easy to say what Mentone, Texas, hasn’t got: A hospital, a
bank, a Wal-Mart, a stoplight. What it has got, in quality if
not in quantity, is a wonderful assortment of local
characters. They make the story. Take Lloyd Goodrich, for
example. Lloyd has a master’s degree in engineering but
looks like he just stepped out of an old Western movie. He
keeps all his junk in old dishwashers and refrigerators.
He’s got them numbered and keeps an inventory of the
contents on his computer. It’s a gentle, harmless form of
tax evasion, he confesses. He’d have to pay taxes if he
actually put up a storage building.
was really no “worst” about this assignment. The only
downside was a little indigestion because the food tends to be
on the greasy side. And you do have to drive a helluva long
way to get anything because Mentone doesn’t have a grocery
store or a pharmacy. There’s a café, and that’s it—that
and the stray dogs.
went to Mentone eight years ago when I was working on a story
on the Pecos River. Who would have expected that I’d ever
return? The town itself has all of 15 people; its very
existence is quirky. I’ve been there twice; two times more
than most people.