My first thought on hearing that my friend Carlton Carl had bought the sleepy Central Texas hamlet of Martindale was that the dog stole one of our best ideas. Turns out he did—and he’s welcome to it. Back in the seventies, we few founding fathers of Mad Dog Inc. tried several times to buy just such a town. We planned to rechristen it the Republic of Mad Dog, secede from Texas, write a constitution, and live happily ever after, details to be worked out on the fly. Predictably, each attempt was thwarted, possibly because nobody wanted to do business with an organization whose stated purpose was doing “indefinable services to mankind.” It wasn’t until I actually visited Martindale with Carlton on a blistering hot day last August, however, that I realized how close we’d come to making a dreadful mistake. Or how our long-dormant ambition had inspired his folly.
Driving east from San Marcos to Martindale on Texas Highway 80, Carlton told me that he began fantasizing about buying and restoring