At the same Gulf station I talk about in my story about Blue Chip stamps—Don’t Do That!—I had another interesting experience. Buckeye, Arizona was a farming and ranching community, so there were a lot of cowboys in the little desert community.
One of those cowboys was Tom Cox. He was several years older than me, but he liked to stop by the station and chat with me while I worked. On one of his visits, he sauntered in while I was fixing a flat tire. He had somebody with him, but I didn’t recognize the guy until he got up close. I couldn’t recall his name, but I knew he’d been in the movie, El Dorado, with John Wayne a couple of years earlier.
After Tom introduced me to his pal, James Caan, the three of us shot the breeze for a few minutes. Turns out Caan and Tom were calf-roping buddies, and got together to team rope quite often—still do, so I’ve heard.
They didn’t stay long, and I never saw James Caan in person again, but I’ve been a big fan ever since. How can you not be a fan after you’ve shook hands with the guy and talked about calf roping in a Gulf station garage bay?
At one point during the conversation I was struggling to get the tire onto the rim, and James Caan stepped up and pushed down on one side of the tire. As the machine spun the tire onto the wheel I grinned and thanked him, and he did that James Caan head-tilt and gave me one of his already patented grins in return.
So, I like to tell people me and James Caan worked together at a gas station back in the day. Well… we did, didn’t we?