Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pistol Pete the Anteater

Two years ago last January, I stopped at a local Petsmart to get some kitty litter. Highly unusual for me to stop there. It just happened to be close. Carla stayed in the truck while I went in. While coming towards the checkout, I passed the pens of little dogs that were rescued from the local shelter. I leaned over to pet one and he jumped into my hands.

I put him back down and checked out. While I was leaving the parking lot, I told Carla about this dog that had jumped into my hands. She said: "Stop, I want to see that dog". We had to put our old dog to sleep about 7 months prior to this visit to Petsmart.

When Carla saw the dog, it was love at first sight. I've got to say that he is a great dog, even if he is a mama's boy. She carries him around the house every morning. He get more vitamins than we do. And he doesn't eat dog food. Sometimes I feel like my grandfather. Pistol like chicken and I often cook chicken for him.

Well anyway, Pistol hates ants among other things. When we are sitting out back on the porch, he lies by Carla. Every time he sees an ant he goes and eats it. It is funny to watch, because half the time he dancing trying to eat that ant.

Anyway, here's Pistol Pete the Anteater.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

News Flash: Baptized by the Sheriff

I know that not many people can make that claim. Doyne Bailey,the future Sheriff of Travis County baptized me. He went on to become the Director or the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission under Governor Ann Richards. I always thought how ironic that an ordained Southern Baptist Preacher could grow up and run the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Doyne Bailey came to Kinney Avenue Baptist Church in Austin to lead a youth revival. He came in an old hearse from Arkansas. This boy was crazy.

While leading the revival, the current preacher at Kinney Avenue resigned and the deacons asked Doyne to serve as the interim pastor.

I love this man; I think he is a great person. Not many people got to know him like I did.

While interim pastor at Kinney Avenue, his future father-in-law, Wyatt Hall, lead me to a decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My sister, Diana, made a decision for Christ about the same time.

Doyne scheduled me and my sister and another lady to be baptized at the same time. It was pretty scary thing for me.

While dunking me in the water, Doyne slipped and almost dropped me. We recovered and no one knew what had happened. We were in the dressing room and Doyne looked at me and said, “Not bad for the first time”. We were the first people that Doyne ever baptized. I looked at him and said; “Now you tell me”.

I can’t say enough good things about Doyne. He is a great guy. He is a real person. I have more stories to tell about him. But let me tell you, he had a real influence on my life.

Doyne was like a real life Andy Griffith to me. That is saying something good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shop Stories: Why is it red, not orange? Huh?

Getting used to the people in North Austin was one of my biggest challenges. I thought for the most part they were weird. Here’s a case in point.

This little Chinese man bought his YELLOW Cadillac in to replace the back glass. This was around 1979. It was a brand new YELLOW Cadillac. For a few years, Cadillac made a small box shaped car that was on the same chassis as some other GM models. This was one of those Cadillac’s.

Anyway, he was a nice man and owned a Chinese restaurant nearby. His car was YELLOW. The outside was YELLOW, the padded vinyl top was YELLOW, and the interior leather seats were YELLOW as was the dashboard. When you looked at this car all you saw was YELLOW.

Replacing the back glass on this car was a challenge. You had to pull up the padded vinyl top around the back glass. Then you had to drill out the rivets to remove the frame around the back glass. Only then, could you replace the back glass. We had just replaced the back glass and were waiting for the vinyl top man to put the vinyl top back down to finish the job.

I was sitting at my desk in the office, when this nice man comes in. Apparently he had looked over his car and had a question? Why is it red not orange? Now I had trouble with his Chinese accent in the first place, but I couldn’t understand what he was talking about, the car is YELLOW. He kept insisting that I tell him why it was red and not orange. I was getting a little frustrated with him, when I finally told him to take me to the car and show me the red. He agreed.

The car was sitting outside just around the corner. I followed him up to the YELLOW car. When we got there he pointed to the little red lines in the back glass that were the defroster lines. All heated back glasses have these little lines. I remember thinking; he’s got to be kidding. He really caught me off guard, cause for a minute I didn’t know what to say.

I finally gathered myself and told him that the lines were red instead of orange, because they have to be burnt in. I said that they would turn orange after he used the back glass defroster a couple of times. It was hot summer, so he would have no need to use the back glass defroster for some time. It seemed to make some sense to him, so he said ok.

I made that up on the spur of the moment, but I think between the sun fading those lines out and using the defroster some, that those lines would fade. Never really settled that one in my mind though, I just know that it satisfied my little man.

He left and I went and found my vinyl top man and told him to get on that Cadillac right away. Top Priority. I wanted that car gone. I never heard from that little man again after he picked up his car, so I guess he was happy.
But this is one of the reasons that a South Austin boy couldn’t understand those crazy people in North Austin.

Here's a video from The Clash: Brand New Cadillac

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

It’s hard to describe my Mom. She is a very loving person who is fiercely loyal to her family and friends. She made great efforts not to play favorites with us kids.
You know, you won’t appreciate that until later in life. I am close to my brother and sisters. We are all very close. Mom made sure that to this day that we call each other on birthdays. It’s a given. The goal is to be the first to call.

Mom did the discipline in our family. I will never forgive Jack LaLane for that plastic exercise strap that he sold back in the early 60’s. Mom and June Hill bought them to exercise with. Mom used it on my butt more than I want to think about. I always had the problem of wanting the last word. That last word usually cost me. I swear I don’t know what happened to that blue plastic whip. I wish I did.

Mom is a practical joker. Dad loved turnips, but we (kids) didn’t. Mom would fix potatoes and mix in a couple of turnips; just to watch us kids spit those turnips out. I can’t count the number of practical jokes that she played on family and friends.

Mom is there when you need her. When I was a sophomore in college, I had a serious reaction to an antibiotic. It nearly killed me. Mom was by my side for months while I recovered. I can’t thank her enough for that. But that was just Mom.

Mom is the family historian. She keeps up with the genealogy and tells us about our family history.

Mom is a great grandmother, her grandchildren adore her and so do her great grandchildren. She will get after you if she thinks you are doing something wrong. She speaks her mind.

Mom taught my brother and me how to treat women. Our wives have Mom to thank for that. She taught us to say, “Yes, Maim and No, Maim and Yes, Sir and No, Sir”. That comes automatic to us. Mom taught us to respect everyone.

One of the main things that I want to thank her for was not teaching us kids to be racist. While Mom was not perfect in that respect, she didn’t teach us to disrespect anyone. That was tough in the 60’s in South Austin.

Dad was the provider, but Mom was the teacher for us kids. She taught us about life and how to deal with life. She is a good teacher.

I don’t know what else to say, but thank you Mom. I have passed onto my daughter many of the things that you taught me and she is passing those values onto my grandkids. I think that is your legacy. Your teachings are passed onto another generation.

I love you Mom. Hope you have a great day.


Here's a fun video for you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


First of all, I want to say that Emma is now the most popular name for girls. Way to go, Emma. Emma is my 3-year-old granddaughter.

While she may be only 3, she is the youngest child. She has a brother, Willie that is just 1 year older than her. She keeps up with him all the time. Emma is so much like my daughter it is scary. My daughter, Christi, is a great athlete. She played all the sports growing up. She played tball at 5 years old. She absolutely loved sports and competing. She would run over you if it meant scoring a run, a basket in basketball, or an ace in volleyball. She even played goalie one time in high school soccer with a cast on one leg. The team didn’t have a goalie and Christi volunteered even though she had never played soccer before.

We got to spend a weekend with the grandkids a couple of weeks ago. Christi took us out back and showed us how Emma could hit. She would pitch a waffle ball and Emma would hit it most of the time. What impressed me most was that you could tell she never took her eyes off of the ball and that she had a good batting stance. I don’t know if you can teach that to a 3 year old, I think it is more instinct. Emma could hit the ball.

This story is from just a couple of days ago. Emma and Willie go to the same day care. This day care is in the home of the caretaker. The other day, the little boys were outside with their bats. They were trying to hit a ball off of a T. Most of them were having little luck. They couldn’t seem to hit the waffle ball off of the T. Emma stood patiently in line for her turn. When it came her turn, they told her she couldn’t hit. “Girls can’t hit”, is what they told her. Not taking no for an answer, Emma got her turn. My daughter was watching. Emma not only hit the ball, she hit it over the back yard fence. She had to go get the ball. Now the boys were all saying, “I wish I could hit the ball like Emma”.

Its funny how you can tell athletes at an early age. It just comes natural to them. I swear they are born with it. She’s only 3, but watch out sports world. I don’t know what her sport will be, but she will excel. She can dribble a ball with both her right and left hand.

All I can say is, “Go Emma”. The world is your stage.

Grammy and Pop

I wanted to include a video with music and girls playing softball. Hope that Emma gets to see this video.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Shop Stories: Why I hate Audi’s

It really wasn’t the Audi’s fault, but this is one car that I will never forget.

It must have been around 1980. My dad owned two shops at the time and we installed auto glass and seat covers and other types of trim. I was managing the North Austin shop.

We did a lot of dealer work for the General Motors dealerships in North Austin. We didn’t do much work for the foreign car dealers. One morning, Bob Miller Porsche Audi called and wanted us to do some work for them. We were at the corner of North Lamar and Hwy 183 and they were out 183 close to the MoPac Expressway. I took my shop foreman and picked up the Body Shop Manager at the Pontiac Dealership and went out to Bob Miller Porsche Audi. It was around 3 miles away.

We got to the dealership and there she was. A 1979 Gold Audi 4 door sedan. It had blue leather seat covers. Pretty nice car, except that a fire had started under the dash and burnt the dash and the right door panel. It was also coated with smoke and some ashes inside the car. I told the service writer that we would take the car and clean it up inside, get rid of the smoke smell and replace the right door panel. I told them I wasn’t interested in doing the dash work. They agreed and I sent my shop foreman off in the Audi back to the shop.

I stopped with Glenn the Body Shop Manager and drank a cup of coffee. The day was going great. After drinking the coffee, I was going to take Glenn back to his shop and get on back to mine. As we approached the Olds-Cadillac dealership, I saw Jesse, my shop foreman standing outside the Audi in the middle of Hwy 183. He had slowed down to allow someone to turn into the Olds-Cadillac dealership and a lady in a late model blue Chevrolet rear-ended the Audi. It wasn’t a bad wreck and the Audi could be fixed easy enough, so I wasn’t really worried. I got the phone number of the lady that had caused the wreck and I told her that I would call her when I got an estimate of the damage. I had the Audi towed over to my shop. After we got to the shop, Glenn took some pictures and gave me an estimate.

The shop’s insurance would only pay if we were legally liable for the accident. It was not our fault at all. So the woman’s insurance would have to pay. When you hit a car in the rear end you also cause the rear fenders to bend. I called the lady and at first she was very nice. I then asked her to come to the shop and look at the car. I explained that the rear fenders were bent down a little too, due to the wreck.

It was at that point that things started to go wrong, extremely wrong. She started screaming at me over the phone that she did not dent the rear fenders. I tried to explain the damage and assured her that if she would come and look, she would understand.
That was not to be. She kept screaming at me and hung up the phone. Now what do you do?

In the meantime, I had placed a call to the owner of the Audi, now you get to meet the owner. We’ll call him Mr. J. Just my luck the owner of the Audi was a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. His last station before retiring was the Pentagon. Let me just say at this point that he was a very nice man, he just wasn’t used to someone telling him no.

Mr. J. came over to the shop and looked at the car. He looked at the car and shook his head. The next statement out of his mouth is that he doesn’t want the car anymore. I just looked at him and said that wasn’t my decision. I told him that the lady’s insurance should cover the rear end damage and that I was waiting on confirmation from her insurance company.

Well………. I tried to call the lady again. This time she claims the accident is my fault and she is going to sue me. I tried to reason with her and she just screams and hollers and hangs up on me. I call her insurance company and find out that she didn’t pay her premium and she didn’t have any insurance.

My next call is to Mr. J. I told him that the lady that hit his car didn’t have insurance and my shop insurance wouldn’t cover the damage because we weren’t legally liable for the damage. It would fall back on his insurance. His insurance company was USAA. This company is for military personnel and their families.

Now we have his insurance company involved. The adjuster that worked on the burned dash and door panel came out and looked at the car. He came up with an estimate to give to USAA. Now a year old Audi was worth around $9500 at that time in 1980. The estimate for the rear end damage and the burn damage was around $7000. Now the insurance company had to decide whether to total the car or not.

This process started to run into months with this car just sitting at my location. The adjuster was sure that the car would be fixed and Mr. J. was adamant that he wasn’t going to have that car. Now technically, Mr. J. was my customer. I had to please him. Now the adjuster would come by every couple of weeks and get mad because I wasn’t working on the car. I would call Mr. J. and see if he had heard from his insurance company and tell him the adjuster was pressuring me to repair the car. He said go ahead and fix it, but that he wasn’t going to pay me. So, I just let the car sit there. It sits there in a stall in my shop, the K car in front (which is another story) and the Audi.

I had the car for well over 6 months and probably more like 7 or 8 months when the USAA made their final decision. The reason it took so long was because Mr. J. was a high-ranking retired officer, which had an effect on the time it took them to make a decision. I was told it went all the way up to the CEO of USAA. The final decision was that the damages were the result of two different accidents and they had to be considered individually, so they would not total the car. It had to be fixed.

Mr. J. came over to my shop and sat down with me. He was very nice but explained that the car had to be perfect for him to accept the car. Now sometime in that 6 or 7 months, the Bob Miller Porsche-Audi dealership had closed and we no longer had an Audi dealership in Austin. Now I was the main guy in the deal. Before they closed, I could have taken it back to them (since I originally got it from them) and they would have to deliver it. This fact would come back to haunt me.

Well, I went about getting the car fixed. I had my buddy at the Pontiac Body Shop fix the car. He had a body man that I considered to be one of the best in the business. I requested that he fix the car. Getting parts was a problem though. Remember, we don’t have an Audi dealership in town and they had to order parts through the Bob Miller Volkswagen dealership. Now this was a good parts department for Volkswagen, but they sucked at ordering Audi parts. It took a month or two to get the car back from the body shop because of parts delays. But the car looked perfect when I got it back from the body shop.

Now remember, the dealership was going to do the dash work, but there was no dealership to send the car back to. I finally talked the Bob Miller Volkswagen Dealership into installing the new dash. Again we had parts delays because we had no dash. Another month goes by waiting for this to be done.

I finally get the car back and clean the inside up and repair the door panel. I was sick and tired of this car. By that time, I had told my shop foreman that to give quotes on Audis that were so high that we didn’t work on them. I felt like I was cursed.

We parked the car outside most days and pulled it back in at night. Now remember the blue leather seat covers. Where the sun had shone on these seat covers, they had faded. The blue was not as blue as it had been. These seat covers could have been dyed and been just perfect. No problem…. Mr. J. decided to make the seat covers his make or break spot. He told me in no uncertain terms that he was not going to take delivery of the car unless we put new seat covers on the car. I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t my decision. I was losing money on the car no matter how much I charged. It was killing me.

Well………I got a hold of the adjuster and told him about Mr. J’s demands for the seat covers. He got in touch with USAA and in a couple of weeks they came back and asked how much the seat covers would be. I said I would have to get a price from the Volkswagen dealership. I told that adjuster that I would get the price, but that I wasn’t putting out one more dime on that car. If they decided to get the new seat covers, they could pay for them with the order. They finally agreed. Remember, Mr. J. was a valued client of USAA. His high military rank also gave his more pull than most.

I went over to the Volkswagen dealership and told them that I wanted a price for blue leather seats covers for this Audi. Remember that I told you that they sucked at ordering Audi parts. Well, I was there for an hour before this parts guy finally gave me a price. I remember the price being around $1700. They also told me that they couldn’t give me a date as to when the seat covers would be delivered. It might take 6 months or more, because they had to come from the factory in Germany. I took all the info with me and called the adjuster.

He got with USAA and it took another couple of weeks for them to decide to order the seat covers. The adjuster called and wanted them ordered. I reminded him that I was just going to order the seat covers, that they would have to pay for them. I called Mr. J. and told him they were going to order the new seat covers.

Now for the nightmare. When I went back to the Volkswagen dealership, I tried to order the seat covers. I had all the parts numbers with me. I remember it clearly, the little parts guy looked up and me and told me he had made a mistake. Oh, Lord, what now? He said the price he gave me was for leather inserts in the seats and vinyl boxing. I told him, that I had requested all leather seat covers. He apologized and shook his head. All leather seats covers would cost $3400, twice the original price I had given the adjuster. Again they told me they could not guarantee delivery. They would call me when they came in, but to expect 6 to 12 month waiting time.

I drove back to the shop trying to figure out what I was going to tell that adjuster. It wasn’t my fault but I knew if he didn’t have a heart attack that he was going to scream and holler at me. I think it took me a day or two before I got the nerve up to call the adjuster. The total repair cost for this vehicle was now $500 over the book value. I just wished that they had totaled it. We had already told Mr. J. that he was getting new seat covers so there was no going back on that.

I finally called the adjuster and I really thought he was going to have a heart attack. He was so mad and it was at me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was not my fault that the Audi dealership had gone out of business and the Volkswagen parts department sucked at getting Audi parts. He lost the USAA account over this car.

Well, now then, I had to call Mr. J and tell him the news. I was expecting to get screamed at again, especially since I would have the car for another 6 to 12 months. This man was making payments on a car that had not been driven for a year already. Surprisingly he took the info very well.

He came by the shop and told me not to worry about ordering the seat covers. He said that he would take care of it. Now, Mr. J. never told me the whole story, but those seat covers showed up in just under a month. I really believe that he used his military connections in Germany to get those seat covers. I think that they probably were shipped by military cargo. I just never knew how those seat covers got here. We finished up the car and Mr. J. picked it up and paid me. I had now had that car over 1 year. I was sick of Audis.

Mr. J. asked me to keep some of the parts that I had replaced because he was going to sue USAA. He was upset at how the whole situation was handled. I told him I would keep the parts for a short while. That damn car was still haunting me; I got rid of the car but not the used parts.

I kept the parts for a couple of months and had not heard from Mr. J. I called his house and his wife answered the phone. I explained the situation to her and asked her if she knew if he still needed the parts. They were taking up room in my shop. She just started laughing. Not seeing anything funny in the situation, I asked her what was so funny?

She said Mr. J. didn’t own the Audi anymore. Two weeks after he picked the car up from my shop he was rear ended in the Audi. He got rid of that jinxed car. To this day, I remember this car like it was yesterday and it has almost been 30 years. I still don’t like Audi's.