Reports: ‘Junior the Wendy’s Guy,’ a Texas Union fixture, died Monday

The man owning what were once the fastest fingers in the Texas Union died Monday, according to the Austin Chronicle.

 Junior rings up another customer at Wendy's in the UT Student Union in 2003. (Photo by Laura Skelding/American-Statesman)
Junior rings up another customer at Wendy’s in the UT Student Union in 2003. (Photo by Laura Skelding/American-Statesman)

The Chronicle reports that Ishmael Mohammed Jr., aka “Junior the Wendy’s Guy,” was found unconscious at an Austin bus stop Friday. An examination later showed severe bleeding in his brain, and despite surgery, he died early this week, according to the paper.

Mohammed was the toast of the University of Texas at Austin’s student union for more than a decade, nimbly taking orders for burgers and fries at unbelievable speed. He was “the Rachmaninoff of the register, holding the record for taking the most orders and sales within a 30-minute span, 246 orders for $1,035 — or one order every 7.3 seconds,” according to a 2014 American-Statesman story. Mohammed was the subject of short documentary in 2006.

In 2014, Benjamin McPhaul, a 2011 UT graduate, was approached by Mohammed and found out that the former Wendy’s employee had become homeless after leaving Austin for New York City in 2012 and later returning. McPhaul set up an online fundraising page for Mohammed, smashing the original goal and spreading the word about “Junior” across social media.

Mohammed’s daughter, Kimberly Guerin, told the Daily Texan that the family took her 61-year-old father off life support Sunday morning. From the Texan:

“I know he had been mugged before and that he has had stitches before,” Guerin said. “There have been altercations with people on the street, so they think it was probably a fall, but no one really knows because no one was there.”

Guerin initially set up a GoFundMe page to pay for her father’s funeral, but updates to the campaign indicate that the expenses have since been covered. She wrote on the fundraising page that “We are now going to use the donations to come up with a celebration of his life.”

Cold War-era film asks: What would happen if a nuclear missile struck Austin?

It’s a hot June day in Austin during the early 1960s. People are taking their usual mid-morning route to work on Congress Avenue, kids are jumping in the cool water of Barton Springs and students are headed to summer school at UT.

Theoretical bombing of Austin in 1960. Photo via Texas Archive of the Moving Image.
Theoretical bombing of Austin in 1960. Photo via Texas Archive of the Moving Image.

To these people, it’s a day like any other. But what they don’t know? A nuclear missile, scheduled to arrive in just 20 minutes, is headed their way.

This is the premise of “Target Austin,” a video project created by KTBC Fox 7 in 1960. The station’s producers decided to make a video resonating with the fear Americans felt throughout the Cold War, according to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Fox 7 Austin shared the 20-minute long video on Monday through its YouTube account.

Narrated by broadcasting legend Cactus Pryor and directed by Gordon Wilkinson, the film opens by introducing several characters that are moving through their daily routines in Austin, doing things we still do today. There are shots of a busy Congress full of classic cars. We see the Paramount Theatre screening “Man on a String,” a barber shop at the Driskill Hotel and even boxer Tom Attra selling copies of the American-Statesman downtown.

Then, KTBC radio host Bob Gooding gets notified by an alarm to send out a CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) broadcast to warn the city. Next, the assistant city manager and city civil defense director comes in and issues a message.

“This is your Austin Civil Defense Director with an urgent message,” he says. “Enemy missiles have been reported flying over Canada heading in a southerly direction. An air raid warning has been declared in this area. This means that possibly within 20 minutes, the Austin area may be hit by missiles. There will not be time to evacuate. I repeat: There will not be time to evacuate.”

Dramatic music ensues, and we’re greeted by footage of B-52s and scrambling citizens. The film then follows the story of the Klukis family, who take refuge in their own personal fallout basement; Carolyn Gilbert, who’s stuck at work, gathering with strangers in the town shelter; and Clarence Phillips, a man who ignores the warning and tries his best to drive out of town but runs out of gas and starts running.

Then the bomb hits. The nuclear explosion hits 25 miles to the west of Austin in the hills of the Edwards Plateau. For two weeks, people are stuck in their shelters until radiation begins to decay and the city of Austin becomes safe.

The video is a good time for anyone who wants to see what Austin once looked like or who enjoys watching the Cold War-themed episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” but honestly, the film ends rather anti-climactically — save for the death of the one guy who tried to get away on foot.

“To Roger and Dorothy and Kathy Klukis, this is the end of the storm,” the narrator says. “To Carolyn Gilbert, this is the answer to a prayer. To Clarence Phillips, this news is of no consequence. And slowly, Austin, Texas, returns to life.”

Though the Cold War has come and gone, theoretical speculation about the local effects of an atomic attack persist. Just last year, the Washington Post asked “What it would look like if the Hiroshima bomb hit your city?

Jackie Robinson once coached basketball at an Austin college

Jackie Robinson is known for breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947. But did you know that he once coached basketball in Austin?

College basketball, to be more specific. Robinson was a coach at Samuel Huston College, a historically black college in Austin that doesn’t exist anymore.

AP FILE -- Jackie Robinson swings a bat during spring training in Sanford, Fla., in this March, 1946 photo. Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of Robinson's debut in organized ball when he played for the Montreal Royals in an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. (AP Photo/File)
AP FILE — Jackie Robinson swings a bat during spring training in Sanford, Fla., in this March, 1946 photo (AP Photo/File)

According to this Bleacher Report article, Robinson made his way to Austin following his honorable discharge from the Army in 1944. He was stationed at Ft. Hood at the time of his discharge, and accepted a job from Samuel Huston College president Rev. Karl Downs.

As it turns out, Downs was Robinson’s pastor in Pasadena, Calif., where the baseball star grew up.

Robinson went on to coach at the college for the 1944-45 season, when his Samuel Huston Dragons team competed in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

“There was very little money involved, but I knew that Karl would have done anything for me, so I couldn’t turn him down,” Robinson wrote of the coaching job in his autobiography, according to Bleacher Report.

According to the Bleacher Report article, little to no records of that season exist— the college merged with Tillotson College in 1952 to form Huston-Tillotson University, and the institution has no photos of Robinson or of the team from 1944-45.

Memories of Robinson’s coaching career have faded in Austin, but some residents remembered playing for him in a 1997 Statesman article.

“‘He was a disciplinarian coach,’ said D.C. Clements of Waco. ‘He believed we should be students first and athletes second. If you cut a class or anything like that, he would put you off the team or give you some laps. He was a great coach and a great teacher. He was way ahead of his time.'”

Harold “Pea Vine” Adanandus, the Dragons’ trainer during Robinson’s time as a coach, remembers the day Robinson accepted an offer to play baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs, the most successful team in the Negro Leagues at that time.

“‘We met up in Jackie’s office, and he was sorting his mail,’ said Waco resident Harold ‘Pea Vine’ Adanandus, who was then the team’s trainer. ‘He had received a letter from the Kansas City Monarchs. He showed me the letter, and they wanted him to play ball. They offered him a $500 bonus and $250 a month. He asked me, `Vine, what would you do?”

‘I said, `Well, Jackie, I didn’t even know you played any baseball.’ And he said, `Yeah, I play a little.””

And, as the rest of the game’s fans know, “a little” baseball playing was the start of Robinson’s professional career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He made history on April 15, 1947 as the first black man to play professional baseball.

His professional debut might have been in Brooklyn, but Robinson’s career began in Austin.




Which part of Austin made a ‘sexiest neighborhood’ list?

AUGUST 14, 2014 - Pedestrians walk past the Continental Club in the SOCO District of Austin, Texas on Thursday, August 14, 2014. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
AUGUST 14, 2014 – Pedestrians walk past the Continental Club in the SOCO District of Austin, Texas on Thursday, August 14, 2014. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right neighborhood. Is it safe? How close is it to your work or the city’s center? If you have kids, are there good schools nearby? Is it… is it sexy?

Thrillist has named the nation’s top 14 “sexiest neighborhoods,” and if you’re living anywhere near South Congress Avenue you’ve made the mark. The neighborhood came in at No. 6 on the list because of its populace made up of “bearded lumbersexuals and yoga-lean babes in cowboy boots.” The site calls the street the city’s “crossroad of its hotbeds of hotness” and lists the Continental Club, Hotel San Jose, men’s boutique STAG and Home Slice as some of the area’s hottest destinations. Pizza is really very sexy, we agree.

If another, less sexy Austin hood seduced you for some less fun reason like rent, and you find yourself living in a homely part of town, don’t worry. According to Thrillist, most of Austin is “objectively very, very, ridiculously good-looking” (can vouch) both because of the “city’s youthful energy” and because “swimming is a daily necessity.” The triple-digit heat that makes this a necessity usually persists whether or not you get the chance to make it to the pool, but hey — what’s cuter than a shirt stained with back sweat?

A shirt stained with back sweat walking down South Congress Avenue.