Gary Borders

Gary Borders has been an East Texas journalist and editor for more than 30 years. He is currently the editor and publisher of the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune and also writes online each week at

During his career Gary has taught journalism at Kilgore College and served as editor and publisher of newspapers in Longview, Lufkin, Nacogdoches and San Augustine. He began writing a column in 1982 and has written at least once weekly since without fail, though there are quite a few he would like to take back. The New York Times News Service distributed his column nationally from 1995 through 2009. His pieces have been published in the Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Palm Beach Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and — his personal favorite — the Maui News.

Borders has published two collections of columns, the “Loblolly Chronicles” in 2010 and “Behind and Beyond the Pine Curtain” in 2005. The University of Texas Press published “A Hanging in Nacogdoches” in 2006, his account of a brutal murder in 1902 in the state’s oldest town, and the trial that followed. He is currently researching another book, but is nowhere close to being finished.

Borders and his wife, Dr. Julie Teel-Borders, a professor at LeTourneau University, live in Longview with their daughter, Abbie, a freshman at Longview High School. He also has two grown daughters, about whom he has been writing columns since Ronald Reagan was president. They have long ceased to be embarrassed about it, though Abbie protests occasionally.

When I told folks I was going to spend a week in Mexico and Big Bend working on a magazine story, a few acted as if I had signed my death warrant. “Are you going to have any security?” one friend asked. No, we didn’t, though there was certainly safety in numbers with five of us working together — including a scientist who lives and works in Mexico. My brother Scott had the wisest perspective, noting that many millions of people live in Mexico, and the vast majority get through the day just fine. I liked my odds.

The finish line of the finest adventure on which I have embarked in many years beckoned, at most 300 feet away. A group of us were descending a peak known locally as Big Hill just off the highway in Big Bend Ranch State Park. The peak overlooks the Rio Grande. On this final day of a seven-day voyage from Chihuahua City, Mexico to the Big Bend area, we got up at 4 a.m. to catch sunrise. It was worth the lost sleep. We arrived in the dark to give the two photographers time to set up their spectacular array of equipment.

I was heading home through a neighborhood north of ours the other day. And that’s when I saw the painted trees.

All of the trees — about two dozen total — have been whitewashed up to about six-feet high. Pine trees mainly, but a few hardwood trees also sported a new look. On the same street maybe eight houses down, another yard sported white-washed trees.

Painting a pine tree with a brush has to be hard work. The bark isn’t smooth, and there are plenty of cracks and crevices. Whoever tackled these loblollies had plenty of energy. This is serious yard art.

From the New York Times: The blue and gold braided beard on the burial mask of famed pharaoh Tutankhamun was hastily glued back on with epoxy, damaging the relic after it was knocked during cleaning, conservators at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo have said.


I didn’t do it. I have an airtight alibi.

I was filling my gas tank the other day, which considerably less painful than a few months ago. As long as a gallon of gasoline costs less than a tall latte at Starbucks, we probably don’t have much to complain about.

Somebody could have made a fistful of money wagering that gas would be considerably south of two bucks a gallon in 2015.

A gray-haired man stands inside the entrance to the U.S. Freedom Pavilion of the National World War II Museum, located on the corner of Magazine Street and Andrews Higgins Boulevard, in the Warehouse District of New Orleans.

The man at the museum is clearly a veteran, judging from the ballcap he wears identifying his military outfit. He is a volunteer here, and I thank him for his service, as I wait for my wife and daughter to join me.

My mother would have turned 85 Monday. My dad would be 83 this summer. Both are gone now, dying three years apart in a nursing home I pass by several times a week. Unlike their siblings, they did not live independently into their 80s or 90s. It just wasn’t meant to be. Instead both declined over years until death became a blessing.

It is two days before New Year’s Eve, the weather in New Orleans finally cooling down to what passes for winter in the Big Easy, after a couple sultry days. We have taken a quick vacation here, thanks to a generous friend who loaned us her condo in the Warehouse District. On our last night before making the 400-mile trek back to East Texas, we settled down in chairs of a parlor in the historic The Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue in the upper Garden District. We await the arrival of two of the city’s best known Cajun musicians, who play for a modest crowd every Monday night.

One of my main jobs as a publisher is to sell newspapers. That might appear blindingly obvious to most folks. But on many occasions throughout my four decades in this business, readers upset with a story will say, accusingly, “You’re just trying to sell newspapers.” That always struck me as akin to telling a car dealer, “You’re just trying to sell cars.” Well, duh.

As sunset approached, the sky streaked with pastels of orange and blue, and a full moon beginning to rise, the six-man football state championship got underway at Bulldog Field in Zephyr. That’s in Brown County, on the edge of West Texas, in goat country. Seemingly out of nowhere, the stadium lights appeared after our 306-mile drive. We pulled into a gravel parking lot, dust filling the air. Zephyr means “gentle, mild breeze.” Wind was ruffling the American flag near the concession stand.