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A true Texas fact

Discussion in 'Kenbo's Chat Room' started by woodman6415, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. Wildthings

    Wildthings ASTROS 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS Full Member

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    Today in Texas History -- March 20th

    The Battle of Coleto - Day 2 - March 20, 1836
    At 06:15 on March 20, the Mexicans were grouped for battle. After one or two rounds were fired by Mexican artillery Fannin and his officers re-iterated their conclusion that the Texians could not take another day's fighting, and decided to seek honorable terms for surrender. They drafted terms of surrender, which included statements that the Texian wounded would be treated, that they would be given all the protection expected as prisoners of war, and that they would be paroled to the United States of America. However, Santa Anna had stated earlier that any Texian can only be allowed to surrender unconditionally. As a result, Urrea could not guarantee that all the terms would be followed by Santa Anna. He stated that he would talk to Santa Anna on behalf of the terms of surrender presented by the Texians. The document of surrender was signed by Benjamin C. Wallace, Joseph M. Chadwick, and Fannin. As a result of the signing, the battle of Coleto ended.

    Those Texans that could walk were sent to Goliad, under Mexican escort. It would take until about March 23 until those Texans that could not walk were transported to Goliad. During that time, Mexican physicians were told that wounded Mexicans were a priority to treat, as opposed to the wounded Texans. Fannin arrived in Goliad on March 22. Urrea, meanwhile, had moved onto Guadalupe Victoria, from where he wrote to Santa Anna a letter recommending that the Texan prisoners should be treated with clemency.

    The Battle of Coleto was significant because it showed that Texan troops involved in the battle, despite being relatively untrained, were able to stand up to the Mexican troops against them and obey their commanders. The battle was primarily lost because Fannin did not act decisively enough to ensure success and he underestimated the quality of the Mexican force against him. It also illustrated that Fannin was reluctant to coordinate his actions with other Texan forces, a trait that was common amongst many Texian commanders.

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  2. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Traces of Texas
    The Texas Quote of the Day comes from none other than famed Texas Ranger Bigfoot Wallace, as told to John C. Duval in 1870:

    "I had been introduced to one young woman by the name of Matilda, who was as pretty as a pink! Her teeth were as white as an alligator's, and her eyes were as bright as two mesquite coals, and her mouth looked like a little gash cut in a juicy peach. She was a "deadener," I tell you, and a regular "knee-weakener," in the bargain; and I wanted to have a little talk with her the worst in the world; but somehow I felt a little afraid to venture. After a little while, however, she came up to me of her own accord, and began to ask me a great many questions about Texas and the Indians, wild horses, and the prairies, etc. Among other things, she asked me if young women were in great demand in Texas.

    "I should think they were," said I. "The day the first young woman came into our settlement there were fourteen Spanish horses badly foundered on sedge-grass by the young men who flocked in to see her, from forty miles around; and the next morning she had seventeen offers of marriage before breakfast! The young woman was a little confused by so many applications at once, and before she could make up her mind which one to take, one of the "rancheros" watched for his chance, and the first time she walked out he caught her up behind him on his horse, rode off full speed to San Patrico, drew his six-shooter on the padre, and forced him to marry them on the spot. This saved the woman all further trouble on the subject, and they are now living happily together on one of the finest cattle ranches in the County of Karnes.

    Oh! I declare," said Miss Matilda, "that is delightful ! How romantic to be run off with in that way by a handsome young 'ranchero.' I think, Mr. Wallace, I shall have to go to Texas."

    ------ Legendary Texas Ranger and Indian Fighter Bigfoot Wallace, "The Adventures of Bigfoot Wallace," 1870. If you'd like to read the full text, here is the fourth edition, published in 1921:

    https://archive.org/stream/adventuresofbigf00duvarich…
     
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  3. Wildthings

    Wildthings ASTROS 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS Full Member

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    Today in Texas History -- March 27th

    Remember Goliad - March 27, 1836
    After the battle of Coleto those Texans that could walk were sent to Goliad, under Mexican escort. It would take until about March 23 until those Texans that could not walk were transported to Goliad. During that time, Mexican physicians were told that wounded Mexicans were a priority to treat, as opposed to the wounded Texans. Fannin arrived in Goliad on March 22. Urrea, meanwhile, had moved on to Guadalupe Victoria, from where he wrote to Santa Anna a letter recommending that the Texan prisoners should be treated with clemency.

    On March 23, Santa Anna replied to Urrea's letter regarding Fannin and the other captured Texans. In this communication, he directly ordered Urrea to execute the prisoners which he dubbed "perfidious foreigners." This order was repeated in a letter on March 24. Concerned about Urrea's willingness to comply, Santa Anna also dispatched a note to Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla, the commander at Goliad, ordering him to shoot the prisoners. Received on March 26, it was followed two hours later by a conflicting letter from Urrea telling him to "treat the prisoners with consideration" and to use them to rebuild the town. Though a noble gesture by Urrea, the general was aware that Portilla lacked sufficient men to guard the Texans during such an endeavor. Weighing both orders during the night, Portilla concluded that he was required to act on Santa Anna's directive. Santa Anna sent a direct order to the "Officer Commanding the Post of Goliad" to execute the prisoners in his hands. This order was received on March 26 by Col. José Nicolás de la Portilla, whom Urrea had left at Goliad. Two hours later Portilla received another order, this one from Urrea, "to treat the prisoners with consideration, and especially their leader, Fannin," and to employ them in rebuilding the town. But when he wrote this seemingly humane order, Urrea well knew that Portilla would not be able to comply with it, for on March 25, after receiving Santa Anna's letter, Urrea had ordered reinforcements that would have resulted in too large a diminution of the garrison for the prisoners to be employed on public works.

    Portilla suffered an unquiet night weighing these conflicting orders, but he concluded that he was bound to obey Santa Anna's order and directed that the prisoners be shot at dawn.

    At sunrise on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, the unwounded Texans were formed into three groups under heavy guard commanded by Capt. Pedro Balderas, Capt. Antonio Ramírez, and first adjutant Agustín Alcérrica (a colonel in the Tres Villas Battalion in April 1836). The largest group, including what remained of Ward's Georgia Battalion and Capt. Burr H. Duval's company, was marched toward the upper ford of the San Antonio River on the Bexar road. The San Antonio Greys, Mobile Greys, qqv and others were marched along the Victoria road in the direction of the lower ford. Capt. John Shackelfordqv's Red Rovers and Ira J. Westover's regulars were marched southwestwardly along the San Patricio road. The guard, which was to serve also as a firing squad, included the battalions of Tres Villas and Yucatán, dismounted cavalry, and pickets from the Cuautla, Tampico, and Durango regiments.

    The prisoners held little suspicion of their fate, for they had been told a variety of stories - they were to gather wood, drive cattle, be marched to Matamoros, or proceed to the port of Copano for passage to New Orleans. Only the day before, Fannin himself, with his adjutant general, Joseph M. Chadwick, had returned from Copano, where, accompanied by Holsinger and other Mexican officers, they had tried to charter the vessel on which William P. Miller's Nashville Battalion had arrived earlier (these men had been captured and imprisoned at Goliad, also). Although this was really an attempt by Urrea to commandeer the ship, the vessel had already departed. Still, Fannin became cheerful and reported to his men that the Mexicans were making arrangements for their departure. The troops sang "Home Sweet Home" on the night of March 26.
    At selected spots on each of the three roads, from half to three-fourths of a mile from the presidio, the three groups were halted. The guard on the right of the column of prisoners then countermarched and formed with the guard on the left. At a prearranged moment, or upon a given signal, the guards fired upon the prisoners at a range too close to miss. Nearly all were killed at the first fire. Those not killed were pursued and slaughtered by gunfire, bayonet, or lance. Fannin and some forty (Peña estimated eighty or ninety) wounded Texans unable to march were put to death within the presidio under the direction of Capt. Carolino Huerta of the Tres Villas battalion.

    From two groups shot on the river roads, those not instantly killed fled to the woods along the stream, and twenty-four managed to escape. The third group, on the San Patricio road, was farther from cover; only four men from it are known to have escaped. A man-by-man study of Fannin's command indicates that 342 were executed at Goliad on March 27. Only twenty-eight escaped the firing squads, and twenty more were spared as physicians, orderlies, interpreters, or mechanics largely because of the entreaties of Francita Alvarez, a "high bred beauty" whom the Texans called the "Angel of Goliad", and the brave and kindly intervention of Col. Francisco Garay. Many of those who eventually escaped were first recaptured and later managed a second escape. Two physicians, Joseph H. Barnard and John Shackelford, were taken to San Antonio to treat Mexican wounded from the battle of the Alamo; they later escaped.

    After the executions the bodies were burned, the remains left exposed to weather, vultures, and coyotes, until June 3, 1836, when Gen. Thomas J. Rusk gathered the remains and buried them with military honors.
     
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  4. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Traces of Texas

    The Texas quote of the day is the inscription on a marker in old Fort Davis:

    "Here lies Indian Emily
    An Apache Girl
    Whose Love For A
    Young Officer Induced
    Her To Give Warning Of
    An Indian Attack
    Mistaken For AN Enemy
    She Was Shot By A
    Sentry But Saved The
    Garrison From Massacre

    Erected by the State of Texas, 1936"

    I saw this marker many years ago and wondered what the story was. I finally found out. I apologize for the formatting, but this is a cut-and-paste. It was written by someone named Norman Wells:

    "OLD Fort Davis was established in 1854 in the Big Bend country of Texas, in the very heart of the Mescalero Apache territory. Under the leadership of the chief Espejo, the Apaches fought this fort like madmen to regain their red cliffs and their long deep canyons, their grassy hunting grounds and their prized water holes.

    The fort had guts but that's about all. The usual complement of men ran to only a scant hundred and fifty, hardly enough to beat off a large force of attackers. Espejo, looking down from his fortress in the adjacent mountains, knew what the situation was, and laid elaborate plans to wipe the fort out of his valley in one grand, final sweep. So sure was he of victory that he even brought along the women and children of his village to share the glory and to later sort out and remove the loot he intended to carry away.

    But one thing he did not know. A company of freighters had come in from the Chihuahua Trail, and these extra guns were the difference between victory and defeat for the Apaches, and life and death for the white people. Espejo's attack was brutally swift and once it began, the defenders scarcely had time to take aim, but so great was the crush of Indians that scarcely a bullet fled the confines of their rifles without making a strike.

    When the Apaches withdrew at last, they carried with them as many dead and wounded as they could, but some were left behind, and of these, one was an Indian girl — a blazing-eyed, defiant Apache girl who shrank with loathing from the hands that reached out to help her, whose lips curled with scorn and hatred at the White-Eyes who spoke to her. But whether she liked it or not she was cared for in the white man's way. Her wound was treated. She was cleaned, more in one day than in all her years of Apache life. She was fed foods that delighted her.

    There was no question of her leaving. The soldiers could not return her themselves, and to turn her loose in the wild country alone was the same as murder. She was given into the care of a Mrs. Easton and from her she learned the ways of the white people and the depth of the white peoples' compassion and love and affection. She gave in slowly, but gradually the awful yearning for her own people faded, and at last the day came when she looked full at the shaded crags of the Davis Mountains, smiled gently, and turned away at peace with herself.

    Mrs. Easton called her Emily, and she came to love the name, though she found its softness strange on the tongue that was used to harsh Apache words. She came also to have a deep affection for Mrs.Easton and served her willingly both as a domestic and a daily companion. But most of all, more than anything or anyone, she came to love Mrs. Easton's son.

    YOUNG Lieutenant Tom never knew. An Apache woman was by nature undemonstrative, and neither Emily's actions nor her glances gave her away. Deep in her eyes could be seen a soft glow when he entered a room, and there was a sadness on her tongue when she spoke his name, but that was all. Outwardly she remained toward him only what she had been before the love started — an Indian girl who laughed at his good-natured teasings, a comrade who listened to his troubles, a friend who would do anything in the world for him.

    And so it went. But sometimes not too long after she fell in love, Lieutenant Tom came home with a strange girl clinging to his arm, with the sober, proud announcement that he was going to be married. Even then, not a muscle of Emily's face betrayed her. She smiled and there were none who noticed that she smiled with her lips alone, that her dark eyes suddenly shadowed, and that she turned and left the room almost before the smile faded. In the morning she was gone, and neither the ground around the house nor the trail leading out of Fort Davis nor the rocky land that rose into the mountains showed signs of her passing.

    It was useless to search for her. Weeks passed, then months, then more than a year, and in all that time they did not hear from her. There were rumors of fresh Apache outbreaks in the territory and the daily fear of attack gave the Eastons other things to think about, but they talked of Emily often, and always there was the wonder of her disappearance. Mrs. Easton said once, sadly, as if Emily had been her own daughter, "Why — why did she leave? If we knew that — "

    But there was no way of knowing, any more than they could know that Emily, safe in an Apache rancheria deep in the mountains thought of them, too — that she sat for hours dreaming into the camp fire lost in the memories she had carried with her when she returned to her people. Nor could they know that she turned cold, indifferent eyes on the warriors who spoke to her of marriage and refused them all. The Eastons could only know that she was gone, and that she would probably never return.

    TROUBLE with the Apaches mounted around the fort. Victorio was their newest leader, and he led bold daylight attacks on small settlements, made deadly strikes against travelers and stagecoaches, and promoted raids that swept away herd after herd of precious cattle. The fort watches were doubled, defenses were strengthened, supplies were carefully put away against possible siege — a thousand steps were taken to avoid annihilation if attack should come.

    Soldiers turned grim under the strain and snapped at each other, and their nerves played tricks on them — shadows in the night became creeping Apaches, giant rocks were soft-padding war ponies, miniature sproutings of cottonwoods were metal-tipped lances trembling in the hands of unseen warriors. Sometime during one of the endless, dangerous nights a rock skidded down a near- by slope, and there was the sound of a foot scraping along gravel. The sentry called out, and all other men on duty hugged their posts and raised their guns cheek-high ready for use. There was the crack of a single rifle in the hands of one, a strangled scream, a moment of stunned silence — and then a fort sprang to life.

    An enlisted man bent over the silent figure on the ground, rolling its face up for all to see. Emily had returned, and this time she would not leave. She was carried to the Colonel's house and tended as gently as on the day Espejo had left her behind. Mrs. Easton was sent for, and it was she who bent over Emily and pushed the damp hair from her forehead and tried to understand the words that stumbled so haltingly from Emily's Lips:

    "My people come
    with the light of the new day ....
    "I tell you, so Lieutenant
    Tom does not die.''

    MRS. Easton knew at last why Emily had left her, and her eyes were full of compassion as she bent low to stroke the soft cheek.

    She was still beside her when she died.

    Many Apache warriors joined Emily at dawn. Never had the soldiers of Fort Davis fought so well or with such purpose, and the Apaches fell before their long guns like blades of grass in a brush fire.

    Emily was buried at the foot of the mountain, near the rushing waters of Limpia Creek. A headboard was put up, a rough-hewn one, with its ugliness softened by the embarrassed, tongue-in-cheek legend:

    "INDIAN SQUAW— KILLED BY
    ACCIDENT"

    The grave was pointed out to all who entered the fort, and the story of Emily spread throughout the Big Bend country."

    But the passing of time was not kind to her little wooden memorial. The inscription went first, and then bit by bit the board itself rotted away until there was nothing left but a little mound of stones to mark the grave.

    In 1936 a new monument, a fine one of granite, was erected and it stands today with the symbolic Star of Texas at its top, while below, carved deep to protect it from the
    elements is the most fitting memorial of all:

    "Here lies Indian Emily
    An Apache Girl
    Whose Love For A
    Young Officer Induced
    Her To Give Warning Of
    An Indian Attack
    Mistaken For AN Enemy
    She Was Shot By A
    Sentry But Saved The
    Garrison From Massacre

    Erected by the State of Texas, 1936"
     
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  5. Wildthings

    Wildthings ASTROS 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS Full Member

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    Today in Texas History -- March 29th

    What follows is a long read so get comfortable!!

    Escape of the Four - March 27, 1836

    Big thanks to Mike Javi Cooper for posting this story a few year back. I believe it shows the bravery and tenacity of those that fought for the freedom of Texas!


    Escape of the Four Alabama Red Rovers
    Dillard Cooper's Remembrances of the Fannin MassacreFrom Rangers and Pioneers of Texas by A.J. Sowell 1884 as reprinted from the American Sketch Book 1881. According to James T. DeShields in Tall Men With Long Rifles, Cooper died in extreme poverty in the 1890's in Llano, TX stating "during his later years the pitiful pension of $150.00 a year, provided by the great and opulent state of Texas, barely sufficed to buy food and medicines for the aged hero and his faithful wife. Napoleon was not far wrong when he said 'Republics are ungrateful.'"

    ......several....cried out for mercy. I remember one, a young man, who had been noted for his piety, but who had afterwards become somewhat demoralized by bad company, falling on his knees, crying aloud to God for mercy, and forgiveness. Others, attempted to plead with their inhuman captors, but their pleadings were in vain.....On my right hand, stood Wilson Simpson, and on my left, Robert Fenner....while some of them were rending the air with their cries of agonized despair, Fenner called out to them, saying: "Don't take on so, boys; if we have to die, let's die like brave men.....At that moment, I glanced over my shoulder and saw the flash of a musket.....



    On the morning of the 27th of March, 1836, about daylight, we were awakened by the guards, and marched out in front of the fort, where we were counted and divided into three different detachments; we had been given to understand that we were to be marched to Copano, and from there shipped to New Orleans. The impression, however, had in some way been circulated among us, that we were to be sent out that morning to hunt cattle; though I thought at the time that it could not be so, as it was but a poor way, to hunt cattle on foot.

    Our detachment was marched out in double file, each prisoner being guarded by two soldiers, until within about half a mile southwest of the fort, we arrived at a brush fence, built by the Mexicans. We were then placed in single file, and were half way between the guard and the fence, eight feet each way. We were then halted, when the commanding officer came up to the head of the line, and asked if there were any of us who understood Spanish. By this time, there began to dawn upon the minds of us, the truth, that we were to be butchered, and that, I suppose, was the reason that none answered. He then ordered us to turn our backs to the guards. When the order was given not one moved, and then the officer, stepping up to the man at, the head of the column, took him by the shoulders and turned him around.

    By this time, despair had seized upon our poor boys, and several of them cried out for mercy. I remember one, a young man, who had been noted for his piety, but who had afterwards become somewhat demoralized by bad company, falling on his knees, crying aloud to God for mercy, and forgiveness. Others, attempted to plead with their inhuman captors, but their pleadings were in vain, for on their faces no gleam of piety was seen for the defenseless men who stood before them. On my right hand, stood Wilson Simpson, and on my left, Robert Fenner. In the midst of the panic of terror which seized our men, and while some of them were rending the air with their cries of agonized despair, Fenner called out to them, saying: "Don't take on so, boys; if we have to die, let's die like brave men."

    At that moment, I glanced over my shoulder and saw the flash of a musket; I instantly threw myself forward on the ground, resting on my hands. Robert Fenner must have been instantly killed, for he fell with such force upon me as almost to throw me over as I attempted to rise, which detained me a few moments in my flight, so that Simpson, my companion on the right, got the start of me. As we ran towards an opening in the brush fence, which was almost in front of us, Simpson got through first, and I was immediately after him. I wore, at that time, a small, round cloak, which was fastened with a clasp at the throat. As I ran through the opening, an officer charged upon me, and ran his sword through my cloak, which would have held me, but I caught the clasp with both hands, and tore it apart, and the cloak fell from me. There was an open prairie, about two miles wide, through which I would have to run before I could reach the nearest timber, which was a little southwest of the place from where we started.

    I gained on my pursuers, but saw, between me and the timber, three others, who were after Simpson. As I neared the timber, I commenced walking, in order to recover my strength, before I came near them. When he first started, we were all near together, but as Simpson took a direct course across the prairie, I, in order to avoid his pursuers, took a circuitous course. There were two points of timber projecting into the prairie, one of which was nearer to me than the other. I was making for the furthest point, but as Simpson entered the timber, his pursuers halted, and then ran across and cut me off, I then started for the point into which Simpson had entered, but they turned and cut me oft from that. I then stopped running and commenced walking slowly between them and the other point. They, no doubt, thinking I was about to surrender myself, stopped, and I continued to walk within about sixty yards of them, when I suddenly wheeled and ran into the point for which I had first started. They did not attempt to follow me, but just as I was about to enter the timber, they fired, the bullets whistling over my head caused me to draw my head down as I ran.

    As soon as I entered the timber, I saw Simpson waiting and beckoning to me. I went towards him, and we ran together for about two miles, when we reached the river. We then stopped and consulted as to the best way of concealing ourselves. I proposed climbing a tree, but he objected, saying that should the Mexicans discover us, we would have no way of making our escape. Before we arrived at any conclusion, we heard some one coming, which frightened us so, that I jumped into the river, while Simpson ran a short distance up it, but seeing me, he also jumped in. The noise proceeded from the bank immediately above the spot where Simpson was, and I could see the place very plainly, and soon discovered that two of our companions had made their escape to this place. They were Zachariah Brooks, and Isaac Hamilton. In the fleshy part of both Hamilton's thighs were wounds, one made by a gun-shot and another by a bayonet.

    We all swam the river, and traveling up it a short distance, arrived at a bluff bank, near which was a thick screen of bushes, where we concealed ourselves. The place was about five miles above the fort. We did not dare proceed further that day, as the Mexicans were still searching for us, and Hamilton's wounds had become so painful as to prevent his walking, which obliged us to carry him. We remained there until about 10 o'clock that night, when we started forth, Simpson and myself carrying Hamilton, Brooks, though severely wounded, was yet able to travel. We had to proceed very cautiously and rather slowly.

    Fort La Bahia being southeast of us, and the point we were making for, was about where Goliad now stands. We proceeded, in a circuitous route in a northeasterly direction. We approached within a short distance of the fort, and could not at first account for the numerous fires we saw blazing. We were not long in doubt, for the sickening smell that was borne towards us by the south wind, informed us too well that they were burning the bodies of our companions. And, here, I will state what Mrs. Cash, who was kept a prisoner, stated afterwards; that some of our men were thrown into the flames and burned alive. We passed the fort safely, and reached a spring, where we rested from our journey and from whence we proceeded on our travels.

    But the night was foggy, and becoming bewildered, it was not long before we found ourselves at the spring from which we started. We again started out, and again found ourselves at the same place; but we had too much at stake to sink into despondency. So once more took our wounded companion, thinking we could not miss the right direction this time; but, at last when day began to break, to our great consternation, we found we had been traveling around the same spot, and were for the third time back at the identical spring from which we had at first set forth. It was now impossible to proceed further that day, as we dared not travel during the day, knowing we should be discovered by the Mexicans. We therefore concealed ourselves by the side of a slight elevation, amidst a thick undergrowth of bushes.

    By this time, we began to grow very hungry, and I remembered an elm bush that grew at the entrance of the timber where we were concealed, which formed an excellent commissary for us, and from the branches of which we partook, until nearly every limb was entirely stripped. About 9 o'clock that morning, we heard the heavy tramp of the Mexican army on the march; and they not long after that passed within a stone's throw of our place of concealment. It seems indeed, that we were guided by an over-ruling providence in not being able to proceed further that night, for as we were not expecting the Mexican army so soon, we would probably have been overtaken and discovered by them, perhaps in some prairie, where we could not have escaped.

    We remained in our hiding place the rest of the day, and resumed our journey after dark, still carrying our wounded companion. Whenever the enemy passed us, we had to conceal ourselves; and we laid several days in ponds of mud and water, with nothing but our heads exposed to view. When in the vicinity of Lavaca, we again got ahead of the Mexicans; and, after traveling all night, we discovered, very early in the morning of the ninth day, a house within a few hundred yards of the river. We approached it, and found the inhabitants had fled. When we entered the house, we discovered a quantity of corn, some chickens, and a good many eggs lying about in different places. Our stomachs were weak and revolted at the idea of eating them raw, so we looked about for some means of striking a fire, first searching for a rock, but failing to find one, we took an old chisel and ground it on a grindstone for about two hours, but could never succeed in getting the sparks to catch. We then concluded to return and try the eggs raw.

    We had taken one, and Simpson was putting on his shoes, which he had taken off to rest his feet, which were raw and bleeding, and had just got one on when he remarked: "Boys, we would be in a tight place if the Mexicans were to come upon us now." So saying, he walked to the window, when to his horror, there was the whole Mexican army not more than a mile and a half off, and fifteen or twenty horsemen coming at full speed within a hundred yards of us. We took up our wounded man and ran to the timber, which was not far off, Simpson leaving his shoe behind him. We got into the timber and concealed ourselves between the logs of two trees, the tops of which having fallen together, and being very thickly covered with leaves and moss, formed an almost impenetrable screen above and around us. We had scarcely hidden ourselves from view, when the Mexicans came swarming around us, shouting and hallooing through the woods, but did not find us. We heard them from time to time, all throughout the day and next night. The next morning, just before day, the noise of the Mexicans ceased, and we concluded they had left. Simpson then asked me to go with him to get his shoe, as it would be difficult for him to travel without it, and I consented to do so. We went out to the edge of the timber and stopped some time to take observations before proceeding further. Seeing nothing of the Mexicans, we proceeded to the house, found the shoe, and possessing ourselves of a couple of ears of corn, and a bottle of water, we returned to our companions. We had no doubt that the Mexicans had gone, so we sat down and drank the water and ate an ear of corn, when Brooks asked Simpson to go with him to the house, saying he would get a chicken, and we could eat it raw. They started, and had hardly got to the edge of the timber when I heard the sound of horses’ feet, and directly afterwards the Mexicans were to be seen in every direction. I was sure they had captured Simpson and Brooks. Soon I heard something in the brush near us, but did not know whether it was the boys or Mexicans, but it turned out to be the boys, who crept undercover, and, in a few minutes, four Mexicans came riding by, passing within a few feet of where we were lying, with our faces to the ground.

    After going into the woods a short distance they turned and passed out again, but it was not long after when six of them came riding quite close, three on each side of us, and leaning down and peering into our hiding place. It seemed to me they could have heard us, for my own heart seemed to raise me almost from the ground by its throbbings. I felt more frightened than I ever had been before; for at the time of the massacre, everything had come on me so suddenly that my nerves had no time to become unstrung as they now were. The Mexicans passed and repassed us, through the day, so we dared not move from our hiding place. A guard was placed around us the following night, the main body having, no doubt, gone on, and left a detachment to search for us. I think they must have had some idea of our being some of Fannin's men, or they would scarcely have gone to that trouble. About 10 o'clock that night we held a consultation, and I told my companions it would not do to remain there any longer, as the Mexicans were aware of our place of concealment, and would surely discover us the next day. We all decided then to leave, and they requested me to lead the way out. I told them we would have to crawl through the timber and a short piece of prairie, until we crossed the road near which the Mexicans were posted; that they must be careful to remove every leaf and stick in the path, and to hold their feet up, only crawling on their hands and knees, as the least noise would betray us to the enemy.

    I was somewhat acquainted with the locality; for we were now not far from Texana, and I had some times hunted along these woods. Thus I led the way. Hamilton's wounds were so painful that we could move only slowly, and we must have been two hours crawling about 200 yards. When we at length passed the timber and reached the road, I stopped to make a careful survey of the situation. I could see the Mexicans placed along the road, about a hundred yards on each side of us. The moon was shining, but had sunk towards the west, which threw the shadow of a point of timber across the road, and concealed us from view. It would have been hard to discover us from the color of our clothes, as the earthy element with which they were mixed had entirely hidden the original fabric. We continued to crawl, until we reached a sufficient distance not to be discovered, when we rose up and walked. Although Hamilton had, with a great deal of pain, managed to crawl, yet it was impossible for him to walk, and his wounds had by this time become so much irritated and inflamed that he could scarcely bear to be carried. We traveled that night only a short distance, and hid ourselves in a thicket near a pond of water. Brooks had been trying to persuade me to leave Hamilton; but, although our progress was impeded by having to carry him, I could not entertain the idea for a moment. I indignantly refused, but still he would seize every opportunity to urge it upon me. He said it would be impossible for us to escape, burdened as we were with Hamilton. I could only acknowledge the truth of this, for it was a desperate case with us. The foe was around us in every direction. Brooks, finding that I was not to be persuaded, then attempted to influence Simpson.

    On the tenth day out, they took the bottle and went to the pond nearby, for water. As they were returning, (I suppose Brooks did not know he was so near the place they left us), both Hamilton and myself heard Brooks urging Simpson to leave him. He told him if we remained with Hamilton, we would certainly lose our lives; but there was some slight chance of escaping, if we left him, and that Hamilton's wounds had become so much worse that he was bound to die, unless he could have rest; and, as we were doing him no good, and ourselves a great deal of injury by carrying him, it was, our duty to leave him. Now Brooks had never carried him a step; Simpson and myself having done that; yet Brooks was the first who had ever proposed leaving him; and, although there was a great deal of truth in what he was saying, yet I felt quite angry with him, as I heard him trying to persuade Simpson. Hamilton did not say a word to them when they came in, but sat with his face buried in his hands a long time.

    At length, he looked up, and said: "Boys, Brooks has told you the truth; I cannot travel any further, and if you stay with me, all will be killed. Go and leave me, boys; if I have rest I may recover, and if I ever should get off safe, you shall hear from me again." He spoke so reasonably, and we were so thoroughly convinced of the truth of what he said, after a brief consultation, we decided to depart without him. Hamilton had known Brooks in Alabama; he called him to him, and gave him a gold watch and $40 in gold, telling him to give it to his mother. We then bade Hamilton farewell, all of us shedding tears as we parted, but when we turned to go, my resolution failed me, and I could not find it in my heart to leave him. I said: "Boys, don't let us leave him." But Simpson and Brooks said that we could do neither him nor ourselves any good by remaining, and that they were determined to go. I told them I would remain with him, and do the best I could for him. So they started off without me; but Hamilton insisted so much that I should leave him, that I again bade him farewell, and followed and soon overtook the others. The reason that we started off in the day, was that it was raining quite hard, and we thought there would not be much danger in traveling, but we had not gone more than half way through the next prairie. when the weather cleared up, and we saw the whole Mexican army encamped at Texana, about two miles off; but they did not discover us, and we succeeded in reaching the timber on the Navidad. In the evening we walked out to a slight eminence which overlooked the prairie, to reconnoiter. While gazing across the prairie, we could see three men on horseback, but so indistinct were they that we could not at first tell whether they were Americans or Mexicans. As they approached, we hid in the undergrowth; and as they passed, we saw that they were Mexican couriers returning to the command.

    At eight we again started forth, and coming out on the prairie, we discovered a road, which we concluded had been made by the refugees in their retreat from the enemy. During all this time we had nothing to eat but leaves and herbs, and the two ears of corn that we got at the house on Lavaca river. On the twelfth day, we reached the Colorado, at Mercer's crossing. As we were very tired, we sat down on the bank to rest a little, before attempting to swim over. While sitting there, a dog on the opposite side of the river began to bark. When we heard that well-known sound, our very souls thrilled with joy, and that was the first time since the awful day of the massacre that a smile had ever illuminated our faces. We looked at each other, and then burst into a great big laugh. We were all good swimmers, but I some times took the cramp while swimming, so we concluded to cross on a log. We procured a dead mulberry pole, and hanging on to it, one at each end, and one in the middle, we crossed over to the land of freedom, and a land where we found plenty to eat. After recruiting a little, we procured horses, with the intention of joining Houston's army; but before we reached there, San Jacinto had been fought and won.

    It was more than a year before I ever heard anything of Hamilton. He remained in the same place where we left him nine days, sometimes lying in the pond of water, which assuaged the pain of his wounds. At the end of that time he was so much improved that he essayed to walk to Texana, and succeeded in doing so. He said the best eating he ever had in his life, was when he first entered Texana, and ate the meat from the rawhides the Mexicans had left. The next morning he took a skiff, and made his way down to Dimmitt's landing. He had scarcely reached there when he was taken prisoner by a Mexican soldier. Not long after, other soldiers came in, and tying Hamilton on a mule, started for camp. He suffered so much from his wounds that he fainted several times, on the way. Whenever this occurred, they would untie him, lay him on the ground, and throw water into his face until he revived, when they would again mount him on the mule and proceed on their way. Hamilton remained in their hands for some time and gradually grew well of his wounds. There was a Mexican who waited on him, who seemed much attached to him, and Hamilton was led to place much confidence in him. One morning, this Mexican told him that if he wanted to live another day, he must make his escape that night, as he had learned that he and two other prisoners were to be shot before morning. Hamilton then arranged a plan for the escape of himself and two of his companions, which was a success, after many trials and tribulations.
     
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  6. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Traces of Texas

    The Texas Quote of the Day is beyond awesome. It's an article about Mentone, Texas that was written by the celebrated Larry L. King for Life magazine in 1972. One of my friends once said that he wrote like Texans think. I'd give several digits to be able to write one thing as good as this:

    "As the nation moved west seeking new frontiers, Texas, a rude young empire won in blood, was inhabited by restless and adventurous men chasing their own special dreams. One of these was Oliver Loving, a legendary cattleman who, passing through the barren reefs adjoining New Mexico in 1867, was shot, scalped and left for dead. He crawled 18 miles, chewing an old leather glove for sustenance, and emptied his pockets of valuables to a roving band of Mexican traders against assurance that he would be packed in charcoal and returned east to Weatherford -- almost 500 miles -- for burial. It was perhaps typical of the breed, the period and the place that Oliver Loving stubbornly refused to die until he had arranged his own terms.

    Our literature and our legends abound with tales of the frontier spirit, of men who lived out of saddlebags or sod huts, carving and sweating a new civilization in which they attended their own fractures, made there own rules and raised their sons to independent and taciturn ways. In 1893, 26 years after Oliver Loving's death, a county bordering on New Mexico in the westernmost part of Texas was named for him. Loving County today is the most sparsely populated county in the contiguous United States, 647 square miles with 150 people scattered among 451 producing oil wells. This is land no less desolate than in an earlier time, and it is reasonable to suspect that the folks who remain here -- the sons and daughters of gritty dry-gulch farmers, wild-horse tamers and oil-field roustabouts -- would naturally retain their forebears' adventuresome pioneer spirit, coupled with their own stubborn dreams of self-fulfillment.

    Once the nation drew its strength from these lower regions, masses of individual songs melding into one symphony of hope and pride and individual doing. Now, so much in America seems to have homogenized and dulled us that it is not too much to imagine that one day soon we shall all sound like Jack Lescoulie. Perhaps out on those few old frontiers where there is still elbow room, we can rediscover charms, virtues and vitalities that speak well of our roots and suggest options for our futures. These are the hopes, at least, that one can bring to an examination of Loving County.

    The best place to meet Loving County's last frontiersmen is in the town of Mentone, and more specifically in Keen's Cafe, popularly known as "Newt's and Tootsie's." Keen's is the only place in all the county where one may purchase a beer -- or anything else of value, though they do sell marriage licenses across the street at the squat county courthouse. On this boiling day, Weepin' Willie Nelson is warning on Newt Keen's jukebox of all the gratuitous troubles love provides when another kind of trouble -- wearing a big-brimmed hat and a snub-nosed pistol -- clatters through the front screen door.

    Garnville Lacy, ruddy-faced to the bone, is toting the snub-nosed pistol under the aegis of the Texas Liquor Control Board. He has driven from Odessa across 78 miles of burning desert sands -- past oil-well pumps, nodding their rich extractions like gentled rocking horses, and past infrequent hardscrabble ranches -- to serve a seven-day suspension notice of the beer permit entrusted to Keen's Cafe.

    Newt Keen, proprietor, is a graying former cowboy with jug ears and a sly country grin that says he knows the joke and the joke is not on him. He seem to harbor some secret mirth, a submerged mysterious bubbling that has survived tornado funnels, droughts, bedroll rattlesnakes, rodeo fractures and the purchase of a ranch from a salty old pioneer woman who, it developed, did not own a ranch to sell. Equipped by seasoning and history to expertly sense disaster in its many forms, Newt, on spotting the lawman, mumbles, "Oh, hail far! It's liable to get a whole lot drier around here."

    Newt greets the liquor agent aloud, however, as if in the hire of Welcome Wagon: "Come in! Come in! Y'awl been getting any rain over your way?" He crashes about in scuffed cowboy boots, his body a tad stooped as if permanently saddle-sore, and offers the lawman a mug of thick coffee.

    Granville Lacy sits at one of the two rickety counter between a factory-tooled sign instructing: AMERICA, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! and a homemade sign running alternately uphill and down, as if maybe it had been painted in the dark: OUR BEER LICENSE DEPENDS ON YOUR GOOD CONDUCT. The six other customers in the cafe, which seats a maximum of 20, watch the lawman with obvious distaste and apprehension.

    "Mr. Keen," the lawman says, "I've got some papers to serve on you."

    Conveniently deaf, Newt gestures toward the coffee he's poured Lacy: "You want me to cripple that with a little dab of cream? Looks like it was dredged up from the Pecos River bottom." A head shake. Newt tries again: "How's them two big old boys of yours? They doing all right?" Above the counter are likenesses of Newt's own two older sons, Vietnam veterans, proudly in uniform.

    The liquor agent unfurls and crackles his official documents: "Now, Mr Keen, this temporary suspension begins next Monday..." But Newt is clomping across the wooden floor to replenish beer supplies and honor orders for cheeseburgers or chicken-fried steaks with cream gravy.

    Agent Lacy inspects his papers while Newt relays food orders to his red-haired wife. Tootsie, who retains a high faith in beehive hairdos. The jukebox has fallen dumb, permitting the lawman to better sample a united community hostility among the oil-field workers and ranchers. It is one thing to retard the flow of alcoholic comforts in any one of Manhattan's countless aid stations -- or even one of Odessa's -- but it is quite a deeper sin to dry up the only watering hole in all of Loving County. Newt and Tootsie dispense approximately 50 cases of beer each week; a shutdown theoretically would meanly deprive every man, woman and child in the county of eight bottles or cans. Better Granville Lacy had come to town to poison the water, which leads on the believe that Sheriff Elgin "Punk" Jones -- who reported the infraction -- will have to pay for his nefarious deed.

    When Newt Keen next passes within range, the liquor agent reads in a low monotone: ... did on the some-oddth day of August, 1971, in violation of section this, paragraph so-and-so...

    Newt shuffles, pulls an ear, shoot concerned glances at Tootsie. She attends her griddle with jerky motions of anger, slapping hamburger patties with unusual vigor...nor sell, nor give, nor consume, nor allow to be consumed, any alcoholic beverage on said premise until.... Wearing the abashed grin of an erring schoolboy, Newt laboriously scratches his signature.

    Newt's formal surrender seemingly reassures the lawman, who jovially says: "Now I got another complaint. You've got four beer signs outside, and you're not allowed but two."

    "Four? I can't count but three."

    "Naw, four. Your main sign counts as two. One for each side of the sign."

    Newt, uncertain of the bureaucratic bogs, says, "Well, what's the big gripe?"

    "Congestion."

    Newt is mute and uncomprehending. This is happening to him in downtown Mentone -- population 44 -- where from any vantage point one can see for three days in all directions and still have nothing to tell. He gazes across all that empty territory until his eyes lock on a distant windmill. "Well," he finally drawls, "I sure would hat to cause any traffic jams." When the locals snigger over their well-catsuped home fries, the lawman reddens: "We've got no choice but to enforce the law. It's an old law the church folks got passed back in the '30s." He makes it out the door unaided by any understanding nods.

    Before the lawman's dust departs, all the customers compete to damn the prying old government. Warren Burnett, a prominent Texas lawyer who has paused at the cafe in mid-passage to El Paso, offers to represent Newt for free should he wish to fight the suspension order: "We'll claim cruel and unusual punishment! A man could die of thirst out here. Hell, Newt, your place is more than a community center -- it's an outpost, by God, offering new beginnings and shelter against the elements...."

    "Do it, Newt." Tootsie said.

    "Naw, I got to live with that old boy. Besides, this ain't his fault."

    "Well," the lawyer said, "come next Monday it'll be a long hot path to beer. So whose fault is it?"

    Newt drawls it out like Gunsmoke's Festus: "Accordin' to that batch of official papers, it's mine!" After the laughter abate, he says, "Aw, one night a while back we got to dancing and barking at the moon in here and, well, maybe we run a little past closing time. Mister, I been in this country since the sun wasn't no bigger than a orange and there wasn't no moon a-tall and windmills wasn't but waist-high, and I've learnt that when you can sell something out here -- you better not worry about what time it is."

    Tootsie says: "That ain't the whole story."

    "Well, okay, Mama. Awright, I was drinking nearly as much as I was selling and business wasn't too bad. The sheriff -- old Punk Jones -- he come in and caught me and snitched to the liquor board."

    "You oughta run for sheriff yourself, Newt," one of the locals suggests.

    "Naw sir." Newt says, "I ain't gonna say a mumblin' word against old Punk -- right on up to election day." Appreciating the laughter, he fishes in icy waters and pops himself a beer. "Punk, he don't have nothing to do but enforce the closing laws in this one little old place, and I sure wouldn't wanta interfere with law and order here in Loving County."

    The dominant political strain in Loving County runs to an abiding conservatism. The natives -- well-off and poor alike -- reject anything smacking of charity, and so they regard federal aid as being no less poisonous than the ever-present rattlesnake. When a federal court instructed every county in Texas to participate in the Family Food Assistance Program for the poor, Loving County Judge W. T. "Bill" Winston said: "We don't need it, we don't want it, and we can't use it if we're force to take it." Snorting and jiggling his beer glass in Newt's and Tootsie's now, Judge Winston gloomily says, "They finally forced it on us. We've got nine people getting it -- seven in one family. And they're Mexicans." When the Department of Health Education and Welfare ordered the county to either racially integrate Mentone's 16-pupil school or lose its federal money. Judge Winston fired off a terse letter informing Washington that Loving County: (1) had no black residents; (2) had never received a dime's worth of federal school aid; and (3) didn't covet any.

    Television has brought the problems of New York, Watts and Saigon to the attention of the neglected territory. Everybody worries about blacks or dope or crime or the Vietcong just as if they had some. Newt Keen no longer goes off and leaves his cafe doors unlocked to accommodate stray customers because "you can't tell when somebody might come over from Monahans or Pyote and clean you out." But the Mentone jail has not had a customer in seven years, and Loving County's crime wave last year consisted of a profitless burglary of the schoolhouse and the theft of several rolls of steel cable from an oil lease.

    Ann Blair, a pretty young blond who works in the courthouse for her mother, County Clerk Edna Clayton, frets that the outside world may taint her two small children. "Let's face it, it's boring here for adults, but there's no better place to raise kids." says Ann, a graduate of Odessa Junior College. "We have a good family life. My fifth-grade boy has learned work and the value of a dollar. When I went off to college, I saw wild kids and all kinds of temptation. And it's so much worse now, with drugs and sex crimes."

    Inconvenience is taken for granted. The nearest movie house, beauty shop, physician, lawyer, bank, weekly newspaper, cemetery or grocery store is from 55 to 90 round-trip miles away. Fifteen of 16 Mentone School pupils are bused in from six to 60 miles away. Sixth-graders and above are bused almost 80 round-trip miles to Wink.

    Despite the riches of oil and gas under the earth, each Loving County family must provide its own bottled-gas system. And there is no public water supply. Water is hauled in a tank from Pecos at 50 cents per barrel. Even cattle balk at drinking the brackish product of the Pecos River, long ago polluted by potash interests in upstream New Mexico, a fact that, surprisingly, no one here rails against even though their forebears always raised hell at anything - fences, sheep herds, squatters -- infringing on their freedoms or presuming to prosper at their expense.

    The land is stark and flat and treeless, altogether as bleak and spare as Russian literature, a great dry-docked ocean with small swells of hummocky tan sand dunes or humpbacked rocky knolls that change colors with the hour and the shadows: reddish brown, slate gray, bruise-colored. But it is the sky -- God-high and pale, like a blue chenille bedspread bleached by seasons in the sun -- that dominates. There is simply too much sky. Men grow small in its presence and -- perhaps feeling diminished -- they sometimes are compelled to proclaim themselves in wild or berserk ways. Alone in those remote voids, one may suddenly half-believe he is the last man on earth and go in frantic search of the tribe. "Desert fever," the natives call it.

    And while the endless dry doomed land and eternal sky may bring on the fever, so, too, can the weather. The wind, persistent and unengageable for half the year, swooshes unencumbered from the northernmost Great Plains, howling, whining, singing off-key and covering everything with a maddening grainy down. Court records attest that during the windy seasons the natives are quicker to lift their voices, or their fists, or even their guns, in rage.

    The summer sun is as merciless as a loan shark: a blinding, angry orange explosion baking the land's sparse grasses and quickly aging the skin. In winter there are nights to ache the bone, cold, stinging lashings of frozen rain. Yet ever the weather is not the worst natural enemy. Outside the industrial sprawl of the prairie's mini-cities -- on the occasional ranches or oil leases or in the flawed little country towns -- the great curse is boredom. Teenagers in the faded jeans and glistening ducktail hairstyles of another day wander in restless packs to the roller rink or circle root beer stands sounding their mating calls by a mighty revving of engines. Old men shuffle dominoes in the shade of service stations or feed stores. There is the television, of course, and the joys of small-town gossip -- and in season a weekly high school football game may be secretly considered more important than even Vacation Bible School. Newt Keen laments the passing of country socials where people reveled all night at one ranch house or another: "Now you got to go over to Pecos to them fightin' and dancin' clubs. But, you know, it ain't near as much fun to fight with strangers."

    The young and the imaginative in Loving County are largely disaffected, strangers in Jerusalem. And those who can, move on when they can. Today's desert youths belong to a transitional generation. Born to an exhausted frontier where there are no more Dodge Citys to tame, no more wild rivers to ford, no more cattle trails to ride or oil booms to follow, theirs is a heritage beyond preserving. The last horseman has passed by, leaving only myths and fences. Industrialization has come and gone: having drilled and robbed the earth, the swaggering two-fisted oil boomer, heir apparent to the earlier cowboy or Indian fighter, has clattered off to the next feverish adventure, leaving behind sterile sophisticated pumps and gauges and storage tanks that automatically record their own dull technological accomplishments. Only the land remains, the high sky, the eerie isolation. The wind hums mocking tunes of loss and the jukeboxes echo it: "...Just call Lonesome-seven-seven-two-oh-three..." "I'd trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday...."

    The songs are of rejection, disappointment, aborted opportunities...of finishing second. And the music is everywhere, incessantly jangling, the call of the lonely. Even many graybeards who have trimmed back their dreams -- if they ever had any -- cannot sit still unless the jukebox or radio is moaning to them of unrequited love, of the tricks of the wicked cities, of life's rough and rocky traveling. Few know that the music says more about them than they say of themselves.

    The young sense the loss of a grander and more adventurous past. It is these -- the young and those who secretly know they never will be truly young again -- who prove most susceptible to fits of desert fever. And so they sometimes go lickety-split down the rural highways at speeds dizzy enough to confuse the ambidextrous, running like so many Rabbit Angstroms, leaving behind a trail of sad country songs, beer vapors and the echo of some feverish, senseless shout. Some may find themselves at dawn howling in the precincts of a long-forgotten girl friend, or tempting the dangers of the "fightin' and dancin' clubs." Some keep running: to the army or to a Fort Worth factory or maybe to exotic Kansas City. Others, their fevers cooled and with no place to go, drive back slowly -- a bit sheepishly -- to join the private chaos and public tediums of their lives.

    Newt Keen's son Jack begins to boot-stomp across the wooden floor in a jukebox dance with a tall visiting airline hostess. Jack is dipping snuff and wearing an outsized silver belt buckle he has won riding bulls. Over the whines and thumps of the music he regrets that after next weekend he can't rise at a 4:30 each morning to cowboy on one of the area ranches because school is imminent. Jack does not appear to be real partial to school, where they take a dim view of 12-year old, 83-pound boys who appreciate snuff more than arithmetic. To somebody who first dipped at age 5, who slew his first snake at 7 and who is impatient to ramrod his own ranch, the arbitrary restrictions on scholars can be mighty vexing.

    Tootsie worries about her son. "Till school takes up, Jack's the only kid in Mentone. The rest live on ranches or oil leases. All he's ever been around is adults and he don't get along real well with kids." Jack proves his mother right on the second day of school, decking another boy who has earned his disapproval. Jack's reward is three licks from the principal's paddle. "It stung," he admits, taking a pinch of Copenhagen from his personal tin. "I got to sign the paddle, though. You ain't allowed to sign is unless you been whupped with it."

    "What'd you hit that boy for?" Tootsie demands.

    Busy roping a cane-bottomed chair, Jack says, "Aw, he's about half silly."

    "Yes, but what'd he do, look at you crosseyed? Jack, dammit, stop roping them chairs. This ain't no rodeo arena."

    Disengaging his lariat, Jack says, "He put his hands on my book."

    "Oh," Tootsie says, apparently mollified.

    Newt is amused: "Jack despises school much as I do a rattlesnake. He swears he's gonna quit when he gits to sixth grade."

    "Or the seventh," Jack says. "Maybe the eighth."

    "Why, Jack," Newt says, "you're liable to wind up a full professor. What's got into you?"

    The boy, vaguely embarrassed, tilts his western hat over his eyes: "Mr. Knott says sixth grade ain't enough anymore."

    Charles Knott, 43, is the new schoolteacher in Mentone. When asked why in mid-career he has deserted El Paso's modern school system for the lesser ecstasies of Loving County, he says, "I like small towns. I had 30-odd kids to the class in El Paso, damn few of them Anglos. The kids here are eager. You take little Jack Keen. Now, he may wind up ranching and live here all his life. If he wants that -- well, fine. But he ought to have options. He ought to know that another life exists. You know, kids from small towns -- well, there just seems to be more to them. I grew up in a little old East Texas town -- one picture show and a one-gallus night watchman. And a higher percentage of the kids there made it than ever will make it in El Paso. They were more aware of themselves, aware of life. Maybe it's nurturing their isolation, having time to think things through. Whatever, I think small-town kids use more of their potential."

    The next day, as school lets out, Tootsie is gazing through the shimmying heatwaves when suddenly she say, "My Lord, little Jack must be sick. Yonder he comes wagging his school books home with him." Apparently she doesn't realize that Jack may have a growing dream.

    Day after day, as the suspension lengthens, the mood in Newt's and Tootsie's beerless free-enterprise cafe grows more and more subdued. Since the suspension, Sheriff Punk Jones -- who rose to his present eminence after serving as courthouse janitor -- has begun to hear rumors that a disgruntled Newt Keen might oppose him on the ballot after all. A good country politician who knows that a handful of votes might return a sheriff to mopping the courthouse, Punk Jones begins to stress the vast stores of bookwork attending his office; it is well known that Newt's painfully concocted customers' checks for chili or cheeseburgers require more translations that the Rosetta Stone.

    In the cafe, customers are infrequent. Those who drop in jangle around aimlessly, some lamenting the lack of liquid comforts with the sorrow of one whose dog has died. Tootsie sits at a table near the soundless jukebox, making do with coffee. Abruptly, she says to her husband behind the counter, "Newt, what we doing in this fool cafe business anyhow?"

    "Well, hon, I just plain tard of being governor, and the gold-mining business was boring me."

    Irked, Tootsie helplessly shakes her head. Daring for once to question life's random assignments, her reward is another of Newt's drawling jokes. One has the impression she suddenly requires answers to questions that did not exist for her before. Something in the restless sweeping of her eyes hints that she has come on some new, if myopic, vision.

    "We've made a living," Newt defends, walking over and putting a quarter in the jukebox.

    "Yeah," Tootsie says, "I don't buy a whole lot of diamonds."
    "Naw, Mama, but you don't live in some old line shack and cook for the range camp neither." They are silent while Willie Nelson sings of how "it's a Bloody Mary mornin' since baby left me without warnin' sometime in the night..." "Say," Newt says, "you remember when we was fresh married and lived in that old dirt-floor dugout?" Tootsie nods, smiling, he face softened by some special old memory. "Well, hon, I always wanted to ask you something about that: when you snuggled up so close to me that first winter, was it on account of you loved me so much or because you was scared of the rats?"

    In a monotone as flat as sourdough biscuits, she says, "I was scared of the rats." They look at each other and laugh.

    "All this will straighten out in a day or two," Newt promises, seeming to have missed the point of her question, her mood.

    "Hail, we got more food business that we do beer sales."

    He shuffles over and sits beside Tootsie who is stirring her mug of thick coffee at the table. The two of them gaze out the screen door at the lost frontier. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is moving on the ribbon-straight highway. They sit and stare, their faces in repose as melancholy as a plain old three-chord hurtin' country song, while Eddy Arnold croons to them of big bouquets of roses.

    Something old and precious and a close kinsman to steel -- some abiding chemistry of hope and grit -- seems to have disappeared from the frontier blood. The men who shaped and settled this desolate waste relied on a fierce, near-savage independence coupled with a vision that made them feel captains of their own fate. That vigor, that vision, is gone now, as exhausted as the frontier itself.

    It is sad to see people so tamed and hobbled and timid and dreamless in a land born wild. The descendants of the old breed may roar like wounded lions at distant menaces -- the pretensions of sociologists, the pious prattlings of politicians, the mod and the unfamiliar -- but they grapple ineffectually with their immediate concerns, their boredoms, small, mean jobs, polluted rivers and officious bureaucrats. In the old days, the people simply would not have tolerated the closing down of their only communal outpost: No, they would have told Punk Jones that they would drink when thirsty, by God, no matter the preferences of some chair-bound Austin bureaucrat with nothing better to do than sign suspension orders. This lethargic acceptance of fate's happenstance gifts, with no more than a shrug or a token grip, gives one the sense of being a visitor at a wake, of witnessing some final burial of the spirit, of watching people without purpose merely getting through another day. Frontiers were made for better uses.

    Still, on does encounter qualities to admire and enjoy here. A withered rancher who will identify himself only as "Jesse" contentedly saws into one of Tootsie's steaks and says, "This country's soothin'. The country's close to you out here. You feel a kinship with it. It don't have no boundaries." Newt Keen says of his neighbors: "We come together like a family when there's trouble. You take over here in Kermit" -- he jerks a thumb toward the highway -- "this stranded family stopped at a church one Sunday to ask for a little food and gas money. All the got was a promise the congregation would pray for 'em. Well, they limped on over here. We supplied 'em a big box of groceries and took up a collection for gas."

    There is little Jack Keen, who probably has spunk and survival instincts superior to most children and surely has more room to discover himself. Some essence of the pioneer woman's endurance survives in Tootsie. Newt is improbably cheerful in a time full of frowning; he at once preserves the old colloquialisms and speaks a native American poetry.

    That much has survived, and must be clung to. But over the years, generation by generation, the resources and the spirit of Loving County have been dried up, and there is a lesson to be learned here. As in the nation as a whole, each generation spoke much and thought little of the future requirements of its heirs.

    Hereafter, we must plan far better with far less."

    ----- Larry L. King, "The Last Boomer is Dead," Life magazine, March 10, 1972
     
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  7. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    The Texas Quote of the Day:

    "The Texas flag, the Lone Star flag, was not a Texas idea. In November, 1835, a mass meeting took place in Macon, Georgia. It was called to discuss aid for the Texans in their struggle against Mexico. More than three thousand dollars in cash was raised and plans were made for organizing a company of volunteers. One hundred and fifty Georgians enlisted in the company, under command of Colonel Fannin, later to become immortal in the massacre of Goliad.

    Johanna Troutman, inspired by the Texas cause, sacrificed a beautiful silk skirt. She converted it into a flag, on which she sewed a single azure star, a Lone Star, since that time the political symbol of Texas. Over the star, she placed the words, "Liberty or Death." Below it was the Latin inscription, Ubi Libertas Hbaitat Ibi Patria ---- "Where Liberty Dwells There is My Country." The flag designed by Miss Troutman was presented to the company of Georgians. At Valasco, Texas, on January 8, 1836, they raised the first Lone Star flag. After Texas had won independence, the government of the Republic honored the designer of the flag by presenting her with a spoon and a fork of solid silver, that had belonged to Santa Anna, the defeated Mexican general. Later, the state of Texas further paid homage to the memory of Miss Troutman by arranging to move her body from Georgia to the state cemetery in Austin. Her remains now rest in peace in a place of honor, close to those of Stephen F. Austin."

    ------- from "Saddle in the Sky" by J.H. Plenn, 1940
     
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  8. Wildthings

    Wildthings ASTROS 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS Full Member

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    Today in Texas History -- April 12th
    The Revolution Continues...…..


    Mexican forces under Santa Anna capture key Brazos crossing

    On this day in 1836, Mexican forces under General Santa Anna captured Thompson's Ferry, on the Brazos River between San Felipe and Fort Bend. As Sam Houston's army retreated eastward, a rear-guard under Moseley Baker at San Felipe and Wyly Martin at Fort Bend sought to prevent the Mexicans from crossing the Brazos. At Thompson's Ferry on April 12, Mexican colonel Juan N. Almonte hailed the ferryman, who was on the east bank. Probably thinking that Almonte was a countryman who had been left behind during the retreat, the ferryman poled the ferry across to the west bank. Santa Anna and his staff, who had been hiding in nearby bushes, sprang out and captured the ferry. By this means the Mexican Centralists accomplished a bloodless crossing of the Brazos, which they completed by April 14. The Texan forces at Fort Bend and San Felipe were forced to abandon their defenses and join the rest of Houston's army in retreat. The Texans did not turn on their pursuers until April 21, when they destroyed Santa Anna's army at San Jacinto.
     
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  9. Eric Rorabaugh

    Eric Rorabaugh Member Full Member

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    I looked and in a little over 2 months, this thread has been going for 3 years. Ain't that long enough for the Texans to brag?!
    :lol2:
    :sofa:
     
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  10. Wildthings

    Wildthings ASTROS 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS Full Member

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    3 years!! wow that means we're just getting started!! :texas::texas:
     
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  11. Eric Rorabaugh

    Eric Rorabaugh Member Full Member

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  12. Tony

    Tony Hardwood Enthusiast Staff Member Global Moderator Full Member

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    Be careful Eric..

    th-9.jpg
     
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  13. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Jealous much ?
     
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  14. Eric Rorabaugh

    Eric Rorabaugh Member Full Member

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    Just can't figure it out. Is it an inferiority complex or what that Texans have to talk themselves up so much? :sofa::pieface:
     
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  15. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Traces of Texas

    The Arcane Texas Fact of the Day:

    Most of y'all probably remember the "Miracle on the Hudson" about 10 years ago when, on January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549, struck a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and consequently lost all engine power. Unable to reach any airport, pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles glided the plane to a ditching in the Hudson River off midtown Manhattan. All 155 people aboard were rescued by nearby boats and there were few serious injuries. Anyway, what many Texans do not realize is that "Sully" is a Texan, having been born and raised in Denison, where he graduated from Denison high school in 1969. I mentioned the fact that "Sully" is a Texan to my friend Thomas and Thomas just said, "Well what else would he be?

    DC8D1699-4969-4535-BE42-83C593C304CE.jpeg
     
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  16. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    In the 1870s, French vinyards were completely destroyed by a plant louse called phylloxera. Thomas Munson, a botanist in Denison, Texas, had been working to develop phylloxera-resistant grapes using native Texas mustang grape rootstock. The French wine industry, learning of Munson's expertise, requested that he send to France a whole mess of that Texas mustang-grape rootstock that he had developed during his studies. He shipped the rootstock to France, where it was grafted with varieties of European vinifera. Munson's work saved the French wine industry from total devastation. Current French grape vines are descendants of the grapevines that Munson shipped, which is why my friend Thomas calls French wine "Texas wine with French labels."
     
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  17. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    The Texas Quote of the Day:

    "A guy named Joe Smith, from Muleshoe, Texas, claimed to know everybody, and a big Texas oilman challenged him when Joe says he knows the governor of Texas. The bet is on, and the oilman flies with Joe to Austin and the governor’s office. Joe tells the secretary he would like to have a word with the governor, and in a moment the governor rushes out and embraces Joe and pats him effusively on the back, and they jaw a little and Joe proves his point.

    The oilman says, 'Well, I bet you don’t know the President of the United States' and Joe claims he does, so another bet is made. They fly to Washington, and when the word is passed to the President, he comes out and Joe greets him by his first name, and the President responds, indeed, as if Joe is an old personal friend.

    The oilman is frustrated and says he is sure Joe does not know the Pope, but, of course, Joe says he does indeed know the Pope, calling him by his first name. So off they fly, in the oilman’s plane, to Rome and the Vatican. When they arrive, there is a huge crowd in the square before the Pope’s palace. Joe instructs the oilman to wait there while he goes to see his old pal. Pretty soon, the Pope comes out on the balcony, waving to the crowd, and there beside him is Joe, with his arm around the Pope. Suspicious, the oilman stops a street sweeper in the crowd and asks him if the man dressed in white is really the Pope.

    "'I don’t know,' comes the reply, 'but the guy with him is Joe Smith from Muleshoe, Texas.'

    ----- Old joke that I've heard a million times, told to me again last night at my favorite watering hole
     
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  18. woodman6415

    woodman6415 Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Bonus Arcane Texas Fact of the Day:

    The 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats at the Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio eat 147 tons of insects each night. That cave is the largest concentration of mammals in the world.
     
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  19. Tony

    Tony Hardwood Enthusiast Staff Member Global Moderator Full Member

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    It's an incredible sight!
     
  20. Wildthings

    Wildthings ASTROS 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS Full Member

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    as is the ones in Rocksprings, Alamo Springs and the Waugh Drive Bridge in Houston
     
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