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Best Barbecue Formerly Bever's Crossing BBQ - now,
For Sale In Ropes(ville), Texas...

For The Best Barbecue In Texas, Go to Wyoming

by Rick Vanderpool
Texana Editor

Blast that Buddy Bevers! Sorry, I've yet to meet the man, but I could choke him. And if you were a Texas BBQ fan, you'd help. Get the picture

It being almost a personal crusade to sample the best "Q" from as many different Texas joints (under the pretense of photographing the signs) as time, funds, and my arteries will allow, it was with no small measure of anticipation that I departed Lubbock, the morning of June 24, on a quest that would have amounted to finding the end of the rainbow - in gustatory terms, that is.

Aside: Perhaps I had it coming, the heartbreak I am about to share, due to the fact that I skipped several sessions of our daughter's freshman orientation in order to make the trek from Texas Tech to Ropesville, Texas, where my well-worn copy of Richard K. Troxell's, Barbecuing Around Texas [Republic of Texas Press; 2000] told me I would find nothing less than - in Troxell's opinion, at any rate - "the best barbecue in the state of Texas."

Okay, so I was playing hooky from my daughter's (soon-to-be) school. Like I asked my wife, what are they going to do, flag my grades? Anywho, Troxell said that Buddy Bevers - may his ears burn, as his fire sputters - and his family had transformed the former [Santa Fe RR] station master's house into a Texas BBQue Mecca, Bevers' Crossing, and I was bound to sample the evidence, I mean picture it, for myself.

Ropesville, or Ropes as the locals call it, is your basic "wide spot" in the road - in west Texas or anywhere else - the road being U.S. Highways 82/62. Thankfully it is a wide road, because several other motorists were able to stay in it while swerving to avoid colliding with the idiot (their words, I'm sure - not mine) who stopped dead when he beheld the large "For Sale" sign in front of the former station master's house, now the site of former purveyance of perfect Texas BQue. And just like that, up in smoke, if you will, my plan for a sampling of (according to Troxell, and now indisputable) perfect brisket and pork ribs, was as gone as last week's potato salad.

Well, you better know I wanted an explanation, and a dang good one, for this level of disappointment, so I dodged another semi or two and drove all the way back uptown, or perhaps it was downtown, to the City of Ropesville Office & Municipal Court - positively the longest block I have ever circled - where I strode boldly up to the counter and asked the three souls who were absorbed in some computer snafu, "what happened to y'all's barbeque joint?"

One lady (later learned her name is Sue Coker) looked up and said words that I had always imagined might be nice for someone to utter about me one day, but in this instance, they were horrible, hateful, utterly discouraging words that no person should ever utter about another human being - especially someone who had allegedly done what that rascal Buddy Bevers had done (making 10+ Texas bar-b-cue - if indeed he ever did).

"He moved to Wyoming," Ms. Coker said simply, her words innocent enough, yet tearing through my heart, not to mention my appetite, like an electric knife through hot brisket. I could not come up with a reply to express my grief, or my hunger, so I just nodded, mumbled 'thanks', and turned to leave. "Been closed awhile," the other lady added (Ofelia Corral), just as I reached the door. Closing the door of my pickup, I chided myself, why did you wait so long to look for this place?

Aside: So, was it because I had cut those orientation sessions at Tech, that all I had to show for my visit to Ropesville was a photograph of Bevers' Crossing? For someone as faithful as I, someone so dedicated to a mission or task, that's not justice, poetic or otherwise, is it? And if it is, all the more reason to wish a faulty stack and rotten wood on Mr. B., wherever he is in Wyoming - even the name of the place seems to pose the obvious question - "why?". To me, and I hope to everyone who reads this, Buddy Bevers is forever a fugitive - guilty of hijacking Texas' best bar-b-que - or so Richard Troxell once wrote.

As I drove back to Lubbock, there was an emptiness inside me to match the landscape on either side of the road. That emptiness began in my stomach, but it spread over me with the sad realization that my quest for Texas' best barbecue must continue. I would have to go on and on, sampling here, tasting there, at every joint I discovered in my wanderings across the length and breadth of the best darn barbeque state in the country. Like someone said, it's a tough job, but pits happen

Update: August 26, 2004 - I was able to chat more with Sue Coker in Ropesville, by phone, this morning and she gave me contact information for the BBQ hijacker. I plan to have a few choice words with him later today or tomorrow and see what he has to say for himself - not that it can save him from the wrath of Texas BBQ lovers, once I go public with his dastardly deed and disclose his whereabouts. Stay tuned

Rick Vanderpool and his artist wife live in Commerce, Texas where they share an art studio called Prairie Rose Studio. His book Looking for Texas: Essays From the Coffee Ring Journal chronicle his travels on the road shooting the word Texas.

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