in West Texas
literally came into our lives "out-of-the-blue". We had had a flat
tire in west Texas
and El Gato Mio del Rio Frio (My Cat from the Cold River). Brewster
appeared silently; his thin form creating a partial eclipse of the
sun as we attempted to loosen lug nuts. We braced ourselves for the
usual acrid smell of sweat and alcohol that road people normally splash
on before hitting the road, but we were pleasantly surprised by a
whiff of cologne over soap with a base note of Pine-sol.
He appeared to be somewhere between 45 and 80 with no identifying
marks or tattoos. His face had a just-shaved smoothness and a pink
glow like an old hand-tinted photograph or maybe a baby's behind.
He was a facial type - a slightly long face like Jason Robards, but
not quite as long as John Huston. Maybe as long as James Coburn -
but certainly not as long as Max Von Sydow's. Let's just say he had
a long face.
(left) at the UFO crash site outside of Wink, Texas, 1947
Man at right was the bulldozer operator who dug the mass grave and
later died in a freak boating accident.
introduced himself by his familiar-sounding name and said he'd inflate
our tire in return for a ride to Frio Gato (as the locals call it).
He didn't say he'd "change" our tire - he said the word "inflate".
We weren't about to turn down help since we didn't have a wrench.
We had been trying with little success to loosen the lug nuts with
He removed the lug nuts with a tool he took from his back pocket and
placed them in his mouth. "Suh eh dunt lussum," he mumbled in explanation.
He raised the wheel, pursed his lips, took a deep breath and inflated
the tire with the same effort a normal person would use on a child's
float ring. The tire was inflated in no time - to the point where
he even had to let some air out. He pinched a peanut-sized piece of
asphalt from the road and worked it into the hole, bouncing the tire
repeatedly. We asked him if that helped seal the tire, but he said,
no, he just liked the way tires bounced.
He spat the lug nuts into his hand one at a time as he put them back
on. He apologized for the one he swallowed. He said he could return
it in a day or two - but we told him we'd pick one up at the parts
Driving Brewster to town, we asked him why his name sounded vaguely
familiar. He chuckled and said he had only come up with it last month
after awakening in a Sanderson
motel with no clothes, no ID and no memory. He said it was just like
the punch line to an old joke - including a $20 bill taped to his
He went on to say that the only other item in the room that wasn't
provided by the management was a large "vegetable skin" under him
on the floor - which he described as being "like a sleeping bag made
of green tobacco leaves". His last memory had been attending the State
Fair in Dallas.
We thought we had misheard him, but when we asked when he was born
- he told us in a matter-of-fact tone - "1860". "Let's see," he said,
"that'll make me about 141 years old this November."
Well, that shut us up. Brewster went on to say he could remember just
about everything from 1867 to 1948, but not his name. He didn't go
to the authorities, for he knew they wouldn't believe him - and he'd
probably be held for observation.
He knew he'd be needing a name, so he picked up a hotel map/ place
mat and combined the names of two West
Texas counties. He had toyed with using Ward Reeves or the Southern-Latin
sounding Jeff Davis Presidio. But in the end he decided on Brewster
He told us that things had changed since 1948 (like we needed to be
told) and he was letting the changes soak in a little at a time. He
had been spending his days between the county library and the Frio
Gato domino parlor -filling in the gaps.
Since Brewster said he had been to nearly every town in West
Texas - and has met many familiar names, we couldn't pass up a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this. We asked him if he'd write
for us and he agreed.
So, that's the arrangement we have with Brewster. We feed him and
give him some "walkin' around money" and he makes coffee in the morning.
We've also agreed to help him find his true identity. So, if your
town is one that Brewster has visited, or has once lived in - the
chances are he'd probably have his version of what actually happened
in your hometown.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact