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Wednesday

The Real Andy of Mayberry, Sheriff Booger Pruitt

 
  I started this 1200 mile plus road trip from Dallas to Amarillo and on to Dalhart in the far northwest corner of Texas. The return trip takes me back down west Texas before cutting east to DFW. I will pass through 37 of the 254 counties along the way and I try to fill my memory banks with identifiers for each of these counties.  
  On the way back from Dalhart and back to Dumas on the way to Amarillo I am seeing my home in a whole new way. I am thinking of bank robbers, cattle rustlers, and the evolution of the sheriffs of Texas all the way to it's modern day technology.
  I have sheriff friends all along the way, but I can't visit them all, I have to be in Garden City by morning for a very important interview.

Amarillo once felt like home but I have to move on.I pass by Tulia, hi Millie and Rodger, passed the Curtis family in Plainview, and don't even stop to pee till I get to Lubbock. 
  I thought I became a man in Lubbock but all I did was get a degree and get married. I am going to stay in Odessa because there is no room at the Inn in Garden City or Sterling City where I am conducting interviews for an important chapter in my book 'The Eyes of Texas, Sheriffs of the Lone Star State'. 

  This drive takes me down the center of the Texas panhandle. To get to Glasscock County I will bear to the south and east of Odessa. From Sterling City I'll cut across to Abilene and on to Ft. Worth. When I get to Collin County in northeast DFW I'll be back home.    
  That's a lot of history, a lot of highway, and a whole lot of farming and ranching.
  That's a Dairy Queen route.
  
  I have met most of the sheriffs along this route and am looking forward to adding them to my growing list of Texas stories that captivate me.

Sheriff Booger Pruitt
  

Before he passed away, I had the opportunity to meet Glasscock County Sheriff 'Booger' Pruitt who is the real Andy of Mayberry and the longest serving sheriff in America. 
  For 50 years the 6'4" and often around 300 lb. gentle giant was the epitome of kindness and respect for his fellow citizens as he represented law and order in the simplest terms. I am now following his legendary life from the day he  was given a badge at the filling station across from the jail.  I have been talking to other Texas sheriffs that could add more to his story.
  That was all he was given, that badge with a Star in the center. He supplied everything else. Booger knew every single resident. He knew the folks who's parents became the founders. He knew their great, great, great grand children. He would rather give you a sermon than write you a ticket and he often did just that!
 
How badly do you need to pee?

   On the way to Amarillo before my Dalhart to Glasscock County tour, I stopped at an inviting Texas visitors road stop out side of Childress. I loved the sign at the rest room entry. It's a yellow sign that clearly states, 'Beware of Rattlesnakes!'.
   I know it's true! I have hunted the little buggers since my youth but never saw the one that got me until it already had. Sweetwater and the great Rattlesnake Roundup isn't that far down the road.
   I answered a cell call from a friend from New York and I bragged about all the shades of tans and browns that I have learned to love after over 40 years of traveling Texas highways for work and pleasure.
  I think with a lot of moods on a 1000 mile drive when I'm by myself. One of my standbys is Wagner's Four Seasons. I can take one thought and by the time the epic is concluded, I have many perceptions of the same idea.
  But I do include long conversations with God. I just talk to him like he was sitting in the passenger seat. I wore out the recorded New Testament on cassette and now have CD's. Beethoven, Pavarotti, Jr.Brown, and Willie are also accompanying us.
  Eventually, I start seeing things from those various angles the mind can perceive! When I started seeing the unnatural lines more than the scenery, I got distracted from the big picture of mankind.
 We can't remove the imprint. It is the sign of progress.  The proof of mankind.

Lines
 
  As the scenery glides by on my long drive around the Texas Panhandle I begin to bemoan all the vertical lines that are covering the landscape.

  The power lines, the phone lines, the barbed wire fences, the irrigation sprinklers, the roads, and the buildings lay before me. They are all leaving vertical and horizontal obstructions as I try to see the land as it once was.
  I try to see the land before man. I imagine being on a horse where I can see the ground with it's host of plants, assorted varmints, and wildlife while seeing everything you miss inside an automobile going 70. Stuff we never really see and don't know to miss.
I-40, Texas
  Many thoughts later, I contemplate the miles of electricity bearing crosses. We have seen thousands of them as they line the highways until we don't see them at all. It makes me think of the cross lined highways that led to Rome.

  Remember Rome? Once the greatest of all powers 
and like many others greatest powers eventually a defeated and divided society? They had many gods didn’t they?

Then, I think of those Christians that were hung for their beliefs. They lined the roads to Rome with crosses for miles and miles.

Then, I think of the the many people that these modern electrical crosses would represent if they stood for each American who gave their life as they defended their country, their faith, their hopes for the future of those to come.

Then, I think of the basis of this country and its beliefs.
A nation guided by the word of God the father of Christ who also hung on one of those crosses.

Then, I think of the commitment and dedication of the men across the nation who worked through scorching days and stormy nights to plant those crosses that line our highways. 
And I think of the future full of freezing blizzards and twisting winds that will once again call the guardians of those vertical lines to give us light, and water, and food, and our connections to the world.

But I still think more about how much I hope that this country will not forget the miles of ancient and modern crosses that represent our faith and our purpose.

And I pray we don't forget that others in history turned their back on God to accommodate trade. Were are they now?

As I drive on into the broad starry Texas night, I quit complaining about the vertical lines.
They stand for a lot of things.

I still wish they would bury more of them.
                                                                         jb blocker 



- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962. Email: jbnorthtexas@gmail.com

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