The Wild and the Normal
When I first arrived at Beeville I was an E-3 and I didn't get much of a paycheck.
I did the normal things with my small amount of money,blew it all in nothing flat,drinking at the club,eating on payday at a nice restaurant downtown Beeville or getting with the guys going to Mexico,walking like gunslingers down the nuevo Lareado streets,trading budweisers for sex or listening to Jimmy Buffet,Cheeseburger in paradise while sitting at the Mexican bar on Sunday waiting for the prostitutes to come back to the club after Mass.
I felt a little ashamed about that but when your in your 20's restricted your whole life and away from home for the first time ya find yourself doing things like that.
If we weren't in Mexico we were at a beer joint off base,there were only 3 back in those days,the Little brown Jug which was small but had some incredible local talent singing and passing the hat. The Flamingo Bar--had the pink Flamingos on the sign and it was more geared to dancing to the classic country western standards-a few of my favorite songs were 4 walls,Spanish eyes etc.
The Lone Star truck driver used to set us up with free beer if we were there when he was.
I preferred Budweiser and Miller Light--could not stand Pabst or Hamms or Pearl.
Coors was a special treat. I didn't drink mixed drinks in bars,too expensive and I never did like getting drunk but I disobeyed my own dislike more times than I wish to count.
The other bar in town was often my hangout. The Zebra Lounge. It was on the ground floor of the Kohler Hotel. It was either owned or managed by two elderly ladies,sisters who must have been in their 80's. They may have even owned the Hotel for all I remember.
Those ladies liked me from the gitgo,I was polite and gentlemanly like I was brought up.
The Zebra was the scene of story entiled Rexall Rick the Drugstore cowboy and would later on be my employer for a part time job. I will tell ya more about that later.
I loved to eat a good meal! Mom was not much of a cook when I grew up,I found myself eating out a lot in my life. Beeville had three places I hung out in a lot,no I should have said 4 places,but 1 of them ya needed a car and it had curb service. It was the outdoor greasy spoon that the officers hung out at trying to pick up the local girls.
The first place was a Mexican rest. It was a Tex Mex style and I loved it. I cannot remember the name--all thiswas transpiring around 1966.Thenext rest. was an Italain place and it was awesome. It was small,I went there a lot and often it was not crowded.
Thelocal businesse's really depended on the base-and here's why 16000 sailors and 5000 towns people,most of the people in the town did not like sailors except for the revenue.
Most young sailors made very little money. There were little loan companies with loan shark interest rates. Borrow 50.00 till payday pay back 100.00. There were even sailors running slush funds out of their lockers for big bucks.The guys didn't like those guys very much.
There was another rest. I went to a lot as well. It was across the railroad tracks in the Mexican part of town and it was authentic Mexican food and again was awesome.
I grew up eating at my Grandmother Campbells house every Sunday after Church,when mom could get dad to go. My Grandmothers Grandfather was an Italian man from Sicily and he taught his wife who taught her daughter and son who in turn taught their kids to cook Italain> My Grandmother was maybe one of the greatest cooks in the entire world.
My mom rest her soul was not a cook,her job which she certainly relished was to look good everday and talk on the phone. She had to make dinner but no one really ever wanted to eat it but a couple dishes were passable. Chipped beef on toast,and spagetti. She made a liver dish that made me hate liver my entire life.I tried to hide it under the mashed potatoes or green beans but she always caught me. Me and Brother Ron had to get the lectures about the starving kids in Europe eating out of garbage cans. That story did not make that liver which was still alive taste any better LOL.
I said in an earlier story that I worked my whole life and I did. My formal jobs started at 14,my informal jobs started at 5 or 6,those were the raking leaves mowing yards with push mowers which had no motors just us lOL.
Grandad loved teaching grandkids the art of making money from him. I think he liked giving us money but wanted us to learn to work for it--oh he loved going around and suddenly whipping out a 50 cent piece and giving it to us as well or a silver dollor. Why did we blow those on candy so fast ,ormodel airplanes made of Balsa or slinkys or marbles or tops .
I worked and always had money,I even worked at the school yards in the summer as a councelor teaching kids arts and crafts which my Grandparents or aunt Bonnie taught us.
It must have been a plan from God so I would have money to buy a good meal when one wasn't available at home!!
OK back to the base. I wasn't always acting a fool in Mexico chasing women sometimes I did it in Beeville if I could hitch a ride to town with a buddy. I had buddies with some nice cars and I quiclkly learned to keep them as friends by helping them find women. It wasn't that I was so good looking it was that I was not afraid to talk to girls and I loveds dancing. I had grown up in Winter Park Florida in Jr. Cottillon ,where I danced my life away at functions. I always had money for dates so when I got to Beeville I did what came naturally.
The main problem was the town was so small and the few eligable girls who were not Mexican would not go out with sailors and if they did it was with a young officer.
Enlisted men 16,000 strong were left to date some locals or some girls they would meet at the elisted mens club. These were girls who came for some of the small surrounding towns on Fri and Sat nights. More later amigos==ol Ricardo is sleepy