Harold Wood, who was in charge of the LBJ Park near Johnson City once sent me an old photograph of a camp cook with his chuck wagon and wanted me use it as a subject for an oil painting. I really enjoyed painting it and it hung in the Library and Conference Room at the park for several years. It reminded me of far West Texas and the Culberson County Ranch. Hunting camps still have camp cooks, usually one of the hunters takes on the job and does it year after year. Sometimes a real cook comes and gets to hunt for free. I can only imagine the men starting out early on a cold morning with a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, boiled coffee and biscuits cooked in an old Dutch oven on the open fire, then heading out for the big hunt. This is where fathers bond with sons, brothers with brothers. This is where friendships are made that last a lifetime.
This is Matt Bumguardner, he was raised on a ranch with three brothers, they lost their mother at a young age, but they had a wonderful daddy who raised them by himself and sent them all through college. They were fine boys, gifted and talented.
We were closely connected to Matt. He knew how to fix things and make things, and didn’t mind hard work. He liked fixing up old cars and pick ups, rebuilding motors getting them running. One day Daddy went to town and was gone for quite a while. I heard the fire whistle blow in town and wondered where the fire was. Then here came a truck down our road, towing Daddy’s completely burned Volkswagen. While he was going down main street the gas line came loose, and with a loud pop the car caught on fire. It looked like a total loss. Sometime later, Matt traded him out of it and completely restored it. When he was finished, it was probably the only Volkswagen anywhere that was painted in Texas A&M University’s maroon and white. Matt lives in Arizona but we were able to visit with him last year at his daddy’s funeral. It was like he had never been away and it has been over 25 years. His kids will like seeing these pictures~
Sunday was Mother’s Day and what a special day! This was my mother Elizabeth Elder, she was a wonderful mother and grandmother. We were best friends for all those years and almost everything I ever learned came from her, creative in every way, but her greatest talent was painting. To watch her paint was an inspiration, she taught art for most of her life. She introduced the world of art to this part of West Texas. There are many people who come into our lives who mean everything to us but there is only one mother, mine was smart, pretty, creative and so much fun to be with. She was special~
The Bingo Singers~this little group has been active for at least 19 years. It started at the nursing home when I was helping with the Bingo games. Willie Johnson was singing one day and I told her I had a guitar and brought it the next time and we were off and running. She knew every song there was, I made copies of the lyrics for everyone and we sang for an hour before Bingo twice a week. We sang everything from old ‘he done her wrong songs to hymns’. Through the years we have had some great singers, some of the guys like Jack , George , Claudie , and Wally to name a few, and volunteers like Jim , James , Mary , Norma Lynn and a group of women who love to sing . We’ve played a few gigs at socials on the court house lawn. A nice comment was, “you don’t mess around tuning guitars or warming up, you just get up and sing“. It has been fun being a part of this sweet nursing home family, some of my best friends ever, it is nice having a good audience~We meet every Friday at 9:00 and sing our hearts out for an hour. Everyone is invited.
Here is an old ranch house I painted in about 1968. It seems like all of these old houses were built from one of two house plans. This one had one front door (sometimes two) and a wing built out in front. (there was usually an add-on shed in the back). Then there was the house with a long porch across the front and two or three front doors. You would wonder which door to knock on. Most of these old places had an out house. The better ones had a pit toilet with a modern looking oak seat and a metal floor. (home for granddaddy long leg spiders.) Others were two and three hollers and a trap door in the back.The yard had a picket fence to keep the stock out. The barn was usually finer than the house and there was almost always a windmill, the sound of the mill turning is something we always remember. There is something cozy about these old houses. A nice place to come home to. When my granddad retired he and my grandmother moved to their farm at Grit. Before they finished fixing up the old house, it was primitive but it did have running water inside. I loved being there, it was wonderful, the kerosene lamps smelled good but they didn’t put out much light. What I missed was a refrigerator, they had an ice box and things were never very cold. Granddad built a big cement tank and we waited all summer for it to fill up so we could go swimming, when it was time for us to come home, there was about nine inches of water in it. I had to save my new blow up water wings for another year.
This is one of those really easy to make dinners. It is great with hot rolls and a fresh fruit salad. For my Sunday company dinner yesterday I served it with Debbie’s green beans and a corn dish, dinner for eight, everyone enjoyed it. ~in the oven when I left for church, ready for the table when I got home~ Always a good anytime meal but makes a special dinner for company too, simply delicious~
This is a picture taken on the rim of the Culberson County Ranch in the Delaware Mountains. You can see for a hundred miles, it is spectucular, something you don’t expect as you are driving around on the top with it’s more flat rolling terrain . When you get to the edge and see all this vast space, it is awesome. On the other side of the rim you have a wonderful view of Guadalope Peak. Some of the larger ranches in this area are many thousands of acres. That is Dan with his walking stick, he was never without it and he needed it here that day for sure. A young friend once said he wished he could own some land out there, Dan told him he only needed a small spot and the view would be his as far as he could see~that view belongs to everyone~
This is a picture of the ranch in the Delaware Mountains in far West Texas. It is 70 miles from Van Horn so is about as remote as it gets. You see Guadalupe Peak in the background, the highest point in Texas at 8,751 ft. It is a magical place, the ranch has been in the family for around a hundred years. One day Dan’s Grandpa Pelt was in the coffee shop at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio when he got to visiting with a man sitting there and they started talking about their ‘white elephants’. Grandpa had property in the Valley near Edinburg and the other man had a large ranch in Culberson County. When they were finished that day, they had made a a trade for each other’s land, sight unseen. Back in those days, deals were struck like this all the time. The ranch has been wonderful for 5 generations to enjoy. It is a favorite family hunting place with big mule deer, antelope, and every kind of wild life. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away, coming up to the rim and seeing for a hundred miles, it was like the Grand Canyon of Texas. Thank you Grandpa, sweet trade~
Billy Graham’s Prayer For Our Nation
WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR COUNTRY!
‘Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable… We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from sin and Set us free. Amen!’
With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we once again can be called ‘One nation under God!’
On Sept. 10, 1994 Paul called me from the river. He said, “we have had a flash flood,everyone is alright but the River Mouse is gone.” I took off for Christoval, Dan was on the porch yelling, you can’t go! I couldn’t believe it, there wasn’t a cloud in sight, all the way up there there was no sign of a storm, not until I was three miles away and I saw all the patrol cars, a helicopter, water in the ditches, water everywhere. I drove in on the East side, down Moore Road as far as I could, then walked in water on up to the river. It was raging. I had my video camera going, (later when I watched the video, I could hear sobbing, I was completely crushed). We looked for the River Mouse for days, all we found was the trunk lid. Paul and Anna had to go back to Albuquerque and the last thing he said was, ” go get another boat and start over”. I did, this one only took 4 months to restore since I had kept all the drawings and plans from the first one. When it was finished, it was exactly like the original River Mouse (except for a small brass plaque on the dashboard~ ‘Please Lord, Bless This Tiny Ship’).
When I was in seventh grade, our teacher gave us a list of names and addresses of kids from other countries who we could have as ‘Pen Pals’. It was right after WW ll and I chose a boy from Germany. He sent me a picture of himself, standing on a rock ledge with beautiful mountains in the background, wearing leather shorts with colorful suspenders. It didn’t hurt one bit that he was fine looking, with blond curley hair and a nice smile. His name was Freider Schmidt, but nicknamed Bio. His father taught at Baden-Baden Württemberg University. I wrote him a letter and sent a picture (not of myself but of the prettiest girl in school). He wrote back and for several years, we corosponded. Mother often sent his family care packages with things like chocolate and coffee, things they didn’t have available at this post war time . She even sent a wool blanked from the Eldorado Woolen Mill here. Bio asked if there was anything he could send me, and since Mother was a china painter, I told him she would like a tea pot or something in undecorated china. A few months later a wooden crate arrived on the train and it was (had been) a complete set of Bavarian china. Every single piece was broken except for a cream pitcher and six dessert plates. I never told him about the disaster, Mother painted the the plates, and trimed the pitcher with pure Roman gold, fired it and it has been my treasure for 66 years. Some of my friends didn’t fair so well with their Pen Pals, but I always remembered my handsome friend and wondered what happened to him. Many years later, I told my children about him and the picture I sent him of that pretty girl who was ‘not me’, and they told me that the picture I had kept of him all those years was probably ‘not him’ either.
This is Debbie Pina, she grew up on the farm where we lived. She was one of the sweetest children I ever knew and simply adored by her grandmother Goya. Her mother was a nurse and her daddy worked for the city, her parents were tragically killed in a bus accident a few years ago while on a tour with a group from the First Baptist Church in Eldorado. Debbie lived with her brother Danny and his family after that. She and Danny were often the subjects in my paintings. A farm is a wonderful place for children, always something interesting going on. There was a storm cellar, tractor, barns, two ponies and a goat. We had a tree house, there was the ‘Peacock Club’ in the garage room, and there was a cave in the pasture. (Even after my boys were in college, their friends, several from other countries, came to spend the weekends and savor the country life). Those are sweet memories