By Robert Murray Davis
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Extra resources for The Ornamental Hermit: People and Places of the New West
My sister Beth travels a lot on business, and a colleague once asked if she ever drove on a highway that had numbers, as opposed to lettered county roads. She recommended a route so complicated that her husband said it made him dizzy just hearing about it. It wasn’t until I got to the on-ramp to I-70 that I made up my mind to take the longer route. I’d made a leisurely drive to a meeting in Omaha on the way up, using back roads, and that had been enjoyable. S. 54, as Beth had suggested. Then I was on my own.
I don’t remember what he said, if anything, but at least I found it on his shelf after he died. By this time he was in his mid-sixties, and semiretired. He spent more and more time in the little house that his father-in-law had 34 Fathers and Sons converted from a carriage house (my nephew is remodeling it now), seeing a few surviving friends, still going on a drunk now and then, and occasionally taking a trip with a friend, once to Mexico, once to Las Vegas. I asked him how he did. “Made expenses,” he said.
The few times we went hunting, I was mostly too young to use a gun safely, too short to keep pace with him in the field, and too cold to enjoy the experience even if I’d had the arms and the legs. The only hunting expedition I enjoyed was shooting from the car at rabbits in the fence-rows, and then I had to listen to him complain about dressing out the only rabbit (or anything else) I ever shot. 22 bullet. The weather was warmer for fishing trips, but I didn’t have the necessary patience or attention span, and the only thing that saved an all-night expedition—hot, sleepless, insect-filled, and nothing 27 Origins interesting to eat or (at that age) to drink—was my discovering on a trot-line a six-pound blue catfish.