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On Assignment in Mentone, Texas

Retrieved from National Geographic

Field Notes

From Author
Cathy Newman

Best Worst Quirkiest

It’s 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.

There 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.

I 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.

 

Field Notes

From Author
Jodi Cobb

Best Worst Quirkiest
I needed to take aerial photographs, so I hired the closest helicopter available—300 miles (483 kilometers) away in New Mexico. When the pilot showed up, he was pulling a trailer behind his pickup truck with a tiny red helicopter on it. It looked like a mosquito! We took off straight from the trailer. It was a wild ride, like floating in a bubble. And he kept his cowboy hat on the whole time. I tangled with two Texan traditions in the same day: A mesquite bush and a state trooper. I ended up with two flat tires and a speeding ticket I was driving around, following my instincts down small dirt roads miles from civilization, when I came across a lineup of old refrigerators with large numbers painted on them. I began photographing when an angry loud voice bellowed that I was trespassing on private property. He was completely right, and I was completely embarrassed, so I began apologizing profusely. Then he laughed. “I know who you are!” he said. “Everybody in town knows who you are. I was just trying to scare you.” He did a good job of it. That was my introduction to Lloyd Goodrich and his ingenious storage system. The local eccentric turned out to be quite charming

 

 

 

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Photos from Mentone, Texas

 

   

Page last updated April 27, 2009

Copyright 2009 ~DEB~

Copyright 2007 Kay Woods-Lopez