Then we rode back to the house on Geneseo, we were again reminding ourselves of the good times that we had enjoyed with this “good friend”. With some lobs and forehand smashes, we rejoiced in Uncle Bob’s wit and sense of humor. At the house I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Rob Dixson, Bob’s grandson, who is currently matriculating at That Aggie School. I felt comfortable talking to him man to man, comparing campus life today with what it was back in the 50’s and 60’s. Then Mom chimes in about how Dad illegally had an old Chevy, replete with rumble seat, while he was completing his senior year at Aggieland. My eyes rolled back, as I’ve heard this tale untold number of times. As the story continued, Dad justified having this “luxury” as a means to an end, that is he could visit his mother in Waco. Oh, and of course, rendezvous with Mom.
One night he foolishly got caught with the car on campus. He and his auto were “campused” for two weeks. Then I noticed Rob’s blank expression as if he was wondering what “campused” meant. I guessed that term was an anachronism to present day campus life. I had more conversation with Jack Creighton, who I noticed “was wearing his pants on parentheses”. I politely asked him if he had grown up on horseback. Sure enough, he had, on a farm near Shreveport. I reminisced about how Uncle Bob had this mannerism of gesticulating when standing with a group of his cronies. With knees popping, hands flailing, neck stretching, and chin pointing, he seemed to always have everyone’s attention. You had to be on your toes to keep up with his jibes and jokes. One might think that he was showboating. No way, Jose. That was simply the way he was.
I accompanied Richard Dixson to the airport to deliver Mom and the Creightons to their departing Southwest airliner. U.S. Hwy. 281, now a major freeway, afforded a direct route to the airfield, as it slashed its way through an astonishing amount of open space right in the heart of the city. As I remarked about all the precious greenbelt, Richard was quick to point out that, when the economy was ripe, all that sylvan landscape would be miraculously transformed into a model of high-rise, high-density commercialism. Tricky Dick loved telling of the virtues of living in the San Antonio area. After all, he is a Realtor, which gives him a license to promote his fair city, I suppose. Just kidding, Richard. But I did wish the city’s zoning board could somehow retain at least some portion of those hills and trees. Part of Richard’s occupational hazards deal with carrying mortgages and repossessing houses. I don’t think I quite have the aptitude for that kind of professional responsibility.
When we got back to Geneseo, the house was empty, except for Robin, Pauline (Vivian’s sister), and the emotionally and physically drained Vivian. She was running on empty. As she put it, “I’m just numb, now.” We all kept busy cleaning dishes and wrapping leftovers for care packages. What was once a depressing atmosphere, because everyone had left so suddenly, began to liven up as a few belated well-wishers dropped in to pay their respects.
I was glad to see some more people because I was wondering if I should vacate the premises and steal over to the Holiday Inn parking lot. However, after the late guests had departed, Aunt Vivian relieved me by asking, “You are staying here overnight in your van, aren’t you?” “Of course, I am, if it’s O.K.”, I replied. I stationed my VanGuard in the driveway.
The next morning I awoke to discover, not to my surprise, that the ominous presence of Ol’ Baleau had once again thwarted any evil-doer’s advances on an innocent residence. I have found this situation to be a grateful trade-off on many occasions across the U.S.A. We went out for breakfast (I still can’t grab the tab from Vivian), then dropped by to see Robin and Lightfoot (her big, beautiful setter) on the way to the airport to see Mrs. Blevin off to Houston.
I couldn’t leave San Antonio without offering to help out around the villa: take out the papers and the trash, but I don’t need no spendin’ cash. Too bad that it was the wrong time of year to do any yard work. Besides, more than half of the landscaping is a sea of mud, thanks to the reconstruction era. I attached my Minolta to the tripod, set the timer, and beep…beep…beep (ten beeps), and click! – a colorized image of Vivian and myself on the front steps, along with the croton plant. My parting words were: “Now, maybe your life can get back to normal”. I sincerely hope so. That Early family has had more than its share of ill-fortune over the past five years.
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