Halloween is a big deal in our little town. Lots of yards get decorated for the occasion, weeks before the big night. Since our granddaughters came to town this weekend, their dad and I took on a Saturday morning yard project, while the girls and Granny Nita sat in the driveway painting pumpkins. We used a stepladder, fishing line, and an old cane pole to hang 25 plastic pumpkin heads from our trees.
I also devoted some time to swinging the girls in the backyard. This granddaddy stuff can be OK. But, as ever, I’m still learning that little girls have a wholly different world view than did our two young sons. Different things interest them. Except for tree swings. They all love to swing. Duh.
Last evening, I spent four hours in our city cemetery standing by the tombstone of a fellow by the name of Constantine Connolly who died in 1897. I was again a spirit in the annual Caldwell County Historical Commission’s fund raiser: Speaking of the Dead: A Ramble Through the Graveyard. Twelve successive groups of living folks were guided through the cemetery to hear the life stories--condensed to ten minutes--of eight real people whose earthly remains are buried there. So I told old Constantine’s tale a dozen times, and will tell it a dozen more times this evening.
I spoke of Connolly’s coming alone to Texas from Alabama in 1852 and making his way to the booming new town of Lockhart, and his marrying a gal named Malissa, the little sister of a good friend. The highlight was the tale of Constantine’s three months as a sergeant in a troop of 110 Texas Rangers who chased a band of Apache Indians from Central Texas into Mexico. Once over the Rio Grande River, the Rangers fought both the Apaches they’d been pursuing, and a company of Mexican cavalry who’d allied with the Apaches to force the Texans back across the river where they belonged.
It was an exciting and gritty true story, about the early Texas Rangers, who were really a called-up militia on temporary service. The tale reinforced the fearsome “Shoot first, Shoot often” reputation the mounted Texans had gained during the Mexican War, which had ended only five years before.
I spent my birthday on a reenacting trip to Perryville, Kentucky. There I am in the photo, performing my very important duties as a camp cook, after a long day of doing soldier drill in the morning and taking part in a parade of 2,000 reenactors. That afternoon we fought a sham battle, our battalion charging uphill, through a field of head-high dried corn stalks, just like the real old Rebs did on the same hillside on the same day, 154 years ago. I still like doing that stuff.
For the past two months, travel and family matters have piled up and kept my fingers off the keyboard. Now, I’m back in Recliner #7, tap, tap, tapping away, writing the final chapters of Defiant Honor. I hope readers will find a few surprises that will bring smiles and tears. I’m shooting to finish and publish in mid-November, if I can stay away from the pumpkin trees, backyard swings, and reenacting trips. We’ll see.