The Lone Star Adventure (LSA), an educational program of the Dallas Historical Society (DHS), was launched on November 2, 1985 to commemorate the Texas Sesquicentennial, that is the 150th anniversary of Texas' independence from Mexico. Originally scheduled to last only until early 1987, the LSA was first coordinated by DHS Education Department head Mary Helen Livingston and her assistant Tammy Bell.
The general aim of the LSA was to have costumed DHS volunteers, portraying a variety of characters from Texas history, "come to life" during public tours of the Hall of State (HOS) in Fair Park or at special events scheduled by the DHS.
Some people had their entire costume provided by the DHS while others made or provided all or parts of their character's attire.
At first, the number of volunteers was small and some, who were pictured, in a newspaper article that came out prior to November 2, were gone even before the program officially began! This is probably why although Mary Helen had announced beforehand that people would have to audition for their roles, that didn't happen. Generally, all one had to do to join was demonstrate some enthusiasm and a willingness to devote time to the program.
The largest number of volunteers joined during 1986, the Sesquicentennial year, which was probably the program's busiest year. The really big event in 1986 was the Texas Independence Day celebrations at Fair Park, which drew a crowd of thousands and Vice-President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara. Not surprisingly, due to Secret Service restrictions, this was the one day that none of the LSA volunteers were allowed to carry any arms (pistols, muskets, Bowie knives, etc.).
Although LSA volunteers participated in a large number of outside events throughout the life of the program, most made regularly scheduled performances at the HOS on a particular day of the week, during public tours. The routine was pretty much the same for everybody: A docent would lead a group of people on a tour of the building, pointing out things of interest along the way, when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, someone from Texas' past would emerge from a "time tunnel" hidden behind a statue or a pillar or from around the corner and begin his or her monologue, which usually lasted from five to ten minutes. Generally, there were three or four characters scheduled per day, but sometimes more and sometimes less.
In 1987, the year the program was originally due to expire, Mary Helen Livingston resigned to work at the Heard Wildlife Museum in McKinney, Texas. Tammy Bell succeeded to her position and due to its success with the public and the volunteers' reluctance to stop, the LSA continued for another two years under Tammy's leadership.
Although LSA characters were well-received wherever they went, one of the program's biggest successes was the Davy Crockett Bicentennial Birthday Bash, which was held at the HOS on August 17, 1986, attracting hundreds of kids and their parents and gaining the LSA some much welcomed media attention. Later, "Col. Davy" even made a public service TV commercial to draw attention to the program.
Over the years LSA volunteers were on hand for all sorts of events, including the annual State Fair of Texas, when they performed both inside and outside the HOS. LSA volunteers were also on hand to greet the Queen of England when she came to have dinner at the HOS.
In 1989, Suzie Scoda (maiden name: Crow), an LSA volunteer, took over as program coordinator after Tammy Bell resigned. Suzie served until 1990, when M. J. Pashley, who had recently joined as an LSA volunteer, took the position, serving until the DHS finally pulled the plug on the program sometime in mid-1990, three years after it was originally intended to end. The LSA's "last hurrah," so to speak, was a short play called "The Legends of Texas," which took place in the HOS auditorium in late March and early April.
Although the DHS was not longer interested in keeping the LSA alive, its volunteers were still reluctant to let it go gently into the night, and so, out of its ashes, so to speak, sprang a phoenix: The Texana Living History Association, which lasted even longer!