Long gone or leaving…



A San Marcos mainstay, Bill Cunningham was often seen roaming around the city, donning a fedora and sunglasses, and talking books, history and general coolness. A writer, activist and former Texas State University regent, Cunningham died Thursday. He was 69. He was remembered by friends and loved ones as thoughtful, witty and well-loved. “Bill was kind of an icon in San…



I ran across that bit of news, wishing a buddy of mine from San Marcos a happy birthday. I came to find out he’s libel to be locked up for the next three to five (if he’s lucky–something about lugees and cops, again, and a string of other litanies–strike two for him). Another friend told me that shortly before he told me he’s off to Georgia soon. The same fellow, in fact, who introduced me to the other fellow in the news obit.

I’m just getting old, I guess. I used to know hundreds of people in that town–there were a few fellow classmates, a lot of faculty (I worked for them), and of course, the locals–that’s where I knew miles of folks, all drawn to the ice cold, crystal waters of the river.

Had a river story with most everyone I knew then.

But barring few exceptions, most I knew then gone: Either gone the way my one buddy is headed for the next few years; gone as in left (or leaving), as in never to be heard from again; or just plain gone, as in the terminal sense.

Oh, sure everyone one probably said we’d never make to 30, back when we were 18.

You remember those days, don’t you?

You: What’re you carrying there, buddy?

Friend: Oh, I lopped my leg off back down the trail a ways.

You: Holy shit! Do you need a doctor?

Friend: Shit no! You kidding? I’ll just grown me new one. I just hope it’s back by Monday. My job is damn strict about steel-toed boot thing. They’d look at me kinda funny if just had one.

You: Well, what the hell are you lugging it for then?

Friend: Because I stuck the weed in one of the pockets in my cargo pants but I don’t remember which one. It’s easier just to bring the whole leg. I’ll find it later.

You: Good call, man. Good call…

And away went both went for another 16 miles over insane terrains dragging three kegs worth of beer for the two of you because despite this being the only way in, 40 other people would soon be showing up, walking the same deer trail down a cliff side to help you drink it all. And they did, too. Unfailingly, every time.

Hell, most of buddies I know these days put beer in an ice chest in their living rooms because the goddam fridge is too far away. Screw, hoofing it 20 miles out in the Hill Country.

Of course, 30 is barely a distant memory now. And nothing works like it used to.  I banged my knee of the footboard the other night getting up to go take a leak in the middle of the night (something I never used to do), and I though I was gonna have to go to the emergency room for all the blood I lost. Then it took about a month to heal.

But I never thought we would of lost so many already. Felix. MacMillan. Hippie Karl. Christopher. Gerald. And that barely scrapes the surface. I know y’all would’ve had you hellova time today. Y’all always did. Y’all lived for Four Twenty, like it was the Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo ad Christmas, all rolled into one.

And now Bill. Kinda spooky, to tell the truth. Makes one very conscious of his mortality.