TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1600 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Fuel Fires Up Memories

by Delbert Trew

"Eb Patton, a cousin from Mobeetie, used to say he didn't know his given name until he was 12 years old because all the family had ever said to him since birth was, 'Go get wood.' " ...
Delbert Trew
Since the beginning, man's desire and need for fire has kept him busy in search of fuel. Gathering firewood, the traditional fuel, was about as important as gathering food. From cave-dwellers to early day settlers in the West, each day required many hours dedicated to finding fuel.

Eb Patton, a cousin from Mobeetie, used to say he didn't know his given name until he was 12 years old because all the family had ever said to him since birth was, "Go get wood."

The greatest drawback in settling the plains was the absence of wood, but the problem was solved by burning buffalo or cow chips. Every plains traveler, from freighters to trail-drive herds, moved across the prairies gathering twigs and chips into their "coonies," a dried cowhide hung beneath their wagon. Cooks quickly learned the expertise to heat with this prairie coal.

Wives and children of the settlers gathered chips and sotol or bear grass stalks, building long ricks of fuel by the side of their dugouts. The stalks kept the ricks from falling, and canvas, wood planks and grass topped the piles, keeping the fuel dry until needed.

A
s transportation improved, wood use gradually changed to coal. Some areas, like our old ranch in New Mexico, which is today's Collins & Sons Ranch north of San Jon, had streaks of crude coal showing above the surface.

In the 1950s, old-timers in the Road To Ruin Saloon in Logan, N.M. told of digging in this vein of coal and placing the pieces into gunny sacks, but only after killing off all the rattlesnakes nesting in the mine shaft. I think I would have cut wood instead.

Our little Sunday school at old McMillen southwest of Perryton was heated by the members bringing small buckets of coal from home each Sunday morning. My only recollection of coal was at 9 years of age when I built a World War II airstrip out by our coal pile by using the large lumps for mountains.


I'm not sure when "coal oil" became kerosene. I do remember filling lamps and lanterns with a small metal can using a potato over the spout for a lid. I also remember spilling kerosene on the linoleum while trying to place an over-filled glass jug into our living room heater. Mother cooked on a "jug fed" kitchen stove for a while, not liking to trim and clean the wicks trying to improve the heat.

My "part-timers disease" prevents me from remembering the exact year we acquired rural electrification and propane. I think both came at about the same time as I remember Mother standing over our new floor furnace, dress billowing out from the rising heat, smiling from ear to ear as she watched the new overhead light bulbs glow.

Our ranch home, built in 1918, does not have the best of insulation. We still use nonelectric wall heaters, burn old fence posts in our fireplace and use lap robes in extremely cold weather. In fact, during the last winter, the only time I got warm was when I broke out in a sweat writing out the check for our monthly butane bill.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
- December 15, 2004 column
 
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters |
Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us
Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
Website Content Copyright 1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: May 9, 2007