We never talked much when I was a teenager back in the seventies. Truthfully we never talked at all—yet he always intrigued me. He, being a wild game hunter, professional writer, and childless, had no familiarity with the mind of an adolescent. But this Memorial Day, on some strange level, we seemed to connect.
My family made the four hour drive to Ingram, Texas to visit my eighty-five year old aunt and uncle at their sixty-five acre piece of heaven etched into the side of a hill. Twenty years of improvements have turned the rocky hillside into a paradise for man and beast alike. The house, an homage to guns, knives and big game mounts from around the world is a feast for the eyes. My aunt, as feisty as ever, offers her home to us to use as our own.
The ravages of old age have reduced the once virile hunter to a man dependent on an oxygen tank for every breath. As we sat on the veranda overlooking Johnson Creek I talked to my uncle about writing…his favorite subject. He told stories about writing for such hunting magazine giants as Sports Afield and Guns and Ammo back in the heyday of the fifties and sixties. He said he once walked into the offices of one of the largest magazine publishers in New York and was able to meet with three of their editors. He laughed at the idea of doing something as audacious as that nowadays.My uncle admitted that even though he’d written the top selling book on hunting white tail deer (of all time); he had never been able to write fiction. I felt for a moment to have one up on the old man as fiction is my specialty. He said that with the surplus of great fiction authors in the business it’s next to impossible to get a novel published. I wanted to disagree with that, but my part in the conversation was more of a listener than a contributor.
The visit to Ingram turned out to be a very good thing. The kids participated in activities that are impossible in our part of the world. They caught bass from the pond and ate them that night. They saw a heard of axis deer with their young. And they spent a lot of time talking to their great aunt and uncle learning things that can’t be obtained at any university.I hope to go back and see my aunt and uncle again. I hope to have the opportunity to learn more from the man my kids have nicknamed, The Most Interesting Man Alive. But I’ll have to do it soon…because time is running out.