Walter Block Books

Walter Block, class of 1945, has written a book called Chip Tales.  Published in 2008, it was begun as a series of reminiscences emailed to his grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and other far-flung relatives. The stories are a humorous and sometimes poignant retelling of stories he had heard the “by winter fireplaces and on summer porches” of his childhood.  From legendary panther hunts to a wagon stuck in the Frio River, these tales of his pioneer forbears give readers a glimpse into the lives of the sturdy settlers of the Texas borderlands. 

  Somewhere along the way, Walt found he had stories of his own to tell of growing up along the creek and the ditches of Del Rio and the pristine water of the Devil’s River. Tree houses, rubber guns, and dark walks home after the movies illuminate days that are gone, but are always alive in memory.  Hunting squirrels in the water lot and learning to trap and hunt at Baker’s Crossing are touching vignettes of a young man’s coming of age.  Walt reminisces about the mid-forties footballers and especially a game against the Mustangs when the line shifted and Walt didn’t.  Memories of the senior picnic at the Steam plant and its effect on the 1945 District Track meet are brought to life in this memorable book. As the stories unfold, a lucid picture of ranch life and small town living along borderlands of West Texas crystallizes.  If you were there, it will take you back; if you were not there, you will wish you had been.  

  Remembering with his wry brand of humor his days at the University of Texas, Walt spins stories of intramurals, boarding houses, and a hair-raising hitchhiking adventure. Every year that went by became fodder for Walt’s view of the funny side of life.   Stories of a boat’s grounding at Falcon Lake and a train trip in Mexico are comedy at its best.     

As all good stories are retold time and time again, these tales may be read and reread to return to a moment in time when the world was golden and each day held the promise of a new adventure. Chip Tales can be purchased at The Emporium in downtown Del Rio, or online at Amazon.

 Reviewed by Freddie Bayne, September 2013

Walter Block, class of 1945, published his second book about Del Rio and Val Verde County in 2012 called Devils River Country. It might be called a sequel of his first book, Chip Tales, in that many of the same people and most of the locales are the same.

He remembers his days as a Del Rio High School Wildcat and the summer when he and his buddies worked at Laughlin. The stories range from hunting and fishing escapades to rebuilding jalopies to cruising the midnight streets of Del Rio.  Wildcats from the 40’s and 50’s may even find themselves memorialized in Walt’s account of hijinks they never thought would make it to the printed page. Fielding a football team during war years, taking cold showers in “the shack,” and trying to please Miss Lee are memorialized in Walt’s second book.

            High school friends, aunts and uncles, brothers and sister, cousins and grandparents, along with Bette and the kids continue to be sources for Walt’s tales; some outrageous, others satisfyingly nostalgic.   A new lake and a new hobby engender new adventures too luckless to be forgotten and too delectable not to tell.

              Some might think with all the tales of hunting, trapping, fishing, and boat and jalopy building that these are yarns for men and boys.  But grandmas and moms and even old girlfriends will find plenty of chuckles in both books. There are not necessarily any heroes in these tales. The main characters are only humans, doing their best to live out their dreams, often with unexpected and funny results…events that might have seemed disastrous at the moment but become laughable, viewed from the distance of years. Everyone’s children and grandchildren deserve to hear some of their own stories about days past and people alive only in memory, but few will. Walt’s are the lucky ones. Devils River Country can be purchased at The Emporium in downtown Del Rio and online at Amazon.

 Reviewed by Freddie Bayne, September 2013


Walter's High School Photo                                                         Walter Block


Submitted by H K Hank Woodward on

I have received and skimmed both books. Very well-written and interesting tales. Two stories were especially interesting to me: The Short Golf Game with Bert Lynch and Bob Poole and Speedy Bob. As described in The Short Golf Game, San Felipe Golf Coarse is relatively short but the beautiful creek meandering through many fairways adds to the difficulty, especially for the less skilled like Walter and I.

As described in Speedy Bob, Walter's first year at the University of Texas in 1945 was much like my first year in 1956. We both played intramural football, and Sonny Rooker was the quarterback on Walter's Raborn's Red Raiders team in 1945. In 1956, I stayed at Oak Grove on Speedway across from the Whittaker Intramural Fields and I spent many hours on the intramural fields and at Gregory Gym a block away. In 1997, I attended an Oak Grove Reunion and Sonny Rooker was our guest speaker. Sonny had just retired as Director of the Intramural Program at Texas.

Thanks, Walter, for the interesting and well-written stories!