During my years living in Pennsylvania, Mustangs were pretty much a common sight. They roamed freely throughout our township and all the surrounding municipalities. They were fast and powerful, and quite often could be seen traveling at speeds far greater than one would consider “safe”.
Even living in Florida, Mustangs could be seen everywhere. The only difference was the age of the Mustangs. In the sunshine state, they appeared to have a longer lifespan so it was common to see many “mature” Mustangs. I guess the great weather had a lot to do with their old age.
Therefore, when Ann and I moved to Texas, We were not surprised when the subject of Mustangs came up in many of our conversations with the locals. Judging by some of the questions people were asking us, I got the impression that there were a whole bunch of Mustangs in and around the area where we were living.
“Have ya seen the Mustangs?”
“No, I haven’t seen any yet.”
The gentleman I was speaking with looked somewhat confused.
“No, I mean ‘The Mustangs’.”
“No, haven’t seen them.”
“Oh, well ya oughta go see em, it’s worth the trip.”
Now I was the one with a somewhat confused look on my face. Before I could ask what he meant, he was off chatting with others, so I just went about my business and forgot about the Mustangs, after all, we will surely see some of them roaming around.
Texas is an amazing place to live. Real Texans are inherently “friendly” and the landscape in the area where we lived was just awesome. You cannot imagine all the new things we saw. Texas was definitely a whole different world to us, so much so, that we actually had to learn how to live there, yup, it was that different, and talk about wide-open spaces, you could literally see forever…well, maybe not forever, but “Prittie dang fer”.
I had taken two weeks of vacation time during our move to Texas so we still had time left to adjust to our new home and see some of the sights. Oddly, in our travels out and about running errands or sightseeing, we did not see the first Mustang. Ann and I wondered about the lack of sightings, considering that some of the comments made by the locals led us to believe we would see a bunch of Mustangs freely roaming the area.
One thing we did see a lot of was Longhorn cattle. They were fascinating to watch, well, from a safe distance that is…did I mention they have really big, sharp, horns.
We also saw something that was contrary to the “code of the west”. The code was something we learned during our growing-up years watching cowboy movies…or is that now cowperson movies. Hmmm…maybe I will just stick with “western movies” and stay out of trouble with the political correctness advocates. Anyway, we saw cattle AND sheep grazing on the same rangeland. Now, in all the western movies we ever watched, cattle ranchers and sheepherders were always at odds with each other, no way would they ever allow their critters be at home on the same range. It just was not done…it was against the “code of the west”.
It was getting down to the wire on my vacation time and soon I would be back to work in my new position and new location.
Ann and I decided to make the best of my last “free” days. Once again, we ventured out only this time it was to see some of the surrounding towns and cities. What an awakening that was, and no, we did not see the first dang Mustang.
The thing that amazed us was that everyone in the small towns we visited was super friendly. I mean they acted as if they had known us for their entire life. Okay, I know you are finding that hard to believe so let me give you an example.
Now Ann and I love to chat with people, anyone, even total strangers, but we looked like rank amateurs compared to small town Texans. After riding around for a while, we decided to pull into a convenience store to get a couple of cans of soda pop. Ann said she would run in real quick and get us something to drink. Twenty-five minutes later, she returned with several cans of Dr Pepper, the local favorite, and a bunch of weird looking snacks, the local favorites, most of which I had never heard of nor could I picture myself actually eating any of the really strange looking ones.
I must have had that “What the hey?” look on my face because Ann started to explain.
“As I walked through the door, Bill and Edna, they were the ones running the place, started talking to me as if I was one of their long lost relatives.”
“So you had a nice long conversation with them?”
“Yeah, I really enjoyed chatting with them. The whole time we were talking, Bill and Edna were giving me suggestions for snacks we might like to try.”
“And you didn’t want to upset your newfound relatives so you purchased every dadgum thing they suggested.”
“You got it in one guess…my momma didn’t raise no fool. We might want to come back here some time.”
As we were pulling out of our parking spot, Bill and Edna came out to wave goodbye and utter those words we would hear over and over, the whole time we lived in Texas…“Y’all come back, ya heer.”
Now, I enjoy Dr Pepper, its high up on my list of favorite drinks, but I was rather leery about some of the snack items. I had no idea what the heck they were and did not think I was actually brave enough to put any of the odd-looking snacks in my mouth. In the end, I decided to play it safe and try the tortilla chips and salsa…whoa, big mistake. Two cans of Dr Pepper later, my mouth was still on fire, thus presenting yet another problem, getting rid of the two cans of Dr Pepper I had just gulped down…it was time to head home.
Prior to my bout with the fire-eating dragon, we enjoyed taking in the sights of the many towns we had passed through. The architecture seemed to run the gamut, from ultramodern to your typical western look. Every once in a while there would be a magnificent city hall building that would look totally out of place in the land of Longhorns, Cowboys, and really weird snack items. Texans appear to have a love for old buildings and must work hard to keep them in such immaculate shape. Being somewhat of a history buff, I was in hog heaven seeing the old buildings and learning bits and pieces about their past.
Oh, did I mention that we did not see the first dadgum Mustang?
As I said, Texans seem to love their history and old buildings, so in traveling around it is quite common to find little “historical gems” in some of the oddest places.
Such was the case when we stumbled upon an old gas station made with petrified wood. It was part of what was once known as a “Texas Tourist Camp Complex”. It included the gas station, tourist cabins, and a cozy little restaurant. We were told there had been a Mustang sighting in the complex earlier that week, but none were roaming around when we were there. It was an interesting place, a historical place, and once again, I was in hog heaven. There is a picture of the historical marker below if you want to read more about the complex.
Well, all good things must come to an end and such were the days of my vacation. It was now time to earn some money working in my new position. My office was located in the north building of Williams Square in Las Colinas and believe it or not, I was actually happy to be heading back to the old grind…honest, really, hey, would I lie…well, maybe if I thought I could get away with it.
So there I was, headed toward Las Colinas on route 114 with all the other morning commuters. Oh, there is one thing I neglected to mention, if you drive the speed limit on a major artery such as 114, you run the risk of being “squashed flatter than a June bug”. In north Texas, no one drives the dang posted speed limit.
As I quickly learned, speed limits seemed to be determined by the speed a group of vehicles happen to be traveling…I know, confusing isn’t it. Let us say that some vehicles are traveling in a group or herd, if you will, all headed in the same direction. If that herd of vehicles is traveling at seventy-five miles per hour, then that rate of speed becomes the current speed limit. If you go with the flow, that is, keep up with the rest of the herd, theoretically you should never be pulled over and given a speeding ticket, even though you may be traveling at twenty miles per hour above the posted limit…neat, huh. Of course, not everything in life is a sure thing, so I imagine there could be a police officer somewhere that had a fight with his/her spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, or is just in a really nasty mood. They might just be hell bent on making everyone else as miserable as they are, and write you a ticket because he/she saw you in the middle of the herd and didn’t like the color of your cow…er, a…car.
Anyway, that was my conclusion of how things worked, and no, neither Ann nor I ever received a speeding ticket the entire seven and a half years we lived in Texas, and yes, we both quickly learned to “git on down the road with the best of them”.
Needless to say, in no time at all I was pulling into the parking garage at Williams Square. From there, it was just a short walk across the street to enter the building where my new office was located.
Once inside the building it was just a matter of cornering some fellow employees to find out where my new boss, Fred, was hiding.
Just as I was about to knock on his door, Fred looked up, saw me, and came out to greet me. As was the ritual in most of the departments I have worked, before there was any “shop talk”, you were shown where the most important piece of equipment on the floor was located, the coffee machine.
Coffee cup in hand, we returned to his office to discuss “job things”, important things like where the closest restaurants were, and what their best dish was. Fred was joking that since I knew more about my job than he did, he had to come up with something I didn’t know so it looked like he was important enough to be my boss. This was definitely going to be a fun place to work.
Fred was getting ready to show me where my office was when he asked me that same weird question about Mustangs.
“Have you seen the Mustangs yet?”
“Nope, haven’t seen the first dang Mustang since we got here?”
Just like the local folks, he gave me a somewhat confused look, only in his case he began to chuckle and broke into a big smile.
“Good one, but I’m talking about four legged ones, not four wheeled ones.”
Suddenly, my light bulb came on and I realized, people were not asking about the car, nope, they were asking about Mustangs.
When we got to my office, he took me over to the windows and with an exaggerated wave of his hand, Fred said, “The Mustangs of Las Colinas”.
After Fred left my office, I could not wait to call Ann and drop the “bombshell”.
“Hey hun, how’s it going?”
“Great, I went out and did some grocery shopping today so we could have a decent home cooked meal tonight instead of take-out.”
“Did you see any Mustangs while you were out?”
I heard a strange moaning noise coming from Ann as if she was annoyed with my question, so I pushed on.
“You’ll never believe what I saw today?”
“I can hardly wait, okay, I’ll bite, pray tell what did my loving husband see today?”
“Well sweetie pie, your loving husband saw the Mustangs. In fact, your loving husband is currently looking out of his office window at the Mustangs…to be exact, The Mustangs of Las Colinas, and they are four legged, not four wheeled.”
There was dead silence on the other end of the phone…
Needless to say, the following weekend, Ann and I headed for Williams Square to join the many tourist in oohing and aahing over the Mustangs.
We also spent some time walking along the Mandalay Canal. It was a beautiful day with awesome scenery, we truly enjoyed ourselves…and no, we did not see the first dadgum four-wheeled Mustang.
Another great adventure comes to an end. It doesn’t get any better than this…well, unless you’re talking about having a Mustang parked in your garage and a herd of Mustangs grazing in your back pasture. That might just be a step up from this story.
I guess as we travel the road of life, we can never be really sure which way the road will turn…one thing’s for certain though, always say what you mean, and mean what you say, or you might wind up with a dog of a car when all you really wanted was a four-legged man’s best friend.
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