Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
Two wonderful things happened to this 78-year-old on the way to and in the city of Austin, Texas. First, I was told I could leave my shoes and jacket on through airport security, because my birth date was before 1937. Secondly, after a one-hour wait at an old-fashioned barbershop on Congress Street in town, I paid only $10 for a wonderful short haircut. Everyone else paid $18. No one was in a hurry.
Austin, the capitol of Texas, has many wonderful offerings. The first day, we walked along Congress Street, visiting unique shops and eateries. Allen’s Boots is an amazing cowboy store with hundreds of male and female fancy boots, Texas-sized hats (I bought one), and silver buckles and shirts. We ate Tex-Mex food at Magnolia’s Cafe.
The next day, our family went to the Capitol. At the entrance of the Capitol building were matching statues of Stephen Austin and Sam Houston, two great figures of Texas history, and a large statue of Davy Crockett.
The Capitol Building is 218 feet high (taller than the Washington Capitol, naturally) and made of Texas red granite. Also, naturally, it’s the largest capitol in square feet in the United States.
We went into sessions of the State Treasury and the Texas Supreme Court. The Legislature meets only every other year, January to June. Texas was the 28th state to enter the Union in 1845. After the Mexican War, Texas was a country for 16 years. We also visited the University of Texas, which is in close proximity to the Capitol. Texans are proud people.
After a sumptuous barbecue at the Iron Works, consisting of huge beef ribs, tasty sausages, roast beef and sliced turkey, we went to a night club to see James McMurtry. He is a protest singer and guitarist. He was “Bob Dylanesque,” with songs of generational problems and strictly Texan in his mood and point of view.
Day Three, we toured the city and the Art Museum and ate at a cool restaurant, Bistro Bess, owned by the film star Sandra Bullock. The restaurant was continental and elegant, with gracious service.
Day Four, we took the “Duck Trip,” a one-hour sightseeing tour of Austin. The bus actually transformed into a boat as we drove into Lake Austin, unconventional and fun. We drove past the Driscoll Hotel, where President Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson and President Bill Clinton have stayed. Austin was also the home of O. Henry, or William Porter, the great writer.
On our last night, we went to see Willie Nelson. It was a sold-out performance for the Alzheimer’s Fund in honor of Darrel K. Royal, the longtime coach of the Texas Longhorns. Unfortunately, Darrel suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
There was a huge statue of Willie outside the Moody Auditorium, where he performed. Willie is almost the “Patron Saint of Austin.” He is loved by everyone. Willie sang his classic songs and strummed his guitar as a true artist. There is no one like Willie. He is a one-man tsunami. Austin is a fun city with live music, great food and kind, polite people.
It’s always good to come home.