A Texas November Odyssey- 1990 Part II

Geez, Lynn looks so photogenic this morning, her hair all fluffed up under a cute sun hat, and even a modest application of lipstick. It’s a gorgeous autumn day. I’m so fortunate to have the freedom to travel to see friends and families in other places.  And being near Thanksgiving, the opportunity to go as one pleases is my most cherished freedom. I try to never take that for granted. Even though the Berlin Wall is history.

This is the perfect time of year to travel Texas. The weather is cool and the leaves are starting to change. Add to that a big-time university in a mid-size city on a crisp Autumn afternoon, with football fever filling the air, and you got yourself Americana in all it’s glory. The preceding sentences have to be the most jaded description of a November Saturday ever written. All the students look so young! When I was riding up the elevator to bop in on John Noack, a co-ed asks me, “and who do you belong to?”. Geez: Turns out she lives down the hall from young John. Horizontal separation. Things change. Referring briefly back to “a football Saturday”, I’m reminded of a fabulous October afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where “the University” was playing Iowa. Now that was Americana personified. I need not go into all that description. You know the scenario.

It’s now Monday evening, Nov. 11th, Veteran’s Day. I just saw uncle Bob. A shock I’ll never forget. He looked like a concentration camp survivor.  I literally braced myself against the door. I wept. I was stunned. I walked the hall, taking deep breaths. When I finally went into his room, I sat down next to this shell of a man. He grasped my hand and muttered my name. I wept again. His grip was amazingly firm, but he weighed half of his once 180 lb. robust frame. I had to leave the room. Oh, how I pray, that I’ll never succumb to that condition. Aunt Vivian’s unbelievable devotion to him is truly remarkable. Her sister Paulene was there. She looks great. Robin looks healthy. Richard Dixson looks old. Dawn looks like a fine young lady.

The Roman villa on Genesseo is under reconstruction. The 6 inch slab with double reinforcing and oversized grade beam (the artichoke said it would support a 10 story office building) has been leveled on jacks which are supported on steel rods drilled down to bedrock some 40 ft. down. Vivian and her fixation for green and gold! YO! The house is as non-regional as any house could possibly be. It’s been a most pleasant trip all the way down I-35. I’m so lucky to have all these fine friends and relatives. On Broadway, cruisin’ into San Antone. Past Hildebrand, it looks just like driving into Dallas on Live Oak – lots of old shops and car dealers, very little traffic.

Big, beautiful Breckenridge Park. Intimate downtown square. Curiously, there are more high-rise buildings in Austin’s city center. Sketched the Riverwalk near the La Mansion. It is definitely unique – not contrived like Larimer Square in Denver or the West End District in Dallas. Looked as if there are a few SRO hotels downtown. Now that’s a vanishing scene in the inner city. Up until recently, there was a bunch of them in Denver. Walking around, there seemed to be a scarcity of a sense of direction. Narrow streets. The Holiday Inn seemed to be the predominate landmark. Still, it was very pleasant, thanks largely to the 72 degree afternoon. That’s November. A home cooked meal at Robin’s with Vivian – chicken broth and grilled cheese sandwich.

What I’m really remembering is all the wonderful family photos that both Robin and aunt Vivian have on display. One in particular is a black and white showing uncle Bob proudly holding an infant Poppy. The Robert Early family had love and affection for one another, and they always showed it with an unpretentious openness. I shall never forget that. God bless you.