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THE TEXAS PRIDE STORY

MY GRANDFATHER, STEVE TALANCO CAME TO TEXAS FROM ITALY IN THE EARLY 1920'S. WITH BROKEN ENGLISH, A MISSPELLED NAME ON HIS PASSPORT AND $500.00 IN HIS POCKET, HE OPENED A TINY FILLING STATION ON THE OLD CASTROVILLE ROAD. OPENING COSTS DEPLETED HIS BANKROLL, SO THE SYMPATHETIC COCA-COLA ROUTE MAN SOLD HIM A HALF CASE OF BOTTLED COKES.

MAGNOLIA GASOLINE WAS SOLD FROM STEEL BARRELS AND BUSINESS WAS SOON BRISK WITH THE LOCALS AND TRAVELERS FROM AS FAR AWAY AS CALIFORNIA. SOON MY GRANDPARENTS WERE COOKING SPAGHETTI DINNERS AND MEATBALL SANDWICHES ON THE TINY STOVE IN THE STOREROOM THAT DOUBLED AS THEIR LIVING QUARTERS.

WORD SPREAD QUICKLY OF THEIR TASTY MEALS THEY SOLD AND MANY OF THEIR CUSTOMERS GOT THEIR FIRST TASTE OF EYE-TALIAN, AS MOST OF THE SOUTH TEXANS PRONOUNCED IT.

EXPANSION OF HIS LITTLE FILLING STATION AND CAFE CAME RAPIDLY; HE HIRED MEXICAN NATIONALS TO WORK ON HIS EXPANSION AND LEARNED OF A NEW TECHNIQUE OF COOKING. THEY QUICKLY TAUGHT HIM THE ART OF BARBECUING WITH MESQUITE WOOD. IN LESS THAN TEN YEARS, HE WAS THE AREA'S MOST POPULAR CATERER. HE HOSTED MANY LARGE FUNCTIONS AT HIS LARGE PAVILION ON THE BANKS OF LEON CREEK.

JOHN NANCE "CACTUS JACK" GARNER, THE TWO-TERM VICE-PRESIDENT DURING FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT'S ADMINISTRATION, WAS A LONG TIME CUSTOMER.

MY GRANDFATHER WOULD WAKE UP BEFORE DAYBREAK AND DRIVE HIS MODEL T FORD THE 90 MILES TO CACTUS JACK'S RANCH. CACTUS JACK WOULD HAVE HIS RANCH HANDS BUTCHER THE BEEF AND CUT THEM IN HALVES. THE CARCASSES WERE WRAPPED IN CHEESE CLOTH AND ICED DOWN IN THE BACK OF THE MODEL T FOR THE TRIP BACK TO SAN ANTONIO. THIS WAS MORE THAN A LONG DAY SINCE THE TOP SPEED WAS ABOUT 15 MILES PER HOUR WITH MANY STOPS MADE TO REPAIR THE FREQUENT "BLOW OUTS" OF THE UNRELIABLE TIRES OF THE DAY.

MEANWHILE AT HIS RANCH, LARGE BONFIRES OF AGED MESQUITE WERE BURNED DOWN TO BLAZING RED HOT COALS. THE COALS WERE THEN TRANSFERRED TO TRENCHES OR "PITS", AS THEY CALLED THEM. METAL GRATES WERE LAID ON TOP OF THE PITS ABOUT 3' ABOVE THE COALS. WHEN THE ORDEAL OF THE TRIP WAS OVER, THE SIDES OF BEEF WERE PLACED ON THE GRATES. AFTER MANY HOURS OF HEAT AND SMOKE, THEY WERE ANNOUNCED DONE AND SERVED THE HUNGRY CROWD THAT GATHERED AT POLITICAL RALLIES ALONG WITH PLENTY OF BARBECUE AND COLD PEARL BEER. OUR FAMILY HAS CONTINUED THE TRADITION OF GREAT TEXAS BARBECUE EVER SINCE.

THE ATTRACTIVE FILLING STATION OF STEVE TALANCO, LOCATED FOUR AND A HALF MILES FROM SAN ANTONIO ON THE CASTROVILLE ROAD. MR. TALANCO BELIEVES IN USING NOTHING BUT THE BEST, WHICH MAKES HIS ITALIAN DINNERS THE TALK OF THE STATE.