Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall Tales and Ripping Yarns from Texas

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Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Cicada Days of Summer


Little Buzzy

It will happen any day now. Zillions of them will crawl from their dirt bungalows, dust off their wings, slick back their hair and proceed to make us miserable with their obnoxious song. Cicada’s are Gods way of shaking his “no-no, you’ve been bad” finger at us.

In the 1950s, it seemed the little critters were everywhere in our Fort Worth neighborhood. Cats loved to eat them, dogs like to crunch them, and us kids captured them for fun. Tie a kite string on their leg and fly them around like a model airplane, and then blow them up with a Black Cat firecracker. Such fun. Nothing was quite as freaky as an angry Cicada buzzing in your hand.

One summer evening as the family sat in our back yard, drinking ice tea and listening to the buggy orchestra, I put my pet Cicada, “Little Buzzy,” down the back of my mothers shirt. No one in the family knew she was such an accomplished acrobat.

The educated experts say the insects appear in seventeen-year cycles, then die off and reappear seventeen years later. Who are these experts, and when did they start keeping track of the bugs appearances? What if a few miss the die-off, or stay too long in their hidey hole and mess up the entire show? That may explain why we heard them every summer in the 1950s; confused Cicada’s.

I’m looking forward to sitting on my patio, a nice tumbler of Irish whiskey in my paw, and listening to the sounds of my childhood.

A New Girl On the Block


Caitlin and Bruce

I can’t admit to completely buying into this transgendered thing of the moment, but a person has the right make believe they are something they are not. Those babylon babies in Hollywood do it for a living, and most of us did it when we were kids, always pretending like we were Superman, Wonder Woman, Davie Crockett or even an Olympic gold medal winner. It’s ones right to pretend; but don’t expect everyone else to buy into it.

A few nights ago, Caitlin Jenner was on the Shawn Hannity program on Fox. Hannity interviewed her about a number of topics, including the hottest one of the day about her running for Governor of California. Jenner, speaking in a husky manly voice, didn’t duck one thing. She answered all his questions, even the ones that were a bit uncomfortable. I was impressed.

The one touchy question that Hannity didn’t ask was “why did you want to become a woman?” One would think that Bruce having to endure that make believe clan of no-talent, worthless Kardashian women would drive any man to extreme measures; Bruce didn’t have a chance from the get-go.

I liked everything Caitlin said about fixing California and the country. She is no doubt a conservative, which is driving the liberals and wokies crazy because she is not one of them. I think she may have a good chance at occupying the mansion in Sacramento.

Let’s be honest here, she’s the only woman that has the ball’s to fix California.

A Performance to Remember


Pictured here is my 17th cousin, Carmalita “Cookie” Zevon. In Texas, if we are unsure of our relations, everyone becomes a cousin. It’s a big state with a small gene pool.

In the fall of 1958, the first beatnik-style coffee house opened its door in Fort Worth Texas. Calling itself, “The Cellar,” I can assure you that Fort Worth did not welcome its presence or the caliber of inhabitants it attracted. Cousin Carmalita, who preferred the name Cookie, was a perfect fit and secured a gig as the first waitress at the new establishment.

Being 8 years younger, I and the other cousins had limited interaction during her teenage years, but I know from the sordid family stories and the “almost out of earshot whispers” that she was a real hellion of a girl.

Immersing herself in books by Kerouac and Ginsberg that glorified the new lifestyle created by the “beat generation,” Cookie began dressing in black tight-fitting clothing.

Waist-length black hair and a resemblance to a young Ava Gardner didn’t endear her to the Sandra Dee girls club at school, which resulted in a cliquish form of petulant bullying, so Cookie dropped out of Paschal High School at sixteen to live in sin with her next to worthless hoodlum boyfriend; a motorcycle riding teenage hubcap stealing thief from the north side of town. This decision resulted in her instant banishment from the family.

Polled by a phone-in family vote, she was christened the “little trollop.” Her name was not to be spoken at gatherings, and her mother requested all photographs containing images of Cookie be returned to her for proper disposal by fire. Her father, unable to watch her sweet sixteen birthday present, a Ford Fairlane convertible sit abandoned in his driveway, sold it to Frank Kent for next to nothing. The rebellious type was not tolerated well in the 1950s, especially in Texas, and our extended family.

The Cellar grew in popularity and crowds of the literary unwashed and self-appointed poets made it their rightious digs. High octane coffee and bad poetry create a tolerated misery for the sake of being cool.

Cookie grew tired of the bland poetry readings from ancient books and tried her hand at writing. Engulfed in her rebellion, and possessing a heart full of childish resentment, it didn’t take long for her to dish on everyone and everything she felt had “done her wrong.” Her parents were the main course in her cauldron of teenage hate. She petitioned the club owner to let her perform a personal poem about her life, and he agreed.

Saturday evening is reserved for the serious night dwelling “hip beats.” They convene and hold literary court to any who will listen. Mixed groups of the hairy educated gather around small tables arguing about poetry, politics, sex and the meaning of life. Old Crow adds the extra kick to the java. An occasional strange cigarette makes the rounds.

Cookie senses the time right and takes the stage cradling a cardboard box under her left arm and a large pair of sewing shears in her right hand. She sets the box on the floor next to a tall stool. Tears stream from her sad eyes, forming dark streams of melting mascara onto her peach pale cheeks. A tinsel thin string of snot drips from her left nostril resting on her upper lip catches the spotlight, bathing her face an ethereal glow. She gags a few times, composes herself and begins her poem.

Retrieving her favorite childhood doll baby from the box, she places the doll on the stool, produces a small meat-cleaver and beheads the poor toy. A gasp erupts from the crowd. Earlier, for maximum effect, she filled the doll’s plastic head with Heinz Ketchup and potted ham to simulate blood and brains. When the doll’s head is guillotined and bounces onto the table nearest the stage, the ketchup splattered patrons recoil in horror. A beautiful 8×10 glossy photo of her parents is pulled from the box and cut to shreds with the sewing shears. She produces a Girl Scout uniform and rips it to pieces, throwing the all American remnants of the uniform into the audience.

Cookie leans into the microphone, takes a drag from a Pall Mall, and in a low growl says ” I never liked dolls or toys, but you made me treat the little shits like real people. I fed them imaginary food, bathed them in imaginary water, changed their tiny poopless diapers, and dressed them in stupid clothes, and for that I hate you and I cut my hair.” With that statement, she grabs a chunk of her beautiful lady Godiva length hair and removes a large portion with the sewing shears. She continues ” I didn’t want to be a Bluebird, but no, I had to be like the other girls on our street, you know I don’t like the color blue, and for that, I hate you and I cut my hair.” Whack, another large section falls to the stage. ” you hate my boyfriend because he is a bad boy, and he is all that, but I love him and want to spend my life on the back of his ratty-ass motorcycle holding a nursing baby in each arm as we travel west to find the meaning of life.” She then whacks the left side of her hair to within inches of her scalp. The audience is on the verge of bolting, fearing her next move may be severing an artery and expiring in front of them. A voice from the back of the room yells “this chick is crazy.”

Cookie ends her act and exits the stage leaving a pile of black hair mixed with ketchup and photo paper. The crowd of poets and hip cats give her a lukewarm reception. This performance was too unhinged for the normally unshakable.

That performance at the Cellar that night was the debut of what would come to be known as “Performance Art.” Carmalita Cookie Zevon performed once more before she and her boyfriend and a nursing baby rode west on a ratty-ass motorcycle to find the meaning of life. We can assume they found something.

Faster than a speeding…


I wrote and published this story back in 2018. Any kid that has ever dressed up in a super hero costume can relate to my true experience. Thinking back to that time in the mid 1950s, I now realize my neighborhood buddies didn’t care if I died right there in front of them while attempting this stunt. We were all bullet-proof and somehow had nine lives. It was all about the show, as I soon found out.

Surfing Netflix and Amazon Prime a few nights ago, I was surprised how many movies feature superheroes. Sure, the two originals are there, Superman and Batman, but then there are at least a dozen others. Did I sleep through some cultural entertainment shift?

The original Superman television series premiered in 1952, and by 1953-54 every kid in my neighborhood pretended to fly while fighting for truth-justice-and the American way. The girls wanted to be Super Girls, but the boys wouldn’t allow it. Superman was a man’s man, so they had to settle for Lois Lane.

The family that possessed the largest television screen was the meeting point where the gang gathered to watch our hero. My Father purchased the largest black and white television available, 15 inches, so our den was the destination.

There he stood in his padded super suit, cape flapping in the wind, a steely look on his all-American face. What a man! Only years later did we notice the slight paunch, the double chin, and the bad teeth.

At Leonard Brothers department store in Fort Worth, you could purchase a genuine Superman cape for $4.00 or for $20.00, a kid could have the full outfit, which included a blue stretch top and tights, a red speedo, and super boots. The kids in our neighborhood couldn’t afford the suit, so they settled for whatever fabric they could find for a cape.

I was the lucky one. My Aunt Norma, a seamstress extraordinaire made me a custom-fit Superman suit. It was a beauty; dark blue stretchy top with little super muscles sewn in, blue tights with a red swimsuit, gold fabric covers to over my PF Flyer tennis shoes, and the bright red cape with the super “S.” I was in super heaven and the envy of all my pals. We immediately planned a flying demonstration, and I was the vehicle. Our home, the only two-story house on the block was the designated launch point.

After gathering in my den for our afternoon viewing of Superman, the gang rushed to our backyard, awaiting the flight. I sneaked upstairs, squeezed into my super suit, and slipped through a window onto the roof.

The usual gang of six had suddenly swelled to thirty or so kids of all ages. “How can I fly in front of strangers? What if the suit doesn’t work?” I was getting a severe case of “cold feet.”

The roof grew higher with every breath as I inched my way to the peak. Looking down to the yard, it may as well be the grand canyon. I was shaking like a wet dog, and a dribble of pee leaked down my leg. A kid in the crowd yelled, ” What’s wrong kid…chicken.” That did it. I was by-golly flying today.

I crossed myself and ran down the slope of the roof. A millisecond before launch, my Mother yells from the window, “don’t you dare do that.” It was too late. My six-year-old super legs launched me into thin air. I hear theme music, feel the air under my cape and below, my pals, a look of wonderment on their faces, cheer me on to super glory.

Instead of gaining height and accelerating to supersonic speed, I made it twenty feet or so then dropped straight down, landing in the midst of the admiring crowd. Our thick lawn saved me from certain paralysis.

My Mother was on me like a duck on a Junebug. Jerking me up by my super cape, she proceeds to whip my little butt with a flyswatter; the only weapon she could find. I was mortified; young Superman receiving a whooping from his super Mom. The crowd dispersed, leaving me sitting in the grass in my super shame.

The next morning; miraculously recovered, I am sent out to play with my pals. Walking through the back gate, I noticed a bit of my super cape hanging from under the garbage can lid. My super days are over.


When the Band Plays the Last Song


Two weeks ago, John Payne, my friend of twenty years, and fellow bandmate was laid to rest. The last song was played, Happy Trails closed the show and JP has left the building.

Our story started two decades back when my old friend Danny Goode, and former bandmate from the 60s, called me after a thirty-year gap and wanted to have lunch.

The next day, over Whataburger’s, he asked me if I would be interested in playing with a rock band that he and two other friends had put together. I said I might be interested, but I didn’t own an electric guitar, an amp, a strap, or even a guitar pick and had not touched an instrument since 1990. He made a call on his cell, and after a brief muffled conversation, he told me everything was arranged. We were to meet at Jordan’s house on Saturday.

That Saturday, I met John Payne, lead guitar, and Jordan Welch, percussionist. John apologized for not having much time to put together the loaner equipment, and he hoped it would be alright. In my spot was a vintage Fender Twin Reverb amplifier with guitar picks and a cold beer sitting on top. The loaner guitar was a 1960s Gibson Les Paul. I told John that I think this gear would be more than adequate. I knew then, that John probably had more vintage gear than Guitar Center.

We played half a dozen songs, and I knew this grouping of four had something special. We all had been playing for decades and the musicianship was there. What was surprising, is our three-part harmonies. We sounded like the Ethel Murman Tabernacle Choir; it was borderline scary. We took a break and consumed a cold one to calm ourselves. We all sat in Jordan’s den, grinning like a Raccoon caught in a trash can.

The three amigos asked if I was in? Well hell yeah! I was then told there was a gig in North Richland Hills on Saturday night; be there at 7 sharp to set up. John said It was sort of a supper club and bar situation. And away we go.

Arriving at the “supper club,” I noticed the sign on the building read “Tuckers Catfish Café.” Okay, so it’s a seafood restaurant. After parking in the back, I give the secret squirrel knock on the rear door. A series of four or five deadbolts unlock the door parts, and I see Johns’ face peering through the door crack. He asked if I paid that guy holding the paper bag a few bucks to guard my car; if I didn’t, it would be wise to do so. So I did. The paper bag held a 40 oz Miller, and I paid the nice fellow five bucks.

It took a few minutes for my eyesight to adjust to the darkened conditions of the room, but I made out the obligatory small stage in the corner stacked with equipment, the wood parquet dance floor, a trash can full of dancing sawdust, a ceiling-mounted disco ball, shuffleboard, numerous vintage neon beer signs, and a cardboard streamer reading Happy New Year 1965. The place was also one living, breathing ashtray.

John comes over and says, ” well, what do you think of the place?” I should have been more diplomatic, but I blurted out, ” John, this place ain’t no supper club, it’s a beer-joint.”

John is smiling ear to ear, ” yeah, I know, ain’t it cool.” In a way, yes, it was cool. I hadn’t played in a beer joint in decades, so this would be my homecoming of sorts. John clearly dug the place to his bones.

The gig went much better than we expected, and the next few weeks were spent kicking around a name for this outfit. Finally, Jordan comes up with ‘The American Classics Band,’ taken from the brand of drumsticks he uses. Sounds good, everyone’s happy, and we become an official band.

That night, I had no idea what my time with these three amigos would bring, but I was up for the ride; and man was it a ride.

John requested that I call him JP. I did, and we eventually became good friends. He and I loved country and bluegrass music. Not the new stuff, but the classic 40s and 50s songs. We knew many of the same country pickers, and he was a fiddle player, like my father was, so the two of us had things in common, which carried over into the band’s dynamics.

We practiced every Thursday night for ten years, and became such a tight band that we read each others minds like little Yoda. There was not a song we couldn’t play or put our spin on.

Eventually, the practices became more about friendship and less about the playing. Sure, the music was always there, the bonding agent that kept us together, but many nights, there was more fellowship than picking. A bit of beer and some bourbon always appeared from a paper bag.

We helped each other through hardships; the death of a spouse, the death’s of two sons and other problems that happen in families, but the music and the friendships were always there, always strong and enduring.

Twenty years fly by, and Danny, Jordan and myself find ourselves without our friend John, and we know there will be no more music for us. It’s not in our bones, and somehow it wouldn’t seem right without John. We are old men now, all of us in our 70s, but we well remember when this ride for the four of us started, and how it has effected, and shaped our lives.

Play on JP, play on.

“A Beach Day in Texas, 1969”


Port Aransas 1969

The beach in Port Aransas around 1967

I first published this story almost a year ago. My good friend Danny asked me to republish it because it’s one of his favorites. I have added a picture of the beach in Port Aransas from around 1967. The guy in the foreground carrying the longboard is Pat Magee, a local resident who won many surfing championships and opened his own surf shop in Port A around 1968. Any day in the summer during the late 60s, there would be a line of vans and cars two deep parked between the pier and the South jetty, since that was the favorite surf spot. I was fortunate to have been a part of that.

The hint of daylight gives enough lumination for me to find my way down the steep steps of my family’s beach house. Grabbing my surfboard, wax, and a few towels, I load my supplies into the back of the old Army jeep and leave for the beach. The old vehicle takes time to wake up, and it sputters down E Street, doing its best to deliver me to the water’s edge.

Port Aransas is quiet this morning. Fisherman and surfers are the only souls moving on the small island.

As I drive to the beach, taking the road through the sand dunes near the jetty, the morning dew on the metal surface of the jeep, pelts me like fine rain. The salt air is heavy and I can see the cloud of mist rising from the surf long before I reach the water. The seats are cold on my bare back and legs. The vehicle lacks a windshield, allowing bugs to hit my face and chest. Texas is a buggy place. That’s a fact we live with.

I park near the pier and see that two of my friends Gwen and Gary are kneeling in the sand, waxing their boards. I am usually the first to arrive but today they beat me by a few minutes. I join them in the preparation. We are quiet. This will be a good morning and making small talk might interfere with our zone.

The Gulf of Mexico is glassy and clear. The swell is four feet, with a right break. We enter as a group of three and paddle out past the second sand bar.

Sitting on my surfboard, I see the first half of the sun rising over the ocean and feel the warmth on my upper body. A tanker ship is a few miles offshore. The smoke from its stack gives us a point to paddle to.

Today will be hot, and by noon, these beautiful waves will evaporate into a slushy shore break full of children on foam belly boards. But this morning, the three of us are working in concert with our beloved Gulf.

We ride for hours. The ocean is feisty this morning. The waves are doing their best to beat us, but we show them who the boss is. The beach fills with other surfers, and now the line-up is crowded,, and we ride into shore. Gary and Gwen leave, and I make my way home to go fishing with my father. The Kingfish await.

Gary and Gwen are gone now and have been for some time. Gary lost in Vietnam, and Gwen from an auto accident the next summer on his way to the island. If they were still here, I would like to think that we would have kept in touch and shared our surfing stories around a good glass of bourbon at Shorty’s Bar. Three old men telling lies.

“A Small Miracle”


I wrote and published this true story in January of 2014.

My Grandfather was a farmer. His life was Seventy-five acres of cruel land in South West Texas. He would not have had it any other way.

On a scorching July afternoon in 1955, I stood next to him at a fence row along the south pasture watching anvil thunder heads form in the West, behind the Santana Mountain Peak, the namesake of his town, Santa Anna.
Little rain had fallen the past few years. The stock tanks were dry, animals were suffering, crops almost dead and the soul of the town was faltering. The prayers on Sunday were plentiful and to the point: please bring rain.

At the domino parlor, there was talk of bringing in a rainmaker, but the town had little money for such a wild idea. The town folk felt as though the good Lord wasn’t listening. A miracle was needed, even if it was a small one.

We had been standing at that fence row for a good hour, Grandfather not flinching or diverting his eyes from those clouds.
I wanted to see what he was seeing, but I couldn’t. He seemed to be taunting those thunderheads to come over that mountain, staring them down, challenging those clouds to bring what they had to his farm.
Looking away from the clouds for a moment, I looked at his weathered face. Just like his land, deep furrows everywhere. It’s as if each wrinkle was his reminder of a furrow that hadn’t produced a crop. He was only sixty, but his face looked decades older.
He glanced down and caught me staring. Embarrassed, I asked the first thing that came to mind “Grandfather, why are you a farmer?”
Still staring at the clouds he cleared his throat and said “I’ve always been a farmer boy, It’s all I ever knowed. One night, when I was about your age, the good Lord sent a tiny angel to my bed. She lit on the quilt and said Jasper, you’re going to be a farmer, and you will grow food to feed the children and the beast. This will be your life. How can you argue with the Lord boy? So, here I am.”
Up until then, we had never had a real conversation, and I liked the kindness in his voice. I wanted to know this man that had been so elusive and indifferent to me.
“Does the good Lord always tell people what they will do?” I asked.“It’s what I here’d” he replied.
Now you best go tell Granny to get the cellar ready, it’s going to come up a cloud tonight.” And with that, our first visit was over.
I came round the barn and saw Granny carrying an armful of quilts and pillows to the storm cellar. She already knew a storm was coming. She always knew.
Grandfather missed supper, unwilling to leave that fence row, afraid that if he did, those thunderheads would retreat. They didn’t.
The first crack of thunder shook the walls and sent me and Granny running for the storm cellar.
Grandfather wouldn’t come with us. He stood at that fence row until the hail stones pounded the cellar door. Only then, did he come down, wet and bleeding from the cuts on his scalp. Granny fussed over him for a few minutes and then he laid down on a cot and fell asleep.
We passed the night in that damp cellar. Granny, sitting, reading her Bible by the light of an oil lantern, Grandfather, snoring, and me slumbering between fitful dreams of thunder and lightning. The storm did what it was sent to do.

At dawn, we came out to a sea of water. The fields, flooded, reflected the sunrise like a new jewel. The farm animals rejoiced in unison. Grandfather checked the rain gauge on the fence, seven inches” he yelled. Granny cried into her cupped hands, and “I can’t remember why, but I cried with her.
Around lunch time, we loaded into the old Ford and drove into town. People lined the sidewalks. Women hugged each other, old farmers patted one another on the back, dogs barked and children laughed. The town had regained its spirit and hope overnight.
The Biscuit Café was alive, as was the domino parlor and the feed store. Everywhere the people of Santa Anna rejoiced and gave open thanks for this small miracle.
At the Biscuit Café, Grandfather treated us to a nice lunch of fried chicken. Pastor Bobby and his wife came in, and standing in the middle of the café, offered up a prayer of thanks for the rain. Grandfather, not a church going man, bowed his head and gave a hearty “amen” along with the rest of the patrons.

As we made our way back to the old Ford, Granny’s old friend Miss Ellis came up to Grandfather, hugged him tight and in a weepy voice said “it’s a miracle Jasper, God gave us a miracle.” He politely endured her hug for a minute, then we moved on towards home.
That seven inch rain didn’t end the drought for Santa Anna, but it gave the farms enough relief for the crops to stand tall again and the stock to survive that summer and fall. Grandfather became a church going man, never missing a Sunday, and his farm produced the best crop in years.
Fifty-eight years later, my wife and I took a day trip back to Santa Anna. I was curious if the town had grown and prospered. It hadn’t. The Biscuit Café, the feed store, the domino parlor and most of the other shops I remembered, gone. The old church still stood, showing its age, but still holding its head high.
We drove out to the old farm. The house, the barn and the smokehouse, all gone, lost to a fire. The only thing left was the windmill and the cellar. The fields were taken by scrub brush and weeds. Not a furrow survived.
I stood at that old fence line, and looked west to the Santana Mountain. Just like that day in 1955, thunder heads were building behind the peak. It was going to come up a cloud. I never forgot that conversation with my Grandfather that day, and sadly, I never got to know him better before he passed a few years later.
I have always believed that the power of prayer can produce miracles, and on that day, standing at that fence line, Grandfather and the Lord struck up a deal. The town got their small miracle, and Grandfather got religion.

“Grandad Is Way Too White?”


With all the hub-bub with big corporations and people, in general, being “too white” I knew I could count on my old pal Mooch to discover a solution.

I was in H.E.B. yesterday, and feel a tap on my shoulder. I turned and said, “can I help you?” I didn’t recognize this man at first, then I saw that possum grin and heard that stupid laugh.

” Hey old buddy, It’s me, the Mooch man. How do ya like my new look?”

” Holy Crap Mooch, you look like a gingerbread man; what happened to you?” I exclaim.

He got a little teary-eyed and said, ” my twin, spoiled, rich grand-daughters said they wouldn’t see me no more cause I am too old, too redneck, too Texan, and too darn white. They are sorority college girls at UT so I guess they know about all the latest woke stuff. They are graduating next week and each is getting a new Porsche and a trip to Europe from my son Harry, and his wife Karen. Those girls say I can’t attend their ceremony, and they don’t want to see me until I change my old ways. I found these pills in my “Popular Gardening” magazine and ordered a bunch for me and Mrs. Mooch. I can’t change my age or my redneck-ness, but I sure can change my color. Well, how do I look?”

I told him he looked real fine, but somehow, I think Mooch missed their absurd point.

“The Banjo Boy?”


Breaking Real Hot News From; The Dead South News Service. Photo’s courtesy of author James Dickie.

Obie Wahn, the hotshot reporter for the Dead South News Service is in Northeastern Georgia with a breaking story that is sure to get everyone’s attention.

Uncle Gus’s Riverside Rafting and Fish Camp located on the Chattooga River has been in operation since 1962 and is well known as the location where the actors and film crew stayed, and filmed the 1972 movie “Deliverance”.

Uncle Gus has long since departed the camp but his memory and influence are kept alive by his constant presence. When Uncle Gus passed back in 1982, his only daughter, Sparkle, had his body stuffed by the local taxidermist, and today, he sits in his favorite easy chair near the potbelly stove at the back of the camp store. For a few dollars, visitors can pose for a picture with old Gus and his two blue-tick hounds that are also stuffed and obediently sitting at his feet. Framed pictures of Uncle Gus and Sparkle with the cast of “Deliverance” decorate every wall in the store. A life-size cardboard Burt Reynolds stands behind the counter next to the cigarette display.

‘Miss Sparkle,’ as she is known around these parts, is a feisty red-headed single lady in her sixties. She contacted me on the Facebook saying she had a story that would beat all.

Miss Sparkle tells a whopper of a story so I will share it with you in her own words.

She tells it like this; “back in 1984, a bunch of rich bigshots from Washington DC came down to ride the Chattooga like in that famous movie that was filmed here. They were nice men and treated me with respect, even though I was just a river rat. Daddy hadn’t been gone long and I was real sad, so it was nice to have some company at the camp. One night the bunch of us were sitting around the campfire drinking daddy’s famous “shine” and this one fellow they called Joe B started sniffin’ my hair. I didn’t mind cause I had just washed it with lye soap and it smelled pretty good. He was a nice man, in a creepy sort of way. Too much “shine” always gets you in trouble, and I’ve had plenty of it since then. Well, about a year later the stork shows up with this bundle of joy. I call him Joe Bee. He ain’t no kid no more and doesn’t want to do anything but sit in that swing all day long playing the same song on that damn banjo. I’ll tell ya, it’s driving us all to drink more than we normally do, and that’s a bunch. We tried hiding it, but he always finds the darn thing. Little Joe Bee just wants to know who his daddy is. My two other boys, the twins, Smokey and Bandit, their daddy never comes to see them neither, but he gave them each a black Pontiac Trans Am for their sixteenth birthday. At least Joe Bee’s daddy could send him a monster truck or something.”

“More Things That Make You Wonder, Why?”


In Texas, if you want a hamburger, you go to one place; “Whataburger”. Born in Corpus Christi in 1950, it is the home grown holy grail of burger joints. Always fresh cooked to your order with all the fixins’. It is a redneck culinary delight. Sure we have other boys popping up on prime real estate. “In And Out,” and “Five Guys,” are a bunch of West coast flakes trying to sneak in here and contaminate our burger pool. Cute little paper wrapped sandwiches you eat with one pinky finger sticking out like your drinking a glass of Chardonnay at a movie star pool party. I would like to see Spielberg try to eat a Whataburger.

I whipped into my local orange and white Whataburger here in Granbury yesterday for my monthly fix; a burger, fries and a Dr Pepper made to my order.

The voice from the speaker said, ” would you like to try our number 4?”

I replied, “no mam, just a Whataburger meal number 1 with fries and a small Dr Pepper, hold the onions and add two spicy ketchup’s.”

A few moments ticked by and the voice says, ” Sir, the meal comes with a large drink.”

Not trying to be difficult, well maybe just a bit, I say,” Yes, I know that, but that is too much liquid and my old bladder is smaller now, so I can only handle a small Dr Pepper or I will wet my jeans. I will pay for the large drink, but make it a small.”

Now the voice from the speaker is getting testy,” Sir, it comes with a large drink, and you have to take the large drink, that’s what has to happen.”

I pull up to the pick-up window for my meal. The lady opens the window and thrust a large drink into my hand.

I hand the drink back to her, and she shoves it back to me. I set it on the ledge and say, ” I will pay for the large Dr Pepper, but I want a small drink, just make the substitution and I will be on my way.” She is clearly, shaken and bug eyed. She leaves and in a few seconds, the manager appears at the window, ” Sir, you have to take the large drink, that’s the way it is. Our kitchen is in a turmoil now because you changed the Number 1 meal.”

“Tell you what Bub, take the Dr Pepper back, and give me a small Dr Pepper shake with chocolate ice-cream instead of the Dr Pepper drink,”I say. Now the crap is really hitting the fan. The window lady, standing behind the manager, is leaning against the counter, weeping. The manager looks as it he got goosed by a cattle prod and the kitchen is in a tither.

After a few minuets, the vehicles behind me begin to honk. The guy in the pick-up truck directly behind me takes his shotgun off of the gun rack and chambers a shell. Texans take their burgers seriously, and this is about to get nasty. There is nothing scarier than armed men in pick-ups having a blood sugar low because he can’t get their feed bag.

The window opens again, and the manager tosses me my burger meal, a large, and a small Dr Pepper, and a small Dr Pepper shake. He also gives me a gift card for twenty-dollars, a Whataburger Covid 19 mask, and a coupon for 30 days of free Whataburgers. ” No charge, and have a nice day,” he says.

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