About Louella Jones
Tribute to J.D. Kilgore, a Cowboy
He was born in Coleman County
near the turn of the century.
Guess you'd say he's as much a Texan
as any man can be.
He rode in a covered wagon
when he was just a child.
Not many now remember when
the West was still so wild.
He lived through the Great Depression,
times were tough as they could get.
He works real hard and still finds his joy
in simple pleasures yet.
He was married to his Goldie
for more than 60 years.
They shared some real good times,
some laughter and some tears.
They raised four sons with pride,
then mourned the one they lost.
Now later on, with Goldie gone
who knows how he counts that cost.
He truly loves the history of the cowboys
and the true old West
But the lore of Indians
is what he loves the best.
He's proud of his collection
of arrowheads and such.
And if you check the storage sheds,
he doesn't throw out much.
Though his hearing's not so keen now,
his eyes are still blue and bright.
His hands are gnarled and painful
and his hair is thin and white.
He no longer plays the fiddle,
but he still tells with pride
Of contests that he entered,
and friends he made from far and wide.
He has a sorrel mare named April,
she's his joy and pride.
There's not much he likes better
than going for a ride.
"A man with a horse always has a job."
or so he used to say.
He cleans his tack and saddle
on that rare inclement day.
In summer time, his hat's a battered straw,
in winter it's a sweat-stained felt.
On any given day, he's in boots and spurs
and a well-worn belt.
His favorite jeans are soft and faded,
his shirt a Western plaid.
If he could have his way,
one thing would make him glad.
If you'd go out and visit,
wear your boots and jeans.
Sit around a campfire,
swap some yarns and cook some beans.
He never met a stranger,
any one can tell.
Every one who knows him,
thinks they know him well.
His family calls him "Pappy,"
"Daddy" or "Dad."
He's as good a friend and neighbor
as anyone ever had.
Whether he's riding out on April,
or napping in the shade;
J.D.'s just the kind of man
of which legends are made.
© April 1996, Louella Jones
J. D. Kilgore
born in Talpa, Texas, 1905 -- died in Odessa, Texas in 2002
Louella Jones writes: Mr. Kilgore was about 85 when I met him and his sweet wife Goldie. I worked for them, first doing home health for her until she had to go into the nursing home. Later I cooked and cleaned house for Mr. Kilgore and their oldest son who was handicapped. I spent a total of about 5 years in their home at least part of the day every day and came to love the whole family.
Mr. Kilgore was charming and witty and always had a story to share. He was well read and very knowledgeable on a number of subjects but especially the Old West and the Indians. He was quoted in the Ozona Stockman newspaper on the subject of his longevity: "His advice for longevity is simple, 'Keep breathing, if you ever stop, even for a short period of time, it might prove fatal.'" It was this kind of dry humor that endeared him to people all over Texas and beyond.
The last time Mr. Kilgore was in the saddle was the occasion of his 94th birthday when his sons helped him up on April for one last ride. That was July 1999. When he died in December 2000 in Odessa, Texas, we made the nearly 1300 mile round trip to attend the service. I was thrilled that the family had asked one of J. D.'s oldest friends to read my poem at the service. I am very proud to have been counted worthy to be a friend of the Kilgores.
Pappy showed me, once, the fiddle
That he'd played with pride.
He opened the case almost reverently
And let me look inside.
I could tell by looking--
His expression said it all.
Oh what he wouldn't give to play again
At a contest or a ball.
I never thought to hear it--
The music he said was sweet.
But Pappy's hands were stiff and painful,
By the time we came to meet.
He showed me, too, a trophy and said,
"This time I got third"
It was from his last contest,
And where was sorrow in the word.
The music was there inside him,
And I knew he hoped one day....
Pappy held on to the fiddle
Though he could no longer play.
I knew when last I saw it,
I recognized the case.
At first I stopped to wonder,
"What's Pappy's fiddle doing in this place?"
The boy with the fiddle
Was only twelve years old--
But he handled Pappy's fiddle
Like it was made of gold.
The young man stood up there
Oh so proud and straight.
He played a waltz I didn't know
But he really played it great.
When next he stood for his turn
With the fiddle and the bow,
He played "Faded Love" and I had to cry
It just moved me so.
Just one more time
The boy began to play--
"San Antonio Rose" filled the air
On that cold December day.
The boy with Pappy's fiddle
Can really make it cry and moan.
So even with Pappy gone now,
The music will live on.
I'm happy I got to see and hear it,
Although the time was sad.
Someone else loves Pappy's fiddle
And that sure makes me glad.
© December 6, 2000, Louella Jones
About Louella Jones:
I was born in Coldwater, Kansas, where I attended school and married and raised two daughters. After my divorce I moved to Oklahoma where I met and married the man I am married to now. We moved around a lot and have spent quite a bit of time in Texas. I have nearly always worked in some aspect of health care, nurse aide, laboratory assistant, home health care giver and now am a Registered Nurse and night supervisor at a nursing home. I have not written much poetry and consider the poems about Mr. Kilgore the best of my efforts. My hobbies are reading, crocheting and enjoying my ten grandchildren and my great grandson--and of course my grown daughters who are now my friends also.
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