Our Terlingua Images
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Our first 6 months in Terlingua were not easy. Once city dwellers use to such luxuries as running water, central air and heat, trash pickup and good plumbing we were now basically living off the land. It was perhaps as close to camping out as you could get. We were hauling our water to our small one bedroom mobile home in a 50 gallon barrel. I would fill up the barrel at the school house and on my drive home the water would splash out of the open top. When I arrived home I was lucky to have half of my collected water. Once at the house I would then pump the water into another container that would in turn supply the house with water. One day a violent desert wind storm nearly blew our un-anchored mobile home away giving us a new healthy respect for the raw elements of nature. When I went off to teach school each day Olga was left alone with baby Anna with no telephone or access to transportation. For her it was a lonely existence. She read every book she could get her hands on, listened to records, cooked and played with baby Anna. There were times when she was just down right lonely and longed for company. Out of pity for our situation a few members of the community came together to help us. Bob Graves built us an addition onto the mobile home that added a bedroom and screened in porch. Glen Pepper built us a rock back patio with a shaded cover. Glen also helped me rig up a makeshift trailer with a large metal tank that I could haul water in. This 200 gallon tank was a vast improvement on the fifty gallon barrel. The Terlingua Ranch community provided us with a small wooden cabin that had been used as a temporary hotel room. Then my parent showed up on the scene and purchased us a 1800 gallon water tank. Oh what a joyous day that was when the large tank was delivered and Glen Pepper showed up with his water truck and filled it with water. The county commissioner improved our road and damned up one of the dry creaks so that we could capture water during the once a year rain storms. Within a year we had a reasonable place to live. The biggest problem we had was that Olga was alone each day with our new 6 month old child with no way to communicate with the outside world.
Two years after living in this make shift house and after the new school building was finished we were able to take up residence on the school grounds in the old school house. It too was very basic living quarters but it was a welcomed relief for Olga and Anna who would now have people in their life each day as the events of the school came and went. Of course fixing up the old school house and making it livable is another story all of which you can find in our book,
There are people and there are the most amazing people.
Daisy Fulcher Adams 1903-1995, a Terlingua Legend.
Daisy Adams was the local Terlingua postmaster. As part of the Fulcher ranching family she had been in this part of the world for as long as anyone could remember. Daisy turned out to be a great friend of ours. She served on the school board and was always there to support our efforts to improve the school. I would many times go to her for advice and council on how to deal with the locals and manage the affairs at the school. Daisy always had a good story to tell and was always welling to take the time for a visit. Charles Fulcher, a student at Terlingua School lived with his aunt Daisy in their ranch house behind the post office. I remember Charles as being an amazing, bright and happy young man. He was our local zoologist and loved snakes, lizards and spiders. He would capture and keep them in glass fish aquariums in his bedroom proudly showing them off to anyone who would come by to visit. He was even known to capture and care for a rattle snake. So, if you wanted to know anything about snakes he was the local authority.
Terlingua Postmaster Daisy Adams retires, Alpine Avalanche 1976
At one time, long ago, people could come and go across Rio Grande River and no one ever asked any questions. We very seldom ever saw border patrol. I remember many times going down to Lajitas, getting on boat, crossing the river and having lunch at a small cafe. In fact some of my students were not legal citizens and their families moved freely back and forth over the board. The images above were common sites. After 9/11 that all changed.
Characters of Terlingua
As I remember the story Gilbert Felts ( "Gil" ) and Glenn Pepper arrived in Terlingua in the early 1960s to do some mining. Gilbert was a young teacher in Sabinal when Pepper was in school. They sold and mined bat guano and some other soil amendment to farmers before finding quicksilver mine in West Texas. As time went on Gilbert and Glenn would partner up on many wild adventures. Glenn assisted Gilbert in building the La Kiva by hauling the huge rocks that he needed. Glenn had a bulldozer and dump truck which was a rare resource at that time. I believe they began building La Kevi between 1975 and 1978.
After my second year of teaching and with a growing student enrollment it became quite evident to the school board and the community that we needed a new school house. The old school building was simply not adequate and was literally falling apart. With a major amount of community effort, many fund raising events and a mere budget of about $30,000 we were able to build a new one room school house. The bricks for the walls were made from the adobe mud on our playground. What an education it was for the students to watch the mud bricks being made from the earth just as it had been done for thousands of years. The wood for the roof came from tearing down an old building that was donated to the school by a neighboring county. The community came together to help mix the concrete and create the building slab. Workers from across the border, working for $20 a day, under the directions of a local contractor, Ken Barns built the building, installed the roof, windows and doors and rocked the outer walls with native limestone. Within less than a year this small community had done what seemed to be the impossible, we had created, from the earth a new school house. The most amazing thing about it was that it had an indoor bathroom and a kitchen.
<-Ken Barns a local Terlingua legend
Blair moved to Terlingua in 1999 and lived alone in a rock home in the desert. He was a regular member of the porch gang at the Terlingua Trading Post, where he gathered many of this stories for his book Tales From The Terlingua Porch.