Right off the bat, I’ll readily admit that that is an open air column in solely the loosest sense. But then once more, it’s a column that just about must be written on this Friday morning’s open air area since this weekend, the town of Denison is celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth birthday, indoors and open air, because the case could also be.
As the town of Denison continues its yearlong Sesquicentennial celebration, ideas of D-Town have gotten entrance and heart within the minds of lots of the metropolis’s residents lately. And that features yours actually, a fellow that moved to Denison in 1979 when his dad took a job with Texas Instruments. Before lengthy, I had fallen deeply in love with my new hometown, and nothing has modified within the a few years since then.
As lots of you realize, there’s quite a few historical past classes to be discovered relating to Denison, a few of them within the metropolis’s oral historical past, a few of them on-line on the Texas Historical Association’s web site; different parts present in Jack Maguire’s 1991 wonderful ebook entitled “Katy’s Baby: The story of Denison, Texas;” and nonetheless extra to be found within the wonderful journalistic work of those that staffed the Denison Herald, together with the late John Clift, Donna Hunt, Mavis Anne Bryant, Dwayne Wilder, and extra.
For these of you who is perhaps new to the neighborhood and don’t know the town’s wealthy previous, Denison happened within the early 1870s when William B. Munson, Sr. and R.S. Stevens bought land within the space simply south of the Red River and ready for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad — the MKT, or Katy Railroad, as many knew it — to discover a main railway cease in northern Grayson County.
Named after Katy Railroad president George Denison, the town was formally born in 1872 and the primary practice rolled into city on Christmas Eve that yr. To this present day, 150 years later, trains and the railroad life, stay a key a part of the town’s DNA.
Even although I’ve by no means labored for the railroad, I at all times loved going to work within the famed Katy Depot in downtown Denison once I served because the information and sports activities director for the native radio stations KMKT and KLAK again within the early days of the twenty first Century. The massive rotunda, the location of weddings, dances, and all types of celebratory gatherings, is a factor of magnificence and brings to thoughts an period passed by.
The railroad is so deeply ingrained within the consciousness of D-Town residents, that the majority — together with yours actually — hardly ever grumble when a practice passes by means of city, even when it stops the circulation of site visitors for a couple of minutes. And late at evening, when the rolling sound of a practice’s horn echoes by means of the nonetheless air, you’ll be able to make certain that lots of the city’s residents are all smiles, at the same time as they attempt to drift off to sleep within the darkness.
But railroad life is just a part of Denison’s historical past, as a lot of the metropolis’s residents know. In the 1870s, Thomas Volney Munson moved to the North Texas metropolis, and in a couple of brief years, he would assist cement its place on the map.
T.V. Munson had quite a few abilities, however he’s recognized finest for turning into an internationally recognized horticulturist from Denison, fairly actually serving to to save lots of the day when his work helped cease the phylloxera epidemic that was threatening the vineyards throughout France and different wine-rich spots.
According to the web site TVMunson.org, his answer was grafting the prevailing grapevines onto resistant rootstock from Texas. It labored, and Munson grew to become a hero in France, the place the French authorities named him Chevalier du Merite Agricole of the French Legion of Honor. And in the event you’ve seen the Denison City Limits indicators up to now, then you definitely additionally most likely know that D-Town’s sister metropolis is none aside from Cognac, France.
Munson grew to become an enormous a part of Denison’s legacy, and the Munson household has been necessary to the city and its historical past ever since. So it’s little surprise that tonight, because the Lucas Lovejoy Leopards come to city, the Denison Yellow Jackets soccer workforce will host the District 7-5A D-II contest at Munson Stadium. By the way in which, in the event you don’t have a ticket to the Friday Night Lights contest, tune into Katy Country 93.1 FM for the decision starting at 7 p.m.
Mr. Munson’s legacy — which additionally included the event of greater than 300 new grape varieties for Texas, the South, and the Southwest and finally helped to spur the creation of the T.V. Munson Memorial Vineyard and the T.V. Munson Viticulture and Enology Center at Grayson College — is just a part of the wealthy historical past of the small metropolis in northern Grayson County.
If Munson grew to become the town’s first worldwide hero, then Dwight David Eisenhower grew to become the second and a reputation that the world would always remember.
The well-liked Ike, as Eisenhower was recognized to hundreds of thousands, was born in Denison on Oct. 14, 1890, and the house that he was born in is preserved on the east facet of city because the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site. If that’s not sufficient to remind residents of certainly one of their favored sons, the massive bust of Eisenhower on the entrance of Loy Lake Park is perhaps one other.
Living right here for only some months, Eisenhower was raised in Abilene, Kansas, though he returned to Denison on a number of events later in life, as some well-known photographs attest to as they present a beaming Ike waving to an enormous parade crowd gathered on Main Street in entrance of the Rialto Theater.
While solely a Denisonian for a short time, Eisenhower would additionally assist save the day after which some, rising from his humble beginnings to grow to be one of many world’s strongest and distinguished males. Graduating from West Point, Ike would go on to grow to be a five-star normal within the U.S. Army, serving because the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, and finally turning into the chief of the free world because the thirty fourth president of the United States.
One of my favourite reminiscences of Ike is the speech that he had scribbled on paper and tucked away in his coat pocket if the enormously necessary D-Day landings had failed within the quest to liberate Nazi occupied Europe through the horrible days of World War II.
The speech confirmed the character of Denison’s favourite son, studying merely “Our landings within the Cherbourg-Havre space have failed to achieve a passable foothold and I’ve withdrawn the troops. My determination to assault right now and place was primarily based upon the most effective data accessible. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to obligation may do. If any blame or fault attaches to the try it’s mine alone.”
Thankfully, that speech by no means needed to be learn, and the lengthy street to the top of World War II started beneath Ike’s management on that dreadful early June day in 1944.
In addition to finally turning into the U.S. President, Eisenhower beloved to additionally spend his post-war days enjoying golf and getting open air to quail hunt and shoot skeet. In truth, his Winchester Model 21 side-by-side shotgun, offered to Ike from Robert Woodruff, the one-time president of Coca-Cola, is displayed on the NRA Museum.
Perhaps it’s the truth that like many others, “I Like Ike!,” or perhaps it’s as a result of I’ve an affinity for the classic outdated side-by-side shotguns made by Winchester and different American gun makers again within the early and center portion of the twentieth Century. Either method, seeing that well-known shotgun and serious about the Denisonian who owned it’s on my bucket listing sometime.
There are many others who’ve made a reputation for themselves, and for the town of Denison down by means of the years. Those Denison residents have included western gunfighter and dentist Doc Holiday; “Miracle of the Hudson” airline pilot hero Sully Sullenberger; famed Tuskegee Airman and World War II aviator Major Jewel Butler; former Texas Department of Agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower; former Yellow Jacket soccer nice and UNLV Athletic Director Erik Harper; former Canadian Football League stars Aaron and Reggie Hunt; the late Fred Washington of TCU and the Chicago Bears; Denver Broncos broad receiver and Super Bowl 50 champ Jordan Taylor; late actors Harold Wertz and John Hillerman; and so many, many, many extra. Again, if I’ve forgotten somebody right here, the listing of Denison heroes is lengthy, and please settle for my sincerest apology.
There’s additionally loads of native heroes who’ve left their mark, too many to recall right here, particularly since I’m certain I’ll neglect a couple of. Recently retired Denison ISD superintendent Dr. Henry Scott involves thoughts, as does Denison Yellow Jackets soccer coaches Marty Criswell and Bob Brown. And there’s a wealth of people that like to assist out and keep within the shadows, guys like Robert Crawley and others, the sort of folks that each city must have inside its metropolis limits.
Speaking of Criswell, the soccer coach that led Denison to its 1984 state championship win, he’s a person who beloved to duck hunt at Lake Texoma with a few of his Denison buddies. I keep in mind speaking to Marty about decoying mallards and upcoming soccer video games, again within the day when the late John Clift was nonetheless the outside editor for the Denison Herald and the late Max Eggleston was serving in that capability for the Sherman Democrat.
Since Denison additionally has its personal wealthy open air historical past, from duck looking at Randell Lake and Lake Texoma to bass fishing and striper fishing at Texoma and different close by lakes, maybe that’s a column matter for subsequent week, the wealthy open air legacy of D-Town.
In the meantime, because the Yellow Jackets take the sphere and the fireworks explode at Munson Stadium tonight, let this proud Denisonian say to his adopted hometown, “Happy Birthday!”
Here’s hoping that it’s a great one and that ultimately, as Marty Criswell coined the phrase and used to famously say so a few years in the past within the early Nineteen Eighties, always remember that not less than in Denison, “It’s Great to be a Yellow Jacket!”