In earlier Tidbits, I wrote about features of places I have lived as a result of my military assignments. This one is about the great little Texas town of San Angelo. At least two things make it so wonderful. The people were very friendly and, in late 1963 to mid 1964, the cost of living was low.
There was one shocker, though, that I will get out of the way right up front before getting to the good stuff. My rental apartment at 903 South Abe Street (it is no longer there) did not have any laundry facilities, so that chore was done at a laundromat on West Beauregard Avenue. I was shocked to see a faded sign over one of its two water fountains that said “Whites Only.” Thankfully, times has changed!
Now for the more pleasant memories. One of the things that made San Angelo so inexpensive was food. But before I get too far into that, there was something unique about the town: small drive-up grocery stores! Parking was in front of the stores which were recessed a bit from the streets. You would pull in and flash your lights to let the store know you were there. In far less than a minute, some young guy would come trotting out to ask what you wanted, go inside and return very shortly with your goods and a cash register receipt. After you paid, he would load the stuff in your car and hand you the receipt. You never left the car and were quickly back on the road. That is service!
As for food, I generally went to the Goodfellow Air Force Base Commissary. However, for meat, I watched the newspaper ads for specials. Every week it seemed, some store offered 25 pounds of meat for $15. Yes, you read that right. It wasn’t a high-on-the-hog package, although there would usually be two sirloin or better steaks. The rest would be a nice beef roast, a whole chicken, maybe a couple of cube steaks, a bit of breakfast sausage, and lots of hamburger. It made life must tastier for low-ranking airmen with small paychecks.
A few blocks east from my apartment located on West Washington Drive was a Hostess Bakery outlet that featured day-old goods. That was the source of bread and hamburger buns and the solace for my pastry cravings.
Restaurants, too, were reasonable. One of my favorites was a place on West Beauregard where it turned into Sherwood Way that featured Broasted Chicken. To learn about “broasting,” check out this article. There are only two places in the world where I have had chicken as good: a small tavern in Nea Filadelfia, Greece (a bedroom community for Athens) that did chicken on a spit over coals, and in a small dive (I no longer recall its name) in what is now Songtan City, outside Osan Air Base, Korea.
As for steaks, my uncle recommended a place on Sherwood Way. He suggested that for people on a tight budget, to ask for Kansas City steak for two – and a doggie bag. He was right, the meal was excellent and included a salad and baked potato along with more KC steak than could be eaten at one sitting. I went back another time with a bit more money to get a porterhouse for sharing. That steak was too huge to fit completely on a large steak platter – but we managed to finish that one off at the restaurant.
All in all, Goodfellow and San Angelo were easy living!