Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Los Jaks MC

“You don’t need a bike to join us,” Ruben Gonzales said from his chair at the bar of The Oasis. “Chile Verde, hamburgers, beer, music and Harleys. You can’t beat that, man.”

He wore a black skull cap with red, orange, and yellow chiles. Boxes of Tecate were stacked on the bar and a poster of a pearly-white Harley-Davidson covered the front wall. His black mustache quirked. “Bring your kids,” he said, “The Hamburgers are free.”

Gonzales is talking about this weekend’s Los Jaks MC biker bash at The Oasis in Marathon, Texas. It starts Friday night and goes all weekend. For the riders there’ll be a Poker Run, A Slow Move and a Weinee Bite. All proceeds benefit St Mary’s Church.

Los Jaks is a motorcycle club started in Marathon several years ago. All twelve members ride Harley Davidsons. “But we’re open to any kind of bike,” Gonzales said. “I had a Honda, but I gave it to my son. Now I ride a Dyna Super-Glide with the Evo motor.” He rubbed the gold chain on his neck. “I love that machine.”

Gonzales handed me a Tecate. The Monday night dinner crowd is streaming in. The locals wave, the tourists aren’t sure which door to use. Marilyn Shackleford stops. “Ruben, who’s cooking tonight?”

“Don’t worry,” Gonzales said. “I’m going to fix you some good beans.”

She laughs and walks to the restaurant wing.

Gonzales is also Marathon’s Constable. He’s in his third term and up for re-election in November. “Un-contested,” he grinned. “The job is all about civil process. Serving papers and other official duties.”

A couple walked in holding hands. He’s in khaki pants and a tucked in blue polo shirt. She’s wearing a long cotton chafon. They walk past the bar and into the restaurant.

“Seventy-five per cent of my business is tourists,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales was born and raised in Marathon. As a kid he spent a lot of time at The Post. “We’d walk there. Across the pastures, it was faster,” Gonzales said. “Fish and swim all day.”

One of Gonzales’s first jobs in Marathon was working as a service station attendant. “There were four gas stations then. By the 1970’s there were seven,” he said.

Later he got a tortilla route. “Thirty-nine cents a dozen, and gas was eighty-seven cents a gallon. I had stops in Terlilngua, Alpine, Presidio, Redford, Balmorhea. I was always asking questions, thinking, one of these days I’ll open my own restaurant.”

Ruben and his wife Coi opened The Oasis Restarant and Bar in 1995. They opened a second restarant this year, next to the Gage Hotel called, “Jonnie B’s”.

“Business is good,” Gonzales said. He grins, “I like my job.”

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