Daily Archives: February 25, 2021

Life with Sister: Tales from the Great Texas Blizzard & Blackout of ’21 – Part 3

Sometimes we make edits.

In our last installment, we took Sister, an ex-nun from an order I have not mentioned because I’m not sure it ever existed on a tour of Fort Worth, Texas, the Gateway to the West. We recalled the famous beef industry commercial, I cowboy-ed myself to the nines, and we drank a few more Yankee Candles. Ready for your next sip, fella’?

Wednesday February 10, 2021

Sister is a delicate flower. She is wounded. She is scared. She has been scarred by her experience. The girl can drink all of us under the table. Amazing. Delicate? Yes. Years of living under a canonical vow of obedience to a Mother Superior, all the while not being able to communicate using her words and then being “asked to leave”… Tough times but who hasn’t been there? If you’re nodding your head and saying, “Yeah, man, I totally get that”, then find another blog. Now.

Today it was time to take Sister to the place the city of Dallas is best known for – the assassination of the 35th President of the United States. I may have just inadvertently placed myself on some kind of government watch list. Before her time planting and tending to vines that were already dead, hoping for some kind of Cascian miracle, Sister was a huge history buff. In her dorm room in college, she proudly displayed a 1″:1′ scale model of Dealey Plaza complete with strings marking the trajectories of Oswald’s shots. Keep in mind such a model would have taken up three-quarters of a standard dorm room. And she had a roommate. Her thesis was titled “JFK, Blown Away. What else do YOU Have to Say?”

But here’s the thing. Dallas isn’t exactly proud of that moment. For years after President Bush (41) retired to Houston the running joke was “Houston: Where Presidents come to live.” The mood around the rest of the country from that fateful day in November 1963 and for many years following was that Dallas was a lawless city, filled with backwoods thugs who would kill any Northeasterner they could find. And then I moved here and all that changed. I seem to have a way with these people. In reality, and hard as it may seem to believe, it was the TV show Dallas (premiered in 1978) that finally turned around that image. But for 15 years Dallas was hated. And Dealey Plaza, an art deco masterpiece of a civic monument, was at the center of that hatred. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the city finally found the municipal will to take over the sixth floor of the old Texas School Book Depository building and dedicate a museum to the events of that day. I, too, am a history buff. Having lived in this area for almost a decade, I have visited the Sixth Floor Museum (real original, huh?) dozens of times. It really is a very well curated museum. I thought our history loving ex-nun would love the self-guided tour.

We set out around noon. On our way I noted two things. First, Sister is also a fan of fast food. “Whataburger?” she said making a “W” with her thumbs and index fingers as we backed out of my driveway. “Sister, we had that the other night. How about something different?” A quick stop at the Jack in the Box and we were on our way. The second thing I noticed was that the forecasters on the radio were telling of an impending winter storm while I scanned the dial. “Sounds ominous,” I said to Sister. Sister said nothing. Forgetting that she was now permitted to speak for a moment, she began gesticulating wildly with her fingers making a motion of snow falling from the sky. Forgetting that I shouldn’t speak the quiet part out loud I said, “What the fu*k?” We laughed and laughed. Then we verbalized our feelings and shared our thoughts in a productive way. I assured her that her flight on the upcoming Monday would indeed take off. And then I laughed. “You’re going to be stuck with us a while, Sister,” I said. “I’m from New Jersey and I can attest these folks don’t know what to do with a half-inch of snow, let alone the six they’re calling for.” “It will be OK,” said Sister, smiling. “But to be sure, do you have enough liquor at home?” She had a point and I made a mental note to hit up Wine Totalé on our way home.

See what the artist did there?

Within 20 minutes we were coming out from under the famed Triple Overpass, the same one a bleeding JFK was raced through on his way to Parkland. “Oh my! It’s splendiferous!” said Sister. Splendiferous? I guess one has ample time to memorize the thesaurus in a cloister. We parked, entered, and quickly ascended to the sixth floor. We walked through a timeline of the life and times of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The museum does a good job of refraining from political comment and all the exhibits are laid out in a matter-of-fact way. No matter what your thoughts about Kennedy, one cannot help but feel a sense of emotion, especially as you approach the sniper’s perch in the corner window. We looked over Elm Street where the open-top limousine made that hairpin turn. We could see the “X’s” painted on the road surface where bullets had felled our leader. The sky was gray and dank. There was a chill in the air. As I wiped away a slight trace of a tear from my cheek, I noticed Sister raising her arms ever so slowly. She, too, must be feeling the terrible weight of that day, the anguish on Jackie’s face climbing over the back of the limo, the distress of the crowds jumping to the ground, the, wait a minute, what’s she doing? Oh dear God, Sister was raising her arms to clasp her hands together in the manner of a .45 caliber handgun and pointing them toward the road surface below. Have I mentioned yet that she still wears a full pre-Vatican II habit? “I suppose Oswald could have pulled it off but not from this window,” she said. And then she returned her finger gun to an imaginary holster next to her four foot wooden rosaries hanging from her belt, and skipped to the next window bay only to draw and line up her next shot. Although I’m sure it’s not the strangest thing the docents here have seen, I have personally never witnessed this and I’ve seen a helluva lot. Four windows later and I remembered that Sister was also a ballistics expert from her time in the Marines. Why shouldn’t she draw on her favorite interests in this place? I hid in the interpretive theater and may have wet myself either from fear or laughter.

Really? Give it a rest already.

Surprised not to have been asked to leave, we exited after our timed tour and met up with another friend of Sister’s who lives nearby. We found a nifty little restaurant and had a drink. The weather was turning now. I’ve been here long enough to know a tornado sky from a snow sky and this was definitely the latter but it was struggling to burst onto the scene. “Still a few days off,” I said to Sister as we sipped our cocktails. “Great,” she said. “There’s a western wear store right next door. She slipped inside and emerged a few minuets later with that hat she had wanted. Placing it over her wimple, she glanced around the skyline of Dallas. “Which one is the Ewing Oil Building?” she asked. “JR needs a picture.”

I could tell you about the rest of this day but other than dinner at one of our favorite barbecue spots, it ended exactly as you should have known it would.

Yankee candles around the fire.

That snow was coming but we still had a few more days of calm before the flakes would fall. Oh, and my nephew was still in town. He and the college girls had gone to a local bar. When they returned home they recounted how they had been offered coke by another bar patron, and not the fizzy kind. They didn’t accept (thank God). He looked at me slightly puzzled when I asked what set of circumstances would have prompted this. “You know, it’s like you’re in a bar and someone offers you coke, right?” Again, I’ve seen a helluva lot but that’s one I’m filing under a big, fat NO.

Where was my wife this whole time? I know you’re asking… She was working. See, friends, as a homeschool dad and all around man of many interests, not to mention a great conversationalist because I’ve seen just about everything and I have a knack for making everyone around me feel comfortable, I am the designated tour-guide in the family. That’s right. The Jersey Boy can tell you all about Texas because it’s now what I do. And in our next installment I will tell you all about when Jersey’s sister, that is, my actual sister, arrives. Oh yes, this party is just getting started.