When we moved to Kerrville five years ago—or, rather, when I was moved here by my Texan wife who in 1997 when we’d been married less than a year and living in New York City and I came home to find her crying over Texas Monthly’s annual chili-cookoff edition which, as you know, is like a siren call to anyone from the Lone Star State and will inexorably draw a woman back regardless of her moving to the city for her career as an architect or following her husband to frozen New England — she swore she’d never move farther north, but… — and back again to New York for his career (“Matzah in New York, Lord, and oyster crackers in New England?! Give me chili or give me death!”) and even with three sons who will eventually need expensive cars and not just weekly subway fare — friends gave us a truck.
Not just any truck.
A white-and-rust 1988 Ford F-150 ranch truck donated to us by friends in Frisco. It had less than 80,000 miles on it.
We had met the couple at the church in NYC where my wife, Karen, and I met. The man was one of two pastors, the other also being from Texas. In fact, there were lots of Texans there. In further fact, if you were from Texas and living in New York at that time, chances are you’d have at least visited Trinity Baptist Church on East 61st Street.
I did not grow up with cars. The first flat tire I changed was two summers ago on our Mini Cooper after watching a couple of YouTube videos. If it weren’t for the internet, I’d be walking the 10-mile round trip to PAX for coffee. (Walking because, my sons said, people here do not ride bicycles. “It’s embarrassing, Dad.” So aside from taking really short flights from Mooney Airfield, a motor vehicle was the only option.)
And now I’ve become quite enamored of this truck. Here are three of the many reasons.
First, it’s a pick-up truck. Which also means it’s a drop-off truck. This, as you all know — and by “all” I mean the 50% of readers who own trucks and the 90+% of that 50% who squeeze theirs into a H-E-B parking spot sticking so far out that I can’t quite get my rinky dink ’88 Ford past you; have mercy — this means that everyone comes calling for a favor.
“I need help getting this mattress over to ”so-and-so’s.”
“I need to take this old washing machine to the landfill.”
“I have a hundred pounds of mulch to haul, and my truck is a 2019 and yours is, well, old…”
Fortunately, this has not been a problem. We live closer to Mooney than to town. If you’re willing to come all this way to borrow the truck and haul your mulch, you might as well go speak to a pilot. He can drop it strategically over your garden with minimum collateral damage to your gas grill.
But the truck bed does make it possible for Karen to schlep around her art supplies and larger canvases. By the way, I sometimes use Yiddish, like schlep. (See companion article on schmear.) Not only do almost all New Yorkers of a certain age, Jewish or not, employ these colorful and almost onomatopoeic words, but they are culturally relevant for those living here, given a recent talk on Kerrville’s first resident, Joshua Brown (“Braun”), who was Jewish.
Second, there are no blind spots. While the steering wheel has too much “play”—it’s more like a boat’s tiller—and while you need to keep it under 55, go slow on the curves and easy on the brakes, it’s otherwise super safe: you signal, give a cursory glance over your shoulder, and the view through the windows—flat glass, not curved; unobstructed by any modern comfort and raised—give you a solid sense of traffic.
Finally: the quarter glass. Also called the valence window. When I have the driver’s side valence opened even a bit and crank the window down all the way, I can rest my bicep on the door and hold onto the vertical trim. I look good doing that. Real good.
I tell you. I’m wearing one of the dozens of snap shirts I’ve purchased here over the past 27 years — my urban-esque Uniqlo jeans well below dashboard level — and no one would guess I’m not from Texas.
Except, maybe, Lyle Lovett.