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 Texas : Features : Music :

Kopperl, Bosque County, Texas

By Steven Fromholz
(All Rights Reserved)

(The information in this article is the background history upon which Steven Fromholz's song, Texas Trilogy is based.)
I was neither born nor reared in the very small town of Kopperl, Bosque County, Texas, but as we Texans say, "Mom 'n 'em were." Kopperl lies on Highway 56 in northeast Bosque County -- seven miles north of Morgan and 15 miles south of Rio Vista, just a few miles southeast of the Kimball Bend of the Brazos River, near Lake Whitney. The town has always been small, but a century ago it bustled in its own small way. Cotton was king and the local cattle ranchers shipped their stock to market via the Santa Fe Railroad, which made a daily stop in Kopperl.

My mother's mother, Hirstine Hughes, lived in a white, wood-frame house on a corner lot with a white picket fence around it, catty-cornered from the Church of Christ. In that house she reared her four children by herself after my grandfather, Steve Hughes, died from injuries sustained in an accident at the cotton gin. It was in that house, at my Granny's side, that I learned what love is. By the time my mother and dad first brought my brother and me to Granny's house in the middle of the last century, Kopperl had ceased its bustling and was well into the slow process of dying -- common to little back-road Texas towns. But to five-year-old Stevie Fromholz, it was a childhood paradise.

The cotton gin had long since closed, and the bank building had a gaping hole in the front, but George Lane still picked up the mail at the depot about 2:15 every afternoon, and Granny and I would go to the post office to see what catalogs had come for us to marvel over. Every day but Sunday, you could hear the ring, ring of Carlo Brown's hammer in the blacksmith's shop, and I could sit for hours in the dark, smelling the brimstone, while Carlo and my Daddy talked about the world by the fiery glow of the forge. Granny would take me to Walter and Fannie Day's grocery almost every day for what we needed for supper, and there was always an ice-cold Dr. Pepper at Sleepy Hill's General Store or Alleen's Drugstore, just down the street. Mr. Suggs' pool hall was a safe place for us kids to be, and it was there my Uncle Pickard taught me to shoot snooker and eight ball and it was there I heard my first juke-box blaring out Hank Williams singing "Your Cheatin' Heart."

The caliche streets of Kopperl were the playgrounds for all the kids in town. We were always barefoot and running through the chalky dust from house-to-house and adventure-to- adventure. Everyone in town knew who you were and who you belonged to and who to tell if you were caught misbehaving (and you were always caught). The streets of Kopperl were safe because everybody in town was watching after all the children.

To me, Granny's old house was the heart and soul of the town. From her I learned my manners, and to always tell the truth and to say my prayers. I learned to operate the big Motorola radio so we could listen to "Gangbusters" and "The Grand Old Opry" on Saturday night. I learned that a cooling breeze always blew through the northeast bedroom. I learned that we had to go to the root cellar when the sky turned green and the thunder rumbled and the rain fell in torrents. I learned how to play "42" and Canasta, and that a "red three" was worth a hundred points. I learned you can put buttermilk on a sunburn. But most importantly, I learned what unconditional love is.

I think Granny loved me more than anyone else ever has. She was strong, kind, loving and, it seemed to me, always a little sad, just like the town in which she lived almost all her life. She was the very best of the past and when she died in the early '60s, she, like her little town, had little hope for the future. They were simply both worn out by hard living. My Uncle Steve sold Granny's house shortly after she died, and the new owners tore it down and put a manufactured home on the lot. Now when I visit my Granny, I go to the Kopperl Cemetery across the road where the Santa Fe rails used to run, and there she is, with most all my Mom 'n 'em, resting in peace as the preachers say.
Steven Fromholz
Steven Fromholz
Photo courtesy Luca Vitali
One day, before too long, I will buy that corner lot and build a white, wood-frame house with a white picket fence around it, and I will sit on the porch in my rocking chair and wait for my grandkids to visit their old Pappy. Now that's resting in peace.

Steven Fromholz
(In his Book of Texas Best (Taylor Publishing, 1988) Kirk Dooly says that Texas Trilogy is the best song ever written about Texas.)

"Live At Anderson Fair" >
Live recording of just Steven Fromholz and his guitar and really comes across with the essence of his music. The only tunes on the CD that Steven Fromholz didn't write are No. 18 and No. 30.
CD
Live At Anderson Fair

Forum
Subject: Kopperl, Texas - Steven Fromholz

Dear TE, The most definitive song ever written about small town Texas is "Texas Trilogy" by Steven Fromholz. It is obviously a three part song about growing up in Kopperl, Texas. Kopperl was all but forgotten until Fromholz wrote the song in 1969. He should definitely appear in your list of famous Texas Musicians - he's written tunes recorded by the greats - Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett as example, and has a 40 year career in the Texas entertainment industry being inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2003. He was born June 8, 1945..... Kindest regards, Angela Blair, August 21, 2006

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