Thursday, May 21, 2009

Conan the Barbarian is from Texas

Yesterday I found this photo in Gramma's room. She tells me her brother worked on an oil rig in Cross Plains, Texas, where her whole family lived a at least a couple of decades.

Gramma says, "I had one aunt that was with the FBI and she came to Cross Plains and examined a bunch of things. Well, there was all thangs, bootlegging and what all...there was a lot of stuff goin' on about the oil. The guys runnin' the rigs. My brother worked on a rig. That's kinda dangerous work and Cross Plains was a pretty good oil field for a while. There was a boom, what they call a boom, where everybody comes to try to get a job and this and that...It wasn't making mother very popular that her sister was with the FBI. We had to keep a lot of stuff quiet. There was just a crowd that lived in Cross Plains and then there was one that came in, you know, that lived here and there. They were working the oil fields. They were just living kinda, you know, away from home and takin' thuh best of it."

Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, moved to Cross Plains in 1919. Gramma says he stayed at their house for a while. Apparently, gramma's mother Flaura and Howard were friends and shared an interest in writing. The oil rig roughnecks, whose carousing and living outside the law attracted even the attention of the FBI, must have had an impact on his writing, soon to be popular for pioneering an entire genre of swords and sorcery and most famous for his character Conan. There were enough stories in the boomtowns to inspire the weirdest of fantasy.

In 1936, while Gramma was a senior in college here in my hometown of Denton, Robert, suffering from lifelong depression, shot himself with a .38 pistol upon hearing his mother was in a coma. He died at age thirty in Cross Plains, Texas, where my Gramma and her family spent at least twenty years.

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