The Texas Story Project.
Growing up in New London, Texas (22 miles east of Tyler) was a wonderful experience, full of a mix of youthful ignorance, curiosity, and mystery. Even after almost 80 years of living, the mystery still abounds.
Our house was near the top of an oak-tree-covered hill in the country, not far from the headwaters of a creek that had water year round. Those were the days of free roaming, unlocked doors, friendly neighbors, and credit at the only grocery store for miles.
Though we were in the country, neighbors were plentiful. One neighbor was Mr. Hicks. Mr. Hicks had a very dark tan but our neighborhood was quite multicultural so little thought was given to the color of his skin at the time. Later on in life I wondered if he was of Native American heritage because I discovered that the Indian tribe known as Caddos (specifically a tribe called the Hasinai) occupied that part of East Texas.
Mr. Hicks was a friendly man and he found out that my younger brother, Sammy, and I had a collection of arrowheads accumulated over the course of a lifetime (at least ten years) and saved with our other treasures in a cigar box. His interest was so intense that he offered to pay us fifty cents for each one we brought him. That was a fortune to us!
I suspect that our house was located on a perfect hill for building a life for the Caddoans and can imagine a collection of families living on that hill many years ago. We found a lot of arrowheads on that oak tree-covered hill simply by walking around, kicking every rock big enough to be seen through the thick, rich grass, always scanning for that little bit of treasure in the process. Yep, we sold every one.
I regret my youthful greed and ignorance of the historical significance of those arrowheads and the missed opportunity to learn more about the Native American culture. Now the money is long gone and so are the arrowheads and Mr. Hicks. I regret that I didn't get to know Mr. Hicks better or learn how those artifacts came to be there. I'm sure he knew and would have shared the stories and history. But I have the memories and that will have to suffice. The mystery lives on.
Jimmy Turner was born in his grandparents house in New London, Texas in 1941. He lived there until moving away at the age of fifteen. His father's ability to build and fix things influenced him to study aerospace engineering at the University of Texas.
Posted February 05, 2017