Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
By Peggy McCracken
Boss of family
started out small
April 25, 1933 probably was a bleak day for most of West Texas and Oklahoma
in those depression years, sand storms filled the skies with choking dust,
and families scraped and saved just to have food for their bellies.
But on one West Texas farm, there was joy, for a baby girl was born.
Mary Elizabeth Gunn weighed less than six pounds. Nestled in a makeshift
crib with hot bricks, she struggled to breathe, determined to survive.
Survive she did. Mary Elizabeth, aka Sister, has survived for her allotted
threescore and ten years in a frail body beset by asthma that would often
choke the breath out of her.
Pictured in her early years, Mary always wore a frown, while older brother
Walter smiled brightly for the camera. Was it the sun in her eyes that made
her look so somber, or was life just too much for the little West Texan?
Perhaps her mind was filled with worries, because she did become the little
mother to us all.
I came along 21 months after Mary was born, followed by Cora Gail and
Jerry Wynn. Walter taught us how to play, and Mary taught us how to work.
Before she entered first grade, Mary was already cooking, washing dishes
and cleaning house. She soon began to organize cleaning parties, ordering
me to pick up while Gail swept the floor, or vice-versa. We took turns washing
As we grew older, we were taken to the cotton patch to help with the
fall harvest. When I was 6 and Mary 8, we shared a short canvas sack to
hold the locks of cotton we pulled from the burrs in the Blacklands east
of Gainesville. Together we gathered a whole 25 pounds one day. At $1 per
pound, we earned 25 cents.
Picking cotton aggravated Mary's asthma, and in later years Mama paid
her to keep house while we worked in the field. She didn't miss out on hoeing
in the summers, though. We all cut the weeds in our own fields for free,
then worked for neighbors to earn extra $ for school clothes.
Mary, the unquestioned leader, decided what clothes we would order from
the Sears & Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalogs. We were the same size
and so close that we could have been twins, so we bought matching dresses
and shoes. (Girls didn't wear pants those days. We didn't even see a pair
of ladies' jeans until we were teenagers.)
So close were we that Mary even picked out my husband for me. She was
dating a young man from Quitaque, who had a friend named Leon. One night
when Bruce came to pick her up, he brought Leon with him. We double dated
some before Mary went off to college. We visited often, though, and when
it came time for the wedding, she took this country bumpkin to Amarillo
to buy a dress and feminine necessaries, then served as my maid of honor.
I even wore her garter belt, stopping off at her dorm at West Texas State
in Canyon to return it on the first leg of our honeymoon trip.
When it came time for her wedding two years later, I had just taken an
office job in Pecos and was unable to get time off to be Sister's matron
of honor. She made a lovely bride and a loyal wife, bearing five children
over the next decade or so, then teaching school to support them as a single
Mary not only supported all her children financially, she encouraged
them in their academic and athletic activities. All attended college, four
on athletic scholarships. They are successful in their chosen careers,
and keep Mary busy tutoring grandchildren, attending sports events and baby
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread
of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed..." Proverbs 31:27-28,
EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager
and webmaster. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcoming home a hero
Johnny Mata came home for the last time on Friday - home from the war
in Iraq. We really do not know how he died. We know his convoy was ambushed
and he and many of his comrades were killed.
Like most casualties of war, the circumstances surrounding his death do
not seem to be the stuff of Hollywood.
But, he came home a hero, as he should have.
Hollywood heroics do not have much in common with real life.
In real life, you play the cards that fate deals the best you can. You
do your job and fulfill your duty to God, family and country. Sometimes
in doing your job you do something that somebody else says is worth a medal.
Most of the time, nobody notices.
The real heroes of this world keep doing their job and their duty all
That is what heroes do.
That is what Johnny Mata was doing in Iraq along with thousands of his
So welcome home Chief Warrant Officer Johnny V. Mata, United States Army.
And thank you from your countrymen and neighbors for making the ultimate
sacrifice in the name of freedom.
Local citizen sickened with politicians
I wanted to address the City Council and the Bud Light Bottle issue as the
owner of a retail beer business, but I would like to respond to that issue
at a later date and discuss what I saw last week in Pecos.
In the 45 years I have been around Pecos I have never seen our community
come together as Reeves County did last week. I was impressed with the honor
this community showed Mr. Mata for his ultimate sacrifice. My condolence
to his family. Anyone that wasn't saddened, choked up or had tears in their
eyes has no heart. Mr. Mata is truly a hero.
Early last week I saw the citizens of Pecos and the city, county and
state employees come together and clean up our city. They cut the weeds,
picked up the trash and for once in many years made our community look really
nice. As I stated above, I was impressed that is until I heard several members
of this community on Thursday talking about CNN and a Spanish television
network coming to Pecos and the reasons for their clean up. After listening
to all of this I have to ask myself and the residents of Reeves County the
following: Why did it take the death of one of our own to clean up our
community? Why did it take the death of one of our own to show this patriotism
I saw last week? Was this another pitiful example of how certain politicians
and their friends have taken advantage of two tragic events, the citizens
of Pecos, and the employees from the city, the county and the state to make
themselves look good for the television media. This makes me sick! What
a shame Mr. Mata wasn't shown this patriotism by our community before he
made that ultimate sacrifice. What a shame the other young men and women
from Reeves County that are also serving in the military have not been shown
this patriotism. Perhaps now, before we lose someone else, everyone in
our community will join the Pecos Enterprise, the VFW, the immediate families
of our young people in the military and show their appreciation. I certainly
Before I finish, I would say that the performance by these professional
politics is the most distasteful act I believe I have ever seen. Maybe its
time these politicians resign and we put our community back in hands of
taxpayers and business people!
ROBERT L. HANKS
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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