Music: Young At Heart
Performed by: Frank Sinatra

Page updated: : March 20, 2010

The "Headquarters" ranch house...

Dad and Mother built it themselves from native stone.

How vividly I remember awakening to
the tantalizing aromas of morning coffee
as it brewed on the wood cookstove on a front burner -
consisting of a heavy iron disk covering open flames inside,
in front of the day's pot of red frijole or pinto beans
with onions, garlic, peppers, and bacon!
I loved to sample the beans from time to time,
not caring that they were still al dente!

In the evening, kerosine lanterns and lamps
were lit for a short while as we finished our day,
and prepared for retiring. . .

My good fortune was to sleep on that screened porch
in the summertime, which was when I usually was there,
once I was enrolled school in Del Rio.

The ever-present, pleasant breeze,
fragrant with the spicy scents of semi-arid plants,
brushed and lulled me to sleep,
and the bright clear sun rising in the east
greeted my mornings.

Entertainment was mostly do-it-yourself.
There were no neighborbood kids to play with.
I had a tiny tinny toy piano - not exactly a Steinway!

But I loved it.

We had a manual wind-up Victrola and lots of
" thick 78-rpm records,
featuring scratchy 1920s music
and quaint story-tellers.
Favorite music was from Sigmund Romberg operettas
and a favorite story was "The Raggedy Man".

Other buildings and improvements were built -
barn, good corrals, bunk house, chicken coop,
the "necessary room" - (ie: the outhouse!)
Ours, with a view of distant mountains in Mexico!

The house itself was eventually expanded and updated.
Indoor plumbing was added, and, finally -
rural electricity arrived.
Sometimes there was even a garden, mostly onions and peppers -
with grass and trees added to the yard!

It would be many years before a telephone was available,
and it would be extremely expensive to bring wiring to the place.
This house is literally "at the end of the road" from the southwest!
A major deep canyon beyond it to the east and curving around it,
and with other canyons, a road is prevented from going through!

But we were innovative before indoor plumbing...
My brother devised this . . .

. . . cold-water shower!
A wonderful improvement over a washtub
in the middle of the kitchen floor!
Water is precious, of course - but it is wonderful water.

As mentioned, Dad drilled all the water wells
in the area...deep wells, hundreds of feet deep.
Windmills brought the water from those depths
to be stored for use in surface tanks and troughs.

The headquarters tank...

...built of the same thick stone as the house.
This picture was 1962...
Mother at age 70, with my brother's wife, my neice
and my brother sitting on the side of the tank.

Beloved Willow Water Hole...

...rare surface water in this country!

Dad in Lubbock...

where he sometimes conducted business.

Sheep were rounded up... be shorn, to be fattened or administered medicine,
or to take to market.

Twice a year, the shearing took place.
Shearing crews traveled from ranch to ranch
and ranch folks came along to assist in round-up.
The dinner table would be crowded with people
and the children would, at last, have playmates
for a short time.

But it was often my chore to get down
into each large burlap bag
suspended from a wooden frame
while newly-shorn wool was tossed into it.
The duty was to stomp the wool down firmly
into every corner and crevice of the bag.

It was a hot, grimey job.
Range-roaming sheep were far from snow-white.
There were bits of various vegetation in the wool,
including thorns - but it was also full of lanolin.
While smelly, it was also soothing to my skin,
even if a bath would wash it off, following the work!

But during the school year,
I seldom went to the ranch.
There was a different ambience in town,
though it was an agricultural hub.

I just loved school, the presence of people
and the bustle of town activities!

Here is a favorite Del Rio playmate...

Barbara, who two years younger,
something unusual for me.
Starting school early, I was usually the youngest.
Her family were close neighbors and friends.
In fact, her brother was my first crush
and a life-long friend.
The family were ranching people, too.
And her Dad was a handsome Texas Ranger!

Mother stayed involved in community activities
and, as always, - continued her art involvement.

She studied with one of the great artists of our time,
Frank Reaugh.

He sponsored learning/painting-excursions for his students,
which Mother joined on several occasions.
Camping gear and art supplies were packed;
the students and Mr. Reaugh then headed out
into the wildernesses of Texas in an old Model "A" touring car<
which he called "Cicada".
They painted only "live" scenery,
perched on folding stools with a Reaugh
folding easle on their laps,
propped up on a single supporting leg.
Specially made Reaugh pastels, milled hard into
colors of the countryside, were used for sketching.

A couple of Mother's sketches
from one of those early trips. . .

She went on several of these junkets
and sketched many wonderful pictures,
both during the trips and every day of her life.!
I greatly treasure the original letters written to her
by Mr. Reaugh, concerning plans for those excursions.

Many things transpired over the years...
My siblings left home - first, off to college.
After graduation, my brother served in the Army Artillery
in the Phillipines during WWII.
My sisters also graduated & began careers & families.

I continued to grow up...& went off to school.
My parents gracefully were becoming older,
& continued to lead active lives.


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