Saying Goodbye To Butch Crownover

When I think back to our time growing up in the 1960s in Marble Falls, the friendship between Butch and Kenny always comes to mind. They spent a lot of time together, therefore I spent a lot of time with them. The first story is one time I’m glad I wasn’t along.

A Trip To Look At A College

In spring of their senior year of high school, Butch and Kenny got in Kenny’s 63 Pontiac Tempsest with a 4 cylinder and a 3 speed factory floor shifter and headed out to check out Sul Ross.

Oh by the way, the hood had flown up and crumpled it up badly, so he had pulled it off and was driving around without a hood.

They had made it out of Fort Stockton a good many miles when the engine went to knocking and died, so they decided forgo even looking at the school and caught a ride with an old fellow back to Fort Stockton. He was a well driller and advised them to let him pull the car way off the highway with a chain, where it couldn’t be seen.

When they went back to get the car at a later time, the car was there but Kenny football letter jacket wasn’t. So somebody came along and was able to find it.

The cab was piled high with all kinds of junk, so it was easier to find a place for them both in the back of the pickup. Which for them was fine, except this old fellow knew everyone in the area and enjoyed stopping and talking, to which he did several times before they got back to Fort Stockton.

They caught a bus into San Antonio. Once they got there, they got a taxicab to haul them to the outskirts of town. They got out and both walked around to the drivers window. They had $13 between them. The taxi driver grabbed the money and spun out getting out there. They were now penniless.

They got a ride with a drugged up guy in a yellow Barracuda. They hadn’t anymore than got in the car when the guy pulled a revolver out and stuck it to Butch’s head, who was in the passenger seat. I guess he just wanted those two young men to understand who was in charge. A minute or so later he said he thought they looked trustworthy and he put the gun down and headed up US 281 toward Marble Falls.

Kenny was in the back, an area with a platform rather than a seat. No far up the road the guy started nodding off. Kenny convinced him to pull off and they all traded positions with Kenny driving.

The guy was still asleep in the passenger seat when Kenny and Butch got out at the Yacht Restaurant. They called home and waited for our dad to come to town and get them. When they drove away the Barracuda with its occupant was still setting there.

The Encounter With The Bexar County Deputy.

This incident happened in 1970, shortly before I graduated from High School. I had a “68” Red SS Camaro – 396 with a 4 speed transmission.

Kenny was home on leave from the Army. Our friend Butch was also coming on leave also. He was arriving at the San Antonio Airport. He and Kenny were the same age and had been classmates, but I counted him as a friend as well. I always hung out with Kenny and his friends.

Kenny and I were able to get a lot of catching up done on the trip down and thought we would all three get a lot more done on the return trip.

Butch landed and we gathered all of his belongings. He was sprawled out in the cramped backseat, with me driving and Kenny riding shotgun.

We came out of San Antonio headed north bound up US 281. A short distance out of town around Bulverde, I remember meeting a cop car, but we were going well under the speed limit, so I knew we were all good. But just a few seconds later the cop car was flying up behind us with lights flashing. I was positive we had done nothing wrong so when he got right on my bumper I continued driving, knowing there was a roadside park a very short distance up ahead.

When we got there, we pulled off and he pulled in behind us. The first thing I heard was him racking a shell in the chamber of his shotgun.

“Keep your hands where I can see them and all of you step out.”

I knew we hadn’t done anything. Maybe driving the extra few hundred yard had ticked him off but him holding a shotgun on us seemed a little much.

He had us get around in front of my car. “Get your drivers license out and lay them on the hood” was his instructions. He wasn’t in command like you think he would be. He seemed nervous, to the point of shaking. He was trying to hold the shotgun with one hand and his revolver with the other. It was a Barney Fife moment.

We each took our license out, one at a time and place them on the hood. Kenny was the last to get his out. He flung it towards the hood rather than laying it there. It sailed and hit the ground. I could tell the Deputy was not amused. I asked him to please calm down and don’t shoot us. I then asked for permission to pickup the license. He let me.

We told him why we were where we were. Kenny and Butch could each show him their Military ID’s. That started to turn the tide.

Three boys had escaped from a Juvenile Detention Facility at Gatesville and were believed to be headed to San Antonio to kill with one them intending to kill his parents.

With definite evidence we weren’t them, he went back to his patrol car and we followed.

He showed us the handwritten note he had made of the make, model, color and license plate number of the car they had stolen. While it wasn’t an exact match it was eerily similar. I was easy to see why he has mistaken us for the other boys.

That has been over 50 years ago. For some strange reason I still remember his name was Deputy Bill White. After talking awhile and him realizing we were from Marble Falls he told us his folks lived at Kingsland. He often stopped at the Texaco Station where I had worked previously.

He let us go and we continued on up the highway. I don’t remember what we talked about but I think the rest of the trip took on a different tone than we had originally expected.

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