It was my first trip back to Austin after joining Cong. Pickle's office in Washington, D.C., and I was looking forward to seeing old friends.
Mr. Pickle leaned over and began to give me advice: Now, George, you're going to be 1,500 miles from home and I don't want you staying out all night in bars and coming in to work the next day still half drunk.
But while you're out, find reporters and buy them drinks. Here's twelve bucks. (Remember, I told you he was tight with money.) Knowing $12 wouldn't go far even in the 1970's, I went to the bank and got a hundred dollar bill. Big dog.
In those days, the reporters hung out at the Alamo Hotel, which was two blocks from the Austin American Statesman's downtown building.
Seedy is too dressy to describe the Alamo Lounge. It was dark, dank, smoke-filled, in other words, just perfect.
The drinks were cheap and the B.S. was strong.
At Last Call, the waitress delivered the bill, a whopping $32.00. Since I was the ranking political flack at the table, I was expected to pay. So I whipped out the hundred dollar bill.
The bartender couldn't make change. Seriously.
OK, the reporters said as they fished for quarters to help pony up, you buy tomorrow night, Phenix.
Next night, same bar, same reporters, roughly the same bill, same results, the bartender could not make change for my $100 bill. The reporters grumbled, but paid the tab.
Next day, two of the Capital Press showed up at my office in the Federal Building. They personally escorted me to the bank to break the hundred.
That night, I paid.