Dr. Doug's Mental Health Clinic
Guided Group Therapy on the Terlingua Ghost Town Porch

Legends abound in the Big Bend, like the super cowboy Pecos Bill who rode a tornado, used a rattlesnake as a whip and dug the Rio Grande.  Well there's another one that's pretty popular in the Ghost Town of Terlingua, and it's about that mysteriously happy man wearing a smock on the porch.

Dr Doug has a huge responsibility over a grand land, and performs "psychiatric miracles in the desert, on the porch" by using medicine, hypnotism and his tried and true therapeutic discourse.  He is a gentleman with all the things in life he desires, he just doesn't desire anything.

In his world, the bleak, arid, mountainous desert, everything is rosy and right.  He has a fine home, a Clinic on the Porch, a butler named Jeeves, and thousands of adoring friends and fans that hang on his every word.  He is world famous, but he lives like a Spartan and donates all of his time and money to worthy causes.  People believe everything he says because he acts so dang happy.  He is a Master Hypnotist, and he manipulates the sessions on the porch with the use of  "medicine," deft words and subtle motions of a wooden cane.

People by the thousands are cured of Unhappiness, often with only one short visit to the porch.  There are a few locals that are hard to heal, and they require continuous repeat sessions.

Of course, he will take nothing personally in return for his miraculous healing's, but instead donates any extra time and resources to local charities.  He will take "donations for good causes" and applies all funds received to the betterment and happiness of his patients in the world's largest open air mental asylum.

The High Sierra is his getaway, a place of refuge from the maddening crowds on the porch, but he still cannot avoid the fame of his good deeds and lifestyle, so the High Sierra hides him and treats him as just another local to shield him from the overbearing pressures of unhappy masses on the porch clamoring for every second of the doctor's time.

Although Dr Doug is a wonderful, giving, passionate human being, he has his enemies, and his demons. They are the AMA and IRS.

The August Medical Association (AMA) charges that Dr. Doug is a phony and a fraud, uses magic and deadly poisons in his medicine, and has false credentials. They would have him arrested; but the sheriff of Terlingua is Dr. Doug's friend (and patient,) and won't execute the arrest warrant and subsequent persecution sent from New York City.

Dr. Doug counters those dastardly charges, explaining that he has practical experience with over thirty-three years of survival in the harsh deserted mountains and he cites an Honorary Doctor's Degree from the University of Terlingua, School of Minds & Hard Knocks.

As for the magic and poisons, Dr. Doug reminds us that sufficiently advanced technology can appear to be magical, and horrible liver eating poisons like acetaminophen are even this second being dispensed by members of the AMA for profit.

There are no representatives of the AMA in South Brewster County because it is such hard country. There are no Italian Operas, no Broadway Musicals, and no money in Terlingua, so no AMA accredited, certified and accepted practitioners will live there.

The well meaning Doctor saw the vacuum of professional responsibility in Terlingua, and resolved to remedy the situation. He swore that he would not make money from others misfortune, he would dedicate his life to finding the secret to happiness and exposing that knowledge to others, and he would find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if it took his whole life in it's pursuit.

In the beginning, he was also confused by the omnipresent AMA propaganda regarding his favorite medicine. The Hags Against Mothers of Drunk Drivers were encouraging legislation controlling the imbibing of happiness medicine. The State was even setting up NAZI style road blocks to entrap medical imbibement experimenters like Dr. Doug. It was his cross to bear. He continued relentlessly with his medical and psychological experiments, exuding Edison like zeal and perseverance.

There were times when his experiments went drastically wrong, or even ended up in a ditch. Other times the Doctor stumbled upon nuggets of happiness that sent his heart reeling. Throughout those difficult and lean years, Dr. Doug accumulated information about happiness and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and is now ready to share that hard won truth with all that will listen.

That's where the IRS comes in. As Dr. Doug became more famous, he appeared on the Infernal Revenue Service radar screen. Some say the AMA framed him. They just knew he was stashing a fortune in Swiss Banks. but they could never find any evidence what-so-ever. In fact, their investigation confirmed that Dr. Doug had never made any money at all in his entire life, a fact they found puzzling and disturbing. They concluded that if everybody else found out Dr. Doug's formula of happiness, it would put Capitalism out of business.

The thought of Capitalism out of business was so horrifying that immediate and total isolation of Terlingua was ordered. IRS hit teams scoured the area for Dr. Doug, attempting to eliminate the source of the Happiness Pandemic.

They could not find him because he had become a hero to the local population, and they all, even some of the women, started growing beards and looking like Dr. Doug, thus hiding him in plain sight.

It is like that to this day, beards have become a symbol of resistance to unhappiness, and Dr. Doug slips in and out of the generally bearded population like a chameleon, one step ahead of the Infernal Revenue Service and the August Medical Association.

Dr. Doug remains practical. Too much of anything can kill you, even a necessity such as water. Controlled doses of Dr. Doug's medicine have been known to create a sense of well being, a rosy glow, a gaiety of gait, happiness and song. The old wise Doctor acknowledges that an overdose of medicine can cause a "hangover", but advises that same medicine can be "hair of the dog that bit you" to cure the hangover.

All things in moderation is the Doctors creed, substantiated by years of medical experimentation probing the borders and limitations of happiness medication.

Oh! If you do find the Doctor in Terlingua, don't squeal on him to the IRS or the AMA, or else!

Photographs by Terry Anderson
Live free, don't worry, be very, very happy, and take your medicine if it helps.
This page was last updated: December 24, 2014
News Flash!

Dr. Doug responsible for the fall of Capitalism!

We found and interviewed the elusive Dr. Doug and to this reporter's astonishment, the doctor confessed responsibility for the most recent fall of Capitalism.

Dr. Doug said he was very, very sorry for any inconvenience caused by the Stock Market Crash and subsequent Worldwide Economic Depression, but he was only trying to make people happy!  He had no idea all of the people would actually quit worrying, quit working and follow his advice to become free and happy. 

The last thing he said before retreating to his hidden lair was; "You may now grant yourself a prolonged moment of happiness and peace, courtesy of Dr. Doug."
Blair Pittman from Terlingua wrote a book about the Big Bend and has another version of the Legend of Dr. Doug, let's hear his side of the story:


   ©  2009 Blair Pittman

No, my friend Doug Blackman really isn’t a doctor. He earned the title out of respect for his humor, personality and originality.  Doug worked at the Study Butte store as a stockman, maintenance man, and general helper for the last twenty years.
The store is known as the shopping mall in our remote area, selling gasoline, propane, groceries and some hardware items. There is even a liquor store. You can see that this is a pretty important mecca for local residents and tourists. Before the liquor store opened the porch in front of the store was a gathering place for hard-core locals. Drinking can’t happen on the porch now because of the state liquor laws.
Folks still leave unwanted items like clothing, old computers, jig saw puzzles, even movies, books & magazines. Anything that other locals might find some use for. It’s kind of like a goodwill drop-off place but everything left there is free. If you want it, take it. First come, first served. The ladies of Study Butte and Terlingua have even had a fashion show for charity with clothes found on the porch. Raised some serious money for a good cause
Some twenty something years ago surgical greens, complete with cap, shirt, pants, even surgical slippers, with mask and a stethoscope appeared. Since Doug worked at the store, he was the first to make a claim. What did he do? He got all dressed up in them, with the stethoscope hanging from his neck.  He showed off his new attire to the group of local porch sitters, to the sound of much encouraging applause and laughter.
About that time, a tourist pulled in for gasoline.  As the driver got out to self-service his car, Doug approached in his Doctor outfit, “If you will start the engine, I’ll check it,” as he placed the listening end of the stethoscope on the silent hood.
The tourist wore an alarmed expression on his face, got back in his car, started the engine, and drove away. Doug stood there, holding his stethoscope in readiness, waving bye-bye as the car pulled onto the highway, and sped away.
The sitters on the porch roared with approving laughter. Shirley and Ron Willard, the owners of the store didn’t think it was so funny to see a paying customer drive away. As punishment they took away the chairs and tables on the porch. The entire crew had to sit on the floor leaning against the wall. Doug was cautioned not to do that again. So much for the doctor outfit. It was burned with the trash.
After that Doug became known affectionately as “Doctor Doug”. I don’t know if he is a medical doctor or a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist might not be a bad idea but we are pretty happy in the desert.
We do live near the Mexican border, so we can call Dr. Doug a “Border line” Doctor. Sometimes the Doctor is in – Sometimes the Dr. is out – WAY OUT…

Tales From The Terlingua Porch Volumes 1 and 2 (ISBN 0-9649407-6-0) are available at the Terlingua Trading Company, Online at http://txstarbooks.com and from Sun Country Publications  (817) 735-4670.  Printed by Englehart Printing, Wimberly, TX  (512) 847-1636.

© 2009 Used by permission, all rights reserved by Blair Pittman
University of Terlingua
School of Minds & Hard Knocks
Photo by Tracy Lynch
© 2009 Douglas Blackmon, all rights reserved
Hereby grants

Douglas Paul Blackmon

Honorary Doctor's Degree
Borderline Psychiatry

and entitles said honorable graduate of the School of Minds & Hard Knocks to all the honorifics, magnifications, and embellishments due such an honor.

I.M. Shure
Build a Professional Looking Website with Homestead.com.
Blair Pittman is an award winning photograher and writer whose previous works include The Natural World of the Big Thicket, The Stories of I.C. Eason, King of the Dog People, and Texas Caves.  His photography has been published in National Geographic, Forbes, Texas Monthly, and Texas Parks and Wildlife magazines, among others.

Now he enters the world of folklore, writing the stories of his beloved West Texas.  He's spent several decades telling and listening to tales on the Terlingua porch.  Tales From The Terlingua Porch Vols. 1 and 2, is a collection of some of those tales, exactly the way he heard them - with a wink and a grin.
The Living Legend
Dr. Doug of Terlingua