While living in El Paso we made frequent trips to Alamogordo, New Mexico, via US Highway 54. About half way there, my children always kept a sharp lookout for a lonely clump of trees by the side of the road in the middle of the vast desert. Next to that little cluster of trees, apparently the only ones for miles, was a well-executed sign that read simply, “Oro Grande National Forest.” Someone eventually chained a trash can to the sign so that passersby, who stopped to take photos, would have a place to deposit their litter.
A little further along was the “town” of Oro Grande that sported a café and a gas station. There were more tumbleweeds in the town than there were people. The café at one time gained a reputation for serving the finest steaks in the area—providing you happened to be there when the proprietor condescended to open up for business. One day my wife and I decided to stop and give the place a try. The owner looked up from his conversation with one of the locals, casually looked us over, and apologized for having run out of vittles. “I’m all out of steaks,” he declared, “but I can rustle you up a couple of toasted cheese sandwiches.”
I always suspected that it was he who put up that National Forest sign because located next to his run down little café was a wooden tower with a windsock mounted on top and a sign that boasted “Oro Grande International Airport.” I couldn’t help but like his sense of style.
When we moved to Blanco some years ago, we decided to purchase a little 10-acre tract with the intent of building a house. Like most Hill Country parcels it was home to some big, beautiful oak trees, a lot of cedar trees and whole mess of brush and briars. In fact, the only way to traverse much of it was via some deer trails through the thickets. We gave it the name “Game Trail.”
I decided to incorporate “Game Trail” into an email address but I soon found that the term was already taken. I tried several different combinations and discovered that “gametrail_ranch” was available. When I told my wife what I had done, she looked at me with that scornful look that only a wife can conjure up and stated emphatically, as if I were some kind of green horn, “In Texas, ten acres does not constitute a ranch!”
Well, I was so taken aback by her uncompromising attitude that I gathered up some poles and built a small corral with an imposing gate situated smack dab in the middle of that parcel of land. I adorned that gate with a sign that stated in bold letters, “Game Trail Ranch: World Headquarters.”
I’m reminded of the story of the successful businessman who one day passed a little boy who had set up a sign next to the sidewalk that read, “Dog for Sale, $5.00.” The man patted the boy on the head and gave him some sage advice. Said he, “Think big, son. Think big.” The next day the man passed the boy again, only this time his sign read, “Dog for Sale, $50,000.” With a satisfied grin, the man again patted the boy on the head. The next day the man passed by again, only this time the boy’s sign was gone. “Well,” said the man, “Did you get your asking price for the dog?” With a big smile the boy replied in the affirmative. “Of course,” said he, “I had to take a couple of $25,000 cats on the deal!”
“If any of you have a desire to be mediocre,” said Hugh B. Brown, “you will probably find that you have already achieved your ambition.” I try to impress on my grandchildren that lying isn’t right but the telling of tall tales falls into a completely different category--as long as you recognize the difference. Is it O.K. to turn a tree into a forest? Why not? For when everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks very much. (Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org)