5. The Neighbors

A. Harlan
When you meet Harlan, you think of Alex Karras or Dan Blocker. He's big. And good natured. And when you visit you see that he knows a lot about a lot of things about a lot of things. He'll talk ballistics, twist rates, hunting, crops and range management. Then History and local stories. He still lives next to the branch of the river named for his family. They were here when it was ruled by Mexico. He invited our lease people over to dove hunt, gave us vegetables. For several years he hosted, a July barbecue for all the neighbors. Even the hunters were invited. It was a big gathering, with families and kids. It was abandoned, as we understand it, because of our government's wish to make everybody responsible for the welfare of others and to hold no one responsible for themselves. The liability of having a few hundred guests at your place became too great. That was a shame and a loss to the community.

Harlan had hunters on his place, too. He provided them a house and most of them came from the Houston area. One of the guys pointed out to Ralph and Doug the very ridge where the Edward's Plateau started. Right there on Harlan's place, give or take a hundred miles. They were, in part, a woolly bunch. We'd see them mostly at the Joppa Big Game Dinner in the fall. What our place lacked in girlfriends and intrigue, they made up for. The house burned down when a wife showed up at the wrong time.
More on this later.

B. Ronnie & Claudie... the BBQ and helper. Cow flop
Claudie was the BBQ man. He always had Ronnie to help him. They'd cook for Harlan's annual BBQ. And for the Wild Game Dinner at the community center. And surely for other things. For the Game Dinner they'd set up the big smoker trailer at the lease and cook venison from deer, elk and who knows what else. There were doves, maybe duck or quail or pheasant. The lease always supplier the necessary refreshment for the cooks. I seem to remember that Claudie didn't drink beer. But Ronnie did. Ronnie tended the fire and moved the trays and pans. Claudie was the artist. On one of the trips when the cook trailer was being towed to the lease, the fire box door swung open. It was at the back of the trailer at the bottom and when going through some dip the door got bent up several inches at the side opposite the hinge. That created quite a problem. Ronnie wound the damage when he was going to start the fire. He was worried that not only would the fire box not seal and draw right, but that Claudie would be upset. It's hard for an artist to perform if he's upset and especially if the equipment might let him down. Claudie was upset but too much of a gentleman to let on too much. The door was attached to the back of the heavy steel fire box had half inch hinges. It had taken several hundred pounds of trailer to bend it up and the hunters were wondering if they could get EB's torch or welder and work it over or if they could fabricate a seal or if a vent of some sort could be made to regulate the air of if Claudie could make do with an unregulated fire. Harlan laid down on the ground and studied the problem. The door would swing but when it swung to close the right end was four inches high. He laid on his side and took hold of the door and swung it from open to nearly closed several times and figured. He made a ticking sound by sucking on his teeth at the side of his mouth. He took a good grip and pulled on he top of the door with his left hand and down at the end with his right. He swung it from open to nearly closed and it was better. After a bit more studying and one more bend he swung it closed to a fit as good as when it was made. The rest is history now. Most all hands had a beer to celebrate. Ronnie built the fire. Claudie cooked. And everybody had another of the great, big, Game Dinners at the Community Center. With iced tea.

D. Rick

E. The wheeler dealer.
The new owner of the 800 or so acres east of our lease decided to improve his new place. He built two tanks on the year around branch that came in from the north. One was right across the fence from where the branch came on to our place. The tank was new and the prospects were pretty good that birds might come in to "gravel" as well as to drink. On Opening Day of dove season Ralph and Doug were near the east edge of the property shooting birds as the came over from the the tank. They'd introduced themselves to the new folks earlier in the year and all was cordial. After a while the new neighbor and his young son showed up and came to the fence to visit. After each side having assured the other that it was fine to cross the fence to retrieve any wounded or dead birds the conversation naturally came around to that day's bird prospects. Our guys allowed that although they were getting a few shots there hadn't been many flying for the past hour. The neighbor's son was really excited about getting to shoot and proudly said that although he'd not hunted before this year, he and his dad did pretty well bagging doves the day before. His dad just ignored the boys obvious pride in his shooting and changed the subject. It probably wasn't lack of appreciation for his boy's shooing skills. Most likely it was that the season wasn't open on the day the kid was talking about. Wonder what he said to his kid later. In any case, he didn't stay around our county long. A relative of his that was involved in his place someway, had been tracked down by the government for selling land or investments that were questionable. A lot of folks out around Brady, or Brownwood or the like had a bone to pick with his kin. It did make the local paper. Wonder what he said to his kid later.

F. Radio
Shoots EB's house and brings a cake

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You'll see headings with no story. They haven't been written yet. I'm waiting to talk to the guys that were there.

If you remember any details better than are written, email the edited text to me. If your recollection may not be accurate, join the club. (-CRS-)

Accuracy should be just a bit less important than a good tale.


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