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October 16, 1996
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They tell me the "in" thing nowadays is genealogy, or the study of
one's heritage and ancestors. From what this student learned in his
college course of "History of Civilization, he's always been afraid to
shake the family tree for fear of what might come falling out.
Since I'm the only male offspring of my father's lineage, there are
constant reminders from aunts, uncles, and cousins that the burden of
preservation of this limb hangs on my shoulders. If they'd endowed me
with the brains or good looks of the other descendants, maybe I wouldn't
have been an older bachelor.
From as far back as I can remember, the pride of the family was cousin
Larry. He was the one who got like a living computer. And, since I was
about 4 years behind him in school, he was a hard act to follow.
Teachers were disappointed in me when I couldn't learn to play the
violin or master calculus.
Don't misunderstand me - I too was impressed with his abilities; I even
bragged to my peers about my cousin - the nuclear physicist who worked
with NASA in putting a man on the moon.
I graduated from college and settled into teaching Spanish in high
school and farming. He left NASA for a teaching position at one of the
Ivy League universities. For some 15 years we didn't see each other -
but recently he was passing through the country and looked me up. It was
a pretty Sunday afternoon when they drove up - Felipe and I were
dehorning cattle. Larry was distinguished a distinguished looking
gentleman - greying a little around the temples, with a very attractive
wife and two very well mannered children - a four-year-old daughter and
a six-year-old son.
The kids were enthralled with their visit to a real farm - tractors,
plows, chickens, rabbits and cattle. To my surprise, Mother in high
heels and Father with black, shiny, loafers, each took a child by the
hand and started their tour around the place. Felipe and I tagged along
to show them where not to step. The four of them even dared to touch the
Jersey milk cow.
Then, the six-year-old son asks his father, "Dad, how does one tell the
difference between a cow and a bull?" "Son," he replies (as I wink at
Felipe) "the males have horns and the females don't."
As I translated to Felipe in Spanish, "I'm afraid those bulls we just
dehorned turned into heifers."
And Felipe, with his second-grade education, is still convinced that a
Man landed on the moon in 1965.
Jerry Hulsey is a former school teacher who writes for fun.
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Last weekend my husband and I traveled through your fair town with
anther couple on our way to visit a third couple in Fort Davis.
We found your museum one of the best that we've seen, even in bigger
cities, plus the workers were especially knowledgeable and friendly. But
one woman made not only our visit or our day but our whole trip with her
outstanding random kindness.
Her name is Zelda Canon. First she explained enthusiastically to the
four of us the story of Pecos Bill and Slu Foot Sue. Then we asked her
where we could find some of those famous Pecos cantaloupes and were very
disappointed with her response that the season was over. Then on our
request, she directed us to the nearest telephone to call our friends to
say we'd been delayed. While on the phone at the convenience store,
Zelda arrived with two cantaloupes explaining she had gone home after
talking to us and found that her daughter had left a sack of the fruit
on her porch, so she hurried over to share them with us, hoping that she
could catch us.
As Houstonians, we were amazed at her goodwill, generosity and charity
and we've vowed to pass it on to others.
P.S. Like our benefactor, the cantaloupes were wonderful and sweet and
we enjoyed sharing them and this story with our hosts.
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