The Skyline Cafe (snapshot)greenspun.com : LUSENET : FRL friends : One Thread
OK, you all know that I've been quiet for about as long as I can stand it. It's been so long since I've written a snapshot, that I think I forgot how. This one's kinda ragged, like it's not quite jelled, but I'm gonna post it anyway. It's from my trip last month up into Arkansas.
THE SKYLINE CAFE
The first table was full when we entered; old men with Sunday morning morning stubble still on their chins and hats advertising things like John Deere tractors or Purina chicken feed. No breakfast plates, just coffee - black, thanks hun. Kit and I took the next nearest booth, the purple vinyl seats split from the effort of welcoming decades of backsides of paying customers.
Covering the walls were old photographs of a city that once was. Pictures of Model T Fords parked on brick streets in front of grinning proprietors framed by their storefront doorways, recalled a prosperity of commerce brought and abandoned by the steel paths of a fickle railroad. The photos could have been any of a thousand towns in this part of the country. The brick bank occupied a prime street corner, festooned with bunting for a founders day parade. A group of men flaunted the affluence of idle time, stood casually in front of the soda fountain in a newly stocked and gleaming drug store.
The men at the first table were laughing now, their coffee having been blown cool into easy gulps. One man, wearing a faded blue work shirt bearing the logo of Tyson Chicken Farms, pushed his chair back, and comfortable, launched into a long remembered and cherished story of this particular table of friends. Recollect the time somebody caught a baby possum and put it in Clives’s tool box down at the woodyard, and shut the lid? The others joined in occasionally, as the story was obviously community property. Even the young waitress knew not to interrupt the telling, and turned away with her "fresh pot" still in hand. The story approached it’s inevitable ending, with old Clive opening his tool box in the cab of his truck, momentarily sharing the closed space with his toothy stowaway, then subsequently and hastily bringing the whole thing to a halt with the aid of a roadside longleaf pine tree.
Grins around the table turned to bittersweet smiles, as the men knew that the story’s ending signaled time to lay crumpled dollar bills on the table and mark the passing of yet another week. They would walk with the slowed pace of old men out onto crumbling downtown sidewalks, past the boarded and vacant movie house where they first chauffeured girlfriends in borrowed cars, sitting bolt upright behind the steering wheel, smelling of Old Spice and Brylcreem. The eyes of the black-and-white men on the walls would follow them as they parted, their smiles set in the certainty of history and stories remembered around Sunday morning coffee.
-- Lon Frank (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), September 27, 2003
That was a WONDERFUL postcard Lon, and doesn't seem a bit raggedy to me! I felt like I was sitting and watching a movie, from your description!
Do you like chocolate?? I just finished up a Chocolate Cinnamon Torte with Mocha Fudge Glaze. Here's a slice for you, and one for Kit!
-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), September 27, 2003.
Hey back atcha, Beezer! Thanks for the nice compliment, and for not mentioning the messed up verbs and repeted words. I got really sad news for you, though. They told me a month ago that I have diabetes (what a summer!), so now it's no more choc'let, no more pasta, no beans and rice, no Texmex, no nuthin' I like! Well, at least I'll die healthy; probably from starvation.
But, it's mild, and I don't have to do the shots, just pills and diet and exercise. (Ain't sitting on the dock exercise?) And I'm feeling better than I have in a year. The real problem is, Kit still gets to eat all that good stuff, and I'll probably go into a fudge-deprivation induced mental breakdown and choke the bejebbers out of the little skunk some night and steal his Snickers bar in one of the seedy motel rooms we live in this time of the year. (that sounds like a good beginning for a cheap southern novel, don't it?)
-- Lonnie Frank (E-mail: email@example.com), September 27, 2003.
Lonnie, a diagnosis of diabetes ain't the end of the world ya know! It doesn't really mean an end to all those food ya love, it just means you can't eat them all the same day silly! Besides, there's lots of yummy food out there. Check out these links:
http://www.diabetic-recipes.com/ (some are even written by James Beard cookbook award winners!)
Usually when someone in the family is diagnosed with diabetes, the whole family starts eating better! Who knows, this really could be a gift for you, and Kit! I hope the above helps you, and I promise not to tempt you, ok? As long as you promise to keep writing, and sharing with us here. :)
-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), September 27, 2003.
WHAT ARE YA DOIN', AUNT BEE?!!! I mean, you aint s'posed to mess up a good whine like that. You're supposed to say things like, "Oh, poor baby, it must be sooooo hard, not being able to eat anything good ever again." Or, or,.."Here, sweety, let me fluff your pillow, and then I'll go fix a little sugar-free, no-carb, double choc'let fudge sundae for you." Or, at least, "Geeze, Lon, we're sure gonna miss you. I bet all the young girls are already lining up at the bridges down there, just waiting to throw themselves off the moment they get the news that you done starved yourself to death."
What good is being afflicted if you caint get no sympathy, anyway? GEEZE!
-- Lon (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), September 27, 2003.
How 'bout a spanking -- and not a fun spanking, Mister! -- if I even catch you thinking about chocolate fudge icecream smothered in chocolate mousse and topped with bits of creamy dark chocolate chunks?
-- helen (email@example.com!), September 28, 2003.
OH yeah, that helped! (fun spanking??!! I love it when you talk dirty...)
-- Sugar-free Lon (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 28, 2003.
Oh Lon, you poor thing! Bless your heart!
How was that? :-D
Thanks for the postcard. I just got back from Colorado. I'll try to write one, but in the meantime, here is a picture I took of Twin Lakes:
-- Gayla (email@example.com), September 28, 2003.
Gayla, this and the other photo you posted are EXCELLENT!!! I didn't know you were so talented with a camera. Come on, now, you scanned this off an old Sierra Club calender, didn't ya?
I have down-graded to a little aluminum Nikon travel camera, which takes good photos. But I never take pictures of anything but Kit, anyway, and there's only so much you can do with a scroungy kid in a Hulk shirt. I'll try to get some of my last ones posted, (when we went to Colorado this summer).
-- Lon (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 30, 2003.
You're right, it looks like a postcard!
I've been out there and it's beautiful. I like the Ocean more, but can see why some folks would want to spend serious time out that way.
-- (email@example.com), September 30, 2003.
Hey, HEY LON, who is calling my adopted nephew SCROUNGY, eh??? I'll remind you mind your manners mister! Otherwise the HULK might become ANGRY, and you know what that means, doncha???? Excuse me, but you got my dander riled there...now back to a little dignity and decorum.
Ahem, yes, quite a lovely vision you shared with us Gayla! More please, when you have time! How do you do that anyways? I have some lovely shots I took only last Sunday, (I hope, I haven't downloaded them yet), of pics of the green desert where I live. Share if you have time, please!
-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), September 30, 2003.
uh,......um.....did I say scroungy? I, I meant, uh,..SCRUMPTIOUS! Yeah, that's it, scrumptious. And, and, scrupulous. And sculpturesque, yeah.
But, NEVER scroungy! Or scruffy, scurrilous, scratchy, scrofulous, scrubby, scabby, scummy, scraggly, scroundrelly, or SCREWY!
-- Lon (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 30, 2003.
I just wanna hold Gayla's purse while she's shooting these pics.
-- helen (so@I.can.go.too), September 30, 2003.
What a great snapshot Lon. I could put faces to all the men and sit here now smelling Old Spice and Brylcreem. What memories you have stirred.
Very sorry to hear about the diabetes. Everytime I read one of your posts lately it reminds me of Queen Elizabeth and her year "Annus Horibilis" (excuse Latin sp.). It's been a cow of a year for you and I can't wait to wish you Happy New Year in the hope that life is a whole lot kinder to you in 2004.
That's a beautiful photo Gayla. You sure have some stunning scenery over there and you have captured it splendidly.
-- Carol (email@example.com), September 30, 2003.
Nice out, Lon. You're forgiven my friend! Now mebbe you'll be thinkin twice about them words you been usin...Just a thought!
-- Aunt Bee (Aunt__Bee@hotmail.com), October 01, 2003.
Bee, you're being too harsh on Our Lon. Using words is what he does. Now if he inadvertently used the word "scroungy" when he meant "superhero emissary from another world here to save the planet Earth" -- why, most of us mess up at least once a year. Let's just forgive and forget.
-- helen (Lon@be.careful.on.the.road), October 01, 2003.
You guys are funny! I love pictures and photography. One day I'd like to be a travel editor/reporter of some kind. :-D Can you imagine being paid to do something you love?
I've already had several offers as a travel agent, but I don't want to be behind a desk.
Aunt Bee, to post pictures, they need to be hosted somewhere online so that they have an 'address' or URL. The html command is simple: < img src= " http://whatever the addy is " >
Don't use any spaces... I had to use them or it would process it as a command and be invisible.
Lon, I hope you guys have a safe, wonderful trip. Here is a picture from Texas just for you. Palo Duro Canyon State Park:
-- Gayla (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 02, 2003.
I'll join you in that Saturday morning cup of coffee. We've got a little breakfast shop just down the road, I'll try to get a photo of it shortlay.
... Add a dab of creamer though.
-- Robert & Jean Cook (Cooks@home.ga), October 02, 2003.
Gayla; Do you buy or rent address space from that ev1.net site, or maybe does you isp provide some space for free? I'm been thinking about maybe getting some space on the net too.
BTW, your second photo is really beautiful too! And don't let anyone fool ya... a travel agent *travels*, now if you were a desk agent, *then* you'd be behind a desk.
-- (email@example.com), October 02, 2003.
Wow, Gayla, how’d you know that Palo Duro Canyon is one of my favorite places? I went to college in Lubbock, near there, and loved to drive up to see the red “Spanish skirts”, as the canyon walls are called.
Few people know that Palo Duro is one of those unique places which are a convergence of history. The Amerindian people that the white men called “Commanches” ruled the lower plains and much of central and west Texas for 300 years, preventing the penetration of immigrant settlers. They were an amazing people, imminently suited to their environment with a pure horse culture similar to the great mounted Hun warriors of Genghis Khan. The Comanches would ride down from their high-plains strongholds on nights of the full moon and attack settlements throughout Texas, as far south as San Antonio and even Galveston. The term “Comanche moon” is still whispered in the memories of early families.
One of the most notorious raids was in 1836, to the outlying fort-like homestead of the Parker clan, near what is now Waco. Cynthia Ann Parker was abducted and carried away to become the most famous captive in the bloody struggle between cultures which was life on the Texas frontier. Cynthia Ann was not recovered until late in life, after she had become the wife of a great chief (Nacona) and mother to a son who would become a cornerstone of Texas history, Quanah Parker. The town of Quanah, Texas is named after him.
The death knell of the Comanches came as a technological advancement attributable to the Civil War, a six-shot repeating revolver manufactured by Samuel Colt, called the “Texas” pistol, and first used by Jack Hayes of the Texas Rangers. The “Texas”, and later “Walker” Colt pistols became the signature weapon of the hard-bitten and harder riding Texas Rangers. Carrying two of the big handguns in holsters fitted over their saddlehorns, the Rangers finally had the fire power to overcome the hit-and-run cavalry of the Comanches.
On a frosty fall night in 1874, a young Colonel of the 4th Cavalry, named Ranald MacKenzie, led his men silently down a narrow trail into Palo Duro canyon, and attacked the winter camp of Quanah Parker and last major band of the Kwerhar-rehnuh Comanches. Totally caught by surprise, the Indians took flight down the canyon and sheltered in the badlands of the caprock. McKenzie and his men then methodically burned all the lodges, food, clothing and any other supplies of the village. They then killed the entire remuda of 1400 horses, leaving the scattered Comanches on foot and destitute in the face of the high plains winter. Quanah Parker led the small remnant of survivors of his tribe to surrender near Fort Griffin ten months later, and they were removed to a reservation in Oklahoma, their glory crushed, and their culture destined to be a footnote in the new history of white settlement.
Quanah lived to be an old man, and was known for his wisdom and leadership of his remaining people. His descendants still live in the area around Lawton, Oklahoma, and his memory still lives in Texas, on autumn nights when the moon is full.
-- Lon (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 05, 2003.
A small footnote: Cynthia Parker was "recovered" with her new born daughter -- Quanah's sister. The story is that she delivered in the middle of a fight and had to be left behind. She was returned so some relatives, but I'm not sure she had ever known them or remembered them. She tried to escape with the baby, but she was caught.
I think Quanah's father was called Nocona, but I don't remember. He believed his wife was dead and effectively committed suicide in battle by being "too" brave.
The daughter died of some illness at the age of five. Cynthia died not long after. They say her heart was broken and she just stopped living.
Quanah did not know what had happened to his mother and sister until after he surrendered. When he was an older man, he was permitted to visit the Cynthia's grave. He cut off his braids for her.
The story makes dust in the mouth.
-- helen (email@example.com), October 05, 2003.
Helen, I was hoping to hear from you on this. I know some of your personal background, and I knew you could give a perspective which may be a little “closer to the ground”. Cynthia Ann Parker was recaptured January 17,1860, by a band of Texas Rangers on a punitive raid of the camp of Peta Nawkohnee (or Naconi or Nacona), her Comanche husband.
The famous rancher, Charles Goodnight was a Ranger in the patrol, under the command of Captain Sul Ross. The Rangers attacked the camp, a wild blue norther coming in with howling dust which blew away the shots a screams. As they went about their business of killing the camp inhabitants, women and children, Goodnight leveled his pistol at a small running figure. Suddenly, the wind whipped away the blanket she was wearing, and exposed a head of blonde hair. He yelled, “Don’t shoot her, she’s white”, and saved the life of the woman later identified as Cynthia Parker. She had forgotten all English language, but cried when her name was spoken, and she had the features of the Parker family, who welcomed her back to her “rightful” place.
The State of Texas granted her a lifetime pension of $100 per year, and her white family rallied around her. Or so they believed. But, famous white girl, or not, she was then Naduah, a member of the Nermernuh, wife of a chief and mother of warriors. She tried repeatedly to escape and rejoin her Comanche family, only to be finally put under guard by the Parkers. She was recaptured with an 18 month girl, named Topsannah or Flower, who died shortly of a civilized disease. Naduah mutilated herself and howled the grief heard in Amerindian lodges for a half a century. Without anything more to live for, she fell into deep depression and soon starved herself to death.
Out on the wild plains to the west, Nawkohnee died of an infected wound, and Naduah’s youngest son, Pecos (Peanut) died of disease. Only her elder son, Kwahnah (Sweet Smell) lived on to fight and ultimately gain the honor of the white men whose numbers proved indeed, to be as inexhaustible as the stars in the sky.
-- Lon (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 05, 2003.
Lon, I'm going to a wedding in the Lawton area pretty soon. Same tribe. I'll ask. It's a traditional wedding, except there will also be a cake. Gotta admit, cross-cultural food exchanges are great.
-- helen (email@example.com!), October 05, 2003.
Helen, that reminds me - I once owned a Comanche wedding dress. It was brain-tanned deerskin, and had a traditional bead pattern called "Morning Glory". It was beautiful, and spoke to my hands.
-- Lon (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), October 05, 2003.
Rob, ev1 is one of our ISP's. (We have several.) They give us 300 meg of space, plus they have access numbers all over the country.
Lon and Helen, thank you for sharing that glimpse of history! I'm going to print it out for my little history major. Unfortunately, they don't teach those things in college.
-- Gayla (email@example.com), October 06, 2003.
Allright, you history crazies, I just THOUGHT I knew about the Palo Duro Comanche fight and the Parkers. Ya'll are really into it. We note that Quanah isn't the only name mentioned in your story that's the name of a town. There's also Nocona. (I played intramural sports in college with a good defensive back from Nocona.) Until now, I had assumed the town was named after a brand of boots. Also Pecos--not also named after boots, also a name I recognized from your history lesson that was a name of a Texas town--which seems pretty far afield from the subject area. Maybe it was named for the peanut and not the kid named peanut. My only substantive contribution to the discussion might be to amend the Comanche's raiding as far as Galveston (a great raid, even considering the frontier time and quite a coups). TR Fehrenbach in his book Texas mentions that they raided as far south as the Yucatan peninsula and brought back monkees. This was so amazing to me that I woke up my college roommate about two in the morning to tell him what I had just read. Turns out, he was no history buff. Who knew? Also, I recall from another source that a notable Ranger (don't remember which one) actually lost his Colt in a fast-moving fight somewhere in South Texas. They were back in the same area a year later and stumbled across the piece. It still worked, which provided a quite an advertising coups for Sam'l who was, at the time, having trouble getting anybody but rough Texans to take his wares seriously.
Thanks Helen and Lon for the historical skinny.
-- j (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 08, 2003.
J, you're absolutely right about the Comanche raids into Mexico. I guess I was talking mainly about the raids on settlements of the Texicans of the time. I know you, like I, have often crossed the old Comanche Trace, or trail, where it crossed south into Mexico. I think it went near what is now Sanderson.
And you're right about the place names as well. Of course, there's also the town and county of Comanche (you and I lived near there as kids). But, I think it's interesting that while there are so many names from the Amerindians in Texas, there are few similar memorials of Texas "Indian fighters". While Sul Ross is now remembered by a university in Alpine, and Goodnight gave his name to the famous Goodnight-Loving trail, there is no town named MacKenzie. Perhaps, that's because Ranald MacKenzie was a modest, business-like soldier. I personally think he detested the type of warfare he was forced to wage against the Comanche, but was obliged to "do his duty". He was not a publicity seeker like the much more famous (infamous) Custer, who does have a namesake city in Texas.
As to the story about the lost Colt revolver, I have no idea, other than to suggest it was probably about the Walker Colt. The earlier "Texas" model was actually kinda fragile, with a folding trigger and small caliber at .36, while the Walker was robust and .44 caliber. Anyway, Sam Colt did indeed capitalize on the Ranger's exploits, and even engraved a scene of a running battle between the Rangers and Comanches of the 1840 model revolvers.
Anyway, we need to get into the old camper, and go west a little and tell all the stories we know, while roasting our feet around a campfire, say somewhere near Big Bend? We'll take Kit along to watch for the bands of wild Chiuauas.
-- Lon (email@example.com), October 08, 2003.
Lon, my recollection was that the lost and recovered Colt was a Walker, but I was afraid to be specific, seeing as how you and Helen are so encyclopedic and would call me on it if I were wrong. The old Walker, as you are aware, was quite a weapon. It was heavy enough to use for a boat anchor and stout enough that, loaded-to-the-gills, it is acnowledged even by modern gunwriters to have equalled or surpassed in power Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum.
I am unfamiliar with MacKenzie, but was once roped into rough- sketching an idea for a logo for the City of Big Spring, Texas. I went the generic route and included an arrowhead, an oil derrick and a cotton boll or some such. The "winner" (they forgot to tell me it was a contest--I think I was just the stalking horse so the City Counsel could claim to have considered more than one idea) was a face of Randolph Marcy submitted with the backing of the local arts community (Hey, no wisecracks, Big Spring had an arts community.) My point being that I know of no town named after Marcy, either, and he was quite the explorer. By the way, the Spring (like, I think the original Falls of Wichita Falls)was kept wet by artificial means the last time I checked. Pumping from the big aquifers has lowered the water tables. There may also be some less obvious climatic change involved. I have seldom been to the Spring without finding artifacts of one kind or another. It was a considerable and consistent watersource in a pretty arid region which no doubt attracted all kinds of game and was on the route of nomadic plains tribes that traversed the area. After Marcy "discovered" it, it also got to be a waterstop on the east-west railroad route. I used to look at the mesa overlooking the area and think about scouts creeping up there to see who might be moving about, trying to picture the view without so much mesquite brush. I wonder about skirmishes between scouts who met there. I also picture the lone traveller or small band trying to sneak in and out without fanfare.
Wild chihuahuas? Now I'm afraid to go. Even with the Hulk to protect us, it sounds like a dangerous proposition. Which for some reason reminds me of the time I almost got into trouble by following a cute little javelina just to watch him, but that's another story.
OK, OK. When do we leave and who gets the good bed? Also, it's weenies and marshmallows you roast, Lon, not feet. Sheesh!
-- j (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 09, 2003.
Who gets the good bed? It's easy to see that you've never been camping with Kit. HE gets the good bed, of course, and the good chow, and gets to choose the music on the stereo. But, he ain't spoilt or nothin', he's just trying to live up to his self appointed role of Exalted Poobah of Everything In General.
As to the wild chihuahuas, that's an old forum joke from our last trip out west to the Chihuahuan Desert:
"Actually, as anyone who has hiked the back country trails as much as Kit and I can tell you, we were fortunate to avoid the roving packs of wild chihuahuas. This time of year, the hungry pups are just venturing out of desert dens and the voracious parents prowl the moonlit trails. It's these midsummer nights that have earned them their fearce reputation. Many are the grisly stories remembered in our folklore about unsuspecting prospecters in the early days of the West, who woke to find his favorite slippers chewed to tatters, and yellow puddles strategically placed about the campsite.
It's no wonder that men still shiver in their dreams when the moon rises and the chihuahuas howl."
Needless to say, we don't want to risk that again. Maybe we could just pull into the campground over at that nice casino in Mamou Louisiana? That'd be roughing it, kinda, huh?
-- Lon (email@example.com), October 09, 2003.
Would being set upon by a band of wild chihuahuas be something like the torture of a thousand cuts? Would you salt or scorch them to get 'em to turn loose of your ankles like ticks or leeches or something? Could you use a passel of 'em hanging onto a strip of jerky to sweep out your backtrail? Do they really make good fishbait? (Enough of this--before I incense miniature dog lovers, of which I am one; my folks were partial to Pekingese.)
Midsummers nights and dreams. Sounds downright Shakespearian. I know it's a long way to Tipperary, but probably not so far for the author of that song as from LooziAnna (wasn't it named for Santa Anna's mistress?, no, that would've been FloozieAnna--or the Yellow Rose of Texas, I forget which--apologies to Louis Armstrong, for whom the state was really named)to Chihuahua. Is there really a place called Mamou? That's a pretty ugly name (no offense to your aunt Mamou, but it is).
Speaking of names (would I digress?), reminds me of the little Western Slope town of Parachute, Colo. Originally named for an Indian, Parahuete (that's probably misspelled), latter day residents spelled and called it Parachute because...well, they just did. Since I guess there aren't many skydivers in that country and the name didn't fit anyway, they renamed it Grand Valley in the late '70's or early '80's, I think at the behest of Exxon, who was busy laying out and developing a major townsite there for oil shale employees. When oil prices collapsed in about '82 (killing oil shale), Exxon abruptly abandoned the place and auctioned for removal everything that wasn't dirt. Exxon is still a local cuss word up there. And that's my ugly town name story for the day.
Back to the La. casino subject--I learned my lesson about gambling as a freshman in college, where I lost a dead even bet 16 times running before it soaked in that either I was being had and couldn't figger out how or that the Lord was showing me something about gambling in general. 'Course, if it's anything like Vegas used to be, there is also a lot of good cheap food available, and I could go for some of that. Whatever the destination, I'm game. ROAD TRIP!! But not tomorrow. Big gun show in the area, and a few of us are meeting for breakfast, then driving over to look around and practice our macho (the language peculiar to such venues, as you know).
-- J (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 10, 2003.