Mason County News
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At the Top of Erna Hill
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 • Posted June 11, 2014

Will K., it has finally rained enough on two occasions to obscure the top of Erna Hill from view in the valley below and now the valley is green with vegetation, even if most of it is mesquite and prickly pear, but we will endure.

Some interesting events have occurred in the London area over the last 100 plus years. While in Wilford’s barber shop, I always check out his framed pictures on the walls and years ago, I found one of particular interest so while there the last ears lowering event, I checked it out once more. In the year of 1910, a spotted leopard was found on one of the hills of the Reichenau Gap, laying in a shallow cave by Everett Stewart and a fellow by the name of Kuntz and the two are pictured with the dead leopard. I guess that they had no means of killing it so Will Mc Collum came along with a single shot 22 rifle and shot the leopard with one single shot with a 22 short. One couldn’t afford longs or long rifle bullets in those days. Go in the shop and check it out when in Junction. Why a leopard happened to be in the London area was a mystery but the speculation was that it had escaped from a circus or the owner ACCIDENTLY released it, not wanting the feed bill any longer.

I am sure that many of you have noticed a sign on the southwest side of the East Reichenau Gap hill that is visible coming from Junction, painted on a flat rock with a slight overhang about 2/3rds on the way up. The color is green and yellow and was touched up by A. J. Ivy and his grandson, about 8 years ago. The sign reads SUDDEN SERVICE and was painted in 1927 by my uncle, Clarence Andrews. Sudden Service was a mechanic’s shop located in a metal building next to the old post office located on the north end of town and I think Delton Stewart recently had a shop and tire business in it’s place and Durwood and Bessie Lott used it as a car shed when the drug store was going strong back in the late forties and fifties. Uncle Clarence became a mechanic for Sudden Service when the horseless carriages began to show up and moved to Austin about 1940, along with the Lawson families. He married Leona Lawson, who’s family were long time residents of London. Uncle Clarence ran an ice route for Southland Ice in Austin till the end of WW2 and then became a driver for a fuel supplier state wide. Many don’t know what an ice route was but then, refrigeration was not common so he delivered block ice to homes on a route till the end of WW 2.

London had many characters but one always entered the later day conversations as around 1900, an individual by the name of Red Ache had a small farm on Big Saline Creek west of the cemetery in London and it was referred to as The Chigger Farm , as in those days, weeds were very readily available to house red bugs. At that time, the wagon road ran west of London, to the west of the present school property and on south, adjacent to the cemetery and turned west adjacent to the creek stream to the present day 377 bridge. In this corner was the farm for chiggers. His claim to fame was being a circuit preacher to raise money to satisfy his habits. When he ran out of money, he boarded his buggy and made rounds delivering the gospel message. Once he had collected enough money for a stake in a poker game, he returned to The Chigger Farm and stayed until his funds ran low and then back to the circuit. I remember, even as I was a kid in the 30’s, he was still the subject of conversations.

I refer to a 1929 copy of the London Graphic on occasion as the reading of the one liners is very interesting as not too much rhetoric was involved. J. Marvin Hunter was the Editor and Chief of the paper and I recently discovered that he compiled and edited a book, The Trail Drivers of Texas in 1906. I remember after my return from the military, Dick Weaver related a story to me and it was later confirmed by Awbrey Kothmann, about a man by the name of Chas. Bober, who owned a ranch on Big Saline west of London, on what we later referred to as the Jess Goode Place. In reading the 1929 Graphic, I found that he had bought a Dodge Coupe, which he purchased from Clifford Hamer of Junction and he, Hamer and others went to Brownwood to pick up his pretty car and other autos. Apparently, Bober was a single man who lived on his place up the creek and sometime later, he was found dead. He had no relatives in the area and efforts to locate relatives came to a dead end so the problem with his burial became a problem. It was decided that at some time, his relatives may claim the body, so they decided to preserve the body but there was no cold storage so they decided, since it was winter, to field dress his body much as an animal and hung it in a grove of timber and built a fire and smoke the body for a number of days. Once cured, the body was wrapped in a wagon sheet and stored for about three months before his kin was contacted and asked for his remains to be shipped back to Kentucky or so. Then the locals built a box and shipped him home. I never heard what happened to his pretty Dodge Coupe’

On occasion, I read a book of cowboy sayings by Texas Bix Bender and the title is “DON’T SQUAT WITH YER SPURS ON” especially, if yer britches are down. I thought this might good advice for some still able to squat.

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