Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More About Dutch

Ten years ago, El Jefe and I made a trip to his hometown of Borger, Texas, with Portia, Babs and his father Dutch in tow. El Jefe made a point of taking the road from Amarillo to the town of Panhandle, and then following the trail that Dutch followed back in the 1920's when the Harrington family moved to what was then the boomtown of Borger -- a muddy hole full of tents, oil roustabouts, prostitutes and gamblers. It was one of the last of the Wild West towns.

Young Dutch led the family into town on a Shetland pony. His mother, father, and three older brothers were traveling by horse and wagon from the railroad depot at Panhandle to their new home. Dutch was in his early eighties when we made this trip and was able to tell the story to his granddaughters and show them where the family camped in the little ridges that were called "hills" there on the high plains of the Texas Panhandle.

Dutch's father began his oilfield trucking business in the twenties using teams of horses and wagons. Dutch and his brothers continued the business after WWII using trucks to haul large pieces of oilfield equipment around North Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas.

Dutch never liked horses, but he loved all things mechanical. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and trained as an aerial engineer and top gunner on the B-17. A typical member of the "Greatest Generation", Dutch returned to his hometown and family business after the war and devoted himself to his family and his family's business. He continued to fly until the fateful day when he and his buddy flew into some power lines and El Jefe's mother put her foot down, insisting that it was time to quit flying.

Dutch was a City Commissioner, a member of the Tax Equalization Board and the county Airport Zoning Board back in the day. When a new subdivision was built, a road was named in his honor. Dutch was famous for insisting that the local police not engage in high-speed chases through town, saying it was better for a miscreant to get away than for innocent citizens to be injured or killed by this dangerous practice.

When my grandmother died in 1996 at age 98, I was struck by the incredible changes that she lived through--from WWI to Operation Desert Storm, from early phonographs to cable television, from Model T's to rocket ships, and from handwritten letters to instant email around the world. Dutch lived through most of the same changes that she did. The world he was born into was very different from the world when he died. It makes me wonder what future changes lie ahead for me.

Dutch was blessed with unfailing good humor, unconditional love for his wife, children and grandchildren, and the devotion of his daughter and son-in-law who cared for him in their home until the day he died. What a wonderful life he had. What a blessing he was to all of us.

Thank you, Lord.

And thanks to all of you for your sympathetic comments on my previous post!


St. Casserole said...

I'm so sorry to learn of Dutch's death. Thank you for telling us about him.

Blessings to El Jefe and all of you as you grieve his death and celebrate his memory.

Presbyterian Gal said...

((((QG and family))))

Songbird said...

Thank you for sharing these stories about Dutch. Thinking of you and El Jefe.

Anonymous said...

Great stories, QG! I see vividly what life in an emerging Texas boomtown was like in the days of 'King Oil'.

Blessings and prayers to you, El Jefe, and your family as you travel this path of grief and memory...


Gannet Girl said...

Such wonderful stories! How fortunate you were to have heard them from him.

will smama said...

Beautiful post.
Thank you.

mid-life rookie said...

Thinking of you and El Jefe and the rest of your family. You are in my prayers as you celebrate a life well lived and a loss from your lives.

Mac said...

Truly, a man of "the Greatest Generation." I am sure the rest of his crew welcomed him with open arms.