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Danny & Karen (by Karen Prater Holton


What everyone else calls the South Mountains, my brother, Danny and I called "Which Mountain." You know, which mountain do you want to climb today? Which mountain. Inside joke. Anyway, we climbed that mountain so often that I couldn't even guess the number of times. It was our thing. Just the two of us. We didn't have to be cool or smart or interesting. That was the relationship I had with my brother. We could let our hair down and just be kids.

One day, we decided to go sit on some big rocks we saw under a big mesquite tree and rest. As we neared that cool shade, the rocks stood up and ran. 

They were a couple of huge javelinas! It scared me so bad that I just ran and ran and ran all the way down the mountain. I lost a shoe, but I didn't care. I had walked barefoot through most of the desert around Silver Bell, so my feet were like leather. I made it home and about 1/2 hour later, Danny came in the door laughing his butt off. He had my shoe! I don't think I went back up that mountain for months!

Often times, we made up scenarios. We loved being Indians. We would pretend to be hunting for food or buffalo. Sometimes, we just enjoyed the cool breeze and sat thinking. You could see so far up there. It made me feel very small and insignificant. We talked. 

One thing I remember is that our dad had a plan to buy a ranch in Indiana and move us all there. He told Danny when he was about 13 that he could go up early and get it going before the rest of us went. Danny made me promise to go with him. We would plan our lives working that ranch up there on top of that mountain. We would work hard and make dad proud. We would be happy. 

That dream never happened. I guess dad just decided it was too expensive or whatever. Danny never forgot about that dream. We talked about it all our lives together. Until the end. The regret was never forgotten. I think Danny thought we could just buy our very own ranch and work it together. 

When I told him I was getting married, he was heartbroken. Now the dream was really dead. He was never the same after that. It broke my heart, but I had to live my own life.

In the desert behind our house, we spent countless hours playing cowboy & Indian. Danny was always the cowboy because he had always claimed that I was dropped off by Indians who didn't want me. The point of the game was to sneak up on the other one and say "Hands up." In all the years that we played, I never was able to sneak up on him. Needless to say, it was extremely nerve-wracking.

At a certain time of day, there was a huge shadow cast over the mountains behind the Mill. Danny had told me that there was a giant eagle that lived in the sky and couldn't be seen until he was right about to snatch you up. I watched that shadow all day praying I wouldn't see talons coming out of the sky.

There was also a shadow that our eucalyptus tree cast at night due to a street light being behind it. Danny had told me that a giant ape lived in that tree at night and if you went outside, he would eat you.

Let's not forget the people under the bed that would grab you if you got up to go to the bathroom at night. My brother was kind of mean and I was very gullible. It really just made me love him more. I liked the attention.

The mill and crusher at Silver Bell, where Danny's giant eagle lived.

The mill and crusher at Silver Bell, where Danny's giant eagle lived.