by JOHN PHILLIP SANTOS
Becky Crouch Patterson’s deeply moving testimonio guarantees that Hondo and Luckenbach will never be forgotten, and that the world has its ample and long-overdue chance to meet him, too. A true literary alchemist, she has taken a tall tale and revealed within it a hidden saga of how her family, particularly her dad, Hondo Crouch, a sui generis Texas Classic, tale-spinner extraordinaire, Hill Country trickster mystic, legendary mayor of Luckenbach, came to embody, manifest, and celebrate a new way of being Texan that literally changed the world.
Becky’s family emerged out of the rich history of 19th century German immigrants to the Texas Hill Country—perhaps unsurprisingly, from ancestors who had been a part of the Freethinker’s movement that was the target of a shocking and notorious 1862 massacre of Freethinkers on the Nueces River at the hands of a band of Texas Confederate Cavalrymen.
Becky’s tersely lyrical writing about her family, about her father, shows that free thought was not extinguished, and that her family had an appointment with the destiny of Texas itself. This book completes that saga, telling us how Hondo, by force of imagination and irrepressible mirth, took the Podunk, broke-down, has-been crook in the road that Luckenbach was and turned it into the Mecca of a new Texan freedom of thought and creativity, nurturing the early work of such legends as Willie, Waylon and the boys, like Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, to mention a few of the “outlaw” poets who loved to come to Luckenbach. Out of that oak grove setting on South Grape Creek, Hondo somehow managed to rock the world. They lived Texan identity as an ethic of radical liberty and borderless pranks, embracing a redemptive freedom where anything could happen, and it did. As Hondo once wrote in a kind of manifesto under his nombre de mascarada, Peter Cedarstacker: “Luckenbach is a state of mind. Luckenbach is a free state.”
“On Thursdays our army practices. We practice losin’ so we can get foreign aid.” He said, “I wanted Luckenbach for the same reason a dog buries a bone. So no other dog’ll get it.” The world awaits the wider discovery of Hondo and his Luckenbach vision. He never glorified what he so nimbly and grandly achieved there.
– John Phillip Santos
May 17, 2018
EXCERPT FROM IMAGINEER CHAPTER
“Folks around here still believe in America,” Hondo said to a reporter. “They’re patriotic, conservative, and have a feeling for their caliche soil. But they get a kick out of letting their hair down every now and then, doing something they normally wouldn’t find themselves doing.” Hondo let the Luckenbach cult create the zany functions. For example, he refused to participate in their no-talent contest, because, he said, “I have talent.” As he’d view the masses roaming the grounds he’d say, “There’s no purpose here at all. That’s what makes it so great. It’s a big nothing and everybody works at it. Look at ‘em. I collect funny people. Maybe I’m a kid myself. Maybe I haven’t grown up and they all know it. Despite some of the nutty things we do around here, it’s still one of the few places I know of where you can stay in touch with reality. Having fun is hard work sometimes.”