I met "Mr. Cry Baby" while browsing in a pawn shop with my mother and sister.
We were on a mission...on Highway 90!
Hwy 90 in Rosenberg, TX, is rich with dollar stores and pawn shops! My sister and I were determined to help my mother find an old typewriter that would bring her the comfort of writing that she'd enjoyed all her life. It was 2006 and Mom was new to Texas, still missing her home of St. Louis and many of the "things" she had parted with in the move. We took one look at the crying baby on the funny yellow building and pulled into the lot!
Nope. No Typewriters
Once inside the shop, it was clear that we would not be finding a typewriter.
How About Tools?
We wandered the dusty wooden floor looking through bins of hardware. We amused ourselves trying to identify the rusty tools on the sagging shelves. We shivered as we searched for the perfect treasure in the unheated building which had once been a general store and then a pet shop. And then "Mr. Cry Baby" who had been amusing himself watching us, began to tease a bit.
"What you looking for, anyway?"
Mr. Cry Baby in his oxford cloth shirt and cardigan was happy to strike up a conversation. My only question for him, was about the sign out front. "That's me." He said. "An artist painted that sign using a picture of me when I was a baby." But why? I still didn't understand why the store was named Cry Baby's. "That's because there's so much stuff in here...it can make a grown man cry!"
"Tex" gets in on the conversation.
Cry Baby's partner stepped outside with us for a little more story telling. Tex told us about his beloved Stetson Cowboy hat, which clearly defined him, "...especially with the ladies and the sheriff." That hat made him dapper with the ladies and gave him clout with the sheriff. He told of a time he'd been drinking and stood outside hanging onto a pole. A sheriff came up and asked him to walk a straight line. He answered the sheriff, "Well, Sir. If I was to do that, I'd have to let go of this here pole and I think I might fall on my butt." He said the sheriff ended up driving him home, so I figured the hat had somehow saved him. But he laughed when he recalled stepping inside and seeing his reflection in the hall mirror. His Stetson had been on backwards all that time...clearly not a dignified look!
Thanks Mr. Cry Baby and your friend, Tex.
I'm not sure I learned a whole lot from our conversation. In fact I'm not sure if any of those stories had much truth. But every time I drive down 90 and spot that yellow building, I think of that chilly January morning and the fun time we had chatting on the porch. Your sign is much more faded and peeling now. I noticed your shop has closed. Hopefully you're both retired and making some grandbabies laugh (not cry) with some of your good stories.
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers