written by Bob Briggs
I recently motored out to West Texas for the holidays. I saw a bunch of old friends and made more than a few parties while visiting there on the Golden Spread.
One of the old friends I saw was Dave. Dave was an old water well man and moon player, par excellence. The only trouble was that you couldn’t tell which was his vocation and which was his avocation.
I used to work for the guy, so I had more than a working relationship with the guy when he had a moon hand in front of him. I think that Coy, a half mad guitar player is finally coming around to my way of thinking, after losing hundreds of dollars over the years to Dave.
When you live in West Texas, you’re a long way from big-city life. If not in miles, then in a state of mind. One day during a lull in the moon playing, Dave related this story to me.
It seems that years ago, when dinosaurs still ruled the earth, Dave was a pretty good cowboy. But that was in the years when Dave was a lot younger. Before he traded his string of rough stock for the spanner wrench and shop hammer.
Old habits die hard, so when Dave gets all shined up to go somewhere, be it a country dance or a neighbor’s barbecue, he still dresses western. Big Hat. Lace up roper boot (cause they’re easier on the feet.) Trophy buckle from one of those “punkin rollins”. Like I say, Dave used to be a pretty classy cowboy.
Dave went to the Veterans Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico last summer to have RK surgery done on his good eye. Dave only has one eye, so how he was going to get back to Pampa never entered his mind, seeing as how his roommate and best pal Nancy stayed home to work the first shift at Sandy’s Bar.
The first shift runs from around eight in the morning until one or two in the afternoon, due to the influx of shift workers that come in for an early morning beer. Eight a.m. is early evening for many of the Celanese, Cabot, Ingersol Rand or MapCo workers there in the Panhandle of Texas. Things tend to get pretty lively in the saloons about noon, especially if some fo the pulling unit hands are off that day and decide to spend the day shooting pool instead of mowing the lawn or some other honey-do chore.
Anyway Dave stayed there at the VA hospital for three days, when for lack of a better word, they unwrapped his eyeball. Things were still pretty fuzzy from Dave’s side of the eyeball, so they decided that he should stay for the weekend.
Dave had a great-nephew stationed at Ft. Collins, Colorado. So Dave got the doctor’s permission to fly up and see him that weekend. “It was one of those little puddle jumpin’ airplanes,” recalled Dave. So the first stop was in Colorado Springs, where the passengers had a twenty-minute layover. So Dave got himself a carton of chocolate milk and a six-pack of Fig Newtons for a snack.
Dave then went to sit at a table already occupied by a businessman dressed just like Tom Bosley, reading a Wall Street Journal through a little pair of half glasses perched on the end of this nose. Dave took little notice of the peculiar look that Tom gave him as he opened the Fig Newtons and scarfed one down.
Tom immediately reached over and got one of the cookies for himself. Dave didn’t say anything, just thought, “strange custom” and went about eyeballing the fellow travelers as best that he could with the bum eye.
Dave then ate another Fig Newton this time noticing that Tom all but snarled as he quickly put another Fig Newton in his gaping maw. “Must be some sort of practice that we don’t do down on the plains,” thought Dave eating the third of the Fig Newtons and pushing the remaining one across the table to Tom who was glaring openly at Dave now. Tom took the third of the Fig Newtons and walked away all the time muttering to himself.
“Well hell”, thought Dave, “no one in Pampa would think of eating one of your Fig Newtons without asking, and never without saying thanks.”
Dave shrugged his shoulders and made his way to where they were boarding the plane.
As he felt in his inner coat pocket for his ticket, Dave found an unopened six-pack of Fig Newtons.