Bill Watercolor 11" x 15" NFS
This is my brother's birthday month and I thought I'd surprise him with a painting from his youth. It may be hard to believe the following story and that is why I've included the above photograph.
My brother Bill is BIG. He has big, thick legs. I have large thighs. It’s in our genes. Our mother had sturdy legs and I’ve deducted that all on her family tree may have been blessed with this trait because of a genetic mutation after years of working cotton in the
Well, my brother lives in Midland and plays golf, eats Hershey bars, and walks on those speed type exercise walkers and he’s still has those great sturdy legs and a healthy countenance. There was time though that he wasn’t so healthy. In fact, a lot of people in De Leon and Duster didn’t think he’d make it past 5 years old. De
It was a given that with a name like Duster, there is not going to be found a very shady spot, just maybe a few mesquite trees. Our neighbor across the road had a large lilac bush and Daddy would plant the poisonous castor bean plant, a quick grower and it would give a lush look during the hot summers with little watering. This annual especially liked the ice house with the cool drips of water. Think a Clint Eastwood movie – deserted dusty town but instead of grizzled villains just dusty farm folk. The action would center on a domino table outside under the service roof in the summer or in the winter around a pot bellied wood stove with buckets of sand for spitting or putting out cigar butts. A convenient stop to catch up on the latest gossip, buy feed, dip, chew, smoke or spit in peace and maybe a domino game on the side before heading back to their sandy peanut fields. The farmers could yell, slap their legs, laugh and make noise, or “carry on” as my Mom would refer to it. My little brother learned to walk and talk in this environment and his love of Hershey bars began to be nourished. He is five years younger and it fell to my lot in life to “watch Billy” when Mother was helping run the store. It was always a mystery to me just why all the watching and how much trouble could a boy get in packing a silver gun in a leather holster. Mother devised a workable plan to deal with her two whiny kids surrounded with glass cases of candy and an ice box of cold drinks. We were allowed to spend 10 cents each day giving us one cold drink and one candy bar of our choice of kind, when and where. We could have it any time during the day but once spent we could not ask for another that day and we understood that come morning this process would repeat. One look at her square jawed countenance and you dare not whine for more. (Because she did not add that we had to brush after these treats we both have mouths full of silver fillings and/or some bad teeth genes.)
Like mother goslings imprinting their babies, these farmers began to imprint Bill and he threw down the Hershey bar and picked up their old cigar butts from the ash tub or one from the concrete floor. Bill couldn’t grasp the mental game of dominoes but chose to follow their habit of the smokes. To keep him from picking up old smelly, used stogies, Daddy decided he’d give him a fresh cigar, make him sick enough and then forever after, Bill would be free of the desire. Since Bill was too young to play with matches, Daddy would get the cigar ready for smoking but it seems cigars and my brother just made a good match. My Daddy said you couldn’t break a suck-egg dog but felt like this would work for a preschool habit and get him back on his chocolate bars. Bill didn’t get sick and loved the tobacco flavor over chocolate and preferred a good cigar to a Mr. Goodbar and a Coke. I don’t remember my Mother being against this decision. Daddy left most of his children’s discipline up to her but in this instance this was “his boy” and she was glad for a little break. Out there in the country no one cared that Boss and Marie were giving their baby boy cigars because they’d heard enough radio commercials from Lucky Strike,
(These photographs are precious to us as that old rock store burned a short time later and about the time of its being rebuilt, our old unpainted wooden house next door had some electrical problems and burned all of our belongings except the ironing board and iron my mother had in the store. Included in the loss were our photographs and fortunately, some relatives have produced these. Our daddy partitioned off about 8 or 10 feet all along the back of the store and we lived there until we moved to town.)
Happy Birthday, Bill.