Richard Boone of Lake Highlands first went to the State Fair of Texas when he was just two weeks old. His mom worked at the Maxwell House Coffee booth. She wanted to show off her newborn to her coworkers.
Thursday, 100 years later, Boone strolled into the Fair for what is, technically, the beginning of his 101st State Fair of Texas year.
He turned 100 last month. And every year, except for the years it was put on hold by World Wars I and II, Boone has made his annual pilgrimage.
"Just live one day at a time,” he said when we asked for his advice on how to live to 100. “Don't push it,” he said with a laugh.
We first met Boone this past Monday at his home. His mementos and souvenirs from every Fair visit were spread out across his dining room table. But first, we talked about his underwear.
We’d interrupted his “wash day.”
"I've got about 15, 16 underpants. And when I get down to the ones with Donald Ducks on it, it's time to wash,” he laughed.
Boone and his family used to live across the street from the Fair, very near the grand gate. And Thursday, Senior Day, when he could get free admission, he traveled with his daughter Anita and son-in-law Andy Chase for his 2016 fairgrounds stroll.
He also parked across the street for free because the attendant realized Mr. Boone is the one who still owns the lot.
And even at 100, Boone doesn’t use a wheelchair or stroller. Other than a brief ride on the fairground shuttle, he walked the entire route using only a cane.
"No scooter. Maybe two or three years from now,” he laughed.
“He’s hard to keep up with,” his daughter Anita said. "He's a man with a mission, especially when it comes to the Fair."
"The Fair has been in our blood all the time. If I go and get a corny dog and see Big Tex talk, why, I'll be happy. That’s a good day,” he said.
His good day lasted a couple of hours. He followed his well-worn fairground path, saw Big Tex and got the coveted corny dog he was seeking. And he also joked he was looking for his “girlfriends” too – lady friends from his church he was expecting to find at Big Tex.
But while he was searching for them, he was stopped by dozens of others who’d heard about him and wanted to congratulate him on his 100 years. And when his son-in-law arrived with a handful of corny dogs, Richard’s quest, at least for 2016, was complete.
"It is great. It's delicious,” he said.
“As good as you remembered?” I asked.
“Yeah. Better,” he laughed one more time.
And as we left Richard, he was still waiting at Big Tex for those girlfriends -- Pauline and Carole. But that's OK. He's a patient man enjoying one day, one moment at a time. Maybe he’ll catch them next year.
After all he’s planning to be back – for corny dog, year 102.