April 16 Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I applaud The Sentinel for giving us useful information about COVID-19, and specifically for using the words, “there have been no CONFIRMED coronavirus cases” in the tri-county.

Other local media have said, “there are no cases here.” I’m concerned that those words mislead people into believing that there is not yet any risk here.

We need to remember that people can be contagious without showing symptoms.

Pam Gaddis



Dear Editor,

Having traveled to many places, I always seem to find myself studying about the local history of the different locales. I believe this curiosity for history was instilled in me by both Mrs. Evelyn Davis of Blackwell Elementary School and Lee Bennett of Marfa High School. Any story or article in any local newspaper that relates incidents or stories of the places I’ve lived has always grabbed my utmost attention. With that said, I have also enjoyed several articles of human interest published in The Big Bend Sentinel, including the November 27, 2019 issue relating to the assassination of President Kennedy and how it affected different individuals in various locales.

I was in the Army at the time, temporarily assigned to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and was immediately placed on high alert and confined to Post. My wife immediately went home to Marfa by train from Baltimore. That indeed was a tumultuous period in the military as well as for America.

I believe that in that same issue the story about Mateo Quintana’s Barber Shop appeared –– local history for sure! Having known Mateo “forever,” I still learned things that I was never aware of, as I originally left Marfa for the first time in 1963 and lost touch with many of the local Marfa family, friends and happenings. Returning to Marfa decades later and running for mayor, I visited Mateo’s barber shop many times. We caught up on so many stories, but not all! Thanks for updating me and many others.

The recent article about a note written by the shoe shiner and witnessed by others found under the floorboards of the real estate office brought about melancholic delight in me, if there is such a thing. Everyone growing up in Marfa back then knew Granison Chaney, or as we all called him, “Chaney,” and although he seemed to me as somewhat stoic, everyone was fond of him, for he was a good man.

As a young lad of about 11 or 12 years old, I plied the main streets of Marfa on Saturdays with a shoeshine box strapped on my shoulder. I would shine shoes at the old post office, at the Crews Hotel, Evans Motors, Best Cafe and anywhere that I was allowed, for 10 cents a pair. During the summers I would do it every afternoon. One hot summer afternoon, I was walking back south from the courthouse past Walter Polsky’s Shoe store thinking of stopping at the K&R Store where Lyle Koonce had a bodacious supply of airplane models, and I had made enough money to buy me one. I was interrupted by Mr. Sanders, a barber who worked at Hershel Hord’s Barber Shop, as he was on his way to Porter’s Drug Store and Fountain for his break. He asked if I would be interested in shining shoes and books at Hord’s as Chaney had gotten sick and was hospitalized, and they needed a shoe shiner. I worked the rest of that summer shining shoes for a quarter, boots for 50 cents and two-tone shoes for 35 cents. Boy, I was making the money!

When Granison came back, I still worked Saturdays only. I started school again and he worked weekdays only, as he said that Saturdays were too much for him. After a while I moved on and he went on to full time again.

During that time I got to know Dutch Arthur, who had a haberdashery next door and whose name appears on the note found under the floor of the old barbershop. I must assume with a great amount of certainty, that Granison Chaney, my friend who I worked with and got to know real good, wrote that note as I worked there with him during that time.

All these shop owners I knew as they all would go to Porter’s for the afternoon break where I would be with Mr. Sanders. Mr. Sanders and I would then return to the barbershop so that Mr. Hord could go visit with his buddies. These were all decent, honorable men whom I got to know and appreciate.

Again, thank you for printing stories that us avid back porch historians love to dive into.

P.S. I am remiss in the above as I don’t mention the other names on the note. Mr. Coffield was the mayor and lived in a large house that sat where the Big Bend Bank sits now. The name at lower left is Ernest Barnett, a local law enforcement officer.

Given the date of June 21, 1956, I can only speculate that he wrote the note just before he was hospitalized, and shortly after then is when I took over his job temporarily ‘til he came back.

Oscar R. Martinez

Marfa and Kerrville


Dear Editor,

COVID-19 and Power of Healing Prayer

A deceased Virginia Pastor, among others ill from COVID-19, ignored group limitations and held a worship service. Reasons include First Amendment “Freedom of Religion” and an abiding faith in God to protect.

How and why did that happen? Insufficient faith? No? Then let’s hear from those claiming a “Democratic hoax” or “just like the flu.” How about “None of the above”!

Yes, God provides. As a minister with witness to powerful results, I believe in prayer and spiritual healing. However, we’re not to ignore the physical laws of creation. Healing remains a “Why not all the time?” mystery.

Accept that when responsible for others, we’re not ordained to risk lives – nor return to business prematurely. Some worshipers likely had or contracted the virus in church. All-the-while, numbers of infected grow geometrically. Risk of death is exacerbated by key indicators.

Something to take to heart: God isn’t a petty, vengeful deity. No single religious expression is favored above all the rest! We’re not targeted for God’s punishment though ignoring or denying Scriptural or Earth-based religious teachings.

COVID-19 is contagious even when a carrier hasn’t exhibited symptoms, allowing others to become carrier-incubators too. Succumbing to COVID-19 after an agonizingly protracted demise isn’t about ignoring or abiding by the power of the good Lord’s healing prayer.

Rev. Barry Abraham Zavah