You might call Buck Elliott a living landmark.
Most mornings for the past 27 years, he’s sat out in front of his Mayhill Road home and waved at passing cars. As with some landmarks, plenty of folks speed by the spot, between Spencer and Morse roads, and never see a thing. But, for many others, driving by and returning the greeting is part of their day.
Elliott, 75, sits in a lawn chair off the front stoop and lifts his arm from the armrest with a couple of fingers pointing up, so not every car gets a full wave.
“I have a lot more customers these days,” he said.
When he first moved to Mayhill Road, it was the country, Elliott said. He likes spending the day outside; as for waving as someone went by, well, that was just being friendly.
“There ain’t no other way to be,” Elliott said.
Elliott grew up in the Big Thicket in southeastern Texas. His father sat outside and waved at folks as they passed, too.
Traffic on Mayhill Road got a lot busier after construction began on Loop 288. But once the road reopened, drivers didn’t seem to go back, Elliott said. Often, in late afternoon, cars can be bumper-to-bumper on Mayhill, he said.
Some of Elliott’s regular “customers” drive city trucks, since he lives across the street from the municipal landfill. The drivers wave, sometimes out the window, as they slow for the turn into the entrance.
Others are delivery drivers for the many businesses that have come to Denton’s east side. Others travel Mayhill for their daily commute or to shop. They honk, raise a hand, wiggle fingers or wave out the window, too. Sometimes, they stop to visit and bring other greetings, like Christmas cards and cookies.
This week, Elliott’s son put up a big wooden sign that reads, “Thanks for all the waves.” Many travelers in the area knew what that meant.
Mayhill Road is expected to be widened to a four-lane, divided road from Colorado Boulevard to U.S. Highway 380 next year. Elliott’s house is one of several in the neighborhood that will be demolished in the coming months to make way for 135 feet of right of way.
Resident Wanda Carter has been returning Elliott’s wave for more than 10 years as she travels Mayhill. She’ll raise her hand to wave even when she can’t look to see if Elliott is there.
She’s wistful about the change.
“It’s part of the small-town stuff we lose,” Carter said.
Elliott has a new house already, not far away, in a neighborhood near Ryan High School. A contractor has made some adaptations to the house for him, and he’s been moving in. He thinks he will sit out front there, too, anticipating a lot of school bus traffic.
This past week, though, he still sat out front on Mayhill. The situation renewed his empathy for his three sons and four grandsons.
“Now I know how the kids felt when they have to leave the nest,” Elliott said. “It’s hard to go.”
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.