Loved ones' words tell stories through time

Part of my history of which I am most proud is the fact that I come from a long line of writers. I have always had a passion for putting my thoughts into words and creating stories for public knowledge or entertainment, and almost every time I have a conversation with my Papa, I discover a new story about the storytellers and wordsmiths that came before me.

One of my favorite stories involves that of my great-great-grandfather, Sidney Clair Frazier, who was in fact born in Burnet. This story takes us to the old west, particularly through the vessel of a book called “Menard County History -- an Anthology” lent to me by my Papa, Frazier’s grandson and a resident of Menard County. The book is full of stories pertaining to the history of that area, but not limited to its city alone. No matter where we reside, we all come from many places, have different stories to tell, and this book is a great record of the many puzzle pieces of Texas history. It is so fascinating that this loaner is being held hostage in my bookshelves at home - I think I’ll give it back when he absolutely needs it!

I am especially excited to share this story since the Burnet County Heritage Society made history last week by returning a 1750’s pewter chalice to the Menard County Historical Commission, and my ties with Menard just bring more elements to this saga.

In the passage, “As Told to Me on a May Afternoon,” Sidney Clair Frazier tells of his time working the chuck wagon during a cattle drive from Cherokee to Llano, and gives amiable accounts of the horses and people with whom he shared that journey. The enjoyable story takes the reader on a bumpy ride down an old dirt trail in another time to places unknown, and introduces interesting characters I, for one, would have loved to meet.

Afterward, his tale is told through a poem written by my great-grandma, Peggy Parker, Frazier’s daughter, who heard this story and many others throughout her childhood.

Granny P, as we called her, was an exceptional poet, and she took her father’s words and stories of his time on the trails, transforming them into a beautiful piece of art.

I have included the poem, “Tales of the Trails,” for your enjoyment:

 

“Tales of the Trails

Peggy Parker

March 17, 1981

 

I liked to sit at his feet

And lean against his knee

and listen to the stories

he often told to me.

 

He told the tales of lonely trails

and dusty cattle drives.

Of herds of fearful long-horned steers

Under dark and stormy skies.

 

He sang some songs the cowboys sang

to calm the restless herds.

The plaintive tunes were low and clear

and lonesome were the words.

 

He told about the Jews' Harp wailing

Beneath the star-lit skies

As a lonely boy, away from home,

hid his tear-wet eyes.

 

He recounted tales of rattlesnakes

And towns of prairie dogs;

Of bedrolls laid upon the ground

By the light of campfire logs.

 

I almost smelled the fragrance

Of coffee strong and hot

That he brewed on many campfires

In a blackened coffee pot.

 

He smiled in fond remembrance

Of grub shared on the trail.

Of congenial, friendly insults

Aimed at “Cookie,” without fail!

 

He told of the fine remuda

He wrangled as a boy.

He always had a favorite horse

that filled his heart with joy.

 

He recalled an Indian pony

in the Osage Territory

And riding drag, and eating dust

And felt that that was “Glory!”

 

There came a time in his life

When his cowboy days were over,

but these memories kept the old man young,

for he remembered them forever;

 

As I shall well remember

The tales he told to me

While in love and admiration

I leaned against his knee.”

 

My papa has proudly shared this story and many others with me over the years; I hold them dear to my heart, and it makes me so happy to share part of our story with my readers. Papa is also a wonderful poet, having inherited the talents of his mama, as well as the storytelling powers of his papa before him. I have many pieces he created hung on my wall in adoration, and often look to them for inspiration when I am having trouble finding the words to say.

I hope these words offer you some kind of hope, inspiration, or at least a bit of mid-week enjoyment through learning of a time long past through the words of people long gone.

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