Five stories that have North Texas talking: Big Tex is the star of a Brookhaven College exhibit, there’s public art on traffic signal boxes in North Richland Hills, John Connally’s clothes will soon be displayed, and more.
Big Tex returns – in many ways: More than 25 graphic artists, photographers, illustrators and fine artists from Dallas, Austin and Houston commemorate the fall and celebrate the return of Big Tex to the State Fair of Texas. “The Return of Big Tex” is on display at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch through Nov. 1. A so-called memorial/rebirth/reception is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday at the college. One piece includes “Big Techs,” which features Big Tex as a giant robot. Another portrays Big Tex in a thriller: “He rose from the ashes to fight the alien menace! The Return of Big Tex and The Phantom Flame.”
Public art in North Richland Hills: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin and other smiling cowboy film icons decorate about a dozen traffic signal boxes along roads in North Richland Hills. They’re the newest additions to the city’s ongoing public arts program, which was launched in 1997. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that city officials replace the artwork every two years to generate interest. Artists are typically paid up to $500. “It beautifies those gray metallic boxes,” one city official told the Star-Telegram. “And it introduces art out into the public in a way that is non-threatening and is fun and playful.”
Connally’s clothes on display: Artifacts from the John F. Kennedy assassination that haven’t been seen in 50 years will be on display later this month in Austin at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. They include the clothes worn by Texas Governor John B. Connally, who was shot while sitting in the same motorcade as Kennedy. KVUE-TV in Austin got a sneak peek at the clothing: “Bearing the label of Fort Worth clothier John L. Ashe, Connally’s dark suit is perforated by bullet holes through the chest, back, wrist and leg. The suit’s punctures match corresponding holes in Connally’s Arrow dress shirt, still heavily stained by blood despite being laundered after the shooting. A large tear along the shirt’s placket marks medical efforts to save Connally’s life.” The free exhibit starts Oct. 22.
More on the assassination: In Dallas, a historic documents related to Lee Harvey Oswald were shown for the first time on Tuesday. Dallas County officials presented the papers, which include the signature of Oswald’s widow, as well as documents that authorized the exhumation of Oswald’s body so he could be identified. Officials confirmed in 1981 that the remains at the Fort Worth cemetery were indeed Oswald’s. The paperwork had been in a desk drawer. Meanwhile, D Magazine interviewed Ruth Altshuler, chairman of the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Foundation, which is putting together the Nov. 22 ceremony on Dealey Plaza that marks the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.
For undocumented prisoners, a high cost for state jails: Texas county jails spent more than $156 million housing more than 131,000 immigrants in the country illegally between October 2011 and September 2013, according to state jail commission data. The Texas Tribune reports that the Harris County jail, one of the largest in the country, housed more than 30,000 immigrants at a cost of more than $49.6 million. Dallas County spent more than $22 million housing more than 12,000 illegal immigrants, and Travis County spent more than $15 million on 11,000 illegal immigrants, according to the reports. Tarrant County spent about $6 million, housing 7,578 undocumented prisoners, according to the reports.
Restoring the grand Baker Hotel: In the next year, business partners in North Texas hope to start renovating the run-down Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. One investor enjoys visiting Mineral Wells and says boosting the hotel is key to revitalizing the town, which is about an hour west of Fort Worth. The 14-story Baker opened in 1929 after residents raised $150,000 to lure a hotel to capitalize on the town’s mineral or “crazy” water that was touted for its healing powers, The Dallas Morning News reports. The Baker had an Olympic-size pool and an electrical system controlled by door locks. By the 1940s, the hotel was fully air-conditioned, and celebrities such as bandleader Glenn Miller, actor Clark Gable and singer Judy Garland were among the guests. Unconfirmed local lore says bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde stopped by on occasion, The News reports. The hotel first shut down in 1963 and then later reopened before closing down again in 1972.