Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter 5 Matching up the Grands..............property of Diane Ogden

So Cowboy Billy ended up being the Grandson of the Governor of Texas at that time.  As I recall while sitting in the driveway of the Governors Mansion staring at Billy and he back at me, I was thinking how unthinkable a surprise this turned out to be.  And now what?  Then again why had anything really changed.   That is when Billy walked around my beautiful Pink Cadillac to the drivers side window and said.

'Gosh maam, does this mean you don't want to see me again?"

Duke had jumped into the front seat to take over shotgun when Billy came to the window with  determined question that could change my life plans.  Duke started barking as if to answer for me.  I tried to hush up Duke who was having no part of it considering  some unspeakable determination to keep Billy and I together.  My answer to Billy was that I would see him again as long as I was still in Austin. 

Billy sternly asked.  "And how long might the Pink Lady be visiting the city?"

I responded that I was not 100% sure on that just yet. 

Billy asked me for my Grandparents phone number and I obliged.  He then wrote his Grandparents number down for me also, but I declined saying I didn't feel it would be proper for me to be calling the Governors Mansion.  Billy told me this was their private line and it would be perfectly fine.  In fact he would be pleased to hear from me anytime of the day or night.  Well anytime of the day at least.  And then he leaned down and into the window to give the gentlest kiss I believe I had ever had.  Duke watched and then put his head down on the seat and covered his eyes.  Just like I'd seen a dog do in the movies.   Billy and I both busted out laughing.   He told me he would be calling on me very soon.  And I drove away toward the Expressway to my Grandparents home.

On the way I must say my brain felt like an octopus.  The thoughts were wondering about in eight different directions which I believe is called confusion.  Would I ever see Route 66 again? Yes I had become suddenly confused, scared and getting way ahead of myself.   That is when I hit the exit to Bradford Road. 

My Grandparents were elated to see me as usual.  Granddaddy was his handsome self.  He looked like Rhett Butler with much less hair on top, a thin mustache, and a handsome tan.  I never saw my Grandad in jeans even once in my life.  Nope, he always dressed up in slacks, a white shirt with a western bolo tie and special made to order Cowboy boots.  Nor did he ever leave the house without his grey Stetson hat.

And Nana, she was a high quality lady.  Born and bred in Texas, engaged to Gene Autry until she met Pops.  Nana wore the finest furs and jewels. Her nails were always painted in copper colors to match her hair and skin.  She could out ride and out shoot most men.  She was a school teacher by trade but gave it up do to the stress kids put on teachers.  She was a bit frail in that area.  Nerves that is.  I heard she had a nervous breakdown way back which led to her giving up the profession.  When I was young I recall her saying to me, 'I love you honey but you make me so nervous."  I suspect I didn't make her nervous now that I was full growed as they say in those parts. 

We had a lovely dinner out.   Grandad took us to The Night Hawk Restaurant for steak and lobster.  Duke was not happy about being left at the house but then the Grandparents were not totally happy about that either saying he might have an accident in their carpeted kitchen..  I assured them Duke was not accident prone.  

They were quite fussy about their home and furnishings.  Grandad had purchased all the furniture in their home in Dallas at a whopping pricetage of over $5,000.00.   The bedroom set was French Provincial hand carved Pecan wood twin beds which I never understood but didn't need to.  The living room was also of the French theme.  The sofa had been special ordered due to the exquisite brocade fabric.  The side chairs were covered in a thick deep mauve tapestry fabric and the dark cherry tables all topped in marble.  Ahead of the fireplace lay the huge bear rug Nana shot herself. during one of their annual Wyoming hunting trips.  The formal dining room was a French Provincial with matching buffet and glass curio cabinet.  The curio was overfilled with a collection of glass, wood, leather, and ceramic, shoes from every country around the world.  It was one of the most amazing collections I had ever seen.  My Godmother collected salt and pepper shakers but nothing matched the class my Nana's little shoes carried. 

My Grandparents always maintained a bedroom at the house for my personal use my when I was younger and later for visits.  Twin four poster hand carved rice beds with salmon colored satin bedspreads that would make anyone feel like an actual princess.  My dresser was a make up desk slash table.  The pulls on the side drawers were hand carved to appear like leaves.  Outside my bedroom window was a sitting porch.  On that porch was a bamboo sofa and chair with matching bamboo end tables and coffee table, all with glass tops.  On each end table was a lamp made from an elk leg killed on one of their hunting trips out west.  The hoof rested on a black marble base, where the leg extended up and under the lampshade which was made from the hide and thinned to a place where a photograph was instilled into it.  There were four pictures, one on each side.  Each unit of the lampshade was laced together with rope made from hide. When the lamp was turned on the pictures became like a slide show, as well as projecting onto the adjacent wall.   Grandfather didn't like wasting any of an animal after a kill.   He had deerskin coats made for his family along with matching gloves and boots.  As you can tell from his lifestyle,  he loved nature.  Fact is he took more photos of nature than any of us. 

Grandad was a lover of the Indian Nations, slash tribes.  I traveled the Western United States with Nana and him when I was fifteen. years old.  We stopped at numerous Indian Reservations where he handed out gum and money to the children. who would jump for joy.  He was an honorary Indian Chief of one of the tribes but I forget which one.  At one time I had his very large feather headdress.  I am sure I have it stored in a safe container.

On the opposite side of Grandfather's professionalism with the Indians was his fondness for the drink.  Canadian Club to be exact.  A large bottle sat on the front seat between he and Nana through every state in the Western part of this U.S.A.  I can attest to that.  And every time he got stopped for speeding which was a few times indeed, he fancy talked his way out of each one.  He would get back in their brand new Oldsmobile 98 or whichever one it was that year and laugh a hearty deep Texas laugh that he won the game with Johnny Law. And on nights at the house when family or dear friends came over for dinner and always drinks, he would do his Indian song and dance.  That man could do the song and war dance while using his pretend language of the Indians and drumming on any wall that was handy. He was a happy man for the most part. Especially when under the influence.

Grandad had his very own office slash cave called "The Summer House" which was separate from but next to the utility room just off the main house. Inside that man cave was every sort of deer, elk, bear, ram, and moose head hanging high up over his amazing gun collection, pool table, antique books on shelves, National Geographic collection, sitting areas, and a large table with an authentic but small teepee.  Through the teepee ran an intricate H2o train set with all the trimmings.  Little houses in little neighborhoods, train stations,  grain elevators, stop lights, and various other road signals along with grass and asphalt roads. A lot of fun for visitors and Grandchildren.

Aside the Summer House and between the house and carport to the right was the utility room.  Two or three huge freezers full of meat from the Wyoming hunting trips.  I learned early on how to eat moose, elk, and venison, as Grandad was an exemplary cook in the army.  Course he said he rode with Poncho Via too so who really knows.  Also in the Utility room was an extra refrigerator.  Most people didn't have but one refrigerator in their kitchen unless you were the Governor or course.  After all that was the utility room therefore the washer and dryer called this room home also. As an added effect there was a toilet sitting all by itself in a cubby section between the wash tubs and the tall cupboards. There was no door, just a toilet. That was more for us kids when we were swimming in the cement pool out back Grandad built himself.  The shelves in the utility room went to the ceiling in  and I recall as a child wondering why they had so much toilet paper, paper towels, saran wrap, aluminum foil, and Kleenex stacked to the ceilings.  Maybe he just liked to be prepared.  One time Nana told me he came running into the house hollering for his gun.  She said, "What is the hell is going on L.C.?"  He didn't answer, he just ran back outside with his loaded gun in hand.  That is when she heard a shot, a loud shot.  She ran out the door shouting his name and found him in the utility room.  She said he was so proud of himself.  He had shot a mouse and the lone toilet behind the mouse.  Nana said she laughed til she about peed herself. 
 

There are a lot more stories to tell about my Nana and Grandad but the one that really counts and what Mr. Cowboy Connally doesn't know is that my Grandparents were close friends with close friends of Lyndon Baines Johnson, current President of the United States.  My Grands were invited to stay on the LBJ Ranch outside Austin during hunting season for the annual expedition.  President Johnson's personal valet tended to Grandad during their stay.  His name was Amos and he took very good care of Grandad.  He took Grandad's shoes off,  rubbed his feet, laid his clothes out,  and just about anything else valet's do.  I know it wasn't as important as Billy's deal.  His Grandfather was the Governor of the great State of Texas and I am sure the Mansion was much more elegant than my Grandparents home. In my mind that strayed away at times like this, I was at least happy mine didn't live in a trailer park and they had friends that knew the Pres. 

Duke was having the time of his life barking at the dead critters hanging on the wall in that Summer house.  He would sit down, look up at them, turn his head sideways as if puzzled, and then start barking.  When he didn't get any reaction from the monsters on the wall he would sit back down and start the process all over.

Sleep that night hadn't come as easily as it used to when I visited the old Princess bedroom at my Grandparents home.  My mind was divided.  Route 66 or Bill Connally?  Was there even a choice?
Stop.  Stop thinking.  Just then Duke jumped up onto the beautiful satin bedding nestling himself  close to me.  That's all I needed for now.  
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