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There is a famous motto “Don’t mess with Texas”.  Around rural Pottsboro in the 60s and 70s, the motto was, “Don’t mess with Florence Clountz att”.    Daddy worked the night shift at Loe’s Highport Resort, so Mama was alone six nights a week.  He passed away in 1969, so she was a widow, so she learned to watch out for herself.  She had a pistol, a shotgun, a rifle; and she didn’t mind using them.  She could swing a wicked hoe too, she was a little woman, but wirey.  Large six foot chicken snakes were not safe anywhere around her hens, that’s for sure, not when she had her hoe sharpened. 

Mama was comfortable with firearms, ready to intimidate any varmint – four legged or two legged.

Nighttime spooked her, she didn’t like what she couldn’t see.  If we came into the house when it was dark, she would have to go through the whole house and look to make sure nobody was hiding anywhere before we settled in for the night.  I
pity the person she ever found hiding.  Even if she didn’t use the gun on them, she might gripe them to death. 

If she heard a suspicious noise outside, or thought somebody was trying to get into the house, she would open the small bathroom window or the dining room window which had a screen on it, warn whoever it was "you better run, I'm gonna shot". Then she did. She shot the gun right out the window. Those window screens started looking like swiss cheese and were useless at keeping insects out (or bullets in, as it turned out.)

Just before Daddy died, he finished a house next door to our old one that he intended for us to move into.  But when he died, Mama never did move.  

We ended up renting it out to several different people for next to nothing. Mama’s sister, Jessie, and her son, Russel, wanted to rent it and we were showing it them one night.  As we went through the front door,  I told Mama I thought I saw somebody hiding behind the door, but she didn’t listen, I was just a kid.  But he heard me say that and knew he was spotted.  When we got in the back rooms, we heard running and the door slam.  They saw his tracks. He was not seen again.  He may have wanted a free place to stay that night, but I guess he thought it wasn’t worth it to tangle with Mama after dark, she might have her gun!!!

All the family knew to approach our house with caution at night.  I vividly remember one night her nephew Roger Cook came over.  He’s an old school cowboy who looks like he came right out of the old west, a rough customer.  He looks just like his grandpa James Jackson Cook.

Florence Cook Clountz
Lottie Cook Mosier
Nora Gertrude Cook
James Jackson Cook

But a man’s got to know his limitations.  When he drove into our yard,  he knew to park close to the road (for a quick get a way), honk really LOUD (because Mama was hard of hearing), partially open the driver door and use it as a shield and wait until he either heard her issue the warning that she was about to shoot or until she turned on the light and saw him.  Well, this time she saw him and said “Who is it?”.   He yelled as loud as he could several times  “Don’t shoot, it’s me Roger Cook, your nephew”.  He wisely didn’t leave the safety of his truck until he got the all clear from her that she knew he was a “friendly” and could come in. 

It is said Yamamoto of the Japanese Empire didn’t invade American soil because he knew that there was a gun behind every blade of grass.  Doggone right.  Don’t mess with Texans.

Texas History
Elaine Nall Bay

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