Most Friday and Saturday nights were spent at Carol’s restaurant. Not only was it the best place to eat for miles around, it was pretty much the only place to eat for miles around. This does not include the Cat Springs Country Club, a converted gas station complete with the old gas pumps that apparently (since I don’t eat them) serves one hell of a good burger, except on Friday’s when they only serve catfish. Surprisingly, no major golf tournament has ever been held here. As a matter of fact there is no golf course, but if you need a warm burger and a cold beer somewhere halfway between Austin and Houston, this is the place.
Anyway, back to Carol’s. Carol, the owner of the ranch/B&B that we were staying and working at, has built a local clientele based on a very un-Texas like menu, a little good wine, and lots of good company. While we soon knew all the usual suspects that would show up on any given weekend, we never got tired of the way they welcomed us into their world.
We soon learned that the always impeccably dressed in his Texas best Poor Ol’ Bob’s wife G. Marie was a world class country music writer and singer who would often entertain us until late at night after most of the regular guests had long departed. We got to know Paul & Robin, close neighbors of Carol’s that loved to drink a little, OK sometimes a lot of wine and laugh and laugh. Paul soon became the natural target for some of my jokes, and was always able to flick it back at me in style. Paul is a giant of a man with a handshake, a smile, and a laugh to match. And who could forget Skeeter, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Skeeter has adopted Carols ranch at Cat Springs as his home, and tirelessly helps Carol with whatever he can in exchange for an extraordinary place to hang his hat and practice his art Then there was Pete. Pete was a character that would show up after a couple of beers at the Country Club for a couple of more at Carol’s and liven up the party. He also has a heart of gold, and one night presented Kate with a beautiful hand-made “Sunday-Go-to-Meeting” walking stick made of Texas Crape Myrtle with a brass head and tip. Kate was stunned and it is just one of the mementos we will carry with us forever.
These are just a few of the wonderful people we would meet, and does not include Carol’s delightful staff. People like Gina who will soon be headed to Ireland to try her hand at acting in a country where she will stand out instead of being just another waitress/actress wanna-be that line the streets of New York and Los Angeles. Or Cindy who proudly showed us the pictures of her beautiful children including her 10 year old daughter who is preparing to break out of small town Texas and leave for Australia on a scholarship program for which Cindy worked her heart out to support her.
As much as they like to wave, most Texans we met also like to laugh. They have an open, no holds barred sense of humor that not only allows them to laugh at the rest of the world, but also at themselves. Not everybody can do this, and it’s one of the things that makes them so endearing. And when they laugh, Texans don’t let out a little guffaw, or a slight chuckle, the Texans we met preferred a great big belly laugh and a smile as big as their heart. While their sense of humor tends toward the more obvious, they seemed to love my sense of humor which tends toward the subtle play on words and the pun. While most of them did not tell that type of joke, they seemed to love them, and it was very rewarding to have a table full of Texans at Carol’s of Cat Springs laughing that big old Texas laugh.