I missed Father’s Day…. But that’s okay. I miss my father today and every day.
My father was a long, tall, laconic Texas rancher, who until the day he died at 84, still ducked to get through any door, accustomed as he was to houses with smaller doors that were hard to get his 6’7” through.
When my only brother and I were young children, we were expected to help out on the ranch. Well, I don’t know if we were expected to help out or it was just cheap babysitting–rounding up the cattle for branding the next day, rounding up cattle for selling the next day, or simply rounding up cattle to move to a different pasture which had more grass (maybe).
That was when my father’s prankster side came out as he would shout “ Stampede! Ride for your lives!” My brother and I would never think about looking back and take off running like rustlers were after us. Of course this would stir up the cows and they would run behind us until we got to our destination.
My father would take us to any entertainment that might be available within driving distance of the ranch. There wasn’t anything real close by although I do remember driving to San Angelo to see a live Gene Autry show. I was about seven years old and allowed to take a friend from school. My father ended up having to get up in the middle of the night and driving her home when she became homesick and crying.
Another great source of entertainment was the movie house in the neighboring town. I don’t know if you remember it but back in those days the movie theaters issued a one-page ad for coming attractions. It was printed on heavier, colorful paper. My brother and I (and secretly my father) went over the page and encircled each Gene Autry movie. (We hated Roy Rogers! Probably because Daddy did!)
Then we would make sure to accompany my mother when she went to that town and did the laundry (we didn’t have enough water to do laundry on the ranch.) Now that I think about it I realize my father was probably faking his interest in movies so he wouldn’t have to go grocery shopping or laundry.
He also took us hunting for squirrels and rabbits. At the time I didn’t know we were just too poor to buy meat. So there was a short time during the dust bowl of the 40s and 50s when we ate fried chicken every night that were really squirrels and rabbits, oh, and ducks.
In the summer we invariably went on a driving vacation. We would go to New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming––Western states––and camp. Most of the time our camping gear was all carried in our car as we had one of those humpbacks Chevys made in the 30s. My parents would take out the backseat, stow all our camping gear in a couple of wooden Army trunks, and sat us on top of that.
We would check into a motel, (called a “tourist court” then) when we started getting really gamey, where we could take a shower there. But in the camp site at night, my father would entertain us and the other campers with his rope tricks. He was truly the epitome of the long, tall Texan, and I thought he was wonderful!
B.K. Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend/Southwest Star. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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