Jailbreaks, Cherry Cokes and Wasp Stings: Never a Dull Moment

The Texas Story Project.

Some people might think nothing happens in small Texas towns, but life was exciting at times growing up “in the middle of nowhere” for Lisa Wheeler Dausin, retired Tennis Coach at St. Mary’s University.

For starters, she nearly got caught up in a real live Shoot-out while walking “to town” for a Cherry Coke. Captain A.Y. Allee, one of the last of the famous Texas Rangers, was on one side of that shoot out. His wife also happened to be Lisa’s 4th grade teacher in 1966. Lisa remembers singing hymns during “Music” class in the public school in Carrizo Springs back in those days.

It happened like this. One day Lisa and her best friend were walking to town in pursuit of a Cherry Coke at the local pharmacy. Suddenly, they started hearing noises which sounded like firecrackers. They didn’t pay much attention to it. However, the sounds they heard were actually the pops of gunfire! There was a jailbreak taking place less than 2 blocks away. When the Sherriff’s wife had taken a meal to the prisoners they attacked her, forced her to give them the keys to the cell and the gun case, then held her hostage. Captain Allee was called to the scene and soon thereafter a gunfight exploded. The story goes that the Captain told the prisoners he would count to 10 and begin fire. His deputy reported that he only made it to 3 and began fire! So it was not firecrackers but bullets that were being fired very near where Lisa and her friend were. Thankfully, Lisa’s great aunt lived en route to the jailhouse, intercepted the two girls and hurried them into her house for safety.

Born in Del Rio, a border town of Mexico, Lisa traveled with her father every day to Mexico. It’s not everyone who grows up traveling internationally twice a day. Every morning they would drive across the bridge over the Rio Grande River to “Acuna” to pick up the nanny in Mexico who cared for Lisa while her parents worked. Then back again in the late afternoon. Thanks to her nanny who spoke no English, Lisa spoke more Spanish than English in her early childhood.

Brady, Texas provided Lisa a memory which was not as much of a “near miss” as Carrizo Springs. Lisa loved to ride with her father as he played golf on the weekends. It was her “job” to help him spot his golf ball. One day one of his shots hit a wasp nest hanging from a tree. When Lisa went to retrieve what she thought was his ball, dozens of wasps swarmed around her and stung her. Fortunately, her father’s golf partner was also a doctor. He had been smoking a cigar. He quickly took out tobacco from his cigar, chewed it to make it moist, then place a bit on each of the wasp stings. This helped extract the stingers and soothed her quickly. Lisa appreciates the old-time, small town ingenuity.

Lisa’s father’s business prowess expanded to several towns in South Texas. In 1966, her father partnered with a friend and opened “Hot Pit BBQ #1 in Del Rio. Thanks to its success, #2 opened in Carrizo Springs in 1968. #3 opened 2 years later in Uvalde. While living in Uvalde, Lisa fondly remembers the high school football team winning the State Championship. Marvin Gustafson was the Head Coach and later became the Athletic Director in Northside ISD in San Antonio. It was he who gave Lisa her first coaching position in 1980. Lisa can thank barbeque for leading the way to the first major step in her career.

Her life in small Texas towns gave Lisa great rewards – fluency in Spanish, knowledge of good barbeque, a first tennis job, story-telling skills, and many wonderful memories of an interesting childhood.

Louis Bonnay is an international business major at St Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. He is playing tennis for St Mary’s, he is from France and he is really excited to discover the stories of such a big state like Texas. ​

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