Archive for June, 2015

What Happens in Texas Stays in Texas!

June 16, 2015

The Road Less Traveled

For my faithful followers of the Rufous blog, I just want to say that procrastination is a virtue or at least it should be given that my previous blogs about my Texas trip in the fall of 2013 only disclosed details of the high school reunion in Liberty. I posted those in December 2014 if you are interested in what happened at the reunion, which was a lot of fun and needless to say nostalgic in so many ways. As I sit in my backyard composing this and listening to the thunder, which is unusual for Oregon but very common in Texas, I seek closure of that Texas chapter that started with the reunion. I had sketched out my Texas itinerary before I left Oregon, eight stops in 10 days. In this blog I’m just going to reflect on the high points of the trip.

Reflections, Impressions, and Feelings

After a breakfast at a local Mexican restaurant and saying my goodbyes to my high school friends, including the man who was the principal when we were in school, it was time to hit the road for the rest of my Texas journey. The occasion was celebratory, all of us eating Mexican food, talking, and taking pictures, but sad too to say goodbye not knowing when or if any of us would be together again. Some of our 1963 graduating class had already passed on and only the memory of them remained. Read my post “Liberty, Texas Revisited” (April 2014) for a glimpse of what it was like living there.

This quote from a Nelson Demille book pretty much describes what I was feeling on my Texas trip.

“The journey home is never a direct route – it is in fact always circuitous, and somewhere along the way we discover that the journey is more significant than the destination and that the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our lives forever.”

I remember how the mood in the restaurant changed when Mr. L., our high school principal arrived. Showing a lot of of gray like many of us and dressed casually, he greeted everyone, shaking hands and smiling warmly. It was great to see him. I thought about some of those trips to the principal’s office to receive my comeuppances. The “board” of education was allowed in those days.

“OK, Bernie, you know better than to hide Mrs. B’s glasses.”

She was our English teacher, and we loved her, but it was so hard not to play tricks on her. Of course, I got blamed for a lot of stuff I didn’t really do. We hugged and said our goodbyes, it was time to go.

Casa Don Boni, Liberty, Texas

Casa Don Boni, Liberty, Texas

Heading on Down the Road

I got out my map (no GPS in my rental) to find my way to the cemetery in Conroe (stop 2). Driving on those two-lane roads that I had not driven in so many years, I got to the cemetery before my brother and his wife. The plan was to meet there and visit my Dad’s grave site. It was a big cemetery, but following my brother’s directions I found the site. Typical of my Dad the artwork on the headstone showed a deer (he hunted), a boat on a lake (he loved fishing), and an oil field pumping unit (from his working days). A word or two about my visiting multiple grave sites on my trip – my dad, my mom, and another one (actually unexpected) I will tell you about later. I don’t get down there very often, and I felt it was the right time to pay a visit.

Dad

Dad

After some reflective time talking about dad, the three of us headed toward Houston. I stayed over at their house north of Houston. We had a wonderful steak dinner and got caught up on what had been happening in our lives since we last spent time together. It had been an eventful day, so we all hit the sack.

On to Stop 3 the next morning, to my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Houston. I was so proud of myself (with no GPS) not getting lost on Houston freeways, in fact I remembered the correct exit (Allen Parkway, a tricky one) and drove more or less straight to their house. My brother-in-law and I went shopping for dinner fixins, and I got to see how much the neighborhood had changed since I was there the last time. Houston has grown so much in the last 30 plus years since we lived there. That night we had dinner with my nephew, his wife, and their two children. The next morning I got up and did a run, not knowing for sure where I was going to go. I had heard about a good place to run called the Buffalo Greenway, which turned out to be very impressive. The trail goes along both sides of the bayou all the way into downtown Houston. After my run, I met an old friend for lunch at a place on Westheimer where we had gotten together years earlier. We talked over beers for a long time. My friend told me about his wife’s fairly recent medical problems, a brain aneurysm I believe, that almost killed her. It was quite a trial, but, thank God she has recovered. We parted ways, and I went back to say goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law. Just a note, I know it’s awkward to not use names, but I prefer not to in my blog, although in this blog I’m using surnames. By the way, my dad and mother were married in this church in Houston.

St. Ann's Catholic Church

St. Ann’s Catholic Church

Next stop was out to see another brother-in-law in northwest Houston. I had never been to his house, which has a nice pool and yard. We had lunch at Pappasitos (Did I say I love Mexican food). His wife was at work. We visited for a while, and I headed west toward Austin. I was enjoying getting to see people where they live and not just e-mails and telephone calls.

Living Out of a Suitcase, What Fun!

My younger sister lives in a little town not far from Austin, which was my next stop. She and I, her housemate, and her son who came over all had dinner. While I was in Bastrop, we went over to the state park that has buildings constructed by the CCC during the 1930’s. We walked along the Brazos River and took some pictures and were nearly accosted by a flock of the local geese out for a morning stroll. I decided to follow my sister into Austin to an art museum where she was helping out with a pottery workshop. While I was there I did a really nice run around Lady Bird Lake, part of the inner city lake system in Austin. Like Houston they have done a good job in building pedestrian bridges and trails for bikers, walkers, and runners, A lot of people were out enjoying the nice weather. I was not missing Portland’s rain.

Next stop, six I think, was out to another part of Austin to visit my nephew and his wife. On the way, my sister and I had lunch (Mexican of course) and we got take-out for my nephew and his wife’s dinner. Stayed the night and was off again the next morning to Georgetown to visit my sister and her husband. I love the countryside around Austin, hilly and dry most of the year. I think I did a run there, of course. It was so good to spend time in Texas again.

My last and final stop before heading back to Oregon was at my other sister and her husband’s place near Industry. Their place is amazing, 50 or 60 acres, a pond with ducks and geese, and an even more amazing house, multilevel and reminiscent of a converted silo. While there I picked up a book they had about the Blazek family and discovered my great grandfather was buried in the graveyard in Industry. This was the unexpected grave site I mentioned earlier. Previously I had not known where any of my relatives who had come over from Europe were buried.

Ignatz Blazek

Ignatz Blazek


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