There must be a strong pull for people who grew up in Merkel, left to have successful careers, then returned to their hometown. I met a bunch of them recently. They are confident, poised and happy to be back home. One is a former NASA scientist who is now writing poetry. Another was a real estate mogul in Austin who returned to Merkel and opened two restaurants. Roger Moore had an award-winning advertising agency for 25 years, and then came home to manage Merkel’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development.
The group of about a dozen gets together every morning at 10 on a sidewalk across the street from the coffee shop where they used to meet. The coffee shop closed due to the Corona virus. They are a happy bunch. I’ll call them curbers because sometimes they’ll sit on the curb. The city has provided a bench, but it’s seldom used.
The conversation is constant and loud, laced with laughter. These guys have a good time. They’ve known each other most of their lives and their friendships are solid. Sometimes neighbors will drive by, stop in the middle of the street, have a short visit (while staying in their vehicle) with the curbers, and then drive off. A passing train gets lots of attention. “It’s going to New York City,” someone will say. Now that cold weather is here, the meetings are shorter. Usually the “stay time” is about an hour.
Roger is still doing some advertising for long-time clients. He has drawn pictures since he was three, something his mother encouraged him to do. He enjoyed doing cartoons while in college at McMurry where he had a track scholarship. He majored in English Literature. Roger is a former teacher and coach (Sterling City and Hamlin) and has a big interest in Texas History. He worked for a textbook company for 6 years, then decided to get serious about his cartooning. He walked into a small newspaper office in Austin and said, “You need a cartoonist.” The owner agreed and told Roger he could do a weekly cartoon for $25 each. That led Roger into the advertising business.
Roger’s cartoons now appear weekly in 25 Texas newspapers. “I come up with an idea first, do the caption, then draw the cartoon,” he says. “The hard part is coming up with some clever idea.” He has written a number of books on Texas history. His latest two are aimed at pre-kindergarten age kids. They are designed so parents can teach their kids to read. One is titled CRITTERS OF THE LONE STAR STATE and has cartoons of some legendary Texas critters: rattlesnake, javelinas, jackrabbit, armadillo and horny toad. Another book is called SLIM‘S HAT and shows the many uses of a cowboy hat. He calls his books Tex Books.
Roger is best known for his Texas Calendars that start every year on March second. “That’s Texas Independence Day. We start our calendars when Texas started.” Throughout the year the calendar mentions Texas historical events and personalities. He has been producing his calendar 23 years. His books and calendars are available at texascalendars.com.