The Bounty of Texas Page: 58
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It had a negative impact on his social life. But he saved his leg.
I had Snort Yarnell tell that story in the book, on himself.
There is another character in The Good Old Boys, an old drifter
who comes along a few chapters into the story. Of all the characters
I have ever used, he probably comes about the closest to being lifted
right out of real life and put in a book just as he was, or at least as I
saw him. In the novel he is a senile old ex-trail driver on a wornout
black horse. He comes by Walter's and Eve's homestead for a
handout; he is what used to be called a chuckline rider, which meant
riding from one chuckwagon or line camp to another, taking a meal
or two and then moving on.
He is not given to spoiling good water by immersing his body in
it, so he has a fairly ripe aroma on the downwind side. Walter
welcomes him with traditional West Texas hospitality, but Eve feeds
him on the porch and tries to stay upwind.
When I was a boy in the 1930s, I saw an old man just like that. He
used to come by my grandparents' little ranch a couple of times a year,
riding an old horse, drifting across the country to visit kinfolks.
Folks said he had been a cowboy in his time, but his time was long
since past. I vividly remember watching him ride up and ask my
granddad if he had any tobacco. Granddad didn't use it, but he
invited the old man to stay for supper. He always did, and found a
place for him to roll out his blankets and stay the night.
At the time, being just a kid, I thought the old man was a romantic
figure out of the colorful Old West. I marveled at his freedom, being
able to roam wherever he wanted, when he wanted. It was a good
many years before I was old enough to realize the tragedy of his
One day he got down from his horse to open a wire gate a few miles
up the lane from my grandparents' ranch. He suffered a heart attack
and died there in the gate. There was irony in the fact that he had
spent his younger years an open-range cowboy, and he died in the
middle of a barbed-wire fence. He died the same way he had lived:
I used him in the story as a metaphor for Hewey, 25 or 30 years
down the line, if he did not change his ways and settle down. In the
book I had him die just as he died in real life.
Here’s what’s next.
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The Bounty of Texas (Book)
This volume of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society contains a miscellany of Texas, Mexican and Spanish folklore, including information about hunting, canning, cooking, and other folklore. The index begins on page 225.
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Abernethy, Francis Edward. The Bounty of Texas, book, 1990; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38873/m1/70/: accessed September 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.