Strangest State: August 2018

Strangest State: August 2018

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

SAN ANTONIO // A former master plumber put his collection of more than 1,300 decorated toilet seats up for sale. Barney “King of the Commode” Smith has operated the Toilet Seat Art Museum out of his Alamo Heights garage since 1992, but at 97 says he’s finally ready to retire. “If I would have just read my Bible as many hours as I spent on my toilet seats, I’d be a better man,” he told NBC DFW.

CASS COUNTY // An armadillo lived up to its name (Spanish for “little armored one”) when it survived three gunshots and sent a man to the hospital. Reuters reports that a resident of the small town of Marietta shot the dillo outside his home with a .38 revolver, but at least one bullet bounced off the animal’s shell and hit the shooter in the face. The man underwent jaw surgery, and the evidently unharmed armadillo ran off.

Bee County Sheriff’s Deputy Lindsay Scotten  Courtesy/Facebook

BEE COUNTY // It’s never good when an animal emerges from your toilet, but when it’s the longest snake species native to the United States, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Wade Vielock told KSAT that his 6-year-old son was the first to spot the creature, which turned out to be a nonvenomous but substantially sized indigo snake. “It took at least six years off my life,” Vielock said. Sheriff’s Deputy Lindsay Scotten, who reported having a fear of cockroaches but not snakes, caught the snake and released it outside.

NEWTON COUNTY // Police arrested a naked man who was running on a road near the Toledo Bend Reservoir. “The guy was all doped up and he had locked his keys in his car,” wrote Sheriff Billy Rowles in his weekly newsletter. “By the time we got there he had put on one shoe.”

GALVESTON // A man fell off the Galveston Causeway while taking a selfie. Billy Pettice, 38, told police he was snapping a photo when he hurtled about 40 feet off the elevated highway into the bay. Pettice was rescued by a passing boat and treated for broken ribs, the Galveston County Daily News reports. He was also arrested and extradited after a routine police check found he was wanted for burglary in Louisiana. No word on how the photo turned out.

Sidney Gilstrap Portley  Courtesy/Dallas County Jail

DALLAS // Unable to give up his hoop dreams, a 25-year-old enrolled in high school and lied about his age so he could join the basketball team. The Dallas Morning News reports that Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley attended two Dallas schools for about nine months — and was named district offensive player of the year — before a former coach recognized him. Gilstrap-Portley faces charges of tampering with government records.

TYLER // When more than 20 subscribers to the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported that their newspapers weren’t arriving, some wondered if their mail carriers were to blame. After his mother’s subscription failed to appear for four days, David McKay set out a game camera — and the footage showed a gray fox trotting off with the paper in its mouth. According to circulation director Matt Milling, it wasn’t the first time. “This happens this time of year,” Milling said, since foxes look for bedding to line their nests and keep pups warm. “It was happening so much we quit fighting the foxes.”

Visit texasobserver.org/strangest-state for more “Strangest State.” Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at cahalan@texasobserver.org.