Monday, August 1, 2011

The Alamo

San Antonio

When you deliver a load in San Antonio you can usually count on driving empty the 135 miles down to Laredo on the Mexican border to pick up your next load. Those are all loads that come out of Mexico. They are NAFTA, Bill Clinton, Reaganomics, send our jobs overseas loads. More freight comes out of Mexico than goes into Mexico, of course, which is why, when you deliver a load anywhere near Laredo, you get sent down there empty. They need empty trucks in Laredo to pick up things made in Mexico that used to be made here.

I have delivered loads in Laredo, headed for Mexico. Brokers take charge of the freight in Laredo. They do the customs paperwork and also arrange for the Mexican trucks to pick them up. Many of those loads were machinery, new factory equipment. But once I picked up used paper making machines at an old paper mill in upper New York state that had closed down. It was in a little town way out in the country on a beautiful little river with green hills all around.

I took a walk through the old brick downtown and walked past an open barroom door. I was looking down the length of the bar, looking into darkness. Four of five people sat there, slumped over the bar in silhouette. One of them was a woman. I wondered if they had worked in the mill. It was a mill town. I was taking their machines to Mexico.

Another time I picked up machines at a little brass factory in Boston. All the employees were long gone except for a few who were kept on to dismantle the factory and load it on trucks bound for Mexico. It was already dark when I got there. The three men who loaded the machines onto my flat bed trailer worked quickly and quietly and left when the machines were on the truck. I put the tarps over the machinery in the parking lot under the light of the street light and then headed for Laredo.

This weekend I was laid over in San Antonio, for some reason. Apparently they overlooked me, and I wasn't sent to Laredo until today. It gave me a chance to look up the Alamo, the old Spanish mission that was the scene of a battle in the war for Texas independence. The Alamo was also the title of a movie, which my parents took us to see when we were young kids, that John Wayne made and starred in, in which some Texans tried to hold out in the Alamo against the Mexican army. All of them, including Davy Crockett, and John Wayne, were killed.

Texas itself was never much interested in preserving the Alamo. perhaps because it was the scene of a defeat. It was being used for something else when a group of preservationists bought it and restored it. Later it was turned over to the state.

There is a circle drive in front of the place, and when I was there, there were orange traffic cones placed in the street along the curb to prevent anyone from parking there. I asked the young cop on duty there, who you can see in the picture, if I could set one of the cones aside long enough to take a picture.

"No well ya see somebody might want to park there so we need to leave them there."

The driveway was deserted. Being Sunday, the downtown streets in that area were deserted.

The cop was just a kid, couldn't have been on the force more than a year or two. I wondered what he had done to pull that kind of duty. He smirked at me for a few moments then turned and walked back toward the Alamo and got back into his little guard shack. I took his picture. I didn't ask.


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