February 1, 2006

Farm & Ranch News

From age 5 to 18 I lived in Lufkin, Texas. There was only one television channel. The first show of the day was Farm and Ranch News with Horace McQueen. The report always began at 6:00am sharp following the Star Spangled Banner (played over military jets) at 5:55. Abruptly the screen would change to a shot of a tiny desk in a cramped room with fake wood walls (later there were opening titles and music from a fiddle). Horace, a big man, would enter the room and sit uncomfortably behind the desk. He wore dusty western shirts and always gave the impression he had just arrived from birthing a calf. His deep bass voice projected assurance, but would always fidget. There were often technical problems with the steer report, so he would sip coffee and ruminate on the weather with lots of little observations about fishing or hunting. Sometimes he would play with his string tie.

After settling in he would take off his cowboy hat at throw it onto a hook on the wall. He would do this without looking back or breaking his verbal stride. He never missed and after throwing the hat, he would start speaking faster and faster until he reached an auctioneers gait...he would talk about soil and steers and grain prices with authority and passion. He seemed to know a lot about how the world worked.

It always bothered me that I could not see his eyes. He wore those glasses that turned brown in bright light, and the studio lights made the lenses really dark. Once he took off his glasses to wipe his brow and his eyes looked older and more confused than I had imagined. For years he was held an important place in my imagination, not because his reports had any bearing on my life, but because my brothers and I would watch because there was nothing else on and because cartoons would follow his show. His patter became part of the rhythm of our lives and even today I miss the conviction and joy of his weather reports. Cable arrived to my town in 1985 just as I was leaving for college. The town changed. Now with CNN, MTV, and 24 hour cartoon channels I can't imagine that anyone watches old Horace any more. The last time I checked a few years ago he had been moved to UHF 37. It must be lonely over there but I don't think Horace minds. I'm sure he's always awake before sunup and I doubt he ever misses that hook on that fake wood wall.

posted at 12:21 AM by raul

Filed under: personal history

TAGS: farm and ranch news (1) horace (1) lufkin (9) mcqueen (1) small towns (1) televisiion (1) texas (8)

Comments:

02/16/06 11:26 PM

That's a touching story. I, too, get a bit wistful about the limited media choices of childhood -- how that lent a different quality to daily life.

06/14/06 12:47 PM

Just before I moved to my new office, my friend and co-worker, Scott, would give me a daily dose of "Horace McQueen". Scott listened to him growing up in Tyler. I was from Kingsville, so we both spoke and nderstood "hick" and other farm language. I could honestly imagine Mr. McQueen just as he was described in this blog.

So, Mr. McQueen did have an impact on other's lives other than my insightful and highly imaginative friend, Scott. Amazing. From afar, Mr. McQueen impacted my life as well. I enjoyed Scott's rendition of Mr. McQueen every morning. Thanks to all of you. I feel connected once again since Scott and I are no longer in the same office. Now I can read this blog when I want a dose of Horace McQueen and feel close to my friend, Scott.

Sincerely,
Edna

07/04/06 10:25 PM

Great reading about my father, Horace McQueen. He was the host (and owner) of Farm & Ranch News on Channel 7 in Tyler and Channel 9 in Lufkin from 1973 until he retired (and sold the show to the owner of the TV stations) in 2000. He and my Mom then moved to Crockett, where his family came from.
Some additions and corrections though. The show originally started at 6:30am, after the PTL Club (he never enjoyed having to watch that show while getting ready for his). When the owners of the TV station decided to go with a morning news show ("Daybreak"), Farm & Ranch News moved back to 6:00am. He never moved to a UHF channel, though the NBC station in Jacksonville tried hard to get him to come back on the air after he left the Tyler/Lufkin stations.
He wore the tinted glasses for only a few years in the early '80's, as he developed a problem with his eyes. After medical treatment cured him, he went back to regular glasses. When he began Farm & Ranch News in Lubbock in 1965, there were more than 20 live farm shows in Texas. When he retired, there were only a couple. His was the longest running farm show in Texas. When he was considering retirement, I asked him what he would do. He said "I don't know, but I'm tired of getting up at 4:15 every morning." Now he and Mom live on the farm and raise their cows, tend the garden, and enjoy life.
His well-known opening: "A pleasant good morning to you; hope everything is off to a FINE start at your house this morning" is quoted by people I run into who ask if I'm kin to him. I'm glad that he had an impact on the people of East Texas, and proud to have him as my Dad.

07/04/06 10:25 PM

Great reading about my father, Horace McQueen. He was the host (and owner) of Farm & Ranch News on Channel 7 in Tyler and Channel 9 in Lufkin from 1973 until he retired (and sold the show to the owner of the TV stations) in 2000. He and my Mom then moved to Crockett, where his family came from.
Some additions and corrections though. The show originally started at 6:30am, after the PTL Club (he never enjoyed having to watch that show while getting ready for his). When the owners of the TV station decided to go with a morning news show ("Daybreak"), Farm & Ranch News moved back to 6:00am. He never moved to a UHF channel, though the NBC station in Jacksonville tried hard to get him to come back on the air after he left the Tyler/Lufkin stations.
He wore the tinted glasses for only a few years in the early '80's, as he developed a problem with his eyes. After medical treatment cured him, he went back to regular glasses. When he began Farm & Ranch News in Lubbock in 1965, there were more than 20 live farm shows in Texas. When he retired, there were only a couple. His was the longest running farm show in Texas. When he was considering retirement, I asked him what he would do. He said "I don't know, but I'm tired of getting up at 4:15 every morning." Now he and Mom live on the farm and raise their cows, tend the garden, and enjoy life.
His well-known opening: "A pleasant good morning to you; hope everything is off to a FINE start at your house this morning" is quoted by people I run into who ask if I'm kin to him. I'm glad that he had an impact on the people of East Texas, and proud to have him as my Dad.

07/25/06 11:40 PM

Hello, just found your blog quite by accident.

Horace McQueen is alive and well living in Grapeland, Texas. He retired in 1999, has done some radio and is now writing for a local newspaper.

I appeared on Horace's program from 1979 until he retired in '99, once a month, then twice a month when he ran for Congress in the late 80's. It was a food demonstration segment and quite a lot of fun.

Horace was/is truly an East Texas legend. His "pleasant good morning to you and hope everything is off to a FINE start at your house" greeting was a country comfort to a very large number of East Texas households.

08/20/06 09:20 PM

Hope everything is up and running at your house this morning. I am proud to have been a producer and director or F&RN. 6AM may have been early for the rest of you, but my production crew was ready for him when he hit the door at 5:35AM. Thanks for preserving part of the legend. kenr91

09/23/06 04:09 PM

I would like to reference about three paragraphs from
"Round and About East Texas" article in the East Texas Farm and Ranch News dated Thurs, Sept 21st
article by Horace McQueen entitled:
Rural Living
Bio-fuel Stirring up Interest
Winter Pasture on Ranchers' Minds
We are about to have a vote here on an ESD and Mr. McQueen speaks strongly in support of such. May we have permission to use this info?
Lee Gayle Boettcher, editor
Buffalo Express Newspaper

12/08/06 11:22 AM

Horace McQueen was de rigeur for the crowd from Hudson, Texas. My day began with Mr. McQueen, and his features were frequently sources for discussion during the day. He belongs to an era comprised of those agriculturists who influenced many lives outside the circle of family, friends and educators. That hat, the toss, his dry comments about government's meddlin' and the ever-familiar description of the cold weather: "Feels like there's nothing but a barbed-wire fence between us and the north pole...and its down." All this was absorbed along with my coffee, bacon and eggs, while feeding steers, laying hens and hogs. My, I sure miss his friendly, wise observations, and am very glad to know he is alive and still involved with the "wonderful world of agriculture".

07/06/07 07:49 PM

Horace McQueen is a legend that I tell my kids about to this day. I grew up on a cattle ranch and farm in Mt Vernon TX and it was Mr McQueen who set the tone for our day, especially when we were close to heading to the sale barn. We loved that man and everything he represented.

I moved away before he went off the air but I do remember coming back and catching his son (I see you have posted - we liked you too!) filling in. I remember the transition to the dark glasses and my first thought was I hope his eye problems heal soon. I knew better than to think he picked those things on purpose.

I would give dang near anything to see his old shows on the web. I'd pay to see it. I still kick myself for not recording an of the shows back when I got my first VCR. Any chance you old show hands could swing getting his stuff up on Youtube?

01/28/09 07:51 PM

Go here to read his column. It reads just like his old broadcasts. I can almost see him sitting behind his desk reading it into the camera. go here: http://www.etfarmnews.com/aroundeasttexas/local_story_026120329.html

01/29/09 02:57 AM

How I wish someone would put up some of those old broadcasts on youtube...

07/24/09 05:47 PM

That was a really good description of Horace McQueen.

I grew up in Gilmer, Texas and I remember that my Granny used to have him on the tv in the morning while she read the paper and had her coffee.

I think Horace for me just defines where I'm from. I have never seen anyone like him then or since.

I saw him in person when he came to Whitehouse, Texas. I was getting gas at the Speedy Pantry on 110 and when I went in the store to pay for my gas, I didn't even pay attention to him because I didn't realize who he was in person. I just remember how tall he was. He paid for his stuff and walked out and the cashier said, "Hey, that was Horace McQueen, did you know that?" I told him I was pretty surprised. The cashier told me that he would stop there from time to time for gas.

I guess I thought Horace talked like he did on his show, LOL. But now I know that he seemed pretty down to earth that day (abt. 1991 when I saw him).

I moved to Austin, Texas in 1994. I've lived down here ever since. On my first job here, after about one year, I learned that one of the very educated individuals that I worked with was from Winona. He spoke fluent Japanese and had lived in Japan for a number of years. He found out that I was from Gilmer and brought a video tape he had made years prior in Japan.

In that video he was imitating Horace. It was hilarious! I don't think the folks in our organization that had a chance to view that video even understood what our dear colleague was imitating - and IN JAPANESE too! But I'll tell you what - the Japanese thought it was funny on the video.

Thanks for your memory posting here - you posted info about Horace that I did not even know about but had a great time visualizing from the good writing!

12/10/09 06:52 AM

I'm not a native East Texan but Horace helped me become a successful transplant. My family moved our dairy farm from Wisconsin to Hawkins, Texas in 1988. I shortly found out we only got one TV channel and so Horace McQueen started shaping my life during my formative years.

Originally my mom would turn him up loud to wake me for chores. But I always found something interesting and got up to watch. As I watched he embodied to me what an East Texan should be. To this day when people are surprised to learn that I'm from up north I like to think it's thanks to Mr. McQueen that I didn't turn out to be another [expletive] Yankee.

I got to meet him at our FFA fish fry and my brother was once interviewed in a feature story. Horace's commentary on railbanking and rails to trails even helped inspire me to write a book.

Yes life would be better for our children with less channels and a good dose of Farm and Ranch News every morning saying, "steers are up...fifty, ce-ents!"

03/03/11 09:38 AM

Watched the show every morning growing up as a kid in East Texas. I wish I could find one show today that would just come close to Farm and Ranch News. I would give up every channel on tv for one channel with good programs like Mr. Horace had. He spoke at one of our FFA meetings back in the 80s. A pleasent Good Morning to you Mr. Horace McQueen

Gene Gresham Lufkin Texas

12/25/11 09:14 AM

Wish someone could upload a few of his shows to YouTube. It would be nostalgic to watch them!

Kim Traylor, Princeton Texas

01/16/12 01:07 AM

I grew up in Palestine, TX, and I remember Horace McQueen and the Farm and Ranch News very well. When I was a little kid of about 3 or 4 years of age, my mom would drop me off at my grandma's house early in the morning--about 5:30 or earlier--and leave me there so she could go to work. (She left me there even though Grandma and Grandpa weren't awake yet. She knew I'd behave because back then there was something called "discipline".) I remember turning on the TV on some of those early mornings and finding Horace McQueen talking about the farm and agriculture and cattle prices and such. Sure was such a comfort to a little bitty girl, all alone in a dark house.

01/16/12 01:09 AM

And, yes, PLEASE, somebody put some of Horace McQueen's Farm and Ranch News clips up on youtube or someplace where we can see them and reminisce!!!

01/22/12 04:05 AM

My nanny and papa had a farm in Union Grove, and my grandad planted his garden by the Farmer's Almanac and got his cattle advice (charlet) from Horace McQueen. They would wake me up early to breakfast of Blackburns or Caro syrup, bacon eggs and pancakes. Afterwards was Horace McQueen and the cattle report; the only shows I can remember my grandad watch was Johnny Carson and Horace McQueen. I wish there was a website dedicated to him with his shows. I would watch them all the time and feel like I was home.

03/11/12 02:09 PM

I too was a transplant to east Texas in the middle 80's. After retiring from the railroad, my father a city boy, retired and bought the only thing he ever dreamed of. A farm. After severe culture shock subsided, I want to thank Horace McQueen for teaching us how to farm and raise cattle. I remember at promptly 6:00 am it was Horace voice that was my alarm clock and pretty soon would ask to be work up for the "ranch report". Sure do miss you Mr. McQueen, and now with the economy the way it is, more and more people are growing their own vegetables, what a shame we don't have the help of such a legend. Hope everything is 'FINE' with you now Mr. McQueen. :)

08/30/12 04:21 PM

I grew up in Van Texas and remember hearing his voice every morning and then feeling my feet hit that cold wooden floor. I remember thinking if everything was off to a fine start at my house i would still be asleep. I was always glad on those winter days when he would announce school was closed. Can't imagine a life were I hadn't woke up every morning and heard him giving us an honest take on the day ahead.

11/02/12 03:38 PM

Wow...I'm getting some tears reading all of this. Horace McQueen is my father (I saw my brother already responded also). Thanks for all the great comments and thoughts!
I just wanted to let you know that Dad was honored at Texas A&M, as a distinquished alumni on October 13, 2012. It was a great night for him to have been recognized for all he has done for the world of agriculture as well as his support and love of Texas A&M.
*I'm going to have to ask him about the possibility of finding old shows to post on youtube. That is an interesting idea.

06/25/13 10:36 PM

I've sure enjoyed reading everyone's memories of Mr. McQueen. I was raised by my grandparents and we lived in Mixon, Tx. They did a lot of farming and NEVER missed the Farm & Ranch news. I never will forget the sound of that fiddle...It seemed to always be coupled with the smell of biscuits, bacon and eggs that my grandma was cooking up and you knew it was time to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast then catch the school bus. Both of my grandparents have been gone for many years now but anytime i think of them and the many memories from my childhood...Horace McQueen and his Farm & Ranch news always come to mind.

Thankyou for the memories Mr. McQueen, you are a true east Texas icon.

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