TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
Texas Hotels
  Texas : Feature : Columns : 'The View from Under the Bus'


By Gael Montana – Wood Wench, Ret.
Local Contrarian and Tonsorial Artist
This first day of spring brings to mind the clear, sweet sunny days on the old Arrow-B Ranch between Waring and Welfare, now known as ‘Southern Oaks’. I've tried to be respectful and succinct, short & sweet... spent all day trying to make my sentences work right but it was a waste of energy. There's nothing in this world like missing the heart of the matter and that's the deal. The best has passed. Those coming up must take some mighty huge steps to cover that gap.

My old friend, Bill Bacon, and I spent many a leisurely hour putting around the old Arrow-B in his old Dodge truck with the ever-present and most loyal pal, Oso, enjoying a beer, lots of stories and the beauty of these old hills. Everyone who knew the General as a friend can relate because so many of us were blessed to be among his extended family. We were his tribe, I guess. No one was shunned; everyone who knew him was lifted by that selfless familiarity & strength. 

Eventually the inevitable housing developments began to surround their ranch with no respect whatsoever for the history of the land they felt compelled to dissect. Little by little folks began chipping the land into shards, breaking Bill & Doris' heart and stealing their peace. Bill laughingly wondered whether to install a shooting range or a rendering plant along those fence lines, and I'm pretty sure he was nearly serious.   Considering the fact that he saved that very ranch from greed and the threat of usury in the 40's, it's no wonder he was revered as a local hero. Bill Bacon was a man of few words when up against it, and he made it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that the local bankers would not have the family land to liquidate under any circumstances.  No one argued with Bill about things of import. He was above reproach when it came to justice, living by a code of no-nonsense honor and seeing to it that those he dealt with followed suit. I wish it were possible to relate the exact words he used with that long-ago banker but they would 1.) not be politically correct & 2.) I'd get my mouth washed out with lye soap by Doris in my next life. No kidding.

For years I sold cord wood that came from the diligent grooming of the Arrow-B & carried it to folks from Fair Oaks to San Antonio four or five times a week.  Bill would have it cut & loaded in a covered horse trailer and I'd pick it up and deliver it evenings after work.  He sold it to me at a reasonable rate and I was able to turn it for enough to make the trip worthwhile, even though 1604 was referred to as 'death alley' in those days. It was never about getting rich.  Plus, I stayed in pretty darn good shape through those years.  Bill & Doris also had stacks of "Polo" brand velour 'casual' suits, which we sold quite a few of at bargain prices, not to mention the rabbit meat, but that's another story. There was always plenty of good-natured wheeling and dealing going on down Baconville Road.

Bill also had the finest Beefmaster herd in the country, and the biggest damn bull I've ever seen.  That bull would eat from your hand (if you held it high enough) and was waiting for me each evening under the tree where the trailer was parked...right next to the tub of cake. He was gentle as a lamb and followed Bill around like a puppy, a mental picture I'll take to my grave. They were so alike. 

It puts me in mind of how truly big, strong men in the world, no matter their physical stature, are not shaken by the small stuff or by differences in people real or imagined.  I've run into folks who have become so impressed with their own marching orders they tend to walk all over folks, or worse, just not take the time to bother with anyone who slows them down on their path to power. Heck, I've encountered fellows who won't shake my hand...I guess because I'm a woman, but who knows? Maybe it's just because I'm a nuisance.  General Bill C. Bacon was not among that tedious number. As it turns out he was a loyal friend to so many of us. I will miss him and that laugh of his from now on. He taught me to abide.

When I first began my journey into the web-building world, Bill said he needed me to go ahead and build a good presence for the Hill Country Veterans Council since there was precious little communication forthcoming from Washington (DC) . He did not ask, he made it understood. That's just how it was.  We needed to save the Kerrville VA Hospital, and we needed to get with it quick.  At one point, San Antonio had proposed a plan to the Kerrville City Council to utilize the VA Hospital facility as a kind of 'half-way house' for three-time losers who had trouble being rehabilitated.  Bill had a heart-to-heart with the powers that be, and, needless to say, that bad idea never happened.  He figured it to be an exceedingly bad deal for the surrounding area to be over-run with the two-bit criminals (and worse) that SA was hoping to jettison from Bexar County. 

Bill took the time to meet & speak with Rep. Lamar Smith on several occasions seeking support for the Kerr County Veterans Hospital, but to no avail.  At that point we all dove in and went to work putting petitions everywhere they would let us, asking for support via signature from the US Vets all over the country who understood the problem, and oh-my-God did the Vets ever respond! We addressed representatives from all over the US with hundreds of thousands of appeals to make good the promise to those who served with all they had, unlike the fancy oh-so-busy politicians who barely lifted a finger for the Vets. Lamar's e-mail literally would not receive our appeals unless we sent them one-by-one, making the entire project grind to a mind-numbing pace. Of course they did offer up $1,500 plates of BarBQ with an eye to raising campaign funds for the self-serving re-election business they're forever wrapped up in.  Bill pointed out that he didn't really know any Veterans who could afford that kind of party, but perhaps that outfit could serve up what was promised to them since the Vets in question had laid their lives on the line so folks like Mr. Smith could go to Washington in the first place. Unfortunately, the politicos wouldn't up the dust for the hospital so the council went to the mat on their own. Lamar was, as Bill pointed out to him personally, an S.O.B., but allowed that he was OUR S.O.B. No matter how dysfunctional a politician might turn out to be, Bill was a positive force in his behalf in the end. He resisted, often with a great deal of effort, cutting a man down at the knees.

At Bills customary 'request' his colleague and friend, General Walter Schellhase, traveled to Washington DC to exercise his considerable influence to invite Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, to have a look at what was at stake; namely the proposed closing of our VA Hospital. Thanks to General Schellhase's diligence, Principi came and made the connection. He was favorably moved by the dedication of the Hill Country Vets grassroots operation. The late Bill Bowden, his daughter, Bill's wife Helen and all of the the council et al, were instrumental in orchestrating much of the detail. The rest is history; the Kerrville Veterans Hospital remains in operation to this day.

I honestly believe, despite the lack of hope in this world, that a few people can change the course of history when strong, dedicated individuals work together. We could learn a lot from those fellows, now, when everyone seems angry and unhappy with everything coming down the pike.  Bill came through the rye knowing that war was not the answer, but he made us think long & hard about the question.

Call your various 'Departments' what you will, America, the world feels nowhere near as safe without Bill Bacon watching our backs. Rest in peace, Old Top, it's never going to be the same without you.

The Hill Country Veterans are alive and well. Please visit them at www.hcvc.org. They represent the best of us, treat them with respect:

President - Walter Schellhase
Past President - the late Bill Bacon
Board Members:
Joe Benham
Gene Higgins
Alan Hill 
Bernard Jesko 
Jack Ledford
Bennie Hyde
Joe Strange
Bob Weinberg
Dan Bacon
Judd Ashmore
Bob Waller
Sam Barker

Copyright Gael Montana
'The View from Under the Bus'
April 17 , 2008 Column
More People
See Kerrville
More related stories: Texas | Online Magazine | Features | Columns | Texas Towns | Hill Country | Comfort, Texas


Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast

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

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


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: April 17, 2008