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 Texas : Features : Small Town Chronicles

Southern Clay
Gonzales, Texas

by Jack Teagarden
Southern Clay is an unusual business for any town. This English owned company first came to our attention from the dessert section on a local restaurant's menu. They had named a dessert after the company because of its popularity with the employees who can't seem to get enough of it. When we asked the waitress what was Southern Clay and what do they do? She replied; "Something to do with dirt." With this amusing but useless information we returned to the Chamber of Commerce where we always go for frank and candid answers. 

This is what we found out: Long ago before the earth cooled, a volcano erupted in Mexico and spewed lots of volcanic ash in Gonzales County. (This may also have had something to do with the extinction of the dinosaurs, but right now we're concerned about Gonzales County). This is the stuff that they now mine. Somehow, someone discovered that this ash, when mixed with super secret ingredients (one of which may or may not be the sweet and sour sauce at Yang's Chinese Restaurant), caused things to adhere to other things. Many of the clients of Southern Clay are household names, like Covergirl makeup, Sherwin Williams paints and Colgate toothpaste. This may be the answer to the question: If nothing sticks to Teflon, how does Teflon stick to the frying pan?

This story seemed so outlandish; we had to see for ourselves. Up to this point the Chamber had never even come close to exaggeration.

At the offices of Southern Clay, we were introduced to resident Geologist Keith Stultz.

Keith confirmed what we had been told and had the date of when the earth cooled on his desk calendar. We thought this would turn into a sedimental journey when he spoke of his College days, but it was a gneiss informative visit. (Pre-Cambrian Humor.) It's unusual to find someone so well versed on the basics of their profession. 

So now when someone asks you "What do they do at Southern Clay?", just tell them "it's something to do with dirt".

Now, geologists are well known for their bedrock opinions, so when we asked Keith about food, we got a strong bedrock answer: "Toni's is the best place to eat in Gonzales." (Geologists make good food critics since they use Moh's (Not the stooge) Scale of Hardness to rate Barbecue.)

Summer, 1999

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