The Thundering Herd

Farm Life in the 1950's and 60's; Looking through the lens of duty in Vietnam.

by A Memoir by John E. Peltier


Book Details

Life in the 1950’s and 1960’s in a big family on a Texas rice farm and cattle ranch - against the backdrop of Army service in Vietnam

These stories begin with brief family histories that bring the Peltier and the Scottish Keillor families together. John was the fifth of the twelve children that Wilburn and Barbara Peltier raised on the flat salt grass prairie of Southeast Texas after they married. The life they created for their family on their rice farm and cattle ranch provided a fertile field for the life experiences that are shared in these settings. At the age of nineteen, naïve and fresh from the farm, John was drafted into the U.S. Army. After surviving boot camp and medical corpsman training, he found himself in Vietnam. John used his time in the military and its experiences as the backdrop to describe life growing up. Writing this book intensified the realization of the valuable life lessons that his family and the farm and ranch taught him. After mustering out of the Army in January of 1969, he settled back into civilian life and finished his education. Disaster struck in August 1969 when his father suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 54, leaving five of his siblings still at home and all without a father. He discovered the two earthy loves of his life - his wife Janie and the vocation of construction - at the same time and place. As a result, Janie and John have a beautiful family and he birthed Peltier Brothers Construction, a company which has provided a great livelihood not only for him and four of his brothers, but for nephews down into the next generation. Both Janie and the company also taught him lessons he never expected to learn. Those stories, plus an incident with the fangs of a deadly rattlesnake and a light essay on grass and water, are included in this book.


Book Excerpt

STORY OF THE COVER PICTURE, ....while Kate was teaching school. She still had to keep up with her household chores during school days. During one cool fall morning when she took a break during the children’s recess to hang clothes out to dry, she noticed a big coyote hanging around not far from the house. Motioning to the kids to quietly go back into the house, she whispered to them, “You see that coyote out there? It's not natural for him to be loitering here, so be quiet and still cause I'm going to try to shoot him." She had never shot any weapon before, but she gently lifted Papa's Winchester 30-30 off the pegs and quietly chambered a round. It was a sunny day and the coyote stood broadside. She rested the barrel of the gun on the window sill, lined up the iron sights on the coyote's chest, and squeezed the trigger. The rifle exploded in her hands as the coyote collapsed where he stood. The awed and quiet group of children quickly started whooping and hollering in delight and excitement. Kate was a little dazed and surprised that she had actually shot a coyote, but she soon joined the celebration. Soon after, Mom started singing, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf....". The whole house began to roar in unison, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf....". After things settled down, Kate and all the kids inspected the dead coyote a little more closely, put it on a sled and drug it back to the house. She then gave the kids an assignment to keep them busy while she proceeded to carefully skin the dead animal, something she had never done before. We can only imagine Papa’s astonishment when he arrived home that day, saw the dead coyote and heard the story told over and over again by his excited children. Afterwards, he had the pelt processed into a nice fur piece for Kate to wear around her shoulders during the cold winters. She enjoyed wearing the pelt and it became very dear to her.


About the Author

A Memoir by John E. Peltier

John E. Peltier is now retired from a successful career in construction and lives in Tomball, Texas, with his wife. He is the father of three children and eight grandchildren. He still raises cattle and gives much back to his community. Sam Houston State University recognized him as one of their 2015 distinguished alumni.