Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Texas' Version of the Wright Brothers

For Mason, Alec, and Dawson...I wrote this as a tribute to your great-grandfather Kenneth and your great-uncle Charles.

Texas Had Its Own Version of the Wright Brothers
Texas' Version of The Wright Brothers by Charlene Tess
Kenneth Bourland and Charles Bourland

Although thousands have developed careers and hobbies in the aviation field since Wilbur and Orville Wright made their historic flight in 1903, two brothers in the Bourland family made a name for themselves as pioneers in the aviation field that cannot be equalled.                                                  

Following Charles Lindbergh's solo transatlantic flight in 1927, an interest in home built aircraft spread across the country. Charles N. Bourland, born May 14, 1915, and Kenneth R. Bourland, born November 30, 1916, lived their whole lives in El Paso, Texas. In 1933, the teenagers studied an article in Popular Mechanics which detailed a home built monoplane, and then decided to build one of their own. Not being entirely satisfied with the design in the magazine, they re-designed the plane into a biplane. They crafted a frame of pine, attached motorcycle wheels, and installed a Model "A" Ford engine. Experts have described the plane as trim and well-built. 
Texas' Version of The Wright Brothers by Charlene Tess

The Bourland Brothers, aged 17 and 16, did not know the first thing about flying a plane, but that didn't deter them. They took their invention to a dry lake bed in Northeast El Paso and prepared for their maiden flight. They were interrupted by the sound of an airplane which circled overhead and then landed close beside them. The pilot of that plane was the late Jack Weiler, operator of the El Paso Flying Service and later one of the first chief pilots for Continental Airlines. 

Relieved to discover that he had not flown over the site of an airplane crash, he began to question the two young boys and to inspect their work. Highly impressed with their workmanship, he offered the boys jobs as airplane mechanics and offered to give them free flying lessons. The offer was eagerly accepted, and so their boyhood dreams came true as their careers in aviation began. Both boys received pilot licenses August 4, 1936.

Two years later the brothers again became part of an aviation first. They were among the nine special pilots to carry the first airmail between El Paso and neighboring cities on May 19, 1938. 
Kenneth was an aircraft mechanic in the navy from 1944 to 1946, and Charles worked as an aircraft inspector at Biggs Air Field in Texas.

After World War II,  they purchased a Vulte BT-13 which originally cost $30,000 for less than $500. They redesigned the two place plane into one that seated six, and later modified it further to be used for aerial photography, another venture in which the Bourlands were pioneers in the field.
Texas' Version of The Wright Brothers by Charlene Tess

Modified Vulte BT-13

By the 1950s, as the era of jet transport came of age, the brothers were working for the aviation division of The El Paso Natural Gas Company, Kenneth as chief of Maintenance and Charles as Master Mechanic. Both men had experience as master mechanics on planes ranging from single engine light planes to executive jets.

The Bourlands were involved in several ground breaking aspects of aviation history in the Southwest including the first fully combined aero and motor squadron search and rescue training mission by the El Paso Country Sheriff's Reserve in 1965.

In September 1984, Charles and Kenneth Bourland were inducted as charter members into the El Paso Aviation Hall of Fame. They are both gone now, Charles passed away in 2003 and Kenneth in 2008, but they will be remembered as two revered aviators. As one airport owner in the Southwest put it, "If you haven't heard of the Bourland Brothers, you're an 'upstart' around here." d

On a personal note:
I lost my dad on December 17th in 2008, and then my mother died exactly two weeks later on December 31st. This is not an easy time of year for me, but it helps me to remember the wonderful parents that they were to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It helps even more to remember them and share their stories. They were amazing people who left their mark on this earth. I will write about my mother in a future post.

As a thank you for the wonderful year I had in 2011, all of my Simple Steps to Sentence Sense books will be on sale for 20% off the last four days of the year. (Dec 28-31). Click on the banner below to visit my store.

Simple Steps to Sentence Sense by Charlene Tess

Sunday, December 11, 2011

As I Promised, Here's A Favorite Holiday Recipe

Mema's Dressing

This was my mother’s famous recipe for cornbread dressing. We had it for Thanksgiving and for Christmas dinner. The turkey was not the focus of our meal; Mema’s Dressing was everybody’s favorite. We would pour gravy over it and eat it for days. After my youngest grandson was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I began making it with gluten free flour and gluten free corn meal. It is as good as ever!

CORNBREAD (Make at least one day early so it can dry out a little. If possible, make in on Sunday before Thanksgiving or three days before Christmas and then leave it out on the counter. Also, dry out a loaf of bread and use for breadcrumbs or buy a bag of breadcrumbs. Just be sure they are not seasoned because that will alter the taste.

Triple this recipe for a large amount of dressing to feed several people. (It’s better to mix it up and bake it in three batches.)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted shortening (or vegetable oil)
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (Very important. Don't use sweet milk.)

Mix cornmeal, flour, soda, and salt. Beat egg and add to buttermilk. Then pour this mixture into the sifted dry ingredients, add 1 tablespoon melted shortening (or vegetable oil) and stir only until well mixed. Grease an 8X8 pan. (If you have one, bake the cornbread in an iron skillet.) Pour batter into hot, greased pan. Bake at 425 degrees about 30 to 35 minutes, or until brown.


Large bunch of celery
1 large yellow onion
poultry seasoning (Very important. Don't use anything else.)
3 cans chicken broth
Butter or margarine
Dried cornbread (crumbled)
Dried bread (Add enough to make the mixture stick together well)

Chop celery and onion and sauté in butter until soft and clear in color. Crumble cornbread in a large bowl. Add celery and onion mixture. Add chicken broth a little at a time until you get the thick consistency of muffin dough. Add poultry seasoning a teaspoon at a time. This will make it salty and give it its unique flavor. Taste until it tastes like Mema's dressing. (For those who did not know and love Mema, just suit your own taste.) Grease one rectangular baking dishes with oil. Bake at 350º until dressing is brown and crusty on top. (30 or 35 minutes.) If you want stuffing in the turkey, stuff it with raw dressing before you put it in the oven.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe. Here's a link to a fun activity that the whole family could do after dinner. 

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

I am so pleased to have been the featured teacher on the Teacher2Teacher Blog. Click on the picture above to read the article.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ahhh December!

It's a great month to be a teacher or a student. People are smiling and usually in a great mood, and best of all it's a very short month in the classroom.

We must be sensitive to the needs of students who are missing loved ones due to military deployment, divorce, or even a profound loss such as a death in the family. It is also a time to be respectful of the different beliefs and faiths in which our young people believe.

But, in spite of such necessary precautions, it is always a time of great joy for most young people and for their teachers. A time to laugh and to share and to give freely of hand-crafted treasures. No matter how simple, a gift made lovingly with one's own hands is the one a young person will take pride in presenting to someone they care about.

I have a gift for you that will help you find an activity that is just perfect for your class.
Click on the picture to download a wonderful free ebook with 50 free activities you can do with your students. The gifts in the book were donated by 50 amazing teachers who sell their products on Check out my store while you are there.

And I have gift just for the readers of my blog and my Facebook page. Use my code STMMMS2791 and click here to download some beautiful Designer Pack digital quick pages and high-resolution digital graphics that can be used with most software applications.

While you are there, take a look at the My Memories software. It is a great way to save all your holiday photos into a digital scrapbook or print out beautiful photo books as gifts for your family. Be sure to use my code: STMMMS2791 to receive $10 off the software and also receive a $10 gift certificate to spend on anything you see on the web site.

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter and receive grammar tips, news about my books, and free products delivered to your electronic mail box. Click here.

I hope December is a lovely month for you. I know I am ready to decorate the house and bake cookies. Check back here in a few days for some amazing recipes my mother passed on to me. They are delicious and a family tradition.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale on November 28, 2011

Greetings to all. I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with blessings.

WOO HOO! I am so excited to tell you that I will be participating in the Cyber Monday Sale on on Monday, November 28th. Click here to visit my store. Shop now and place things on your wish list, and then go back on Monday and buy them at 30% off.

All of my products (including all three editions of Simple Steps to Sentence Sense) will be on sale at 20% off, and if you enter the code CMS28 at checkout, you will also receive an additional 10% discount from TpT. That means all of my products will be a huge 30% off.

Mark your calendar, set an alarm on your phone, and get ready for a huge sale. Many of your favorite teachers will have their fantastic products on sale.

Have a good week!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blogs on Fire Award

Wow, thanks to Amy at Science Stuff by Amy, for nominating my blog for the Blogs on Fire Award. I am so happy that she likes reading my blog.

According to the rules of the award, I am now supposed to tell you 7 things about myself and nominate 7 blogs that I think are worthy of the award. O.K. Here we go.

1.  I love to read. As far back as I can remember, I have always loved to read books. I have a book on the Kindle reader on my iPhone, magazines and a paperback book in the magazine rack, and an audio book on my iPhone. I listen to a book while I walk, clean house, water plants, or fold clothes. I listen to a book in the car. After I finish my work, I read in the evenings in my comfy chair; and I always read until I fall asleep. It is unusual for me not to be reading or listening to three books at a time.

2.  I love to write. From the time I was a child I would love going to the dime store to buy spiral notebooks. In no time, I would fill them with words, phrases, sentences, and stories. Most of my early stories were way too emotional and full of inflated language, but all of them were fun to write and gave me hours of pleasure.

3.  I only like to write with one kind of pencil. It has to be a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 lead pencil. It has to be sharp. The eraser has to be clean. I am not fussy about pens, but prefer a medium point.

4. I love the desert. I love the way it smells after a rain. Our yard is landscaped with rock and desert plants because it seldom rains in El Paso, so when it does, we open the door and go outside and watch the raindrops fall.

5.  The mountains are my go to place if I need solace. My parents always took us to the mountains on camping trips. I will always picture them there happy and smiling.

6.  I grew up in a big family. My dad and my uncle built a duplex and my family (my parents, my sister and I) lived on one side and my aunt and uncle and their son and daughter lived on the other. So there were eight of us living in close proximity. It was as if I had two sets of parents and my cousins were like a brother and a sister. I am named after my Uncle Charles. We had amazing adventures as children. My little brother came along when I was 16 years old, and we all treated him like a doll.

7. When I was a child, there were airplane parts in my backyard. My father and uncle were pilots and mechanics and they built and remodeled planes. We kids would play on the fuselage or the tail section of the planes. Flying in small planes was a big part of my childhood.

And now you know a little more about me. Here are some blogs that I enjoy reading and check into often just to read the latest posts.

Be sure to visit my TPT store and get your FREE copy of Apostrophes: How To Use Them Correctly

Enjoy your day,

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Announcing the My Memories Suite Software Contest Winner

If you entered the contest, but did not win, you can still get this amazing software. Just visit and enter this code STMMMS2791.
(This code provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store - $20 value!)!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This Book Made Me Laugh and Smile

Beginning with the clever play on words in the title, this book entertained me. Courtney is a lawyer who doesn't play well with others. In fact, she is just plain rude most of the time. All that changes when she meets her newest client, Jerry Mason. As the plot unfolds, we discover that Courtney is not at all as she seems. This book has murder, intrigue, mystery, humor and love. I really enjoyed it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

National Keep Kids Creative Week

National Keep Kids Creative starts on September 25! To celebrate, this week's link up will be focused on TpT products that facilitate creativity!
Visit Teacher2Teacher

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Celebrate International Literacy Day

Visit for freebies all day long.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Flash Sale for Labor Day! 25% off.

Wow! I have 11 of my best selling items on sale today for 20% off. Now, TPT is having a flash sale for today only. The promo code is FLASH and it offers 5% off all your purchases today only.
Click here to get a 25% discount for today only.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I love to read books that are set in the South. Here’s another one that left me with a wonderful, uplifting feeling. Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt takes place in Savannah, Georgia. The characters are colorful and believable and portray all the charm and manners one might expect from Southern women. 

Her father has long since left young Cee Cee alone to take care of her mother who has lost all touch with reality and parades around town wearing prom dresses purchased at the Goodwill Store. Her life is one of loneliness and shameful isolation until she goes to live with her Great Aunt in Savannah. An entirely new life awaits her, and she discovers what Southern hospitality really means. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Make This School Year Your Best One Yet!

Another school year is beginning. What kind of year will it be? You may think it depends upon who your teachers are and whether or not your friends are in your classes. The truth is that neither of those factors is what really matters. The kind of school year you have really depends on you and your attitude. You are intelligent and you are a great kid. You have to spend a majority of your week at school. You have to study and turn in your work, or you will fail and end up repeating the grade you are in now. Nobody can make sure that you have a successful year except for you. Make it happen. I know you can do it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Here they are, our three favorite grandsons. From left to right, Mason, Dawson, and Alec. They spent several days together eating, swimming, eating, bowling, eating, playing Wii games, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. Did I mention "eating?" We all had a wonderful time. It was amazing to have all three of our grandchildren together at one time.

What I did on my summer vacation!