Sunday, October 12, 2008

Now that's country!

Scotland,Texas.
What can I say? It's a town of 375 people, 300 of which are my relatives. Mom grew up there and went to school in the neighboring town of Windthorist where she painted the town "cow"green as a senior prank. Here it is giving messages of encouragement to all the surrounding ranch hands and town folk.

When you think of the word "Country", this place defines it. Where else can you find an inspirational cow with her own billboard greeting you as you enter and leave the city limits?

This is a picture I took between Windthorist and Scotland on one of my trips last year. I know it's just 3 bails of hay, but they depict the lively hood of the region. Everyone in this area of the state makes their living off farming and/or ranching. Interestingly, even though they do have TV up there, and they have heard of the "economic bail out", they only see it as another day and more news on stuff "those stuffy up tight city folk worry about". While the rest of us stare at our decreasing stock portfolios in awe and disgust, they worry about the neighbor down the road and what the local drunk did before church last Sunday. A good friend of mine describes the barriers and obstacles we encounter as the "cost of living", I would argue that for those folks in Scotland, they see everything as the "experience of life".

Also, everyone lives in a communial like environment. No one locks there doors, with people often leaving notes on their front door for "visitors" saying things like "I have gone to the bathroom" or "Taking a nap please be quiet". Above is a picture of the drive way heading into my grandmother' s home (on the left) and a part of the shop my mother called home on the right.

This is a picture of the shop that was my mother's home on the left and my Aunt Helen's place to the right. When I was a kid, my cousins, sister and I would run from building to building playing games. At Christmas, it wouldn't be uncommon for the entire driveway and the surrounding area to be catered with cars as everyone funneled to grandma's for dinner.



Aunt Helen's house is one of the original homes of the family. The Teichman and Hajovsky families settled Scotland Texas in the late 1800's. This home was built by the original family and hopefully will remain in the family for future efforts.

The picture above is of the original "Well House" for the town of Scotland. Located directly behind mom's "shop", this building served as the only source of water for the town from 1890 to 1942. After that, it served as a storage shed, outhouse, and canning shelter. Now, it is simply as it appears. Falling and aging, it no longer does the magnificent things it did in the past, however the beauty of its past carries through when the viewer acknowledges its history. Otherwise, it just looks like an old building in the middle of a little town in North Texas.

The picture above is of the old Wolf family milk farm. It now sits vacant, but at one time was so active that it served all the milk needs for the entire North Texas (including Dallas) region. It still processes 40 cows a month, but limits its production for the local families and serves most of its time as a local storage shed for hay bails and supplies.
The only restaurant in Scotland, is Granny K's. I never even knew it was here. Until the first time I met with my cousin Mary Baumer and her husband Bob in this place earlier in the summer regarding mom, I just drove past here as if it was nothing. They only take cash, and all the food is made from scratch from the materials grown the surrounding gardens and meat donated by the local ranchers. Every morning at 5:30 am, the local "men folk" gather for coffee and talk about the "goings on" in their community. Without prompting, the family who runs this place catered the pot luck dinner hosted by the church for family and friends following mom's ceremonial mass. If you are ever up in this part of the country, a stop here for their home made pie is well worth the visit and 2 bucks.

During the memorial dinner, my cousin Tammy and I decided to leave a little early to share some adult beverages and talk. We went to the "Convenience Store" to purchase our beverages. As we went up to the register, I noticed that they only took cash. I never carry cash so I asked if they had an ATM and might as well have asked if they had seen a little green alien running by with a wad of cash under his arm. Then the store manager came around the corner. Mindy and her husband have owned the store for years. I remember how she would give us free sodas and bubble gum when we would walk up from grandma's house in the summer. Mindy expressed her condolences and her love of mom and my family. Handing Tammy and I our selections, she told us that she wished she could join us. Thanking her and promising to pay her before I left town, she simply stated, "No matter honey. This is the country, and we take care of our folks."

Discussing some of our memories of funerals and holidays past, Tammy and I thought it would be only fitting if we sat underneath the car port of the shop mom called home and remembered mom and what it use to be like when we were little. As we sat and talked, none other than my great uncle Tony began to drive down the road. As he was coming down the drive, it became apparent that his car didn't want to continue the journey. He clamored out of the car, pulled his walker from off the trunk (as early blogs note, Tony was notorious for putting his walker on the trunk or hood and puttering around the little town)and popped the hood of the car. A couple minutes later, Tony's son arrived. They tinkered under the hood only to discover that he had run out of gas.

Tammy and I sat, drank our beverages, remembered mom and watched the scene unfold. Over the next hour, Tony and his son tinkered, got spare gas, put it in the tank, and jump started the car. Refusing to let anyone other than his 93 year-old self drive his prized possession, Tony then threw his walker on top of his trunk, climbed in the car and, with the hood still up, he drove the last 75 yards to his house. Tammy and I looked at each other, laughing we simultaneous said: "Now that's country".

Losing my mother was and is one of the singularly hardest things I have ever experienced. However, reconnecting with the community that is family is something I simply cannot define. On my drive home, I constantly thought about how backward this little town was. My cell phone didn't work. No one used the Internet. In fact, in the neighboring big town of Wichita Falls, the funeral home didn't even use computers. Although I felt like I was transported 20 years back in time when I was visiting, there was something oddly comforting about it.

Then two weeks after I had begun returning to my life, I was getting ready for work when I heard something coming from the news I was absently listening too about a body being found in North Texas and that it might be the body of missing store clerk from Scotland, Texas. Not believing what I heard, I ran to the living room and pressed the rewind button on TIVO (another contraption that the folks in Scotland haven't figured out). Confirming what I thought I heard, I turned the TV off and googled information from the local news.

The report advised that a Bowie man was expected to have capital murder charges added to charges he already faces for aggravated robbery and kidnapping. They had found the body the 46-year-old Scotland Mindy Daffern in a remote area of Montague County near the community of Sunset. She had been taken at gunpoint in broad daylight from the store. The horrifying store security video shows 30-year-old Wallace Bowman, Jr. enter the store and then hold the woman at gunpoint as he walked her out of the store, then driving off in a black Ford Explorer.

According to information at Kauz.com Bowie PD identified him as someone they knew, located where he was and he was arrested the morning after the body was found. It was under questioning by Montague authorities that Bowman first said he had driven around south of Windthorst and let Mindy out of the car Friday night. He said she was alive and well at the time. "He told us that while he was driving around with the lady in the car, he let her out and she took off across the field," Sheriff Daniels said. That search was called off late in the afternoon. Finally Bowman led law officers to the remote area in Montague County where her body was found. Later reports indicate that Wallace Wayne Bowman had also been charged with two counts of Capital Murder for the deaths of 54-year-old James Craig France and 53-year-old Karen Bohn France. Officials say they were killed, then their home on Applegate Road in Bowie was set on fire a couple days prior to Mindy's abduction.
I called Mary Baumer to see how the town was coping with it. She told me that the "Convenience Store" had hundreds of flowers and that the funeral would be held the following weekend. We talked about the shock of the event. Then I said, "Mary, how do you guys deal with this? I mean Mindy was so important to all of you." She replied, "Erin, everyone is important in our community. Any time we lose someone, it hurts the entire community. That's what we are and that's what we do. We will always take care of each other. That's how we cope." Then we talked about Aunt Helen, Uncle Tony and plans for my next trip to gather mom's things.

I traveled back up to Scotland two weeks later. Driving past the cemetery I could see the graves of both my mother and Mindy. The "Convenience Store" is right across the road from their final resting places, both of which were covered in flowers. I had to stop. It took me twenty minutes to get out of my truck and another 20 to gain the strength to visit. Over an hour later, when I was done saying good bye to them both, I went to "mom's "shop. I met Bob (Mary Buamer's husband) there and we loaded my truck with the things I knew mom wanted my sister and I to keep: Her piano, a couple of accordions, more pictures, boxes of music, and many other mementos.

Looking back into the shop from my over-filled truck, I looked at Bob and said, "can any one use this stuff ?" Bob replied, "The desk and computer, well I know a family whose kid could use those. The books could go to the school. The couch and other furniture, well there was a family that lost their house in a fire, they could probably use that." "Bob", I interjected," Audrie and I have means, and we got all the memories and things that remind us of our time with mom. Do you mind donating the rest of mom's stuff to the local folks who could use them for us?" Grabbing me with both arms, he whispered "you betcha" and hugged me. Then, after I thought I might lose blood circulation in my arms, we separated and wiping a tear from his eye Bob said, "I will tell Mary, we know this will help. Some of it can even help out Mindy." "That's all mom would have wanted. Thanks Bob", I replied.

It's amazing to me how urbanization and technology allow some of us to feel that we have a sense of "connection" and "commitment' to others. Heck, I don't even know why we still call cell phones "phones" with all that we can do. But with all of our advances, it seems like we have lost what those in the "Country" have never forgotten. That connecting and committing to others is more than just communication. It is communication and living with compassion. I will always look back on the lessons I have learned from the people of Scotland, Texas and wonder in the prophecy that Tammy and I saw. From now on, when something really compassionate occurs, I will grin and say "Now that's country!"

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope you write a book about your family one day!!!

Anonymous said...

Your family sounds so interesting! Please continue to write more. Your blogs help any many ways!

Thanks,
Love,

Greg

Anonymous said...

hey, are you deleting my comments? lol I don't care...but I know I left one. hey, I'm sending people over to read this post.

Bobbi

Rosemary said...

This was really nice---thanks for sharing your story. Bless you!
hugs,
Rosemary

Anonymous said...

omg I feel like an idiot...I left the comment on the wrong post! LOL! oh well, hopefully you'll find it!
Bobbi

Anonymous said...

hey thanks for the comment...no I'm the idiot...lol...I posted the comment on the wrong post...duh!!!

Good to hear from you...how are you holding up?

later!
Bobbi

Anonymous said...

Hi Erin. .
I was 'just' introduced to your blog, which I knew nothing about. .
How interesting and I hope to go back and read more other than this post. . .However, I must correct several errors you have in your information about our home place. .
Aunt Helen's house is 'not' an original structure on the place. .She had it moved from Wichita Falls and set there, after her son Joey passed away, and Uncle Wence was 'put away' - - the original structures stood where Mom's house now does, and another (the four rooms and a path that I grew up in) was over past where Uncle Tony's trailer is. .Dad moved the house we grew up in over next to Grandpa's house, and planned on putting the two together. .When he got sick and passed away, Mom had it done, during which time they more like 'camped out' in the place while it was being done (Your mom was at home during this time, I think, but I was gone - )
Also, the well house that you show as the community water was our well house only. . I remember when it was just a large pipe into the ground and we lowered a long narrow bucket type thing into it to get water. . later dad put on the pump and plumbed it to a faucet by the house. ..That was really progress!!. . .but, it was a slow seeper, so we had to conserve on the water used. .
Okay. . I better get busy on other stuff now. .Hope you are well. .
Aunt Theresa

Anonymous said...

Hi Erin. .
I was 'just' introduced to your blog, which I knew nothing about. .
How interesting and I hope to go back and read more other than this post. . .However, I must correct several errors you have in your information about our home place. .
Aunt Helen's house is 'not' an original structure on the place. .She had it moved from Wichita Falls and set there, after her son Joey passed away, and Uncle Wence was 'put away' - - the original structures stood where Mom's house now does, and another (the four rooms and a path that I grew up in) was over past where Uncle Tony's trailer is. .Dad moved the house we grew up in over next to Grandpa's house, and planned on putting the two together. .When he got sick and passed away, Mom had it done, during which time they more like 'camped out' in the place while it was being done (Your mom was at home during this time, I think, but I was gone - )
Also, the well house that you show as the community water was our well house only. . I remember when it was just a large pipe into the ground and we lowered a long narrow bucket type thing into it to get water. . later dad put on the pump and plumbed it to a faucet by the house. ..That was really progress!!. . .but, it was a slow seeper, so we had to conserve on the water used. .
Okay. . I better get busy on other stuff now. .Hope you are well. .
Aunt Theresa

Anonymous said...

Erin, Erin, Erin where do you get your info?
1. Paint the cow green - your Mom's class never did that!
2. Aunt Helens' house is not an original structure.
3. I've lived here a long time and my cell phone works !!! And I've had a computer for 10 years!
4. The funeral home in the small town 12 miles away has an excellent computer system as do the funeral homes in Wichita Falls.
5. My dear Aunt Helen has two living brothers, not one. Uncle Hugo is very much alive and kicking. (from another blog)
6. Your Aunt Theresa illustrated (drew the pictures) a book with another lady, not her sister.
7. We love the nice quiet life that living in the country provides but by no means are we "country folks" backward. We shop online, bank on line, text, and probably do just about everything you do. We just have to travel farther to shop or eat out. We love it here, the people are the greatest and life is wonderful. I loved your Mom and miss her. She is always in my prayers.

Erin said...

To the last Anonymous, thank you for your comments. I got my information from my mother as she told it at the time I wrote it with no edits. She always was a bit creative, so I am glad to know tht people are reading this to "get the story" straight. As for the "Paint the cow green" story, that was one mom was particularly proud to tell. As I said, she was always creative. I agree, small towns are calming and fun to visit. Maybe I should just change cell phone carriers and visit more often. My best to everyone. Erin