Tuesday, April 6, 2010


At almost seven feet tall, bushy white hair and ashy looking whiskers, Great Grandpaw Jessie was kind of scary looking to a semi-timid six year old boy. The old straight, ladder back chair with a laced-in cowhide bottom seemed small even though Great Grandpaw was of slight frame. The mountain of hot coals in the fireplace was little comfort from the cold winter day. This side of the “Dog-run” home was referred to as “the house”. A “dog-run” house is a long single ridge roofed house that was divided in the middle with a wide hallway splitting the house into two sections. No door was at either end allowing the wind to flow through and cool during the summer - or let the “dogs run” through to the front or back yard. The bed rooms were usually on one end and the kitchen and other some room was on the other end. As with most houses of this design, A long porch went pretty much across the whole front of the house and a back porch of various designs attached to the back.

The young boy being restless, always like to play out in the dog run or sit in the wide swing on the front porch. It hung sideways so whoever was sitting there could wave at the traffic (it is a law in Texas that you have to wave at passing cars if it does not endanger yourself or anyone else by freeing a waving hand) or turn the other way and look through the window and check to see if Great Granddaddy was doing ok. Windows were a great invention to be able to see “inside”. The cold wind was sharp and the vision of the fireplace won the battle of decision. The boy could see the warmth inside. Great Grandpaw grinned and motioned for the boy to come on in the “house”.

Three years later the boy was sitting in the same swing watching the traffic. Cars drove by slowly. No one honked their horns. They did wave. Several cars and pickups had parked along the highway. The yard had been full of vehicles since early morning. Aunts, uncles, cousins and various friends were milling around inside and around the house. Uncle Bobby and one of the cousins were sitting on the porch steps drinking tea or soft drink out of a Dixie Cup. The boy nestled a paper plate with green beans and mashed potatoes in my lap. He was careful; He didn’t want to spill anything on his dress pants before they got to the church house. He turned and looked through the window. The effect puzzled the young boy. Instead of seeing inside, he saw himself. Was the window sending a signal? For a brief moment he was amazed at his own reflection. The harder he peered, the more distinct his image was. Gradually his focus relaxed and the interior of the “house” came into view. A window; sometimes to keep things in, sometimes to keep things out. While doing both, and with patience, they will allow you to see what “Is”. The old ladder back, straight chair was sitting in front of the fireplace. It was unoccupied. The boy could clearly see the black and white cow hide stretched across the chair bottom.



  1. Of course you know I love this story, Glenn...gets me all choked up...in a good way :)

  2. Keeping things in, keeping things out, seeing what is. Thank you. I've missed your stories and their wisdom.

  3. You always paint a clear picture!

  4. I think that I could sit in front of an open flame and just listen to you talk. Recognition of life without Great Grandpaw.

  5. Glenn, I love this! You said they were going to church, and at first I thought it was just a typical country Sunday. They were going to great-grandpaw's funeral, weren't they?

    "A window; sometimes to keep things in, sometimes to keep things out." That's the greatest line ever. You were right to call this piece 'Window' instead of 'Dog Run'.

    One of my very few good memories from childhood is sitting on my step-grandmother's house on the main road in DeLeon, Texas, sitting for hours watching the cars go by and waving to everyone. And it was a dog-run house, though I don't recall ever calling it that. With a screened in porch that we kids slept on in the summer.

  6. Yeah, I'm with Jerry. Time for that bonfire and story hour with Glenn. Pull up a log and grab a cup of gritty coffee. You're in for a treat.

  7. I love these old houses and the memories they bring to me. As I've gotten older I now understand what my Daddy meant when he use to say "Life ain't nothing but a memory babe". So true and I'm thankful that you share your's.

  8. I feel like I'm right there in the story with you. You're a natural storyteller Glenn! Great job once again.

  9. Glenn, there is so fricken much in this story. I'll just be quiet in it for a while. It is familiar to me, the boards of that porch and around that window, literally and metaphorically. Sometimes you go places that I know. Just like those shelves of mason jars full of tomatos when I first read you. And the rest I'll be quiet with.

    I'll read this one often, I think.