Caring Ball to start Clinic's building fund
Temple Community Clinic hopes to be in new facility by summer 2024.
93 years ago today the Kyle Hotel opened with a huge party, and an uninvited guest who defied gravity.
Gizmo, the popular rodeo clown, returns to The Expo for the Bell County Youth Fair and PRCA Rodeo on Feb. 11-12.
The Queen’s Cartoonists and the Aizuri Quartet are among the entertainment choices for the weekend. Check out What’s Happening? for our full calendar.
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FRIDAY JANUARY 21, 2022
OLD FIRE STATION TO BE DEMOLISHED
The old firehouse on South 31st Street and Avenue J will be torn down in the near future to make room for a new 12,000- to 14,000-square-foot Temple Community Clinic. The clinic opened its current facility in 1992 at at 1905 Curtis B. Elliott Drive to serve east Temple but its clients now come from all over town.
Temple Community Clinic to build new facility on South 31st Street
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Temple Community Clinic officials hope a Feb. 12 gala will jump-start plans to build a South 31st Street medical facility that will continue to serve Temple residents who can’t afford health care.
“This will be our 27th Caring Ball,” said Sherri Woytek, the clinic’s executive director. “It’s our premiere fund-raiser, and it typically supports our operations. This year, it also kicks off our drive to raise money for the new Temple Community Clinic.”
The new clinic will cost up to $5 million and will be located on land conveyed to the clinic by the city of Temple.
“Details are still being worked out, but the new building will be between 12,000 and 14,000 square feet,” Woytek said. “The property is just shy of 1.5 acres, and we plan to make maximum use of its size.”
Woytek said construction should take around 18 months and staff is hopeful the new clinic will be operational by summer 2024.
The clinic will be located at the intersection of South 31st and Avenue J, and will go all the way back to 29th Street. It’s the former home of a Temple Fire & Rescue station and training facility.
A building at the site will be demolished to make room for the new clinic, Woytek said.
“We’ve been in Temple for 30 years, and a lot of people don’t know we are here. The new clinic will create awareness and be more accessible to the community.”
Woytek said the clinic has outgrown its current location at 1905 Curtis B. Elliott Drive.
“We’re out of room,” she said. “We will be able to expand our current services with a larger location.”
The Temple Community Clinic was established in 1992 by two local physicians — Dr. Jeff Jackson and Dr. Gopal Guttikonda — through a Leadership Temple project.
During their careers, the doctors saw many working people who were without proper medical care because of eligibility restrictions and prohibitive costs.
“Temple Community Clinic advocates for the uninsured and the underinsured, ensuring no one falls through the cracks,” said Hollie Spinn, a Temple Community Clinic social worker.
“We offer a lot of services,” Spinn said. “Not just primary care, but specialties as well. Our services include cardiology, dental, dermatology, gastroenterology, gynecology, mental health, optometry, podiatry and social work.”
All services are provided in-clinic with the exception of dental work.
“We partner with local dentists, and the work is performed at their dental office,” Woytek said.
At Temple Community Clinic, social work practices are integrated into everything they do.
“When a patient comes in for the first time, they meet with a social worker for a needs assessment,” Woytek said. “We make sure their basic needs such as food and housing are being met. After they see the provider, the social worker makes sure they can afford medications if any were prescribed.”
The clinic serves more than 1,250 patients annually, and Temple-area physicians volunteer their time to see patients at the clinic. The clinic also utilizes medical students from Texas A&M medical school in Temple, who work under the direction of the volunteer physicians. Christie Richter, a nurse practitioner, was hired in March and is the clinic’s only paid provider.
The Motion, a Dallas-based party and wedding band, will perform at the 2022 Caring Ball at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Mayborn Center in Temple. The Caring Ball is a fund-raiser for the Temple Community Clinic, which is raising money for a new building on South 31st Street. The gala will include an auction for items such as a stay in a Colorado vacation home and a UMHB national championship helmet signed by Coach Pete Fredenburg, who recently announced his retirement.
SUBSCRIBE TODAY … IT’S ON SALE!
THE HUMAN FLY & TEMPLE SKYSCAPERS
Spectators watch as The Human Fly scales the Kyle Hotel on this date in 1929 in this John Kachik illustration that appeared in the June 2016 edition of Texas Co-op Power. A year later, fly-boy was back in Temple for the opening of the Doering Hotel and yes, he climbed that building as well.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Ninety-three years ago today — if my math is correct — one of the biggest parties in Temple history took place. It must have been epic, because there were some pretty good bashes around here back in the 70s and 80s. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
Anyway, some of you folks may recall this story — a version has appeared in the Our Town Temple Facebook group. Thanks in advance to Joe O’Connell for some of this information.
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Jan. 21, 1929. Opening night at the Kyle Hotel. It was the party of parties, and Temple’s elite came out in full force. So did just about everyone else in town.
While those lucky enough to purchase tickets were dancing to Henry Lang’s hit song “Hot Lips,” a huge crowd outside was treated to a jaw-dropping feat.
A man identified only as The Human Fly gripped the side of the brick building and slowly scaled the 13 floors. The crowd gasped in horror as the man paused halfway up, teetered a bit, then pulled a Coca-Cola bottle from his pocket and took a big swig. The crowd cheered wildly.
After stashing the bottle back in his pocket, The Fly flashed a toothy grin and continued his way to the top of the Kyle. Before the climb, the daredevil had placed a “tip” hat next to the building and when he returned it was full of cash.
So that’s how it all began, great music inside and a death-defying stunt outside. Those who forked over $1.50 to see Lange also had the option of staying the night in one of the Kyle’s 125 rooms equipped with steam heat, running ice water and ceiling fans.
The Kyle was the idea of Dr. Arthur C. Scott Jr., co-founder of Scott & White hospital, and his friend W.W. Kyle, a wealthy Beaumont businessman who assisted in financing the building. The purpose of building the hotel was to house hospital outpatients and visitors.
Although it was the tallest, the Kyle was actually the third “skyscraper” built in Temple. The Doering Hotel (renamed the Hawn in 1943) and its 113 rooms opened a year before the Kyle, and The Human Fly was there to scale the nine-story building.
Apparently nine stories wasn’t enough for The Fly. He invited himself back to Temple the following year to climb the taller Kyle, according to the New York Times.
While the identity of The Human Fly has never been determined, there has been a great deal of speculation.
In 1916 in New York City, a crowd gathered to watch a man climb to the ninth-floor of a bank building. Apparently, he scaled the brick structure, climbed through a window and opened a savings account, according to Timeline.com. The man was Harry Gardiner, and he called himself The Human Fly. He climbed more than 700 tall buildings in less than a decade, then disappeared.
A man matching Gardiner’s description was found dead at the base of the Eiffel Tower in 1925, two years before the Doering event and three years before the Kyle opened.
The man was never actually identified as Gardiner. Some people believe the body found in Paris was not Gardiner, and they say The Human Fly continued to scale skyscrapers out of the limelight.
Another theory is that Gardiner spawned copy-cat climbers. In fact, building climbing was outlawed in many cities after two “human flies” died in falls — one in San Francisco, the other in New York.
Temple’s second “skyscraper” was the six-story Professional Building, and it also opened in 1929. It’s now being renovated into apartments and a retail center in Temple’s thriving downtown. To my knowledge, it has never been scaled.
Just eight months after the Kyle opened, Wall Street crashed and the Great Depression began. Cotton prices plummeted, and the town’s major employer — the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway — laid off hundreds of workers and cut the pay of many more. Four of Temple’s five banks closed — tough times had arrived.
The Kyle held on and was a Temple fixture for decades. According to news reports, high school proms and community events were held regularly at the hotel.
But as more modern hotels rose in the area, the Kyle’s popularity began to fade. It closed in 1974 because of a lack of revenue.
The Kyle was refurbished in the 1990s and today it serves as public housing.
If you find yourself out-and-about on this chilly day, drive by The Kyle and give the ol’ boy a birthday honk.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Dale McCracken has fond memories of the Bell County Expo Center, and some … huh?
“I don’t really go by Dale — people call me Gizmo.”
Oops, sorry Mr. McCracken. Let’s try that again.
Gizmo McCracken has fond memories of the Bell County Expo Center, and some he’d rather forget.
“I broke my arm there a few years back, he said. “I was fightin’ a bull. He won.”
Meet Gizmo McCracken, one of rodeo’s top clowns. Funny guy when he’s not being dead serious.
“Sometimes, being a rodeo clown is no joke,” Gizmo said via telephone from Branson, Missouri. “I’m at the age where I don’t do much bull fighting anymore. I’m more about comedy.”
Comedy is what he does best. He was working in a comedy and music show in Branson in 1982 and decided to make a little extra money on the side.
“I’ve been around horses and bulls most of my life, and since I was already a comedian, it made sense to become a rodeo clown,” he said.
Ten years later, Gizmo was a regular on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. He’s made the rounds from Belton to Cheyenne to Boise to Vegas.
But he wasn’t a rodeo headliner right out of the chute.
“Noooo,” he said with a laugh. “When I started, I parked cars, cooked a few burgers, fought some bulls and told bad jokes. It was a full night.”
Gizmo said a night in Belton changed his career forever.
“I was trying to help a cowboy out of a jam and I got butted,” he explained about breaking his arm. “These days, I work the barrel on occasion, but I mostly work the crowd.”
Once he began focusing on making folks laugh instead of saving cowboys’ necks, Gizmo went back to his roots.
“Back in Branson, I used to do bits as different characters,” he said. “I also invented crazy gadgets and gizmos — that’s where I got this name.”
“So now, I bring several characters with me to my rodeo performances. You never know who is going to show up.”
The constant changing of outfits and personas can be a little confusing — especially for Gizmo’s youngest fans.
“I had a young man come up to me after a rodeo,” he said. “The boy asked: Mister, which one were you?”
“I was all of them, son. I was all of them.”
Gizmo’s antics earned him the 2017 Rodeo Comedian of the Year award. He’s been nominated 11 times, including the past eight years.
“I still do a little standup,” he said. “During the National Finals Rodeo, I head down to Mandalay Bay every day at noon and do a little show. It’s called Comedy Country Style, and it’s kind of grown into a big deal.”
Gizmo said the pandemic has been hard on rodeo life. Especially that first year — 2020.
“I lost about 85 percent of my rodeo income that year,” he said, not smiling. “We only did three of the 45 rodeos we had scheduled.”
To make ends meet, Gizmo and his wife, Janice, started a pool cleaning service, and it’s gone well.
“I still like to have fun though,” he said. “I had a woman call about pool servicing. She had just had a pool installed and didn’t have a clue what her next step was.”
“She asked what all I did, so I explained that I had a partner who handled the major problems. I said: ‘I just changed the oil and water.’”
Gizmo said the woman paused for a moment, then asked: “Just how much oil does a pool use?”
Funny stuff, Dale. I mean Gizmo.
Catch Gizmo and his antics at the PRCA Rodeo on Feb. 11-12 in conjunction with the Bell County Youth Fair. Buy Rodeo Tickets
Are you ready for the Weekend?
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Americans are introduced to musical masters such as Wagner, Beethoven and Mozart at an early age. But most of us never realize it — we’re too busy watching that “Wascally Wabbit” make a fool out of Elmer Fudd.
Vintage cartoons and classical music go hand in hand. The music drives us to the edge of our seats — crescendoing as Tom gets oh-so-close to finally catching Jerry or breaking into a familiar refrain as Popeye squeezes open that last can of spinach, gaining the strength to soundly defeat Brutus and win Olive Oil’s honor.
The cartoons and the music reunite on stage Friday with a performance by The Queen’s Cartoonists at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Mayborn Performing Arts Center. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m.
“Cartoon music is so special,” said band leader Joel Pierson. “There’s an intersection of vintage cartoons with classical music and the golden age of jazz. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Joel and his five band mates hail from Queens, New York. And, they love cartoons and the accompanying music.
“That’s how we came up with the name,” Joel explained. “We added the apostrophe to make it look like we might work for the queen. We don’t.”
So how did a group of talented musicians end up performing cartoon soundtracks?
“Ha,” Joel said. “I was listening to old scores on cartoons — Yogi Bear is my favorite — and it just kind of came to me. I grew up playing classical piano and when I got older I started playing jazz. I love cartoons, and combining the two seemed kind of natural.”
The cartoons are very much a part of The Queen’s Cartoonists’ show.
“We show the cartoons on a screen behind us — the biggest screen we can find — and we provide the sound,” he said.
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The Aizuris are a classical quartet that likes to stray — and sometimes they stray pretty far.
“We love the classics and we are all classically trained, but we love to explore new territories and genres,” said Ayane Kozasa, violist for the Aizuri Quartet. “Our concerts are a little different: We play what we want to play — songs that are near and dear to our hearts.”
Ayane said the group uses classical instruments, but at times the violins become fiddles and they have a little fun.
“We play a lot of what we call ‘ancient music,’” she said. “But we also add some more contemporary numbers. And, we make it our own.”
When the Aizuri Quartet takes to the Cultural Activities Center stage for a Jan. 22, concert, Ayane will be joined by violinists Emma Frucht and Miho Saegusa, along with cellist Karen Ouzounian.
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Be sure and check out the calendar for live music, comedy, karaoke, game nights and a lot more .