This tag is associated with 31 posts


My great-grandfather was a coal miner from West Virginia. Not really, but I used to tell people that when I was a kid. He was, though, a rail road worker from West Virginia, and the rest of what I say about him is true as far as I know. Grandpa hated school. He once put … Continue reading

Jeremiah Was a Bull…Rider

My old pickup didn’t have an air conditioner. The windows were open as we drove down 917 East to Mansfield. A homemade tape of Chris Ledoux was playing: “Well, there ain’t no easy going on the rodeo trail; for every man that’s made it, a hundred men have failed…” “I guess two hundred men are … Continue reading

My First School Paddling

JOSHUA, TX, 1980: Amber (not her real name) sat next to me in Mrs. Yonner’s first grade class. I did not like Amber. She was stinky and sneaky, and she stole little things—pencils and such—from her classmates. One weekend, my dad took me fishing at the Nolan River in Cleburne. I got bored with fishing … Continue reading


When my wife and I moved into our neighborhood twelve years ago, Mr. Weems was the first to welcome us with his big, genuine smile. Bonnie just turned three, Lily was one, and Ben was still a year off. We were far from either of our families, and we had yet to make new friends. … Continue reading

Old Pilgrim Church, Elkhart, Texas

My great-great grandfather, and his father before him, were Primitive Baptist pastors in Elkins, West Virginia. The church is still there today, almost unchanged from how it was 100 years ago—a one room frame building with outhouses amid a cemetery on a hill. Until a few years ago, a cousin of mine was still pastor. … Continue reading

Lie’s I’ve Told, Part 2: The Razor Blade

Not far from my house was a creek. I used to play there with my friends. It was the scene of much trouble. Falling in while wearing school clothes. A fire I started and thought I’d put out coming back with a vengeance. Fights. Early exposure to pictures of unclothed ladies. The creek was my … Continue reading

Lies I’ve Told, Part 1: The Peanut Butter Spoon

Mama cooked supper every night. And like other mothers, she did not want us to “spoil our supper.” So, when I asked one day after school if I could have a spoon full of peanut butter, she said no. “Please. I really want some peanut butter,” I said. “And people in hell want ice water. … Continue reading

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