High points from El Camino Real

December 19, 2018

Folks along El Camino Real continue to make preparations for Christmas as the day rapidly approaches. Every package is wrapped with care and bows carefully placed on each one. In a few days the paper from these beautiful presents will be ripped to shreds and scattered all over the floor as eager children battle to see what is inside. I don’t know if people are fighting that hard to get at their six bits worth of news, but sometimes I like to think that they are.
Our dear friend Bill Warner passed away on Monday evening after a fairly short bout with cancer. It leaves me thinking of all the great memories I have of him. Ever since Mr. Warner moved to Alto and purchased Boyd’s Pharmacy in 1964 he has been helping our community. He did his best to keep us well and provide us with our medicine until he closed the drugstore in 1998 or 1999, I don’t remember which. When Bill closed the drugstore it was almost like we lost him then because Bill and the Drugstore were such an important part of our town. He wasn’t a doctor, but many of us sought out his opinion over that of many doctors. He has helped many a family that had a sick child in the middle of the night and helped us through all kinds of illnesses and family emergencies.
He was a big part of the Downtown Sunday School Class of which he has been a member for many years. The Warners have always been very civic minded and when Bill closed the drugstore the building was donated to our town to be used to house our library. Mr. Warner was as good a historian as I ever met and even though he didn’t get to Alto until 1964, he knew as much about Alto history as anybody. His daughters Martha and Mary have been here by his side as well as their husbands and all of the grandchildren. Their son Carl passed away several years ago. You can’t sum up a person’s life in a few lines in a newspaper, but maybe I can at least get you thinking about what that life means to you. There are lots of people praying for Marjorie and the rest of the family during this difficult time, and I hope you will continue to lift them up. Its difficult to say good bye to an old friend.
In the wink of an eye I was too big to sit in Santa’s lap anymore and then so were my children. When I was a little boy Santa would come to the back of Boyd’s Drugstore and my mother would take me and my brother down there to sit in his lap. There was nothing that could top getting to sit in the lap of the person that every kid admired more than just about anyone else. The person who could make all your toy dreams come true.
I guess the last time I sat in Santa’s lap was there at the drugstore. When we had our boys we had to go to the mall in Tyler for our boys to sit in Santa’s lap. We went through buck tooth Santas, Santas that reeked of cigarettes, and Santas in suits that looked moth eaten and disheveled, and then in a flash they were too cool for that. They still wanted all the stuff but they didn’t want to stand in line and leave their wishes to the memory of a gray haired old man dressed in red. I saw them jot out a few hand written letters and then the lists went in the form of emails and texts. After that the lists came complete with pictures, prices, and specifications from Amazon. I can remember a Christmas back in 1998 that I wrote about in my column that was a little hard on my ego. (1998) “I was invited to take part in a darling little Christmas Party for children this week. My sister, Teresa Cox had a party and invited about ten little 1 to 3 year old children to come dressed in their pajamas for refreshments and a visit from Santa. Santa (yours truly) arrived ringing little jingle bells, prepared to give the children candy, ask if they had been good boys and girls, and read them, The Night Before Christmas. It was a sweet idea, but when Santa hit the door you would have thought every hideous monster imaginable had been unleashed in that living room.
Kids were screaming and diving into their mother’s arms. Every time Santa would call a child by its name, the child would let out a louder scream, feeling it was being singled out by the bearded red monster. The story was never read and all hopes I had of spreading Christmas cheer were quickly dashed as I looked down on the red, blotchy, and tear stained faces of the terrorized tots. I’m glad I didn’t carry Virgil dressed as an elf like I had planned, the poor kids might have been traumatized for life. HO! HO! HO!” On that occasion Cole Hollis nearly lost his mind and my niece Caroline screamed until she turned purple They have both recovered and grown into adults. Our son Creager was one year old and he couldn’t figure out why anyone was scared of the fat man in red that was holding him.
Last week I found out that my 9 month old grandson Sawyer was going to sit in Santa’s lap for the first time at the Fresh Grocery Store in Tyler. I wasn’t going to miss a chance to interact with Santa and my grandson, so I tore out to Tyler. Jay Anna couldn’t go because of a school event, so I went by myself.
I got to the store before Sawyer arrived with Garrett and Jessica, and saw a long line beginning to form around the store. I quickly paid the lady for the picture, grabbed my ticket and got in line. As I move forward closer to Santa, a weird feeling came over me as I stood there alone in the line with no child, like some pervert. Sawyer finally arrived and a smile came across his face as he recognized his Papa’s face and voice in the crowd. No Santa could ever draw such a smile.
When they sat him down in Santa’s lap I had lost all reason and was doing anything possible to get him to smile. And smile he did. As I looked around at the screaming kids slinging snot across their tear stained faces, I was content in knowing that I had just helped orchestrate the best first Santa picture ever. Making the extra effort to keep the wonder of Santa alive in my children is a memory I’ll always cherish.
There is so much to get done in the next few days that there is no way you have time to be sitting around reading the paper, so I’m going to wind this issue to a close and let you get to it. I’m going to take a breather until after the holidays, so that means I’ll see ya next year!
And remember, God finds us in the holes we dig for ourselves. We see failures; He sees foundations.