There are two editions of the book, but only one difference between them. The first is all text; the latest has the photo illustrations which are included in the Large Print Paperback edition. Some of the photos are from my family albums, others from the Portal to Texas University website. If you're interested in Texas history, this is a great site to bookmark and browse.
First, the links to the two KU/KOLL editions of Tales of a Texas Boy:
So here we go with an excerpt with the illustration that goes with it.
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. So goes an old saying. A boy with nothing much to do can sometimes find the worst possible things to escape boredom.
Ma and Pa liked to go to town, that bein’ Hereford, on Saturday nights. They’d visit friends and sometimes eat at the diner. They left me home to take care of my sister Dorothy. Generally, we behaved ourselves as we knew the consequences if we didn’t. One of them Saturdays, I was outside not doin’ much of anything. You know, just watchin’ the clouds and throwin’ rocks and so on.
I noticed a flock of blackbirds lit on Ma’s clothesline, so I went in and got the shotgun. I loaded it with smallshot and snuck around the side of the house so’s not to scare the birds. I figured I could get the whole flock of birds if I shot straight down the clothesline from one end to the other.
I had to be real quiet, so’s I thought I’d sneak up on ‘em like I was a Comanche. I got down on my belly and rested the shotgun across my arms. The grass was high enough so I’d not be seen. I dug in my elbows and pulled myself real slow around the corner of the house. When I got to the lilac bush, I got up behind it and checked if the birds had a notion I was there. They just sat on the line and didn’t even look my way, so I hunched over and ran lickety-split to the oak tree. From there, I was right at the end of the line and no more’n ten feet away.
I leaned around the tree trunk and eyed the line. Yep, I could see right down it. My hands aren’t big enough to span both triggers, so I have to pull them one at a time. I figured I’d shoot the first barrel and then real quick-like, fire off the second. That way, I’d get to hit the flock twice.
I eased the shotgun up to my shoulder and pulled back slow on the left-hand trigger. The first shot blasted off and knocked me back a few feet where I landed on my rear-end real hard. I still held the shotgun in my hands, but I wasn’t in any position to fire off the second barrel. When I sat up and looked to see how many birds I got, I was in for a shock. All that noise and not one feather to show for it. But Ma’s clothesline . . . now that’s a different story. The durn thing looked like a dead snake layin’ there.
I knew right away Ma would not be pleased with this.
I got myself up and was wonderin’ what to do next when I looked up and saw the blackbirds flyin’ in a circle like they were waitin’ for the clothesline to be put back up for ‘em to light on.
Well, that burned me up they were so cheeky. To get even with ‘em, I set the butt of the shotgun on the ground, pointed it up at those birds and, standin’ to the side, pulled the second trigger. Boom! The birds flew up in the air, but I got me a little flashburn on my face from the hot barrel. I hadn’t leaned far enough away, I guess.
My ears was ringin’, but I decided I’d better get some twine and string a new clothesline before Ma got home. When I started up to the house, I saw Sister standin’ on the porch, laughin’ her fool head off. Of course, she’d watched the whole darn thing. Now, I knew if I were goin’ to get away without a whippin’, I’d have to come to an understandin’ with her.
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Also available in Large Print Paperback and Audio Book (only $1.99 if you purchase either ebook edition)
How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.