We moved to Parkville when I was in the sixth grade, I was eleven in 1959.
The first person I met was Wally, who lived three houses down. We were still unpacking when He knocked on the door and asked my mom "Do you have Any kids here my age." Well my mother though I was the one out of the four of us that was closes to his age. So she brought me out. He then introduced himself and asked if I wanted to go out to play. It was winter so we went sledding and have been friends ever since
It wasn't long after that, that Wally introduced Me to Texas Bill. Texas was an old man that lived on the edge of town. He was skinny and would have been tall if he could stand up straight, but he was all bent over with artheritis. He was very old, when asked , he would say he thought about one hundred, but wasn't sure. He had a twinkle in his eye, and a couple of good yellow teeth, everything he ate had to be soft.
He had a very small house that use to be a one car garage. He had a couch that turned into a bed, a wood burning cook stove that He used to heat with , and a bathroom so small he had to take a bath in the kitchen in a wash tub. He did most of his cooking and cleaning and living outside in his back yard.
Most of the adults in town said us boys should stay away from crazy old Texas Bill. He might be dangerous. And his story's were all lies anyway. They probably were jealous, Because all the boys in town would rather listen to Texas then their teacher , or even their father.
He taught us a number of important things like how to spit and fight. He told us how to sharpen our pocket knifes and play mumble peg, and how to cuss ,and how to be polite to girls and women.
But his stories were the best part of our visit. He said he was a Texas Ranger. He would talk about the bad guy's He tracked down , Like Sam Bass and John Wesley Hardin. He told us of gun fights and ambushes and riding horses across the plains chasing rustlers or murderers. He fought Comanches and chased Mexicans bandit's back across the border.
He told us stories of when he was in the wars WWI and WWII. He was in the Calvary in both . The first with horses and mules, the second was mostly trucks.
We all though he was a man among men. A real live hero. We couldn't understand why the adults couldn't see this.
He told us other Texas stories to. Like of the Alamo, He could make you feel like you we're there, along with Sam Huston, Jim Booey, Danial Boone and the rest of them fighting to the last man to make Texas free.
In our minds their was nothing crazy about Him.
About the time I left home my little brother started hanging around Texas Bill's place. Then I was eighteen and I was sounding like all the other adults. I told my brother He's just a crazy old man in a little shack telling lei's. Nobody could have done all the things he say's He's done.
Two years later I was in the Navy and half a world away when I got a letter from Wally. In it was an obituary for Captain Monroe Fox formally of the Texas Rangers, veteran of world war one and world war two. Born 1865 in Brownsville Texas died 1968 age 103 Known locally as Texas Bill.
I don't know what happens to us but somewhere between childhood and adulthood we lose the ability to see anything special in someone that's plain and unspectacular.