Her story will change your life.

The Combes Carnival (p.182-183)

Beyond that sad two acres is a cemetery.  The grave yard, contrary to logic, is a very upbeat place.  The trees afford shade and some respite from the eternal sultry Texas heat.  The graves are decorated with a riot of colorful ribbons and plastic flowers.  The eclectic collection of unique gravestones gives a whimsical air to the whole place.

One day, we come upon an open grave.  It is ready to receive the remains of some local citizen who has passed on.  Ronald suggests that I lie down in this pit, just to see what it feels like.  I comply and look up at the blue sky past the earthen walls of someone’s final resting place.  It is a sobering experience.  I wonder what life is all about.  Does God care? Why am I going through so many bizarre experiences?  I conclude that I have not chosen very well in life.

Across the dirt road from the entire collection of properties that I have just described, is a dense jungle of mesquite trees and high brush.  The twenty-acre thicket is impenetrable and foreboding.  However, along the roadside ditch on that side of the unpaved road, the cemetery workers throw ribbons and plastic flowers that have passed their prime and usefulness.  It is a final resting place for cast-off grave decorations.

My little girls are oblivious to the somber connotations of a grave yard.  They are thrilled with the colorful ornaments.  They drag home rainbows of colorful treasures.  They decorate the chinaberry tree behind our humble abode with their booty.  It gives the entire place the appearance of a carnival.

Uncle Elmer helps Ronald build a tree house platform in one of the low mesquite trees.  I think that the children are pretty happy in their new home.

When we get to the Monterey Peninsula, and since he’s rolling in dough, Ronald does junk the old Buick as promised and buys a ten-year-old white Pontiac sedan.  The children immediately christen the old car the White Streak!

We head out immediately for “Ronald’s Great Educational Tour of the U.S.”  His plan is to travel around the country living in our car, and occasionally getting a motel with our credit cards.  We will make it our goal to visit every University, library, museum, aquarium, National Park and natural wonder we can find.  It actually sounds like fun and will be a great education for all of us.  I have always wanted to travel, so I am ready to go.  I am in fact a “Partner in crime.”

The Fat of the Land
Chapter 14

On a cold morning in Northern Florida, I am sent into a pancake house to ask if they could give us some food.  The manager looks at me as if I am a cur dog.  He looks out the window and sees three little cold, hungry waifs standing by an old jalopy.  Then he sees Ronald in his Army field jacket, stocking cap, and long red beard.  He winces and turns to me sighing.
     He says, “Bring the children in.  I will feed them, but not you.  I won’t even let him come in here.”
     I bring the children into the fragrant warmth and seat them on high stools at the counter.  I watch their eyes light up as the waitress brings them plates stacked high with golden pancakes.
     As they begin to eat, a gentleman customer steps up to the counter and says, “I’d like to buy breakfast for the lady.”

In the Company of Angels
Chapter 21

After the evening meal, we must repair to the dormitory.  The lower regions of “Dante’s Inferno” have become an ugly reality.  No one is to leave after lights out.  Huddled in our little curtained off cubicle, we quake as the night of violence and fear commences.  People yell and fight and glass breaks.  Things are hurled against walls and people’s heads.  We smell the stench of forbidden cigarettes and liquor.  As the nights drag on, we finally lapse into fitful and uneasy sleep.  Loud outbursts of violence often wake us.  Once a missile thrown by an angry woman crashes into our space.
I am always relieved when dawn comes, proving that we have survived another night.  When we are permitted to emerge from the dank dungeon of despair and darkness, we must hasten to the dining room.  Stay-a-beds miss breakfast.

Elmer’s Midnight Magic
Chapter 16
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Excerpts from Little Texas Sweetheart

His Presence
Chapter 1
     My six little children and I must scurry to the border as fast as we can.  We are flying home, a crazed woman with her little ones, alone in a foreign country.  We leave behind us a nightmare existence.  Now we are depending on our decrepit station wagon to get us out of danger.  The tires are bald, the blue paint is oxidizing, the fenders are rusting from exposure to months of salt air, and the woody sides are splitting and peeling.  Much worse than this is the faltering sound of the engine, the occasional back-fire, the tendency to overheat. Will we make it to the border?

The White Streak
Chapter 13 (p. 143)

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