Monday, February 04, 2013

Hightower Cemetery, Erath County Texas

Tolar, TX where my Dad last saw his father- photo by Renelibrary

The shooting at Rough Creek Lodge in Erath County Texas sent me to the web to look it up.  It didn't sound like the Erath county I remember, which is hardscrabble and flinty.  My dad grew up there, although no one would remember him after all these years (1910-1986). We have kin buried in the cemetery and also at Morgan Mills, and more kin still living in Stephenville, a lovely town and the county seat.  Years ago we went to a family reunion in Stephenville. As at all reunions on this side of the family, we jumped into cars and drove around to all the cemeteries.  

After the reunion, we followed instructions to the old family homestead, little more than a cabin. We have a similar but smaller structure  in Gerlach, Nevada.  The house still stood, but the gate was closed and the deserted property looked like a prime spot for rattlers, so we didn't venture close enough to see the musket balls embedded in the walls or the marks left by arrows. This is a far cry from the upscale lodge with all of its amenities.   

Here is the poem I wrote after visiting the cemetery.

Hightower Cemetery, Erath County, Texas 


"The trees all died up here," they said.

Dusty zephyrs whirl atop the hill.
A sere September sun
Bleaches tilting headstones
The desiccated white of desert bones.

Flora from the Five and Ten
Sterile blossoms, Jello red
Wax strong on vinyl stems
Unwithered in the hot wind.

The horizon rolls
Into a vastness of desolate hills.
We remember hardscrabble lives
Stark and beautiful.

Stubborn in the sparse grass
Small yellow flowers
Born on pale lean stalks
Sprout from the dry Texas earth.

One thing that bothers me is why anyone would think that a shooting range would be a good locale for someone suffering PTSD.  Not sure I understand what "shooting therapy" is. To this admittedly ignorant observer, it seems like the sound of gunfire would bring all the bad stuff  back.  I know vets that cringe at the sound of thunder. A tragedy for all involved, hence the memory of the poem written 20+ years ago. 

Sometime around 1930, my grandfather drove my father to Tolar, Texas, handed him $5.00 and said "get out."  My father's sin was an extreme reluctance (i.e. refusal) to enlist in the army.  He changed his name and never saw his parents again.  A few years later, he owned a suit, a car and had $200 when he met my mother in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  His missing years are still missing.  Good story, huh?  He had 6 younger brothers and was his mother's helper.  All of the brothers were in the military, all except my Dad. Maybe sometime I'll write about that, but perhaps never.  Some thing probably left buried.  

Thoughts on a cold February morn. 

Old historic wood structure in Gerlach

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