Photographer Erwin Smith of Bonham, Texas was to the American cowboy what Matthew Brady was to the Civil War. Smith captured the life of the cowboys of West Texas and New Mexico in a time when the West was changing forever.
The way north was an old trace that lay along the great wrinkle in the earth that separated the Blackland Prairie to the east from the Southern Plains to the west. The trail ran from Southwest Texas north to present day St. Louis, Missouri, and for centuries it served as a conduit for trade and war and migration by peoples ancient and modern. It went by many names. Most referred to it as the Shawnee Trail, for the ancient Indian village of Shawneetown near present day Denison.
Spence Hardie grew up in the years after the Civil War wanting to be a cowboy. His family ranched in Montague County near Saint Jo not far from the point where the Chisholm Trail crossed the Red River from Texas into Oklahoma and ended up on a ranch in Gunter.
In 1937 Congressman Sam Rayburn led a contingent from Denison to a meeting in Louisiana that would lead to the construction of one of the largest man-made lakes ever.
“The problem with many restauranteurs today, is that people get into the business to make money,” said Charlie Watson. “Well, we got in it to make good food. Some think they can work 8 to 5 and make $200,000 a year in the restaurant business. Well, that ain’t gonna happen.”
The knock on the door of Richard Pressley’s house in Sherman on January 4, 1960, was one he never expected. Standing on the porch was Grayson County Sheriff Woody Blanton, and he was there to end the fifteen years of freedom enjoyed by Pressley following his escape from prison in 1945.
Jazz is hot. For the first time since three-chord rockers took over the popular music scene five decades ago, jazz is in resurgence with those young men, and women as well. High school jazz bands are knocking out licks sweet and hot in Sherman, Denison, Pottsboro and other schools in the area, so it seems appropriate that a new opportunity to further their musical education is coming to town.
Lee Simmons vowed to avenge the guard murdered in the escape and stop the Barrow gang at any cost. He went to Austin where he met with Governor Miriam A. Ferguson. Simmons explained to her that extraordinary measures had to be taken right away in order to bring the Barrow gang to justice. He told Governor Ferguson that he was the very person to do it. She gave him the special powers he requested for this purpose.
The year was 1956. Bootlegging was the number one crime in Grayson County and a way of life in Sherman and Denison. Thirsty drinkers were willing pay for their liquor, and a bootlegger could double his money hauling hooch up US 75, the two-lane ribbon of concrete that connected Sherman to Dallas.
Pearl Harbor moved everything, including the training schedules, up a notch or two. The first class of flight cadets arrived on December 16. The eighty-one would be airmen started training on December 22. On February 20, 1942, the field recorded its first fatalities with a crash that killed Cadet Quinto Perkins and instructor Cyril Van Valkenberg. The first class graduated three days later, moving on to advanced training at another base. That February 23 also saw the dedication of the field and the Grayson Basic Flying School officially became Perrin Field.