The Summer of 1949

It was sometime during the summer of 1949 when I first became aware of the sinister and notorious outlaw gang, known and feared across the west as “The Row Boys.” Dad and I were traveling the highways of the Texas Panhandle when I notice the first of many monuments. Keeping an interested and wary eye, it was not too long before I saw another, then another. Curiosity is a small boy’s long suit, and it was just a matter of time before I had to know what those monuments meant.

Here is the delightful tale I received straight from my sainted father’s mouth:

Back in the late 1800s there was a mean bunch of folks named "Row" who lived back in a gulch, way back in the Badlands. Ma & Pa Row had seven sons; who in turn had seven sons, each son meaner, wilder and more vicious than the last. What with the cousins and uncles; all of whom had large families, they formed the evil core of the wildest, meanest bunch of thieves, bank robbers and rustlers in the West. They terrorized an area ranging over thousands of miles of the Southwest.

These men were so notorious and bad; killing, robbing and rustling, that from almost the first they had a string of posses chasing after them. When they would leave one jurisdiction into the next a fresh posse would be waiting... Their hangout was a bar in the gulch, far back in the Badlands, but each time they would ride on one of their swift races to plunder the posse was there waiting.

These men were so bad, that when the posse caught up with one of them they hung him on the spot. And when one was shot they just buried him where he fell. Each time one of these fierce desperados bit the dust and was buried, they erected a monument to mark the grave, and thus all the many monuments I had seen.:

Naturally a boy believes what his father tells him, so I went for years with this tale stored in my head. Each time I saw one of those markers I would think, well there lays another one of them Row Boys! Often times I would remark to my dad, “did you see it, there was another of the Row Boys.” And he would just smile. This continued on into my high school years, after my father had passed away, but finally came the day I took Driver’s Education and received my first Driver’s Handbook...

In the illustration of street signs and highway markers was the marker used by the State of Texas to mark the highway Right of Way…

© 2003 ~ David L. Griffith

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