Childhood Visits to Grandmother and Granddaddy Fincher's Home and Other Texas Relatives

These are memories of trips my family made to Texas when I was a child living in Jacksonville, Florida. Every other summer when I was young, my father (Holmes Showalter), my mother (Winona Fincher), my older brother (Russell) and my sister (Anne) would make the long car trip from Florida to Texas to visit our Texas relatives. For my brother, my sister, and myself these were trips that every child would love to make. How many children get to visit their dad's relatives in the beautiful Shenandoah valley of Virginia (farm country) one summer, and the next summer visit the Wild WestTexas ranch country. What adventures for a child.

Being 3 years younger than my sister, Anne, and 6 years younger than my brother, Russell, most of my memories are perhaps not as detailed as theirs, but still visually imprinted in my brain. At Granddaddy's and Grandmother's house I remember seeing a wringer washing machine for the first time. I remember the cisterns to collect water (something that would be foreign in Florida where I grew up). I remember the vast areas of mesquite trees and open ranch country that were so different from the Florida landscape. I remember fishing in Granddaddy's tank, wondering why in the world they would call lakes or ponds, tanks. I remember being scared to go into Uncle Theron's and Aunt Lurline's garden, after hearing how they sometimes found rattlesnakes there. Then there were outings to the river where we might float on an inner tube, and hear how my uncles and cousins might shoot squirrels to cook on camping trips. All these experiences were bigger than life for a suburban kid from Florida.

Perhaps my most vivid memory was going out in the back of a pickup truck on Granddaddy's [Pickens Steele Fincher] ranch to shoot jackrabbits. I believe this might have been with Uncle Mike, Granddaddy or perhaps a cousin or another uncle. Related to this, I remember when we traveled by car to Texas, once we reached Texas, we might stop at a roadside shop. Often in the postcard section there would be a postcard with a cowboy riding a giant jackrabbit. As I said, Texas was bigger than life.

Little did I know that the adventure of hunting jackrabbits as a child would foreshadow an event many years later when I was 47 years old. The summer of 1992 my wife (Vivian), and our 2 children (Sarah and Stephen) drove to Albany from Denver for a family reunion. This of course was long after Granddaddy and Grandmother had died. Shortly after setting up camp near the Brazos River, cousin Buddy asked me if I wanted to go kill a wild boar in one of his cattle pastures. I said sure, and off we went with Buddy and me in the cab of his pickup and cousins (including my preteen daughter Sarah) in the back. We got to the field and saw a boar off in the distance not far from cattle. Buddy handed me his telescopic rifle and said take care of him. Hands trembling I lined up the boar, fearing I might actually kill one of Buddy's cows, but actually hit the boar and wounded it. When we reached the wounded boar, Buddy asked me if I wanted to finish it off, but (feeling lucky that I actually wounded it without killing a cow) let Buddy finish if off. More to the story, but perhaps one day when Sarah is writing memories of our family, she can tell her side of the story.