"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Reasons I love Texas--Part 3--a story of coincidences

Christy White, Cathy Wardlow, and "Shriek" inside The Roost at Shamrock, Texas.
Getting to the point: If you're traveling through the Texas panhandle around lunchtime, get off the Interstate at Shamrock, turn south, past fast "food" places, and drive toward the white water tower. When you get there, turn left on Railroad Avenue, and you'll encounter "The Roost." Don't miss it.
Why?
This is a story about coincidences, culminating this week in meeting a friend  for the first time and my scrumptious, made from scratch,  country chicken club salad.
A few years ago I started playing "Literati" on Yahoo, a scrabble type game, where you'd play other people around the world. It's addictive and eventually, after hours of wasting perfectly good time, you'd eventually begin to recognize and play the same people.
So it was that I "met" JCWardlow, and we were pretty evenly matched. I could tell from our occasional comments about weather and such that she lived in West Texas, and eventually figured out it was in Shamrock. As an oft traveler through there to New Mexico or to visit family, I know the terrain.
Then one day, looking at Facebook comments from former student and friend Richard Mize, I saw he had a friend named Jack Wardlow II from aptly named Levelland, Texas,  west of Lubbock. This old reporter couldn't ignore the coincidence, and contacted him about the possible relation who would play Literati. I found out that JCWardlow was his mother, probably using the initials of her husband and her first name, Catherine.
I surprised her with that knowledge during one game, and we  continued to play. Then Yahoo killed Literati, which is a blessing in saving hours that could be better spent--if I'd take advantage of them.
With the advent of Facebook, Cathy and I again became "friends," sometimes briefly commenting. That's where I learned that she worked in the Shamrock cafe, The Roost, owned by her daughter Christy White. 
I always meant to stop when passing through, but alas, every time we were in the panhandle, we were in a hurry to get somewhere, or it was the wrong time of day. After a couple of unsuccessful tries, I finally located  The Roost on one of my more leisurely back road trips, but it was closed.
Until this week.
Coming back from Lubbock and Canyon Thursday I pulled into Shamrock and headed for the restaurant. When I pulled up at 10:45, there were a couple of cars parked nearby, but it looked closed.
Still, on a whim, I walked up, tried the door and pulled it open.
"Hello, are you open?" I asked, not seeing anyone.
From the back in the kitchen area came the reply, "In 15 minutes."
I kept walking in, coming around the corner, and saw two women and a man working away. From a Facebook photo, I recognized the woman at the counter, and asked, "Are you Cathy Wardlow?"
"Yes I am," she said.
"I'm Terry Clark," I said, and got invited to stay for lunch, meet her daughter Christy White, trade  some stories, and have that great salad before heading back to I-40 and home.
In between, the place started filling up with regulars in hats and boots and other West Texas garb, all known by name. It's bright and clean, with wood tables, and all kinds of chicken kinds of things for decorations. I took two photos, and the one outside doesn't do the place justice. But inside? Larupin' good. The menu is terrific, all made from scratch, all under $10, I think. Look it up and click here on  Yelp, and you'll see photos and reviews. The Roost is also on Facebook.
I want us to go back in the winter when they've got stew and cornbread. And in the summer, with more time, for that peach cobbler.
Coincidences, and more reasons I love Texas.

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