Cecil and TSO (Texas State Optical)

I thought I had told this story of a very amusing day in my life, but I sure can’t find it anywhere. Since it’s a true story I should be able to tell it again and it come out the same way. That’s the way true stories work.

Back in about 1975 I had a project over in the west central part of Austin. It was a Friday afternoon and my mother and dad rolled up. She was driving. It must have been a pre-planned trip for them to come to Austin, since they knew where to find me.

They had a couple of reasons to come down, one being a 1 year grandson named Matthew and the other was the need for Cec to pick up a new pair of glasses from TSO down on Congress Avenue. He had been told they would be ready that day.

Bonnie Gay was ready to get out to see that Grandbaby almost as much as she was ready to get away from Cecil Lewis, who had drank a way more hard liquor than anyone should.

It was easy to tell when Cec drank too much hard liquor, because he would be much too loud and had a tendency to laugh a way too much. This afternoon was already one of those laughing days when they pulled up on my job site.

I told Mother to go on to the house and see Madeline and Matthew. I would take him to get his glasses and then we’d be on home before long.

Once I got my duties taken care, we left and headed to downtown Austin. I think TSO was at 7th and Congress, but it could have been at 8th Street.

Congress had straight-in parking back then. I pulled up directly in front of the front door, which was a wall full of plate glass. Cec got out and stumbled inside. I watched as he went to the counter. A few minutes later after much bantering back and forth with two or three employees, he walked back outside.

He hadn’t tried on his new glasses and got them adjusted so I knew his business wasn’t finished with them.

He told me they had lost the order. I encouraged him to get in so we could go. He wasn’t having anything to do with leaving until they got a manager out to speak to him and give him some kind of satisfaction. That’s when he went back instead.

A new person had now entered the fray, I supposed it was the manager. The arguing by a very animated Cecil Lewis seemed to be getting out of hand. In a few minutes a couple of Austin Policeman came rushing down the sidewalk and went inside.

I had the engine running and slipped that GMC Pickup in reverse. The last I saw they had a drunk collared and was coming toward the front door.

The gals were surprised when I was the only one that came on home. I explained the situation to them, of which they both completely understood. We ate dinner and sat around contemplating our next move. Finally we figured it best if I drove Bonnie Gay to Smithwick. She was a bit to rattled to make the trip alone. Madeline and the baby followed along a little latter.

We thought we would hear from the old man the next day when he was able to bond out of jail.

Low and behold, when we got to Smithwick the intoxicated old fool was sitting in the kitchen drinking a beer.

Here is the amazing story of how he got home that night, a good hour and a half away. The APD Officers didn’t arrest him. Instead they got him away from the situation and turned him loose. He waited for a city bus that took him way up to around North Loop and Burnet Rd or N. Lamar. None of us ever figured out how he knew how to maneuver the bus in Austin, Texas. He hadn’t ridden a bus in his life.

When he got off the bus he walked over to Shelton Kennedy’s house which was just a block or so west of the Texas Department of Health Buildings. He and Shelton had been lifelong friends.

Shelton seeing how drunk he was loaded him up and drove him to Smithwick, where he knew he would be much better off.

Shelton had already left before we arrived, so much of what happened was derived from later conversations.

I didn’t drank at all in those days and didn’t have much tolerance for those that did. So I set up all night long talking to him and explaining how much his drinking had screwed up things and how it needed to stop. Every time he would try to doze off I’d lay back into him, to the point he was begging for me to leave him along.

When the sun came up the next morning I was exhausted so I went on to lay myself down. My talk didn’t cure him. I’m not sure it even worked for a few hours.

I suppose he went back sometime in the next few days to get his new glasses.

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