Dr. Doug's Mental Health Clinic
Guided Group Therapy on the Terlingua Ghost Town Porch
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This page was last updated: November 26, 2013
Thirty-six years ago I visited Terlingua with my brother, fell in love with this rugged, resource scarce, hardscrabble, merciless land, and decided to live here for the rest of my life. With no money, no car, no house and no job, it was difficult to even find water. I stayed wherever I could, in caves, in abandoned buildings, in a bus...
I survived most of the time with no steady job as a free man, lots of times that meant sleeping under the stars. I learned to enjoy my freedom, take my medicine like a man, and to be very, very happy.
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Dr. Doug's History Lesson
In the 1500's most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying: "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
Houses had thatched roofs -thick straw- piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof, When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying: "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying: "a thresh hold."
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Terlingua Moon is the area's weekly newspaper. Click on the Yellow Full Moon to see the latest issue:
Excuse me, are you alright? You look a little queasy. How many fingers do you see? Yes, four is correct.
Perhaps you got a little hot. Just sit back on that bench, I'll be right back with some ice cold medicine, and we can talk about it.
I'm Dr. Doug, and I specialize in making people happy. See, you're feeling better already. Come along then, I'll show you around Terlingua, and I guarantee you will soon be much happier...
© 2009 Douglas Blackmon "Dr. Doug", all rights reserved.
Dr. Doug presides over another Group Therapy Session on the Porch. Notice the musical accompaniment and the lively conversation sparked by liberal doses of medicine, Dr. Doug's lively and magnetic personality, and the magic of the Chisos Mountains.
There is not an unhappy face in the crowd.
This cowboy will be back.
He may have left his rock collection, boots, medicine and smokes, but he would never abandon his dog.
Locally Cosmic Connections
Borderline Mental Therapist
Donate to Dr. Doug's Research
Please help Dr. Doug find the secrets of happiness hidden away in the desert mountains. Medicine is expensive out here, and Dr. Doug uses a lot of it, not only for himself, but also for his many indigent patients. Your generous contribution will ensure continuous Group Therapy Sessions on the Porch are available for the needy.
Send your cash, check or money order to:
Dr. Doug's Mental Health Research Fund
% Douglas Blackmon
HC70 Box 205
Terlingua, TX 79852
Dr. Doug and his patients thank you!
Kristina's Farewell Party
Kristina Blanchard has been miraculously cured of terminal unhappiness and has been released from Dr. Doug's Mental Health Clinic, the world's largest open air mental asylum, to return to her home in upper state New York.
You'd have to slap her to knock that smile off her face, but Dr. Doug does not advise such action. Part of her prescribed therapy was to let out her aggressions using a bullwhip.
Dr. Doug and all the other patients love her and will miss her very much. Farewell Kristina. Dr. Doug is already misty eyed.
This is his great quandry. His miraculous successes return to productive society, his harder cases stay longer and sometimes become locals. But we survive out here.
When in Marfa, Dr. Doug gets his medicine here:
When in Alpine, Dr. Doug gets his medicine here:
Dave Safrit rowing down the highway
"It is better to know nothing and KNOW you know nothing than to think you know something and don't." Socrates wrote that 23 centuries ago. Funny how it still applies...
"I call my home "Ice Station Zebra". It's cold as hell in the winter, and hot as hell in the summer, but we survive down here..."
* Emmy Award - Outstanding Achievement in Documentary
* Emmy Nomination - Oustanding Achivement in Editing
* Winner, Best Documentary - Chicago Int'l Reel Shorts Film Festival
* Winner, Best Documentary - Dam Short Film Festival
* Winner, Best Documentary - Thin Line Film Festival
* Winner, Best Documentary - Seguin Film Festival
* World Premeire - DC Independent Film Festival
* Terlingua Premiere - La Kiva, Terlingua, Texas
* Austin Film Society Showcase - SXSW Film Festival
If you find you are the one, come see me for an open-air group therapy session on the Porch. I guarantee you will feel better after therapy.
Tales From the Terlingua Porch in FIFTH printing!
by Dr. Doug on 03/23/12
My friend Blair Pittman has recovered very well from his accident last year, and is back in the book business. His popular book "Tales From the Terlingua Porch" is in it's fifth printing, and you can get your copy online at his wife Jean's bookstore in Alpine, TX. It only costs $9.95 and is considered required reading by the locals.
Click on the picture above to go to her website.
Dr. Doug is featured in several books of the Big Bend.
"Tales From The Terlingua Porch" Volumes 1 and 2 by Blair Pittman.
"Authentic Texas People of the Big Bend" by Marsha Daudistel.
"Why Terlingua?" by Carlton Leatherwood.
Illustrator of Blair Pittman's books, and author of his own book, Mark Kneeskern says
“I know I’m not really the last hitch-hiker, but it sure feels like it.”