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.
The Mittels, down the road always had lots of snakes at their place. They had barns and outbuildings, tall grass outside the fence, just the perfect place for snakes. They would call us to come and look at the big ones. This one was over 4′ long, it was coiled up in the dog house. Snakes are a part of country life in Texas. You are always cautious but don’t walk around being scared all the time. I was leaving camp one day at Christoval and saw a rattle snake on the patio so I shot it with my .22 rifle. I decided to bring it home to show Dan. I raked it into a red gallon ice cream bucket, put it behind the seat and drove home, (it did feel a little creepy). When I got here, I set the bucket on the butcher block in the kitchen and told Dan to go look at what I found. He had a fit! The snake had ‘come to’ and was moving around in the bucket. I had just stunned it so it was not dead after all. Dan killed it and it measured 22″ long. Not big but still dangerous. (Oh Shivers!)
For hundreds of years Indian tribes lived in this area but no one knows what ancient people built the thousands of rock mounds that are found in Schleicher County, Texas. Around them you can find flint, scrapers and arrow heads. The mounds are large piles of rocks, shaped in a circle with an opening on one side. All the rocks are burned. There may be as many as 20 mounds in one small area. Dan started looking in mounds in the 1950’s, the first time I went with him we were in the middle of a small oak grove and he was
We looked until dark and didn’t find anything else except some flint scrapers. I went with him a few more times but soon he was going every day and staying several hours. Then six months later he found the third rock on a mound about half a mile from where I found the first two. He looked for over 30 years after that and only found arrow heads and scrapers. In researching these rocks he learned the designs on the first two marked stones are identical in their engraved detail with two historic archeological engravings, one found in crumbling ruins in ancient India and the other deep in the old Mayan country of Mexico. Someone told Dan about three books by James Churchward written in 1931 that might be of interest to him. One of them, ‘Children Of Mu’ pictured drawings of artifacts that are identical in character to the two rocks I found. Dan sent pictures to Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and Universities of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. No one had a clue (or the money to pursue this). The mounds and the carved stones remain a mystery.