A wonderful Amazon review of By His Own Blood has been posted by an old Texas friend from the past. Thank you, Art, for your very thoughtful words and for reconnecting after many years. John
I was shocked when doing a search not too long ago for my childhood friend, John Montandon. I remember that he and I had an instant bond when we were both attending Munday Elementary School in Munday, TX. He was removed about half way through the school year, and I asked my teacher, Bronza Cox, what had happened to him. She told me the family had moved and he was attending school in Knox City. Well, that was partly true. They did live on a ranch in Knox City, but they had tried to enroll John at 5, and some local (Munday) parents objected. His parents removed him and started him the next year at Knox City. It made me very sad that he was gone because we enjoyed doing things that not all the other kids did.
Miss (Augustine) Tennie was John's dad's sister. She took tickets to the Saturday afternoon matinee at the Roxy theater in Munday. She was, like John, a very pleasant person. I always enjoyed visiting with Miss Tennie before the show and she would update me on what John and Gene had been doing.
We left for college in 1965. John had endured much more adversity in his young life than I ever did, particularly when the family home burned. The book endorses this. It amazed me what he went through to get his degree.
Some parts of the book are so visceral and real that you can almost taste them. John describes the smell of his dad. He describes the aroma of the fresh crops. These are things hard to detail unless you have grown up in a farming community. My dad was an Old Spice/Aqua Velva aficionado himself. His smell would be prevalent before church and for whatever family social gathering we attended. The aroma before or after a rain on the crops made you take long breaths in order to savor that fresh, rare atmosphere. John captures the essence of this briefly, yet with enough description for even the most citified to understand.
When John's dad became ill with the AIDS virus, I remember my sister saying there was a rumor that someone in Knox City, a prominent person, had come down with the disease. The identity of the family was not known to her or anyone else in the Munday community......this just did not playout on the Knox Prairie of the day.
Well, it turns out that it did, and one of my best friends from childhood was involved unbeknownst to me. John tells the story of the hardships he had to endure trying to find a hospital for treatment of his dad. The unknown nature of AIDS at the time seemed to blind health care professionals & institutions of their mission to treat the ill and infirm. Fortunately, John had the good sense to call his alma mater, Texas Tech, and, to make a long story short, enroll his dad in their treatment program. This is bound to have extended Doc's life for quite a while. Doc was not known to me personally, but my dad knew him and always spoke of Doc and Mary Lee with great respect as folks who had weathered a lot of hardship and had been able to overcome tremendous obstacles to preserve their lives and those of John and Gene.
This work lays out their daily lives in vignettes that are appealing to any reader. I know what John says is true and sincere. I was with you, John, and Gene, although not having to endure nearly the mountains you had to climb. Buy this book. You will laugh, cry, experience life's joys and hardships, and pleasures. This is a quick, entertaining and yet factual read. Once you start, you will think you are viewing a "mind" video and won't put it down.
Thank you, John for telling your story. My respect and admiration for you, and pride to count you as a friend know no bounds.