In 1948, Cono Dennis boards a train to Temple, Texas. It is the same place he escaped at age 14, when yet another act of violence by his father finally pushed him over the edge. Now, Cono is no longer that skinny, tow-headed, battered kid. At eighteen years old, he is Master Sergeant at Lackland Army Air Force Base, a boxer, and the physical training instructor responsible for over 10,000 men. An invitation from his father to return to Temple and spar with him is too good to pass up. But once Cono throws his first punch, will he be able to stop?
Taking a seat on the Santa Fe railroad car, his memories dominate the steady rhythm of the train. As the train counts down the 148 miles to Temple, these memories weave throughout the story beginning in West Texas in 1930 and lead up to1946. Some of the things he remembers are pleasant or inspirational, others reflect the triumph of the human spirit and many stories are delightfully funny. However, there are other memories that crawl over him like ants at a Sunday picnic, biting, digging in and making him more determined than ever to be the one standing at the end of the round.
But as Colonel Posey told him before he left, some things don't turn out the way you picture them. Texas trains and boxing gloves can only take him so far. The rest he has to figure out on his own.
Cono's Texas: No Hill for a Stepper is filled with lively, off-beat characters, including bootleggers, ''tush hogs,'' true to life Texas cowboys and, of course, hard times. Even so, there is a strength in West Texas where no hill can scare away a true ''stepper.''
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