We pass them everyday along the paths of our lives. Faces we try to pinpoint where we know them from or have seen them before. Shadows in our memories of someone they remind us of. Individuals we don’t even notice. And sometimes, if we’re lucky enough, they speak to us. Here are some of the people whose character and charm have introduced themselves into my existence, in some shape or form. Those that have made me who I am just by knowing who they are. I often pray that God will open my eyes that I may see those whom he has placed before me. Here you will find a few of them. Strange, odd, unique, genuine and sometimes, well, they are “us.”
Larry’s Better Burger
I asked, “Are you the owner?” With a quick look over his shoulder he smiled and said, “I am when my wife’s not around.” This is it, one in a million. Among all the chain fast food restaurants, hip pop up joints and those tucked away in trendy corners, here it was, is, Larry’s Better Burger in Abilene, Tx. This is Somewheretexas. Your original mom and pop hamburger joint, family owned and operated. Each burger, fry, soft drink…Wildcat Special, served with pride. Just as it was served from day one. I sat in the car watching car after car drive up. People walking up to the window, making their order then returning to their cars, trucks and SUVs and cracking their windows slightly not to miss their food order number being called over the speakers. “Ninety, order number ninety” I heard scratching through the rumble of traffic behind me. Ninety, that was me!
A while back on a trip to Abilene, I passed this place. It had some buzz to it and caught my attention. I dig places like this. Old and nostalgic with promise of that burger I had as a kid. Plans to stop on another trip maybe was the plan. That day came, but Larry’s was closed for the weekend. I stopped, snapped a few pictures to post. The pictures were posted on Instagram and Facebook, and that’s where the real magic began. You see, I love to write and share. I love the people I come across and to write about them and who they are. I love to write and share the experiences of food meeting mind. I love to try and recreate through images of the who’s and what’s if only to tickle someone’s curiosity to go experience them for themselves. But this time, it was different. Before I got to go back, before I ordered my Larry’s hamburger, fries and Pepsi, before I bit into the wonderfully, butter crusted textured bun of this crazy good mustard burger, all the way, before I reached for the hand cut fry, they were hand cut? right?, or sipped on my cold, iced soda, the story unfolded and this real magic began.
On August 14, 2018, I posted on my Facebook page the picture of Larry’s as I had found it closed for the weekend. The next day my email notifications was going haywire in reference to the post. I decided to take a look and see what was going on. To my wonder and over 72,000 views, 968 likes, 699 shares and 260 comments (and counting), later, I was introduced to Larry’s Better Burger and a community of love. THIS, was and is what Somewheretexas.com is all about. The perfect example. It’s about people, places, food, it’s about a community. There on that post, I watched it unravel before my eyes, comment after comment. I could write about who Larry is. Who his family is. I could write about the history. But I could never do the job that all those comments were. Memory after memory after memory. This my friends, is what life is all about. This, I can’t make up. As Paul Harvey would say, “And this, is the rest of the story…” I would like to encourage you to read through the comments of the Facebook post to get the story. In these times and days we’re are going through, these are the type of things we need to experience. CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK LINK! Enjoy!
And, if you don’t get a chance to check out the post, go visit Larry’s. Order a burger basket and have a taste of nostalgia. It’s all good.
Mr. Jim Binnicker
They say character goes a long ways, on this one weekend ride through the Texas hill country, I found character. Meet Jim Binnicker, bartender, maintenance, janitor, musician…friend. With all the people I met that trip, Jim Binnicker stood out from the start. He shook your hand and he meant it. You know what I mean, sometimes the hand shake is part of a motion, part of the meet and greet. Then there’s the look you in the eye shake, firm, friendly and true. This was Jim. Without any reserve for three strangers riding into town hanging out in the empty street looking for a place to get an ice cold beer, Jim smiled and welcomed us like we knew him for years. Asking him about the bar and if it was open, he casually walked away from us towards the door and said “it will be once I unlock the door.” People, did y’all get that, that was some deep stuff, “unlock the door.” I didn’t even see that till I just read it! Ha! Yeah, I’m a bit of a dork. Okay, anyways, Jim, he opens the door, welcomes us in, turns on the lights, grabs the remote off the bar and turns on the flat screen hanging in the next room. Hondo, John Wayne was playing, for those of you wondering. We order, he places our bottles before us and the moment begins. Come to find out, Jim, like most of the people we would soon meet was not officially from there, he just happened upon there and stayed. I asked him what brought him there in the first place, without hesitation he replied, “an old man in a pickup with a flat bed.” He laughed. That was 35 to 40 years ago as far as he can remember. Stories of traveling to California on a 350 cc Yamaha and it being one of the “dumbest” things he’d ever done. Ask him about the secret to his many years of marriage, he’ll tell you it’s the separation. Everyone that walked in came up to the bar and before they reached it he already had their drink on the bar and greeted each as they were still in conversation from the last time they’d seen each other. He seemed to set the stage, act I.
Not sure if it was because just everyone in the town was that genuine or if Jim’s interaction with us was a form of approval. Either way, each one that walked in, lifted their awaiting beverage off the bar, turned around and walked up to the three of us wherever we were placed at the bar, shook our hands and introduced themselves. It was that kind of a moment. Jim was a musician, not just with his guitar, but with people, with life. He seemed happy where he was and knew what he was. His conversation with me was more than the short stories and jokes, it was the way he interacted with people. It was the look in his eyes that told of long roads. The tired hands of hard work. A casual cigarette burning between his fingers as he gave breath to where we were and who he was. Maybe it was a minute, an hour or two, but he made me feel like I was laughing with an old friend, well, I guess I was, someone’s.
- While i was at his house, this baby bird fell out of its nest and was trying to wade through a large puddle of water. As his cat watched from the edge, Mr. Harold gently walked throughout the puddles and caught up to the bird to perch him on higher safer ground.
- Bird houses along his work shed.
- When I asked him how he ended up “here,” it was because of his wife, Judy’s family. His wife passed away years back after 32 year of marriage. He had come here to help fix the house for her sister after the death of her husband. He later came back to buy the house and here he is.
- A refreshing conversation with a good man. His favorite meal consists of fried potatoes, beans (pintos) and cornbread. “You can throw in a ribeye once in a while. You always need protein.” Prefers unsweetened iced tea as well as a pot of coffee in the morning.