The scene opens on a frosty Christmas Eve morning in December, 1895, at McCawley’s Saloon.
(This building still stands at the corner of Main and East Cameron. The entrance to the building has changed as the building doorway faced west.
The entrance got large glass windows in the 1970’s and the brick exterior got a stone facade and aluminum shingle sinding.)
It was there and only there that you might catch Tex, Joe, Jim, Ed and Will Clark together, not exactly together, but in the same crowd. Back then, writers and public speakers referred to the “strong, silent men of the great open spaces; these Clark brothers were of that tradition, silence was their code.
Take the silence between Joe and his father-in-law, it lasted for 45 years until Jim Rolston’s death. This also explains the brothers’ distant attitude toward each other. Stubbornness was not involved; it was their code.
One description fits all of the brothers. Tex, the oldest, stood 6 feet and 4 inches down to Will, the youngest who was 6 feet 2 inches. Gangling, stoop-shouldered, all had reddish leathery faces, untrimmed mustaches of the handlebar type, widebrimmed Stetson hats and clean gabby suits of jeans, hanging on them with clothes line effect.
They had driven their families into town in wagons drawn by mules. The hard-worked oxen were left at home to rest. The wives and children were left at Scarbrough & Hicks.
Each wife had a long list of dry goods, groceries and other supplies and were buying enough to last the coming 12 months.
These wives grew very accurate on buying that far in advance. Will’s wife Lula, boasted that she had only a tablespoon of baking powder left over.
Evie, Joe’s wife said that she had run so close on soda that she hadn’t any in the bread the last two weeks.
Mollie, Tex’s wife remarked that she was ashamed of how she messed up her calculations. “It worried me to death.” She said, “I’d bought everything for the baby and then twins showed up.”
Tex didn’t get mad. He just put his gallon jug in the wagon when he left on the extra trip to town.”