Flying Low

In the early part of 1978 Nelson Lewis and I came to an understanding that we would be best served to sever ties and go our seperate ways. We had formed Lewis Contractors in August of 1973. In March of 78, I was strung out between a project finishing up in Houston and another one in the later stages of completion in Crystal City, Texas.

Kenny had been out of the Army for a couple of years and had joined us. He was doing a project in Kempner, Texas.

There had been a storm brewing between Nelson and me, (all business, never personal) for sometime and Kenny and I knew there were impending changes going to come. We just didn’t know when.

This all at a time when communication was nothing like it is now. For the 2 of us to talk, which we tried to do twice a day, we had established certain times that we would call each other from pay phone to pay phone. It was important that strict times were adhered to. Like 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. For the system to work we had to be very diligent and punctual, which we were. Off course at night we would spend hours on the phone.

The routine was for me to call him. He was the one always at a certain place and I was a moving target. This one morning he answered, I said “what’s going on”? A general greeting of sorts. He was having several issues that morning and presumed that I was asking a specific – what is going on – figuring I’d already been told about his calamities of the day. “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK IS GOING ON……….”

Of course that took me up a notch or two and very soon he slammed the phone down. I was wanting and really needing to let him know that Nelson and I had made our final parting deal and what was to happen next. But I couldn’t let him know what our next move was if I was talking into a dead phone.

From Crystal City to Kempner is a distance of 250 miles. At that time I was driving a 1977 Mercury Grand Maquis with a 460 CI engine, a great cruising vehicle.

When I arrived in Kempner it was 2hrs and 38 minutes later. That included one stop for gasoline.

Kenny had ironed out his difficulties during the 2 and a half hours and was in a must better mood. But he was shocked and bewildered that I had transported myself 1/3 of the way across Texas in that short length of time.

We calmly set and discussed our strategy for the next few days and then I was off to home in Austin.

The trip had averaged around 105 mph, which included skirting around Loop 1604 in San Antonio, with a lot of stop lights, which was a feat into itself.

Luckily soon after that we were able to have mobile phones that improved communication between us, but at a cost of as much as $1,000 to $1,200 each per month. Mobile phones were really expensive in those days. But we spared no expense in keeping the two of us in touch.

77 Grand Marquis- Same exact color.

This is the actual Mercury at our office/yard on Montopolis Drive in Austin

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