Tag Archives: West Texas

Saving a Life With a Dirty Rag

 Today, I post a family story about my daddy — my first hero.

Daddy was always a manager. Maybe his 6’4” height caused people to automatically look up to him. Maybe his calm demeanor did the trick. I’m not sure, but I know he always became the manager of whatever he did. When we lived in Odessa, Daddy managed the railway express office. After moving to Barstow, he managed a local cotton gin. When my mother died, Daddy went to Oklahoma to manage a crop dusting crew. In my teen years, he managed the Low Farm, a show place farm in Coyanosa, Texas — the last virgin territory in the US with the exception of Alaska. This story focuses on a tragic experience at the cotton gin in Barstow, Texas.

On a hot summer afternoon, a primal shriek resounded throughout the cotton gin followed by screeching machinery being demanded to shut down in mid-process. Daddy ran from his manager’s office at the gin to the loading zone in time to see a worker fall to the floor clutching a bloody stump that ended just above his elbow. Daddy knew immediately that the machinery, designed to separate raw cotton from its stems, leaves and seeds had chewed the worker’s arm through the bone and ground it into the emerging fluff. Continue reading

Filling Auntie’s Purse While Zipping Down Old Highway 80

My cousin, Patty currently struggles with cancer. Family stories seem to cheer her up a bit as well as events she and I shared. This family story is for Patty. I ask that God grant her peace and comfort.  

It was summer 1950 on Old Highway 80 between Pecos and El Paso, Texas. Aunt Maggie instigated this family trip by suggesting, “We need to visit our El Paso relatives.” Darrell and Auntie sat on a bench seat in front. Darrell’s wife Mille, his daughter Patty and I piled into the back.

The road felt smooth and straight until we began to navigate hills and twists in the highway around Van Horn, Texas. Hills gradually grew into craggy desert mountains filled with mesquites, cedars, and brush. An occasional tumble week crossed our path as Darrell continued our drive west. Without air conditioning, hot, dusty air assaulted us through the open car windows. Continue reading

Two West Texas Cowboys and Mother

Today, I want to deviate from my usual writing about literacy, behavior, dyslexia, or politics and share a family story. This story is for my wonderful cousin, Susanne Couch Flowers. 

Cousin JE Couch and Daddy — Two Good Old Cowboys

Even though the highway indicated that only six miles separated Barstow (where we lived before Mother died) and Pecos, it was a long, hot, slow trip. Going to the big city of Pecos to buy groceries was a big deal. Sacks and sacks of groceries to tote back to our rural community.

One afternoon, Daddy and I dropped Mother off at Leader Grocery in Pecos and we drove to Couch Hill. Even though I was disappointed that Susanne and Christy were not at home, I had a terrific time riding their big tricycle down the hill. I’d drag it up and then whiz back down. While I was playing, the two farmers/ranchers stood and talked. Continue reading