The story of one of the greatest car races ever held in Smithwick.
His name was Curtis “Brown” Parker. Brown Parker was how he was known. He was the person my Dad looked up to more, maybe than anyone else. Brown was several years older that Cecil Lewis. I believe that Brown help him become a man in more ways than one in his early days in Smithwick, Texas.
In the 1940s Brown and Eula left Smithwick and moved to California, the same as a lot of people did during that period of time. They operated laundries in and around Carpentaria, Ca.
That business, though hard work, allowed the Parkers to have some of the finer things life had to offer.
Brown had a passion for Las Vegas, Jack Daniel’s whiskey & fancy white shirts. He always drove a Ninety-Eight Oldsmobile. He was class all the way.
He had another passion as well. He and Cec loved to telephone fish. If you don’t know what telephoning fish is, I’ll just say for them it was a means to get the biggest and most fish out of Lake Travis. The practice was frowned on by the Game Wardens because it gave the fishermen an unfair advantage. It took the sport out of it. That wasn’t the way Cecil and Brown saw it. Getting a boat load of fish and making it back home was the real sport.
In the mid 60s, it was time for Brown and Eula, to return to their roots in Texas. Cec would have it no other way than he gave them a few acres to build on down close to the lake. This was in great appreciation for all that Brown had done for him over the years. It also meant that they would be able to go fishing often, and that they did.
Brown became involved in the ranching business, leasing several places around the area. He jumped in with both feet. Brown never did anything in a small way.
Back in California, Brown had co-signed a note on a car, a nice 65 Chevrolet Impala, for a lady, an employee. That deal went sour, and Brown was stuck with the car so he brought it to Texas. That became his ranch car. Everyone thought that was sure a nice vehicle to be hauling feed and bouncing through the pastures in. But that was the way Brown Parker did things.
When Brown drank a little too much Jack Daniels, his thinking could get away from him, One day, with several of the men standing out in front of our house, he was bragging about how fast that 327 cubic inch Chevy was. I was about 14 or 15 years old and had a 1963 Ford Galaxy with a 390 cu. in. engine. When his talk got a little out of hand, I let him know that I could run circles around his Chevrolet. One thing lead to another and Cec finally told Brown to shut-up or put-up. Cec would guarantee my side of a $500 bet. I think he felt like it was a safe bet.
The contest begin out at the Smithwick Community Center, a nice stretch of straight road to start out on. From there it was about 10 miles of very crooked and narrow road to Marble Falls. With everything settled Brown and I headed over the road to the starting point. Cec and several of the locals posted up at our place, a mile or so into the race. I was at least a quarter of a mile ahead of Brown by the time we passed our place. From that point on, I never saw the Impala again. I waited at the edge of town for awhile, but Brown never did appeared. After a bit I headed back home, carefully watching to see where the old fool might have missed a corner, but never saw a thing. Cec and others were waiting when I arrived. Brown wasn’t there.
We all loaded up and went to Brown & Eulla’s house. There was the Impala, parked safe and sound. Brown had taken a cutoff shortly past our house, and went straight home we guessed. We finally got him to come outside and after a few minutes of denials Brown pulled five crisp $100 bills out and handed to me.
The payoff on my car was $494. The next morning I went to the Home State Bank, paid the note in full and walked out with the title in my hand. A great feeling that was.
I don’t think I ever remember Brown bragging about how fast that Chevy was after that.
Realizing what a fine guy Brown was, he probably would have let me won regardless. But maybe not.