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Piddlin' Acres,
Rambo and the Ark-La-Tex

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
A story never before told, I have been wanting to tell you this for a long time.

"Where you's from, boy?" asked the big brawny rough talking city policeman in Vivian, Louisiana.

Well, I knew he could very well tell where I was from by looking at my Texas license plate. But it was no time for bragging and I didn't. It was time to try to get out of that speeding ticket. And I didn't. I went to the molded, dark and musty, stinking Vivian City Jail.

Rambo, Texas, is my first recollection of life here on earth at about two years of age. You see, Rambo is very rural in far northeast Texas about three miles south of McLeod. That's in southeast Cass County and just a stones throw from the Louisiana stateline. There abouts, a lot of the Texas economy goes into Louisiana for food, fiber and supplies.

I landed on the Rambo oil lease at about age two and growing up there, we country folk often referred to the area as "The Laplands", where Texas laps over into Louisiana and ditto, Louisiana laps over into Texas. You see, in those laplands, there is a gray zone along the stateline where people sometimes get obliterated. Mixed and multiple identification of people is frequent in the gray zone. It's an area where it is very difficult to tell Texans and Cajuns apart from one another. That's because a real Texan might be red, black, white or yellow, driving a rusty old muddy Louisiana car and carrying a wet and fragmented Louisiana drivers license. Or, a real Cajun might look the same and be holding all the same Texas stuff.

During my growing up there, it just depended upon which state had the best deal. It was most often Louisiana that had fewer restrictions; cheaper license plates and a much easier driving test, plus some real affordable fees. Thus, a good fit for we poor country folk. But more importantly, they were a fairly loose bunch with less law enforcement. Alcohol was not legal in Cass County, but flowed freely across the line in Caddo Parish.

"So you's from Texas, boy?" - "Yes sir!" - "Well you's gott'a go down yonder with me to cityhall to puts up a bond. Just follow me, son!" - "Yes sir!" So, I followed him back downtown and parked my pickup truck. I was escorted into cityhall, to like he said, "put up a bond." Well, this greenhorn, shirttail, sixteen-year old country kid knew nothing about cityhalls, bonds, and certainly not jails. I followed the big policeman into a small room. Then he turned around and slammed the jailhouse door behind me. Though I had some money in my pocket from selling dozens of my dad's fresh farm eggs, I was never offered a chance to post bond and the policeman soon left the premises. There I sat, a juvenile, mortally scared to death, incarcerated and would I ever get out of that place?

It must have been an hour or two later, just about dusk and suppertime back home as I sat all alone in that cold, dark, miserable concrete room. "Not a creature was stirring. Not even a mouse." I was able to stretch a peek through a small view from the jailhouse bars, between the adjoining buildings. There, I soon glimpsed an old high school buddy, Charles Ray Terry, walking down the Main Street sidewalk. Finally I got his attention. I was mighty fortunate, indeed. He walked over near me. I asked him to drive the 14 miles out to my home to get my dad. That was, of course, over across the stateline in Texas.

Charles Ray did the favor for me and he soon returned with my dad and some bail (bond) money. They were able to bail me out of jail. Otherwise I might have been stuck there all night long. Man alive! Was I ever happy to get out of that place! All that commotion for a speeding ticket, going 40 in a 30-mph zone and a $30 fine. What's this world coming to?

Wow! How did I ever get off on that long-winded tangent? Oh! Of course, Rambo! Rambo is a part of the Ark-La-Tex area; a large and beautiful part of God's world encompassing the corners of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Thus, Ark-La-Tex. Some larger nearby towns are Texarkana, Shreveport and Marshall. Caddo Lake is very near the middle of that area. Caddo is a naturally formed sinkhole lake that stretches from northeast Texas into Louisiana. My family has fished there and extracted a livelihood from that scenic lake for many, many years. We go back to the early 1870's when my great-grandfather first came to Cass County from Itawamba County Mississippi.

Piddlin' Acres
Now "Piddlin' Acres" is where my family and I presently live. We are retired in northeast Conroe living on two acres that we named Piddlin' Acres. The place was totally wooded when we purchased it in 1987. Several years passed before we decided to clear a spot to build a house and some out buildings. We have been on Piddlin' Acres for ten years.

In choosing a name for our place, we wrote down a list of seven possible names. Then each time we visited with friends, we showed them the list and asked them to pick a name. Overwhelmingly their choice was the same as ours, Piddlin' Acres. That name was chosen from the following list of possible names…
Silver Tree -- Birdstone -- Double "M" -- Piddlin' Acres
Bar None -- Four Winds -- Pair "O" Dice
Here we have raised some goats, kept miniature donkeys, a mule, some guinea fowl, dogs, cats, grandkids and a Polly parrot, etc. We even enjoy some wild bird watching and many squirrels playing from time to time. Our church friends stop by frequently for a short visit and respite. They love a special area of our yard my wife designed. She calls it our "prayer garden", a place where solace and luxurious solitude often abound.
 Texas Piddlin Acres Donkeys
 Texas Piddlin Acres donkey
 Texas Piddlin Acres Mule
Texas Flowers
We're now enjoying our retirement years doing a lot of piddling here on these acres.
© N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" June 1, 2007 Column

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