The Funeral Trip – February 1991 Part VI

There were more empty beer containers in picnic area trash bins than I ever imagined existed. There was an irony: a bunch of good ol’ boys boozin’ it up in their Chevy Suburban, the designated official state car, discarding their empties, and then pop another six-pack as they roll on down the road. At a majority of the picnic areas, there was an admonishment just before I pulled onto the highway that read: “D. W. I. (with a slash through it) You Can’t Afford It”. Something just didn’t ring right about all that.

I was also remembering the various road cuts where I could actually see the earth’s composition just below the surface. In Texas, it was predominately limestone, a soft and chalky appearance. In direct contrast, the cuts in the northeast, particularly in New England, displayed extremely hard surfaces, probably granite. It was times like that I wished that I had some experience in geology. I was gazing up at those magnificent oaks in my picnic area and wondering just exactly what species of oak they were. They still had half of their leaves. Maybe they’re the same kind as that weird oak in my front yard that doesn’t shed its leaves until February. I was wishing I knew.

I crossed over Lake Brownwood and thought of all the good times spent at the Blackstock’s lake house some twenty-plus years ago. Those were the gin-playing, bourbon-drinking, water-skiing, singing-’round-the-piano days. Always lots of people and lots of laughter. Great times! I’ve always gotten a kick out of reading the directional signs to some of the small towns around the Brownwood area: Bangs, Blanket, Cross Cut, Early, Rising Star, Thrifty, Zephyr, and others. Only in Texas. I had a pleasant reunion with BeBe B., although it was a little depressing having to visit her at a retirement village. I had not expected her husband, Si, to still be alive. Sure enough, BeBe had been a widow for about ten years. Si was one of those good ol’ boys. I missed him.

I headed northeast to the metromess of D/FW, passing the city of Early municipal building. I just had to stop for gas and use my credit card. The young lady attendant didn’t notice the coincidence, so 1 had to point it out to her. I told her that a R. Early (can’t recall his first name) had founded the town, but we were no relation. Ah, that just about made the trip complete.

I found it remarkable that I could still recognize some of the roadside along U.S. 377. However, there was one new establishment that had emerged in recent years: “Fin & Feathers”. Great catch-all name for the fish and game trade. I rolled right through downtown “Cowtown” on I-30, past that huge edifice known as the Great Ft. Worth Railroad Depot & Warehouse Building with its almost indiscernible art deco motifs embellishing the massive end walls. Actually, the structure was erected and owned (circa 1928) by one specific railroad, but I couldn’t remember which one. I could have been any one of a number of rail corporations that adopted Ft. Worth as a major rail center for their operations. Was it the Santa Fe, the M.K.T., the Southern Pacific, the Denver & Rio Grande, or the Ft. Worth & Denver? Or even the Texas & Pacific? Holy semaphore! That must have been some busy railyard back in its heyday. Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but I sure miss the trains.

I pulled up to Apt. 415 after 920 miles of Goodyear traveling, of which, more than half was on new roads. And over those many miles, I thought of Uncle Bob quite often.

William C. Early © 1991

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