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Texas Panhandle woman shares thoughts in letters to editor

February 9, 2018

HARTLEY, Texas (AP) — This newspaper’s most prolific writer of letters to the editor lives in a stucco house in the town of Hartley (population 540), 14 miles south of Dalhart.

The Amarillo Globe-News reports she seldom has the television on and has never had a boring day in her life, which turned 86 years earlier this month.

Nona Goodman speaks fluent Portuguese, Spanish and English, but minored in French in college. If called upon — and if not — she can play a tune on the Navajo flute.

She is always working on a book, the latest a treatise that is on the floor by her chair in the living room — an opus called “The Complete Writings of Emily Carr.”

“Look at this thing,” she said. “It’s so dang big — 900 pages.”

What Goodman likes to do more than anything is write. Not email or Facebook posts, though she goes to daughter Becky Vincent’s home to borrow the computer for that, many of those postings in Portuguese. No, she prefers the old-fashioned way of putting thoughts down on paper with pen.

“The post office loves to see me coming,” she said. “I buy stamps by the load.”

Much of Goodman’s writings are directed to the Amarillo Globe-News offices — specifically to Director of Commentary David Henry. She gets up in the morning, pours herself a cup of coffee, reads the newspaper — along with a few other things — and then gets out her legal pad and pen.

“I have to write,” she said. “It’s almost like air or food or water. It just flows. I don’t even have to think about what I write. I guess it’s stream of consciousness almost. Now, sometimes I have to cross something out and think, ‘No, you better not write that.’”

Henry was recently asked how many letters he’s received from Goodman over the years.

“Hundreds,” he said. “Thousands.”

When Goodman heard that, she cackled, something she does a lot.

“I always look forward to going to my mailbox, and seeing an envelope from Hartley,” Henry said. “The letters come on an almost daily basis — rain, sleet or snow, as the saying goes.”

“Nona is what I wish more readers would be — dedicated and opinionated, but never disrespectful or inappropriate,” Henry said. “She says what is on her mind, has her say, and moves on. And she is not afraid to have her name tacked onto her thoughts.”

Goodman prefers to keep her opinions quiet on political figures. Let’s just say she has a bit of voter’s remorse. She’s an avid reader of the opinion page obviously, even grudging respectfulness for syndicated liberal columnist Leonard Pitts.

“If I react to something, I want to tell somebody about it,” she said. “I’m sure he (Henry) gets tired of it, but the thing about letters, they’re not invasive. You can take it or leave it. With a phone call, it takes up your time. You can’t get away. And TV, it just assaults you.”

Goodman has outlived two husbands, but will never outlive life. She was the daughter of Baptist missionaries, and lived from age 8 to high school graduation in Brazil, one reason she speaks fluent Portuguese.

Her dad was an interim Baptist pastor in Dalhart while she was in college in Arkansas. She came to visit her parents about the same time Dennis Schulz returned home from college at Texas Tech and went to his old home church.

They met, and a couple of years later, they married. Dennis left Tech to attend school with Goodman at Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas.

“Oh, he griped the whole time — ‘Oh, these roads are terrible.’ I just wanted to say, ‘Why don’t you go back to Texas?’” she said.

They were married for more than 40 years, spent time in Brazil as missionaries before he returned to a family farm near Hartley. He died in 1997. Delano Goodman, a second husband, died in 2002.

In addition to writing and reading, Goodman paints, goes to the senior citizens center in Dalhart, heads to an assisted living center there as well, and just listens as residents talk.

She has little time for TV. She might call her daughter to see if the cable can be repaired after it’s been a month without service.

“Now sometimes I turn it on at 5:30 and watch (ABC news anchor) David Muir,” she said, “because he’s so cute and you can understand every word he says.”

But most of the time, this delightful woman stays in her kitchen/office/art studio. Silence has a sound all its own. It’s a beautiful hum that can scare people, she said, but one she craves. That’s when she does her thinking and writing.

“Thinking is fun. That’s one of the advantages of getting old. You can put your feet up and go anywhere in the world. It’s right up here,” said Goodman, pointing to her busy head.

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Information from: Amarillo Globe-News, http://www.amarillo.com

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