Thomas Edward McCullough is Adeline’s oldest and was born in 1935 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He spent many of his childhood summers with Nana at the ranch, “from the time school let out to when it started” as he says; following whatever routine was most interesting at the time and there was always a lot going on. He has stayed connected to the ranch and has remained the fix anything man; from mechanical to electrical, both house and complex machinery wiring harness, anything! I have enjoyed, through the years, watching his clever ingenuity. An early TI engineer and author observed Tom as the smartest engineer he had ever met.
During the late 20’s through the 40’s, John Funk was integral to the daily household routine. Steve Sr. had rescued John from the bars in Tucumcari and an almost certain alcoholic doom. Tom recalls gardening in the summer with him, with wash days on Monday and Thursday.
John lived in the end bedroom we all grew up knowing as John’s room. Sally has persisted in renaming it Tuck’s room after Daniel C. Trigg, “Tuck” so as to not confuse it with John Decker. It has taken hold, mostly.
Gail Chacon lived with his wife. Mary, down at the “Bunk House” raising their family, three boys and a girl: Ted, Donnie, Norman and Cecilia. The Chacon kids were ready playmates and among the recipients of Tom’s mischievous pranks. Tom is a prankster, always has been. Gail milked the cow twice a day and there was always cattle and horse work going on, but the best times were trailing along with Dad on his rounds.
Tom tells a story of riding horseback with Dad on an inspection tour of Campana pasture. All the horse work starts at the barn following a trail through the Horse pasture over the saddle leading into Alamosa. This trail passes just north of Alamosa Point and was the horseback route for most of the horse work on the ranch. This trail up the southern slope and through the saddle is time worn by countless shod hoofs and erosion over the previous one hundred years. Today, its remnants are clear to those eyes that remember it.
Tom was about eight at the time. In the high mesa country of Campana, Dad’s horse stepped on a rattlesnake which bit the horse just above his hoof. Dad unsaddled and sent Tom back to the house alone with instructions to return in the pickup and retrieve him on the road at the Alamosa crossing where he would walk his horse. Kids are trained at an early age to drive in order to support many of the needs of grownups.
In a recent four-wheel drive trip across this Mesa along roads the ranch has recently rebuilt and not traveled in decades, I marvel at how an eight year old could return alone horseback through rough terrain to a destination hidden at the mouth of Dog Canyon, a trek that takes close to two hours and return alone in a truck. Today’s generation would be at serious risk to be charged with such a task. Tom thinks nothing of it. That’s just Tom.
Self-reliance at an early age was a vital skill in those early days. It’s still helpful today.