ANSWERING SER VICE P.O. BOX 3005 AUSTIN, TX 78764 KATHLEEN O’CONNELL 477-8278 477-3651 REALTOR’. Representing all types of properties In Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty. . and Associates E 1117 West 5th Street Austin, Texas 78703 2600 E. 7th St. Austin, Texas 477-4701 vegetarian food eldlzteca -43 11. 1 1 :111. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 7W731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 Smile OFGANADA AFTERWORD BRIEFLY, THEN, I lived in Waco. At the end of several tethers, I was there to edit a magazine. ll faut que vous changez votre vie, I told myself. My car broke down the night I drove into town, and I spent most of the following day sitting in a motel room I could poorly afford, watching rain slam down on everything in sight. Auspicious beginnings. That first afternoon I noticed a battered blue Chevy parked off New Road, someone inside reading a paper. Almost every day I’d drive or walk by, and almost every time, whatever time of day it was, that car would be there, its driver inside reading, drinking coffee or simply watching other cars go by. He had a thermos in there, a blanket, a pillow: that was where he lived. I’d just written an essay on apartmenthunting in which my wife and I wound up living in our car, and a novel-inprogress is populated by street people living in abandoned cars under bridges and overpasses with their Christmas trees, jars of flowers, electric woks. And I was looking for an apartment again, of course, something I seem to spend an inordinate proportion of my life doing. So I was attuned to the idea of people living in cars. I’d have done it in a minute. But my own car, after all, attaining Waco, had died and been hauled away. Had fallen away like a rocket’s first stage. Been shot out from under me like a good cavalry horse. Like Monty Python’s parrot, it was dead, deceased defunct. A wrecker had come, and perspective had claimed it. I remembered a W.S. Merwin poem about a man living in a castoff furnace and considered that a viable alternative for a time but failed to find anything agreeably spacious. There were a number of abandoned cars available, but locations for the most part were poor. The classifieds were little help, Peripatetic writer James Sallis lived in Waco. though I read them each day, circling and clipping and calling adamantly. 84 BUICK, newly remodeled, drapes, carpets, partly furnished. CUTE MG. 1/2 bath, just right for bachelor or retired couple. No pets. COZY COTTAGE Toyota. Built-ins, central heat/air. Bills paid, low deposit. PLENTY OF ROOM! Spacious older station wagon, 3 BR, closets! No rent until July 14! MOST WERE TAKEN before I called or untaken for good, and apparent, reason. Some auto complexes seemed inhabited solely by roaches \(I was asked to stay for tea rounded by broken bikes, punctured wading pools and doorless refrigerators, were just beginning the long glide towards slumdom. Then there were the new ones: sterile boxes with redwood balconies, let by au courant young ladies in bright dresses, heels and haircuts reminiscent, more than anything else, of tropical birds. There were Victorian complexes; Atlantic City beachfront complexes; Pueblo Indian cliffdweller complexes; Buck Rogers complexes; birdhouse complexes anything you wanted, or could imagine. This is America, after all. But alongside conspicuous consumption, there’s another great American habit of saying no, one born in our pioneer blood and carried forth by the likes of Thoreau, Woody Guthrie, Thomas Merton. It can lead men to push frontiers ever westward, to march against and otherwise protest unjust wars, to take up residence beneath bridges and overpasses. I did find a place, finally. Not really a car, of course, but a garage apartment on Austin St. It is behind a castle that’s a used car lot, and it had roaches you could saddle and ride into the sunset. Within easy walking distance were a ballet school, an abandoned cafe, two auto parts warehouses and six convenience stores. One morning shortly before departing Waco, I wrote to an old friend and described the new apartment, like so many I’d had before. I don’t believe it: you’ve found yourself another garret, he wrote back. That he could understand in Paris, in London, or New York or Boston. But in Waco, Texas? Tradition, I told him. Waco Days By James Sallis THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23
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