Texas Hot Rod

Don E. Granger leans against the sun-bleached 55 Chevy parked behind his hardware store located in Grangerland, Texas. The car lost its luster decades ago, and even the once sleek chrome hood ornament is dull with age. Weeds skirt the car’s tires now. This Chevy hasn’t budged from its spot in years. But its 89-year old owner and former high school coach is still proud of the ride he bought with his hard-earned pay over six decades ago. Granger pats the car’s rust-speckled front quarter panel.

“I bought this when I got out of the Army in 1955 for $1,645. I had about $1,000 saved up and put it on the car,” he says. “I used it so much I had to drop a couple of motors in it.”

While the Chevy hasn’t seen the road in years, Granger isn’t ready to get rid of the car yet.

“People have offered to buy it from me, but I just can’t sell it. I’d like to get it fixed again,” he says.

Granger’s hardware store is in the virtual heart of Grangerland, the town that grew out of the camp his father and uncle built for roughnecks working in the famed Conroe Oilfield last century.

At face value, Grangerland looks like any other sun-faded sawmill and railroad Texas towns. But it’s the kind of place where businesses shut down at sunset, and church pews are full on Sunday. A sign in Granger’s shop warns customers to watch their mouth. In other words, no foul language allowed.

“I’ve never been one for cussing,” he says. “They used to call me ‘chicken head’ in college because I refused to use foul language. How you speak is important.”

Granger concedes that his upbringing and faith set him apart.

“When I was a teenager, I came out as a Christian. Both of my parents were believers. It never really bothered me what people said about me because I knew I was on the right track.”