Go back with me, to 1958
Raymond, Clyde, Matty Earle, Vernon, Vera, Nuell . . . these were my aunts and uncles who struggled and somehow made a life, scratched out of the dust of west Texas. I loved them and their names. When I think of them I am filled with nostalgia and the memories of the goodness of their souls. They were tough people and lived in tough towns like Odessa, Levelland, Eastland and the other boom/bust oil towns of the region. They pumped oil, drove trucks, worked cattle, welded gates, waited tables and whatever it took to eat. It is sad they are all gone and sadder still that virtually no kids, even in west Texas are named Clyde these days.
It seems all my aunts sported big blue hair by the time they were 40. But they could cook. Have mercy, I am talking fried chicken, pork chops, red beans, sweet potatoes, buttermilk cornbread and always, sweet tea. They snapped their own green beans and they cut up their own fresh chickens. These were poor people and so eating out wasn’t an option, even with 30 cent hamburgers. So they cooked and while they cooked they would gossip a little and be outraged by the sinning going on in the big cities like Dallas.
Clyde and the boys were rugged men with calloused hands. They knew how to make more out of not much. Bailing wire, electrical tape and treble hooks. . . a country boy can survive. They survived the Texas Division, after all. These were not men who thought much of politics. They lived day to day, by their own hands and expected others to do the same. That doesn’t mean they weren’t generous to others in time of need or crisis. They couldn’t help much with money, but if a hammer, a wrench or a shoulder to lean on would make a difference, they were right there. We see too little of this today and we should be ashamed for it.
These relatives of mine, and most of their friends and neighbors were Christians, mostly Church of Christ and Presbyterian. They were church-goers, bible readers and were literal in their interpretation of the Bible. They had their divorces (not many) and their failings to be sure, but they tried. They thought about the hereafter and those who would live on after them. They believed in handing down the Word, in this case, father to daughter:
Now, 44 years later, I have the Bible, passed from my mother. She decided to give it to me before she was
threw through. I intend to do the same.
It has been said that if you spend long enough in west Texas to wear out a pair of shoes, you will never leave. That is colorful but it is not true. The droughts and oil busts have been running people out of west Texas for 70 years. Right now, much of the area is in a critical drought but enjoying something of a boom due to oil prices and oil recovery technology.
Sadly, the culture is changing in west Texas. Illegal meth labs are a chronic problem. “My baby’s daddy” comes from the lips of a lot of hard scrabble SLUTS and there isn’t even a hint of shame in it. It wasn’t all that long ago that such was very rare. Isn’t it amazing the damage the nanny state government can do? It is damage no election can fix.
We, who have been given so much, have so much to make up for.