Dec. 10, Mission, Texas – Goddamn Internet.
All day long I’ve been in a funk. I’m having trouble catching up with the events of the past week. I think I’m in a sleepless haze, though I have slept plenty. Maybe not enough, but plenty.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Mission, Texas. Or maybe it’s McAllen, Texas. I don’t know. So far today I’ve sat in a McDonald’s, a Taco Palenque (99-cent margaritas!) and now a Starbucks. And I can’t seem to get a damn thing done.
The Rio Grande Valley is John Shary’s valley. I wondered if the King of Texas Grapefruit has any surviving relatives in the area. So this morning I did a search for “Shary” on whitepages.com. Wouldn’t you know it, a listing pops right up for John H. Shary at 2300 Glasscock Road in Mission. The phone number’s listed. Cool, I thought, we’re in Mission! Serendipity strikes again.
I did a little math and guessed the John H. Shary at 2300 Glasscock Road had to be the great-grandson of John H. Shary, the Father of Texas Citrus.
When Ernie Pyle visited in the late 1930s, he could comfortably call Shary the “biggest man in the Valley.” In addition to his citrus empire, Shary “owned oil wells, two banks, two newspapers and a chain of packing plants.”
Yes, I really oughta get up the gumption to give the surviving John H. Shary a call. Nothing else was working today. Besides, my friend Lauri went to all the trouble to scan copies of Ernie Pyle’s columns from the Rio Grande Valley this morning and email them to me. Should all her hard work be squandered just because I’m lost in a fit of indolence?
I knew the responsible answer to that question was no.
Get John S. Shary on the line, boy. You can do it. Ask him about his relationship to the family legacy. Maybe he hates the old, dead John H. Shary. Anyone with the ruthless drive to become King of Texas Grapefruit had to be a son of a bitch.
You know how families are. Especially in Texas.
I imagined touring the citrus fields of the Valley with John H. Shary the living. He’d steer his Cadillac Escalade over dirt roads that cut through orange groves. I’d ride shotgun. He’d show me the layout of his great-grandaddy’s empire, and I’d get a lot of great fodder for this journal. Hey, I knew the ride-along was a long shot, but gotta dream sometimes.
As usual, I procrastinated. I was frittering away the day in a corporate wifi funk. Somewhere out there nearby were fields full of luscious, ruby red grapefruit. And I sat here.
The living, breathing John H. Shary probably wouldn’t want much to do with me, I fretted. So what, I answered my cowering id, at least you’ll get a little something. Lloyd Bentsen graduated from Sharyland High School, after all. I remember Lloyd Bentsen, and he was no John Shary.
Still, I found it odd that I could find no mention of John H. Shary the living anywhere. All searches for John H. Shary returned links to information about the King of Texas Grapefruit. Still, whitepages.com gave me a name and a number. WhitePages wouldn’t steer me wrong. They got a reputation to protect.
Procrastinating some more, I did a Google search for 2300 N. Glasscock Road, Mission, Texas, just to see what turned up.
This is what showed up:
Yes, that’s right. John H. Shary Elementary School. Go Rattlers!