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Archive for the ‘Denise Bray Hensley’ Category

Thanks for the Facebook love

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FB as Barbie diaryDear Facebook friends: Thanks for all my birthday wishes, and, more importantly, thanks for coming back into my life. As a writer and diarist, Facebook is one of my favorite activities. Reminds me of these blue, green, purple books with hearts and keys that I have in my writing chest and I have kept since sixth grade, writing on every single page in most years. I have shelves and shelves of diaries/journals/
notebooks/whatever you call them until I got onto Facebook.

I make time for FB – morning and night — just like I journaled all those years before Facebook. I’m not too busy. I’m not embarrassed. Yes, I have a life, but I’m a writer, formerly a reporter, and I continue to report. Every day, I do this.

The other best thing about Facebook besides reconnecting with friends is: No editors. Ha!! Take that you Texas magazine editor who wanted me to change and change my Rayburn Dam story about growing up on the Angelina River until I couldn’t recognize it and – even I who love to get paid for what I write – refused to let it be published.

Even better, I can take photos of what I see and post. Yes, I was that kind of reporter, meaning I was the kind of reporter who worked at many small-town dailies and biweeklies so that I can get as good of a tornado shot as anyone. My eye sees the action in the crowd, just like my mind knows who the story-maker is in the room.

Because of FB, I don’t have to try to get my husband or kids or friends to come see the . . . sunrise, sunset, moon, Orion, Venus, Blood Blue Moon, four-leaf clover, turtles in the gully, deer, trashy graffiti, misspelled graffiti, bad punctuation on signs, snakes, Madonnas in the back of the pickup, terrible traffic on Texas 59. Or especially Ben doing something incredibly cute; Lucy doing something incredibly cute; their over-the-top cuteness when they do something together that just makes my day.

What I wanted to say today, on my birthday, as my friends write on my timeline is how proud I am of my life because of my friends and the people along my way. They are different and they are the same – these days we certainly know their differences but we don’t often talk about their sameness.

Most of my friends have pets, adore their pets and seem to love them more and more as they age. All the grandparents understand my doting adoration of Ben and forgive me for the over-sharing of his photos.

You wouldn’t believe the number of writers on my friends list including, naturally, folks from my reporter days but also from my girlhood. Port Neches, Groves and nearby were ripe for gritty stories. Heck, I even have two Pulitzer Prize winners among my friends, one of whom has won two Pulitzers.

FB keeps me in touch with my longest ago friend, Pattie, who I met the first day of first grade. And my bestie from teen-age years, Cyndy, who helped me meet my husband when she was being so charming at freshmen orientation at Lamar University. And my lifelong friend Lynn who has been in every part of my life from girlhood carpool, to living behind me at Lamar University, to now, now. We even spoke on the phone this week.

My friends include my babysitting co-op from 30 years ago when I was first in Kingwood, had only Laura and was freelancing without many friends. I’m even friends with many of my kids’ friends from their teen-age days. I really like them all better as adults.

My very favorite friends from our life in Michigan are on my list including Lynne who was the angel sent to be by my side when Trav was being diagnosed with his childhood heart problem – now cured because we moved back here to go to Texas Children’s. Without that huge glitch, we might still be wearing snow shoes and digging out our driveway.

Then, I’ve managed to reconnect with far-flung family members and watch my niece’s adventures in Alaska and my nephew who is living a nomad life as a photographer and driver in North Carolina. And, even if they don’t post every day, I get a glimpse into their lives, find out they are OK and the most important events happening with them.

Via Facebook, I’ve found out about the deaths of three good friends and my beloved niece who was named for me. I know that sounds cold and isolated from society as it used to be, but I’m so glad I found out so soon after their unexpected deaths. I wonder and worry about my wild family pretty routinely and start reaching out when I don’t hear from someone or something new is happening with them.

I have excellent cooks in my repertoire who share great and easy recipes. I have crafty folks including several quilters. Friends are building homes, raising chickens, running marathons, lifting weights, sitting by pools and beaches and drinking wine with me many evenings.

My tennis friends, my work friends, my new friends, my old friends. Wait!! I’m starting to sound like Dr Seuss.  So, I’ll stop now. Thanks for the birthday wishes but thanks more for being on Facebook and keeping in touch. I love every one of your posts and read you daily. You make my life fuller and my journaling easier. Thumbs up, heart and emotional face.

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Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

February 6, 2018 at 5:39 pm

I resolve in 2018 to simplify and blog

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Happy 2018: This last-century hippie girl thinks that year sounds so futuristic. Guess we knew we’d get here if we stayed healthy but who knew it would sound so magical. Been thinking about what I’m going to do with this year and I want my theme to be “make life easier.”

Simplify, spend less, worry less, focus on the moment when I’m in it, the place where I am now. Spend more time with friends and family. Go home often and visit all the streets and good memories of my girlhood.

Get outside in nature more. See new birds, find snakes and wild flowers.

 

Look into Ben’s face often and watch him discover. Learn from him.

Spend more time with my adult children, speaking to them about their adult ideas and experiences. My life changed when I had these two. This uptight competitive career woman and longtime police reporter became an uptight and Type A mom who knew and had reported on everything that could go on. I even wrote “Parenting Challenge” during their upbringing — a Sunday column for the Houston Chronicle. Oh how none of that helps prepare them or me for the world we have now lived.

 

 

 

 

Nothing like having adult children — one with a child behavior degree and the other with philosophy and communication — to tell their ol’ mom a thing or two. And she tries to listen. Tries to be wrong. Tries to say, “she tried and tried really hard.” I love them both so and my first pediatrician said I couldn’t go wrong if I simply loved them.

Lucy and TuckerHold Lucy longer. Look at her silly under bite and laugh at her. Throw her skunk for her more often. Make a place for Tucker on the couch, at my desk, in a lawn chair, anywhere beside me because he loves me more than life and I need to appreciate and honor that.

Hug John more often, listen to his ideas, agree with him when I can. Keep it to myself when I can’t. Tell him what a good man he is, how lucky I am to have him on this long journey. Remind myself often that I am good, I am smart and I am strong. I can help.

I am a writer, have been all my life and have made a decent living if not much fame at doing it. I resolve to spend this new, relaxed time, thinking profound thoughts and writing them down. I will blog more. Love, me.

John and me

John and me, ready for 2018

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

January 14, 2018 at 9:51 am

Elevator Karma

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Today’s elevator conversation started when I thanked a nicely dressed younger woman with long brown hair for holding the elevator for me. I often talk to strangers in the Texas Medical Center. It gives me pleasure to hear the work of the medical professionals as well as the patients and their families. Everyone is looking for directions, and I happen to know how to help. It’s taken a decade but, most often, I can get you there — even if you’re in an entirely wrong building and with just an address in your hand.

Elevators are most often other staff folks, like me, docs, nurses, etc. Frankly, I thought this woman was “one of us.” She seemed comfortable, rested and relaxed. She also seemed to know my parking garage and certainly knew my elevator.

She said she’s usually at the elevator at night so she doesn’t see much of a crowd. Then, she said she got out today to get a chocolate milk shake.

“I’m being a good daughter,” she said, and I noted the plastic bag she held that was filled with ice. It had something heavier in the middle but clearly had some cubes from drive-through.

“Smart plan,” I said and, now that I knew she was family of a patient somewhere, I attempted my usual banal two-cents worth of a comment to make a human connection. I give my brief flash of humanity and take away a little myself.

Her response was that she was there for her dad. He was waiting for a heart and liver transplant.

“He really only wants chocolate milk shakes these days; the least I can do, ” she said.

Indeed. That makes two of us. Glad I was awake for that walk to the elevator and not just head down, pushing buttons.

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

June 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

The time I went to the Super Bowl and paid $20 per ticket

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super-bowl

The Golden Couple of the ’70s at their big Super Bowl adventure.

It’s not unusual to exchange Super Bowl stories on this, Super Bowl Sunday. And, by now, many of us have had the opportunity to attend.  Although it’s in Houston this year, I’ve chosen to stay home and watch. Had either of our favorite teams made it in – Texans or Cowboys – I might have dug deep into my connections or pocketbook to find the cash.

Feels like I’ve seen plenty already, having driven in the Super Bowl traffic on Thursday and Friday with the potential of being extremely late to work in the Texas Medical Center tomorrow when everyone tries to get back out of town.  But then, I’ve been. Knocked it off my Bucket List and have “highlights” evidence to prove it.

My story of attending the Super Bowl is not quite as cool as the story of technology over the last three decades. After all, I attended the game in 1978 when we had no idea the advances that would take place in technology and that some historic moments would be memorialized forever – including this one.

It was Dallas vs. Denver, the Superdome in New Orleans, and I had a friend who had just gone to work for the wire service UPI in New Orleans. Joan Duffy, an outspoken journalist and mentor who had been with me on a news desk during Watergate and Richard Nixon’s resignation, had taken me under her wing for my impressionable early years at the Beaumont Enterprise. I was hot to maintain the relationship as well as score the best birthday present of all time for my new husband during our honeymoon days. These 35-yard-line tickets to the big game would never again be matched or surpassed in now 44 years of marriage.

Face value for a Superbowl ticket?  A mere $20 compared to $3,000 today.

Husband John was marking off a huge one on his life’s bucket list. Here he was, a guy who had played football through high school and college and who was now attending an actual Super Bowl game, watching some of his childhood heroes. Huge deal, huh? Could other big events like a World Series, Wimbledon or a presidential inauguration be far behind? We were young and cool and heading for rich and famous.

It was a momentous day even before the game.  Joan, John and I were walking Bourbon Street, of course, hobnobbing and pressing the flesh. That’s when I spotted my childhood hero, Walter Chronkite, whose calming voice and knowledgeable news reports were the highlight of every evening.  These were the days when journalists were among the smartest people walking, and he inspired me to more than writing – to knowledge, to objectivity, to honorable presence, to be the Fourth Estate. He was the real deal and there he was in real life.

I was the first to recognize him and, of course, stopped in my tracks — dropped-jawed and cotton-mouthed — while Joan and husband John kept walking. Uncle Walt was so self-effacing. He chatted easily with us fellow news reporters just like we were contemporaries. I still believe he would have gone into the bar behind us for an afternoon of drinking and story-telling, had I been able to stop stuttering.

The game itself was not that momentous and Dallas stayed ahead pretty easily. We even skipped out a bit early to see the King Tut exhibit, another fantasy come true for a kid who loved to read about Egypt.  It was the exhibit’s first tour to the United States and the long lines had caused huge headlines. We made it only moments before the exhibit closed for the season.

Now, flash forward through the years and into our current day living room and the real story.

With today’s technology, we now can tape the Super Bowl highlights no matter what time they come on. We had taped them all. They are only 30 minutes long but John loved to watch them all and relive the games like the true football beast he is.

So, one day, John says he thinks he recognizes the three girls who were sitting in front of us during the Super Bowl. What? No one else would ever have known we were frozen in time on camera were it not for John’s incredible memory of football plays and peoples’ faces. And now we have slo-mo.

It goes like this:

The Cowboys’ player Golden Richards catches a pass from Roger Staubach that seals his team’s victory. The Cowboys celebrate with Hollywood Henderson throwing his arms into the air. That’s the signal for us to start watching the recording closely.

The camera goes to Cowboy Ray riding his stick horse in the stands and then pans among the many revelers. The view begins to take in the crowd in the aisle beside Cowboy Ray. The fans are wild with celebration. Then, there are the three girls – arms thrown into the air in celebration – and . . . slow, slow, frame, frame.

Yes, there is John under one of the girl’s armpits. We stop action, focus and enlarge the picture on our home television as video-John turns his head, smiles and talks to . . . me, sitting beside him. With the magic of today’s technology, we can move the picture, frame-by-frame and close in on this young couple who had been hidden for years behind these same girls.

There we are, images preserved for national recognition during such a historic event as Superbowl XII.

I had to run the picture back and forth a thousand times, frame by frame, to be sure this wasn’t some trick of the camera. How could I possible have gotten my hair that big? It looked like Marlo Thomas from “That Girl” days.

And then, there’s John. Here’s a guy who has been big enough to be shaving since Little League baseball, and, well, let’s face it: He’s wearing a powder blue suit with lapels wider than my hair. Is this John Hensley or John Travolta? Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah. Ah. Ah.

The kids started yelling “leisure suit,” “leisure suit.”

John swears he never owned one. But there it is, preserved forever.

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

February 5, 2017 at 2:14 pm

On the cop beat for life

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Recently, I’ve been listening to Harry Bausch’s adventures as written by Michael Connelly in “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” and I can’t get past the feelings it evokes. “They” say your sense of smell is the strongest sense to activate your memories. For me, hearing can be equally haunting. Or is it sight and reading? A good book, read again, listened to again. A favorite author can feel like home and long ago at the same time. Or, in this case, a same character – Harry Bausch, the hard-nosed anti-hero and Los Angeles cop as written by another former reporter on the cop beat.

This book has me transported to the past. It has me reminded me of quick trips to the grocery store when I could rent a book on cassette tape, mostly abridged and somewhat unacceptable. But I’d take anything on tape to get me through a day of housekeeping or cleaning out when my kids were young and chores were routine.

Or it’s Sunday and the only library that was open was 10 miles away so I’d bike there and bike back – for 20 miles and two hours roundtrip at the minimum. I’d have to plan my clothes – light as possible but with a cover-up t-shirt, two waters and a light weight bag that would be book-laden for the trip back.

Or it’s a road trip to Austin where I would meet my friend from Michigan at her mom’s house so that we could keep up an important relationship for me where she was my rock while my son went through and out the other end of a heart condition.

Or to Lubbock for my westward bound road trip to visit my daughter at Texas Tech. That eight-to-10-hour trip meant a couple of really good books by favorite authors who would keep me occupied but focused.

concrete-blondeI’m transported by Connelly’s new book not because the book is about yesterday because it’s not. But because I’m reminded of some of the first books I ever listened to as an audio book addict. “The Poet,” “Concrete Blonde,” “Trunk Music.”  Ahhhhhh. I may need to listen again.

Listening to audio books is as common in my daily rituals as is my commute to work. Actually, I’ve been listening to read-aloud books far longer. I was first attracted to Connelly, now world famous, of course, long before the charismatic Texan Matthew McConaughey played the role of his “Lincoln Lawyer,” Mickey Haller, an attorney who works from the back of his car, so another commuter. Or before Clint Eastwood played a side character from the Harry Bausch books in “Blood Work.”

I may have listened to “The Poet” as one of my first audio books, if you don’t count the classics or old radio broadcasts that I could find on the car radio or at truck stops. Remember, this is long before the days of the internet or downloads and when libraries seldom carried anything but the written word.

the-poet“Death is my beat. I make my living from it.  I forge my professional relationship on it.  I treat it with the passion and precision of an undertaker — somber and sympathetic about it when I’m with the bereaved, a skilled craftsman with it when I’m alone.  I’ve always thought the secret to dealing with death was to keep it at arm’s length.  That’s the rule.  Don’t let it breathe in your face,” Connelly says in “The Poet,” back in 1996.

Connelly is back to his police procedural hard core in the “Wrong Side of Goodbye,” and I love it. It’s the routine of day-to-day police work. Keeping your notes in order. Working your sources. Doing favors. You scratch my back and I scratch yours. So I’m transported not only to my listening past but also to the heyday of my career as a cop reporter. Back in the day, I rode the beat with cops, went door-to-door with detectives and sat on stakeouts. I’ve discovered bodies, been shot at and, actually, solved a couple of murders myself. We were a team, on the same side mostly.

That’s the police beat as I worked it, back in the day of the press as Fourth Estate. My cop shops were on a rotation – whether it was Port Arthur, Beaumont, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston or a bit of Detroit. The bigger the city, the more often I visited the police station. But even the one-cop towns showed up on my calendar once a month. I called or dropped by. That way, when a body got dumped at Kennedale, a small town outside of Fort Worth, the dispatcher knew my name and would give me the story.

cub-reporter

Working traps on my first daily, the Beaumont Enterprise, two years after I’d started my journalism career at a bi-weekly. 

“Running my traps,” my first city editor called it. Joe Broughton was a feisty hellcat of a newsman with a kind heart but a trashy mouth. I learned a lot from him and from running my traps, a work ethic that has served me well in a writing career that soon will have paid my bills for half a century.

So, on this rainy day when I can’t be running the roads, I think I’ll finish “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” while I do my house chores and then run through some repeats including “The Poet.” I think I may even have that one in hard copy.

Wrong side of the conversation in my head

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Today, I’m listening to Harry Bosch’s adventures as written by Michael Connelly in “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” and it’s transported me fully into the story. I’m getting in a few steps to shake off the holiday fatigue and the quiet of being one of a very small skeleton crew at work.

So, I’m walking the halls and crosswalks of the Texas Medical Center fully engaged in a bit of a Connelly throwback to his police procedurals of the past.  I’m really liking it because it reminds me of my old police reporter days. The crimes were just as horrific but we seemed to solve them with more concrete and less cosmic methods. Also, we took crime more seriously – perhaps not anesthetized so much as yet. But, I digress from what happened that was not at all serious.

I come to the part in the book about the weapon that was used to commit these atrocious series of crimes. It’s a knife of the killing people kind and used in war kind. So here’s what I’m hearing:

“Definitely for use on a silent kill squad,” he (Bosch) said.

“He drew the knife back horizontally with the edge of the blade out. He pantomimed attacking someone from behind, covering their mouth with his right hand and then sticking the point of the blade into a target’s neck with his left. He then sliced outward with the knife.

“You go in the side and slice out through all the bleeders in the throat. No sound. Target bleeds out in under 20 seconds. Done.”

Your gentle reader (in this case listener) is so engrossed that I don’t even realize that I’m following the narrative with my own pantomime. It so happens that both of my hands are empty because I have a dangly small bag hanging from my shoulder and my MP3 player pinned to my sweater.

throat-slitI reach up with my right hand and cover my own mouth. Then, I draw up my left hand with an invisible knife and look up just about ready to go for my own jugular.  I’ve just crossed over a walkway and have entered the section of restaurants, shops and even a hotel of mostly normal or sick people. There are now a ton of people in my vicinity and about three of them are watching me carefully. They all have looks of concern, horror and maybe even panic.

We make eye contact. I re-enter my own world. Oops. Not normal, I think.

I casually drop my invisible weapon, smile innocently and proceed to the sandwich shop for a turkey reuben.

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

December 28, 2016 at 11:57 am

A road trip in time

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Just last week, I told this story of my gambling Uncle Richie and the road trip I made alone to his funeral. This is one of my favorites, told in the days when both my oldest brother and mom were still alive and when we’d first begun to lose treasured family members. I come by my commuting naturally and as a lover of a good road trip.

Services for Uncle Richie

DENISE BRAY HENSLEY
PUBLICATION: Houston Chronicle
SECTION: TEXAS MAGAZINE

DATE: SEPTEMBER 20, 1992

 I scrawled the directions on a piece of paper near the telephone, my husband — in the background — more incredulous all the time.

“You’re gonna turn at Aunt Bessie’s old place,” the voice on the line said.

“But I don’t know where she lives. You know, I haven’t been out there since I was just a kid.”

 

“You’ll know it by that blue Chevy parked in the yard,” he explained.
“You sure her car’ll be there?”
“It’s been there for at least 20 years,” said my oldest brother who was giving me directions to the cemetery in East Texas where my uncle was to be buried. My husband, on the other hand and not two steps away, was giving me grief for even thinking about trying to find it.
Half the drive was a two-lane highway; the other half was red-dirt roads only traveled by the people who lived down them. My last obvious landmark would be the Arcadia Four Corners Grocery, a store that never had much business, and by now was long closed.
A battered, lone stop sign still marked the crossroads in front of the Four Corners, although the chance of two cars being in the same area at the same time was — as they say in this part of the country — slim and none.
I had been in that store a lifetime ago. My family occasionally stopped there on our way to my grandmother’s house, a place where we chased chickens and milked cows.
As a visitor from civilization, I was never comfortable with the bathroom out back or the black potbelly stove that dominated the living room. I did, however, manage a taste for the sweet well water we drank from a dipper after the silt had settled to the bottom.
I always bought grape Nehi soda at the Four Corners and poured peanuts in it — not because I liked the taste, but because it was the East Texas thing to do. Friends today ask me, “What was the point?” And I can’t really tell them. It made the grape soda salty and no longer refreshing, and it made the peanuts — washed by the soda — rather bland. The only fun was the foam, caused by the salt in the carbonation. But that wasn’t even much fun when the indelible grape soda foam washed onto my clothes. I never did it unless we were visiting the country from our home in what my mother considered the city.
“You’ll come to a `Y’ and you need to stay right,” my brother continued. “You’ll take the second road to the left. It’s down quite a ways.”
“How will I know if I’m going right?” I asked. My husband, still pacing in the kitchen, shouted, “Why don’t you use the mobile phone in Bessie’s car to call for help?”
I cut him a look while the voice on the phone said, “Well, if you come to an old burned up barn, you’ve gone too far. Turn around and come back.”
In the end, I decided it would be best for me to go too far, then come back.
uncle-richieMy uncle had been the kind of person most families kept in the closet. In mine, he was a hero. We all wanted to be at the funeral.
Uncle Richie was my mother’s baby brother, although he looked much older. He was sick or dying for years, and there was much speculation about how much of his original organs remained after the hard life he’d led. We were certain he’d lost one lung to cancer. Despite that fact, he continued to smoke and cough, sometimes falling into breathless, ragged attacks as he exhaled a long drag from a filterless cigarette. His illness never stopped him until the last year of his life.
His body, always weak and frail, was a contradiction to the reckless, carefree life everyone said he lived.
I am the youngest of six children, and my memories are shaded by the eyes of a child and remembered as legends told in a family.
In one of my few personal experiences with Uncle Richie, he breezed into town in a huge pink convertible. The car seemed the size of a living room with buttons everywhere for making windows and seats go up and down. We all took a ride around the block with the top down, a one-car parade, waving to our neighbors.
My brothers, all three of whom have a Texas passion for vehicles, tell me Uncle Richie had two separate pink 1955 convertibles — a Plymouth and a Ford. One had a hardtop that rolled down into the trunk with the push of a button. We still have a picture of Richie — taken in the late ’50s — on the hood of a convertible. He’s wearing baggy pants, a sleeveless T-shirt and a hat, cocked on the side of his head. He looks carefree and full of fun. It’s the way I most want to remember him.
It’s that man, perched on the convertible, who must have been a draw for the ladies. By last count, he married eight times — the first time on a dare. The women were mostly redheads, voluptuous and crazy. The family rumor mill had most of these women on their way to or from mental institutions, both before and after relationships with Richie, which only added to his curious stature.
I remember most the beautiful, seemingly worldly, Lottie Jo. She smelled of fields of flowers and Juicy Fruit chewing gum. She wore billowing, soft clothes with blouses that hung off both shoulders, showing sprays and sprays of red-brown freckles the same color as her hair. She was the mother of at least two of his children — my cousins — who, by the time Uncle Richie was dying and they were contacted, wanted nothing to do with him.
All Richie’s relationships seemed to end violently and with threats of murder and mayhem — all from women. One burned his new home as it was being built at my grandmother’s home place. Another threatened to burn my mother’s home, and that must have been near the end of his life as he became more and more bedridden in a back room that once had been mine.
Uncle Richie made a living gambling, but it was hardly a living, as my mother said, and his unreliable lifestyle was the downfall of all his marriages. Gambling, however, was the true love of his life.
There were stories of a suitcase filled with cash on one visit, while the next trip my mother would complain he was in town to borrow money. Of all the people who borrowed money from my mother, he was the most likely to pay her back.”Oh, he forgot about a little,” my mother said. “But not much. Everyone forgets a little bit. He was just like one of the kids.”
Many years ago, Mother bought her younger brother enough clothes to go to Las Vegas for a stint as a card dealer. It was the longest period of time when he was out of our lives.
Later, when he came back to Texas after allegedly being run out of Vegas, he was among an anti-elite group of gamblers who seemed to know about any game in town. He played in barrooms, trailer houses and back alleys. It was a shock to me as an adult to be told these little towns could draw regular, semi-high-stakes card games. It couldn’t have been the glitzy scene portrayed in movies, but there were still fortunes made and lost, and shots were still fired when someone felt wronged. In Richie’ s case, the shots were most often fired at him and not by him.
“He didn’t play a straight game,” they said of my Uncle Richie.
He had his own brand of ethics, though, and one of his rules concerned the big cities. He steered clear of Houston and thought the people much too cold and calculating. He told the story of a game one night in a Houston bar where someone came looking for a hit man. Richie said he watched as others at his table flipped a coin and decided who would do the killing.
“I never knew if it was the winner or the loser who got the job,” he said later.
So, it was a damp Texas morning when I drove my own convertible to Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Shelby County, between Center and Timpson, to say goodbye to the family legend. I retraced a route I hadn’t seen for more than 20 years and had never driven alone.
The dirt roads could no longer have been familiar, but I was drawn in the right direction and never made a wrong turn. It just took me a long, long time to get there.
My mother said she was so surprised to look up and see I was there, just as she and others started to make their way to Uncle Richie’s gravesite.
I couldn’t have been any later and still made it on time.
My mother was in her element with these country people. The suburban town she’d lived in for my lifetime was not her home. This was. Everyone was related in some way or another to her — to me.
I stood among the pine trees and the graves and heard my uncle called a Texas pioneer. All the sins of his life were forgotten and he was honored for his roots. The mournful crowd heard solemn words, but I preferred to think of Uncle Richie with a gleam in his eye and an ace up his sleeve. Life was a game for him, and how he loved the game.

 

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

December 16, 2016 at 9:31 pm