Editors’ note: This column originally appeared in the Feb. 2 edition of the Austin American-Statesman. It is reprinted here with permission.
MANCHACA, Texas — Paul Moran must be the only man on the planet selling shaved ice for a living who has an extensive collection of John Updike’s stuff.
Moran has what he says are the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist’s brown leather moccasins from L.L. Bean, a piece of paper where Updike jotted down how much he spent on stamps, and Christmas cards sent to Updike from Sen. John McCain and presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. He has Updike’s address book, a cooler full of thousands of Updike’s canceled checks, a wooden box presented to Updike with the presidential seal on it, a letter to Updike from singer and actress Doris Day, and a bunch more that you can view at johnupdikearchive.com.
“Here’s his payment of $1.34 for being in an episode of the Simpsons,” Moran said. Updike’s cartoon self appeared in a 2000 episode that featured Drew Barrymore as Krusty the Clown’s daughter.
Moran even has Updike’s watch. I couldn’t make out the brand. What is it? “A cheap one, I think,” Moran said. “He didn’t wear Rolexes. He was a simple man.”
So now you’re wondering how a guy who runs his Maui Wowee shaved ice trailer on FM 1626 about a half-mile west of the Manchaca fire station gets his hands on all this Updike memorabilia.
“All I can say is I’ve met Updike, but I’ve been advised not to say anything,” Moran said. Moran, who is from Boston and moved here a year and a half ago, said that he was an acquaintance of Updike and that he met him more than 10 years ago as he was leaving a concert at his Episcopal church in Beverly Farms.