Cruising The UT Drag

The spring of 1971 found me and Jimmy Frasier (Feline to his friends; not because he was a cat) in Austin one Friday afternoon. Probably for no other reason than hoping to find some excitement.

I had a new Chevrolet pickup and we decided a drive down to the Drag was in order. We got as far a 34th street on Guadalupe, heading south when we encountered a red light. A couple of pretty young UT types were in the right lane, with us in the left.

Paying more attention to the girls than to driving, when the light changed as they eased off so did we. The only obstacle was the old woman in a Chrysler New Yorker that was in my lane, stopped, waiting to turn left on 34th.

This beers we had sitting up on the dash (why were they sitting up there ?) dumped right back on both of us. We had a full case of beer sitting in the seat between us.

Things weren’t looking too good for the Marble Falls boys about then. The old woman, very well dressed, got out, carrying her little poodle dog seemed more concerned about the pooch than anything else.

She said she needed to go get her husband (they owned a business just a couple of block north of there). So Jimmy and I were in charge of the scene. She ran down the sidewalk to get her husband. I can still see her running with those rather large hips swaying, tight knee length skirt with high heels on, carrying the dog.

I looked at Jimmy. I could tell we were of one mind. Everyone had gone on with there afternoon, it appeared, so we both headed for our respective seats in the pickup, waited for an all clear from the traffic and made a quick right turn across and down 35th.

I never realized how many back streets and roads there were getting the heck out of Austin. Somehow we weaved and dodged our way and came out on RM 1431 at Lime Creek Rd. We hadn’t had the good sense to ditch the case of beer, not wanting to waste it I guess.

We made our way to Lago Vista. We both had worked up a real appetite by that time, so I pulled in. There was a nice steak at a restaurant that was next to the old country store. In typical Jimmy Frasier fashion he caused a bit too much confusion and they tossed us out of that place and threatened to call the law. Not wanting to take a chance of an encounter with the cops I got him loaded and we were soon back on our home turf.

Two or three weeks later I was passing the Circle Inn out on my way home from San Antonio in the late afternoon on a Friday and pulled in to see who all was out and about.

There was my buddy Frasier. We sit and told the whole bunch that was gathered around the table about our close call in Austin a few weeks earlier. Everyone seemed to get a leg slapping laugh out of our antics.

Afterwards I made my way on to Smithwick. When I came in my mother handed me a letter that had arrived a couple of days earlier. It was official looking, from the Austin Police Department.

It was a notice for me to come to the police department, no later than a date, the next Wednesday I believe and to have with me my drivers license, the insurance policy and the plates off of the 1971 Chevrolet Pickup. Nervously I didn’t wait until Wednesday. On Monday I called and spoke to the Sargent that I was told to contact. I arraigned a time for later that day and went in for a visit.

He was really nice. He wanted to know why I had fled the scene that Friday afternoon. My best explanation was I thought it was such a light tap and didn’t think it did any damage and I thought the old woman was just being hysterical. When she ran away, I thought maybe I needed to leave in case her husband was as crazy as she was.

He seemed to understand my point but just asked me to in the future to stay around until an officer arrives. I told him I certainly would if it ever happened again.

He went on to say that when his officer got there and I had left, he was called. He said he actually hadn’t personally seen enough damage to warrant all the fuss. He took my insurance information and I was on my way.

When leaving there I knew he had picked the right line of work. I don’t think he had the critical eye to have ever been an auto-body man. I remember the back quarter panels on that new New Yorker having a considerable amount of wrinkles.

A sure disaster avoided.

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