Rest in peace Vencil Mares

Old school barbecue man Vencil Mares of Taylor Cafe in Taylor, Texas has passed. How old school was Mr Vencil? He opened his barroom slash barbecue joint in 1948 and was involved in running the operation as owner until his death earlier this week.

That’s 71 years.

We last visited him in August of this year and had a fine feast for roughly $5. That fiver netted us two pluperfect Bohunk sausages with a full spread of cold onions, dill pickles and that signature sauce whose recipe people begged for like scurvy dogs.

Vencil Mares was born in the hinterlands of Fayette County on November 10, 1923 to Stan Mares and Lexie Zimmerhanzel- Mares. He died on November 24, 2019 in Taylor.

We were lucky to eat at Mares’ table since the late 80s when we began venturing up to Taylor in search of new barbecue as we were plumb tuckered out on what the Austin scene had way back then.

We’d rotate between Louie Mueller’s and Vencil’s old joint.

Texas hot guts and oak-smoked brisket always landed on our plates in those halcyon days.

Mr Mares was honored by the city of Taylor on November 10th of this year and was given the keys to the city. Henceforth that day will always be known as ‘Vencil Mares Day.’

Bohunk sausage at Taylor Cafe

Ruth Banks of The Money Wasters Social Aid and Pleasure Club

When my auntie Ruth entered the room there was no mistaking that a higher power was present. “Heeyy!! Sukie Sukie” now she’d holler like a wild woman. Then there’d be a mad rush to the bar as everybody wanted to be the first person to buy her a cold Bud Light.

I didn’t see Miss Ruth often but every time I did she’d hug me, squeeze my neck and say “how’s my favorite nephew doing baby?”

She was luminous.

Last Saturday Miss Ruth Banks passed away at the age of 69. Just the night before we were all sitting around at our neighborhood tavern and somebody wondered aloud where she’d been.

Ruth was a long-time member of the Money Wasters Social Aid and Pleasure Club. She did not roll with her crew in 2018 but was excited to get back out on the streets with them at their second line earlier this year.

“I don’t know how many more of these I got in me baby – I got to get back out there this year” Of course Ruth was the star of the show riding in the back of a fancy convertible and passing out extravagant party favors.

Wordsworth wrote a poem entitled ‘She Was A Phantom Of Delight’

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam’d upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as star of twilight fair;
Like twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay
.

…is how the piece began and I can’t think of words that better describe the lovely Ruth Banks.

Rest in peace sweet soul

RIP Dr X

Dick Beyer aka The Sensational Intelligent Destroyer aka Dr X has passed at the age of 88. Beyer was a superstar under the mask and the biggest masked, non-Hispanic wrestler of all time.

Never heard of him? We’re not surprised. He was rookie of the year in 1955 when few of us were born.

We prowled around a few corners of the internet and found what we feel is the best obit on the man. link

Big Jay McNeely at Ponderosa Stomp

I only managed to see Big Jay McNeely perform live one time but it was a bone rattler. McNeely was already in his 80s when he took the Ponderosa Stomp stage at Howlin Wolf that night.

You would’ve sworn he was 45.

I can still hear the wails of his tenor sax nearly a decade later. Ever the showman in spite of his advanced years, McNeely spent part of the set strutting through the crowd on the packed dance floor just chopping heads off with his sax.

The crowd roared, and swayed as he reeled off lick after lick.

Big Jay McNeely first topped the Billboard chart 68 years ago with “Deacon’s Hop” I’m sure it’s on Youtube if you don’t have the record.

Rest in peace Big Jay, there will never be another like you.

Hercules the hound dog

One of my dear friends in the animal kingdom has passed away. Hercules was a superb animal, a confidant, an excellent companion, and was loved and respected by all those who met him.

Hercules was born in Neshoba County, Mississippi in 2001. His stay in the Magnolia State was brief and most noted due to his being caught in a bear trap on one of his frequent sojourns out in the woods.

Hercules gnawed off one of his back legs to regain his freedom. He lived 16 years as a three-legged dog.

Rest in peace old friend.