The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.

Posted October 31, 2019

The Pecan Picking Primates of Pecos County

Viva Voce, but put down in words


This is the first article of a series of word of mouth, or viva voce, which is the passing down of stories by oral communication – but since only dad understands us when we speak, we’re gonna have it written down for you to read! 


You see, storytelling is a common form of word-of-mouth communication where one person tells others a story about a real event or even something that might be made up.  Storytelling may sometimes involve improvisation or embellishment.  Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values.  Traditionally, oral stories were committed to memory and then passed from generation to generation. However, in literate societies, written and televised media have largely replaced this method of communicating local, family, and cultural histories.  Oral storytelling remains the dominant medium of learning in some areas with low literacy rates.


While oral tradition is cultural material and traditions transmitted by word of mouth through successive generations.  Oral tradition (sometimes referred to as "oral culture" or "oral lore") is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another.  The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants.  In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledges across generations without a writing system.


So here is this tale of those Pecan Picking Primates of Pecos County …


Well, it was back in the late naughts or early 10’s of 1900, when settlers west of the fort decided to start cultivating a permanent planting of pecan trees, a species of hickory native to northern Mexico and the southern United States[i].  The seed is an edible nut used as a snack and in various recipes, such as praline candy and pecan pie – well, actually, the pecan, like the fruit of all other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut, but is technically a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk.  The husks are produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower, while the part known as the nut develops from the endocarp and contain the seed.  The husk itself is aeneous, that is, brassey greenish-gold in color and oval to oblong in shape[ii].


Anyway, these settlers went about starting their orchards and before too long (it takes around 5-7 years for a pecan tree to reach full production) the trees started bearing nuts,  The arid country and sweet well water must’ve been just what the tree doctor ordered.  All the neighbors pitched in and helped each other harvest their crops.  This was the start of a thriving economy and the community of Belding was laid out in April 1913.  Belding is on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad tracks ten miles southwest of the fort in Pecos County.  The community was named for A.N. Belding, director of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway.  Lots in the townsite were reserved for a town square, a hotel, a general store, a pump company, a lumberyard, a hardware store, and stockyards.  Track construction of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient reached Belding in the same year[iii].


Then the conflict started – no, not in the pecan orchard – but across the sea.  The War to end all Wars, World War I, began.  All of the able bodied men immediately signed up and went over to whip the Kaiser over in Germany.  This left the community with no help to harvest pecans.


Then tragedy struck in the small community!  A circus train[iv] was coming down the KCM&O[v] railroad late one night, on the way to Presidio to perform a show when all of a sudden some of the cars came loose while coming around the big bend and flipped over!  Well, as it turned out, it was the animal cars that came loose.  It seemed that the elephants weren’t strapped in securely and leaned away from the turn at just the wrong time.  A number of animals were injured and a few were even killed in the wreck.  The locals came out in force and helped the circus people[vi] round up all of the animals that they could (as good west Texans will do), but they had a really hard time rounding up the monkeys.  Since the monkeys were scared and jittery after the wreck – they immediately went to the tall pecan trees and took shelter in the high branches.


After a few days and some coaxing from the locals and the animal trainers – the monkeys started to come down from the trees.  The circus folks were so glad to have the majority of their crew and animals back safe and sound, and were grateful to the citizens of Belding for their assistance – they asked how they could repay the favor.  The citizens expressed to the circus people about their plight that since all of the laborers were off fighting in the war, that they had no way to harvest their crops this year.  As they discussed their situations, a brilliant idea was formed – why not train the monkeys to pick pecans!!??


And so they did – the monkeys learned quickly with the guidance of the circus trainers.  The crop was harvested in record time!!  After the Treaty of Versailles[vii] and all of the men came back home, the circus had become accustomed to over-wintering in Belding and simply continued to do so since it provide them with a nice climate and provided excellent exercise and cardio for the monkeys.  This relationship continues through this day!  So, the next time you’re bored and are looking for something to do … bring the wife and kiddos out to Belding during harvest and watch the Pecan Picking Primates of Pecos County!









Now – I have to say that all of this is 100% true!  We confirmed our data by researching it on the internet and everything (check out the endnotes above!)!  Well, except for that part about the monkeys – we might have embellished that part.  And well, the Belding Orchard didn’t start until the late 1970’s or early 1980’s.  But – other than that – you can take this story to the Bank, and that’s a fact, Jack!!



EDITOR'S NOTE:  Dad has told this story for years and has gotten quite a bit of mileage from it - with a few variations along the way.  However, the Bestest rendition was shared with Grasshopper!



One More Thought ...


Pecan Cartoon





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