Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Trudged through Snow 7 feet deep, and the temperature was 108 degrees, (w/ additions)

Show your children if you wish.

      The Old Gringo...very spoiled...last born....very self-absorbed,  arrogant, lazy, and generally disgusting....is stuck in neutral with 31 college hours and a 2.10 GPA that went along with a 1490 SAT score.   At 17 years of age and feeling pretty worthless, the young Old Gringo received a letter (by mail) from his old high school baseball coach.   The letter stated  that the University of Texas Head Coach of the baseball program, Bib Falk, wanted to take a look at me.   The high school baseball coach included a carbon copy of his communication with Falk which indicated that he felt that I was the best pitcher he had  coached in all his 15 years on the diamond.
     A couple of days later, another letter came to our house in Austin.  It was from Bib Falk.  He mentioned his communication with my old coach from High School and urged that I make my way to tryouts, not as a walk-on, but, if my talent was somewhat equal to his friend's tale, as an invited athlete and for consideration for scholarship assistance.   The much younger Old Gringo went to the athletic department, with his transcripts and SAT scores.   He played a little catch, did a little fielding, and threw a few pitches.   He filled out a form, and was not totally forthcoming about not having played professional or semi-professional baseball, paid or unpaid, and did not mention a few nights of pitching with the Reynosa Broncos AAA Mexican League team between his junior and senior year in high school, and a very brief dabble with the old New Orleans Pelicans....mainly batting practice, but in a Pelican uniform which was an NCAA no-no as well.

      One of the Old Gringo's personality defects is to just walk away from something if it offended him, if it was overly inconvenient, and in those days, if it did not come from a worshipful sense that the Old Gringo was terribly important to the Old Gringo and that everyone else just needed to wait until such time when ( or if  ) he would return to their lesser issues and concerns.
     The visit on the next morning at the University of Texas seemed to be positive.   An assistant coach briefed me, saying that I would have to go in with the tutors....not for academic help, but in order to mature to the point that the semester grades would be all passing, and with at least a couple of "A's and/or "B's" in the mix.   Sco Beta Pro was not to be carried on the team for more than one semester.    A UIL report that the Old Gringo had "talked back" to a coach on the field of play, during a district game was also pointed out."We want our boys to have a little hot streak in them,...but if you talk back to any coach, our black janitor, an umpire, or a fan in the stands you will be wet in 3 minutes".   (Their way of saying ..."Shower out, get dressed, and leave").
     With course assignments in hand, the Old Gringo hopped into his Kharmann Ghia and drove back to the house....29 blocks away, also in mid-town Austin....all fired up.   My mother was somewhat stunned and my father was seemingly un-surprized.    The extra scholarship would take him off the hook for having his son at the "best University" in Texas.   He himself was finishing his doctorate at UT, while my oldest brother was finishing a doctorate at LSU in Baton Rouge.
     The next day, the Old Gringo found a parking place some distance from the building where he had to register for 3 of his basic, academic foundations classes required by the State of Texas at that time.   He was mulling over which other two courses he might choose in order to break up the monotony.    But first, English 1301 was over there, with a poster-board sign and an arrow pointing to a door.   The problem was that there was a line of unimportant people standing from that door to an extent exceeding two blocks distance back the way the younger Old Gringo had come.
      Everyone in line advised him that they had waited all day yesterday, had their numbers, but the line had only moved about 50 feet during the previous day.    "But I have this scholarship form" and that met with, "We are all on one scholarship or another in this line here.   You haven't gotten the pink card from Student Affairs yet.  You need to go to the Library Building first".
     Library Building, same thing.    Except for the woman who said, "I don't care a whit about Bib Falk.  All scholarship arrangements for this semester were finalized three months ago.  Take it up with the Dean, and you have a lot of legal forms to fill out and a lot of other things.  Do you have a complete medical and your medical records from your family doctor?   You'll need it all and whole bunch more, son."
      There was no one to bluff out, no shuck and jive to practice on a manipulable nice old lady, or a friend or relative upon whom to impose.   The young Old Gringo even thought, "Maybe I can go over to the music department.   I am such a great pianist that they could not resist me."
And heading in that direction, the Lord sent a message in the form of the Longhorn Marching Band.  Even in Levi's and white T-shirts, sweating in the sun, four hundred strong, playing WAY, WAY, WAY beyond the very excellent McAllen High School band that had put 17 people on the All-State AAAA (biggest) Band during my last year.    After watching for a few minutes, it dawned on the younger Old Gringo that the music department had better things to do than to babysit a self-centered nobody from nowhere.

It was all very humiliating.   It was   a teachable MOMENT.
 Believe it or not, that is the younger Old Gringo
with the uplifted mug.
     Lugging my millstones and anchors back to my crummy pseudo-sports car Volkswagen, my intent was to drive down to the induction center in San Antonio and throw myself on the mercy of the United States Army.   This, even though the Old Gringo was a total coward and an absolute eschewer of any kind of discipline, especially military.   But, being a Republican, it seemed like the right way to go.   Driving along the then new Interstate 35, blank-minded, the scene of the Old Main Building at Southwest Texas State College came into view on the right.  The Victorian era castle-like structure had a view of the community of San Marcos and the campus.   The enchanting Aguarena Springs  were so beautiful and the whole community's atmosphere so enchanting that it induced Johnny Wiesmuller to move there.    He bought or leased an old mansion and restored it to ante-bellum splendor  (it wasn't that old, but the Yankee tourists liked to hear that it was) just a couple of blocks from the Courthouse and main square.
A view of Old Main, shot from the 7th floor
of the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State
     The younger Old Gringo, on a whim, turned off and went into the middle of town, and suddenly found himself walking up towards the Old Main Building.   His brother had attended there when, four years before, it had been Southwest Texas State Teachers' College.   By this point, the school of business, the school of agriculture, the school of fine arts, the school of liberal arts, and the school of industrial arts had all become larger than the Education Department, so the word Teacher' had been dropped from the official name.   "Why, there were over 10,000 expected to enroll this semester,"  someone was heard to say.   There was a set of folding tables in front of the Evan's Academic Center with some pleasant enough dolts who looked more or less like the younger Old Gringo.
      "Registration is here, " some girl called out.
       The younger Old Gringo went over and asked what was going on.   He was told that this was registration week and "everyone has to register with punch cards.   We are all computerized this semester".    No punch cards?  "No problem, we have blanks right here.   The course availabilities are posted on that wall over there."
   The San Marcos Springs are the Head of the
San Marcos River.   This Hotel, built by Johnny
Weismuller and his wife Dot in 1950 is now the
TSU - Texas River Systems Institute

        So the younger Old Gringo reviewed what he had taken, what he needed to take, and filled out the punch cards.   The people went inside...."Come on in.   This is really neat."   They fed the cards into this whirring monster which then printed out other cards and a wide piece of paper with all the courses that had been chosen, times of class meetings, name of professors, their degree origins, and other calendar information about the semester to come.    "We'll see you here Monday after next.  You must have a charmed life, all your profs are really good.    Remember to bring a check for the 155 dollars for tuition and another check for 10 dollars for building use fees.  You'll have to turn that in that morning and get a receipt
      "Can I do that right now with cash?"
     "Sure, just go up to the Old Main.   The first door on the left as you go in is the Registrar's Office".
     So the younger Old Gringo walked up the 100 feet to the Old Main Building and paid his way in.  "Don't lose your receipts, because the profs will make you show them before each class."
 Image by Larry D. Moore, used under a
 Creative Commons ShareAlike License
This was the Wiesmuller home.
       And that was the was the Old Gringo wound up at Southwest Texas State College.   A year and a half later it had become Southwest Texas State University.    My son-in-law and my daughter made it out under that moniker.   But my son graduated from what is now Texas State University and now attends graduate school there. Great traditions grow from mighty Tarzan yodels....or something.    The above house is the old Johnson House...(not associated with Lyndon Baines Johnson)....that was called the Tarzan House, due to Johnny Weismuller's use of the home during a two-year residency in San Marcos.

BUT HERE IS THE REASON FOR ALL OF THIS.    THIS WAS THE PERIOD THAT A PERSON WHO WAS ALWAYS DESTINED TO BE A DREAMER, A SADDLE-TRAMP OF SORTS HAD TO REALISE AND RESPOND TO THE FACT THAT EVEN A DREAMER HAS TO KEEP ONE FOOT ROOTED IN SOMETHING AKIN TO REALITY.    The younger Old Gringo took over the Kharmann.  "The Ghia is mine.   I am going to pay for all the repairs, insurance, upkeep, and everything."   he announced to his parents.   He went over to the restaurant where he hung around with his buddies, and told the General Manager, "I need to work here.   I can do a better job than anybody, and I will do as I am told".
        Jose Cuellar, the general manager of El Chico's #10....one of the greatest de luxe Mexican restaurant chains ever....hired the younger Old Gringo and he worked there as host, maitre d', cashier, and slow-time general manager for a good while.     During the Summer (1966), the younger Old Gringo worked full time as a Park Leader at West Austin Park ($1.75/hour - 37 hours - 4 days per week).   This was the year of the Tower Shooter on the campus of the University of Texas.   Charles Whitman managed to tie down the Old Gringo, his older brother, and his father, and none of the three knew the other two were on campus at the time.   
      He then continued the Fall semester, working at El Chico's,  including shut-down at El Chico's for three nights a week.   Full load, full time work, making almost $2.00/hour and actually making some decent grades.
     The next Summer (1967), there was a full three-month job working as a research assistant for the Institute of Texian Cultures.  This work involved collecting and compiling original data and information to fill an ethno-historical museum on the grounds of the HemisFair 68 in San Antonio.   The Old Gringo flew and drove over 20,000 miles and conducted over 300 contacts throughout the State during those days.   He even had the honor of being called back to do some more intensive primary and secondary research later.   The Institute's huge museum is still in service between the Spurs basketball stadium and the Alamo.   It is quite an impressive historical and anthropological museum....one of the best.  
    As the Fall semester reconvened, and with the drive back and forth to San Marcos becoming a bit old, and more library time in San Marcos increasingly necessary, the younger Old Gringo went to his hang-out in San Marcos, at a place that had been operated by a nice old man named Mr. Manske.   It was a Mayberry-type diner named "Manske's".
     That nice old man had just sold out to a younger Czech boy name Rainocek,  who changed the diner into a high-end hamburger shack.     We got along and the younger Old Gringo would help him out, pro bono, of logistical jams every now and again.   The next thing was, I was staying in the dorm, and making hamburgers, running the fountain and then finally working as the night manager of the best hamburger shop that Texas had ever experienced.   My efforts had about 9% to do with its excellence.   There were two other Czechs, one named David and another named Larry and a Mexican fellow named Santiago who were as good or better at the nuts and bolts of the business.   All three were on-again, off-again full-time, part-time students at SWTSU.   The Old Gringo was always full-time.
        Gil's Broiler was (and still is) only a half-block from the main campus of the University, and adjacent to downtown, central San Marcos.   While there, the younger Old Gringo worked from 25 to 60 hours a week and carried a full load at the University.

      If I could do it, anybody can do it, and not whine.     My daughter paid and worked her way through the whole thing.   My son-in-law paid and worked his way through the whole thing...both at Southwest Texas.  Both are well-placed in central command at DELL Computer in Round Rock, Texas.   My son went to school and then made a stop along the way with the United States Coast Guard.   Made good rank.....picked up big benefits for selling a large chunk of his life to his country.   He's working now, essentially full time and heavily committed to finishing his Master's Degree at Texas State in record time.
      So....for the 99 bottles of Occupiers on the Wall street....either admit and confess that you are communists and anarchists whose only reason for doing whatever it is that you are doing is to tear down the American system and America....or go back to your mother's basement...or go do some honest work and work yourselves up the ladder.   Set up your own tiddly-wink polishing machine manufacturing plant....do something.   BUT DON'T LECTURE ME ABOUT HOW YOU ARE BESET UPON BY AMERICA or GEORGE BUSH or whatever.
May All the Saints Weep to see so much sloth and filth.
 This baby sloth will be more self-reliant and whine
 less than the 99% Bottles of Occupiers on the Wall Street.

Thanks as usual for your time and patience,
El Gringo Viejo