Books, Burgers, and Bun'n'Barrel

For a household wherein the last time we packed out from an overseas assignment and the movers had a pool going on how many cartons of books they would finish up with - the count eventually topped out at 65 - we have an unseemly greed for more. We do not disdain any opportunity to explore second-hand bookstores, rummage sales, Half Price Books, the massive yearly PTA book sale at the Blossom Athletic Center, and the regular sales at our local San Antonio Library branch. The management there very kindly puts out a banner at the well-trafficked corner of Judson and Nacogdoches, and I have scored some lovely book bargains there in the past, notably when it came to Texiana.

Yes, my need for reference books on aspects of Texas history is practically bottomless, mostly because I never know when I might have to look up some relevant factoid, because I need it now this very minute for the current chapter of the current book I am scribbling and to drive two blocks to the Semmes branch, or to order it from the central stacks is just too inconvenient because I need it NOW. On the whole, it's just faster and easier to reach up and get the reference I need from a book on the shelf within arm's reach - so, yes. More books.

We got in line about 9:30 last Saturday morning - and if that sounds as if it were too early - there were already a goodly assortment of people gathered in front of the library, a few of whom had sent their significant others around the corner for breakfast tacos. There weren't any professional book purchasers this time; the experts who have very specific requirements, and usually plastic crates on luggage carriers, and make a tidy living skimming off the cream of the books and re-selling them on the internet. The doors opened at 10:00 sharp, everyone crammed into the little room to the left of the main doors where the books were laid out - eh, a thin collection, this time, only a few volumes of Texiana, and nothing much to speak of in the way of cookbooks. My daughter found more to her interest - Wine for Dummies, a book of jokes and one of directions to knit afghans, among some others.

We took our harvesting home, and went to check out an estate sale in Alamo Heights, but nothing really took our attention at it, so finished up for lunch at one of the Austin Highway's landmark eateries - the Bun ‘n' Barrel. A friend who has lived a long time in San Antonio remembers when the Bun ‘n' Barrel had car-hops on roller-skates; it was then a classic 1950s' burger joint and teen hang-out. The car-hops are long gone, but the burgers and BBQ are not. The BBQ pit is out back, and they have expanded into catering, and will also do custom cooking . . . just bring in your beast - venison, a wild boar or whatever, thawed if previously frozen, please, and allow twenty-four hours for maximum succulence.

We didn't want to wait that long - just a burger and a brisket sandwich, please - and my daughter indulged herself with an order of mozzarella sticks, which were delish. The burgers and brisket - good, not as good as Sams' on Broadway, or Easy Pickins in Harper, but still quite good, much better than your average fast food franchise place. Over the next few months, we plan to eat our way along the Austin Highway, so stay tuned.

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