Home » Gate Guarding » Year In Review Part 2 – Tilden and Tall Tales

Year In Review Part 2 – Tilden and Tall Tales


I’d passed through a Texas a couple of times. Once as a little kid, and once in 2002 for work.  I didn’t come to Texas with many preconceptions. Those first 3 1/2 weeks in Tilden went a long way towards shaping my picture of the state.  A year later I can say that Texas is a big state with a whole lot of variety.  But for now, I’ll just stick to what I learned about Texas in Tilden.

The first thing I saw in Tilden was the grocery store. Joe’s Food Market was a one of a kind store, not just in the sense that it was unique, which it was, but also because it had one of each kind of thing: 1 jar pear cactus jelly, 1 roll of paper towels, 1 slab of pickled pimento loaf, 1 bag of dog food, 1 string of dried red peppers etc… It was kind of pricey but a very friendly little place.

We didn’t stop at Joe’s that first night. We hurried on down the pocked road to our first assignment. A fella I’ll call Bubba, who was the Field Supervisor subbing for Larry, was sitting in his pickup, wearing a cowboy hat, cowboy boots propped on the service wagon, waiting impatiently when we finally rattled and bumped up to the gate just before sunset. Yep, we weren’t in Kansas , Iowa,   Oregon anymore!

Bubba did our initial gate guard training which consisted of handed us a clip board with log sheets, containing the 5 entries he’d made while waiting for us to 1. get a new Jeep battery, 2. find Henry and the lost RV and 3. take the 175 mile short cut.

He said: Y’all just needa do it like I done it and don’t let’em catch you with thar gate open and lockerup anigh  fer your own sakes.

That was it for training. Then he gave us a rather unusual speech about how we’d have to pay a very large fine if we quit the job without giving 2 weeks notice and if we did quit, we’d never work for the government again (kind of odd since this isn’t a government job).

Bubba hooked up the  electric and water and promised someone would be out with the septic in a day or two. We didn’t find out his water pump wasn’t working until after he left. We also didn’t know who we were working for, what we were guarding (frac tank), or what exactly we were supposed to do, except to do it like he done it. I’m not really the just wing it type, so I felt pretty unsettled. More so after Bubba described our ranch.

Bubba was a man of tall tales. He told us we were on an exotic animal ranch with zebras and albino deer and other ‘large game animals’. OK, nothing he said that first evening proved to be true, but it made for an interesting first few days, since we were a pretty afraid of walking more than a few feet from the RV for fear of being eaten by something or shot by someone. Turns out the only exotic animals were cows.

Our “exotic animals”

They weren’t particularly friendly cows though. It was in Tilden that Henry and Heidi developed their Bovinophoia which remains with them to this day. Bubba was right about it being a hunting ranch. The owner, an attorney in Austin, had a $30,000 buck that he kept for breeding. The hunting lodge was just a little ways behind us.

It was a private hunting ranch, for his friends and family. By invitation only, they would come, and for $1500, they would get 3 set shots at a buck. If the shooter missed all 3 shots (unlikely since the deer were fed in designated areas right beneath the blinds), it was up to the discretion of the owner, whether to give them a ticket to return and try again.

I have friends in Iowa and in Oregon who hunt. They eat what they shoot. But to be honest, this Texas type of hunting doesn’t seem very sporting to me. However, I’m a Yankee and I know that hunting ranching are a way of life in parts of Texas. It was  just new to me.

There was only one restaurant in Tilden and eating there meant eating among the trophies. It was a little intimidating. I only ate there once and I didn’t look up much. There were things on the wall, I didn’t even recognize. I’ve become real familiar with Texas wild life since then. But back in Tilden, they were just scary dinner companions.

Most of folks we met on the ranch and in town, drove around with a shotgun on their dash. That was new to me, too. Everyone seemed alarmed that we weren’t armed. After a while, so was I!

Texas! I felt like I’d just crossed into an old Twilight Zone episode.

So began this Yankee city gal’s adventures in Texas. I won’t write any more about hunting. I don’t mean to cause offense or make a political statement. The point is just to highlight how entirely out of my element I was since I used to cry if I ran over a squirrel with my Camry.

Tomorrow, if the internet allows, it’s on to caliche that’ll suck your shoes off and the Disappearing Dump.

12 thoughts on “Year In Review Part 2 – Tilden and Tall Tales

  1. I got a real laugh out of your post. Our first gate was in Tilden. Larry was our service person. He convinced Rick, to change the oil in the generator. Of course we were green horns. The store in Tilden gave me a sticker shock when 1 gal of milk was $ 5.00.
    The dust was so bad it scratched up both our glasses. We had to get new one after being there for 7 wks. Our dog could not take a walk without getting burrs in her feet, i mean feet full of burrs. I have booties for her, reckon she will wear them? We are leaving here on Sunday to go home for about 10 days. There is a couple that is going to set the gate while we are gone. I will comment on your blog, so you all will know we are still breathing.

    • Betty – Joe’s Market was interesting, wasn’t it? Did you ever go to the disappearing dump? Tilden certainly made an impression on me (and my glasses, too!). LOL!
      Safe travels – have a wonderful holiday with your family. Glad you have a sub!
      By the way – I’ve added your blog to the blog roll! 😀
      ~ Debbie

  2. P.S never knew a mean cow. Texas attitude i suppose. Opposite and 1/2 of Ireland with the sheep and their big “X”s on their backs running across the winding roads through that gorgeous landscape.

    Man, i can’t think of two more opposite “countries”. Longing for Ireland and Scotland. Homelands in so many ways.

    Sorry … that doesn’t help you while you’re in Mean Cow territory. Get a gun (no bullets). How about a plastic gun, (with water)? mel

    • Melis – well, the cows were here first… and Heidi has taken to throwing bowls of water on them the last few months. They don’t seem to care much for that. 😀
      We waited too long to get a good high powered water gun, but may go for one in the Spring!
      ~ Debbie

  3. Holy shit! HILARIOUS, but just a wee bit scary! Just what i’ve heard about Florida and Texas. Everybody has a gun, and they use them! Damn.

    Watch out for squirrels, and please don’t shoot Bambi’s dad! Damn! Rough territory. I don’t know about you, but i don’t think i could afford to pay for a shot at the Buck.

    The resto. Holy crap! Want to watch this old Iowa, Massachusetts, Illinois gal sob in her chicken and BIG stars Campbells soup?

    Can you get subtitles down there in the deep, twilight zones of netherworld???

    How old was that pimento loaf? Last important question: Are you Packing now?

    xoxox m

    • Mel – Technically, packing is not allowed by the company we work for although most all of the gate guards we know own guns. I’ll leave it at that for now, although you did remind me of a story I’ll have to work into this year end review. 😉
      ~ Debbie

  4. I never felt very much like visiting Texas – and I think you just solidified that feeling. 😉 I’m really enjoying your posts here, Debbie. It is giving me a whole new insight into a very different life.

  5. PS: I think I’ve met Bubba. Anyway, tongue out of cheek, very much enjoyed your story. Looking forward to the caliche story tomorrow. I’ve had my own experiences with that stuff. Nothing like it elsewhere.

    • giniaj – Thanks for going along with the fun and confusion in my tale. I hesitated to write it for fear some would be offended by the hunting sequence.
      Ahh… caliche… until you’ve lived in it, you really don’t get it, do you? 😀
      ~ Debbie

  6. From one Yankee to another, it’s another world in TX. Not just another state, or country..but another world. It takes some getting used to. That is putting it mildly. But on the other hand, once you get used to it, you become one of them if they let you. Almost.

    • giniaj – LOL! If they let you, indeed! I’m not sure they want me, although I did become an official resident last month. 😉
      Yes! You get it! We’ve entered a whole new world – it’s nothing like going from Indiana to Iowa – or even from Iowa to Oregon.
      Texas is Texas and Texas is entirely it’s own!
      ~ Debbie

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