‘Tumbleweed’ author was jack of all trades

Don McAlavy

In my column of Oct. 8, I wrote about a tumbling weed, which produced true love by carrying a message across the Texas Panhandle.
The fictional story was written by Reuben Boone in 1920.
A lot of people, including my editor, asked me who was Reuben Boone. I didn’t know until Toby Phipps — a friend I saw at the Bluegrass music session in Farwell — told me Reuben Boone once lived in Quemado. Phipps went to school at Quemado and he knew Boone’s daughter who lived in Truth or Consequences.
From that daughter to another daughter in Cliff — Edna Feeley — I finally got the story of Reuben Boone.
Reuben Arthur Boone was born March 22, 1902, to Thales Athel Boone and Ida Belle Boone at Vera, Texas (northeastern Panhandle). They moved with eight children southeast of Clovis to a farm near Fairfield. There, two more sons were born. (The oldest son, Daniel Boone, was elected our county clerk in 1920 and again in 1922. In 1924 he was elected our state representative.)
Reuben Boone may have had some schooling at Fairfield, but he finished school at Texico. He was about 17 when he wrote about the tumbling weed, most likely with help from his older sister Della.
Boone met his wife at the Texico school.
On May 7, 1922, Reuben and Della Doris Boddy eloped on her 16th birthday (don’t confuse his sister Della with his wife Della!) with Creed Webb as their witness.
Webb lived in the Claud community, and that is where Reuben and his wife started farming. He worked also in Clovis as a carpenter, helping build sidewalks. At this time they had two children, Rena and Daniel.
In 1930, Boone’s family moved to Quemado, where he homesteaded on 640 acres and raised beans and a good garden. He built an adobe house and had three more daughters: Margaret, Wanda and Edna.
In the 1940s, Boone worked at many jobs — as town constable, carpenter and as a water-well driller. Together, Reuben and Della in their early years hand dug a well. Their well supplied water for many residents as well as for the construction crew during the first paving of Highway 60 through Quemado.
Boone finally saved up enough money to buy his own water-well rig around 1950 and drilled wells for neighbors. In 1956 he went to work at a uranium mine in Grants. He retired and moved back to Quemado and built a new house in 1965.
During his retirement years, Boone raised quarter horses and he and Della were actively involved in helping build the Presbyterian church, which is still being used today.
Boone loved to hunt and fish, but did a lot of square and round dancing, even played for them. He played the fiddle while his daughter, Margaret, backed him on the guitar. Music was an important part of the family’s entertainment, and at age 93 (just before she died in 1999) his wife Della could still shake a leg.
Reuben Boone died at age 68 on April 12, 1970. Both are buried at Quemado.
Through the years, Reuben Boone continued writing poems and stories. He was a prankster and always enjoyed a good laugh. He was tall, lanky and red-headed.
In 1949 Reuben wrote a poem about his Dad. One of the verses goes like this:

Guess he had some enemies, but they were few.
Anyway, as far as I ever knew.
He wasn’t bad at making a fuss.
But when he thought he was right, he was a determined little cuss.

Don McAlavy is a history buff who lives in Clovis.