Bandera! by Gene Pettit

The Grand Reunion of the Pettit Clan was last held at Dixie Dude Ranch West near Bandera, Texas, and what a delightful gathering it was!

We have a short meeting before departure to select the next gathering time and place. We consider ourselves mostly a Texas family, but range from coast to coast, and have enjoyed reunions in Sacramento, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, Asheville, North Carolina, and Pensacola, Florida, but hold every other reunion in Texas. In Pensacola Robert York “Bob” Pettit of San Antonio, Texas, volunteered to host a Texas Hill Country reunion over Thanksgiving. His sister Marilyn Eileen “Lyn” Pettit Tabor, Lorena, Texas, did most of the planning, but our reunions really are a team effort! Typically, we send three announcements and reminders. We haven’t levied fees or dues.

A dude ranch is a remarkable venue. At first blush, $108 per adult per day ($30 for children) seems like a whale of a lot. But stop to consider it includes three excellent meals, entertainment and a variety of activities. Meals were superb, ranging from a full-course Thanksgiving spread to both our Texas national dishes, chicken-fried steak and barbecue with all the trimmings. Nearly everyone took advantage of the two horseback trail rides per day, or riding bicycles, hiking or simply lounging around the hot tub. One night we were treated to country and western dancing, complete with an instructor for anyone who wished to polish their two-step. Another evening we had a trick roper show his stuff, plus one of our very own cousins gave a seminar on the care and training of thoroughbreds and on-track horserace betting. We roasted marshmallows and got the mesquite bonfire smell in our clothes! We were entertained the entire long weekend by two rustic working cowboys who always carried on with friendly barbs for each other.

There were forty-two of us. Some arrived a little late, a few left a bit early, a couple even missed our traditional group photograph, which twenty-five years from now, maybe the most important thing we did! We filled the ranch’s facilities, Pettit family members and the very friendly and more than adequate staff (you know, I feel better calling them “hands”). There is a much larger Dixie Dude Ranch East, but this one (West) really fit our needs like a glove.

Grab your boots and hat and head to Bandera, Texas, Cowboy Capitol of the World, and get ready for genuine Texas Hospitality. Bandera is about an hour WNW of San Antonio. The Pettit Family highly recommends it!

Contact Clay Conoly, PO Box 548, Bandera TX 78003; 800-375-YALL. Clay’s family have been ranchers in the area for generations and they know what they are doing.

About the author
Gene Pettit grew up in oil fields in Texas and Venezuela until he ran out of schools. He then entered Allen Military Academy where he transitioned from very shy to drum major in which role he told everyone where to go! He is a professional engineer, a retired electrical apparatus and supplies salesman, retired US Army Reserve Colonel and enjoys genealogy, photography, and vexillology. He considers reunions one of life’s greatest rewards.