Gillespie Life


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.



Wandering through the forest

By Matt Ward —

It’s difficult to like “A Walk in the Woods” as much as you might like to.

Pair acting royalty like Robert Redford and Nick Nolte together and send them off on an Odyssean-like quest through the Appalachian Trail in search of themselves based on the book of the same name by travel writer Bill Bryson and it feels like a sure-fire recipe for success. 

To be fair, there’s a lot of great things happening within Ken Kwapis’ comedy adventure, which steers clear of the harsh realities of life on the trail like Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild” showed audiences last year. In fact, it’s in the comedic moments where “Walk” shines brightest, though viewers may be surprised by the film’s vulgarity, which features several of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.” “Walk” is much cruder than the trailers might have audiences believing, with the language making the film a definitive R.


Battlin' for season tickets

Hand rails were installed this year for easier access to the upper rows at Fredericksburg High School Stadium. — File photo

By Christine Granados —

If Fredericksburg High School fans were the barometer for success on the gridiron, the Battlin’ Billies would be state champions every year.

Season tickets along the 50-yard line (Section D) are difficult to come by, because of boosters like J.T. Maner.

“You can’t buy any until someone gives up some,” he said. “No one ever gives up any.”

Which is why, Maner, who played tackle for the Hillbillies in the ’40s, has had his season tickets since 1964 when FHS Stadium was built.

“We picked our seats before the stadium was finished,” Maner, 85, said. “I went out there and looked at the plans and what they were building and I liked what I saw. When they went on sale, I bought four seats under the press box.”

Every year since, he has renewed his tickets to guarantee the same seats.


Where's the nearest exit?

By Matt Ward —

Pierce Brosnan is trying very hard to revitalize his career, reshaping himself in the mold of Liam Neeson, aging action star.

It certainly helps that Brosnan spent a decade in four high profile films as the iconic James Bond, cinema’s longest lasting character, crafting a niche for himself as a classier version of the action star actor.

It’s these Brosnan Bond films like “GoldenEye” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” that helped to pave the way for Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne franchise and the passing of the spy torch to Daniel Craig, who will appear in his fourth Bond this fall with “Spectre.”

With last year’s “The November Man” and the large independent release “No Escape,” which debuted in theaters over the weekend, Brosnan begins his re-ascension back up the action star food chain with much success.


Threads of education

Schoolgirl samplers were used to help learn the alphabet, their numbers, to promote reading, writing and math skills. Often, the name of the student creating the sampler was also stitched onto the fabric such as this one created by Rosalie Ahrens. — Standard-Radio Post/Yvonne Hartmann

By Yvonne Hartmann —

Samplers have a story to tell.

These pieces of fabric art have been used as a teaching aid in country schools, and today they help tell the story of a girl’s education in earlier times.

These stories will be brought to life when the 2016 Country School Association of America Convention is held in Fredericksburg, June 19-22, 2016.

Theme for the convention, hosted by the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools, is “On the Land, Learning at Hand.”

And in keeping with that theme, an exhibit of over 40 antique and contemporary samplers is planned at Pioneer Museum.

“Samplers are just woven into our lives,” said Jane Woellhof, a national CSAA co-chairman and director at large with the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools. “They teach us a lot but they mean a lot. Most families don’t throw them away.”


Out of the shadows: Independent thriller ‘The Gift’ comes from nowhere to shine

Meryl Streep isn’t in “The Gift.”

Twenty years ago, the smart independent thriller from writer/producer/star Joel Edgerton would have been something right up Streep’s alley, but just because the performers don’t have top level name recognition doesn’t mean that the relative upstart film isn’t without its merits.

In fact, Australian triple-threat Edgerton provides one of 2015’s most inventive and original films on par with the well-rounded science fiction think-piece “Ex Machina,” starring Domnhall Gleason and Oscar Isaac.


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