"A DRIVE THROUGH TEXAS"
Chances are you've never
heard or read about Tanglewood, Texas but it's
out there just a little bit north of Austin. The name meant nothing to me until
several years ago when my wife and I were driving through Texas on our way
home from Brownsville.
Travelling the Interstate's
is not what I consider the fun part of a vacation so
we usually take an alternate route that leads us in the same direction.
Brownsville, because of it's unique geographical location, is an acception to the
rule. Bev and I decided, like most everyone else, that we would head north on
route 77. Our decision to continue on 77 beyond Victoria proved interesting
when we stopped for gas at a small independent station in Giddings. It was here
that we met a gentleman who will remain etched in our memories for a long
time to come.
Bernie (not his real name)
was a quiet man who went about his job as though
he was still working in the mid-fifties. After enquiring as to what my choice of
fuel would be he placed the nozzle in the tank and, without asking, lifted the
hood and checked both my engine and transmission oil. Then again, without
asking, he washed all of the outside windows. "Do you do this for every
customer?" I asked and without a whisper of hesitation he replied, "Only the
paying ones." He chuckled a little and then explained that he still has a few
regular customers who build a tab and pay when it's convenient (for them).
"Have you been here long?"
I asked and his response was "I've been pumping
gas ever since my daddy opened his first Texaco station in Tanglewood and
that was 1949. My grandson now uses the same stepping box that I did" and he
pointed to a very dark wooden case that obviously held oil jars of some sort
from a much earlier time. My next question came fast and I will admit to being
more then anxious to hear what his answer might be. "Guess you have some
fairly nice collectibles after that many years in the business." "Not me", he said.
"I never did have much use for junk. Suppose I should have but never did."
By this time the tank was
full, the oil checked, the windows washed and I was
following Bernie into his small office to settle the account. There was,
however, one more question I had to ask. "Don't happen to know where
there's any oil cans or signs around do you?" "Well", he said, "if you had
asked me that question about two months ago I would have said yes but doubt
very much that there's anything left now." "Oh, you sold them", I asked. "No,
not at all. The neighbor's boy got into Dad's old repair shop down by the river
and discovered a whole mess of things from the early days. Dad passed on last
summer and I've not had time to go in there and clean house. It was mostly
junk I suppose. Most of it was from the early days when he ran the station
during the day and did mechanical work at night. That's all he did was work.
Tommy, my neighbor's boy, is a good kid but he's always looking for tin cans
to shoot up. The old Texaco cans with the round logo made great targets for
him. It was'nt that I minded him taking them but I think he should have asked
first. I told his dad that I was a little upset because he shot up the one thing I
did like. It was just an old porcelain marine sign with birds on it but it reminded
me of when I was a kid and hung out around Pop's garage. I should have
brought it up to the station but it's too late now. Tommy's dad made him clean
up the field and buy a new padlock for the shop. One of these days I'll find
some time to see what's left in the old shed but I doubt there will be much.
There may be a few things. I really don't know."
I was just about to ask one
more question when Bernie said, "If you're ever
passing this way again be sure to stop by. Maybe I'll have the place checked
out by that time and if I find anything you're welcome to have it". At the same
time I heard a second voice enquiring as to whether or not I was going to open
the wine. It was supper time and I suddenly realized that I had caught forty
winks during our layover in Giddings.
The following morning we
continued north on Route 77 to Waco and then,
reluctantly, travelled interstate 35E into Dallas. I wanted to visit Irving Texas
that afternoon and enquire as to the origin of the name. As we were leaving
Waco my wife commented on how pleasant Bernie had been at the Giddings
Service Station and suggested that I keep in touch. I looked at her, smiled and
then asked why? Her response was "You never know." And I doubt I ever
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