The Undertaker Comes for David Smith

“I’m Malcolm Passmore with the Cook Funeral Home, and I’ve come for David Smith,’ he said in cascading funereal tones.

Adrenalin kicked in.  I raised myself and said, “Look, mister, I’m pretty sick, but don’t you touch me.  And if you think I’m gonna be one of your customers, you’re plumb crazy.”

 

Locomotives, Bells, and Collections

Back in the ‘60s when we lived in Dayton, Texas, Charis and I found ourselves saddled with a 75-ton diesel locomotive switch engine that I bought from Jefferson Lake Sulfur Company when they closed down their Starks, Louisiana works…There is but one step in the collecting game from collecting one or two locomotives to collecting bells, since every operating locomotive must have a bell.  Let me tell you what great fun I’ve had with locomotive bells, especially collecting large bells.

 

Chemophobia Paranoia

For one straight week (January 16-20, 2005), I read the worst yellow journalism of mean articles against Texas’ leading employers, our petrochemical industry, in a five-installment diatribe with one-inch headlines on successive front pages of the Houston Chronicle, all of which passed my tolerance threshold and have angered me ever since.

If you’re into horses, you know that when a burr gets under your horse’s saddle, ultimately the horse bucks.  Well, I’m bucking.

The kind of burr I’m talking about is the ill-founded fear and hatred of chemicals by a few season Texans and many others.

A Blind Hog Finds an Acorn

David Smith, Trader in Petrochemical Materials

Calling on Texas and Louisiana chemical plants during my first years, I recall a funny comment the Firestone Plant Manager near Orange made when I clumsily described what I was trying to do . . .
“Smith, do you know the difference between an aromatic and olefin?”
There was a brief pause.  “No sir, I guess not,” I replied.
There was another pause; for me, an embarrassing silence.  Puzzled, he scratched his head and said, “well Smith, I suppose even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while.”

 

Live Oak Ranch, Bergheim, Texas

After moving from El Paso to San Antonio in the fifties, Dad Smith surprised his family by doing something at variance with two of his banker aphorisms: (1) It’s easier to borrow than to pay back, and (2) Don’t own anything that eats.

He bought a medium-size ranch north of San Antonio . . .