Once again,we had the privledge of going to the heartland – the mighty state ofTexas. We were there, mainly to do a benefit concert for a batterdwomen shelter, but this time, I came away changed.
Our show was in a historic theater in Odessa, TX. Here is David, on stage. Obviously, I am missing from the piano - stage right - as I snuck off to take a few shots!
The sweet promoter that put the show on, had us lodge at her family's working dude ranch. I fell in love with the whole family, having the chance to drink sweet tea and eat Pearl's home cooking with Pearl, Calvert, Hence, Pat, Becky, George, and my brother - family used to spending many meals together. Here's the extremely large kitchen that hosts 20 to 30 cowboys and their families on many occasions. It's truly about families doing life together. Such a contrast to our independent nature in the NorthWest.As I listened to the stories of this family that has lived on this exact piece of property since the mid 1800s and slowly took time to study the pictures hanging on their walls of weatheredf aces that only begets wisdom, I longed to have time to talk with each of the men who have left a legacy of American work ethic, family values, and commitment that seems to be slowly fading in the American culture. Pictured here - Granddad Barrow. He was born in the current office of the house we stayed at and died, at age 97, 2 doors down the hallway from where he was born. Now that's what I call sinking your roots deep. He spent his years ranching, raising his family, supporting community, and volunteering in his Baptist church. He was a man of fun stories, lots of spunk using his hats 'till they about fell apart to the chagrin of his wife Thelma 'cause he "hadn't gotten all the use out of it yet!" and sunup to sundown work. At 95, he was still out riding, side by side with his sons and grandsons on his horse. Barn dances were made festive by his fiddle-playing and stories of the day. This man of hearty laughs, stories of the land, and a spirit that had him riding side by side with his living legacies almost 'till the day he died was only doing what his own daddy taught him on that same land. Henry Barrow, settled that land living out of his covered wagon, a tent, and a dugout until they built a house out of adobe bricks. In 1906, they traded that little ranch for the present day ranch in Ector County. As part of the trade, they acquired 222 head of cattle. Henry Barrow and his wife raised their 4 children - including Hence Barrow, pictured below, all the while keeping their Eyes fixed on His Maker.
What a legacy!!
The close-knit ranching community is a model for us all. It's a way of life I'd love to see in every neighborhood in America. Neighbors routinely combine efforts to get their massive tasks accomplished. A typical job of branding a neighbors herd, brings in cowboys from all nearby ranches, up by 4:30 am to beat the heat, with a hearty lunch prepared by the ladies of the ranches by 1:00 – serving 20 or so hungry cowboys, kids, and wives. Oh if I could be a fly on the wall at these festive occasions! The stories, the laughter, the comraderie!! Kids at the tender age of 6 are out riding side by side with daddy, learning the tough lessons of the land. One little guy said to his daddy, "Daddy, I am so hot!" to which Cowboy Daddy replied, "Son, we are all hot. Stand in my shade if you like, but there's work to be done!"
Turn-of-the century saddle - used in the Wild West shows of the 30s and used by Hence Barrow on the Barrow's ranches.
This Barrow ranch had purchased land through the years to have 3 full ranches operating. The one we stayed on was a small ranch for Texas– only 7500 acres. Since the land is so arid in Texas, ranchers are required to have 1 cow per 100 acres. Their other 2 ranches were 80 and 100 sections. Pause to define for all us non-land folk – a section is 640 acres!!
This littler ranch that we were on had 2 homes on it that had been lived in by Barrow folk since the turn of the century. Casually, Pat told of us of Granddad's fiddle. Like so many amazing artifacts on this property, it was apparently from Italy with a date stamped inside from 1595. David did some quick research, with a jittery heart of shock, to learn that it's either a paperweight or completely priceless, depending on if it's the real thing or simply a fake.
Other relics adorned their family museum that included an entire wagon, used by Grandpa Barrow and his father on that very ranch, some relics from the Civil War, old tools, kitchen gadgets and stoves from the turn of the century, worn out boots and Working Hats, saddles from th e1800s and early 1900s and many other Americano artifacts.
Their collection is a result of staying in one spot for 100 plus years. Their friendship and family connections run wide and deep, as they chose to stay put, invest their lives where God has them, and carry on in the ways of their forefathers, keeping one hand holding on to each other's and the other hand holding the hand of their Father God in Heaven.
This tarantuala greeted barefoot me on the porch one evening. My screams for help brought a cowboy running who saved the day!
Part 2 of my adventures in Texas coming soon!!