by Stephen Osmon
I dedicate this series of tales to ‘Tumbleweed.’
He continues to tell me the most wonderful stories and I hope as well
as pray, that you take the time and listen to him.
A special tribute to Pauline.
1 - Ghost Towns and Town Ghosts
you get there you’ll know. Then you will have to decide, will you
stop or will you pass by? It could change your life forever; but you
gotta make the first move.”
I had my first inclination of an understanding of who he was, or should
I say ‘what he is,’ while eating some of the best food I’d had in
three days. Barely getting over a stomach virus or something, my ‘Ghost
Town Tour’ had gotten off to a really bad start.
I had done some paper research, but I wanted to get an ‘on site’ feel
of the places before I began writing. So I had a trip all planned
out right down to the amount of time I’d spend at each site so I could
do it in two weeks time.
First I had trouble with the truck, after that I got sick. The final
nail in the ole coffin for that ‘official Ghost Town tour’ was when
I met him, or when he met me; it’s kinda hard to explain right now.
The heat of 2:00 in the afternoon can play funny tricks as the sun
reflects and appears to melt the distant pavement or ground, and when
I first saw the old man I thought it was one of those mirages kinda
floating in the road.
As I got closer I saw it was an old cowboy sitting in a wooden chair
in the slightest of shade beside an old gas station and it had to
have been at least 95 degrees out there. I slowed down and pulled
off into the drive.
He had one of those faces you can trust immediately, you know, the
kind they say a serial killer, or a child molester has. I slid the
passengers’ window down and asked, “You got any cokes and maybe a
bite to eat?” He said, “Yeas sir we do. Come-on-in son.”
I parked the truck and followed him inside. Once there I understood
why he had been outside. It had to be 100 in there but the smell of
Bar-B-Que made my stomach growl out an almost military response echoing
it was prepared to report for active duty if Bar-B-Que was on the
I asked him to make me up a couple chopped beef sandwiches and I grabbed
a coke. Then almost as a second thought I said ‘Make yourself something
and grab a drink on me sir”
I stepped outside and found another old cedar wood chair and pulled
it next to the old mans. He came out a little later with the food.
I didn’t come out and say I was looking for Ghost Towns I just said
I was looking for Evanesce, Texas and I wondered if he knew anything
places become forgotten and it seems sad in a really serious way.
But some places are like certain periods in our lives, we don’t forget
these because of age or time, we forget, or try to forget because
we don’t want to remember.
No matter how difficult it is, even if it is only for the sake of
being able to finally let it go, sometimes we have to think about
what has been forgotten, we must turn around and look.”
Texas was removed from the maps in the late 1920's because nobody
was left that wanted to stop there, nobody had any memories, or at
least any good ones. All paper accounts of Evanesce are very sketchy
and there are no buildings left to mark where it was.
asking about the town I saw the cloudy veil covering the old mans
eyes kind of stir a little. Then those old eyes began to clear up
to a bright steel blue and there was ‘a fire’ in there that hadn’t
been there earlier.
Seizing the opportunity I stood and introduced myself and asked his
name. Thrusting his rough, weather-beaten right hand out, he said
“Gallivant Sojourner is my given name, but you can call me Tumbleweed.
“So ya want to know about Evanesce?” Then he began to tell me what
The heat, the sun, the slight breeze and everything else sort of evaporated
from my awareness as he told me more than I could ever hope to hear
. . .
thing I knew we were in my truck driving down the road. He said, “Turn
down that road right there.” and he was pointing to a dusty trail
we were approaching. So I pulled the truck off the old road onto a
much older one.
“Right up there where the trees is big, turn toward the river.”
The Colorado River that has done so much to the Arizona landscape
passes through this part of Texas without making a whole lot of fuss.
Once we got to it I saw Tumbleweed had a permanent camp set up. I
stopped and we both got out, then he asked if I wanted some coffee.
often wonder how differently things would have been if I hadn’t stopped
that day; I guess I’ll never know. But I do know that it wasn’t until
I met Tumbleweed, that I began to start living my life, you know,
really living it!