Gayline Shaw was still 16 when she graduated from Bledsoe High School as valedictorian.
Brains were not her only gift.
The school’s senior class of 1950, “being of unsound mind and disintegrating memory after four strenuous years,” issued a class will. While Ona Mae left “her most charming looks and personality to Helen” and Wayne left “to Jimmy Kennedy his ability to get his mouth taped up in math class,” Gayline’s unique talent was likely more remembered and appreciated.
She left, to Dot Trice, the “ability to spit tobacco juice into a Coke bottle across the room.”
A few years later, Gayline (Shaw) Roberts’ daughter shared her mother’s taste for the unusual. Rhonda Roberts says she was 4 when she first remembers visiting her grandparents’ farm near Bluit, which is near Bledsoe, which are both about 40 miles south of Farwell along the Texas-New Mexico border.
Rhonda wanted to take a “cowboy bath” like her grandpa, Gailor Shaw, and older brother Randy.
“No,” Pauline Shaw told her granddaughter, “young ladies take baths in the washtub on the porch.”
But Rhonda was no young lady. She did not know exactly what a cowboy bath involved, but it sounded like fun; so she pitched a fit until her grandfather gave in, hauled her out to the pasture and tossed her in the horse tank.
Rhonda never asked for another cowboy bath after that.
Family stories don’t make the newspaper very often. Too bad. Sometimes we need to read about a lot less news and a lot more real life.
Edith Gilliland never sat on Jesse James’ knee. But she loved it when her grandchildren in Muleshoe asked her that question.
“No,” she would say. “It wasn’t me. I’m not that old.”
The baby on the outlaw’s knee was her aunt. James and his friends were always welcome at the family’s Oklahoma farm. “They would come by and my great grandmother would cook dinner for them,” Gilliland would say.
And then Great Gilliland — that’s what everyone called her in 1995 when she was 82 with 21 great grandchildren — would tell more stories. The best one involved her mother-in-law, who always kept a loaded pistol nearby, and once helped a man with a bug in his ear.
According to Great Gilliland, a man knocked on the door of Mamie Gilliland’s farmhouse when she was home alone. The man said he had a bug in his ear, and he needed help to get it out.
Mamie Gilliland must have believed nobody would make up a story like that and, besides, she had a pistol in her sewing bag. So she let the man come in. She had him lay his head down, and she poured water in his ear. A few moments later, out walked a bug.
Those are a few of my family stories. If you will share some of yours, we’ll put them in the paper.
Send them to the e-mail address that follows or give me a call. I look forward to hearing tales from your cowboys and Great Gillilands.
From the Editor’s Desk is a weekly memo to CNJ readers. David Stevens can be reached at 763-6991, extension 310, or by e-mail: