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A GATHERING AT SLOAN: This photo, taken around 1919, shows a group of San Saba highschoolers during a community get-together.  You couldn't get many teenagers today to dress up like this to eat dinner in a fancy restaurant let alone an outdoor barbecue.

This area was, according to the usual quasi-reliable sources,
the stomping grounds of Lemon Squeezer. 
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

We weren't sure we found Sloan or not, or even if there was a Sloan to be found at all.  So, I began some serious pondering on just how the fellers making these maps locate places long since gone.

S.jpg (7677 bytes)ettling into lost mode, we found ourselves driving along a beautiful stretch of road high in the hills somewhere southwest of San Saba.  Toward the south, (I think) clouds grew in immense proportions toward the sky.  Then, just up the road we saw a bar in the middle of nowhere with several pickups parked out front. The sign above the place read Po-Po's.
       Another sign on the building read "WE AIN'T DIALIN' 911". A pistol hung from a peg on the warning.  The door stood wide open and we heard the sounds of a T.V. and conversation from inside.
       "Let's ask for directions here," Ms. Intrepid said, earning all rights to her name.  With that, we were out of the car and walking through the open door.
       "Knock, knock," I said to the dark room waiting for my eyes to adjust.  Before we completed our introductions cold beers were pressed in our hands, and we sat on stools by a bar in the corner.  We told them what we were up to and why.  I passed around copies of the magazine, pleased to know one of the bunch whose name I soon learned was Wade had read and liked the magazine.   And he told the others so.
       The men in the room, four in all, were friends and neighbors who gathered to watch the football game together.  And there were more on the way.  There was Larry, Curly, Wade and Sloan (but no Moe).  Periodically women folk would show up with coolers of beer and the men-folk would send them off on more errands.  As it turned out this wasn't a bar at all, but a hunting cabin.
       "Sloan?" I asked the man on the seat that once was in a pick-up.
       "Sloan Pool.," he responded.
       Are you any kin to Jym Sloan who wrote for the San Saba News back in the 1890's?  He called himself Lemon Squeezer."
       "That was my uncle."
       At that moment I realized, quick as lightening, that I had left the tape recorder, pen and pad back in the car.  But as I looked down, just beside my beer on the counter, I saw a clean pad, just like a reporter's, and a pen.   I picked them up and started taking notes.
       Apart from a ranch, it seems Uncle Jym also left behind a reputation as a maverick.
       "He started drinking when he was twelve," Sloan remarked.  "He lived to be ninety-nine.  He would'a lived longer if he hadn't quit.  Uncle Jym, he couldn't hear nothin' and he wrote everything down.   Just opposite of what it's supposed to be.  He couldn't near nothin!  And then his boy took over, and he couldn't hear nothin' either.  He was Lemon Squeezer II.  Tom Sloan, he's been dead about two or three years.
       "That two story house down there--there used to be a two story house where that old barn is--that's where all of them was born.  All of the Sloans."
sloanhseSM.jpg (33938 bytes)        As I listened I learned that the old stone and wood two-story building I had photographed earlier was Jym Sloan's garage.  Upstairs was where the servants lived.  And it was probably there where, so one story goes, Jym drove his Hudson Terraplane through a barn, knocking off both doors.  Jym "Lemon Squeezer" Sloan never bothered to have the Hudson repaired.  He just drove it around everywhere, doorless.
       "This Sloan Ranch," Curly informed me, "fifty or a hundred years ago took in over a hundred thousand acres.  It went plum from Pontotoc through this whole damn country.  It was all owned by the Sloans. 'Course it's busted up, sold off, some of them died or whatever.  Sloan and his kids still have about twenty two thousand acres."
       My mind was reeling at the possibility one person could actually lay claim to so much of heaven; and, as I watched Curly spreading his arms out wide to emphasize the extent of the holdings, pointing to directions that were now completely lost on me, my mind reeled some more.
        "My daddy married the ranch," Sloan told me a little later, "and they lived down on Wallace Creek.  I didn't see him till I was twenty-one.  He was always out dancin'" .  Sloan smiled.  And everyone laughed and agreed.  Evidently daddy had a reputation too.  "When I turned twenty-one I went to Llano. There were twenty-one bars there at the time and I made every one that night."
       It may have been in Llano where Sloan first saw his daddy (Of course, like Sloan, I'm stretching the truth to the breaking point.)  But, I figured out pretty quick--from Lemon Squeezer, to Lemon Squeezer II, to daddy and now Sloan-- that pecans, season after season, never fall far from the tree.
       We had more conversations, most of which I didn't take note of, some of which I'll keep to myself.  But we had miles to go, and we didn't want to wear out our welcome, so we made our move for the door (for the second time).
       Just before we walked out the door, while saying out good-byes to these friendly folk, Ms. Intrepid and I learned that the barstools we had been sitting on, and the bar, and the bunk beds off at the other end of the room, were all once owned by Hank Thompson who had a cabin on Sloan Pool's ranch.  Hank Thompson, for those of you who are unfamiliar with country music, was one of the three great Hanks of the genre--the other two being Snow and Williams.
       If we had stayed longer we would have rounded up more stories, but just as likely, we'd still be there.  Passing back through San Saba we headed on to Fredonia, Pontotoc, Katemcy and other disappeared places.  But that's another story.

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