The voice coming from the tall man with the oft-broken nose was unmistakable to anyone who watched Monday Night Football during the 1970s: “I’m Jeff and Hazel’s baby boy from Mount Vernon, Texas,” Don Meredith said to a visitor, imitating the line he used often during his 12 years as an Emmy-winning color commentator alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford. His other trademark was singing a Willie Nelson song – “Turn out the Lights (The Party’s Over)” – whenever a team was getting pounded.

Meredith returned to his small hometown last weekend for his 50th high school reunion and to greet folks at a museum exhibit that the town put together in his honor (it’s in an old firehouse near the town square – to get there, drive two hours east on I-30 and take the Mount Vernon exit).

Probably half the boys who grew up in Fort Worth in the 1960s idolized Meredith, the All-Pro quarterback for a fledgling Dallas Cowboys franchise that was still years away from becoming America’s Team. Meredith was about the coolest cat around, a gutsy, talented quarterback with an irreverent sense of humor and knack for mischief that tested Coach Tom Landry’s patience but made him a star on and off the field.

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And he hasn’t changed much despite being a veritable hermit for the past 25 years or so (he settled in New Mexico after retiring from Monday Night Football). At 68, his hair’s turned gray but he remains trim, handsome, and mischievous. Static wanted an autograph and asked “Dandy Don” to sign a Doral cigarette pack. Meredith wrote his name across the pack, then winked, smiled, and reached inside and nabbed a ciggy to go smoke behind the museum.

We’ll Get Right on It

Mike Maas owns Lighthouse Equipment Storage, a U.S. Customs-bonded storage facility for high-dollar freight from steamship lines and out-of-state trucking companies. His place is over in the Hicks Field Industrial Park area, recently annexed by Fort Worth, and he was one of the people who fought the annexation in court.

“We all argued that we already had great county services out there and that there was no way that Fort Worth could match them,” he said. The unwilling annexees lost the fight, the area became part of Fort Worth last year, and Maas subsequently got a close-up look at the quality of city services his taxes will now pay for.

On the night of Oct. 1, thieves cut through his fence and stole a tractor-trailer load of computers. His security folks called the Fort Worth Police Department, and an officer showed up early the next day to take a report. “He told us a detective would be coming by to follow up. Well, that’s nearly two weeks ago,” Maas said.

The company that owned the trailer had to hire its own private investigators, who found the empty trailer in Burleson a few days later. “And I’m still waiting on that Fort Worth detective,” Maas said.