Michael Barnes

Social columnist

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history. He also writes the Out and About social column and blog.

Latest from Michael Barnes

Old Austin Christmas photos: Sending out the cards
 How could we forget the traditional holiday photo missive on Day 17 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. We reached
            back as far as we could for a variety of personal Texas Christmas cards. This one from Essie Anderson is undated, but it is direct, powerful even today. Collection of T.B. Willis This seems to have been sent...

Posted: 19 hours ago

How could we forget the traditional holiday photo missive on Day 17 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. We reached back as far as we could for a variety of personal Texas Christmas cards. This one from Essie Anderson is undated, but it is direct, powerful even today. Collection of T.B. Willis This seems to have been sent...
Old Austin Christmas photos: Trimming the tree
 And you thought we were running out of images on Day 16 of 25 days of Austin Christmas photos? How little you know us. Today
            we’re trimming the trees. This Austinite, identified only as “Mrs. Toll,” created the little feathery white things (pictured) to add to Christmas trees,
            which she called &ldquo...

Posted: a day ago

And you thought we were running out of images on Day 16 of 25 days of Austin Christmas photos? How little you know us. Today we’re trimming the trees. This Austinite, identified only as “Mrs. Toll,” created the little feathery white things (pictured) to add to Christmas trees, which she called &ldquo...
UFO reported over Austin in 1897
 Balloon? Airplane? UFO? What flew over Texas — including Austin — with searchlights in April 1897? Bob Ward of the Travis County Historical Commission drew our attention to this airborne mystery. We’re not suggesting aliens, but the reports fit the definition of an “unidentified flying object.” A headline in...

Posted: 2 days ago

Balloon? Airplane? UFO? What flew over Texas — including Austin — with searchlights in April 1897? Bob Ward of the Travis County Historical Commission drew our attention to this airborne mystery. We’re not suggesting aliens, but the reports fit the definition of an “unidentified flying object.” A headline in...
Old Austin Christmas photos: It’s all about the kids, right?
 It’s already Day 15 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. We decided to concentrate on the kiddos this time. A couple
            of the images are hard to identify, but that’s OK decades later. We know that these are Austin children taken by Neal Douglass on Dec. 15, 1951. Are you one of them? Seriously, try to find
   ...

Posted: 2 days ago

It’s already Day 15 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. We decided to concentrate on the kiddos this time. A couple of the images are hard to identify, but that’s OK decades later. We know that these are Austin children taken by Neal Douglass on Dec. 15, 1951. Are you one of them? Seriously, try to find ...
Old Austin Christmas photos: Light up the lights
 Day 14 and we have not given up on our 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. We branched out today to include Christmas
            lights in neighboring towns as well as some favored old Austin traditions. This one is sweet: Christmas lights and decorations in Thorndale during the 1950s. No traffic jams here. Taylor Public Library Leslie...

Posted: 3 days ago

Day 14 and we have not given up on our 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. We branched out today to include Christmas lights in neighboring towns as well as some favored old Austin traditions. This one is sweet: Christmas lights and decorations in Thorndale during the 1950s. No traffic jams here. Taylor Public Library Leslie...
Old Austin Christmas photos: Santa takes off!
 We have arrived safely at Day 13 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. Today, we include a few samples from other historcial
            Texas sightings of Santa Claus. In 1955, Santa chose Continental Airlines for his Austin stop. Remember embarking and disembarking from the tarmac at Mueller? Neal Douglass. Austin History Center, ND-55-394-01...

Posted: 4 days ago

We have arrived safely at Day 13 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. Today, we include a few samples from other historcial Texas sightings of Santa Claus. In 1955, Santa chose Continental Airlines for his Austin stop. Remember embarking and disembarking from the tarmac at Mueller? Neal Douglass. Austin History Center, ND-55-394-01...
Hit the highway with the Blanton Museum’s ‘Open Road’
 Grab the keys. Pile into the car. Time for a road trip. Through Jan. 7, you and the family won’t be forced to drive far to soak up the images, feelings, dramas and unfettered dreams of this timeless American obsession, since the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas presents the magnificent touring exhibition, “The...

Posted: 5 days ago

Grab the keys. Pile into the car. Time for a road trip. Through Jan. 7, you and the family won’t be forced to drive far to soak up the images, feelings, dramas and unfettered dreams of this timeless American obsession, since the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas presents the magnificent touring exhibition, “The...
Old Austin Christmas photos: Trees in the raw
 Day 12 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos takes us out to the tree lot. Note that none of our subjects are really bundled
            up. It is Central Texas after all. We picked out this image in part because it reminded us of “The Open Road” photography exhibit about American road trips now
            at the Blanton...

Posted: 5 days ago

Day 12 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos takes us out to the tree lot. Note that none of our subjects are really bundled up. It is Central Texas after all. We picked out this image in part because it reminded us of “The Open Road” photography exhibit about American road trips now at the Blanton...
Old Austin Christmas photos: Before Season for Caring
 Welcome to Day 11 of 25 days with old Austin Christmas photos. Today we look at helping the needy before the advent of the
            American-Statesman’s 
            Season for Caring campaign. In 1982, Janet Huston and Sally Painter pack food for the needy at Temporaries Inc.,  heavy on the canned food. Jay Godwin/American-Statesman...

Posted: 6 days ago

Welcome to Day 11 of 25 days with old Austin Christmas photos. Today we look at helping the needy before the advent of the American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign. In 1982, Janet Huston and Sally Painter pack food for the needy at Temporaries Inc.,  heavy on the canned food. Jay Godwin/American-Statesman...
Find the art you want at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
 From humble church bazaars scattered across the region to the giant Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Palmer Events Center, there are plenty of arts, crafts, books, clothes, music and other items available to give as gifts or to upgrade your living circumstances. To give the holiday shopper a better sense of the variety at the eclectic...

Posted: 7 days ago

From humble church bazaars scattered across the region to the giant Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Palmer Events Center, there are plenty of arts, crafts, books, clothes, music and other items available to give as gifts or to upgrade your living circumstances. To give the holiday shopper a better sense of the variety at the eclectic...
Old Austin Christmas photos: A third day of snow, snow, snow
 Yes, it’s Day 10 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. Snow has been so popular, we thought it would OK to return to
            that theme one more time. The UT History Corner blog reports on the “first snow day” during the Great Blizzard of Feb. 11, 1899 when the campus was
            blanketed with six inches of...

Posted: 7 days ago

Yes, it’s Day 10 of 25 days of old Austin Christmas photos. Snow has been so popular, we thought it would OK to return to that theme one more time. The UT History Corner blog reports on the “first snow day” during the Great Blizzard of Feb. 11, 1899 when the campus was blanketed with six inches of...