Texas Obscurities

Did you know the Japanese bombed Texas in 1945? I didn’t either.
Texas Obscurities by E.R. Bills is exactly what it sounds like—a concatenation of obscure, well-researched but short nonfiction newspaper stories he wrote dating back to 780 AD when the sophisticated Hasinai Caddo Indian culture thrived in East Texas until the Spanish arrived in the 1600s. 
“When I had kids…I started taking them camping [and] backpacking here in Texas. Every place we went, I stumbled onto neat, interesting stories, events and history,” Bills said.
Bills writes in a straightforward, linear fashion presented mostly in chronological order, but the tales he presents are fascinating and perfect for campfire storytelling.
Have you ever wondered about those abandoned small homes on the side of the highway hollowed out and overgrown with wild vines? How about those once prosperous places turned ghost towns where the wind whistles through the broken windows and windmills hauntingly creak in the silence? Bills’ book brings those places to life.
“This volume is devoted to a number of interesting, compelling and provocative occurrences that transpired on roads now largely forgotten or frequently missed,” Bills notes in the book’s introduction.
Gripping stories fill these pages. An unusual weather phenomenon later named “Satan’s Storm” with wind gusts of 100 mph struck out of the blue, blowing roofs into the air. Temperatures shot up to 140 degrees, destroying crops within hours. People thought their homes were on fire. One utopian, self-sustaining town named Kristenstad survives the Great Depression but dissipated many years later. Why? How about a German Catholic priest tortured by the Ku Klux Klan because of his loyalty to his native Germany during WWI?
This is Bills’ first book, but you can find more of his work in Fort Worth Weekly, the Austin American-Statesman, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and our very own Fort Worth magazine. A second book dedicated entirely to the Slocum massacres is in the works.