The Writing Traveler: Same Place, Another Time
March 20, 2021
See, you have to go where the stories are. Get your bearings, and.what better place, boss, to get your bearings than Luckenbach, Texas?
WOE, WOE, WOE IS US. WHAT ARE WE WEARY TEXANS, STILL TRYING TO THAW FROM THE GREAT DEEP FREEZE, THE DARK WINTER OF DISCONTENT, TO DO? WHERE TO TURN? WHERE TO GO? WELL, LET’S GO TO LUCKENBACH, TEXAS, PLACE OF WAYLAN, WILLIE, AND THE BOYS. AND CALM.
When I traveled for my newspaper, any time I was heading in the general direction of west I would try to persuade my boss who signed off on my expense account to let me route myself in the general direction of Luckenbach. Luckenbach and Salado, but Salado is another story for another time.
Always stories in or around or near Luckenbach.
Stories to be told.
Put in the newspaper.
See, you have to go where the stories are.
Get your bearings, as some Texans like to say.
What better place, boss, to get your bearings than Luckenbach, Texas?
Not many stories in the newspaper office.
Have to be out and about, hearing them, gathering them.
So . . .
Went to Luckenbach every chance I got.
Went to Luckenbach a time or two with one of the newspaper’s cartoonists, who would sketch, draw. Even get ideas for his watercolors. His art. My words.
Went a time or two with photographer friends. It was a captivating, creative, even magical place for those who dwelled in the world of f-stops and infinity and in-focus. Picture the place.
Sometimes when I was in search of news stories and was “nearby,” – oh, say, within a hundred miles or so of Luckenbach — I would drop by. It was always “close.” Just a few more miles on the speedometer, a few more bucks on the expense account.
Would listen to Hondo Crouch, there in his from-another-time chair, beside the big, warm, log-burning stove, maybe with the little, sleepy baby chick on a shoulder, Hondo strummin’ his guitar, singin’ his ballads.
Hondo on stage.
Songs of life.
Words of cheer.
Such as: Luckenbach Moon.
“Luckenbach has such a big moon . . . for such a small town.”
Tell his whoppers.
Claim, for instance, that as the one in charge of the mail he wouldn’t let the mail go out until the mailbag was full, which might take a week or a month since you could count the people who lived there with the fingers on one hand.
Waste of taxpayers’ money to send the mail on its way before the mailbag was full, the way he put it.
Happy as a hound dog pup, was Hondo.
Made those who showed up where he was “mayor” feel the same way.
So it was – is — in Luckenbach, Texas, where everybody was – is — somebody.
Where so many went – go — one or two or three or a dozen or hundreds at a time when there was — is – a reason for celebration, for a good time.
For joy. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “Joy is a component of life.”
For a laugh.
Get their bearings.
Even in times of the need – often, the desperate need –for hope.
Such as now.
Now, when 30 million Texans are trying to thaw from the Great Deep Freeze, again find the sunshine after dark, dark days ‘n’ days of Lights Out. Shed thoughts of the lights ever-ablaze in the electricity billing office.
Watt-zat, a $16,000 light bill?
When the lights wouldn’t even turn on?
Why, for that kind of money, that Jones guy could light up JerryWorld.
Now, when there is water, water everywhere – spewing ‘n’ splashing from beneath the sinks, from the ceilings, all about – but nary a drop to drink?
Set Texans to boiling, in more ways than one.
So, Luckenbach calls.
Says, come quick.
Just the thought of the place in these challenging moments entices.
A tiny but, in a way big, promising place of hope, calm in the discombobulated Lone Star State.
A state in a world of hurt.
Yes, yes, we know.
Luckenbach is the place of make-believe.
The stuff of storybooks.
Of runaway imaginations.
Of fairy tales.
Yet, if you will but let it, it is real.
There for you.
For the moment.
This weary, worrisome, woeful moment.
It is the place to which most of us can’t go.
Except in the mind’s eye.
But many of you know of it.
And those who don’t can get there via Mr. ‘n Mrs. Google.
And thus can know the peace of it.
The song of it.
The promise of it.
The embracing, reassuring, get-your-bearings healing of it.
If only for the moment.
So . . .
Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas.
Place of Hondo.
And Waylon and Willie and the Boys.
Place of respite.
Calm in the midst of this Texas-size, tornadic storm of storms.
‘Cause, as the song says:
“Out in Luckenbach, Texas, ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.”
“See” you there.
Roger Summers is the author of Heart Songs from a Washboard Road. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.