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The Fabric of Life -- Defining Moments

This oilfield gate guard gig has brought some changes in old habits and daily accoutrements  as well. That is to be expected with any new job I guess.   I sit outside most of the day as that is easier than going up and down the steps, banging doors and walking over Tuco the Dog each time I have to check somebody in the gate.

Zip ties- the baling wire of the 21st Century

I have two old camp chairs, you know,  the standard type that folds up and you slip in a bag.  The last few years they have been used mostly as a place to park a butt at the end of long bulldozer riding day and drink a cold beer.   They sit outside day after day in the wind and sun and I never gave it a second thought.  As with all things Texas that sit outside in the weather they are starting to show the effects.  The UV radiation here will destroy just about anything that is fibrous or rubber or plastic.  It is a death ray for lawn chairs,  trampolines and hammocks.


When I drug the chairs out of the Tan Baby they needed medical attention.   Some of the fabric had succumbed to the UV rot and a couple of those plastic leg slider things had broken.   Now, if their only job was a butt repository for beer drinking duty that is one thing.   Sitting in them all day long doing a job that involves cervezas nada was something entirely more serious.  They were too far gone for a duct tape patch; I had to use zip ties.  Zip ties are classier than Alabama Chrome any day.   It was time for an upgrade.

Movin' on up

My Bro always had the best of the best and he had a lawn chair that elicited chair envy from me.  It was a Caravan Canopy Zero Gravity Reclining Chair with Adjustable Headrest and I had always wished I could just sit in it. I never did.   He told me his wife got it from an RV place and it cost like more than $100.  Of course it did,  my Bro always has the best of the best.   I went to Amazon to see what they had in the way of upscale lawn chairs.  I like that Amazon because they do the cheap supersaver shipping which really saves your butt on bulky stuff like fancy lawn chairs.   The only one that beats them is Woot.com.  Woot will ship you a flying monkey with a cape that weighs 2 ounces or a full dining room set  all for the same shipping price  — $5 bucks.

Amazon was good to me.  After exchanging some electronic data,  the Caravan Canopy Zero Gravity Reclining Chair with Adjustable Headrest was on its’ way to me for $62.43 and $0 shipping. I told Miss K what I had done and her response was ‘What color?’ Dammit! I had fallen into the guy trap again! I could feel the beads of sweat start to accumulate under the big hat. ‘Never let them see you sweat’ I thought to myself. ‘Just be cool and you will get through this.’ I dug deep and said ‘It is a soft muted beige with black accents. I think it will go well with the caliche rocks and prickly pear motif we have going on outside.’ She cocked her head to one side and gave me a quizzical look. Score! Disaster averted! I got to live another day. Life is SO good. 🙂

Miss Kathy picked up the large carton yesterday at the local Post Office and it is as good as I thought. I was sitting in it and glanced over to the demoted second rate lawn chairs that were now pushed together over to the side of the Old Girl.

Those lawn chairs changed a life, of that I am quite sure. Before I throw them in one of the trash trailers coming from the drilling rig, they need a proper obituary. I remember exactly when I bought them back in 2001 at the Sherman Wal Mart. I remember struggling to justify the expense. Even though this was a year or more before the Baloney Years started, money was still tight.  I needed the chairs so Cait and I could go sit on the Municipal Lawn at Sherman and enjoy a local event called Hot Summer Nights.

Ray Wiley Hubbard at Hot Summer Nights. It is good in Texas to be known by your two first names

Ray Wiley Hubbard at Hot Summer Nights. It is good in Texas to be known by your two first names

Hot Summer Nights was a free event held each Thursday night during June and July on the Municipal Lawn in Sherman. Local talent, up and coming talent and talent on the downhill slope of popularity took the Gazebo stage each Thursday and played to several hundred moms and dads and kids and dogs in lawn chairs and blankets set out on the grass and under the Live Oaks on the Municipal Lawn in Downtown Sherman. The Lions Club had their concession trailer there and you could get a cold Coca Cola and a Frito Pie or a hot dog. The line up for the Summer of 2001 was

6/7/2001 :: Max Stalling
6/14/2001 :: Steve Young
6/21/2001 :: Seth Walker Band
6/28/2001 :: Jim Lauderdale
7/5/2001   :: Slaid Cleaves
7/12/2001 :: Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines
7/19/2001 :: Jack Ingram
7/26/2001 :: Steve Fromholz
7/26/2001 :: Willis Alan Ramsey

Cait must have just turned 14 that summer. She was in that in between stage. The nekkid Barbies with bad frizzed up hair from too many play sessions in the bath tub had been put away. She was still two years away from the escape of a Drivers License. Somehow or another, I convinced her that Hot Summer Nights would be ‘cool’. I don’t remember if I used Dad Blackmail to actually get her to go or if she was just humoring the Old Guy. Of course, this venue was all about the music and at 14 years old you are listening to the same thing your friends are. I had been listening to that odd style of music they call Texas Country or Americana music ever since our migration to Texas several years earlier. Cait was not a fan.

I have to say it was mildly successful. Cait was not wild about it by any stretch of the imagination but she was tolerant. I figured that was about as good as it was going to get for the father of a 14 year old. Texas has a pretty unique music scene. Many Texas musicians make a good living and never leave the state. Jack Ingram was a good example of that. A local boy, a college educated boy from SMU, he had a rather fanatical following in the Lone Star State. His local headquarters was Adair’s Saloon in Dallas.  As July 19th approached I was hyping Jack pretty hard.   It was a gamble because I had not actually ever seen Jack in person.  Cait would just roll her eyes every time I thew out another Jack Ingram tidbit.  It is tough to impress a 14 year old.

We set up that night in our ‘regular’ spot  sorta front and center by the sound board.   In due time, our running buddy, The Bad Clapper, arrived.   I never got The Bad Clapper’s  true name.  He was a few years younger than me and was always pleasant to chat with before the show started.  He was always alone.  He was a wealth of knowledge when it came to the Texas Music scene and Cait and I learned alot from him.   He loved that Texas Music; that is for sure.   When the music started, he would really get into it and start clapping.  Except he had no rhythm, none,zero.    He was always at least a half a beat off and sometimes more.  Sometimes he was so out of synch I wondered just what in the hell he was listening to.  It certainly couldn’t be the music on stage.   Cait would get tickled and laugh so hard I thought she was going to pee her pants.  He never suspected we were laughing at him.

The crowd that night was younger than most we had experienced before.  Shortly before start time,  some young people drug a  harvest gold living room couch out of the back of a pick up and set it up front row left and Cait’s eyes widened.  ‘I told you this was going to be good’ was all I said.   Two songs into the set,  the crowd was on its’ feet and the area in front of the stage was filled with people dancing with abandon.  No alcohol was ever permitted in this family venue, sometimes the music is just that good.   Cait looked at me and I said ‘Go on down front and dance if you want.’   By that time people were dancing on the harvest gold living room couch.

I can say unequivocally the 3 hours that night changed my daughter’s life.   She had felt the power that music can have over people.  She understood, at once and clearly, that good music comes in many forms and transcends boundaries and cultures.  That night was powerful enough to change her path in life.

A few short years later, she enlisted in the Air Force and went overseas as a broadcaster.  Her radio shows ran the gamut from the popular songs of her generation to Texas Country to Classic Rock and  were more than just a job for her.   She told me how the ‘old guys’ would call in when she did a Classic Rock show and talk to her about stuff that happened back in the day and she was knowledgeable enough to be very conversant on the subject.  I could not be prouder of her.

End Note: Of course it is Jack Ingram …from the Hey You cd long about 2000 or so….Raucous, sweaty, gratuitous blondes and hollerin’.   Check the dust jacket on this cd and the song credits list those that hollered.  Hey people!  This is hole in the wall dive bar Texas Saturday Night and you gotta love it.


See the notes below the video

This video is a great example of the ‘Good Jack’. Jack went to Trashville about 2006 or so and succumbed to the Dark Side. ‘Bad Jack’ is now just another one of the pretty boys that gave it up for the glitter. Oh well, I guess everybody changes as they get older. Sometimes it is good like my Cait and sometimes it is a waste like Bad Jack.

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1 comment to The Fabric of Life — Defining Moments

  • CJ

    You forgot the kids that would slide down the hill on the pieces of cardboard.

    I wonder whatever happened to Bad Clapper. I know what happened to me that summer and the memories of sharing it with you is always in the back of my mind. Everytime I see one of those shitty WalMart chairs or hear Texas Jack or Slaid Cleaves on my Zune, I’m right back there in the red Pontiac, driving to Sherman with you.

    I hope I can have just half of the experiences with Henry that I had with you. Love you more!

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