” Turn A Burger For $15.00 Per Hour, Start Immediatley…Please!”


Photo by Ronald McDonald

I stopped by Whataburger today for a bit of decadence. I have refrained from my burger addiction for a while now, attempting to eat healthily and stay as fit as a 72-year-old can.

While waiting in line at the drive-through, I noticed three teenage boys trying to enter the dining room, jerking and knocking at the doors. Dining room closed, use the drive through the sign read. They were not happy. Since when does Whataburger close their dining room? I guess now would be the answer.

The three fell in behind my car as I barked my order into the speaker. Ten minutes go by, and I am at the window, the three boys on foot are still behind me. The lady that gave me my order looked at them like they were committing a crime. I received my food bag, but I was curious as to why the dining room was closed, so I asked her.

“Mam, is there some reason the dining room is closed? The boys behind me wanted to order, so now they are walking up the drive-through lane.

She replied, ” we can’t find anyone to work. Starting pay is $15.00 an hour with benefits, but we can’t keep anyone more than a few days. That Biden free money has ruined the country.” I said, “yes Mam, I hear you loud and clear.” She was an older lady, maybe in her early 60s, and was clearly frustrated with the predicament her store was in.

I parked and ate my burger, although it wasn’t that good, and the fries were cold and no ketchup in the bag. I let it go. But what she said, I couldn’t let go.

$15.00 an hour is $ 31,200.00 per year based on 52 weeks of work. That is what working at Whataburger will pay a young worker. Throw in insurance benefits, and that is not a bad gig if you have no education, trade, or degree. I raised a family of 4 on that 35 years ago, so don’t tell me it’s slave wages. Sure, inflation has ruined everything and wages have not kept pace with our growth and we are in one hell of a mess and it’s growing worse by the day or even the hours.

Once the Biden free money runs out, what are these people going to do? Go back to work for whatever they can get? Will that $15.00 per hour sound like chicken feed then? The Covid pandemic and shutting down our country because of a planned invasion from China has nearly ruined our economy, our workforce, and our American heritage. I know, the same old bat-shit-crazy argument that half the damn country doesn’t think China did it on purpose, but then they voted for Biden, so that doesn’t leave them with much to argue.

Gas is almost $4.00 per gallon now; how will it go over when it reaches $8.00 per gallon, a pound of hamburger will be $12.00, and a loaf of bread will be triple what we pay now. Everyone is in the same boat, liberals and conservatives, atheists and Christians, black, white and brown, we all will suffer, while the people in Washington that caused this shit-storm will still be eating at their usual expensive restaurants, drinking fine liquor and wine, and wondering what the less fortunate Americans are doing tonight? And that would be us.

“Wavey Gravy Bitch Slaps Austin”


Wavey Gravy

The organizers of the SXSW Music Festival thought it would be a great throwback piece of nostalgia to invite the infamous Wavey Gravy of Woodstock fame to speak at one of their Hipster symposiums during festival week.

Mr. Gravy, while giving a book signing at the “University of Woke Texas” bookshop, had a few choice words for his admirers. His new book, ” How I Survived The Brown Acid and Made A Million,” is a New York Times bestseller and attracted a crowd that stretched around the block. Everyone in Austin thinks they are a retro-hippie.

Maya Sharona, head reporter for SXSW News caught up with Wavey as he was returning from the men’s room.

” Mr. Gravey,” she asked, microphone inches from Waveys face, ” can you give your loyal throwback fans in Austin some advice on how to get through the destruction of humanity, the scourge of oil pollution that is changing our climate, killing Polar Bears and Tiddy Wink minnows, turning women into men and men into newts, and is destroying our universe while rendering all highly educated females infertile and unable to return to work because we can’t afford a Prius ?” No shit, she was dead-out serious.

Wavey thought for a moment, took a swig of his Mylanta Antacid Margarita, lit a joint, checked the time on his Rolex, scratched his balls, cleaned his ears with a bandana and spit, hocked a snot ball, farted, and said to Ms. Sharona, ” take the Brown Acid kid, it did wonders for us at Woodstock.”

The Neighborhood Wizard Strikes Again!


Mister Mower 5000

I have written about my childhood neighbor and his wife before. Mr. Mister and Mrs. Mister of Ryan Ave, Fort Worth, Texas. Every kid should be so lucky to have known the original mad scientist.

Pictured above is Mr. Mister’s early prototype of “The Mister Mower 5000,” a self-propelled riding reel mower suitable for golf courses and yard snobs. This baby was something else.

Constructed from junk jet aircraft parts he pilfered from Carswell Air Force Base, his employer, this little hummer would reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour and cut the grass so low it would give an ant a flat top haircut. It was the first riding mower with a zero-turning radius, a drink holder, an ashtray, and an under-dash air conditioner taken from a wrecked Chevy Corvette. The fathers in our neighborhood would gather and watch when Mr. or Mrs. Mister would mow their front lawn. Mrs. Mister was a Hollywood starlet type, so she usually garnered the most significant crowd because she always wore a bikini bathing suit for maximum tanning effect.

In 1956, sales for “Toro” lawnmowers were sagging, so after learning of Mr. Misters’ new invention, the executives arranged a demonstration of his invention at the Colonial Country of Fort Worth, home to the prestigious “Colonial Golf Tournament.” Mr. Mister was ecstatic.

The demonstration was the day before the big golf tournament, so the Fort Worth big wigs could attend and be handy for photo-ops. The Misters arrived with the “5000” strapped to its custom-made trailer towed behind their menstrual red Alfa Romeo sports car. Fred and Ginger, their poodles, were strapped into their car seats, both wearing head scarfs and sunglasses like Mrs. Mister. Ben Hogan was almost as impressed with the invention as with Mrs. Mister, so he asked if he could be the first to drive the contraption. Of course, Mr. Mister, a huge Hogan fan, agreed and instructed Mr. Ben to operate the mower. Keep in mind, this machine was experimental and subject to total failure at any moment.

The mower was rolled into place on the 18th green, which was a bit shaggy and in need of a buzz. Ben Hogan, his ever-present cigarette in his mouth, seated himself on the machine. Mr. Mister set the required mowing height and gave Ben a few final instructions.

Now, Ben Hogan was the world’s best golfer at that time, but he didn’t know Jack-squat about driving or operating any form of machinery. So Ben put the mower in gear and started around the green. “Ooohs and Ahhhs” from the crowd gave him a bit of encouragement; the newsboys were snapping some great shots, folks were clapping and whistling, so he upped the speed a bit and pulled a lever underneath the seat, hoping to increase the efficiency of the “5000.”

At that moment, Mr. Mister realized that he had failed to warn Ben about that one lever that was hands-off. Too late. Ben engaged the “Scalp” mode, which increased the power and lowered the blades to the “Eve of Destruction” setting. At twenty-five miles per hour, the “5000” and Ben Hogan holding on for his life dug up the 18th green deep enough to plant summer squash and Indian corn. Dirt and dwarf Bermuda was flying like a Texas twister. The Leonard Brothers, part owners of the club, fainted in unison. Mrs. Mister, a track star in her early years at Berkley and still in great shape, sprinted to the runaway mower and leaped onto Ben’s back, hoping to reach the kill switch, another part Mr. Mister had failed to show Ben.

Mrs. Mister

Mrs. Mister made a final attempt to reach the switch by climbing over Mr. Hogans head and wrapping her track star legs around his neck. Finally, on her last effort, she reached the toggle, and the mower abruptly stopped, throwing her and Mr. Ben off the machine and into the beautiful pond adjacent to the green.

Ben waded out first, lit a Camel, and strode across the destroyed green to the bar where he ordered two double Scotches. Mrs. Mister, wearing a promotional white tee-shirt with ” The Mister Mower 5000″ printed on the front, waded out of the pond to a round of applause. The news photographers were popping flashbulbs like firecrackers.

Of course, Toro passed on the mower, Mr. Mister was distraught until he started his next invention, the 18th green was re-sodded in a few hours, Ben Hogan won the Colonial Tournament, and Mrs. Mister inaugurated the first Wet Tee Shirt Contest in Texas.

Just When I Thought I Could Sleep Again, More Things To Keep You Awake And Wondering WTH?


7 months ago, here in Texas, gasoline was $1.70 per gallon. Yesterday it was $3.19 per gallon. Pipelines? Who needs them. Buy it all from the middle east and pay triple. Guess what, the folks that gave us JB, you have to pay the same prices I do. So how’s this Biden loves Harris thing working for ya?

Beef, poultry, fish, and veggie prices are up 30-50 percent. I may be forced to join Sir Paul’s Vegan Lonely Meatless Band. With enough seasonings, I might be able to make ahead of Ice Berg Lettuce taste like a Filet Mignon. It’s worth a shot, and it saves a cow. JB’s followers, you have to pay the same price I do. Voting for Biden didn’t guarantee you a discount or cutting in line privileges. To add salt to our fresh wound, illegals coming across the border get free food stamp credit cards, so when we can’t afford food, they can. Cum-by-yaa, ya’ll.

You best be carrying a pistol when you go shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. I hear everything is already gone or will be handed out to the highest bidders. Turkey theft will be the new norm. But hey, President Sniffer says he talked to Walmart and Target, and they assure him the shelves will be completely packed. So how’s that build-it-back better thing working for ya, kids? Assuming that your kind actually celebrates Thanksgiving in a secular way, of course. But wait! Mayor Buttercup says free child care will cure the economy and save the world. He needs to go back to breastfeeding his twins. Can someone please explain how he does that?

I get calls from car dealers telling me they will give me double what my 2008 Honda CRV is worth. Now that’s some car salesman BS there, old buddy. The problem is, if I sold it to them, I would have to pay double to repurchase the damn thing. So I keep it. Runs good; why not.

I got a call from some East Indian fellow wanting to extend my car warranty. So we got to visit, and the dude lives in a cardboard box under a bridge in Delhi and bathes in a river, yet, he feels sorry for us poor Americans. He said he used to want to live here, now, not so much.

The closer the Russia hoax gets to Hillary and Bill, the more worried I would be if I knew anything about their direct involvement. But, unfortunately, poor Epstein wouldn’t listen and was left hanging. Let us hope that Durham makes it out the other side alive.

Prince Harry now says that he warned the Biden kiddos about the January 6th attack on the capitol. This coming from the child of the village idiot. Did the Aliens tip him off? The queen is not about to step down and will do whatever is needed to outlive Charles by one day, then she will abdicate to Prince William, who is a better choice if there is one in that family. I did enjoy the series on streaming. God Save The Queen and my friends in the UK.

Alec Baldwin is now calling for cops on all movie sets to protect the actors from shooting themselves and others. This comes from a man who is on record stating that he hates cops and guns and America. Now I remember what Alec said, ” I will move to Canada if Trump wins.” Guess he couldn’t get a U Haul truck. You can’t have everything, buddy, and your brothers are better actors than you are, and your wife ain’t from Spain.

My friend Mooch says he lost his religion a while back. He was a Jehova’s Witness but decided he didn’t want to get involved. So he became a hard-drinking, two-stepping Baptist.

Let’s Go, Brandon!

Did I say too much? If so, give me a call at BR-549 to register a complaint.

The Legend of Lawnmower Ted


Lawnmower Ted, Port Aransas Texas

Some folks in the fishing village of Port Aransas Texas say that Ted first showed up in the early 70s. I remember him being there as early as summer of 1968, pushing his lawnmower around the village, mowing air, and stirring up a dust devil or two. The mower had no blade or very little of one, and most of the time, no gasoline.

Ted was a vagrant; a bum and a lush, but only after 5 PM, he had an image to protect. Ted was also a masterful storyteller; truth or lies, it made no difference, he could put you right there in the heart of the yarn he was spinning. His unkept vagrancy and a mellow low voice gave authenticity to his tale. That talent alone kept Ted in meals and booze contributed by the well-meaning local villagers. Everyone loves a well-told story and is willing to part with something of value as payment.

It was rumored that Ted slept underneath Shorty’s Bar, which at the time was raised to 5 feet above the ground for hurricane flood protection. Lord knows how he fought off the mosquito hoards and the numerous Rattlesnakes if he truly did reside there.

Ted knew that Shorty, the crusty owner of the bar was always good for a few beers and a package of Pork Rinds for sweeping the porch and trash duty. Lunch might be a mis-ordered cheeseburger from The Chicken Coop or a back door chicken fry at Mrs. Pete’s Cafe. Betty’s Liquor Store kept him in Ripple and Mad Dog as payment for unloading inventory or breaking down boxes. The locals watched out for Ted. Every little town has its flamboyant character, and Ted decided he would fill the bill for Port Aransas, briefly stealing the unofficial title from Mr. Jack Cobb, the true-to-life flamboyant owner of The Sea Horse Inn. The two of them unknowingly traded the title from year to year.

Local businessmen and island historians, Spanny Gibbs, the owner of Gibbs Cottages, and Carlos Moore of Bilmores Hardware claimed they knew for a by-damn fact that Ted had worked as a nuclear scientist building The Bomb at Los Alamos Labs in 1945, or maybe it was a Professor of Mathematics at Harvard or both. A mental breakdown or three, and Ted finds himself an amnesiac vagrant wandering the streets of Port Aransas pushing a rusted Craftsman lawnmower. Both are good stories in themselves, but no one factually knew where Ted came from, and he wasn’t telling. Back in those days, Port Aransas was a good place to come if you wanted to drop off the edge of civilization and hide in plain sight. The town was full of guys like him. Shrimp boats always needed a deckhand, asked no questions, and paid in cash.

After watching Ted’s antics for a decade, I finally met the man one afternoon on the covered porch at Shorty’s Bar. Dexter Prince, myself, and my Father were sitting around an outside table having an after fishing trip Lone Star beer when Ted wanders up, lawnmower in tow.

Dexter, never the shy one, tells Ted he’d buy him a six-pack for a good story. Well hell, a sixpack is almost worth his life’s story, so Ted joins us at the table, pops a longneck, clears his throat, and says, ” did I ever tell you about the time I was working on a dive boat sailing out of Vera Cruz Mexico, looking for sunken Spanish gallons full of stolen treasure?” Dexter passes Ted another beer and says, “please go on Ted, I don’t believe we have heard that one.” Truth is, we had never heard any of his stories in person.

The yarn, which lasted the better part of an hour, ended with Ted procuring twenty boxes of Castros favorite cigars from a Cuban shrimp boat that tried to hold up the treasure hunt at gunpoint. Ted made enough money selling the contraband smokes back in Texas, that he took another few months off from building the bomb and stayed in Harlingen, only returning to Los Alamos when Oppenheimer himself flew down and dragged him back to New Mexico. We all knew it was a crock of crap, but damn the man could make you believe anything. Dexter was so impressed, he sprang for Ted’s supper, and my father threw in a bottle of Jack Daniels.

The last time I saw Ted was in the mid-80s. He was ancient and barely moving along Cotter Ave, still pulling that old mower. I should have stopped, bought him a burger, and requested a yarn, but I missed my chance. A year later, no one knew what happened to Ted, he just faded away into the sunset leaving Jack Cobb the surviving winner of the town’s most flamboyant character.

“When Jack And Neal Hit The Road”


Jack Kerouac

Two Catholic boys, Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassidy are on a road trip by car across the American west to find the meaning of life. The badlands of New Mexico held all the secrets that New York City would never have. It could be a great book are a movie. But, as it turns out, it was a book first. What could go wrong?

It was 1947, and half the country still lived in a Norman Rockwell painting, and the other poor souls struggled with keeping food on their table and a decent job. The war was but a few years ago, and the scars were fresh and raw. As the movies would have you believe, not everyone had the good fortune to live in New York City and shop at Macy’s and Bloomingdales. The Hollywood boys covered everything in Fairy Dust and Unicorn Piss, and the commies were coming to your neighborhood. The two young men sensed the growing change and needed to find the “real America”; the wide-open, gritty, in-your-face, working man culture that made their country run on regular.

“On The Road” was published in 1951. The author, Jack Kerouac, a French Canadian American that didn’t learn to speak or write in English until he was six years old, became an instant literary celebrity and a reluctant prognosticator to the “Beats,” which would become the “Hippies” in the 1960s. He tolerated the Beats and the new intellectuals because he helped birth them, but grew to despise the Hippies before he died. He wrote many times that he was sorry they found his books and used them as their warped ideological drug-addled bible that led to the near destruction of his beloved country. The “beat generation,” another term he loathed, wasn’t meant to survive past 1960. The writings and musings made no sense after 1959. He believed everything had an expiration date.

Ginsburg and Burroughs kept the plates spinning; the publishing cash and the adulation were too strong to walk away just yet. So Kerouac moved on and became a drunkard and pill head. Fame, and all that came attached, was not his bag.

The only comparison to the book that I can think of would be the “road” movies of the 1940s. Two pals and a gal road-tripping to Nirvana. Kerouac would have been Bing Crosby and Cassidy a bi-polar Bob Hope with his girlfriend a sluttish Dorothy Lamour. But, of course, their adventure was adults only. Weed, booze, Minga Minga, and foul language would not have made it with old Bing and Bob.

The two main characters, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity, were the essential bad boys before it was cool. Their names alone were enough to make you buy the book. Every teenager that read it could easily place themselves in their universe for a while. Who knows how many ill-fated trips the book influenced.

My cousin and I toyed with the idea. First, to California and back to New York, then home to Texas in his Corvair Monza; then the effects of the pot wore off, we ate a cheeseburger and shit-canned the plan.

James Dean was a disciple, as was Marlon Brando. They wore bad boy cool like a soft leather jacket. The movie boys jumped on it. “Rebel Without A Cause” and “The Wild Ones” sent parents screaming through their middle-class neighborhoods with hair ablaze. Ozzie and Harriet doubled down. Pat Boone turned up the heat. Art Linkletter had a meltdown. The fifties were dying before our eyes.

I may revisit “On The Road” again. It sits on my bookshelf, aging like wine, and needs to be jostled.

“A Texas Christmas Miracle Brisket”


After sixteen-year-old Tex Styles is inducted into “The Sons Of The Alamo Lodge,” and gets his big write-up in the Fort Worth Press and a shout-out on the Bobbi Wygant Television show, his status as a “wonder kid” champion griller is increased by ten-fold. So, naturally, everybody wants a piece of Tex, or at least a plate full of his Brisket and sausage.

 His face is on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine and Sports Illustrated, thanks to Dan Jenkins. The Michelin Travel Guide lists him as the top meat griller in America and gives him a five-star rating. Julia Childs is fuming mad. 

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are Texas BBQ fans from way back. So, they send Tex an invite to prepare a meat feast at Buckingham Palace; the boy lives in high cotton and cold beer and has not yet graduated high school. 

Upon his graduation from Pascal High School in 1968, the Army drafts Tex and sends him to Viet Nam for a visit. His captain happens to be a Fort Worth boy who knows Tex’s hometown celebrity status, which, in turn, gets Tex a gig as the top generals’ chef. He won’t hold a rifle or fire a shot for his two-years tour. Instead, a smoker grill large enough for thirty steaks and ten briskets is his weapon. A color photograph of his boyhood grill instead of the usual Playboy fold-out hangs next to his cot. The general tells his men that he “loves the smell of smoking brisket in the morning.” Tex is an immediate rock star. 

Tex used his time in Vietnam wisely by learning exotic cooking techniques from the locals. 

For example, a shriveled up old Mama-San educated him on using “Vietnamese Death Peppers,” the hottest pepper in the world. If a man ate one whole, death would occur within twenty minutes, or so the Mama-San said. Tex nibbled a small end piece and was on fire for two days, unable to leave the barracks bathroom, so he figured she wasn’t bullshitting him. 

A month of experimentations with the “Death Pepper” resulted in an edible and survivable pepper sauce. Tex called it “Davy Crocketts Ass Canon,” since he is a “Son Of The Alamo” and all that. 

He found a local business in Siagon to bottle the product, and a local artist produced an excellent illustrated label for the bottle. It pictures Davy Crockett with his buckskin pants around his ankles, torching Mexican soldiers with a massive fiery flame shooting from his buttocks. In addition, the label said it’s a marinade, a pepper sauce, a medicinal elixir, and a hemorrhoid eradicator. All of this is true, so it’s bound to be a huge hit. 

In June 1972, Miss Piddle Sonjair was a nineteen-year-old winner of the “Miss Chigger Bayou Louisiana” contest. Although she is not the prettiest girl entered, she is the only one with a complete set of straight white teeth, no baby bump, and doesn’t have a snot-nose kid hanging off her hip, making her the popular winner via unanimous decision.   

As the newly crowned “Miss Chigger Bayou,” Piddle Sonjair makes her appearance at the “Shreveport Annual Crawfish, Sausage and Meat Smoking Festival,” where she meets handsome Tex Styles as she awards him the winner’s trophy. 

She is bug-eyed- shaky-legged enamored with his triple-crusty-peppered Angus brisket and his ten-alarm jalapeno wild boar sausage smothered in his secret chipmunk sauce. 

Marriage follows a few months later, then two sons and two daughters round out the Styles family. So naturally, all the kids take to grilling and smoking, just like dear old Dad.  

Tex, Piddle, and the children travel the country in their two custom tour bus’s, pulling a 30-foot smoker and grill for the next twenty years. They smoke, grill, and serve the best meats in the south, winning competitions and elevating Tex to legendary status in the grilling world. 

His Fort Worth boyhood home, listed in the state historic register, is a traffic-jamming tourist attraction. His first Weber grill is cast in bronze and displayed at Will Rogers Auditorium during the “Fat Stock Show.” Men worldwide come and pay homage to “the masters,” sacred covenant. It’s a moving sight to see grown-assed men weep while kneeling and touching the small grill. It’s one of the top tourist attractions in the south. 

Tex is now seventy-two and retired from competitive cooking. The only folks that get a Styles brisket and fixin’s are his select clientele of fifty-plus years and Father Frank, the priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Repentance church of which Tex and Piddle are members in good standing. He has more money than King Faruk, a large home on Lake Granbury, and a cabin in Ruidoso, New Mexico, so he’s in the cooking game for fun. 

Ten days before Christmas, Tex gets a call from his old pal Willie “the Red Headed Stranger,” Nelson. 

Willie, his family, his band, their families, and numerous relatives and hangers-on have planned a “Santa Claus Pick’in and Grinn’in Christmas” shin-dig at Willies Dripping Springs ranch. Willie has a hankering for a Tex Styles holiday meat feast with all of Miss Piddle’s fancy fixins’.

Tex and Willie exchange the usual howd’ys, and then Willie drops his order. 

Expecting around two-hundred-seventy-five people and assorted animals at the shin-dig, Willie needs enough food to satisfy a herd with possible pot munchies and other self-induced disorders. 

Willie’s list is a booger bear, and Tex isn’t sure if he and Piddle can fulfill it in time, so he calls in his two sons and a couple of grandkids for backup. 

Willie needs 38 each of Tex’s 30-pound “Goodnight Irene Ranch Briskets,” 45 each of West Texas spoon-fed bacon wrapped-beer can pork butts, 35 pounds of San Saba wild pig sausage, and 59 educated and certified free-range smoked chickens, with documentation attached. 

All of the sides and fixin’s, are Piddles forte’, and will consist of 175 pounds of “Jacksboro Highway Red Skinned Tater Salad”, 175 pounds of “O.B. Jauns Canobi-Oil Mexican Macaroni Salad”, 120 pounds of high octane Shiner Bock Ranch Style beans, 235 pounds of Piddles special “Nanner Pudding,” 50 gallons of Tex’s secret sweet n’ spicy Chipmunk sauce, and one bottle of ” Davy Crocketts Ass Cannon” hot sauce.

Finally, to wash’er down, 135 gallons of Tex’s unique Dr. Pepper CBD oil-infused sweet tea and 5 commercial coffee urns of Dunkin Donuts Breakfast Blend coffee. The order is too big to ship, so Tex’s fifth grandson and granddaughter will deliver it to the ranch in the Styles family food truck. Money is not a worry for Willie, so he doesn’t discuss cost, which rounds out to be about $18,000 without taxes and tips. 

Tex fires up his 30-foot trailer-mounted smoker and three custom-made “Styles Grills.” The next morning. Grandson number 3 unloads a pickup bed full of Mesquite, Peach, and Oak firewood purchased from the “Little Bobs” wood co-op in Eastwood, Texas. Tex won’t use wood or charcoal that doesn’t come from West of Fort Worth; if he suspects it may have come from Dallas or anywhere East of there, he throws it out. He is a Fort Worth boy to a fault.

At midnight, Tex pulls a tester brisket and carts it into the kitchen for a “slice and chew,” checking for tenderness, aroma, and flavor. 

When he pulls back the foil wrap, he gasps and stumbles a few steps backward. Piddle hears this and bolts to the kitchen, where she finds a “white as a ghost” Tex sitting in a chair. Thinking he is having “the big one,” she dials 911, but Tex stops the call, assuring her he is alright. 

He asks Piddle to join him next to the Brisket, telling her to describe what she sees. After a few seconds, she lets out a hound-dog yelp and crosses herself. 

There, on the kitchen counter, resting in a tin-foil boat of succulent juices, sits a 20-pound brisket perfectly shaped like the Virgin Mary holding her baby Jesus. The contour of the torso, the flowing robe, her angelic face, and the little baby in her arms look as if a great master had carved that hunk of beef. Piddle gets all weepy-eyed and announces that this is a “Christmas Miracle Brisket.” Tex takes a picture with his phone and sends it to Father Frank, telling him to get over here now; we may have a miracle on our hands. 

An hour later, Father Frank and two Nuns from the rectory view the miracle meat in the kitchen. 

Father Frank is skeptical; these things usually happen in Latin America and tend to be the face of Jesus on a tortilla or a piece of burnt toast, not a 20-pound hunk of beef brisket.  

The two Nuns intensely study the Brisket for a good thirty minutes. Then, finally, sister Mary and Sister Madgealyn, renowned experts in miracles of all things holy, inform Father Frank that this is the real deal and he should contact the Vatican, stat. So Father Frank dials the Popes’ secure red phone hotline. The Holy Father answers. 

The conversation is in Latin and lasts for a few minutes. Then, finally, a bit shook, the good Father hangs up and tells Tex that the Vatican’s special investigation team will arrive tomorrow afternoon and to please hire armed guards to protect the miracle meat. Tex agrees. 

Father Frank asks Tex if he might take a tiny slice of the useless burned fat home for religious reasons. Tex cuts a sliver from the back of the meat and wraps it in foil. The nuns, Father Frank, and the miracle sliver depart.

The following day is Sunday, and Tex and Piddle are too busy cooking to attend services. Then, around 1 PM, Father Frank calls Tex and tells him that “we have got a problem.” 

 Seems that the good Father couldn’t resist a tiny taste of the burned miracle fat before bedtime; he said it was the most Heavenly thing he had ever put into his mouth. 

When Father Frank stared into the bathroom mirror this morning, he thought he had died and gone to Heaven. But he was still here, and, instead of a 70-year-old white-haired man in the mirror, a younger version of himself with thick jet black hair and perfect white teeth stared back. His hemorrhoids are gone, his gout is healed, his vision is excellent, his knee’s and hips don’t hurt, he took a dump like a big dog, his skin is as smooth as a baby’s bald head, and he has a woody so hard a cat couldn’t scratch it. This miracle brisket is the real deal for sure. But, Tex senses there is more to the Father’s explanation. So, he presses him for the rest. 

Father Frank comes clean and begins to weep like a teenage girl having her period, telling Tex that the experience is a flat-out-miracle, and he was compelled by the all-mighty to share it with his congregation during mass this morning. So, he told them the whole beautiful story. Tex murmured, sum-bitch, and hung up the phone. 

Before Tex can get really good and pissed at the good Father, his buddy down the street, Mooch, calls and tells Tex to check his front lawn. “It ain’t good little buddy,” was all Mooch said. News travels like wildfire in a small town, especially if it involves religion.  

A hundred or more people sit, lay, stand or take up space in wheelchairs, hospital gurneys, and walkers on the front lawn. The overflow takes up his neighbors front yard. 

The block is a traffic jam, and two news trucks from Fort Worth are parked in his driveway, antenna raised and going live. Last night, the two Nuns accompanying Father Frank are now standing on Tex’s front porch, signing autographs and giving fake communion using Goldfish crackers and Sunny Delite grape drink instead of sacraments. The healing circus just hit town.

Two police officers show up. They demand to see Tex’s permit for a gathering of over fifty people and organizing an outside church service. Tex explains there is no church service, but the two nuns giving fake communion show otherwise. The cops write Tex a few tickets and leave. 

As soon as the cops depart, the Vatican Special Forces arrive. 

Five burly boys in black Georgio Armani suits wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses and sporty Italian Fedoras force themselves into the house. So, naturally, they want the miracle meat. Two black limos with fender flags are parked in front of Tex’s house. The news folks go apocalyptic. Father Frank is curbside giving a live interview to Vatican Television News. It has officially hit the fan.

The main burly boy produces a document printed on expensive Vatican parchment saying that “All Miracles involving God, Jesus, The Virgin Mary, or any relative or likeness thereof on an article of food is the sole property of the Pope and the Catholic Church LLC.” It’s signed by the Pope and has a small picture of him glued next to his signature. 

Tex claims bullshit and tells the Pope’s boys to hit the road. Piddle stands in the kitchen doorway, 9mm in hand. Her look says, “don’t mess with a Coon-Ass gal this Brisket ain’t leaving Granbury, Texas.” 

The Vatican boys, muttering select Italian curse words, leave in a huff. Tex knows what he is meant to do with the Miracle Brisket. 

Willie Nelson sees the news coverage down in Austin and calls Tex on his cell phone. ” I sure could use some of that Miracle Brisket when you deliver my order. The old lumbago and prostate cancer has been acting up and it hurts so bad I can hardly roll a joint or pack my pipe. I’ll be glad to donate a couple of hundred grand to any charity you choose.” Tex says he will send a piece if there is any left. Willie’s word is as good as gold. 

Father Frank rushes into the house, arms waving, screaming like a fainting goat. ” What in God’s name have you done you backwoods cow cooking toothless hillbilly? I’m ruined!” 

It seems the good Father made a sleazy back door deal with the His Popeness for a secret trip to the Vatican and a fancy appointment to some committee if he delivered the Miracle Brisket to Rome. So, Tex tells the good Father, in a non to gentle way, that the meat is staying in Granbury and will do whatever good it can here at home.  

Father Frank yells, ” you double dog crossing sum-bitch,” grabs the two nuns, and they are history. Tex tells them, “don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” He had a feeling that Father Frank was never as holy as he pretended to be, and the nuns were probably ex-hookers.

Tex goes to the kitchen, lays the meat on a cutting board, and slices the Miracle Brisket into tiny slivers, wrapping each morsel in a square of tin foil. He and Piddle then distribute the bites to every person in their front yard that is ill or has an apparent medical condition. He also gives a nibble to his fifteen-year-old dog, McMurtry.

Tex then sends his two sons, his two daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters along with himself and Piddle to every nursing home, mission, physician’s office, memory care facility, hospice, veterinary clinic, and hospital in town with pieces of the Miracle Brisket. 

Tex saves the last sliver for Willie. 

We All Screamed For The Ice Cream Man


Summer afternoons with temps in the upper 90s. There is no air conditioning in your house, and you have a bad case of chiggers you picked up from the vacant lot down the street. Your front tooth is loose, and two toes on your left foot may be broken from being run over by your uncles’ station wagon. Life for kids in the 1950s was hard. But, the one thing that made it all worthwhile was the Ice Cream Man.

You could hear the cheesy music from two blocks away; plenty of time to make it home for some change. It didn’t matter if there was an entire half-gallon of Blue Bunny in the freezer, the Ice Cream Man was coming, and he had what we needed, the good stuff; Popsicles, Dreamsicles, Chocolate Cows, Rockets, Push Up Sherbert, Fudge Bars, and Eskimo Pies.

I thought selling ice cream from a white truck while dressed in a uniform was my career path. So I told my father that’s going to be me in a few years. But, yessir-ree-bob, it didn’t get any better than Mr. Good Humor pushing frozen sweets to kids. Of course, my father was concerned about my plans, but I was 7 years old and likely to change professional aspirations within a few hours. I also thought the Milk Man was a great gig. Half the kids on our block resembled him.

My pal Skipper and I once crawled into the back of the Vandorvorts Milk truck and rode for two blocks before being caught. We drank as much chocolate milk as we could hold before being discovered. It was freezing cold inside, but we did our best. It was worth the butt-busting.

There is nothing quite as funny as a bunch of kids with Popsicles stuck to their tongues running and screaming bloody murder. I always thought that ice cream man had a mean streak.

“Sargent Yorks Lovely Beatnick Bongo Band”


The Bongo Band at The Hip Hereford. Sargent ( Sal ) York in Stripped shirt

In 1957 there was a coffee house and Beatnik hangout in downtown Fort Worth, Texas called “The Hip Hereford,” named in honor of the owner’s prized champion bull.

Sargent ( Salvatore )Tulane York was related to the legendary war hero, Sargent York, on his fathers’ side of the family, thus his naming after his famous cousin.

Growing up on a vast cattle ranch outside of Weatherford Texas, Salvatore wanted one thing; to be a singing cowboy, like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and maybe Tex Ritter.

All-day, every day, from the time he could sit a saddle, Salvatore sat on his shetland pony, “Giblet,” playing a plastic ukulele while singing “Home On The Range” and “Oh Susana.” This behavior went on for years, and his parents finally gave up on the little savant, letting him ride the range singing his two-song songbook to the cattle and the critters. At times, his parents forgot to call him in for supper, or when it rained, and little Salvatore would make camp with the doggies, showing up a few days later as if nothing strange had happened.

When Salvatore turned 17, he began going by his family name of Sargent. It made him feel dignified and a little important. He and a few boys from school formed a little guitar and fiddle band and began playing around Parker County. Chicken fights, church fundraisers, and intermission at the Cowtown Drive Inn were about the only gigs they could get. They knew four songs and were hard to listen to. They called themselves ” The Parker Valley Ranch Boys.” They met Buddy Holley once and asked for his advice. He told them to stay the hell away from him and his Crickets and to get a real job.

The band didn’t work out, so Sargent decided he would try being a Beatnik. It didn’t take talent or an education, both of which he had none of, so he figured he could make it work.

He opened the first Beatnik-type coffee house in Fort Worth near the Majestic Theater. He gave the guitar and fiddle band one more shot but it didn’t fit the atmosphere. He had another idea that would work. Why even have music! Just have a few guys playing bongo drums while people speak or recite poetry. How cool is that? No messy music or instruments, just the gentle beat of the soothing bongo to accentuate the moment.

The picture above is the first incarnation of “Sargent Yorks Lovely Beatnik Bongo Band,” onstage at The Hip Hereford. Sargent York, the band leader, is the dude in the middle wearing the striped shirt.

Word got out about how cool and hip the place was, and soon every performer around wanted to be seen there. Elvis Presley was at Fort Hood serving his time in the Army, so he would come up on Saturday nights and sing a few tunes. Jack Ruby ( yes, that one ) would bring Candy Barr, the famous stripper to do her show, and Lyndon B.Johnson and Lady Bird would stop by to shake a few hands and recite the latest bill he was introducing in the senate. Lady Bird would give gardening advice. Brother Dave Gardner, the famous comedian made a few appearances, as did Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Phylis Diller, Jonny Carson, Alvin, and The Chipmunks, Soupy Sales, and Rabbi Schmolie and his singing dog, Moses.

The place rocked on for another year, then when interest waned, Sargent closed the doors and went to Greenwich Village to become a folk singer.

The rumor that floated around for years, even into the mid-60s, was that some English musician was vacationing in Texas and caught a few acts at the Hip Hereford. He dug the name of the house bongo band and later passed it along to some of his blokes over on Abbey Road. Who knows, it could have happened?

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