Having chronicled so much disaster, destruction and unspeakable horror committed by people against other people during his extensive writing career, Texas author Carlton Stowers was looking for something simpler in the wake of the 911 tragedy. As he writes in the preface of the non fiction book “Where Dreams Die Hard” on page XIV:
“When a young editor argued that what those of us under her charge had to provide readers was more ‘red meat,’ more hard-hitting, finger-pointing controversy, I rolled my eyes and began considering my leave-taking. Though fully aware that there were endless fakes and frauds needing exposure and countless crimes begging courthouse justice, such tasks no longer interested me. It was time to let someone else try to sort reason from the unreasonable, spend days in the company of devastated victims, and chronicle the social ills for which there seemed no cure.”
His quest was for a Norman Rockwall type America if it still existed. Where folks still cared about each other regardless of political or religious affiliation. Where crime was not a problem and where red meat referred to what was on the grill and not something literary.
He found what he was looking for in the small town of Penelope, Texas located about an hour south of Dallas. Penelope has a population of 211 and eagerly and actively supports their six man football team the Penelope Wolverines. As sports fans may know, six man football has seen a revival the last few years in a number of states including Texas. Much of the book covers one season in the life of the town both for the players, their families, and the surrounding community.
While he chronicles the struggles of the 2004 team, author Carlton Stowers does much more than that. Writing about the months before and after the season as well, the town of Penelope and its citizens are brought alive for the reader. Mr. Stowers’ folksy style works wonders in this regard as the words flow and skip from point to point much like in regular conversation. Along the way he touches on the history of six mean football, the economy of small town Texas and such basic fundamentals as how to impart responsibility to today’s youth among other topics. This is not a lecturing or antiseptic read but more of a good friend talking about life as he sits next to you on your front porch.
The result is an excellent 205 page read that provides a look at basically slightly more than a year in the life of a small Texas town and its citizens. The bad, the good, and everything in between are covered. At the same time it becomes uplifting as one knows no matter how bad the world news gets, folks that live in Penelope, Texas and thousands of other places are taking it one day at a time, prospering in their own way, and helping each other everyday. A little of that attitude goes a long way and Mr. Stowers book is a very refreshing and enjoyable read.
Where Dreams Die Hard
By Carlton Stowers
Da Capo Press
Kevin R. Tipple © 2006