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Showing posts from 2007

Dreams, Fact or Fiction?

I must admit, I don't put a lot of credence in dreams, but occasionally; I have one that sticks with me and makes me wonder if there was more to it than a nighttime matinee.

Last week I had a curious dream that seemed very real. In it, I was hiking along with my 2 dogs (I only have one dog) when a medium sized brown dog attacked me. It came straight for me, with ears pulled back, teeth bared and the hair standing up on its back. It happened so fast, my 2 dogs did not respond.

I realized immediately it planned to viciously injure me, so reaching down, I grabbed a handful of the fluffy soil I was standing in and threw it straight into the eyes of the attacking dog. I remember doing it twice in rapid succession. This had a straightaway effect, by stopping the dog in its tracks.

I immediately felt satisfaction, having bested the dog using superior strategy and technique, but my victory was short-lived when I looked at the defeated dog and saw it in a helpless state.
Its ears were hanging …

Examining personal beliefs

Last week, in response to my sister's question, "Tell me what you don't believe", I pounded out a rather lengthy list. Here we are, a couple of days before Christmas and if there is one time in the year that I should put a positive foot forward, it's the Christmas season.

I believe that anyone who causes me to examine my beliefs is doing me a favor. Too many times in the past I allowed myself to be swayed by an "expert", only to find out down the line that by doing this, I put my own judgment in neutral.

I believe the average person of any country does not want their government interfering in their lives any more than is absolutely necessary, but want to be free to pursue a happy and meaningful existence, unhindered by over-regulation.

I believe a personal experience with Jesus Christ is something only those who have experienced can fathom. Folks who spend a great deal of energy trying to disprove the existence of God, will most likely come to a place in …

Sorry, but I don’t believe that.

My wife tells me I am the kind of person who doesn’t go out of their way to make people feel comfortable. I thought I was simply stating what I believe to be logic, but she knows me better than almost anyone else, including moi. At the recent Texas Avenue Christmas parade, the lady in front of me saw our new city manager and commented to a friend that he she heard he wasn’t well liked. I butted in with my 2 cents and stated I liked him because he was a strong leader and Baytown needs a leader with backbone.

She turned and asked who exactly I was and I told her I was Baytown Bert. She said "Oh" and then went on to say she only said what she did because she had read about the city manager on the online forum Baytown Talk and some folks weren’t happy about the police thing and the way the new city manager handled it. My alarmed and shy bride was once again subjected to my aggressive public behavior and this justified her observation.

However, it all ended peacefully and after cha…

Jury Duty – Panel 13 – Part Deux!

As you may recall, last week I answered the honorable request of my host county (Harris) and was assembled with other dignified citizens for a panel of prospective jurors. I humbly submit the conclusion.

"Panel 13 – to your feet"! The flat-topped-coifed Marine-looking bailiff bellowed! I found this quite impressive, especially since the woman was only about five feet tall. I know I was the first to jump to my feet. She assembled us in formation and I am happy to say that I was obviously the only one of panel 13 with military experience. While the others beboppered along - out of step I might add, I marched ramrod straight, hitting the heel down hard and in step with Sgt. Flattop. It was a proud moment for me and I did not allow myself to be distracted. I was marching for justice! An old boot camp cadence slipped into my conscience and I occupied myself with the comforting words "hup toop treep fo, hup toop treep fo"!

Down, down and down we went into the mildewy Houst…

Harris County Jury Duty – Panel 13!

A few years ago I was invited to be part of the Harris County Court system on Congress Avenue in Houston, as a possible juror candidate! I was obviously (or evidentially) selected for my noticeable integrity, past evidence of sound judgment and proved logic. I still savor the spike of adrenaline (accompanied by a metallic taste in my mouth) I received when I saw the official envelope. Jury duty? Me? Wow! Cool beans!

"They've evidentially heard of me", I shouted to my bride. "I'm among the distinguished," I boasted. I picked up the phone and called my near as the real thing-lawyer brother Bruno. "Well, I've been summoned," I told him "and I'm going to serve – if they will let me"! He coughed a bit and begged off saying he was in the middle of something (much to my chagrin and need for self-important confirmation), but I know how it is and as I hung up I could hear the Simpson's playing in the background.

I felt pre…

Lindsey Z. Wilcox – Still at Sea – Final Part

Once more I sat down with World War II Veteran, Sailor and Baytown hero, Lindsey “Zeb” Wilcox. He is a survivor of the USS Indianapolis tragedy, a local hero of mine and one of the folks legends are made of. Without further ado, I continue his unique story. “880 men died, 317 survived and 79 remain with us and only 7 are Texans”.

“About midnight I was relieved of duty and made my way to the deck to lay down, when there was a tremendous explosion and fire came out of the forward starboard and port passageways, extending half the distance of the quarterdeck. We had been hit by 2 Japanese torpedoes and the ship was listing badly, so I grabbed my life jacket and literally stepped off the side of the ship into the water. I quickly swam about 50 feet away and donned my “Mae West” jacket. The ship, all 615 feet of her, sank within 15 minutes of being hit”.

“I saw a life raft and got inside and those of us who were unhurt began giving up our place in the raft to all the injured sailors and…

Making a mark on history

By Barrett Goldsmith Baytown Sun Published November 20, 2007

The Bayland Park boat ramp will soon be the site of a pair of historical markers honoring Baytown’s past, and organizers hope it will be the prelude to a renewed sense of historical appreciation in the community.

The Harris County Historical Commission worked with local resident Bert Marshall and other area history buffs to create a marker honoring the Confederate Naval Works at Goose Creek, a naval shipyard that produced warships during the Civil War. The marker was purchased entirely from a donation by Bayer Material Sciences.

Marshall said he was excited to do the research on the shipyard and make a contribution to Baytown’s historical landscape. The HCHC approached Marshall in March of 2006, and Marshall had already been looking into the history of the shipyard.

“I don’t think people realize there was such an involvement in this area with the Civil War,” Marshall said. “They built the little schooners that could go into shal…

Lindsey Z. Wilcox – Still at Sea - Part Two

This week I sat down once again with World War II Veteran and Sailor, Lindsey “Zeb” Wilcox. He’s a survivor of the USS Indianapolis tragedy, a true war hero of the best kind and one of the folks legends are made of. Without further ado, I will continue his unique story. 880 men died, 317 survived and 79 remain with us.

“The railroad work taught me skills early on and I never went without a job. I bid on an opening in my hometown of Dequincy, Louisiana in 1941 as a Roundhouse Clerk, which was the fellow that worked on the turnaround or roundtable for locomotives, but lost it to another fellow who was also promised the job. I was taken in by the Master Machinist even though I had no family connections and was accepted for 65 cents an hour pay. I entered the program in 1941 and was able to complete it after the war in 1948”.

“After 6 months, I was given a raise of a half cent an hour. Back then I paid $5 per month full hospital insurance too. I worked 6 days/48 hours a week and learne…

Lindsey Z. Wilcox – Still at Sea

This week I sat down with World War II Veteran and Sailor, Lindsey “Zeb” Wilcox and I must say he is bright-eyed and full of enthusiasm. He’s a striking-looking man with wide shoulders and I reckon he was no one to truck with, back in the day. As a survivor of the USS Indianapolis tragedy, he’s certainly earned his place in history and the many books written about the sad event. In short, he’s a true war hero of the best kind and one of the folks legends are made of. He’s made of the fiber Baytonians love to brag about and he represents all that is good about our city, state and country.

Today’s article will be part one of three or more parts chronicling his life and the four hellish days he and his fellow Sailors and Marines endured, floating in the Philippine Sea after Japanese Submarine I-58 hit their Heavy Cruiser with 2 “fish” or torpedoes. The sinking of his ship is noted as “the worst single at-sea loss of life in the history of the U.S. Navy” and he lived through it all to…

A Little Stupidity Goes a Long Way

“Stupid people should seek out other stupid people and restrict their communication to those individuals”. I first became aware of this bit of advice a number of years ago and regrettably, I get daily reinforcements of its simple wisdom. I don’t think it should become law though, but if somehow the message could get out, it sure would make conversation a lot easier for those of us who have taken the time to get an education and learn social graces.

In my formative years, my Dad, who was and is a great man in my eyes gave me continuous instruction concerning this very subject and unless he’s mellowed considerably without my knowledge, will not tolerate stupidity in any form.

So, what exactly is stupidity, especially in the context of my initial quote? Stupidity implies that the attributed party is not mentally retarded but rather is willfully ignorant and/or unintelligent, and displays poor use of judgment or insensitivity to nuances.

Being stupid does not mean a person has a low I.Q., …

Alive and Kicking She Is: Ms. Myrtle McDaniel

It was my pleasure recently to spend an hour or so with long time area resident Myrtle McDaniel. We sat outside Green Acres of Baytown Nursing Home on Beaumont Street and enjoyed the warm sunshine, cool temperatures and low humidity chatting like old friends.

Ms. McDaniel is 88 years young and came to Baytown when she was just a child. Her father retired from Humble Oil after 44 years service. Her mind is sharp as a tack and we talked about old times, laughing like two little kids.

For the last many years, McNair has been her home and we both knew Tyree White, now passed on. “Tyree was a BBQ cooking fool” I said and she laughed and said he sure was. While we chatted, her in her wheelchair and me on the large oversized rocker, everyone who passed by had a kind word for her and she a “Hey, baby”! I asked if she knew of Granny Adcock out in Highlands and of course, she knew who she is. Granny, like Ms. Myrtle are local treasures.

She told me this has been her home area all her life and she …

Full/Self-Service and “Consume-while-Shopping”

Is there a store in Baytown that has more checkers working, than Food Town on North Main? High five to the manager of this store for "getting it"! Customer service will draw customers every time, but large business owners time and time again neglect the customer by offering self-service “fast” lanes.

Food Town on North Main usually has checkers standing in front of the line waiting on customers. And get this – they are friendly! Compare this to Wal-Mart or either Kroger location and it's easy to see why I shop at this particular Food Town.

I don't want to scan my own groceries while a cashier watches either. I don’t care if this is the wave of the future. I like the old way. I’ve had the obviously rebellious thought on more than one occasion of sending a bill to Kroger’s or Wal-Mart for my services, even if it would only pay minimum wages and no employee benefits.

How in the world is scanning my own groceries an upgrade in customer service? The conventional wisdom is…

Dedicated to Those Who Serve

This Thursday, October 25th, my son, Sgt. Nick Marshall will be honorably discharged from the United States Army after five and a half years of continuous and honorable duty. It’s been a long haul for him and all those who love and support our son.

He has represented his Country, Baytown, his family and his friends well. He is every parent’s son or daughter, who left home with little real direction, but comes home experienced, mature and full of positive goals.

Like his father and both grandfathers and great grandfathers before him, aunts, uncles and cousins, Nick has endured long lonely extended periods away from the comforts of civilization as we know it. He’s been hot, cold, dirty, exhausted, mad, laughed uncontrollably, hungry, sleepy, determined and has shared the camaraderie only G.I.’s experience when war rages around them.

My Dad rode a motorcycle through the dirt and garbage-strewn streets of Egypt, throwing handfuls of small coins to the begging children of post-WWII Cairo, a…

“Live like a King – Dine like a Pauper”

I read on CNN's web site that “Foreclosure filings across the U.S. nearly doubled last month compared with September 2006, as financially strapped homeowners already behind on mortgage payments defaulted on their loans or came closer to losing their homes to foreclosure”.

Back in 1980, anxious to move upward and provide my bride with a new home, I began the process of buying a house in a brand new subdivision here in Baytown. I sought the advice of my Pastor, the late L. S. Marcus. I laid out what I planned to do and how much it would cost me and he listened patiently. Being a Veteran, I could move in for only a buck. I really wanted the house and I had all but made the decision when I paid him a visit.

Much to my disappointment, he advised against the purchase and told me something I’ve never forgotten and it has been the basis for many a financial decision since. “If you buy this house, you will live like a king, but dine like a pauper”. I sat and stared, pleading with my ey…

City ratcheting up anti-crime efforts

By Barrett Goldsmith Baytown Sun
Published October 12, 2007

City manager Garry Brumback said law enforcement has ramped up its efforts over the 45 days and that those efforts are paying off in fewer crimes. Brumback said citizens would soon see the difference.

“There has definitely been a change, but perception is a lag indicator,” Brumback said. “We need to get people better information, and we’re working on that.”

Brumback met Wednesday night with organizers of the Baytown Concerned Citizens. Also attending were Mayor Stephen DonCarlos and Police Chief Byron Jones.

The group was formed to help coordinate with the city and neighborhood watch programs to make citizens more aware of crime issues and come up with solutions to make Baytown safer. More than 700 people are now members of BCC’s web site,, which includes a message board discussing crime and interactive maps showing the location of crimes in the city, as well as a searchable database.

Bert Marshall presented a …
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Using the Internet to prove what we want to believe

“Ten years ago, renowned Swedish scientist Dr. Celsius Fahrenheit, took a kayak trip to the Antarctic land mass, to study flora and fauna for PETA. The air trip was a bust, as all he found was flotsam- jetsam plants and that, in abundance, as the red tide was in. Bagging up what he could, he was able to trade it to the Inuit Eskimos for Atwater Prairie chickens, which are raised as a cash crop.

“If only we had been in the Arctic, where little Emperor penguin-itos are in abundance we could have harvested a number of the tasty “chickens” for food, but instead, we were forced to subsist on polar bear liver, as it is the only safe part of the polar bear for humans”.

Antarctica is the second largest continent in all three hemispheres and is expanding every year, by about 4000 miles due to Global warming, which Al Gore discovered. Hugo Chavez, of the Bolivian government, owns most of the expanding land mass, and is causing a world-wide outrage, by introducing logging. Mr. Chavez is plan…

What is the price of Tranquility?

A friend of mine has raised the question of whether the plan to enforce the smoking ban will take police away from what they feel is real crime-fighting duties.

Please don’t think I am condescending or attempting to force-feed anyone. I am simply responding with what I feel is the voice of reason and in doing so, I am laying it out to consider the alternative, which is non-enforcement.

The city has new leadership and with our existing leaders, they are going to attempt to enforce statutes, laws and ordinances. This is a good thing, but it is touch and go and time will tell if they make the right decisions and set their priorities correctly. Garry Brumback said as much in Friday’s article about the Lakeview apartments. Our city is way overdue for solid leadership and enforcement of codes, that anything they offer at this point should be viewed as welcome.

There is going to be growing pains involved in enforcing the laws and we as citizens must be patient, as has been stated over and ov…

The Hellfighter Returns to Baytown

The last time Baytown Texas saw someone determined to fight hell with their fists was 1968 and that man was John Wayne. Go on down to Rooster’s on Texas Avenue and eat a Rooster Burger and you can still see evidence of his work here. There’s even a life-size cutout of the Duke, just so folks don’t forget.

If what we citizens are seeing continues, Mr. Lowell Cox will need to clear a wall to make room for the legacy our new city manager Garry Brumback will create. I liked the man the first time I shook his hand and I figure myself a pretty good judge of character.

Mr. Brumback came into my view a little over a month ago and almost immediately there was opposition to his appointment from a certain sector – that sector appears to have a lot of complaints about everything. It seems one outspoken fellow in this here town is convinced Mr. Brumback is not the man for the job. Well, time will tell, but I was and am, willing to give the man a fair shake.

I’m reminded of a story I read years a…

City threatens to shut down Lakeview Apts.

By Barrett Goldsmith Baytown Sun
Published September 21, 2007

Residents of the Lakeview Terrace apartment complex on Northwood could be forced to relocate next week because of delinquent utility bills by the owners of the property, Baytown city manager Garry Brumback said Thursday.

The owners of the property, ISH and Company based in Montreal, currently owe the city nearly $62,000. The city notified the leasing agent for the property Sept. 4 that the complex owed $31,614, and did not receive payment. The complex is now delinquent on its current bills of about $26,000, and has been assessed a late fee of about $4,000.

If the owners or the leasing agent fail to pay the amount in full, water to the complex will be cut off Tuesday. After that point, the apartments will be declared inhospitable and residents will have 24 hours to leave their apartments. The water service will not be restored until payment is received.

“The property owner is packing up and has no intentions of paying anything,…

Love thy neighbor, as thyself…in Baytown?

The good citizens of this old oil town, long known for their independent and self-reliant spirit are beginning to make a change in how they watch out for each other. I’m not implying that Baytonians aren’t caring people; we just like to go our own way. In a pinch, we have always relied on each other.

Baytown is my town of choice and that’s why folks call me Baytown Bert. In fact, some of my Hispanic friends shorten my moniker and simply call me Baytown.

Yesterday, I spent an hour walking part of my 500 home subdivision encouraging my neighbors to band together against criminal activity when it rears its ugly head. Our plan is to use the Neighborhood Watch system of calling police when suspicious activity appears, even if it isn’t our own house. Today and tomorrow, others will be attempting to blanket this neighborhood with flyer's. Soon we will install 30 new Neighborhood Watch signs we paid for with our neighborhood civic group monies.

Every neighborhood and apartment comple…

BPD steps up patrols

By Barrett Goldsmith
Baytown Sun Published September 12, 2007

Baytonians should be seeing a heightened police presence, especially around trouble spots such as the apartment complexes along Northwood drive and Village Lane, as well as in prime shopping areas along Garth Road. The Baytown Police Department has commissioned a number of four-wheelers, acquired through grants, to patrol those shopping areas. The vehicles give police a visible presence and allow for easy maneuverability.

Capt. Roger Clifford, head of investigations, said he and patrol Capt. Keith Dougherty have been seeing the signs of increased crime and developing strategies to hit it head-on, even before others began calling attention to it. Clifford said the department is using overtime and putting officers from other bureaus onto patrol and marshaling the department’s resources to take a firmer hand.

“Our officers haven’t been able to do as much proactive police work,” Clifford said. “But now this gives them the abili…

Baytown officials talk about crime concerns

Sept. 11, 2007, 12:29AM
Mayor pledges budget support for police efforts

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

About 200 Baytown residents turned out Monday for the second meeting of a new anti-crime group.

Baytown Concerned Citizens, which drew about 70 people to its first meeting last month, has grown largely through information posted on a Web site,, organizers said.

The group and its mission has had the blessing of Police Chief Byron Jones, Mayor Steve DonCarlos and City Manager Garry Brumback, who took part in Monday's meeting at the Baytown Community Center.

City manager impressed: "It is more inspirational than I have words to express having an organization like this in my new home town," said Brumback, who is in the second week of his job as city manager.

"The fact that citizens are willing to give of their time is what makes a community great."

Brumback moved to Baytown from Clearwater, Fla., where he was assistant city manager…

Public invited to anti-crime meeting

Public invited to anti-crime meeting
By Barrett Goldsmith Baytown Sun

Published September 10, 2007
After weeks of combing through questions and comments from Baytonians irked by increasing crime in the area, the Baytown Concerned Citizens are poised to receive some answers tonight from city officials and the Baytown Police Department.

Police Chief Byron Jones, Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos and new city manager Garry Brumback will all be on hand to address citizens and answer questions culled from an August meeting at El Toro, which drew more than 70 people. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Baytown Community Center, 2407 Market St. The meeting was originally slated for a smaller room, but organizers to have a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 people in the new venue.

Bert Marshall, one of the group’s leaders, said he hopes to get the meeting televised on Comcast Channel 16 for local citizens who can’t attend. Marshall said the explo…