I went out for another morning drive in search of wildflowers. I found a few along a road that was loaded with them when we were here in June 2015 (2015 Texas Trek). I drove to the small town of Castell where there is a General Store that I thought that I could get breakfast. To my surprise they didn't have anything for breakfast, but the owner gave me a free cup of coffee. Randy Leifeste, the owner, introduced himself to me and began to tell me his story. He was born in Castell (pop 7) and lived there since he retired. Apparently the General Store was famous for a pet rooster, Cockaroo, that was known far and wide for performing what might best be described as a fowl and unnatural act with a "Big Mouth Billy Bass" that sings "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Cockaroo died in 2012, but he is still in the store since Randy had him stuffed and mounted. Randy, who is also a real estate broker, told me that "This rooster made $252,000 for me, I did nine real estate deals directly related to the rooster". Apparently after people saw Cockaroo on TV or read about him in the paper, they headed out to Castell to see Cockaroo and occasionally ended up buying local property.
The town's history goes back to the 1840's when a group of German immigrants settled in the area. It was part of a series of five immigrant settlements sponsored by a group of prominent Germans known as the Adelsverein. Castell's German-immigrant founders were progressives and free thinkers and established the settlements dedicated to socialist principles. Castell, the oldest town in Llano County, was the only one to survive. According to Randy "It was a communal-type thing, and It didn't work. Some people worked and some people didn't. Kinda like it is now." When Randy moved back, there wasn't much left of the town, but he opened the General Store along with his son in an old gas station and blacksmith shop built in 1927. The store is frequented by deer hunters, fishermen, bluebonnet tourists and second-home locals in the area, but apparently it's meat cooked over an open pit in the shade of live oaks every Saturday, that's the biggest attraction (now that Cockaroo's gone). Randy makes sure there's something going on most weekends - cookoffs for chili, goat and gumbo, a "testicle festival" ("calf fries,"), the sixth annual 40th birthday party for a Castell regular and a yearly bike race, 100K and 60K, along the back roads.
There was no breakfast, but they do serve lunch every day. The menu is the same and on Wednesday's it's fried chicken (marinated in buttermilk overnight), mashed potatoes, milk gravy, vegetables, and for desert today was peach cobbler and an oatmeal cookie. I told Randy I would be back for lunch with Sue. When we got back there were half a dozen pickup trucks and some cars parked outside. We went in and got our lunch, but before we could eat, Sue was meeting all of the others there for lunch. One woman, Barbara Greer, a country singer who lived in Llano, gave Sue a copy of her CD. We haven't listened to it yet so I can't say how good she is. It'll be tunes for the road tomorrow. Stay tuned for a review.