Hood County News – September 25, 2001

by Christopher C. Evans


Our little nontown now feels a bit more like home after a plain but moving Sunday Sept. 15 flagpole “Pray for America” service in which more than 60 people participated at the Cresson School.

The idea of Pittsburg Street resident Miriam Delaney, who was putting together an order of service even as the 5 p.m. observance began, the assemblage will be something this now almost two-year Cresson resident will forever remember, especially because of its simplicity and its tie to such a historic, if tragic, time.

To be sure there were faces I didn’t recognize, many of them. But for this day, this 45 minutes on a late-summer Sunday, there was a feeling that we are, in spite of our different sizes, shapes and characteristics, something called Americans.

Delaney, clad in a crimson knit shirt, white sneakers and jeans, welcomed those in attendance. Jerry Elizondo, who lives in Fort Worth now but was reared on Hood County’s Black Ranch and has provide musical assistance at Cresson School events for several years, led the group in singing our nation’s most patriotic songs. Joan Tome-Heller read scripture.

Two local ministers, Cresson Church of Christ evangelist Chuck Reagan and First Baptist Church interim pastor the Rev. Robert Whitehead, made brief comments. Reagan recalled how our community was torn when three firefighters died more than a year ago in Tarrant County. “This time,” he said in reference to the public servants lost in New York City, “we’ve probably lost thousands of people — firefighters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, people who won’t come home. What we need to do is put our trust in God, just put our trust in Him at this time.”

The Rev. Whitehead said that our anger notwithstanding, we should heed the words of Jesus: “He said as I say to you, `Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’.” Whitehead said one possible result of the carnage and confusion in New York is “that we’ll see a people turned to the Lord…”

A couple of others in the crowd spoke briefly. Miriam Delaney prayed aloud and silently, standing and kneeling. Iqbal “Sam” Hussain, four-year owner of a Cresson store and a native of Pakistan, prayed while standing and sitting from a second-row seat, his five-year-old daughter Shazia on one hand, Cresson resident Louise Fowler on the other.

I thought of how and why Sam came to this country in 1979, worked 13 years as a cabbie in Chicago, how he met his wife, Zaibunnissa, there and how they had two children — daughter Shazia and son Shahzad, 10 — before heading for greener pastures and ending up eventually in Cresson.

As the service commenced, my own mind still reeled at the TV images of the prior five-plus days. I thought of my son away in school in Florida, my sister and her family in Nebraska, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Waco, Oklahoma City. I chuckled at how the Kennedy assassination was called the “end of innocence” and figure that by now that so-called innocence has been bludgeoned to smithereens by invaders so devious and malevolent that they don’t even risk their own aircraft or explosives.

Then, at one point, I opened my eyes and beheld Cresson residents and non-residents holding hands, a configuration that caught me ogling firefighters connected to the people they protect, folk who don’t go to church to folk who do and two small girls across the way holding hands while still managing to clutch small United States flags.

One young woman, a North Dallas resident who makes monthly trips back to Granbury, attended the service after seeing a sign about it on Highway 377. Several local people have told me they’d have been there if they had been contacted.

Oh, that the resolve, the feeling of interdependence on each other and the knowledge of dependence on a higher authority stick around.

We’ll need them need them in coming months.

SIDETRACKS: Plans for the Oct. 27 Cresson Fall Festival were finalized at a Thursday meeting of the Cresson Community Board (CCO) at the school. The board opted to put its energies into the Fall Festival auction rather than to sell raffle tickets for the event, which raises money for ongoing repairs to the 1931-vintage schoolhouse. Businesses or people who have pledged items to be auctioned include Pro-Am Propane (outdoor gas cooker), historian-archaeologist Mary Kate Durham (two afghans), John “Whizzer” Miles (barbed-wire sculpture), the Texas Rangers baseball club (autographed pennant), the Little White House Country Collectibles/Outside Flea Market Inside (two large ceramic geese), Cresson Feed & Vet Supply (igloo-style doghouse) and Grandma’s Quilts (quilt). CCO board President Helen Long reported that eight briskets to be smoked and sold during Fall Festival have already been purchased at 59 cents a pound and put in a new but slightly dented 25-cubic-foot refrigerator that she bought for $830 to replace the old one, which was wheezing as if it might die. Long said five more briskets have been promised and that the annual cake sale will be a part of the Fall Festival…Charlene Reynolds has agreed to serve as interim CCO treasurer. She replaces Julia Reagan, who resigned…Full fall calendar for the historic Cresson School, which does not include the Oct. 6-7 Civil War Reenactment, which several locals are involved in, now includes the following: Homecoming (Oct. 14); the Richard Klein Family Reunion (Oct. 20); the Fall Festival (Oct. 27); the election in which the incorporation of Cresson, Scenic Ridge, Clearview Hills and Bluebonnet Hills will be on the ballot (Nov. 6); the Candlelight Tour (Dec. 1-2); and the annual traveling tool sale (Dec. 4)…”That tool sale makes us $200,” said Long.

BACKTRACK: Report in this space last week to the effect that Cresson historian Shirley R. Smith and wife Marjorie are moving back soon may have been premature as Marjorie has been ill. A family member says their plans to put a home on Clearview Hills property may be postponed.

LAUGH TRACKS: A moment of levity during the flagpole prayer service happened when retired Cresson cookie magnate Marvin Hayes, seeking a loftier angle from which to get a photograph of the participants, clambered into the bed of a nearby pickup and used his walking stick to steady himself while taking pictures from a standing position. Though I was the person closest to Marvin, I was shooting my own pictures and didn’t notice him — until I looked the other direction and toward a large group of Cresson firefighters who were gasping at something behind me. When I turned around, Marvin — big hat, camera, cane and all — grinned as he nimbly dismounted the pickup without so much as a hiccup…Then on Thursday, CCO board members got a chuckle when, in discussing the horrible events of Sept. 11, board President Helen Long commented that, “Well, I sure do remember what it was like during World War I” before smiling and correcting her comments to reference the, uh, Second World War.