Authors to give reading of Bluebonnet Youth Ranch history book

Sonny Long, left, and Claud Jacobs display the book they wrote about Bluebonnet Youth Ranch. The authors will give a reading of the book on Tuesday evening at the UHV Center for the Arts.

The colorful history of Bluebonnet Youth Ranch will be at the forefront at a special book reading Tuesday in downtown Victoria.

Written by Claud Jacobs and Sonny Long, “Bluebonnet Youth Ranch: A History of Caring” was published in September by the University Press of Victoria housed at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Jacobs and Long will give a reading of the book from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the UHV Center for the Arts, 204 N. Main St. A short video about the book project will be shown during the event, and the authors will autograph copies of the book after the reading. The event is free and open to the public.

Proceeds from the book benefit Bluebonnet and UHV Athletics.

“We wanted to make it a win-win situation for UHV and Bluebonnet,” Jacobs said. “UHV is an important part of the community. The university is significant not only for educational reasons, but also for economic development. Bluebonnet has made a tremendous impact on the lives of our children.”

Bluebonnet Youth Ranch is a nonprofit organization that serves as a long-term, residential home for dependent, abused and neglected children. The facility is located four miles south of Yoakum. Through its 48-year history, Bluebonnet has helped more than 500 children.

Jacobs, a partner in Lodestone Financial Services of Victoria, is the last living person from the original board of directors. He asked Long to help him write the book to make sure the ranch’s history was preserved. Long is a retired journalist who made numerous trips to the ranch while working for the Victoria Advocate from 2005 to 2014.

The book includes anecdotes about the entertainers who have visited the ranch or put on fundraisers.

“When you take a look at the list of celebrities that have lent a hand, there are more than 100 names,” Jacobs said. “Larry Gatlin, who wrote the foreword for the book, has done nine free benefits for Bluebonnet. You don’t get people to do that unless they come out and see the ranch and understand what it’s doing.”

The book also contains several interviews with early residents of the ranch. Sandy Siecko and her sister, Audrey, moved to the ranch in 1972. The sisters attended school, did chores, took care of animals and went to church.

Vic Morgan

“It was a good life,” Sandy Siecko said during an interview with Long that appears in chapter six. “It showed me what life was really about. It showed me how people should live and behave instead of always fussing and fighting.”

The book was designed and the publication arranged by Charles Alexander, UHV poet and designer in residence. University Press of Victoria began in 2010 and focuses on publishing books written by local authors.

“UHV and Bluebonnet Youth Ranch understand the importance of preserving history,” UHV President Vic Morgan said. “Claud and Sonny did a wonderful job telling the story of the ranch and its residents while capturing the cooperative spirit that has been prevalent at Bluebonnet since the beginning. This reading is a great chance to hear more about the book and the ranch directly from the authors.”

Books are on sale at the UHV Center for the Arts bookstore and will be available at the event. Hardcover copies are $25, and the paperback edition costs $15.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro