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Lizards on the Mantel, Burros at the Door: A Big Bend Memoir
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Lizards on the Mantel, Burros at the Door: A Big Bend Memoir

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  22 ratings  ·  10 reviews
A woman who went West with her husband in the 1840s must have expected hardships and privation, but during the 1940s, when Etta Koch stopped off in Big Bend with her young family and a 23-foot travel trailer in tow, she anticipated no more than a civilized camping trip between her old home in Ohio and a new one in Arizona. It was only when she found herself moving into an ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by University of Texas Press
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William C. Montgomery
I do not doubt that June Cooper Price (nee Koch), Etta Koch’s daughter, did most of the writing of Lizards on the Mantel, Burros at the Door: A Big Bend Memoir. She assembled the book from diaries, letters, stories from her mother, as well as her own recollections. She does so entirely from the first person perspective of her mother, who was ninety-five years old when the book was published. She does so seamlessly and authentically though, so it isn’t a distraction. She couldn’t write the memoir ...more
About half-way through this memoir about a woman and her family finding a home in West Texas during the early days of Big Bend National Park, author Etta Koch remarks: "It reminded me once again how skin-deep are the trappings of our civilization, and how fundamental the art of simple living." It's the beauty of that "simple living" that makes this book such a good read.
Liked learning about the "history" of Big Bend National Park and a family learning to enjoy the beauty of the area.
Based on journals and letters written in 1944-46, this memoir tells the story of a young mother accompanying her filmmaker husband to the newly created Big Bend National Park. Originally from the city, she faces raising her family in an old rock house without plumbing or electricity, while her husband is away on photography expeditions for many months at a time.

Places to visit: The Basin, Lost Mine Trail, Persimmon Gap, Santa Elena Canyon, Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park; Study Butte.

After visiting Big Bend, I wanted to read some of the memoirs that were on sale at the Park entrance. I wish I had read it before the trip, but on the other hand, I am better able to visualize the places she describes.
Jeanne Ply
Jul 22, 2008 Jeanne Ply rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeanne by: Sandra
I read this right when I got back from a trip to Big Bend. I was amazed how this woman lived and raised her young family in the rugged desert so far from civilization in the 1940s.
Good book, non-fiction; one woman's story about living in the Big Bend area. I read this when on a visit to Big Bend in 2006, camping with the Girl Scouts.
Fun. Gave me an idea of what it must have been like for my parents to live there.
Linda LaRoque
I learned what life was like during the developement of Big Bend National Park.
a must-read for anyone who loves Big Bend and West Texas!!
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