There also was a letter from Christine L. Washington saying she didn't think either of them would get anything from the suit. But mostly the letters "talked about how the kinfolk were doing and such."

Most of "Pop's" other relatives are not nearly so illustrious, but are worthy of mention. "Pop's" grandfather on his mother's side was Capt. Wells, a sea-captain who sailed the Caribbean in the early 1830s. "Pop's" father was Wiley Andrew Reagan (his nickname was "War"), who joined the Confederacy at the age of 15, just long enough to receive a mini-ball "the size of your thumb" in his left hip which left a scar for the rest of his life. This may have been a reason or excuse for tippling a bit. "He got half tooted-up every now and then," "Pop" recalls.

"Pop" recalls a story his father told him that took place just after the Civil War and before "War" came to Big Spring (he was living in Terrell County). While picking pecans from the trees along the Concho River between Big Spring and San Angelo one day, "War" Reagan came face to face with an Indian who was eating pecans by the river. "They both yelled and ran off in different directions," "Pop" recounts.

"War" Reagan first saw Big Spring when he and some friends followed a band of Indians to the Spring who had stolen some horses from them. "They got the horses back," Reagan recalls his father's story, "but the Indians got away."

His parents moved to Big Spring in 1881. "Pop's" mother was named Emily Wells Talbot -- the widow of Gayle Talbot. ("Pop" later became partners with her brother-in-law Cliff Talbot). She lived to be 94, dying in 1951. "War" Reagan lived to be 89.

In 1913, "Pop" was in Roswell, N.M., on a carpentry job and met a girl named Irene Perot, who was a friend of his half-sister, Esther Gayle Talbot. No, he didn't marry her, he married her sister who he saw one day walking down the street.

He threw a rock at her to attract her attention. Her name was Emily Eugenia Perot (she is on H. Ross Perot's family tree), who was raised in a convent in Louisiana. And so that same year at the age of 28, rather late in life, "Pop" married. Before his wife died in 1955, they had lived a full life together -- having seven children, 23 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

Carpentry and "Gene," as he called his wife, were not his sole interests. He is a mechanical genius of sorts. If he saw anything he thought interesting, he found out how to make it, and he made it.    CONTINUED >