Skip to content

Archive for

Spradley Hats ~ Jim Spradley ~ Alpine, Texas

While knocking around on the Skinnie Winnie blog,  I mentioned that we would be in Alpine, Texas for this year’s Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering. A fellow Skinnie Winnie owner, in Houston for a rodeo, strongly suggested that I look up Jim Spradley of Spradley Hats in Alpine, Texas and get him to build me a custom fit cowboy hat. As someone that does not wear a hat well I opted to look up Jim for a photo op of  his art and craft: the building of Stetson-style cowboy hats.

The cowboy hat has had a relatively short history, yet has become an instantly recognizable iconic piece of functional headgear.

Well before sunrise on a windy morning in the midst of the calving season in the ranch lands of the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas,  I met Jim at his workshop-office just outside of Alpine. A welcoming and engaging individual, it did not take long to strike up a budding friendship. He did his work and I did my photography; asking questions when need be. The building of a hat   is an involved mutli-step process.  Jim’s work area  was divided in half with a nicely appointed office and fitting area in between what seemed to be the cutting, pressing, blocking and ironing room and a finish/detail room. Jim had some 36 or so dark (brown or black) beaver felt cowboy hats going. He works in color lots: darks and lights. Each hat is built from a single piece of beaver felt. Today the hat brims were measured (twice) and cut according to customer specs found on meticulously kept order forms and records. The brim edges were sanded and the brims’ upper and undersides were sanded as well.

As would be expected of the tradesman/craftsman Jim’s tools are a mix of handcrafted wooden tools, art forms in and of themselves. Singer sewing machines, relics according to the independent manuals, of various styles, purpose and vintage, some on the original frame and legs, others on modern updated steel work bench supports were found throughout. Heating, blocking, stretching and ironing tools large and small abounded. The images represent only a couple of steps in the ‘hat building’ process. It was obvious from the variety of tools and work stations in the separate work areas that this is a process that involves lots of separate and distinct skills that when merged produce a timeless western hat.

Spradley Hats

spradleyhats-IMG_8938

spradleyhats-IMG_8943spradleyhats-IMG_8955

spradleyhats-IMG_8945

spradleyhats-IMG_8950

spradleyhats-IMG_8956

spradleyhats-IMG_9002

spradleyhats-IMG_8963

spradleyhats-IMG_9017

spradleyhats-IMG_8983

spradleyhats-IMG_9053spradleyhats-IMG_9003

spradleyhats-IMG_9032

spradleyhats-IMG_9018

spradleyhats-IMG_9111

spradleyhats-IMG_9096

Breakfast at Magoo’s allowed for the sharing of philosophies on faith, family, young people, work and when not to work.

We will return to Alpine and look Jim Spradley up come next year’s travels.

Thank you Jim.

~

Similar But Different ‘Folks At Their Work‘ Visual Essays Can Be Found At the Following Links

Marathon, Texas – Burnt Biscuit Bakery : Don Knows Baking!

Lejeune’s Sauage Kitchen ~ Eunice, Louisiana

Delacroix Island Blue Crab Fishery

27 Feb 2013

2013 Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering

2013 Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Alpine, Brewster County, Texas

Early On Event Images ~ Marshall Auditorium ~ Sul Ross State University

cowboypoetry-IMG_8776

Allan Chapman ~ Ably Accompanied by the Ever-Present Rodeo Kate

cowboypoetry-IMG_8783

Poet, Storyteller, MC and Heritage Award Winner ~ Doris Daley

cowboypoetry-IMG_8793

cowboypoetry-IMG_8800

cowboypoetry-IMG_8801

cowboypoetry-IMG_8807

cowboypoetry-IMG_8816

Randy Huston & Daughter Hannah Huston ~ Accompanied by Jim Jones, Rodeo Kate & Wash Tub Jerry

This Threesome Backing Band Seemed to be Every Where during the Gathering, Individually or Collectively

cowboypoetry-IMG_8823cowboypoetry-IMG_8826

Poet-Storyteller Ken Cook

cowboypoetry-IMG_8842

cowboypoetry-IMG_8850

Doug Figgs ~  Backed Up by Jim Jones

cowboypoetry-IMG_8872

cowboypoetry-IMG_8875

Mary Kaye

Great Event ~ Talented Folk ~ Nice Facilities ~ Pleasant Town

24 Feb 2013

Chuck Wagon

Chuck Wagon Breakfast

2013 Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Town of Alpine, Brewster County, Texaschuckwagonbf-IMG_8707

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8709

Early Mornin’ Smiles

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8705chuckwagonbf-IMG_8703

Scramblin’ the Eggs

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8711

Dutch Ovens

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8713chuckwagonbf-IMG_8716

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8740chuckwagonbf-IMG_8744

Good Food & Good Company on a Crisp West Texas Winter Morning

The Coffee Was So Stiff It Made Itself Known All Morning

😉

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8748chuckwagonbf-IMG_8749

chuckwagonbf-IMG_8756chuckwagonbf-IMG_8754

Tendin’ the Biscuits

22 Feb 2013

Alpine, TX 79831 (Year Two)

Alpine, TX 79831

Second year in a row.

This Time Around : Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering Weekend

alpinetxIMG_8522alpinetxIMG_8539

alpinetxIMG_8530alpinetxIMG_8551

Kokernot Field ~ Home of Baseball and a Rich Baseball Heritage in Alpine

alpinetxIMG_8621

Street Art & Murals Abound

alpinetxIMG_8619

alpinetxIMG_8610alpinetxIMG_8629

alpinetxIMG_8635alpinetxIMG_8671

alpinetxIMG_8666

Original Brewster County Court House

alpinetxIMG_8599

22 Feb 2013

Monahans, Texas ~ ‘The West Texas Oil Patch’

Apparently the ‘oli patch’ in West Texas is booming : Odessa-Midland to Monahans to Pecos.

No housing available. People living and working out of RVs cars and pick up trucks and tents.

Monahans is a gritty oil-field town that the highway betrayed by becoming I-20 and moving to the other side of town.

Like most small towns the nicest properties are the high school and the established churches.

A bit of quirkiness east of town on Business 20: The Million Barrel Museum.

The remains of Shell Oil’s mid-1920’s attempt to build an oil holding reservoir prior to the arrival of the pipeline to this region forms the centerpiece of the Million Barrel Museum. Oil in this vast quantity weighed more than the seamed sections of concrete covering the 52o’ by 420′ roughly circular 35′ deep reservoir could hold. Over time the oil leached away as well as evaporated even though the reservoir was covered over with a redwood dome supported by creosoted timbers. Designed to hold 5 million barrels the reservoir was only filled to the 1 million barrel point before the leakage issue was discovered. At a later 1950s date a local Monahan’s entrepreneur attempted to bring water sports to the west Texas desert in the form of a million barrel lake. The water sports recreation area opened and closed the same date, professional water skiers notwithstanding. Water being twice as heavy as crude oil (imagine that) the reservoir held water even less efficiently than it did crude oil.  After drilling six wells to fill it with water the reservoir would not hold water.

monahanstxIMG_8381

monahanstx-IMG_8394

We were encoraged to ride our bikes inside the Million Barrel Reservoir. The graffiti is encouraged: students in the graduating class of Monahan’s High School are allowed to write their names on the walls.

Five miles further east of town off I-20 and the frontage road is more west Texas uniqueness : Monahans Sand Hills State Park.

Some stabilized but many dynamic sand dunes abide. The stabilized hills are the product of shin oak and other desert plants. The dynamic hills are a product of the wind. During the week the park seems to be nothing more than an I-20 RV overnight camping spot. The weekend sees some day use in the form of kids and families sand surfing the dunes and hills.

monahanstx-IMG_8416monahanstx-IMG_8419

monahanstxIMG_8450

monahanstx-IMG_8423monahanstx-IMG_8432

monahanstxIMG_8463

One of my favorite singer-songwriters was born and spent his early years in Monahans. I spent part of this President’s weekend trying to track down Guy Clark‘s birth home, the home he grew up in, the Green Frog Cafe as well as his one-legged grandmother’s hotel/boarding house. Due to it’s being a weekend and a holiday weekend to boot the Monhans Libray was closed as was the County Archives. No one seemed to know, at least no one that I talked with. The front desk lady at Fermin’s Restaurant who did not know me from a hole in the wall spent a bunch of time with me trying to figure out who on a mid-Saturday afternoon might provide me some answers. Thank you for your time. You made me feel welcomed!

😉

No one (that I spoke with) in Monahans, Texas knew of Guy Clark.

For as often as Monahans is referenced in his songs, either specifically or contextually, or in his concerts the Town of Monahans is missing the boat by not honoring and acknowledging this, what should be, a  ‘favorite son’.

16 Feb 2013

Barrel Racing ~ Women On Fast Horses

Barrel Racing

Women on Fast Horses!!

😉

San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo

We have been here for all of the slack rodeo. Well organized and well run!

Barrel Racing was good fun, still presenting with the challenging lighting and tough backgrounds.

On the road tomorrow after a week at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.

barrels-IMG_0573

barrels-IMG_0574

barrels-IMG_0662

barrels-IMG_0743

barrels-IMG_1009

barrels-IMG_1065

barrels-IMG_1527

Good Stuff

Expanded Barrel Racing Gallery

11 Feb 2013

San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo

San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo

Texas Stars Gilt Show

Our first Texas swine show. Our first swine show, period.

😉

Took a needed break from the rodeo folks and ventured out amongst the farmers, their kids and their prized breeding livestock.

Very open and friendly folks.  Asked a lot of questions and got a lot of information and answers in return.

Never knew that a gilt was a sow that had yet to be bred; a virgin pig if you will.

Who knew?  Now I know!

The judge of this event did a nice job having worked a long day. He communicated well with both the kids and the crowd. He took the job of judging seriously and had the knowledge and experience to back up his opinions.

SwineShow-IMG_8318SwineShow-IMG_8321

Breeds and Classes within breeds. A Breed Champion and Reserve Champion will emerge.

Everyone vying for the judges eye and the best angle for their animal.SwineShow-IMG_8319

The judges does an initial cut then takes a closer look at the animals that are left in the ring.

SwineShow-IMG_8327

After making his decision he communicates his thinking and reasoning to the crowd.

The Hampshire Breed of swine was colorful and had a parochial connection for us New Hampsherites.

The following two animals were the Hampshire Breed Gilt Texas Champs.

SwineShow-IMG_8353SwineShow-IMG_8355

SwineShow-IMG_8359

SwineShow-IMG_8363

11 Feb 2013

BJ’s RV Park !!! Terlingua, Texas

BJ’s RV Park !!!

Terlingua, Texas

From Hwy 118 in Study Butte, West on Hwy 170, 5 miles, on left.

One mile East of Terlingua Ghost Town.

Took a little while to get this one posted.

directions

Check out BJ’s RV Park in Terlingua, Texas. Stay here once and you will not feel the need to go any where else.

BJ’s is like home but in the desert.

Friendly people, friendly on-site management, and friendly owners.

Always an active group of campers and residents.

BJ'sRV-IMG_8287

BJ'sRV-IMG_8271BJ'sRV-IMG_8296

Betty our next door neighbor. Wayne : big man, big smile, big laugh!

BJ'sRV-IMG_8278

Bud and Irene Van Deusen – Owners

BJ'sRV-IMG_8300

BJ'sRV-IMG_8301

Evening gathering: sometimes before the dinner hour sometimes after.

Good place. Good people.

11 Feb 2013

Rope Poetry

Steer Roping ( ‘steer tripping’ in the vernacular) is a rodeo event of some discussion and dissension.

In deference to those who afforded me the opportunity to shoot this event I am choosing to focus the images in this post on the artistic team of horse, rope and cowboy.

In sorting and processing the day’s images I was amazed at the linear visual poetry that was the rope in (or out of) the cowboy’s hands.

The rope has a life of its own, a presence of its own.

Hearing this, the cowboys out there are no doubt guffawing … but they must feel like artists with the rope?

The horses I have witnessed this week are well bred and finely kept, well trained and well exercised.

They are athletes in their own right.

This rodeoing is a huge investment in what some have frankly referred to as a hobby, for some a paying hobby, but still a hobby.

Much the same as the photography passion.

😉

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0138

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0208

Black Hats ~ White Hat Sequence

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0219

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0220

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0221

Sleight of Hand

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0238

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0239

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0288

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0347

Right At Ya!

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0363

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0413

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_0460

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_9956

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_9957

SanAngeloRodeo4-IMG_9980

Thank you to my hosts, Tom Thompson and Linda Rhodes of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.

A special thank you to a new friend and fellow photographer, Dudley Barker.

9 Feb 2013

Calf Ropin’ ~ San Angelo, Texas

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9195

Horse, Rope and Rider ~ Visual Poetry

Apparently the images of this event that I enjoy and those that are considered the iconic calf ropin’ image are different.

Oh well, won’t be the first or last time. It is nice to be shooting for my own eye and not for a ‘market’.

This event was another tough one to shoot: tough lighting  and hard to fill the frame with all the animals and all the action.

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9041

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9096

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9132

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9141

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9307

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9309

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9490

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9491

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9492

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9547

SanAngeloRodeo3-IMG_9601

Expanded Calf Ropin’ Gallery

8 Feb 2013

Bull Dawggin’ Still (or Again) !!

A day behind myself as far as posts go here at the San Angelo (TX) Stock Show and Rodeo.

Bull Dawggin’ images but today’s visual experience was calf roping.

Once again a challenging shoot: lighting, what to feature, go wide or long and focus on a single element. Never answered the question and felt challenged all day.

Am going to shoot people, cowboys and their stuff and behavior in their immediate environment tomorrow.

The action photography can wait for the women’s barrel runs on the weekend.

Having said that here are some action photography sequences from the final round, round two of the bull dawggin’ event.

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8731

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8732

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8733

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8734

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8735

Not an activity for the older guy with the bad back; no wonder he does the photography.

And again.

It must be all about losing the hat.

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8675

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8676

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8677

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8678

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8679

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8680SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8681

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8682

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8683

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8684

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8685

SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8690SanAngeloRodeo2-IMG_8691

Expanded Bull Dawggin’ Gallery

Thank You!

7 Feb 2013

Slack Bull Dawggin’ ~ San Angelo Rodeo

Too much good shootin’ not enough time to process and post.

The kind of problem I wish on myself, now that we are done with the grind of makin’ a buck at this, or at anything.

😉

SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8003 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8004 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8005 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8006

The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo

😉

SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8009 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8010 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_8011

Two days in, Slack Rodeo: team roping and bull doggin’. It has been a worthwhile education and great shooting thanks, in part, to Dudley Barker, rodeo shooter emeritus!!

Thank You Dudley, a very gracious and welcoming man.

SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_7518 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_7519

Linda Rhodes, executive secretary of the parent organization for the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, worked with us to make this an enjoyable and worthwhile photo opportunity.

SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_7520 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_7521 SanAngeloRodeo-IMG_7522

Team roping was a huge challenge; lots happening and way far apart.

Bull Doggin’ on the other hand was compact, for the most part, and coming right at you, if that’s what you chose.

Sat around and watched half the first morning, got the ‘lay of the land’ so to speak. Challenging lighting and backgrounds, great sequences and ‘My Oh My!!’ action.

Slack Rodeo at the San Angelo Rodeo, about a week in length, is free, other than the gettin’ here and putting yourself up. Eighty degree weather with a gentle breeze. Excellent shootin’ to boot. What’s not to keep you.

Expanded Bull Dawggin’ Gallery

Comments appreciated.

Thank You

6 Feb 2013

Hogan & Moss ~ Go Lightning

Jon Hogan & Maria Moss

Tough Lighting ~ Good Music

Terlingua Farmer’s Market & Community Garden

Terlingua Green Scene

In recognition of the setting and the music being played (old-timey favorites from their album Go Lightning) Jon Hogan doffed his signature suit coat for a pair of bib overalls but not without the dress shirt and tie. Maria Moss quickly shed her dark long sleeved sweater.

A number of local musicians showed up to lend their voices and instruments to the cause.

Select-TFM-IMG_7103

Select-TFM-IMG_7117

Select-TFM-IMG_7182

Select-TFM-IMG_7270

Select-TFM-IMG_7353

Select-TFM-IMG_7387

Select-TFM-IMG_7491Select-TFM-IMG_7162

Select-TFM-IMG_7494

Select-TFM-IMG_7545Select-TFM-IMG_7548

Select-TFM-IMG_7662

Select-TFM-IMG_7968

Select-TFM-IMG_7994

Select-TFM-IMG_8020

Not only are these folks good musicians but they are great entertainers as well.

Select-TFM-IMG_8045

Hogan & Moss Expanded Gallery

3 Feb 2013

Out the Fulcher Road, Fulcher Ranch, Terlingua, Texas

FM (Farm to Market) HWY 170 E out of BJ’s RV (kudos to Bud & Irene Dreisen, Milton & Nell Mow) to the Fulcher Road on the right onto the Fulcher Ranch.

All of this between the Terlingua Ghost Town area and Study Butte, 90 miles below Marfa – Alpine – Marathon sandwiched between Big Bend NP and Big Bend Ranch SP.

The Big Bend Area, Brewster County, Texas ~ Chihuahuan Desert, the Rio Grande River Valley and the Chisos Mountains

We rode the recumbents back the Fulcher Road past Rio Aviation at the Fulcher Air Field, down to the first ‘Y’ in the road, Joe Moss Road to the right. Joe Moss road paralleled Terlingua Creek on our left. According to the local ‘chatter’ Terlingua Creek was/is a cross border commerce and trade corridor from back in the day that gets some updated use as well. Joe Moss Road began to narrow down some and displayed ‘tongue in cheek’, we hoped, no trespassing signs the further we rode. It remained ride-able for fat tire bikes including our recumbents right out to the last house. The multiple barking dogs turned us around right quick. At some point we left Fulcher Ranch and were on other property. It would seem that everybody out the Fulcher Road and the Joe Moss Road lives off the grid: An admirable undertaking and accomplishment!

xml.sa.mapquest.com

fulcherroadride-IMG_7082

fulcherroadride-IMG_7087

fulcherroadride-IMG_7093

fulcherroadride-IMG_7099fulcherroadride-IMG_7100

fulcherroadride-IMG_7101

fulcherroadride-IMG_7085

Sun on our faces and well exercised with a story to tell: what could be better?

Slack Rodeo in San Angelo

Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine

Rice Grass in Fischer

Meghan and Wyatt in Austin

1 Feb 2013