My little sister, Gretchen, lives just over three hours from my front door in a teeny little town of around 6,500 peeps. Ever hear of Cuero? No? I thought so. Last week was my first visit. The town is kinda near Victoria. Geez … it has a been a very long time since an old timey Texas town appeared in my rearview mirror.
I visited with my mom and family for a few days and even disconnected the map app on my iPhone. Found getting lost was not an option even though I tried. Most everything, including the beautiful little church on Sunday, was within a four-block radius.
Did I mention Gretchen works at the local hardware store located on Cuero’s main drag? Wagner’s is a historic 1800s’ hardware store. It also has the distinction of being the oldest working hardware store in Texas. Walking through the unbelievably tall wood frame doors onto the narrow wooden planking was just the beginning of my stroll through history. What a cool place! There was even a lovely ladies’ gift shop up two wooden and worn flights of stairs. Totally expected a cowboy outta an old western to trip me with his six-shooter halfway up.
I believe everyone in Cuero must know my sister. She does so many little kind things for people. Heck, she is always sending adorable cards to our Mimi. Why was I surprised upon learning she was doing it for everyone else? I swear … if you poked her in the finger with a needle … authentic maple syrup would drain out. Gretchen is that sweet and genuine.
At Christmas, she brought her famous Bourbon Pecan Pie to our house. It was beyond delicious. Remind me to ask her for the recipe.
“I made eight pies for people,” she said, flashing her smile.
She also told us to keep the glass pie plate. Gretchen learned a tip from watching Martha Stewart that stuck like pink bubblegum to her tennie runners. Martha said to purchase inexpensive glass pie plates from garage sales throughout the year. Then gift your loved ones with a homemade pie and tell them to keep the plate.
Did I mention her homemade cookies are also famous in Cuero? It is why they call her the “Cookie Lady.” She brings her signature oatmeal cookies to the hardware store, but also to the sheriff’s dispatch office, her veterinarian and the Texas State Troopers eating lunch at Rosie’s Mexican Restaurant two doors down from Wagner’s. I totally expect the next time I visit someone will have erected a billboard with Gretchen’s picture on it right next to the Cuero Rotary sign. It will read “Home of the Cookie Lady.”
“Sometimes I get a text that just says ‘cake’ or ‘cookies’ and I know to run down to Wagner’s for one of Gretchen’s treats,” says my brother, Carl, who also lives in Cuero.
During our visit at Christmas over pecan pie, Gretchen told me a story about a little boy that lives down the street from her and Lindy. Rowdy is about 7 with sandy blond hair and talks to everybody. He loves to show Lindy the new additions to his rock collection. Yep … Rowdy is a frequent visitor.
Recently Rowdy’s family borrowed some sweetener from Gretchen.
“When he brought the bowl back with the remaining sweetener, I was doing some Christmas baking, so I just filled up the bowl for him to take back with oatmeal cookies,” Gretchen said.
Ten or 15 minutes later there was a gentle “tap, tap” at their door. Rowdy told Gretchen his dad wanted to buy some of her oatmeal cookies. Gretchen told Rowdy, “no,” and gave him a dozen more.
Another ten to 15 minutes Rowdy returns with his signature “tap, tap.” He asks how much for three dozen cookies? His dad needs them by 3 o’clock on Thursday. Gretchen surmises they must be for a Christmas party. On Thursday, Lindy delivers the three dozen cookies over to Rowdy’s house for Gretchen with instructions. DO NOT accept any money. Turns out the cookies were not for a party. Rowdy’s father just wanted them for himself.
Can’t wait until I return to quaint little Cuero for another visit. Betcha $9 there are lots more Texas tales to discover behind those historic facades.