For towns large and small, it’s a wonderful life.

Congressman Jim Wright speaking on the stage with, from left to wright, Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough, Texas Governor John Connally, Vice President Lyndon Johnson and President John Kennedy. Before the day ended, tragedy would strike in Dallas. Photo: UTA Special Collection/Star-Telegram.
Congressman Jim Wright speaking on the stage in Fort Worth with, from left to wright, Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough, Texas Governor John Connally, Vice President Lyndon Johnson and President John Kennedy. Before the day ended, tragedy would strike in Dallas. Photo: UTA Special Collection/Star-Telegram.

FORT WORTH CITIZENS recently paid homage to 92-year-old Jim Wright, who rose to be Speaker of the House in Washington, DC.

Two stories untold at the funeral date back to the late Christian statesman’s years as “boy mayor” of Weatherford. On a sleepy afternoon, he received two bird-related phone calls a few minutes apart. One caller on the west side complained of the growing sparrow population in his neighborhood. Another on the east side was angry that some youngsters with air rifles were firing at sparrows. “I relocated the kids with air rifles to the side of town where they’d be more welcome, thus pleasing both callers,” Wright said.

At a dinner honoring the late Larry Hagman–Weatherford actor who played JR Ewing on TV’s long-running Dallas TV series–Wright spoke of being Hagman’s boxing coach. “Thank goodness you weren’t my acting coach,” Hagman responded.


Don Newbury
Don Newbury


Home towns keep bars held high when they measure up to the ways they are remembered. Memories’ afterglow is abundant with “warm fuzzies.” We gather memory bouquets of roses, giving little thought to thorns encountered in their gathering.

Folks growing up in small towns believe experiences during their youth are unique, far different from others coming of age in the city.

Uniqueness, though–like much else–is in the mind’s eye of the beholder.


   Adam Hill, a nine-year-old in Albany, Texas, is bound to have a trove of tales to one day tell his kids and grandkids. He’ll brag about growing up in a small West Texas community where it’s a given that parents “look after” all children—theirs and others.

With their “one for all, all for one” spirit, much of life in Albany is little different than thirty, forty or even fifty years ago.

The youngest of four children of Kevin and Kim Hill, Adam is making memories as an observer–and an occasional participant–in a popular summertime game. Sometimes, he joins older brother Ryan in what is called “Ding-Dong-Ditching.”



Adam Hill
Adam Hill

It’s kinda like Halloween, except the players are all in for tricks. Treats aren’t in the equation.

The game calls for children–most of them ten to twelve years of age–to ring doorbells, then running down the street, hoping to avoid being identified. “They don’t realize parents are a hundred percent ‘in’ on what’s going on, happily playing along by ‘chasing’ the children down the street,” Kim said.

When Adam participates, he’s always barefoot, sometimes “dressed down” to his underwear. During one of his recent “observation sessions,” darkness set in.


   That night, one of Kim’s friends sent a text warning that bell-pushers soon would appear at the Hills’ front door. Overhearing the conversation, Adam hid in a front yard bush to take it all in.

Later, darkness fully in place, Adam asked, “Okay, Mommy—I have a really important question: Do cats sneeze?” Kim answered she was sure they do.

Adam was greatly relieved by her answer. “That’s good. When I was hiding in the bushes tonight, something in there with me sneezed, and I was sure hoping it was just a cat.”


   Some accounts withstand the test of time, like a son who stubbornly showed up his dad years ago in Sulphur Springs. He accompanied his father, a longtime farmer, to the Sulphur Springs Cattle and Dairy Auction, where they planned to sell a cow and a calf.

A special needs son, he begged his pappy to sell the cow and calf separately. The old man was adamant, however, insisting they be sold as a pair.

The auctioneer was so instructed.


   While his dad was getting coffee, the son–obsessed with a hunch that the animals should be offered separately–revisited the auctioneer. He said his pappy had changed his mind–they should be auctioned separately.

When the animals paraded separately into the ring, the farmer was furious, ready to march on the auctioneer. He mellowed quickly, however, upon learning the proceeds of the two sales would be several dollars more than if the cow and calf had been offered together.

“I never thought I’d ever see the day when a calf was worth more than its mammy and I was smarter than my pappy,” the happy forty-something son beamed.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Archived:, newbury blog.

Read more of Don Newbury’s humorous and inspirational stories in When The Porch Light’s on.


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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Don, it’s a wonderful life indeed when we can live in a world of gentle laughter. Those are the moments we remember most. We are indeed fortunate to have humorists like you out there digging up the antics of mankind for us.

  • Don Newbury

    Thank you, Caleb. I try each day to find a different slant to produce smiles, even if serious headline. For example, learning today that law enforcement convinced that warring cyclists are committed to serious turf wars, could the guys who are faint of heart act out charades on artificial turf?…

  • Roger Summers

    Storms jolt, as we’re being
    reminded these thunderous days. A few years ago, Susan Boyle came from out of
    nowhere – well, television – and reminded us that when jolts come and you’re
    walking through storms and the wind and the rain, you’ll not be walking alone.
    People I know seem to be going through storms in big numbers of late – sickness,
    surgeries, death. So do we try to bring them a smile the usual way – flowers,
    chocolates, food? Try sending along a
    copy of “When the Porch Light’s On.” Bet they smile every time.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      “When the Porch Light’s On” certainly made me smile. And we need those smiles because, you are right, everyone is facing storms that never seem to end, and from those storms good books are written.

  • Barbara Swanson

    I found this amazing site to make a living online…I’m now close to making $3500 a month. http://tinyurl.CoM/os9ok4y

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