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  Texas : Feature : Columns : "They shoe horses, don't they?"

A RAILROAD ADVENTURE

by Maj. General Thomas R. Rampy
Submitted by Gordon Rampy
My uncles Lewis and Lawton moved from Bell County around 1904 and settled in Runnels County, some 150 miles west. When I was around twelve Father thought it would be good experience for me to visit them. There was an exchange of letters, then several restless days and nights on my part until Father put me aboard the train at Belton about dawn on a bright summer morning, with instructions to the conductor to look after me and see that I was put off at Benoit, a flag stop twelve miles east of Ballinger. It was late afternoon when the train came to a screeching halt where it did not ordinarily stop but merely put out an extended steel arm to snatch a mail bag from the pole as it passed. My uncle Lawton was then foreman of Benoit section of the railroad and lived quite close to the track. When I stepped off the train my Aunt Sally was standing there to greet me. She took me into her house and soon told me that Lewis lived a half mile or so away and that Lawton was not yet home from his work on the track.

There were six or seven children in the two families and I alternated visiting and sleeping between the two homes. The landscape of that area is quite different from what I was accustomed to in Bell County. The terrain is quite level with a scattering of mesquite trees and some scrub oak, but it made a deep imprint on me as a child to observe these differences from my home area.

Another new thing to me was the sight of prairie dogs and their "towns." The little animals are very alert and shy of humans, so we watchers had to lie flat on the ground close by a town and wait for them to come out of their underground homes. A town might cover an acre or so in area with a hundred or more holes, which are entered from the top of the small mound around each hole. The dogs are noted for their ability to enter their holes quickly and avoid danger from other animals, including capture by humans. This experience was probably the highlight of my visit.

After a week of exploring the new scene I was put on the train for return home. It had been a long stay, or so it seemed to me. Father met me at Belton and I recall how anxious I was to get home and talk about my trip. This was my first in a life which was destined to include innumerable trips by land, by sea, and by air.


The incident described above was the basis for an article I wrote some time ago, called "A Special Delivery. (A link to the past)" It is posted here: http://www.upamerica.org/specialdelivery.htm
Thanks for the great job you are doing to preserve our precious past.
- Gordon Rampy, Warrenton, Virginia, www.upamerica.org
August 11, 2007

Copyright Maj. General Thomas R. Rampy
"They shoe horses, don't they?"
August 15, 2007 Guest Column
 
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