“A Fort Worth, Texas Kind of Christmas”


When I first published this story, readers asked me if the characters were real, or did any of it actually happen. Our neighbors, the Misters were real folks and became our neighborhood mentors. Leonards’s Department Store Toyland in downtown Fort Worth was a sight to behold, and the attempted flocking and ruination of our Christmas tree is true. My father was able to negotiate peace with my mother, and my uncle delivered a new tree, so Christmas was saved. A flocked tree never adorned our living room, but we did buy an aluminum tree with a rotating color wheel. Years later, in the early sixties, I used that rotating wheel as part of a hokey light show for our rock band.

A personal recount of my childhood Christmas memories.

Photo by: Elf -O-Mat Studios

Riding a ceiling-mounted “Rocket Train” to nowhere around the basement of a department store doesn’t seem like a Christmas thing, but that’s what thousands of other Texas kids and I did every year in the 1950s.

Leonard Brothers Department Store occupied two square blocks of downtown Fort Worth real estate and was known as the Southwest’s Macy’s. They offered everything the big shot stores in the East carried, and then, hundreds of items no retailer in their right mind would consider.

If you had a mind to, one could purchase a full-length mink coat with optional mink mittens, the latest women’s high-fashion clothing line from Paris France, an Italian cut-crystal vile of Elizabeth Taylors spit, James Dean’s signature hair tonic, Rock Hudson’s autographed wedding photos, a housebroken Llama, an aluminum fishing boat and motor, a new car, a pole barn, a nice two-story craftsman home “build it yourself kit” delivered to your lot, chickens, barb wire, hay, horses and cows, a 30-30 Winchester rifle, a 40 caliber autographed General George Custer Colt pistol, a bottle of good hootch and a Ford tractor. That’s about as Texas as it gets.

The Christmas season in downtown Fort Worth was internationally recognized for its innovative and wonderful decorations. The righteous city fathers figured the best way to outdo Dallas, a full-time effort, was to line every building with white lights from top to bottom and install large glowing decorations on every lamp pole, street light, and building fa├žade available. If that didn’t make you “ooooh and ahhhh,” then you needed to go home and hide in a closet.

A week, or so, after Thanksgiving, my parents would take my sister and me downtown to see the decorations and visit the Leonard Brothers Department Store. Santa just happened to be in their basement taking advanced verbal orders from every crumb cruncher that could climb the stairs and plop on his lap.

My sister, in between screams and crying fits, always asked for the latest doll. She was scared senseless of “HO-HO,” but she somehow managed to spit out her order. Like clockwork, every year, I asked for a Daisy BB Gun with a year’s supply of stainless silver ammo ( for killing werewolves), a full-size Elliot Ness operable Thompson Sub Machine Gun, or an Army surplus Bazooka with real rockets and a long, razor-sharp Bowie knife encased in a fringed leather holster. It was a 1950s boy thing; weapons were what we longed for. How else could we defeat Santa Anna at the Alamo or win World War II, again? Our neighborhood may have sported the best-supplied “kid army” on the planet, and jolly old Santa was our secret arms dealer; parents non-the wiser. I finally got the BB Gun, but Santy was wise enough to not bring the other request.

Walking down the stairs to the store’s basement was the thrill I waited for all year. There, hanging above my head, was the beautiful red and silver tinseled sign, “Toy Land,” kid nirvana, and the Holy Grail all in one room. The smell of burned popcorn and stale chocolate candy wafted up the stairs, and I could hear the cheesy Christmas choir music and the sound the Rocket Train made as it glided along the ceiling-mounted rails. I almost pissed off my jeans.

Hundreds, if not thousands of parents jostled down isles of toys, pushing, grabbing, and snarling like a pack of wild dogs fighting for that last toy; the holiday spirit and common courtesy were alive and well. The queue of kids for the Rocket Train snaked through the basement like a soup line.

There, sitting on his mini-mountain top perch, sat old red-suited Santa Claus and his elfin apprentices, herding kids to his lap at break-neck speed. Each child got about fifteen seconds, a black and white photograph, and then it was off the lap and down the steps. Kids were fast in those days; we memorized and practiced our list weeks before our visit for maximum impact. “Ho-Ho” had better be writing this stuff down. Kids don’t forget, squat.

Two Santa visits, four Rocket Train rides, and three popcorn bags later, our family unit departed Leonard’s for the new and improved “Leonard’s Christmas Tree Land,” located across the street from the main building. Thanks to the demolition of several winos-infested abandoned buildings, the new lot was now the size of Rhode Island and held enough trees for every person and their dog in Texas.

Thousands, if not millions of fresh-cut trees awaited our choosing. Father, always the cheapskate, chose a sensible tree; not too big, not too small, yet full and fluffy with a lovely piney aroma. My sister and I pointed and danced like fools for the “pink flocked” tree in the tent, which cost the equivalent of a week’s salary. My parents enjoyed our cute antics. The sensible tree was secured to the top of our Nash Rambler station wagon, and we are homeward bound.

Pulling into our driveway, it was impossible to miss our neighbor’s extravagant holiday display. We had been away from home for 6 hours and returned to a full-blown holiday extravaganza that made our modest home look like a tobacco road sharecroppers shack.

Our next-door neighbors, Mr. Mister and Mrs. Mister were the neighborhood gossip fodder. The couple moved from Southern California for his job. He, an aircraft-design engineer, and she, a former gopher girl at Paramount Studios. The Misters reeked new-found money and didn’t mind flaunting it. They drove tiny Italian sports cars and hired a guy to mow their lawn. His wife, Mrs. Mister, always had a Pall Mall ciggie in one hand and a frosty cocktail in the other. Father said she looked like a pretty Hollywood lady named Jane Mansfield, but Mother said she resembled a “gimlet-assed dime-store chippy.” I got the impression that the Misters were quite popular in the neighborhood.

Their Christmas display was pure Cecil B. DeMille. A life-size plywood sleigh, with Santa and his reindeer, covered the Mister’s roof, and 20 or more automated Elves and various holiday characters greeted passersby. Twinkling lights covered every bush and plant in the yard, and a large machine spat out thousands of bubbles that floated through the neighborhood. This was far more than Fort Worth was ready for.

The kill shot was their enormous picture window that showcased a ceiling-high blue flocked tree bathed in color-changing lights. There, framed in the glow of their yuletide decor, sat Mr. and Mrs. Mister with their two poodles, Fred and Ginger, perched on their expensive modern sofa, sipping vermouth martinis like Hollywood royalty. This display of pompacious decadence didn’t go unnoticed by my parents.

Father hauled our puny tree into the living room and began unpacking lights for the decorating that would happen tomorrow evening. Mother hurried my sister and me off to bed. Visions of spying Elves, sugar plum pudding, and dangerous weapons danced in my head; Christmas was upon us.

Sometime after 10 PM, Father got hungry. Searching for sandwich fixings in the kitchen, he found a bottle of Jim Beam bourbon. Then he found a fresh half gallon of Egg-Nog, which of course, he enjoyed with the bourbon. While searching for bread to make the ham sandwich, he found two “Lux Laundry Soap Flake” boxes, with a dish towel in each one. Then by chance, he discovered the food coloring. This gave him an idea for our sad little tree.

I awoke with a start. The sun was shining on my face, which meant I was late for school. I ran into the living room and was stopped in my tracks.

Our formally green tree was now flocked in thick pink snow, as were the curtains, the fireplace mantel, two chairs, the coffee table, and my father, who lay on the couch, passed out, with a half-eaten ham sandwich on his chest. My Mother sat a few feet away, sipping her coffee and smoking a Winston; my Louisville slugger lay on her lap. I was reluctant to approach her, but I had to know.

I timidly put my hand on her shoulder and asked, “Mom, is Dad going to be alright?” She took a sip of coffee and a drag from her ciggie and said, “well, for right now, he will be, but after he wakes up, who knows.”

Who You Gonna Call?


When the juvenile name-calling has stopped, and the fossilized Republicans gather in their lyre to consider their candidate, who do they have? Trump or DeSantis? That’s it, kiddies. No one left with enough charisma to hold up to being a candidate. Biden can’t run because of a brain malfunction, and Hillary is so damn evil not even a Democrat would vote for her. So, Mr. Hollywood, Gavin Newsome is their only hope.

Trump’s already declared his intentions with a great speech. Instead, whether we like him or not, DeSantis will most likely issue a statement within a few days.

Trump has the bulldog tenacity and sharpest teeth, but DeSantis has the second coming of the “ghostly Kennedy family” working for him, even though he is a conservative. It’s damn right scary. The only thing missing is the compound at Hyannisport and loading up the Mafia with cash.

McConnell is a disgrace, and McCarthy is likely to bumble-dumble all he attempts, even though he has a very nice haircut. Let us hope he has the balls to have Pelosi removed from the building by the Capitol Police. She deserves no better.

I’m going to Half Price Books and Barnes and Noble and load up. At least reading good books will keep my mind off of this clown show.

“Remember The Good old Days?”


Now I’m sounding like my grandfather ” remember the good ole day’s” for whatever point he was trying to make. Now I am him.

Remember the good old days when people actually took the time to set before a keyboard and answer your emails instead of using one word or a stupid little picture of a beer or a heart or some other useless bullshit like that.

I send a lengthy email to a few friends of mine. Nothing that was a novella or a short story, just some questions, and recollections. What did I receive, ” an emoji and “sent on my iPhone” I almost had a stroke. I spent thirty minutes composing an easily readable, edited, and entertaining email, and I get a thumbs-up crap from a smart-ass phone.

No more; I will send one word or a cute little picture and let them figure it out.

When Artist Interpretation Takes Over Real Life Events


Odd, yet typical, our sacred F.B.I., now fodder for the news sites, escorted one of their own out of their Washington Headquarters. The poor man is knee-deep in the cover-up of the Hunter laptop and thinks that by resigning, he will be above prosecution. He may be, but the agency and the D.O.J. are so marginalized they have to start leading people to the gallows, and he is a good one to begin the scheduled executions.

That darling little black, Lesbian, immigrant moron press reader, spouting from her prepared book of B.S., says Americans that support Trump, Christianity, Conservatism, or common sense, are Facisest? So the leftist has a new ” call to arms” just before the mid-term elections. ” Fires and Facisist and Riots. Oh My!” I doubt president Poopy-Pants remembers saying the same thing a few days ago. It’s her job to remind us.

A crazed, shaved head, hoodie-wearing mentally-addled radical is leading Dr. Oz in the polls? How can this be? Oz, a highly educated physician, and a conservative man, is the clear choice of reasonable voters, yet this freak of nature is likely to win. He is almost as bad as Biden in putting together two sentences that make sense.

Have we heard enough about J-Lo and her new husband Affleck yet? They are stealing the spotlight from the Kardashians. So look for an uptick in subversive sluttish behavior from the “Clan of Kardashian soon.” Young women all over the country are having withdrawal symptoms.

N.A.S.A. spends billions on a one-time use rocket, precisely as we did in 1968, to send an orbiter around the moon. I assume to see if it’s safe to land there again. The Aliens that the rock group “The Byrds” warned us of many decades ago actually told us not to come back. More than a few astronauts have attested to this confrontation at a campfire, along with some Vodka-laced Tang. The problem is that we must file the paperwork and close on the property before the Chinese beat us to the title company. The C.C.P. has a few robotic surveyors staking and subdividing the property. So why are Space X and its better quality reusable rockets not being used? N.A.S.A. has good friends in congress, and to Washington, Elon Musk is the most intelligent and dangerous man on the planet; what’s a few trillion here and a few more there? Soon, we’re talking “real money.”

The Mullet Man Is Back


Mooch

I was shopping in H.E.B. grocery a few days back and ran into my old pal, Mooch. I was cruising over to the wine department via the frozen pizza aisle, Mooch’s favorite cuisine. There he was, pushing a basket full of Paul Newmans and Red Barron pies. The other half of the basket was full of Mountain Dew, Little Debbie snacks, and the family-size container of Metamucil.

I didn’t recognize him right off, the face seemed the same, the overalls, the black tee-shirt, and the white Rockports, but something was severely amiss. Then it hit me; Mooch had a mullet haircut. He looked like the grandfather of Joe Dirt. Where did all of this hair come from? Mooch has the condition that most men his age suffer from; thinning to no hair. I gotta admit, he looked pretty darn redneck, but in a cool way. His hair on top and the sides was stylish and curly, but the back flowed past his shoulders, giving a little flippy doo thing at the end. He looked like a shampoo ad.

” How ya like the haircut buddy” was the first thing out of his mouth. The only thing I could reply was ” you look like Joe Dirt, in that movie about the moron that drives a Dodge Hemi.”

” Yep, that’s me, little buddy,” he says. “Got a 1970 Charger out there in the parking lot. The bitch has a full-blown 440 Hemi, positive traction rear end, cheater slicks, Goodyear Red line tires, glass-pack mufflers, and a Hurst four speed stick shift with a skull shift knob; got a big box of 8-track tapes sitting in the back seat for tuneage. I got her up to 140 mph yesterday on the Chisolm Parkway over in Fort Worth. A fuzz tried to catch me but gave up.”

I wished him luck in his new lifestyle and continued on with my shopping. He exited the store in front of me and I watched him as he loaded his booty into the trunk of his bright red Dodge Hemi. As he bent over, his mullet wig fell off. He put it back on and burned rubber as he exited the parking lot.

The good old 70s. I don’t miss them as I got into my 2008 Honda CRV.

A Monday Morning Rant From The Cactus Patch


Elon Musk admits to being on the high side of Autism. He also sees world situations in a way that 99 percent of us do not. So how is it that he is the wealthiest person on the planet? Not by accident or insider trading.

Yesterday, he remarked that the moronic Brittney Griner should serve her time in a Russian prison. She is known and praised as an American-hating, pot-smoking lesbian that makes millions playing basketball in Russia and owns a home on the outskirts of Moscow. She got her ass in a big crack, and now she wants Biden’s cavalry to ride in and whisk her home. Musk is right about one thing, if Biden makes the trade for some Russian criminal arms dealer to get her home, then every American locked up for the exact crime she committed should be released, and their charges dropped.

The likes of Fox News are hyping that the final and complete report on Hunter Biden’s salacious life as a traitor, drug abuser, con man, and pervert is due any minute. The blonde news girls, the ones with the dark stripe down the middle of their hairline, are standing by to give us the skinny on the corrupt first family. There will be nothing there. He will not be incriminated for fear that his father was knee-deep in the same muck his perv son was. The public will exhale and go on about their daily lives, just like we did in the 1950s when Rock Hudsons wedding pictures were plastered all over Hollywood news stands. Good ole Rock, what a man’s man he was; at least Doris Day thought so.

Governor Abbott’s Texas Express is dropping off illegals in New York faster than a shuttle bus at a Yankee’s game. The poor imbecilic mayor is begging Washington for intervention. “Send in the National Guard or the Marines,” we need help and some more Biden cash. Our homeless people have to share their cardboard boxes with these people from South Texas. The local criminals and BLM are up in arms because now the illegals are getting the free shit they’ve been getting. ” This ain’t fair, man, now we gotta start robbing more convenience stores, and I need a new iPhone and another Glock,” said one hoodlum to CBS news. he snatched the news girl’s purse and took off.

Chris Pratt, our favorite Velociraptor trainer, and T Rex killer, told Hollywood to buzz off regarding his new movie. He likes shooting large guns, killing terrorists and commies, and exposing the white underbelly of the CIA. Pratt has made a lot of dough from the Dino’s. It’s called “screw you” money. JK Rowling is another controversial and wealthier person than Pratt that has told the trans community to buzz off. But she has more money than Bubba Gump, so she uses more expletives. All that cash for writing children’s books, back when kids actually read real books printed on paper. She got in on the deal early on.

Now that the dorky Pete Davidson has escaped from Kim Kardashian, could he arrange for her and the entire Kardashian strain to be kidnapped and held on a hidden island for at least 30 years, so we don’t have to read about them or see their faces on television every day of our lives? He would be doing humanity a favor. He should probably include her ex-drug-dealing husband to join them in exile. With all this hoop-la about banning Pit Bulls, I say let’s start with the Kardashians.

Didn’t you love Nancy Pelosi’s little girlhood ditty about digging holes in beach sand to reach China? She was in Japan, a country so close to China that it could also be reached by a deep hole in the sand. The Japanese officials looked puzzled, if not offended, as she made another one of her flying hands word salad gibberish speeches. This is the “thing” that would become president if Biden bites it. Keep that in mind when you wish he would stay in his basement in Deleware watching Jill make her wardrobe out of curtain material from the local Walmart and helping Hunter design artistically beautiful crack pipes for distribution in the wokie cities. But, the obvious may not be the best solution.

So Ellen’s old squeeze, Ann Heche, drives around Los Angeles with a bottle of vodka in her cup holder, a bottle of Ripple in her lap, and crashes into a local citizen’s home, destroying the poor lady’s house and her meager belongings. Poor Ann is toasted up a bit and was most likely drunk as a wino on skid row. But she can’t seem to let that “Ellen” thing go. The old gunslinger, Alec Baldwin, is praising Ann for her courage when he should be organizing his buds to rebuild the poor lady’s burned-out home. A 12.5 earthquake in LA would be nice; any time now.

Mitch and his boys better get their country club asses in full war mode. The cheating for the mid-terms is in full swing. If the Repubs had run stronger candidates in Georgia, this entire collapse of Western civilization would not be happening. Someone slip this incompetent fossil a mickey in his scotch.

I probably have said too much and offended half the world, but it’s my blog, it’s Monday, it’s hot in Texas, and I am old and pissed off most of the time.

A Friday Rant From The Cactus Patch That is Visiting in Colorado for a few days !


Well oil my musket, wipe my ass and call me Davey Crockett. Things in the Cactus Patch are so off-kilter I can’t walk straight without a good shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Now the whales are pissed off and jumping onto boats. The boat was owned by a Democrat Greenpeace Pot Smoking Transgendered Fishing Captain attempting to coax a throng of weekend mariners to join his cause. The whale was obviously a conservative and was enraged by the rainbow flag flown aftward and the “Little Mermaid” sticker on the hull. Let’s hope the Great White Sharks off Lon-gilend don’t catch on.

If Martha Stewert went to prison for insider trading, why isn’t Pelosi, her husband, and most of the congress receiving the same treatment? The only reason she is still alive is that she has enough money to buy black market spare organs to keep her going. If she farted, her face would explode.

Merrick Garland is going to prosecute Trump? WTF? How about he starts with Hunter Biden, his wife, his father, his hookers, and then all the Antifa and BLM trash that ruined Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and other smaller cities? Garland is a worthless human unit that uses Dippity Do on his hair and hasn’t had a good bowel movement in years.

Biden releases another 20 million barrels of oil from our national reserve. Who is he selling it to this time? He will try and take a victory lap, but will likely be held up by Jill and the Secret Service. The corpse doesn’t know what planet he is on. This is the result of putting an old man that has shit for brains in office. Although Scarlett O’Hara wore her dress made from her curtains better than Jill does.

Biden’s machine is in full swing. The cute little Barbie black lesbian is now a historian. She and her lemmings now tout that he is the new Winston Churchill. At 79 years old, Mr. Churchhill knew his time was up. Health and mental issues had rendered him a shell of the ferocious lion-hearted warrior he was in the 1940s. Biden is only an 80-year-old feeble man with a small quadrant of his brain that occasionally functions. Don’t insult the world by comparing Biden to Churchill. It’s sacrilege.

When Larry McMurtry Had Texas In His Back Pocket


Over the past few years, I’ve harbored two “bucket-list” items to fulfill before I reach room temperature. One was to visit Marfa, Texas, the self-proclaimed and pompous art nouveau hub of Texas and the holy ground where the movie “Giant” was filmed. I envisioned a hip desert town with fine food, good booze, and every inhabitant wearing Justin boots. I got a dusty, dirty, ugly little town with two nice hotels and no decent food.

My Marfa bubble was busted within thirty minutes of entering the town. I would have suffered a breakdown or a medical event, but my wife held me together until we made it back to Alpine, packed our gear, and headed back to Granbury.

The second and most anticipated bucket item was a visit to Archer City, Texas, the hometown of our revered Texas Nobel Laureate, Larry McMurtry. The small town boy knocked William Travis and Stephen F. Austin of the “favorite son” list.

Mo and I were headed to Colorado Springs to visit her daughter and family, so stopping in Archer City to visit McMurtry’s hallowed book store ” Booked Up” would make the trip an event to remember. This bubble was more significant than the one I had for Marfa. If not for Hemingway and Steinbeck, there would have been no McMurtry. If not for McMurtry, there would not be other great writers that learned from him.

The website said the store is open for business. It wasn’t and had not been for a while. I peeked through the dusty glass front door, and some autographed books were displayed on a table, where they once had been for sale. I was about as hang-dog as a man can get.

A fellow pushing his garbage bin to the street was helpful and filled us in on the particulars. It’s a good yarn but could also be a steaming pile. Small towns run on gossip, rumors, and legends.

The old man leaned on his trash bin, got close to the window where my wife sat, and let her rip.

When McMurtry passed on, he left his two town bookstores, his typewriter, and 30,000 rare books to the lady that ran them for years; Khristal Collins. His wife Norma Fay and his writing partner Diana Ossana got the cash. His estate hired a hot-shot New York book bow-tie-wearing appraiser to give the books a value. It seems the fellow opened a few books and some stock certificates fell out, then some more books and more certificates hit the floor. Now, he had to go through every book in both stores. It may take years. Let’s hope his wife checked their mattress.

In the literary world, the man is not a mere mortal, except that he did pass away at home a while back, so I was disappointed that a writer of his Homeric wizardry could actually expire.

I can imagine Larry sitting on his front veranda in the late afternoon, enjoying a good glass of scotch while contemplating his next book about the fictitious town of Thalia, Texas, and he fades with the setting sun.

When and If the Booked Up store re-opens, I will make the trip back to Archer City. I’m still hoping to meet Sonny, Duane, and Jacy.

Larry McMurtry Made Me Crazy


This coming Wednesday, July 27th, my wife and I are driving to Colorado Springs to visit her daughter and family. New transplants from Fort Worth, Texas to the liberal and hip state of legal pot and “mile-high-hipsters.” We are making a bucket list stop along the way to the small Texas town of Archer City.

My wife Mo, is accomodating, but she thinks the head injury I suffered two years ago has effected my mental priorities. “What the hell is an Archer City?” she asked. I can’t explain without choking up. How can a writer explain the reverance of visiting the holy grail of litature. I get so excited, I piss my pants a bit, but that’s because I am 73 years old and cancer did a whammy on me.

For the illiterate non-book readers who are followers of my blog, Archer City is the hometown, and for 70 years, the home to one of the greatest authors in American literature; Larry McMurtry.

Born, raised, and recently died there, he is the fair-haired favorite son that put this one red-light town on the map. A true son of Texas that accepted his many awards in jeans and Justin boots. He may have lived in New York City for a spell, but he got back to Texas as soon as he could. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Lonesome Dove” in 1986. A good ole boy from hicksville Texas writing about the famous cattle drive inspired by Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, both legendary and larger than life figures in the old west; bet it pissed those Swedes off but good.

Like many great novelist, he was an educater at North Texas State and Rice University; but I don’t hold that against him. He wrote on a portable typewriter and didn’t own a computer or a cell phone. He could play the rube with the toothpick in his teeth then write an essay that would bring tears to a grown mans eye. He also kept a rebelious streak in his back pocket as he was one of the Merry Pranksters along with Ken Kesey and his Acid Test for a few days when the circus stopped at his home in Houston. He said the LSD made him a tad anxious and preferred whiskey. For reasons unknown, in his last years, he married Ken Keseys widow and moved her to Archer City.

One of his novels, “The Last Picture Show” was a Peter Bogdonovich movie that raised a public ruckus in 1971 for the nudity and taboo liason between a high school football player an the coaches wife. A young Cybil Shepard even showed her little titties in a swimming pool scene. Good Lord.

The cast of characters in his books was drawn from the townspeople he grew up with and even with the slightest of name changes, they were easily recognized and plenty pissed until the movie and books put their one horse town on the tourist map. The movie was shot in black and white and filmed in a ramshackle Archer City which took on the 1950 look and name of “Thalia, Texas.”

As in many of his books, the places folks spent their time was at the Pool Hall, The Kwik Shack, The Movie Theater and the Dairy Queen. I plan to visit his book store, “Booked Up,” and of course have a burger and a shake at the famous Dairy Queen. One more thing striked off my bucket list. Who knows; I might see Jacy and Duane eating a chicken fried.

In Search Of My Family History; Didn’t My Mother Own A Pen and A Sheet Of Paper?


Left foreground: Terry The Terrier, Uncle Jack, My Grandmother, My Grandfather, and my Aunt Norma

I am dismayed that the numerous members of my father and mother’s families didn’t have the foresight to record their family history for future generations. So there we were, a passel of kids that would grow up to have our own passel of children, but not a paragraph or a sentence was penned for historical value. For all we knew, the entire gang of us were adopted from the Masonic Home.

A note in an old bible or a scribble on the back of an old picture. Who is the old farm wife holding a baby goat in front of a ramshackle barn in 1935? She may as well have been Ma Joad.

Ancestry has been no help, I know where my father’s family came from; England, Ireland, and Scotland; via ships with vast yards of sails, they made landfall in New York, kissed the Statue of Liberty, and then on to Pennsylvania, and points west these were men and women of Celtic origin, who could handle a sword and drank Jameson Irish Whiskey instead of water. They were the refugees of the potato famine and the Catholic-Protestant conflict that still rages today.

My mother’s family is vague, shrouded in indigenous Indian mythical mystery. Relatives who grew up on the Cherokee Indian Reservations, also known as The Indian Nation in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

These folks lived in Buffalo skin teepees and log cabins and hunted for their food, and there are rumors they killed more than a few white settlers. My grandmother had a large mass of human hair she claimed was a scalp her father took during a raiding party; she would bring it out at Christmas to add drama to the children’s holiday.

From what I’ve been told, my great-grandmother had a serious “thang” with the violent but educated Cherokee Chief Quannah Parker, and that “thang” is still a family mystery. Still, my grandmother looked like him, so the family story calls us relations. There may have been more than holding hands in the moonlight on the banks of the Canadian River.

Belle Starr, the infamous outlaw gal, is another relation on my mother’s side. My grandmother said she never intentionally shot anyone but did shoot her husband’s pinky toe off when he wouldn’t help dry the supper dishes Dime Novels made a fortune off of her antics.

Belle was a larger-than-life fixture residing in the old Fort Worth district known as “Hell’s Half Acre.” Butch, Sundance, and Etta Place were her drinking partners, and it’s rumored that she could out-shoot Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill, who also had a “thang” for Belle. The famous quick draw Sherriff Jim Coulter was puppy-love sick for her, but he knew she could likely out-draw him, so he loved her from afar.

A famous uncle also worked as a US Marshall out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and rode with the legendary black marshall, Bass Reeves. Bass handled a Colt 44 as gracefully as a forkful of steak and taters. Unfortunately, he had to replace the handles on his pistols twice after he ran out of room for the notches related to the count of bandits he had plugged. The uncle in question was likely the model for the character July Johnson in Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Lonesome Dove.” I’m waiting for confirmation that I may be related to Will Rogers, Sasquatch, Blue Duck, and Amelia Earhart.

I was a teenager when I heard one of the better stories from within the family. My mother’s brother’s wife shot and “more than killed” their only daughter’s mean-spirited husband during an “Old Crow” inspired confrontation of which there were many. The old gal shot her son-in-law three times in the chest with a 38 Police Special and then once more in the head, just to assure he wouldn’t get up. She got off in self-defense. However, the thoroughly dead fellow was unarmed and stupid drunk.

The famous weapon hung on the wall in a framed case, still loaded with the two remaining bullets. Family badges of honor come in all forms.

For me, time is of the essence because it’s running out. I hope to complete some form of family history for my grandchildren by Christmas. It may not be pretty, but it will be a good read.

%d bloggers like this: