I Wuz Just Thinking: Books, Horses, and Dreams

 

“To be in control, or out of control, on a galloping horse is a wild feeling.

You are one with it.” – Gioia Skaggs

Recently while rearranging one of the book cases, I came across the first book I ever remember purchasing.  Actually, I’m sure my mother provided the money for me to buy The Green Eyed Stallion as I was only in the fourth grade at Eastview Elementary school when Bill Martin, one of the authors of  The Green Eyed Stallion, came to the school and introduced his books to the students.

The book was published in 1953, and I’m thinking it was about 1955 when he came to our school. This was the first time I had met a real live author and was spell-bound when he autographed his book to me.

I was really excited about this book, especially at my age, because I loved anything to do with horses.  Probably because most of the movies at the Texan Theatre, in Kilgore, were about cowboys and Indians who rode their favorite horses.

Betty Mahurin Baker

Most of my life, I have been fascinated with horses. As a child, each and every birthday and Christmas I would dream of having my own horse.  I looked forward to going to sleep on the night before these special days because I saw in my mind the horse that would be just out the front door for me to jump on and ride.

The dreams were so vivid and real.  What a huge disappointment it was to wake up early, race through the house in my pajamas, swing open the door….and no horse was there.

Martin Book Store in downtown Kilgore not only sold books and cards but also miniature bronze and painted glass horses. Every time I saved a few dollars, I purchased one to bring home and place on the book shelf with the others.

Sometimes one might fall off the shelf and break a leg.  I would put a piece of wooden match stick inside the hole of the broken leg and glue it in place.

When I was about age 18, the preacher gave a sermon about becoming an adult. He said we are to ‘put away childish things’ I took my collection of miniature horses and placed in a box.  There they remained for many years.

A few years ago – maybe fifty years later – I came across the box, opened and inspected each horse  I made repairs as needed and placed each one in a china cabinet, displaying them so I, as well as others, might enjoy the collection.

Thinking back to the times that I did get to ride a horse, mostly at dude ranches in South Texas while on summer trips with the local high school band, I experienced what horsewoman Dominique Gioia Scaggs wrote: “To be in control, or out of control, on a galloping horse is a wild feeling. You are one with it. You just feel the power underneath you. And that’s part of the attraction.”

Maturity made me realize that my parents could not have gotten me a horse.  We had no space in our yard to care for one and were already feeding a family of six, as well as a dog or two. We could not have afforded the expense of a horse.

Our neighbor, Charles Lambert had a horse at one time. Her name was Queenie.  Sometimes Charles would take my brother Johnny bareback riding on Queenie but they never let me climb on her back..

Sometimes when they would be off playing elsewhere, I would go to the pasture across the street and pet Queenie.  I would often just lie against an old log of a fallen tree, look up to see the beautiful blue sky and the slow moving white puffy clouds, while telling Queenie everything I saw.

I recall one student in elementary school, Gloria Bright, who was quite an artist.  She drew and colored or painted the prettiest pictures of horses.  She was definitely above average of an artist in our class.  I did good to draw and paint a picture of a trash can for a “Clean Up – ‘Paint Up – ‘Fix Up poster.  I did win a blue ribbon for it though.

Some of my classmates were fortunate to have horses, and some even rode in rodeos.  I’m afraid I couldn’t help but be just a bit jealous of them at the time.

Bill Martin, Jr., introduced me to the reality of a world of book writing.  He wrote many children books.  He was a school principal and teacher when he lived in New York until 1993 when he moved to Texas. He lived in the East Texas woods near the town of Commerce until he passed away in 2004.

Books and horses, reality and dreams….as I wuz jus thinking.

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