Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On Valley Time

Smitty's Juke Box Museum
Jukes on display and being restored.
Helen by an old Rockola.
A variety of old machines.
Moonrise over a Texas Olive.
A green jay and cardinal.
Tom Landry Mural

We continue to enjoy the warm but windy weather of the Rio Grande Valley. Holiday Village, where we are staying because of the good rate, is a very nice park BUT it is to close to the highway and there is constant noise from the traffic. In our travels around the area we have found some nice RV parks away from the beaten path. If we decide to return and stay for longer than the two weeks we stayed this time, there are other places that offer good long term rates.

In Pharr we visited Smitty's Juke Box Museum which has displays of restored music machines ranging from ones that played original Edison records to ones that played CD's. We talked with Helen Schmitt who told us she and her husband have been in the vending business, which her son now runs, for over sixty years. This was a real trip down memory lane for me because many of the juke boxes from the 50's, 60's and 70's were the same ones my dad, Bob, had when he was in the vending business. There were Seburgs, Wurlitzers, AMIs, Rowes, and Rockolas that Bob had used and also antiques from the early 1900's and on. The older machines only had as few as ten 78rpm records to choose from while Helen told us the new broadband Internet jukes have a virtual unlimited number of selections that can be changed and monitored over the net from the office. Helen and I swapped stories about being in the business that also included cigarette machines, bowling machines, pool tables and pinballs. We had one of the old pinball machines in our stix and brix home which was very popular when we had parties and get-togethers and was the last things we got rid of when we sold. If you are in Pharr be sure to stop and see this museum and chat with Helen.

One evening we went to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park to do some birding. The park which is the home of the World Birding Center is closed to motorized vehicles except for a tram that runs during the day. It is a great place to bike but we chose to walk and were rewarded with seeing some great wildlife. We saw many species including several beautiful green jays, cardinals, chachalacas, a woodpecker and others. We saw several javelinas, which we have never seen in the wild. But the real highlight was seeing not one but two bobcats. As we were looking for birds from a blind a bobcat walked through along the edge of the woods and as we were driving home near the park one ran across the road. We got a real good look at that one because he stayed at the edge of the woods even as we backed up to see him. Unfortunately, we did not get pictures of the cats. They are just too quick. In addition, we saw a huge number of green parakeets on the telephone wires in McAllen as they were getting ready to roost for the night but it was too late to get a good photo.
In Mission we saw the Tom Landry Mural that honors the Cowboys' coach who was born and raised there. While we are in no way Dallas fans, it was neat to see the display that included the signature, hand and footprints of former Dallas running back Tony Dorsett who is a Pitt grad from Western PA. GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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