Gillespie Life


Full Circle

Fredericksburg Writers Conference short story contest
First place entry

Full Circle

By Melinda Holley

As his rented convertible sped west along Highway 290, he noticed the wineries that had sprung up between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. The area had grown since he left, but it was still a far cry from the hustle and bustle of his big city life. They still rolled up the sidewalks at 9 p.m. here; he lived in the Big Apple, the city that never slept.

His father still kept him informed by sending the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post each month, circling articles about people and writing comments in the margins.  A town so dull that the paper only comes out once a week, he thought.


Holley picked as short story contest winner

Melinda Holley had the winning entry in the Fredericksburg Writers Conference short story contest.

Melinda Holley, a commercial insurance agent and aspiring writer, won the 2015 Fredericksburg Writer’s Conference short story contest with her entry titled “Full Circle.”

“It has been lifelong desire of mine to write and be published,” Holley said. “I’ve been so blessed to come in contact with people like Robert (Deming) and Mara (Fox Moretti), who have already published a book.”

Deming and Fox Moretti are the FWC writing group organizers.

Her story about a man coming home to care for his elderly father was inspired by real life experience. Her winning entry can be found in this issue of the paper.

Holley has lived in Fredericksburg for 22 years.

She said she grew up in an Air Force family and has lived in five states and two foreign countries.

She has completed a manuscript titled “Small Secrets.” It’s a mystery set in Fredericksburg and centers around antique shop owners.

She and her husband, Jim, spend their free time studying and collecting antiques, she said.

The top three finalists for the contest included second place, “A New Romance,” by Dr. Margaret Phillips; third place, “A Handy Man to Have Around” by Sally Clark, and honorable mention, “The Fields of the New Fatherland” by Heath Dollar.  The entries can be read online at

Proceeds from the short story contest will go toward the 2016 Agent/Editor Conference hosted by the Fredericksburg Writer’s Conference.

Short stories had to have been written in 1,200 words or less with some connection to the Texas Hill Country, however fleeting.


Fredericksburg Writers Conference Short Story Contest
First place - Full Circle

Second place - A New Romance

Third place - A Handy Man to Have Around

Honorable Mention - The Fields of the New Fatherland



'Meanness' helps with recovery

Janet Everett celebrated her 20 year anniversary since her double lung transplant with appropriate themed confection.— Submitted photos

Janet Everett celebrates 20 years as a double-lung transplant recipient


By Scott Allen


Janet Everett has fought through a lot. The 53-year-old has survived a double-lung transplant and a kidney transplant, and continues to enjoy life in the Hill Country.

“Janet has always focused on what she can do, rather than what she could not do and remains an inspiration to all of us,” said Everett’s lung doctor Randall Rosenblatt, M.D., chief of pulmonary and critical care medical director of lung transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center.

Everett was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) when she was born. Her sister, 14 years her senior, died of CF when she was 21. Janet lived in the shadow of her sister’s death while inhabiting the small town of Vernon. Everett wasn’t expected to live past her late teens, but she says her fight inside her has helped her survive.


‘The kids are losing their minds’

Hugh Jackman and a chorus of hundreds beckons the call: “Here we are now; entertain us!”

Over and over and over again in a melancholic work camp chant, they intone, pleading to be quenched in their thirst for violent justice, screaming Kurt Cobain-penned, 90s grunge rock lyrics.

The chaotic, post-apocalyptic scene feels like something straight out of George Miller’s epic fantasy “Mad Max: Fury Road,” but that would make just too much sense.

Instead, what viewers are left with in this very real scene is director Joe Wright’s earliest departure from convention and plot coherency in the atypical children’s film “Pan,” a prequel retelling of the familiar Peter Pan tale.


Starman waiting in the sky: “The Martian” offers up Damon’s best performance in years

Don’t make the mistake of skipping a trip to your local theater to see “The Martian.”

There are too many reasons not to miss out on what likely will go down as one of the premier science fiction films of the decade — though everything right about the movie starts and ends with Matt Damon.

As with all films about the stranded or marooned, a film requiring one man all alone to spend several cinematic years on another planet requires a phenomenal performance from Hollywood’s elite class of actors — and “The Martian” has that in spades with a tour de force effort by Damon.

In Mark Watney, Damon exudes the everyman qualities of an actor like Tom Hanks, melding it with the wry humor of George Clooney and the lovable charm of Leonardo DiCaprio to create a dynamic, layered character that audiences actually enjoy watching all by his lonesome for over an hour.


Faith healing

Joann James, 80, wears red because color invigorates her. James energizes her class during a morning workout. — Standard-Radio Post/ Yvonne Hartmann

By Christine Granados


Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday a group of women meet at the First Baptist Church gymnasium to lift their spirits with exercise.

Joann James, 80, designed the class with the mature woman in mind. Her low-impact Pilates, light weights, stretching and toning repetitions are designed to help women with balance, breathing and muscle tone.

Students in her class range in age from 50 to 80 years old. Some have dealt with cancer treatments and recovery after surgery.

“Young people like to pound their joints with exercise and we want to preserve what we have,” James said. “You should not feel any pain at all during this class, discomfort yes, pain no.”

James’ galvanizing appeal is twofold: She gives her students a physical and a spiritual workout.

The first 45 minutes of class is a workout followed by a devotional and scripture reading that climaxes into a glute workout with a cool down.


Climbing to the limit

Try and remember the last time you sat in a movie theater and were genuinely blown away by what you saw.

Can you picture it even now? Some moments in cinema — whether they be an individual acting performance, captivating scene of dialogue or picturesque shot — will forever remain burned in your mind.

True innovation, especially in the way filmmakers tell stories visually, has offered up some of these dynamic, unforgettable moments in the last several years with the improvements made in cinematography technology, both in 2D and 3D formats.

It’s likely that “Gravity,” the visually stunning space odyssey starring Sandra Bullock, comes to mind, as well it should, especially if you were fortunate enough to catch the film in 3D during its theatrical release.

“Everest,” the recently released adventure drama, vaults itself into similar rarified cinematic air with its explosive and dynamic IMAX 3D format.


Bone dry in the 1950s

Wilbur Pressler remembers that the 1950s drought dried up local creeks and areas of the Pedernales River. Water had to be frequently transported to thirsty livestock on his family's ranch. — Standard-Radio Post/Richard Zowie

By Richard Zowie —

Wilbur Pressler’s lawn is a lush green, as he makes sure he waters it along with his wife’s plants. But more than 60 years ago on his family’s farm, Pressler remembers the only vegetation that received watering was his parents’ garden.

Their lawn then was brown and lifeless.

“My brother and I would take baths in the same bathwater so we didn’t use two tubs of water,” Pressler said. “There wasn’t much water in the tub, just a little bit to get you washed off.”

That was during the “1950s Drought,” which lasted in Texas from 1947 to 1956. During that time, Fredericksburg’s rainfall was above average once, in 1952, when the city received nearly 45 inches of rain for the year.

Seven times during that cycle, yearly rainfall was below 25 inches. Then, in 1956, the year before the drought ended, Fredericksburg received just 12 inches of rain for the year.


The darkest side of Boston

Johnny Depp is different things to different people.

He’s borderline flamboyant, swashbuckling pirate Johnny Depp to many filmgoers; undercover teen cop Johnny Depp to an older generation and an enigmatic Mad Hatter Johnny Depp to a much younger subsect of audiences.

There’s no mistaking that he’s charming when he wants to be, brooding when he needs to be and enigmatic always Johnny Depp feels at home in any number of characters.

But it seems that every five years or so, audiences are treated to the best kind of Depp, crime drama anti-hero Johnny Depp. We’ve seen this Depp play undercover agents in “Donnie Brasco,” drug lords in “Blow” and famous gangsters in “Public Enemies.”

Six years after he died on the street as famed bank robber John Dillinger, crime drama anti-hero Johnny Depp is back and channeling a “The Departed”-era Jack Nicholson as real life Boston kingpin James (Whitey) Bulger in Scott Cooper’s “Black Mass.”


Go wild with independent film

You’ve probably seen Bruce Greenwood in a lot of movies.

He’s one of those “Oh that guy” character actors. You know the ones. A friend will say something like “I really liked (NAME OF ACTOR) in that movie I saw last week,” to which the immediate response is almost always, “Which one is he?” Then the friend explains what movies you’ve seen the actor in and the immediate response is always “Ohhhhh, that guy.” It’s a situation that applied most often to talented veterans like Steve Buscemi before “Boardwalk Empire” or Kevin Spacey before “House of Cards.”

Bruce Greenwood is an “Oh that guy” actor.

This isn’t to slight Greenwood at all, given the quality work he’s done playing the president in both “Thirteen Days” and “National Treasure 2,” Ashley Judd’s ne’er-do-well husband in “Double Jeopardy” and as Chris Pine’s mentor in the “Star Trek” reboots.

Ohhhhh, that guy.



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