Excerpt One from Letters to Elisha Hamilton
The older son left for boot camp recently, so during the next few weeks, my thoughts will be with him.
We’re pretty sure he’s a Yorkshire terrier, but who knows?
All of Alma’s mutts died, as you recall, except for one pup. Been a hard year for dogs down in the heat of Texas, we reckon.
But just as she was preparing for the long drive to Great Lakes Naval Training Center (to attend the graduation ceremony of two of her granddaughters), a silvery-gray dog wandered into her yard, looking dirty and half-starved and pitiful, so naturally, she fed the thing. Then of course it wouldn’t leave.
Rather than take off for a week and come back to face another dead animal, she stuck the mutt inside a travel cage, loaded it in the back of her Alligator Annie pickup truck, and then took off driving north.
Oh, and she thought to stop by the Whataburger place on the way out of town. A girl behind the counter inside found it hard to believe after hearing her request and the reason why.
“You driving all the way up to Illinois, all by your little lonesome, plus you want three of these Whataburgers to take to your hungry Yankee brother who lives up there, just because he misses these burgers so much?
I tell you what, ma’am. I ain’t never heard of nobody doing nothing like that before. Hang on just one second-- I’ll fix you up something special.”
She came back with the order right away, along with a nice surprise: a huge to-go container filled with chopped lettuce, sliced tomatoes and dill pickles, plus a cup of fresh mustard. She put a regulation-sized Whataburger sack along side the box, which contained three beef patties in individually-wrapped buns.
The girl beamed as Alma paid.
“That should keep them from getting too soggy.”
Then box and bag both went inside an ice chest sitting next to the dog cage in the back of the green truck.
A day and a half later, I sat on the couch here in the cave and devoured one.
Her crazy idea worked, and the single burger I was lucky enough to get tasted as superb as any steak. The other two…well, you know how everybody here hankers for Whataburgers almost as much as me.