Author: John Nova Lomax
“An evening at Mack McCormick’s house in Spring Branch always has the same structure, if vastly different forms. First things first: drinks. At 78, the widower is not getting around like he used to, so he asks his guest to fetch them. In his freezer there are Tupperware bottles filled with precisely measured cocktails of McCormick’s own mixing — margaritas, martinis, gin and tonics.
Gin in hand, he leans back in his easy chair, cane by his side, Post-it note-festooned books in easy reach all around him, beloved spaniel Charles at his feet, and the tales start spilling out of him, not as a torrent, but more like a mighty, bending river of lore.
He explains where he got that New Mexican wood-carving of San Rafael, the explicit Kama Sutra candle and the Inuit carving that are all nearby, and then he reminisces on the origins of the Alley Theatre, where he was a stagehand in the earliest days. Next he will swerve toward his travels on the trail of Delta blues phantom Robert Johnson (an endeavor which recently saw him discussed in a Vanity Fair feature; see “The Hoodoo Curse”), and then he’ll switch back sharply through his chance meeting of Ted Williams in the Lamar Hotel coffee shop downtown in the late ’40s. That story will veer into an account of his conversations with Tennessee Williams outside another playhouse on Main. Eventually he will end up back where he started, at the nascent Alley Theatre, which, as he can tell you by experience, really was once accessible only through an alley, and seated about 80 people.”
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