Thursday, January 8, 2009


Billy Ray Barnwell here, it doesn’t matter whether you are A a U.S. Supreme Court Justice named Ruth Bader Ginzburg or B a New Testament Greek scholar named Spiros Zodhiates which is pronounced SPEE-rohs zoh-dee-AH-teez or C a former member of the doo-wop group Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels which is a real group just like Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys who sang “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed,” Kinky did I mean, not Pookie, or D the current prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet, I hope this book will cause you to think, so just stop right now and ask yourself this question, if someone could write a book called Olive, The Other Reindeer, and by the way someone did, then why hasn’t someone written a book called Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear? I mean, if that doesn’t cause you to think nothing will because to coin a phrase inquiring minds want to know, and speaking of wanting to know, I was sitting at my desk the other afternoon trying to look busy but really making up songs about former members of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, for example I sang “Dale Murphy is the guy to see, He’s Mormon as he can be” to the tune of the theme song from Green Acres, not out loud but just in my head, and then I sang, “Biff Pocoroba, Biff Pocoroba, I wonder what became of him?” to the tune of La Cucaracha, and I had just started in to singing “Ryan Klesko, Ryan Klesko, we miss you, we miss you” to the tune of Freré Jacques which you may know as Are You Sleeping? when all of a sudden it occurred to me that I hadn’t told you anything about Not Grapevine Texas in a while, so let me correct that oversight immediately, I think oversight is a really interesting word, I mean sight and see and look and view all mean about the same thing but oversight and oversee and overlook and overview mean four different things entirely just because of that little word over added in the front, there is a group called the Church of God that used to have a General Overseer before they changed his title to Presiding Bishop but they never had a General Overlooker even though most religious organizations would prolly benefit from one and if I had a mind to I would explore that a little further but I’m over it, ha ha ha.

Getting back to Not Grapevine Texas in the Pleistocene Age, there was this teen hangout place called Flurry’s just outside of town near where the Kow Town Rodeo Arena was later built which was part hamburger joint and part dance hall, Flurry’s was I mean, not the Kow Town Rodeo Arena, and by dance hall I mean a long, low, large, dark, cavernous space that could hold a couple of hundred hormonally-inspired young people plus what had to be the world’s loudest jukebox where teens from miles around flocked on Friday and Saturday nights, well to be more accurate white teens because A there weren’t many Hispanics around in those days except for a few seasonal migrant field workers up from Mexico each spring and fall and B even though it had been three or four years since Brown v. Board Of Education the schools in Texas had not yet been integrated and most of all C Coy Flurry had taken a bucket of white paint and painted in big letters three feet tall across the plate glass windows in front of the restaurant portion of the building WE DON’T SERVE N-WORDS, well he didn’t put N-WORDS, he put N-WORDS, there’s just no way I’m going to put what he put. I might be wrong but I think Coy was one of the movers and shakers of what was left of the local Ku Klux Klan, it was pretty much dying out in those days but one of their last gasps was hanging the dummy of Howard Griffin from one of the town’s two stop lights, I already told you about that. Alcohol and beer were not allowed in Flurry’s but there always seemed to be plenty in the parking lot, Coy didn’t care as long as no one got too rowdy inside, every once in a while it would get too much even for him and he would grab the offender by the collar and the seat of the pants and physically throw him out of the building, and as you might suspect Flurry’s had the town fathers up in arms but they couldn’t do anything about it because Coy built his establishment just outside their jurisdiction, but it was the delight of the high school crowd for miles around, that’s for sure, which by high school crowd I mean anybody up to about twenty-two years old who either A wasn’t married or B hadn’t gone off to the army or college or the big city, in other words the local and not so local yokels, it was very dim in the dance hall part of Flurry’s, in fact the only light came from the restaurant end and the jukebox, and sometimes the crowd would gather around in the darkest part farthest away from the restaurant end and watch couples dirty bop to “Annie Had A Baby, Can’t Work No More,” pretty tame by today’s standards I suppose but rather daring for back then, no girl ever got pregnant at Flurry’s but it wouldn’t surprise me if one or two did on the way home, and this is Billy Ray Barnwell signing off.

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