Letters to the Editor: Desert tortoises mattered before they faced extinction
August 31, 2016
It has been 20 years since Desert Tortoise Society President James Gentry, of Lubbock, was a young man and his parents sent him to learn a trade in the oil fields of eastern New Mexico.
After a hard night’s work, James would return to the family’s home to find his father, brother, sister, father’s girlfriend and mother all asleep in their living room. They awoke, the lights were on and someone was talking in the kitchen.
When parents are away, the children often hide. James’ older sister, Kim, who lived in New Mexico with her family, was always hiding. James’ mother would go to the garage and see that the car was locked and there was a note on the windshield which said, “Please come home. Dad is gone but mom and I will be back in a little while.”
They would hide at the bottom of the driveway, behind an old piece of scrap metal and behind a piece of lumber. The garage door was unlocked and the family would sneak out onto the back lawn.
When they returned home, a car would be in the drive and it was empty. Only when the father returned from work at night did the car return to the drive.
What a difference a few minutes had in the lives of the Gentry family.
When, in 1990, he was asked about his decision to take his career to the oil fields of eastern New Mexico, James said he always wanted to do something with his hands. The family had little money and he always dreamed of making a living wage while attending college.
In 1991, they took a vacation to eastern New Mexico and found a piece of scrap metal. They bought it and built a lean-to and a little house.
They lived there, in the desert, for two years and then in 1993 traded the lean-to for a small trailer and decided to move to Oklahoma.