Jan 29, 2009

This Really Happened...

When I first came to Huntsville in 1978, I worked as a general contractor. One of the people I worked with on more than one occasion was Tex Johnson, a bigger-than-life concrete contractor. I heard this story about Tex from a friend and couldn't believe it, but later I confirmed it with the man himself.

It seems that Tex had a practice of buying his lovely bride, "Miss Bonnie," a new Cadillac every year on her birthday. One day in the mid '70's, Tex remembered her birthday as he was proceeding home from pouring the foundations of what became the La Mancha apartments in Huntsville. Picture Tex, covered in concrete mud and dust, looking like a derelict, pulling into the parking lot of Bob Tabb Cadillac, driving his equally filthy Ford pickup.

Tex was an imposing figure, standing well over 6 feet tall and probably weighing in at around 275 lbs. As he entered the showroom, he didn't see anyone he knew, but a salesman came up and asked how he might help.

Tex: "I'm interested in a new Seeee-dan de Ville. You got somethin' in blue?"

Salesman: "Yessir. Take a look at this car here. It's got just about every option. Just came in. Why don't you take a look at it and see if it's what you want. Make us an offer; I'm sure we can do business."

Tex: "Son, I wouldn't think of askin' you to price one of my concrete jobs and I'm damned if I'm going to price your car. How much do you want for it?"

Salesman: "Well sir, why don't you just take a look at it and make us an offer?"

Tex: "Son, maybe you didn't hear me. I'm not in the car pricin' business. What'll you take for the car?"

Salesman: "Sir, if you'll just make us an offer, we'll have someplace to start, and I'm sure we can find an agreeable price."

Tex: "You got a phone in this place?"

Salesman: "Yessir, right over here; feel free."

Tex then calls his friend Ray Pearman, the local Lincoln-Mercury dealer...

"Hey Ray, this is Tex. Say, I'm over here at Bob Tabb Cadillac and these bastards don't want to sell me a car. Have you got one of those Mark IV's in blue?... OK, what's it got on it?... Sounds good. Would you bring it over to me and follow me home?... Yeah, it's Bonnie's birthday and I want to surprise her... Thanks. I'll be outside."

They delivered the new Lincoln on the front lot of Bob Tabb Cadillac. Tex (who always liked to be paid in cash) reached for his wallet and peeled off several thousand dollars in a very public way to make sure the Cadillac sales representatives could see it.

As Tex told me years later, "Those Cadillac people have been real nice to me ever since!"


Sarah said...

Hahahha! I like how you capture Tex's accent in the story.

james kahrs said...

great story!