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AMERICAN MOSAIC - October 4, 2002: Ultimate Frisbee / Question About Houston, Texas / Music by Hackberry Ramblers - 2002-10-03


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:

We play music by a group called the Hackberry Ramblers.

We answer a listeners question about the American city of Houston, Texas.

And, we report about a popular new sport.



A sport called Ultimate Frisbee is growing in popularity in the United States. The sport requires just one piece of equipment -- a flat, round piece of plastic, called a Frisbee. Shep O'Neal has more about the Frisbee and the American who developed it.


Edward Headrick designed the first modern Frisbee almost forty years ago. At the time, he worked for Wham-O, a California company that made playthings for children.

Wham-O began selling a simple version of the Frisbee in the nineteen-fifties. Mister Headrick improved the Frisbee by adding round lines to its top. These circles helped Frisbees fly fast and straight. The United States Patent and Trademark Office gave Mister Headrick property rights to his design in nineteen-sixty-seven. His design still is used in Frisbee competitions.

Later, Mister Headrick created Frisbee games for adults. He formed two groups: the International Frisbee Association and the Professional Disc Golf Association.

Edward Headrick died in August of this year. He was seventy-eight years old.

Today, the Frisbee remains as popular as ever. Some students are known to spend hours throwing Frisbees. One game you can play with a Frisbee is called Disc Golf. In Disc Golf, players throw the Frisbee at a metal box. The player with the fewest throws wins. About four-million people are said to play this game.

Another game is Ultimate Frisbee. It is similar to European football, or soccer. However, players are not permitted to run with the Frisbee. Instead, they must throw it down the field. Each team has seven members. The first team to get fifteen points wins.

Americans of all ages have formed Ultimate Frisbee teams. For many, the sport is a way to meet friends. Ultimate Frisbee also is popular because it supports an idea called “Spirit of the Game.” In Ultimate Frisbee, team members are expected to play fairly. Competition is urged. Yet there should never be tension between opposing players. Teams are expected to honor all players, and call their own violations to the rules. Under “Spirit of the Game,” winning is important. However, playing fairly and with honor is more important than winning.

Houston, Texas


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Laos. Khachonesack Douangphoutha asks about the American city of Houston, Texas.

Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. Two-million people live there. More than two-million others live in nearby areas.

Houston is in southeast Texas, about eighty kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico. A waterway called the Houston Ship Channel links the city to the Gulf. The Ship Channel has made Houston one of the world’s major ports. Houston is one of the nation’s leading oil centers. It also has become famous for the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. That is the headquarters for manned flight programs of America’s space agency, NASA. The city also is home to the largest medical center in the world. More than fifty-two thousand people work at the Texas Medical Center. It treats almost five-million patients each year.

Houston was named for General Sam Houston. He led the army that won Texas’ independence from Mexico in eighteen-thirty-six. Two brothers, Augustus and John Allen, founded the town that year. Houston became the capital of the Republic of Texas in eighteen-thirty-seven. The people of Houston turned to shipping and trade after the capital was moved to Austin.

Late in the nineteenth century, workers began building the Houston Ship Channel. The waterway opened in nineteen-fourteen. The discovery of oil in east Texas in the early nineteen-hundreds increased the city’s growth. Industrial expansion during and after World War Two brought thousands of new people to the area. Then, in nineteen-sixty-four, NASA’s space center opened.

City leaders have worked to improve Houston’s economy so that it is not dependent on oil. Today, eighteen large American companies have their headquarters in Houston. More than forty colleges and universities also are there. So are more than five-hundred cultural and arts organizations. The city also has more than eleven-thousand eating places. Houston officials say people there go out to eating places more often than people in any other American city! That could be a problem. For the past two years, Men’s Fitness Magazine has said that the people in Houston are the fattest people in the country.

The Hackberry Ramblers


Many music groups do not stay together for very long. Yet today, we tell about a current group that was formed almost seventy years ago. It is called the Hackberry Ramblers. Mary Tillotson has more.


Luderin Darbone is eighty-nine years old. Edwin Duhon is ninety-two. They started The Hackberry Ramblers in the southern state of Louisiana in nineteen-thirty-three. The men say that more than seventy other musicians have been part of the group over the years.

The Hackberry Ramblers play American country, western and Cajun songs. The group was one of the first to use an electric sound system to make their music easy to hear. For many years, the Hackberry Ramblers played at eating and drinking places in Louisiana and Texas. Let’s listen to some of their music.


The Hackberry Ramblers have performed all over the United States in the past ten years. In nineteen-ninety-three, the group recorded its first modern album, or collection of songs. Here is ”Cajun Boogie.”


Earlier this year, the Hackberry Ramblers went to Europe. The group performed in the Netherlands and France. Members say they like being the oldest band in the United States. They also say they will never retire. In nineteen-ninety-seven, members of the American recording industry nominated the group’s latest album for an award. We leave you now with a song from that album. Here are the Hackberry Ramblers with “Proud Mary.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Curtis Byner. And our producer was Paul Thompson.