrimp with crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper. You can let this marinate for
a while, or even overnight.
Heat a clean, lightly-oiled grill to medium heat. When the grill is hot, add the shrimp, careful not to
burn the skewers. Grill on both sides for about 6 – 8 minutes total cooking time or until the shrimp is
opaque and cooked through.
Brush the sauce on during the last minute of cooking and eat right away.
WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 23
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25 FM 3351 South
Boerne, Texas 78006
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24 | EXPLORE
FROM THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH,
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MOORE ON ART: CLINT VOIGT
By Deva Moore
Art has a broad scope of virtues and a wide scope of viewings. Art can be found on canvas, paper, cloth,
ceramics, shirts, stickers and so much more if one opens their eyes and truly opens their mind. Recently this
author found art in a most extraordinary location…on weapons…guns, bows, scopes, cases and more…Clint and
Jessica Voigt offer a rather unique and beautiful artistic handcrafted work that is coveted and basically priceless.
The good thing for you the reader is that is it easily accessible and nearby. This art is really quite versatile and
The Voigt’s talent can produce this art on most anything one has a desire to customize.
When Clint and Jessica met in college their goals for careers in life were not art related.
Clint and Jessica had no art training., they had not sought out an art career, it simply
fell into their hands…literally!! Clint’s younger brother, who is a realtor, helped them in
a real estate project and to thank him for his help Clint built him a gun and decided to
make it a unique and beautiful work making it super special. He researched and found a
type of coating called cerakote that enabled the artist to create art as part of the process
while forming a lasting protective coating that could be designed to the owner’s choice.
Clint and his brother chose a bronze cerakote but no real artwork other than the bronze.
Clint and Jessica found something they both could do as a team, something so beautiful
it attracts attention and a satisfying career!! As a team they realized this was a success
story in the making. Clint attended the school in Oregon to learn how to cerakote
properly and to become a licensed quality cerakote artist. When you are dealing with
Custom Gun Creations out of Comfort, Texas you are dealing with the professionals who
are not only experienced but well trained.
Clint and Jessica have been married 10 years and they have 2 adorable sons. Clint is a
native Boerneite who met Jessica, from Plano, at college. After a few years in Pottsberg,
Tx they decided to move back to Clint’s hometown and their pursuit of Custom Gun
Creations was a dream that just took off…
They started off in a single car garage and today they have a beautiful shop in Comfort
that serves customers Tuesday through Saturday. The hours are Tuesday through
Saturday 10am to 6pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm. The shop is open to visitors,
potential clients, and those just looking to get more information or view the Voigt’s
work. If one is interested in having some custom art done on a weapon then it is best to
make an appointment to discuss expectations and desires.
Cerakote artistically applied to a weapon creates a beautiful conversation piece while
maintaining the integrity of the weapon. I was quite taken by the declaration from
the Voigts that this artistic process could be applied to almost anything and we will
address that shortly. The only item(s) that would not carry a guarantee is if it is applied
to anything made of rubber. On a side note it can be applied to some rubber type items
but due to its application there is no guarantee for long lasting. When the art is applied
and in normal wear and tear it lasts forever. Clint and Jessica did a beautiful design on a
cooler and it is used in the back of a truck extensively. The application process has been
proven to stay fresh on this cooler for over 2 years now and has not scratched, faded
or peeled in any way. The integrity of this completed art is amazing. What starts as a
beautiful or meaningful thought becomes a lasting work to be enjoyed any time.
The process is quite complicated and must be created by a trained person. According
to Jessica Clint is the master mind when it comes to suggesting art or finding the art to
apply. He has a super sense when it comes to art. Clint handles the application of color
and tones and Jessica is the detailed artist. Again let me remind you this art can be
applied to any surface except rubber with complete success. Now if one knows Clint then
they are certain that he is finding a way to add rubber type surfaces to his gallery. The
process begins with the Voigt’s settling on a design and color palette with the client for
an object. Then the discussion of budget and time frame are explained. Once Clint and
Jessica have the item in hand the process of the art work application begins. Depending
on what weapon it is, a complete disassembly is required and each piece is stripped of
any oil, dirt or debris. This requires a cleaning process that is safe for the weapon while
being the strongest cleaner available, a degreaser to safely prepare the weapon for its
artistic cerakote process completion. Then it has a drying procedure to ensure nothing
The next step is the sandblasting step required to remove any lasting grit and to take
it down to a surface that will accept the art. This step must be done with precision and
allowing nothing to compromise the surface. No oily fingers, no contaminants and
nothing that can distort the desired finished product. This part of the process may take
3 or 4 times to complete and the weapon is ready for the art application. Jessica is the
puzzle solver and adjusts until it all looks great and works and fits with a perfect seams
and perfection. Some projects have taken several days to complete the process for the art
application to adhere with integrity. All of these steps require temperature regulation,
26 | EXPLORE
time regulation and an experienced eye to know when it is successful and can move
to next step. Much like painting on a canvas it is important to start the foundation or
basis of work so the finished product is the desired product. The design and colors are
concentrated with the application of layers of cerakote applied. This is a time consuming
process as it is done one layer at a time with both color and design. Patience is a key
to this application as each layer must dry before applying the next. Each layer has a
curing time in an oven to ensure its integrity so the next may be applied. In this process
accuracy in each level is absolute!!!! This can take many days depending on the detail
and intricacy of the design. Again Clint’s talent of color and design and Jessica’s talent
of artistic design work together to blow your mind at the finished product. . Since they
work with an air gun for the art the air pressure must be dialed correctly and the flow
must be adjusted to the design. Pastels work very well and are easy to layer as they paint
on thinner than some. This is not a quick turn around art. Now this will bring us to an
obvious lesson hinted at earlier…this process can be done on most anything…!!! You
can have your desired art on a cup, mug, cooler, tail gate, steps of truck, glass, wood
items, some plastics, metal, ammo boxes, guns, cases, bows, special arrows for use or
display, well almost anything. While the cerakote process is most desirable artistically
it is not FDA certified for food use. This means you can do the outside of any dish, cup
or such but it is not for use on the inside where food or drink sit. It is also not a process
of art that can be applied to an over and under gun which is more complex and difficult
to manage due to all of the breakdown required. This is a decorative process and can
even be applied to golf clubs, Xbox controllers and sunglasses. All items successfully and
artistically applied by the Voigts. There are no limitations to creative imaginations. The
main focus Clint and Jessica provide at Custom Gun Creations is artistic applications on
guns and other weapons including scopes and related pieces. It is a ceramic finish that
protects and makes a long lasting finish that is attractive. An interesting point is that it
adds little to no weight to the item.
The shop can also restore guns. Recently one of their projects was the restoration of a
gun that was over 100 years old. This project was very satisfying and the finished product
was just what the client wanted. The Voigt’s would like to send a big Thank You to
Twisted Precision of Center Point Texas who provide many references from their clients
who purchase guns and like the artwork available from Custom Gun Creations. Twisted
Precision can be reached at 830-739-8535 and tell them Clint sent you. Clint and Jessica
also get lots of referrals from Sage Precision another gun company located in Hondo,
Texas. Sage Precision can be reached at 210-863-7777. Evolved Ballistics also refers
clients to Clint as well. They can be reached at 210-872-7790. Clint has a large clientele
including Matt Carriker of the Demolition Ranch but one of his most famous and one he
was pleased to help was Donald Trump Jr. His interest in guns lead Don Jr to find shops
with service and quality products. Sage Precision and Twisted Precision offer just such
a product. Recently Don Jr purchased a gun and wanted to have it artistically designed.
The bright orange hair piece that is used so frequently in different cartoons and other
media to represent his father President Donald Trump was what he has chosen. His new
gun will be a camo cerakote with the orange hairpiece design on the camo. Definitely
unique and recognizable when it is a finished product. Clint confirms that most any gun
is a good candidate for their specific art. They have branched out to doing other objects
and find satisfaction when the product comes out perfect which is almost all of the
time. One of their items that they are proud of the quality and strength is a smoker. The
smoker was tested at over 600 degrees and while during the process the colors changed
but once it cooked the smoker returned to the cooled temperature the normal color and
design returned proving the reliability of this cerakote art.
The most popular gun for this artistic process is bolt action rifles and AR15 pistols as
runner up. The most requested design is the American Flag. Patriotism is alive and
well!!! The most unique design that Clint thinks he has done is the Damascus Steel, Clint
painted the Damacus Steel print on an belt fed machine gun. It was on all parts and it
took a day and a half just to create the design pattern on the pieces so that they matched
up when it was completed. This piece has over 22,000 views on the website. Paying a visit
to the shop means you can see their work on a live television screen where designs and
completed projects scroll constantly for client’s viewing pleasure. Once a design is chosen
and all factors are agreed upon including the design, price and expected completion date
the process is put into the Voigt’s queue for process. The average expectation time for
a project once it is in queue for completion is 4-6 weeks. If it is only one color and no
actual design then the time may be only a week or two depending on the schedule.
Jessica will show you her personal beautiful leopard print with roses gun or one of the
many patterns already created or create a new pattern just for you. One of the beautiful
characteristics of this artistic process is the no need for maintenance. It is once and
done!! Clint laughingly told me of one unique piece which was a prosthetic leg on which
they designed an American patriotic pattern.
Clint and Jessica operate a fun and engaging studio. They maintain a healthy
environment allowing their employees to crank the music and jam while working.
There is so much more to what Clint and Jessica have done and plan to do. While
there are many fans of powder coating, The Voigts have found it is not as durable or
artistic as the cerakote has proven. If you are looking for that perfect art piece that
does not just hang on the wall but is long lasting and definitely be the talk of anyone
who sees it then do yourself a favor and call or go see Clint and Jessica Voigt!!! I
guarantee you will not be sorry!!!!
Custom Creative Guns can be reached at their shop at 830-995-2663. You can also find
examples of their work on their facebook-customguncreations, their website
www.customguncreations.com or email them at email@example.com.
WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 27
By Christine Friesenhahn
If you are planning on travelling or moving to Texas, you will
need to study up on the language and customs. You know, just
like you would if you were visiting any other country.
It isn’t that you will offend someone if you shake with
the wrong hand, or slurp your soup at the dinner table.
It’s that if you don’t understand a few things, you won’t
be able to order food, understand directions, or blend in
seamlessly to your new environment.
I will cover the 4 basic topics of Culture (Livin’), How we
For women, the same wardrobe would apply here as
anywhere, except that American made boots are always an
acceptable choice of footwear. Even for brides, at proms,
and in a bikini on the beach.
Any outfit that cannot be worn with boots just ought not
be worn at all. After all, we must protect our legs from
mosquitos, cacti, and rattlesnakes.
Sandals are acceptable when you wish to show off a new
King Ranch handbags make acceptable accessories.
As a noun, a fixin’ is a side dish to your supper.
Some years back, I was the newly hired HR Manager at
a Home Depot. I was being trained by a peer that wasn’t
from here. One of the department heads, Robert, popped
in to say he was going for lunch, as he was starved and
hadn’t eaten all day. What seemed a very short time later,
he popped back by my door, and the following exchange
I looked up and said “Djeetyet?”
This could take up volumes, so I’ll reduce it to its basest
elements. The “Texas Code” has appeared in one form or
another for many years.
My version, which hangs on the wall in my bedroom,
pretty much sums up the ideals by which a Texan strives
to live thusly:
I’ll be as hearty of mind as I am of body.
I’ll be a straight shooter and a square dealer.
I’ll honor my mama, my daddy,
and my God.
My family name will be sacred and
my word will be as good as any contract.
I’ll remember the Alamo,
stick by my friends and
eat more chicken fried steak.
Oh, and the only two sports you need to know about are
Football (Friday Night Lights) and Rodeo.
And hunting isn’t a sport, it’s a way of life…
Men only really need jeans, several pairs of cowboy boots
(only made in America), plain white t-shirts, and button
down shirts. You can change your look from casual to
business attire simply by switching from a baseball cap to
a cowboy hat.
For formal events, a Texas Tux will usually suffice. This
involves the wearing of a tuxedo shirt and black tails on
top, over jeans and boots on bottom. A black felt or silver
belly cowboy hat should finish it off. You may or may not
choose to have your bow tie and cummerbund match
your sweetheart’s dress.
Swimming attire would include trunks—never speedo
type apparel. Boots may still be worn, or flip-flops.
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First of all, we drop the “g” off of most words that end in
“ing”. Not when we write ‘em, but when we say ‘em. And
like I just illustrated, we drop some baggage off the front
end of words like “them”. We don’t do this because we are
stupid. We do it to save time.
Because we tend to be chatty. The more letters and
syllables we can drop, the more words we can get into a
conversation in the time we have.
For example, if a visitor in New York asks a local how to
get to Main Street, they might hear “What do I look like?
A goddamn road map?”
I’m not trying to slight the many lovely New Yorkers
I know, it’s just that this is a true story..that actually
happened…in real life.
I am also not saying that it couldn’t happen in Texas. It’s
just not likely that it would.
When asking the same question in Texas, what is likely to
happen is that you might hear:
“well, just go yonder about 2 miles, and then turn right at
the Wilson place..you know Billy Ray never did get that
little gal from Sweet Water to marry him…Then go about
½ mile fuh-ther to that big oak tree, you know the one
that Old Man Johnson parked his tractor in a few years
back, you can still see the green paint…take a slight left
there, and about 3 miles more will take you right to it,
quick as that….”
Also for the sake of economy, we may run words together,
making one word where 5 used to be:
“checkthawlferya”—Often spoken by the lanky feller at the
full service gas station, he is asking if he can check the oil
“fixintuh”–preparing to, getting ready to…..as in
“I’m fixin’ to go to the store”
To which he replied ”yeah, I just grabbed a subway and
“cool….see ya later”
My HR peer looked at me and asked what I had said to
Robert. I didn’t get what she didn’t get, so I said
“Huh? You mean ‘see you later’?…”
“no, not that….he came in and you said something to him
and he said he had just grabbed a subway….what did you
say to him?”
I really had to think hard, as I could not imagine what was
I looked at her and said “Djeetyet?”
“YES!”she said, “THAT!”…..”what did you say just then?”
So I looked at her, and spoke very, very slowly,
enunciating my words very clearly, so that she might
Texan is a hard language to learn, apparently……
Also, we LOVE the imagery of a good analogy or other
“He was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of
“That’ll go over like a toot in Church”
“He was busy as a one-legged man in a butt kickin’
“Rode hard and put away wet”….When you are done
riding a horse, the sweat should be dried off of him
before he is turned out (particularly in cold weather),
lest he catch a cold. If someone says you look like you’ve
been rode hard and put away wet, he is not paying you a
“Been all over Hell and half of Texas”….This means that
you have covered a huge area—done a lot of traveling.
Obviously….Since Hell is infinity huge, and Texas is even
You’ll need to understand a few basic terms to get by in
To cook large pieces of meat “low and slow” over indirect
heat or hot smoke. Brisket, ribs, half chickens, pork roasts
and whole hogs are examples of BBQ. Hamburgers and
hot dogs are NOT barbecue. In Texas, the Holy Grail of
BBQ is the brisket. Expect great debate over which type of
wood makes the best BBQ. I like mesquite.
The only kind of beans are pinto beans. Cooked with
bacon or salt pork, and beer. They may also have onion,
jalapeno, Rotel and cilantro. Beans are never sweet and
This NEVER comes out of a can, and does NOT have
beans in it. (please note however, that wars have been
fought over the beans versus no beans opinion) If it is
made correctly, it will clear your sinuses for days.
This is a carbonated beverage of any variety. For example:
“While yer in there, can you get me a coke?”
“Sure, what kind?”
“A Grape Crush”.
If you actually want a Coke, you order a Coca-cola.
It is white, it is thick, and it is flecked with pepper. It
may be tan if made with pan drippings, but otherwise
is never brown and smooth. If you get smooth, brown,
shiny gravy in a Texas establishment, the proprietor is a
Yankee. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–but it’s
a geographical fact.
To cook over direct heat at higher temperatures. Much
faster than BBQ. Hamburgers and hot dogs are grilled, as
are steaks, vegetables, chicken breasts and seafood.
To cook or dry meat using warm or cold smoke. The
process can take hours or days, drying the meat to
preserve it. Jerkey, bacon, ham and dried sausage are
Calling it sweet tea or iced tea is redundant. Tea is always
iced and always sweet. If you want it otherwise, you have
to ask for it special.
Few foods are as quintessentially Texan as brisket, chili, or
chicken fried steak, but there are a few.
King Ranch Chicken is a popular casserole said to have
originated on the famously ginormous King Ranch. It is
best described as being like a chicken enchilada casserole,
made with chopped cooked chicken, corn tortillas, cheese,
and a cream of mushroom soup base. But like any other
dish, every family makes theirs a little bit differently.
Not knowing for sure what I am putting in my mouth
with canned soup, I make mine using a homemade base
I hope you enjoy….
SCRATCH MADE KING RANCH
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick butter
1 each red, yellow and green bell pepper, diced
1 cup flour
1 can evaporated milk
1 quart whole milk
2 cans Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 cup corn
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons black pepper, or to taste
1 package (20 count) corn tortillas, torn into quarters • 1 large onion,
8 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Cook the chicken breasts by simmering in water or stock until done.
(Alternately, you may use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery deli). Shred
the meat and set aside.
Heat butter in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add
peppers and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the flour…It
will be very stiff. Add evaporated milk, a little at a time, whisking to keep it
smooth. Repeat with whole milk.
Add ro-tel, corn, salt and pepper. Mixture should be the consistency of
a thick cream soup. Add additional milk or flour if needed to attain that.
Adjust salt and pepper to your preference.
Place one cup of sauce in bottom of a lasagna pan or 5 quart casserole.
Place one layer of torn tortillas, sprinkle 1/4th of the chicken, 1/4th of the
onion, and 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Pour remaining sauce over the top, and then top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350* until cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve with Borracho
(drunk) Beans and a green salad
WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 29
www.compasscreativetx.com - 210.507.5250
Kendall County based design firm specializing in
helping small business owners maximize their online
presence. On a small business budget.
By Samuel Smith
I try to be a positive person these days. Seems to be a better way to live than being negative.
So last night, I tested positive for the Wuhan Flu. Yay!
Yes, Mask Nazis, I wore a mask every day because my wonderful boss who I adore made me.
She signs checks. More than decent ones. I need money. So I wore a mask. And I still got the
COVID, infectious disease expert with your degree from MSNBC and Facebook.
And now I’m in two clubs: mask wearers and COVID-19 patients. Lovely.
That’s something of a conflict for me, because I’m not exactly what you’d call a “joiner.”
I haven’t been a member of a club I can remember since George W. Bush was Jeb’s
wild and crazy little brother and there were rumors of him having a drinking problem.
Individualism is my thing. I wear a skull and crossbones around my neck not because
I’m a goth or whatever but because, well, not to put it too broadly, I’m a pirate.
No, I haven’t slashed any throats (yet) or stolen any ships (that you can prove). But
I am very much a guy who started life one way and have ended up having to live it
Some people bend reality to their own will and make it their own. These are the guys
who go to med school or law school and retire at 50 and garden between vacations.
Others accede to it and sort of accept it. These are the guys who set out to change the
world but settle for a nice job in accounting and end up in Dad shoes discussing mowers
over Coors Lights in a can at a backyard barbecue.
I have to make my way as best I can, taking the opportunities to preserve who I am in
the midst of responsibilities I never imagined possible with heartaches and heartbreaks I
didn’t particularly care if I survived.
But now I have a fashionable disease and I’m the subject of fashionable worries among
people who care about me, but don’t really understand me. And that’s weird.
COVID is the worry du jour par excellence. It’s the big scary monster that’s going to kill
us all and end Western Civilization and is probably waiting under your bed right now to
snatch you in your sleep and drag you and your little dog to hell.
Only, It’s not. I’m 44 and live healthy if for no other reason than my Dad died at 62 and
left me alone to face the worst times of my life. If COVID or a drunk driver or a jealous
husband takes me out, it won’t be because I didn’t take my kids seriously enough to get
my ass out of bed and eat a salad every now and then. The Wuhan Flu for me is, well,
kind of the flu. It’s a fever controlled by over the counter medication, an annoying cough
and a headache. Oh, and $10k in lost earnings, if that matters.
As soon as I told my boss I had a fever and thought I may be suffering from the dreaded
beer disease, I started getting calls from others at work who found out that I suspected
that I had it. So like the good PR man I was trained to be I got out in front of it. I had
conferred with a buddy of mine who had it a while back when I had the first symptoms
and he said to get ready for calls from people who think you’re in the hospital on death’s
door. I decided to skip that part and let everyone know.
the cops doing nothing to compel her to follow the court order whenever she chose
to ignore it physically hurt much worse than this. Paying her bills for five years so she
can bang the guy she was dating while we were still married and be a part-time fitness
instructor (I work more in a day than she does in a week while she gets the kids 99% of
the time) isn’t a picnic either.
I had a conversation with someone I just met in May of 2018. She was obviously very
“with it” and could tell I was on edge. I had nothing to lose so I told her the truth:
“Every second of every day it feels like there’s an axe hanging out of my chest.” And
it was true. That’s really the way it felt. The Wuhan Flu is nothing, even physically,
compared to that pain.
Here’s the other thing: I. Don’t. Worry. (Not about me, anyway.) Say it takes a turn for the
worst. I end up on a ventilator and die. What good will the worrying I do now do, except
ruin what little time I have left? Say it takes a turn for the almost worst and I end up on a
ventilator and live and I’m a million dollars in medical debt for the rest of my life. What
good would worrying do? Will worrying stop it? Will it pay off the creditors?
So well meaning people reach out to me worried. People I love and who love me and
I can hear the worry in their voices. It’s gratifying, of course. We all want to be cared
about. But it’s also a little disheartening.
I bet on myself every day. I either make it happen or go without. It’s not complicated. You
win some, you lose some. Life’s a casino. And as my Dad once pointed out, they don’t
build those big fancy buildings because you go home with the money.
Of course there are things I want to do. I want to survive this hellish sentence visited on
me by the liberal family court judge who I hope burns in hell, just because I don’t want
her to win. I want for my kids to have an example of winning despite obstacles and learn
a sense of ingenuity and responsibility that their codependent other parent can’t fathom.
I want to do some artistic things.
I really want to have beer and pizza with the one that got away at least one more time.
Half a lifetime is too long to be apart from someone like that.
And I have a 98.8% chance that this won’t kill me, just cost thousands of dollars in lost
wages and a big chunk of lost sanity that comes from sitting in a 10x14 room for two
weeks. The most famous pirate in our culture today put it like this: “the only rules that
matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.” And I can do these things.
I’m not some idiot millenial who “can’t even.” I can. And I will.
What I won’t do is listen to any of the drivel in the media about this. I’d encourage you to
do the same.
I think what people really don’t understand the most is that this really isn’t the worst
thing that has ever happened to me. My ex wife taking my kids for 16 months and
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WWW.HILLCOUNTRYEXPLORE.COM | AUGUST 2020 | 33
COVID depression is in full force in the Old Timer
household, which luckily consists of exactly one
This has been the most grueling spring/summer perhaps
since...well, forever. I know that our society has been through
tougher situations (make no mistake) but I think that this
one has been particularly awful because it’s ALL. WE. TALK.
ABOUT. Day in and day out, 24/7, we are bombarded with
talking heads arguing about the Kung Flu, the response, the
death numbers, the fake numbers, the good numbers. It’s
incessant and it’s pretty damn noisy.
as stupid as COVID). But we’re going to let the BERGES
folks coordinate this, everyone will attend, and it will be
a great start to putting all this nonsense behind us. Non
attendance equals immediate banishment from the city.
And I for one am over it.
We have no pre-determined ending to this saga, which is
why I think it’s particularly grueling as well. If we “defeat
our enemy” such as in war, it’s over. If we “beat COVID”,
our invisible nemesis, we both know there will be an entire
faction of psychos out there screaming that we didn’t beat
it “enough” or it’s going to come back “tomorrow” or some
such nonsense. There’s so many people that WANT to be
scared out there – and it’s exhausting.
So as I sit here on a steamy July evening, whiskey beside
me, I think I’d like to fast forward a few months and
imagine that all this nonsense is over. Somehow we
have all agreed that COVID is dead, we’re relatively safe
from its monstrous tentacles (that 99.9% survivability
is TERRIFYING) and I’m going to map out the first few
things I do as Mayor to celebrate the end to this weird,
weird little chapter in Kendall County’s history.
BIG ASS PARTY
We’re going to block off Main Street by the Town
Square, we’re going to drag out a stage for some good
live music, we’re going to buy a zillion kegs of beer and
every available man will be alerted to drag their BBQ sets
to the Square. We’re all going to have a weekend-long
shindig that will include music and dancing and too many
beers and more hugs than you’ve ever seen. It’s going to
be called “BERGES FEST” even though that normally
happens in June and got into a big tiff with the City and
is grounded from having the party in the Square (equally
34 | EXPLORE
NO MORE WEIRD COVID SIGNAGE
Anybody else feel like they’re in a weird sci-fi movie when
they wander through HEB with all their floor markings
about safety, and the overhead voice saying “Together
we will beat COVID”....ugh. We are still free people in
a free society doing our best to be people on this blue
marble in space. I think businesses feel great pressure to
go above and beyond with sanitation and “distancing” and
whatnot because they know a bunch of people will throw
a fit and bash them online should someone allow their
stupid mask to slide off while serving their dinner. So I
propose that all COVID signage be removed so that we
can mentally wipe it from our memory banks. If you are
scared about distancing or masks or gloves or whatever
you are freaking out about, stay home. There should be
no recommendation or expectation on independent
businesses to adhere to the ever-changing guidelines of a
government entity (CDC). Go out if you want, stay home
otherwise. But the signs are coming down.
QUARANTINE FROM THE NEWS
Want to feel sanity? Want to feel relative peace in
your life, in your community, and in your immediate
sphere of existence? Want to stop being paranoid of
EVERYTHING? I have the cure for you: turn off the news.
They talked us into sitting in our homes for 4+ months,
terrified, and ratting out our friends and neighbors are
“rule breakers”. So upon defeat of this invisible enemy, we
shall all celebrate by quarantining ourselves away from the
news until the end of the year. No FOX, CNN, MSNBC...
none of ‘em. Do you think 4 months of having no viewers
might send a message? Think it might hit them in the
pocket book? Think we might get a little less biased and
purposefully scary news reporting on January 2 when we
reluctantly return to watching news about current events?
You’re damn straight. Turn the noise off, people. Cause
99% of it is simply that.
I WANT THE TRUTH
FOX says this, CNN says that. Fauci says no masks, then
doubles down on masks. Abbott says mask mandates
are against our personal liberties, then mandates masks.
Deaths are up, deaths are down, dead people from
motorcycle crashes are labeled as COVID deaths, and
our kids are watching us all look like damn fools. So I
want the truth. The biggest investigation in history must
be launched. How it’s non-partisan, I have no idea. But I
want to know what REALLY just happened, why, and who
caused it. Who lied, who blew the trumpet of truth, and
who was silenced? What was real, and what was makebelieve
political theatre? I’m sure I’m not the only one
that feels this way. But heads will roll and we will never
go through such a chapter again. We owe it to future
generations to jump on this immediately and thoroughly.
This list could probably go for pages and pages. All the
ways that we need to both acknowledge the madness
we have endured and simultaneously erase it from our
history books so that we move forward as quickly as
possible. We’re but one small-ish town in Texas, but all
change starts small. Elect me Emperor, and I’ll get to
work. (it takes “Emperor” status for me to mandate your
news quarantine situation. Oh, and the whole Berges Fest
big-ass party as well). See? Reasons.