Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 35
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By Lloyd E. Price
In the fall of 1904, when the leaves were frosted with gold and
crimson, a spring wagon in a whirl of red iron ore dust rolled
into the East Texas town where I was born. Driving the team
of spirited bay horses was John, the black-faced comedian, and
beside him in checkered suit, Windsor tie and derby hat, sat his
employer, Doctor Keeno, the medicine man. It was Saturday
afternoon, and as they drove toward the main business corner,
Keeno's dark eyes glowed with deep interest, for the town was
jammed with wagons loaded with bales of cotton for the local
market while throngs of country people milled in the streets.
The doctor's anticipation was keen as with pale tapering fingers,
he caressed his coal-black handle-bar mustache; he knew there
was cash in the pockets of the assembled cotton farmers.
Another barefoot boy and I, wholly unconscious of our sum-
mer leg-sores and stone bruises that made shoes and stockings
impossible, ran after the wagon until it stopped near the town
well. John, his face and hands smeared with burnt cork, laughed
a loud ringing laugh while he drew his banjo from its case; then,
standing on the wagon, he strummed that banjo with incredible
rapidity: such dancing, antics and singing I had never witnessed
before. Soon an eager crowd hungry for entertainment had gath-
ered. Meanwhile, during the preliminary performance, Keeno
sat with dignified mien and calmly fingered his over-sized gold
At length, the tall doctor arose, and a hush fell over the
audience broken only by the bray of a jackass from a nearby
livery stable. Slowly smoothing his pink cheeks with a large
silk handkerchief until the jack's bray reached diminuendo, Keeno
addressed his open-mouthed hearers in this wise: "La-dees, and
gen-tell-men, as a mere lad I was seized by an insatiable cu-ri-osity
and desire for travel; and while yet a young man I spent several
years in India studying that fascinating land and its mysterious
(In point of fact Doctor Keeno, whose real name was Luke
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/43/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.