Within Your Crowd
She was Madison Townsend and I'm Billy Ray Lamar.
She lived in the best part of town. I lived ... to hell and gone way west of town—so far out that even bothering to give it an RFD address was optimistic. The town was Austin but to be honest she didn't actually live there. Madison lived in a mansion on Lake Travis out a way west of Austin. Her dad, Bradford, had a number of patents for computer processor chips and the chips put him in the chips ... so to speak.
Now let's be clear about this: Bradford was in no way some cultured descendant of antebellum Georgia whose ancestors lived in some white mansions surrounded by moss draped Live oak trees. And maybe those non-existent, cultured southern gentlemen had non-paid workers (think slaves) to keep the cotton coming so the south could have fancy carriages and debutante balls.
Well, to be honest (I could be nothing less!) he did come from a cotton background. However, his antecedents as far back as anyone could tell were sharecroppers making a hand-to-mouth existence in the Pine Barrens of East Texas. Now ole Bradford's dad did one smart thing—he just hated fightin' off those damn boll weevils to get a cotton crop in that could new shoes for the winter. Therefore, when Uncle Sam said he needed some help for a little Police Action in Korea, he joined right up. Somehow he kept his ass from being shot off during the retreat from "Frozen Chosin" and got out to an updated GI Bill that gave him twenty-six dollars of unemployment payment for twenty-six weeks.
That plus a nice hundred and ten bucks a month for college did him right fine to get a degree at the college nearby in Beaumont that led to a scholarship at University of Texas in Austin where he eventually wound up as a professor in their Electrical Engineering department. As the electronic industry eventually got started Bradford very kindly (for small sums and founder's stock options) helped fledgling companies get started. Now I really do have to Mr. Townsend dad his due, he is one smart SOB. He helped design a processor chip called the 4004 for Texas Instruments which Intel very reluctantly picked up and turned it into the 8008 which led to the x86 processor series and made a whole bunch of people filthy rich. One of those nouveau rich was a sassy kid named Bill Gates, who eventually redefined the term rich.
Bradford's dad invested well, and when he up and left to meet his maker, good ole Bradford inherited a bundle of money he had done absolutely nothing to earn. And that lead him to feel certain that he was one important SOB. It didn't hurt his ego to have married an oil heiress from Dallas with her inherited millions.
Well, you get the idea. When a sharecropper (or his get) becomes rich you would swear that in an alternate universe, he would have been knighted by the queen. Since that didn't happen, he just acts like it and expects his daughter to marry a Prince. The Prince in this case was Thomas Martin Kendall whose lucky father was an early sales manager for Ross Perot's EDS. He was never Tom, or Tommy or even Thomas but always Thomas Martin. Thomas Martin lived in Dallas in his family's mansion. I always thought he was a pretentious jerk (I'm being kind) but then that's just me.
Anyway Madison (always Madison except for me—somehow I got away with Maddie) lived on Lake Travis. My folks lived out a few miles from LBJ's place; fact is my granddad knew him well. We had a good sized ranch on the Perdernales River northeast of Johnson City. Where we were located was on the south side of the river inside a funny loop which looks from the air just like Snoopy in profile, facing left.
We have about 2200 acres and mostly breed Quarter horses and registered Black Angus bulls. Lately, dad has taken about half the northern side of the property and set up a hunting business. I love to hunt but I hate to be around when other people are hunting ... they don't always know what they are doing. Therefore, we worked it for me to take over the ranching part and dad the hunting. I did okay and dad was making tons of money.
So we weren't poor and somewhere back in history lurked Mirabeau Lamar, the third president of the Republic of Texas. He was noted for wanting to keep Texas as an independent country. His vision was to expel all the Native American tribes and expand Texas to the Pacific Ocean. If he had gotten his way maybe I would be a high-muck-a-muck like Bradford Townsend pretended to be.
My problem wasn't that we were poor (we were actually doing quite well, thank you), but that I had no pretensions whatever. It's just that my idea of a good time was a few (well, more than a few) beers with my buddies at the nearest tavern or honky-tonk place. I wore jeans and flannel or tee shirts depending on the season and always wore Justin boots, usually either Justin's work boot or their rancher with an extra pair of their black Westerns for when I wanted to kick my heels up.
I did go to school at the prestigious Texas A&M in College Station ... oh, wait, that was West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas a few miles south of Amarillo. I majored in their Equine Industry Program, since I liked working with horses more than bulls. It was actually a great major and supplemented nicely the years of hands-on work I had while growing up. After college, I bummed around on the professional rodeo circuit for a couple of years but finally grew out of it.