Tag Archives: Stewart Dale Spencer

Two Austin Angels Saved This April Fool

Okay, it was only March 31 but close enough. I was certainly fool enough.

I was on an errand of mercy. My granddaughter was at her mother’s home in Austin but mom was sick and needed to stay home and get well. Hard to do while chasing a 3-year old around. I get the call. I get in the car. I’m thinking, I need to get gas but when I get in the car, I see I have more than enough gas to make it to mom’s place. I thought I remembered that the low-fuel warning had already come on and that I had reset the odometer because I know when that happens, I’m good for at least 50 miles. Had the car for over nine years. Never ran out of gas because I’m no fool . . . or so I thought.

When I looked at the odometer, it said 31 miles. Hmmm. Gas gauge says low-fuel warning is not imminent. I must have gotten some gas and forgot to reset the odometer. Yeah. That’s what happened. Just go get the kid and worry about the gas later.

As soon as I reach FM 973, the low-fuel warning goes off. That’s strange. It looked like I had more than that. No matter . . . got another 50 miles. Reset the odometer and keep rolling! The Universe begins to softly chuckle but I remain oblivious to reality.

I get through the interminable construction on US 290, take the ramp onto US 183 and just when I got up to speed, uh-oh. Power loss. It’s happened before. Some kind of computer glitch. Hmm, the battery light is on. Maybe something is wrong with the charging system. Put it in neutral and coast. Maybe you can make it over that hill and find a place to safely pull off the highway.

april_fool_04Wait. The battery light is on because the engine died. Put the pieces together. D’oh! You were right the first time. You were supposed to get gas before you left town. The fuel gage was just giving you a temporary false reading. That’s why what looked like an extra gallon disappeared in 5 miles.

I crest the hill and Yay! a gas station right at the bottom of the hill! What luck! Umm . . . say . . . there’s no exit and the highway is raised. No choice. I pull over, get out, and look over the wall. Short drop. I can do it. Not sure how I’ll get back up but one problem at a time.

I walk to the Walnut Market at 1900 East Anderson Lane. I explain my dilemma and ask if they have a gas can I can borrow. That’s when I met Angel Number One. A young woman who appeared to have some authority gave me a new gas can from the shelf just to borrow. She could have insisted that I buy it. She didn’t even ask for a deposit.

I get the gas and walk back to where I left the car. Now, from ground level, that wall looks like it might as well be Mount Everest. I can see I won’t be scaling it. No foot or hand-holds. If I had been 30 years younger and 30 pounds lighter, I could have jumped up high enough to set the gas can on the top of the wall and then jump again to put my arms over the wall and scrabble to the top. I look forlornly at the distant summit and realize that if I try that, I will bang my knees, scrape my arms badly, and then just hang there like a slab of meat as I face the reality that I just don’t have the strength to haul my middle-aged, not-exactly-svelt body over the top.

What to do. Walking to the next ramp would take forever. I can ask for a ride but it seems to crazy. My car is right there! Am I going to let a few extra feet cause me to have to travel for miles just to get onto the freeway? Think, man, think! Look around. An office building. Yeah! I just need a box or a step-ladder! Say, lookie there. Some kind of service truck with ladders on top. Angel Number Two. He is just turning on to the access road. I frantically wave at him. He sees me and waves back with a curious look on his face. I point at him and mentally beg him to stop. Miraculously, he hesitates, slows, and finally stops up the street a bit. I walk up to the truck and thank him for stopping. I explain my situation and ask him if he could just set his ladder there for me to climb up and over the wall.

No problem. He hops out, undoes one of the ladders and before I know it I am shaking his hand, thanking him, and — anxious to be on my way — I go up and over, give him a parting blessing and head to the car. I only later realized that I should have taken the time to double check the company name and maybe get the truck number. It was some kind of natural pest control company and this rang a bell when I looked it up: Nature’s Own Pest Control.

After that, I re-discovered that there is a dearth of gas stations for the next few miles on Anderson Lane. I finally get enough gas to feel secure, send a voice-activated text message to mom, inadvertently blaming my delay on the international sanctions against a Middle-Eastern country: “Iran out of gas.”  Oh that auto-correct . . . always joking around. I might as well have said the dog ate my homework. She is a teacher, after all.

It took a while but after I got my granddaughter, I took the can back and figured that I should at least buy some nutritious snacks. The same woman was still there. I thanked her. She said, “I hope the rest of your day is better.”

It already was.

Setting the Record Straight

People often wonder why I am so adamant about always using my middle name, especially on legal documents. The image and the link at the end of this story not only explain my cause but they prove my case. Nevertheless, its a fun story . . . sort of.

When I first moved to San Marcos in 1979, I was working at Taco Bell and looking forward to the day when I could attend Southwest Texas State University to finish what I had started in San Antonio. I showed up to work one day and my coworkers commented that they had seen that I had a DWI. I assured them I had not but they did not believe me and produced a copy of the local paper with a list of indictments from the Hays County Grand Jury. Sure enough, my name was on there: Stewart Spencer.


Now my first and last name are not that unusual but the specific combination and spelling is not common, especially within a limited geographical area. Ever since that day, this other person has been a pebble in my shoe. I don’t think he knows that I exist but that doesn’t matter. Years later, when I first started working at the San Marcos Housing Authority, a coworker called me and said she had heard over a police scanner that I had been mugged at Springtown Mall. She was calling to see if I was okay. Nope. Not me. I recall hearing that his story may have been fabricated.

Almost 10 years ago I bought property in Hays County, just northwest of San Marcos, but when I arranged to move my telephone service I was told by the phone company that I had an unpaid bill and had to pay that before they would move my service. Mind you, I had phone service at my San Marcos apartment for about 5 years before this came up. Upon investigation, I found that the unpaid bill was from the 1990s, during a time when I had a completely different number at another San Marcos address. Apparently they had tagged my Social Security number to the number of this other fella when he walked on a bill. The problem required the personal intervention of the local top dog of the telephone company before it was resolved.

Over the years I found that whenever I had reason to call the police to report some kind of concern, such as a loud and late party down the street in that college town, they thought I was the other guy and seemed to doubt the veracity of my information. Finally, a sympathetic dispatch operator told me that whenever I called, I should say, “I’m not the 96.” That was their code for people with mental issues. After that, I always got a laugh on the other end of the line when I would say, “This is Stewart Dale Spencer. I’m not the 96.”

It got even more fun, if you can call it that, after I moved to that property in the county. The other guy just happened to move out of San Marcos to another area of Hays County at the same time. Consequently, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office became familiar with him. I did not know about this but discovered it after I began to get strange reactions from Sheriff’s Office dispatch when I called about things like a brush fire that was not being supervised.

Fortunately, a patrol supervisor was a friend of mine and he advised the dispatch folks that whenever Stewart Dale Spencer called, he should be taken seriously because he was not the other Stewart Spencer who lived in Wimberley at the time.

In early 2007, when I saw that he had been indicted for a serious crime, I knew I needed to take pre-emptive action. I contacted the editor of the San Marcos Daily Record and he kindly posted a clarification so that I could say, in effect, “I didn’t do it!”


I managed to misplace my copy so many thanks go to Robin Wood and Dr. Arro Smith of the San Marcos Public Library for finding it in their archives and sending it to me. The Daily Record has changed ownership and they no longer had access to the electronic archives of the previous owner.

Why am I boring you with this story? It came up again in a recent custody case. The lawyer had no problem using the Internet to find information on the other Stewart Spencer, who has a different middle initial by the way. It then dawned upon me that this might explain a few things. Anyone taking the time to look it up could easily confuse me with that person and it would certainly affect what they thought of me or, in some cases, whether they would even talk to me again.

I am seriously considering changing my name or perhaps just dropping my first name altogether. “Hello. My name is Spencer . . . Dale Spencer.” I have always liked my middle name. I was given that name in honor of my uncle on my mother’s side. (Hi Unkie Dale!)

A person’s reputation and their good name is a valuable thing. I don’t want mine to be tarnished by the actions of someone else. I prefer to do that myself. Or maybe not. Anyway, see all the details here: Indictment Clarification

The second page shows the original indictment list. The third page shows the clarification in context with the rest of the page published on March 4, 2007. The defense rests, Your Honor.

Be the Best Bean Counter You Can Be!

I am conducting a series of financial literacy classes with the support of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland. The main topics are budgeting, asset-building, credit & credit repair, and first-time home-buying. Attendees get free copies of Quicken for Windows, while supplies last. The first class will be held on Tuesday, October 22 at 7 PM.

The following article appeared in the October issue of “The Voice on the Hill,” the  newsletter of St. Peter’s Church:

Attention everyone who is interested in taking control of their financial life: HELP IS ON THE WAY!

Mr. Stewart Dale Spencer, M.A. in Developmental and Adult Education, will be offering a Financial Literacy Series beginning with what he calls his “Bean Budget Class (or How to Squeeze More Beans out of Your Budget!)” beginning on Tuesday, October 22nd from 7:00 – 8:30 PM in the downstairs Conference Room at St. Peter’s Church. Stewart has been teaching finances, and many other related subjects, for many years to groups of all levels and will be bringing his expertise to Coupland to share with our community. No need to RSVP, just come ready to learn! There is not a cost associated with the class but donations will be accepted.

Stewart says, “What you don’t know can hurt you. Too many people today have grown up with very little knowledge of how our financial system works. Powerful Money Masters control key elements of the financial game. If you don’t know the rules, you can’t play the game very well. The stakes of this game are high. Your future and that of your children and grandchildren are on the line. Let me help you become a money master in your own right. Learn how to control your expenses, how to better manage your income, how credit works and how you can make yours better, how to build assets on your current income, and the pros and cons of homeownership as well as alternative paths to homeownership.”


Kali says, "My P-Pop is teaching me about real money!" (Okay, I made that up. After all, she's only three but someday she will understand. You don't have to wait so long. Come and learn what everyone used to know!)

Kali says, “My P-Pop is teaching me about real money!” (Okay, I made that up. After all, she’s only three but someday she will understand. You don’t have to wait so long. Come and learn what everyone used to know!)

Why Do We Love Stories So Much?

_storyteller_Anker_Grossvater_1884I have been interviewing people to learn more about Coupland’s history from a variety of perspectives. I love hearing the stories and I will be sharing them with you on a regular basis.

A few years ago, I wrote an academic paper on storytelling but it was done from the perspective of my personal experiences with storytelling. If you have ever wondered about why people like stories so much or  what role storytelling plays in human cultures, I think you will enjoy this paper.

Here is a short summary:

This paper describes a journey to uncover whether or not Indigenous Learning techniques can be applied to modern adult education venues. It begins with an exploration of the value and role of storytelling. It explains the psychological foundations of storytelling and the effects thereof. It continues with a description of a variety of stories both from the personal life of the researcher and from adult education literature. It examines a multi-tribal American Indian project at certain Tribal Colleges and Universities to reclaim the stories of a number of tribes and to apply the cultural values of those peoples to American Indian-sponsored higher education programs. The journey provides the backdrop and inspiration for future adult education programs targeting low-income families which will attempt to draw upon the power of storytelling and the educational methods of American Indians.

Click here to read the entire paper: The Roles of Storytelling in Adult Education

Stewart Dale Spencer