And I am reminded of a trip I
made through Borden County around midnight nearly 60 years ago. I had been to New Mexico
in my Ford Pickup, had bought some 50 bushels of
"York" apples, a sweet Winesap-type
of apple, shaped like a parallelogram somewhat flattened with its "four comers"
slightly rounded. Very unusual shape - I've never seen that variety of apple in
any store before or since. I had sold all but about three or four bushels
when I passed
through a one-horse, one courthouse, one store town of probably half a hundred
occupants, all asleep I suppose unless my noisy Ford woke them up.
I noticed that there was no place to stop for food, but I
still had some edible apples, a pack of cigarettes, and little else to do but wait until morning light.
As I was driving along on a very muddy road, my left rear tire slipped off a narrow bridge. What to do? The pains of hunger assailed me, so I ate a delectable
York apple, smoked a cigarette (I had not learned to kick the habit yet) and went to sleep. By dawn's
early light, I surveyed the damage, stranded some midway between Borden and the nearest town of Fluvanna. I found a board, jacked the
tire up and drove off to the nearest farm house by the side of the road. I stopped the pickup
and roused the farmer to borrow some water for my radiator.
While waiting around, I saw a strange looking
ironish-brown rock by the yard fence about the size of a bushel basket. It looked
to me like it just might be a meteorite. So I asked the owner about it; told him I was something of a
rock hound, and wondered if I could trade him out of it. I should have offered him 25 cents
instead of the generous offer of five dollars that made him suspicious; wondering what I wanted with
their big rock. So I told them I really thought it just might be a meteorite (I
had visited the Museum in Austin where I had seen various samples of meteorites).
We have a number of somewhat similar looking smaller rocks on our place, but
upon examination they have proved to be just plain rocks, not meteorites. So,
afterwards, I told them I would still like to acquire the rock, meteorite or not. They
asked me how much I could pay, so I emptied my bill fold. I had 55 dollars in bills and
possibly three or four dollars to get home on. So they did and I did, both of us thinking "a fool
and his money are soon parted."
I drove home to my Mom and Dad at
Comanche, TX after being gone from home nearly a week with possibly 85 cents in
change, an empty pickup except for 2 to 3 bushels of York apples, and one lonesome ugly
brown rock. We rolled the rock out in the front yard. Mom cooked and/or we ate the
apples. They were collector's items, because I have never seen or tasted their equal
before or since.
And the rock, the less said about the
rock the better, especially to my neighbors, for certainly being gone a week peddling apples and
coming back with a lonesome rock to show for my endeavors would do nothing for my
reputation. (Besides, I had not thought to get a bill of sale for the rock, or any proof of
ownership.) I did call Oscar Monnig of Fort Worth, who was known to be a
collector, and after a couple of weeks he drove over, identified the rock as a "Stony/Iron Meteorite, and
offered me a dollar a pound for it.
Back to the thoughts of my earlier trading partners and I, "a fool and his money
are soon parted." I learned in time that the meteorite had been sighted in the vicinity where it
was found some time in the early century.
There were no other sightings, no one knew
from whence it came, nor did I ever know what Monnig did with it. We ate the apples, I gave the money to
Dad and he most likely spent it on food. So, I guess one could say
"we ate the rock." Though times were hard and I am sure Dad spent
the money wisely for the sustenance of the body. In retrospect, I think we should
have kept the rock, the only souvenir we ever had of a visitor from outer space,
and should have planted the apple seeds and now had the 0'Brien Farm growing O'Brien