The Smithwick Battle Royale

I’ve told many stories about how small I was as a kid and how it made me ripe for being picked on. No one was harder on me than my brother Kenny. But I’ll have to say that he was always the first to come to my defense, a brotherly thing.

As I began to grow, it was only a natural progression that one day I would have to say enough is enough to being Kenny’s whipping boy. One day there would have to be a real head-buttin.

It was just before Kenny left for the Army and I had finished school. We were over at Nonie’s house, right beside the highway. Just the two of us. We got into a fight, which happened often. It spilled out into the yard and then the driveway. We boxed at each other, throwing plenty of slaps around. We wrestled and rolled on the ground.

Being right next to the road various ones from the community stopped to see what was happening, which interrupted our fight. We finally agreed to load up in the pickup and go over in the pasture to resume our fighting match, away from prying eyes.

We were building the roads to subdivide the home place at that time, so we went over on a piece of ground that was cleared out below where the Smithwick Market is now located. It was pretty rocky ground but had been dug up with a lot of loose soil there.

I don’t think either of us knows for sure how long we fought but we vowed to stay at it until there was a winner. It was very reminiscent of a TV Western, the way they’d show guys beating on each other unmercifully until the bitter end.

My best guess was it probably went on for a hour, with neither of us quitting. There became a time when we both were so tired, bloodied, covered with sweat and dirt that we called a truce by just looking at each other in the eyes, knowing we had reached the end.

I don’t remember us exchanging words to the effect that it was over. Instead we dragged ourselves over and set under a big oak tree until we had enough strength to get in the pickup and go home.

From that day forward we never have struck out at one another. We have had another ten thousand disagreements, but never found it necessary to lay a hand on each other. We have spent many of the next half a century working together, competing in business against each other and being in partnerships.

We settled our parents estate by divvying perhaps a dozen or more guns and other personal effects, we split up land holdings and other things without so much as a cross word.

I mention splitting up guns. While neither of us needed more guns there were only two prized guns that could have caused us to fight. One was a single shot 410 that had belonged to our grandfather, Theron Lewis. The other was a lever action Winchester 30/30 that was our mother’s rifle of choice that she used whether hunting here in Texas or when they made trips to Colorado hunting. I really don’t know who picked first, but it was probably done by starting off with a flip of a coin. We then alternated picking guns and other things until they were all divided. He has the 410 and I have the 30/30 Winchester.

As a postscript to this story, the little 410 was lost to Kenny’s Big House Fire. I’m in the process of getting the 30/30 all cleaned up and ready to shoot, and my oldest son, Matthew will become the new owner. I choose him to have it, because he was able to spend a lot of his teenage years up at Smithwick hunting prior to my mother’s death. He knows the history of that 30/30.

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