Tall Tales and Home Remedies for an Ear Infection…

January 21th, 1937, Saint Mark’s Place, Manhattan, Maggie’s diary continues:

Tex O’Reilly:

To the O’Reillys’ for dinner and John’s parents there. His mother a prim-looking woman with hair partied in the middle and a sort of daguerreotype dress buttoned up the front said she wanted her whisky straight and complained she wanted a cigarette.  His father,  *Tex O’Reilly, gray haired, very loose jointed and lean, six feet four, with great deal of charm.  Told about the little boy of three to whom he was gravelly introduced to as the “Tex O’Reilly I’ve told you so much about” by child’s father, and child walking around and viewing him from every angle and finally saying “Are you Tex O’Reilly? Well, I’ll be goddamned.”

Also told us about the comic strip he is starting about *Pecos Bil (has an artist to draw it) and the story about the chuckle-lion which is very fierce and has bayonets for claws and is covered with armor plate etc. and can only be killed, and so kept from killing you, by being made to grin so hard that its mouth meets in back and his head falls off, and Pecos Bill met one in the dark and grinned at it all night and then in the morning to his disgust found it was no chuckle lion but a large bole on a tree, but the tree was cracked all around, all the branches had fallen off etc… Pecos Bill trapping for beavers rigs up contraptions so that beavers falls on greased pointed stick so fast they leave their skins behind and run away naked to grow new skins next season.

Tex also told us a story about Shorty Anderson, who he was in the Mexican wars with, and  instead of shooting spent his time going through abandoned houses in Mexican village getting quarters out of gas meters. Shorty refused to be taken to hospital after he was finally shot until he could get his cans of quarters on the stretcher with him.   Supposedly Shorty marched through the desert near Chihuahua with a gold-headed umbrella. Everyone was dying from thirst, but Shorty insisted he carry the umbrella since the handle was worth ten bucks.  Then a sudden rain came up for about ten minutes, which usually disappeared quick, leaving the desert dry as it had been before, but Shorty opened his umbrella, stuck it in the sand upside down and caught enough water to give each a drink. And so on and on. A perfectly lovely gent this Tex O’Reilly.

John said he’s writing a piece for the American Mag on the curse of the O’Reilly’s. He says he is now back working on the edge of his great grandfather’s farm, one of its boundaries is now 38th street. After leaving that farm the same ancestor went to Chicago and farmed another piece which is now part of the Loop, and then he went to St. Louis etc…

We watched Mary Ellen kicking before dinner and John giving her bottle, very proud because only let her swallow one bubble of air. She very cute and good.

Dinner. More talk.

On way home commented the elder O’Reilly’s the only people of their generation we had met with whom we felt absolutely at home and without any sense of difference in age. Also how much we liked young couple.  M. says Dick Dunlop predicts John to be head of Zoo in time.

*Edward Sinnott “Tex” O’Reilly (15 August 1880 – 9 December 1946) was an American soldier of fortune who is said to have fought in ten wars under many flags. These wars included the Spanish-American War, the Philippine–American War, the Boxer Rebellion, and fighting in Venezuela, Honduras and Nicaragua. He fought with Pancho Villa and also in North Africa, and was an international policeman in Shanghai. He became a writer, including as a reporter for the Associated Press. He wrote an autobiography – Roving and Fighting, and Lowell Thomas wrote Born to Raise Hell about him. The latter book has been reprinted and is distributed by The Long Riders’ Guild Press.

*Pecos Bill,was an American cowboy, apocryphally immortalized in numerous tall tales of the Old West during American westward expansion into the Southwest of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The stories are considered to be an example of fakelore. Pecos Bill was a late addition to the “big man” idea of characters such as Paul Bunyan or John Henry. The stories  were first published in 1916 by Edward “Tex” O’Reilly for The Century Magazine, and collected and reprinted in 1923 in the book Saga of Pecos Bill (1923).  Later writers either borrowed tales from O’Reilly or added further adventures of their own invention to the cycle.[2] One of the most well known versions of the Pecos Bill stories is by James Cloyd Bowman in Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time (1937) which won the Newbery Honor in 1938, and republished in 2007.Pecos Bill made the leap to film in the 1948 DisneyMelody Time. He was portrayed by Patrick Swayze in Disney’s 1995 film Tall Tale.

And What Was Her Granddaughter, Yours Truly, Doing On January 21st, 2010?

Oh what would I do without my grandma? I get to meet famous cartoonists, and the man whose ancestors lived on 38th street when it was farmland.  After I read this, I learned that dear Tex died only nine years after this dinner.  Hopefully, wherever he is, he knows that Pecos Bill got a prestigious book prize and a film deal.  As for me, without my grandma and her tall tales, I would be eating the wallpaper, I am so bored, except we don’t have wallpaper.  I have a terrible ear infection.  I haven’t had an ear infection since first grade.  It feels like the whole left side of my face is on fire, and the fever gives me very Tim Burton-like dreams.  In Brattleboro we fix everything with home remedies.  It’s like living in Colonial times except we have indoor plumbing and heat.  My doctor told me to stay away from antibiotics until I was killing my husband from the pain. So I am drinking fresh-squeezed lemon with raw garlic and putting mullein oil in my ears whilst my grandma hears first hand the adventures of Pecos Bill.  Isn’t Tex stunningly handsome? But not as handsome as my husband, of course, who is the world’s best nursemaid. I mean nurseman.  Until tmw everybody. And stay healthy…

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