It truly is the very ‘end of an era’ down Harshaw way. No, I’m not referring to South32 or Canadian mining interests kickin’ around nearby. I’m referring to the Hale Family and its very long tenure at its historic, iconic ranch (brand OIL). The very last of the Harshaw Hale family, Mary, left us on the 10th of October. She departed following her sister Nancy (12/22/22) to Heaven; and her beautiful mother, Ruth, who was called home just shy of her 100th birthday; and, of course, her dad Norman (affectionately known as ‘Ruff’) who passed on Christmas Day, 2002. (Loved him dearly and was honored to be requested to offer the eulogy at Carroon’s that cold, dreary, rainy day.)
Mary would kill me for writing anything that ‘smacked’ of an obituary—so I will do my best to steer clear of that type of remembrance…I’ll just touch on a few fond memories that have been surfacing over the past few days.
Waaaay back in the day I recall sitting at the ranch HQ (over a whiskey or two or three…) listening and enjoying the ‘yarns’ as told by Bill Brophy of Babacomari Ranch; Phil Skiver of the Oak Bar; Sonny McCuiston of Brush Hill, and a few others over the years. All of these gentlemen provided the ‘fun’ and educational stories—all I did was lend an ear. God Bless all of them.
Years back I remember evening snow storms and once in a while a rain deluge that served to get me ‘stuck’ not far from the Hale Ranch….even had to sleep in the cab of my truck once or twice, awaiting the morning sun and thaw.
I remember those years when my sons, Juan Carlos and Tom attended elementary school on the hill overlooking Patagonia—under the marvelous tutelage of Nancy Hale and other great teachers. The old school is, of course, gone now (listen for the echoes of the children’s’ happy voices in the hall)- the stately old building now housing a museum…the iconic old building is still there but somehow it’s just not the same.
I remember so well Archie, Mary’s orphaned pet javelina—the little ‘pig’ that so enjoyed the sport of trying to skewer my legs tucked under the kitchen table at the HQ house. Archie was raised with so much love and affection as a ‘piglet’—savoring the vanilla ice cream and oats that Mary provided cheerfully. Mary loved all of her animals and they in turn cherished her. Some years later I remember the night that Mary called to let me know that Archie had died—she cried and cried. There was no consoling her.
Oh, there’s so much more—but I’ll hold the rest in my heart. All the Harshaw Hales now belong to the ages—I will miss them all.
So—especially for Mary…and Nancy, too:
Her hair is down
and the reins are loose and free
She turns and waves so long to the past
She’s ready to ride on.
(A cowgirl’s goodbye – author unknown)
The OIL brand now retired…
Farewell and Godspeed Mary and Family Hale