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.

I often get emails from the Texas Real Estate Inspectors Association offering various continuing education courses at convenient locations. They serve as a reminder of my ill-fated attempt to change careers in late middle age, when it looked like this newspaper gig wasn’t panning out anymore.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I was unemployed and loath to move from Longview, since my wife had a good job as a professor and our daughter was happy in school. We bought a lovely house, and I set about figuring out how to make a living.

Sam the Dog and I walked in the early morning darkness the other day after a blue Norther blew through. I was bundled up against the wind, Sam tugging against the leash, enjoying the drop in temperatures. Leaves skittered across the pavement, which made a naturally skittish dog occasionally flinch. Even after more than two years of affection and living the good life, Sam still bears psychic scars. He was clearly mistreated before my wife found him lying up the hill in the street two years ago, with matted smelly fur and a look of resignation in his eyes. He had given up.

A year has passed since our family became engulfed in a horrific tragedy. My father-in-law, Harris Teel, was stabbed in the heart two days before Thanksgiving while sitting in a waiting room at the Good Shepherd day surgery center in Longview. Nurse Gail Sandidge died on the scene, and three others were wounded. Mr. Teel — who was 82 and in good health at the time — died nine days later.

I am a word nerd. Etymology fascinates me. I try not to use 50-cent words when a dime’s worth will do, but sometimes I can’t resist tossing in a word that might not be used in everyday conversation. I have learned the hard way to double-check anytime I venture into territory commonly occupied by the likes of George Will.

I was taking a photograph of a city worker installing new banners along the light poles downtown the other day and humming along to a Bee Gees song as the music wafted through the square. It was coming from the Titus County courthouse, from the speakers installed along the roof. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue after the storm passed through, and it finally felt like autumn. I really wanted to just sit down on a bench, listen to the music and enjoy the cool air, but work beckoned.

I wandered through the livestock arena at the Titus County Fair recently. Participants were grooming their steers, fluffing up their hair with industrial-strength blow dryers. It was warm and aromatic, a familiar smell of bovines and sawdust wafting through the afternoon. Being at a livestock show evokes fond memories of my two older daughters — both now in their 30s — and their forays into animal husbandry.

I met Harley Clark in 2005 while attending a 50th anniversary celebration in Austin of the “Hook ’em Horns” sign. His buddy invented it one night while making shadow figures on the wall of a dorm room. Clark, who was the University of Texas head cheerleader in 1955, introduced the sign to the world at a pep rally. He unilaterally proclaimed the symbol for the Longhorns was now the official hand signal of the university.

We met six-and-a-half years ago at Pizza King in Longview on a spring Saturday afternoon. She had a cheese pizza. Mine was veggie, extra jalapeños. Her blond hair and cherubic face with flawless skin captured my heart.

As we sat down, she held one of the Harry Potter novels in her arms like a shield. She was 10 and eyed me warily. Who is this funny little man coming into my life, she no doubt wondered.

Abbie is the daughter of the woman who would become my wife. Now she is my daughter as well, and I am blessed.

High school football continues, which means tonight I will again pace the sidelines, trying to get an action shot in focus while not getting creamed by a player knocked out of bounds.

Before this season commenced, the last time I shot football we photographers still used film instead of digital. That was 26 years ago. Time flies.

I walk three-and-a-half miles every morning, accompanied by Sam, our dimwitted but lovable poodle mix.

The alarm goes off at 5:30. I jump up and get out the door in 15 minutes, a half-cup of coffee and a large swig  of Diet Coke in my gullet to jumpstart my brain. I know that sounds gross, but it works for me.

I listen to Red River Radio on my iPhone while I walk to get a headstart on the news. Except for the other morning. No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t make it work. I then tried pulling in KUT, the Austin