Tuesday’s are my most dreaded days because bad news always comes on these days. One Tuesday morning two years ago the world lost a beautiful person and I, in turn, lost a dear friend and mentor. Sycily Lattimore was 94 years young and hated being reminded of her birthday’s because in her mind it was how you acted that determined your age, not how many years you lived. When I first met her it was at the Mallet Ranch Headquarters in 2005. I knew when I saw the lady with the killer cane (with a silver duck handle), bow tie and Panama hat that I had to meet her. I boldly introduced myself and our friendship began. She became a fast supporter of my work on trying to save the Mallet Ranch Headquarters, as well as my Hunt research. Many times over our lunches or dinners our talks would be endless on various subjects. She often shared war stories her husband experienced being on the Bataan Death March to her mountain climbing days.
Sycily walked the vast halls of the Texas Capital with me visiting legislators’. Her personality opened doors and hearts that never would’ve been opened had she not been with me. The DPS officers’ got to know us so well we struck up random conversations and soon knew some by name and often some would escort us to our next destination within the capital. I learned a lot of political savviness from her walking those hallways.
She wholeheartedly attended my West Texas Historical Association presentation on my first Hunt paper. She enthusiastically supported me writing the Hunt book, after our conversation with a fellow historian who had the original crime scene photos. Fate she always said intervenes when God wants it too. Our long talks on the murders gave me new ideas and insights with new angles to research, as well as theories.
I learned so much from her. What I borrowed from her changed my life for the better. Ignore your birthday. Always be kind. Always give even the worst people the benefit of the doubt – until they prove you wrong. Then don’t fool with them at all. Don’t waste food. Only eat food you enjoy. Cuss when it calls for it. Be a lover of history. Climb mountains. Always be nice to law enforcement. Always ask questions. Read. Read. Read. Read everything. Collect books and memories – not things. Keep in touch with friends near and far through phone calls and letters. My list could go on, but you get the idea that you must live life – not simply exist.
My life would have been less rich had I not been bold enough to walk up to a complete stranger and strike up a conservation that lead to a remarkable and unforgettable friendship and mentorship.
Photo taken at the Mallet Ranch Cottonwood Tank, Hockley County, Texas.
This photo was in the Borrowers exhibition at the Buddy Holly Center in 2017.
Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography