“With so much trauma and stress over our country’s situation, it’s nice to have a little happy, and you’ve got to be happy around goats and Western music,” said Waynetta Ausmus. “Goats will make you laugh, and Western music will make you tap your feet.”
Ausmus and the goats and the Western music do their things in a neat little house sitting on seven acres surrounded by soybeans, at the end, the very end, of a gravel road between Tom Bean and Whitewright. While the goats pretty much take care of themselves, Ausmus slips into the back bedroom she’s turned into a recording studio and cranks out the two radio programs she does each week. One of them, “Storytime,” has been running on Sherman’s KJIM 1500 AM for almost ten years.
“It’s on every Sunday morning from ten to eleven, and it’s sponsored by Grayson County Equipment, the Kubota dealer in Sherman. The other program is called ‘Waynetta’s Roundup,’ and it’s on the Internet at www.live365.com 24/7,” Ausmus said. “Both shows have the same format, Western music, Western swing, cowboy music and poetry, storytelling, celebrity interviews, and a feature called ‘Everyday Cowboy.’”
The cowboy connection came naturally for Ausmus, who grew up riding horses and listening to her granddad tell stories on the front porch in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. After college, she worked at the FBI headquarters in Washington, and then moved to Texas and became a teacher. “I met J. Edgar Hoover once,” she said. “We passed each other in the hall one morning. I said, ‘Good morning, Mr. Hoover,’ and he said, ‘Good morning,’ and that was that. I’ve never figured out how to work that into a story.”
After more than twenty years with the Mesquite schools as a teacher and then an elementary school principal, Ausmus retired, moved to McKinney, and found a new calling. “I went to the state storytelling festival in Denton one year and just fell in love with all the storytelling. I thought this is what I want to do.”
And so she did, telling stories to anyone who wanted to listen. She worked schools and libraries, got on the touring artist roster with the Texas Commission for the Arts, worked with the state’s Educational Service Center, and in time, joined the board of directors of the Texas State Storytelling Association, Tejas.
Somewhere along the line, she met another storyteller, Marvin Brown. They got married—no word as to whether it was a storybook wedding—and in 2000 they moved to a ranch she named the “Lucky Me” near Hagerman Wildlife Refuge, where they lived until a few years ago with a menagerie of horses, goats, llamas, chickens, longhorns, dogs and cats. In January 2001, she joined with Lanny Joe Burnett and Edward Southerland to form the Red River Storytellers Outfit.
Brown was the one who decided Waynetta ought to be on the radio. He approached KJIM owner Bob Allen, pitched the idea and found a sponsor, and it was a done deal. It was not her first foray into radio, however.
“I did a show called ‘Hide and Horns,’ on a Mesquite station,” Ausmus said. “There’s a quote, ‘They say some states were carved or born, but Texas came from hide and horn.’ The show ran on Saturday and Sunday and I’d tell a two-minute story or fact about Texas.” The segment provided too little airtime for too much work, and after a couple of years, she dropped it.
Ausmus also does a one-woman show based on the life of Annie Oakley. And no, she doesn’t shoot glass balls or suddenly break into a chorus of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Maybe next year.
This is Ausmus’ second round on the Internet. She did a three-hour live program for a couple of years for an Internet operation in Midlothian, but lost that venue when the station was sold. The current Web program, as well as Storytime, is very much a family affair. In between the music, interviews and stories, Waynetta, Marvin, her daughter, Eryn, and her three grandchildren yuck it up in short, ongoing skits based on life at the Lucky Me Ranch. Isabel, age twelve, does “Goat Notes,” Noah, who’s ten, does Western folklore and tells jokes, and eight-year-old Samuel offers “Cowboy Tips,” such as, “Don’t squat when you’re wearing spurs.”
It’s all hokey, corny, and a lot of fun, and there’s something universal about the humor and the theme. Ausmus has fans in Singapore, Australia, and Europe. Anyone who recognizes the image of the American cowboy, and that’s just about the whole world, is a potential listener. And that’s a lot of folks who need a little happy.
This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Texoma Living!.
Featured Archive Story
By Dan Acree
Not so long ago, New Year’s Eve called for gentlemen in black ties, ladies in formal gowns, an elegant menu, exotic libations, and an orchestra with a chart of “Auld Lang Syne” on their music stands. In the Mulberry Room of the Grayson Hotel or the Ballroom of the Hotel Denison, revelers danced the night away until the clock’s hands came together at XII, and then the band played, couples kissed, and streamers, confetti, and the toot of tin horns filled the air.
The pirate is former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach, the soldiers are the members of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, and the fat little girlfriends—well, we’ll let Leach explain that one. “I worked with a guy from Louisiana in a camp one time—he used to say at the end of drills—he used to say—‘All right, that was a good job, man.’
I remember as a child riding back to Bonham after following the Bonham Warriors to an out-of-town football game with my family. As we drove home, I would get on my knees in the back seat and look out the back window at the headlights of what seemed like a thousand cars strung out behind us in the night, all going home after the game.
Looking for the Printed Version?You can find a complete set of Texoma Living! Magazine in the library at Austin College.
Search Every Issue
- October 2011
- July 2011
- December 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- March 2009
- December 2008
- September 2008
- June 2008
- March 2008
- December 2007
- June 2007
- March 2007
- December 2006