Cecil was my Dad. My brother and I called him Cec. No one else did. It was our name for him. He was from the old school as they say. He had a very rough exterior. Come to think of it he had a rough interior too. He was in the construction and trucking businesses. He worked hard his whole life. I always thought he was the toughest man I knew. He never backed away from anything or anybody.
Once when I was about 13 or 14, my friend Billy Gene Henry and I accompanied Cec on a trip to collect a debt for some dozer work he had performed. He had arranged to meet the man that sold the piece of property, where the work was done and the new owner that had just bought it. Also present was the real estate agent that had closed the deal. That was good because he is the one that had contacted Cec about doing the work.
The meeting took place at the Copperhead Inn in Jonestown, Tx. This was not exactly the place you would take the family for a nice afternoon, if you know what I mean. A bottle of Jack Daniel’s was sitting in the center of table when we walked in. The rest of the party was already there. As the meeting got underway, each man would pour some whiskey in a shot glass and pass it to the next.
The real estate man and the other two began to argue about who was really responsible for paying the money. It really seemed that no one was owning up to who owed the money. Cec was content with listing to the back and forth, as long as the whiskey held out.
While this was taking place on the inside, Billy Gene and I were lingering around on the outside in the front of the place. From where the men sat, they could see us out through a large plate glass window. Our lingering turned into leaning against a car parked directly in front of the window. Suddenly a guy in his early twenties burst out of the door of the tavern. He yelled, “Keep your little asses off of my new car” as he approached us. He continued on with “In fact don’t even be looking at my car”.
Fort Hood was an hour’s drive, so the soldiers from there frequented the Jonestown and Lake Travis area on their time off. From his haircut and the way he dressed he was one of them. There were four or five of guys sitting at a table across the room from my Dad and his party.
Shortly afterwards we walked back inside and Cec asked us what had happened outside. We told him exactly what the soldier had said. Ever so calmly he arose from the table, walked to the door and made his way to the front of the soldier’s car. The sidewalk was high along the front of the parking area, coming up well above the bumper of the cars parked next to it. He lifted his foot and stepped on the hood of the soldier’s car, walked across the top and when he reached the trunk he did an about face and returned to the front, stepped back to the sidewalk. He just as calmly as he had walked out, he walked back in. All of this in full view of both tables. He slowly strolled over to the soldiers table and said “Don’t you ever again say a damn word to my son you weaselly little bastard”. Completely stunned at what had just happened, the whole table set in silence.
He returned to his meeting at the table and took his seat. Nothing was said for a few minutes. The soldiers got up and left. The real estate agent whipped out his checkbook and wrote the check. Handing it to him he said “Cecil, I know you did the work and you should be paid. I’ll collect from one of these bastards myself.”
With that done we got in the pickup and headed back to Smithwick.