A cancer-kicking cowboy
THEN: Just two weeks shy of his third birthday, Eli Patterson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Chemotherapy helped Eli achieve remission, but he had to spend the first year of treatment in isolation. When the Advocate featured Eli in April, he felt well enough to attend a RoughRiders game and a Disney on Ice performance. He was also preparing to walk in the annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala.
NOW: Wearing a plaid shirt, a cowboy hat and American flag cowboy boots, Eli strutted the runway with country musician Josh Abbott. “He was overwhelmed when Josh gave him his very own six-string guitar,” Eli’s mother Annie Patterson says. “He started crooning his favorite cowboy tunes immediately.” In September, Eli started kindergarten, and a month later, he was surprised with a birthday outing at the Fort Worth Stockyards rodeo. The Cowboys Who Care Foundation decked him out with gear and let him go backstage to meet the cowboys and their animals. Eli, 6, will continue treatment until May 2020. Afterward, he wants to take guitar lessons and participate in a rodeo mutton-busting contest. “I have a feeling the rest of us are going to have to hold on to our hats to keep up with this cowboy once treatment ends,” Annie says.
Together in heart
THEN: Paul and Clara Harris had been married for nearly 70 years when the Advocate featured them in the February issue. They met while working at Davy Crockett Elementary and started dating steady in 1950. As the school principal, Paul thought it would be ill advised to date single teachers, but because Clara worked at the school only two days a week, he made an exception. The Harrises married nine months after they started dating. Their 67 years together were filled with good memories of a cross-country road trip in an RV much too small for a family of six, as well as painful ones stemming from the death of their oldest child in a bicycle accident.
NOW: Paul died Aug. 8. He was 101. He was a fixture of the East Dallas educational community for nearly 20 years, serving as principal at Lakewood Elementary, J.L. Long Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School. After retiring, he and Clara bought a picture frame shop on Lovers Lane. They lived at CC Young, where Paul joined the “Century Club” in January 2018. He is survived by Clara, three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
THEN: Josh Jordan had spent years in the film industry as an actor and director, but when he turned 40, the East Dallas neighbor realized his career hadn’t turned out the way he had hoped. Jordan turned to writing to express his struggles. The result was his first feature film, “This World Won’t Break,” which follows broke-down, middle-aged Texas troubadour Wes Milligan as he pursues his musical dream. Jordan and his neighbors worked on the film for years, filming at familiar landmarks, such as White Rock Lake, Good Records, Swiss Avenue and Johnny’s Liquor Store. When the Advocate featured Jordan in April, “This World Won’t Break” was about to make its world premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival.
NOW: “This World Won’t Break” is an award-winning film. At the premiere, it walked away with the Best Narrative Feature Film award. It’s gone on to win 14 other awards, including Best Cinematography, Best New Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The film has been selected for 12 festivals around the world, from Plano to Australia. At the end of the festival season, “This World Won’t Break” will be released on Blu-ray and video on demand. As for Jordan, he’s finalizing the script for his second feature film, which will, of course, be shot in Texas.
THEN: Former political candidates Lillian Salerno and Kendall Scudder turned Election Day losses into a weekly podcast focused on all things Texas politics. The first season of Pod Bless Texas gave listeners a humorous and irreverent behind-the-scenes look at the state’s key figures. In between talking politics with the likes of former state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, there was plenty of playful banter and discussions about spirit animals. FYI: Salerno’s is a dove of peace, and Scudder’s is Joe Biden. The podcasters told the Advocate in March that they hoped to give progressive candidates a platform and capitalize on the energy that spread throughout Texas during the 2018 election.
NOW: Salerno and Scudder finished Season 2, which featured a slew of presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and John Delaney. The podcast made history as the first in the country to interview Delaney as he ate a sandwich. The pair also embarked on a fact-finding mission to the border and performed a dramatic reading of the Mueller Report. Season 3 will launch in mid-January. The podcasters expect that as the Democratic primary heats up, presidential contenders and Texas representatives at the state and national level will want to come on the air. “We’ve created a hub for progressive politics,” Scudder says. “When candidates come to Texas to campaign, they know Pod Bless is a place to talk to voters.”
THEN: Lakewood is home to Dallas’ most famous ghost, the Lady of the Lake. The tragic story of the woman who died in White Rock Lake inspired Fitzhugh Avenue neighbor J. René Guerrero to write the novel “White Rock,” which follows protagonist Laura Milton as she grapples with the ability to see spirits. How do you create such a chilling image? Advocate photographer Danny Fulgencio enlisted the help of Lauren Battaglia, who hand modeled the original iPad for an ad. In a Far North Dallas pool, Fulgencio captured Battaglia’s hand protruding from beneath Guerrero’s floating body. Fulgencio initially tried surrounding Guerrero with pages from his book, but when they kept disintegrating, he opted for flower petals Guerrero had collected from a wedding.
NOW: Guerrero is writing the second book in the Thin Veil trilogy. Find out what happens next as Milton travels to New Orleans, one of the most haunted cities in America.