River Mouse

Abandoned Boat

In 1992, one of my boys and I were out at the place at Hulldale taking pictures and we found several old boats in the barn. He told me I should restore one. One look and I knew I didn’t want to get into such a big project. He persuaded me, he told me how much fun it would be for my tiny granddaughter at the river. Oh my goodness, what a mess~ there were, gaping holes and gashes and they were buried in dirt and silt. I was dragging my feet but finally decided I would try, I picked the best one of the bunch. I had to learn to fiberglass, make the electrical harness, find all the hardware, bumpers, rails, make the seat cover, make a template for a windshield, and I found a place in San Angelo to rebuild the electric motor. Nine months later, the deed was done. The RIVER MOUSE was born.     This was the hardest and most wonderful project ever.

ZZ driving the boat


Stacy and Dan at Shady Lane

Stacy Mae, Schatzie Kay and Dan going for a spin at Shady Lane

ZZ and her granddad

Granddad and ZZ, making plans

Ready to roll

I bought an old wielding trailer and restored it to use to haul the boat

ZZ loving the flag

the flag was the final touch, it flew proudly any time the River Mouse sailed, there is a light at the top of the flagstaff.

Camp Rock Fun


Suzy floating in the river with the boys

Today I have one of my favorite pictures. It was taken on  the Concho River north of Christoval, a place we called Camp Rock. Daddy  and I took our two boys there almost every summer, starting in 1963, the year we bought our little Airstream trailer. The pecan trees made a dense canopy over our side of the river, the bank sloped gradually so it was a good place for the kids to  swim, Roland had a nice diving board on the opposite side and everyone was welcome to use it. There was always a tree swing where you could sail off out to the middle of the river. Then there were the rapids, get on a tube and go on  a short and very fast ride that would take  your breath away. We had several dogs through the years. Big Spook was the smart one. He would hide  behind a tree and watch for the flies to get on his bone,  then go after them. He knew the difference between, bone, bowl and ball and would bring which ever one you sent him for.  Once when we were in the  row boat, we heard him howling and running through the plowed field like he had been hurt. Then we smelled the skunk. In just a few minutes he was in the river, swimming toward us to get in boat, (and shake off). The boys had their friends come up for camp outs. They had a big tent with nice beds, a night stand with a small TV, (they got to see the first landing on the moon). One night, I heard Paul calling, “I think there is a rattle snake in the tent”. I went to look and found a black widow spider under his bed but no snake.  In a few minutes he called  again and I told him there was no snake, to go back to sleep. Then some of the family who was camping nearby said they thought the heard a rattler2. I found it this time under the night stand. We had several encounters with snakes through the years. Almost every afternoon there was a water moccasin that came slithering through the swimming hole. What a wonderful place though, the best summer time fun for two sweet little boys and their dogs. It is always there, waiting for the next family get together. 

Swimming Hole

swimming hole at Camp Rock

This is a painting of the swimming hole at Camp Rock on the beautiful South Concho River. I took artistic license in several areas, the water hole isn’t quite this big  and  the hills in the background are actually the double knobs near Grit in Mason County. I painted this one to hang out on my screened porch, it has been there for almost 40 years with no fading or  weather damage, (the secret in oil painting is to use linseed oil to mix the paint colors and never ever  use turpentine, that is for cleaning brushes). There is something so special about water, I always wondered if people who grew up in a town with a lake or river could appreciate what they had. I almost always  put water in a painting, if not a river, then a puddle in the road or a windmill with a rock tank. I always need to be able to get a cool drink~

Old Fort McKavett Texas

Frankie  is great with her camera, she shares some of her pictures with me. She has some good subject matter too~

Fort McKavett, population 45, is set in a beautiful area of Menard County with the San Saba River running near by and the restored Fort McKavett State Historic Park is within a mile. It served as a post (Buffalo Soldiers) protecting settlers from Apache and Comanche Indians raiders in the 1800′s. It is an interesting place to visit and a hunter’s paradise with all the wildlife, wild turkeys and white tail trophy deer. We used to go fishing under the huge trees at the river and gathered water cress at the low water crossing. Today I am showing pictures my friend Frankie Lively sent of her family enjoying an afternoon at the ‘Fort’, which is a little hamburger joint in town. A great way to spend a few hours seeing the sites. It is pretty part of the country. 

this hamburger/beer joint has been the town’s main business for 60 or 70 years. It has had a reputation for being pretty wild sometimes~ 

Buttermilk Biscuits (Frozen)

This made a nice supper time meal. The biscuits turned out great even though the dough was frozen. It only took 15 minutes to put it together~

My friend Pat and I were talking about biscuits this week and were wondering how it would work if you made up a recipe of buttermilk biscuits and froze them to cook later. There are times when I would like just one or two, but not a whole batch. Neither of us liked the ones in the dairy case, those leave a ugly aftertaste, and we liked the frozen ones they sell in the frozen foods section but those are pretty pricey. So I made a recipe of my buttermilk biscuits and froze them (without cooking them first), and the next day took a couple of them out and baked them and listen~ they were good. Better than anything you could buy. They have a crunchy crust and are tender inside, just slightly different from the regular ones I make, but especially delicious. I had them last night for supper with two of Anna’s fresh eggs from Chickie Town~ what a nice meal.

Buttermilk Biscuits  (frozen)
2 c flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 heaping T. Crisco
1 c buttermilk
mix dry ingredients well, add Crisco and cut in
with pastry blender or two knives, add buttermilk
and stir only to mix, a spoon-full more if too dry. 
Roll out on floured board and cut with biscuit cutter.

Nice thing is you don’t have to mess up the kitchen but once, and you have biscuits for several meals~

Place on cookie sheet and put in freezer until frozen
hard, pop off of cookie sheet and put in gal. bag, then back
into the freezer.
To bake, take out how many you need and place on
baking pan that has been sprayed with Pam.
Don’t need to thaw before baking~
I cooked mine in 450 degree toaster oven for 15 minutes.

Barbecue Chicken

I bake my chicken inside, then smoke it after it is done. I don’t have enough control over the outside cooking thing~

If you are cooking for company, an easy meal is Barbecue Chicken. I buy the 10 lb. bags of chicken hind-quarters, the best buy in the market. It cost anywhere from $3.90 to $6.90 for the whole thing. What other meat offers you so much for the money~I use hind-quarters for my tamales, pasta dishes, dumplings etc. and they are my favorite pieces to fry. This is where I get my chicken broth, when I boil chicken.  (breast meat is good for some dishes, but tends to be dry and tough) This barbecue dinner is simple and easy. I serve it with rice, a vegetable and salad.

                Barbecue Chicken
10 lb. bag of chicken hind-quarters
Hunts Hickory Barbecue Sauce
Wash hind-quarters, one for each person and lay as many as you need on a large baking pan, skin side up. Sprinkle with a little garlic powder and salt. (no barbecue sauce yet!) Bake in oven set at 350 degrees for about an hour, check to see when it is done. The top will start to turn golden. While it is baking you can start a fire outside in the barbecue pit. It doesn’t need to be a big one, I use a few sticks of oak or mesquite wood, it isn’t going to be a cooking fire, it is going to be for smoking  with no flames, just embers.  Now brush the barbecue sauce on the chicken  lay it on the grate, close the lid and leave it for about 15 minutes. When the juice drips down on the coals, it will smoke it up good. Watch to be sure it doesn’t flame up and burn the meat.
Also while you are baking the chicken in the oven, you can make the rice.
2 c rice
1/3  c canola oil
1/4 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c cooking wine 
Put rice in large pan with corn oil, celery seeds and salt and stir as you cook until it turns golden. Then add the chicken broth and wine, stir well, put the lid on and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until rice is done, or about 20 minutes.

Real People


Greasy Sweatt (left) was a rancher and former Schleicher County Sheriff

Old What’s His Name

I grew up in Eldorado and never thought twice about nicknames. I just knew people by what everyone called them. When someone new came to town, they noticed!  It is odd that there were so many since there were less than 1.500 people living here. There were some strange and humorous ones.

Here are those I remember: Greasy Sweatt and his son Fat, Dog Eye, Pecos Pete, Poochy, Rocky, Still Water, Rooster, Speck, Whiskey, Red, Two Bits, Toot-um-up, Turkey,Cotton,Duck,MeanMan,Cap,Cowboy, Slick, Slim, Shorty. Burro, Mousy, Scooter, Poncho,Pistol Pete, Skeet, Possum, Pitcher, Hap, Whip, Sangie, Pee Wee, Sonny (his sister was Sis), Boots, Beep, Tucker, Nigg, Hump, Buddy, Sambo, Uncle Dink, Skinny, Top,Tip &Tiny,  Ed Meador was “Two Bits” and I like that name. I have no idea where he got it.

Painting of Pablo

Pablo was sitting in the market in Guanajuato but when I painted him, I put him on his farm

this was the picture Dan took of Pablo, not too clear but good enough to paint

Pablo was sitting in the market in Guanajuato  Mexico when Dan took his picture. They spent quite a while visiting, he said his family farmed  some land and he came to town on Saturdays to watch the people. He had several brothers and one was in prison because of “trouble”. When we came back home, I painted his picture and instead of having him in the market, I put him out on his farm since he was proud to be from the country. I like painting people, I am not a portrait painter, but faces are fun to do. These don’t have be exactly like the person,  just a face,  and I like remembering their story. Everyone has a story, all they need is someone who will listen. That was Dan~

Home Sweet Home in Texas

two bedrooms, kitchen, living room and bath, this house is now 77 years old and the man who bought it has been restoring it. It is a block from the school.

In 1935, when I was two years old, my mother and daddy and older sister moved to Eldorado. It was soon after the Great Depression. Somehow Daddy put enough money together, with the help of my granddad, to build house, it had four rooms and a bath. It cost $1,600, (I have a coffee table that cost that much).

It was cold in the winter, no insulation in the walls, no air conditioning. The back yard was for a cow, chickens and a garden. We had a cave that was about 2 feet deep. Daddy had a job at the Cooper Gas Plant east of town.

we lived across from Grandmother and Granddad Christian, that was the best part of growing up. About a year after this picture was made, Nancy was born.

This was a good time for two little girls, a new house, Daddy earning enough money to keep things going, Mother was an artist and taught painting. She also canned our food, even things like tamales and fruit cake. She made all our clothes and was good at everything she did. She played the piano at the Presbyterian Church for several years and was blessed with many gifts and talents. 

I started school in 1939, the teachers were very old and cranky. When WW 11 started there was rationing on sugar, gasoline, candy, black pepper to name a few things. (even elastic and rubber). Each family was given rationing stamps and was allowed only small amounts of necessary   things. Mother had one pair of silk stockings that lasted during the whole war. Woolworth Store in San Angelo had a counter up front where workers repaired runs in stockings. (Women could also buy brown lotion to color their legs and then paint a ‘seam’ down the back, these were pretend stockings) 
I could drive by myself when I was nine, kids drove the family car if they they had one. The main street downtown was always alive with people. On Saturday, everyone came to town. There was one picture show in the middle of town that showed the same movie two days in a row, mostly scary war pictures and then on Saturday, there was a cowboy movie. Mrs. Davis had a popcorn machine and a quarter paid for popcorn and a movie. There was no restroom and no water fountain. You went down to the Eldo Hotel  if you needed to go.  Kids walked home from the movie in the dark. We never thought about walking at night, it was a little scary crossing the school yard though.
The fast food place was Hamburger Bill’s, the aroma drifted down the street, the hamburgers were good and cost 15 cents. (I might add there were few fat people back then, I can only remember one or two  while we were in school).  There were two drug stores, they smelled like medicine and vanilla ice cream, then several barber shops and they really smelled nice.  There were five grocery stores, two lumber yards, and at least eight filling stations. There was the Woolen Mill, the only one in Texas. J.B. Christian build it. I loved to go in there just for the smell, it had an earthy, lanolin sheepy smell, just wonderful to the senses. It is still stands here today but is only open for tours.

during the war, the mill made army blankets that were sent all over the world for our troops, they were dyed  army green

Another business that has been here forever is the First National Bank. It was started in 1907 and this was the original building. Later the building was turned into a Pool Hall, no women were allowed in there). Now it has been restored and is a beautiful building where receptions and gathering are held.

the old bank is now used for social functions, it is  the prettiest place in Eldorado. The present First National Bank is across the street and spans the block.  (another of Frankie Lively’s pictures).

The finest homes were in Glendale. There were three doctor’s offices, no ambulance, people were loaded in a pickup or the funeral home’s hearse to be taken to San Angelo for an emergency. We had one dentist, Miss Nettie Isaac’s, her equipment ran on a treadle machine that  she peddled while she drilled).
When I was nine, my sisters and I could ride the Oilfield Bus Lines to San Angelo by ourselves and spend the night with Grandmother. We would go shopping downtown at Woolworths and buy books for 25c, false fingernails, nail polish, and kiss proof lipstick, which was about the same as painting your mouth with the nail polish. The dream was going to the Texas Theater, oh what a place! Air conditioning, bathrooms and water fountains.
After the war, things changed fast, prosperity, new cars, refrigerators, air conditioners, good jobs and new oil was discovered. Eldorado was a booming town. There were five car dealerships in town at one time. Soon people started going to San Angelo to do business and buy their stuff.  Slowly, businesses here closed. Television changed the way of life too, people stopped visiting with each other.
I was in the first class graduating in the new high school building in 1951. I could have lived anywhere, after college I moved back and stayed. I love this town~

Rattlesnake Will Davis Road

Snake stories abound in West Texas. We do have snakes! Everyone has a good snake story. The best ones are about rattlesnakes people have encountered. This is my best rattlesnake story~true and authentic~ 

this is like rattler that ‘froze to death’ that day~

 One day when the boys were little and we lived on the farm over on Will Davis Road, we were on our way to town when we saw a big rattle snake in the road. We stopped and I found a rock while Daddy watched to be sure the snake didn’t  get away.  He hit it but only stunned it, it was slithering around and rattling. Then Mr. Belk drove up  in his big butane truck and got out to help. He said he could spray it with butane and it would freeze like a block of ice. He got his big hose off the truck, turned on valve and sprayed. He said, “if you get these snakes froze solid, you can hit them with a stick and they will break into a hundred pieces.” By then, Longino and Goya had driven up.The kids were standing there with me watching.  Well OK, it’s Show Time! Mr. Belk  hit the snake with the nozzle on the hose but nothing happened. “Guess we need another blast!” So this time  he gave it a big thorough sousing until it turned pure white, frozen through and through, solid as a rock. He hit it with the nozzle again~ and again~ and it didn’t break into a hundred pieces, or even two pieces. “Well doggies”. Then he decided to just set it on fire instead. He stuck a match and WHOOP! The barrow ditch was on fire in both directions, all the way to T.P.’s gate and back nearly to town. Goya grabbed little Paul up and ran down the road, Dan was running neck in neck with her. I was just running. (so much for my theory that a mother will try and save her babies first).  Mr. Belk jumped in his truck and shot off down the road to get it away from the flames,  dragging the dripping hose  behind him.  In a few minutes I heard the fire whistle blowing and the fire truck was there a hurry. Half the town came out  to see what happened. Back then, when there was a fire, everyone showed up. it was like a social event, something to talk about at the drug store for the next week. I always liked Mr. Belk, he was a nice man. I don’t think any of us ever forgot this day. 

Texas Cowboy


Cowboy at Hulldale barn

always nice to hang out around the barn at Hulldale, the only sounds you hear are the birds and the windmill pumping.

The boys posed for me when I was painting a lot of cowboy pictures. PJ and his friend Matt were always good to let me use them as my subjects. There is an old barn on the place at Hulldale, a good background for all kinds of western scenes. Here is one of them holding a Winchester 30-30 rifle, and of course had a pistol in his holster. They did some target practice out there, it is several miles from neighbors so the perfect place. They usually found a rattle snake around the barn so the guns were put to good use. I liked painting the guns, boots, and cowboy hats. I liked to add a little humor to the paintings, this one had wasp nests on the studs. They are a fact of life around barns and out buildings. If disturbed, they can sting the daylights out of you, ‘you gotta run fast’.

Junior Monkey


Port Aransas  Pier

My day to watch Junior Monkey, everyone liked him~

In the summer of 1952, I was in Port Aransas, Texas (on the Gulf of Mexico) with my parents and two sisters. The monkey belonged to Daddy, some friends gave it to him as a prank. Junior was sweet but then he had another side~he could bite! (no one got bit that time though). Everyone was fishing from the pier, Mother and Daddy fished for Tarpon and we fished for supper.That day I was in charge of Junior. I put on an old swim suit and shower cap and spent the day entertaining everyone, Junior could draw a crowd. He was wearing his swimming trunks but he took them off after they got wet, or should I say, he wet them~ Every day he would get in the water with us and  run on the beach trying to beat the waves. He was curious about everything, he picked up every shell he found and worked on it to see if anything was inside.  Several weeks after we came back home, a big brown envelope came in the mail. A photographer from the San Antonio Express newspaper had snapped the picture and they ran it  in their magazine. Someone recognized me and Junior and sent it to us. What a fun time to remember. A few years later, Junior went to live at the Zoo in San Antonio. I will have other stories about Junior later. Don’t get a monkey, get a sweet puppy instead.