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May 18, 2011     Hays Free Press
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Hays Free Press May 18, 2011 NEIGHBORS Page 3C + l The St. Louis World's Fair may have been the first time Ad and Plinky Toepperwein performed in public as husband and wife, but the couple from the Lone Star State wowed the matinee audience on May 14, 1904 with their trick-shot artistry. Born in Boerne during the post-CivilWar occupation, Adolph Toepperwein was raised by immigrant par- ents at Leon Springs on the outskirts of San Antonio. With a gunsmith for a father, the boy became proficient with firearms at a very early age. Ad was just 13 when his dad's sudden death made schooling a luxury his wid- owed mother could not afford. The lad found unskilled work at a pottery shop to help her keep a roof over their heads. Later that year, Buffalo Bill's WildWest Show came through the Alamo City with Doc Carv- er, the celebrated marksman with the shoulder-length locks. Widely acknowledged as the greatest shot alive, he also was billed as "the most handsome man who ever held a gun." The dazzling deadeye inspired young Ad to take his shooting seriously, but practice meant shells and lots of them. To keep the bullets coming, he turned his ability to draw into a better paying job as a cartoonist for one of the daily newspapers in town. GeorgeWaJker recognized talent when he saw it, and the 20-year-old triggerman he hired for his local theater in 1889 had it coming out his ears. Walker took Ad on an all-expenses-paid trip to NewYork, where he talked a vaudeville booking agent and a curious newspaper reporter into a live audition. The headline in the next day's edition of the New York World said it all: "The boy from Texas who put shooting galleries out of business at Coney Island." After two years of sharing the stage with everything from trained dogs to sword swallowers, Ad moved up to top gun with the Orin Broth- ers Circus. Eight years under the big top ended with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company signing him to a long-term contract as an exhi- bition shooter. Ad spent most of his time on the road except for oc- casional visits to the Win- chester plant in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1902 he met a cartridge assembler named Elizabeth Servaty and, after a short courtship, married the 18-year-old redhead, also of German stock. The last thing the new bride wanted to be was a stay-at- home wife. Even though she had never fired a weapon in her life, she sweet-talked her skeptical husband into teach- ing her to shoot. Elizabeth was a natural. Within a month, she was shooting chalk and crayons out of Ad's hands and mouth. During target practice with tin cans, Elizabeth invented her own nickname by an- nouncing, "I plinked it!" From that day on, it was Ad and Plinky though she always called him "Daddy" and he jokingly referred to her as "my current wife." Plinky had been pulling triggers for no more than a year, wherLAd brought her along with him to the Loui- siana Purchase Exposition better remembered as the St. Louis World's .Fair. Although Plink7 performed for free, overnight she became the big attraction as fair-goers flocked to see the next Annie Oaldey. (Plinky and the original Oakley met only once. After watching the Toepperweins in action, Annie invited the Texan to her hotel room for a private conversation. Off the record she gushed, "I didn't think it was possible for any woman to do shooting like you did!") During the six-month run of the St. Louis fair, the sharpshooting twosome amazed and delighted packed houses several times a day. Despite their busy schedule, Plinky found time to set her first world's record for females by breaking 967 of 1,000 clay disks tossed into the air at distance of 25 feet. Ad was quite a record- espite last week's rain, 'we remain in serious drought conditions and are probably heading for another summer heat wave. At times like this, my thoughts turn to water. When I am not imagining myself immersed in a spring- fed water hole, I am thinking of ways to keep all of my lovely plants alive. As gardeners, we must try our hardest to conserve as much of our precious water as possible for our parched landscapes. Drip irrigation, without question, is the best way to ac- complish this. The traditional approach had been to use hoses and sprinklers. Then along came the high-tech underground water system with its auto- matic timers and pop-up sprinklers and rotors. All of these simply throw water in the air in the hope that some of it might benefit the tuff, flowerbeds and plants that it lands on. Drip irrigation, however, is a focused technique that supplies the right amount of water directly to the plant's base. Plants love it, and will demonstrate their gratitude by flourishing through the hot summer months. To set up a drip system, connect a soft poly pipe to your water faucet, and run the pipe along the soil surface. You then simply punch 'emit- ters' into this pipe at the base of each plant. Gardeners often use mulch to cover the pipe and emitters to further conserve moisture. Some other benefits of drip irrigation: ff'S 1. You save water (and there- fore money) since there is no evaporative loss to the air. R all goes directly to the plants. 2. Water is added to the soil slowly. This reduces and often eliminates water loss due to run off. 3. Weeds don't get watered as much. 4. Plant diseases, like powdery mildew, are kept at a minimum because foliage is kept dry. 5. Water can be tailored to individual plant needs. Water loving plants can be given more by adding extra emitters, while xeriscape plants can be given less. 6. Best ofaU, drip irrigation is easy to install for both exist- ing flower beds and vegetable gardens. Often there is no trenching and existing auto- matic systems can be adapted easily. When we combine drip irrigation with native and adaptive plant species, we can then all make the very best use of water.., our most precious resource. Happy gardening, everyone! If you have a question, send it to me via emil: iathyme@ yahoo.com. (Please put 'Ask Chris Window' in the subject line.) Or mail your letter or postcard to:Ask Chris Winslow. It's About Thyme: 11726 Man- chaca Road, Austin, TX 78748 www.itsaboutthyme.com setter in his own right. He was proudest of an incredible feat accomplished over I0 cold and dreary days at the San Antonio fairgrounds in 1907. Shooting seven hours a day with a lunch break, he fired 72,500 rounds from three dif- ferent W'mchester .22 caliber rifles at two-and-one-quarter- inch flying blocks of pine. He missed a grand total of nine, a momentous mark that still stands a century later. As "The Famous Top- perweins," the first "e" was dropped to make their name look less foreign, the devoted duo toured North America for 42 years until Plinky's death from a heart attack in 1945. Ad survived his wife by 17 years and, until his own passing at age 92, remained Plinky's number-one fan. 'TU tell you this," he said late in his long life, "she could shoot smoke rings around Annie Oaldey or any other woman marksman who ever lived." He went on to stress that she was equally as adept with pis- tol, rifle and shotgun, the only member of her gender who could make that claim. But Ad Toepperwein could do something neither his beloved Plinky nor anyone else has ever done. He "drew" with bullets. His Indian chiefs in war bonnets, created in a dozen minutes or less with 450 quick-fired shots, are prized co.llector's items to this day. Bartee Haile welcomes your comments, questions and sug- gestions at hai le@pdq, net or P.O. Box 152, Friendswood, TX 77549. And come on by www. twith.com for a visit! Texas Crossword We're a Texas company that understands what your needs are. Germania has agents across Texas to better serve you. From Kem411e to Austin to Waco, we know Central Texas! Germania is no ordinary insurance company. We've been insuring Texas homes for over 110 years. We have competitive rates, discount options and exceptional claim sen, ice, 24/7. Contact us today to find an agent near you and discover lbr yoursdfwhy Gcrmania is The Insurance Texans Trust. HOME AUTO. 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