Childhood BBQ leads tile contractor to chuck wagon hobby

One Frenship grad’s place isn’t in the kitchen, but out by the chuck wagon.

Arthur J. Garcia, 53, graduated from Frenship High School in 1973. During his high school years, he was heavily involved in football, basketball, track and choir during the school year and working with ceramic tile during the summer.

As a junior and senior in high school, he was already contracting to do ceramic tile work. After graduation, he started his own business, which he still owns.

“I thought I wanted to go to Tech, and I enrolled in Tech, but I found out pretty quick that college is not for everybody,” said Garcia. “I didn’t have trouble, but I’d already been out making money. … I said, ‘I’ve already got a trade, and I’m going to stick to it.’”

He still works in the tile business today in his own company, Two Circle G Tile Company.

“It’s rewarding work,” said Garcia, noting that he has done many homes for congressmen and some celebrities.

Not long after graduation, he and a friend were hanging out and he saw a girl drive by.

“I looked at my friend and said, ‘I’m going to marry that girl,’” he said.

He did not see her again for a few months, but when he did meet her, he found out she was Mary Portillo, a cheerleader at Lubbock High School. Now they’ve been married more than 30 years, and have two grown children, Sergio and Mindy. They also have five granddaughters.

One vivid memory that Garcia has of his childhood days of playing Little League is when his coach, a Wolfforth-area farmer, had a barbecue at the end of the season. His own parents had never barbecued, and he said the hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade ice cream made an impression on his stomach and mind.

“I thought that (barbecuing) was the neatest thing. I always wanted to do that,” he said. “I always remembered that farmer, Joe Hutcheson.”

When his son was still a boy, the two attended the National Cowboy Symposium. Maybe he was thinking back to that childhood barbecue, but seeing the chuck wagons at the event inspired him.

He found a wagon in Shallowater that he described as “dilapidated.”

“It’s a 1915 International,” he said, adding that he has heard it was once a farm wagon from around Muleshoe. He fixed up the wagon and it has won in parade events in Ruidoso and locally without food being involved.

The chuck wagon now bears the same name as his company, Two Circle G, and he, his son, and his son-in-law frequently cook meals completely from scratch in it.

“We cook just about anything, to tell you the truth,” said Garcia, listing everything from enchiladas to shrimp. He also makes biscuits and tortillas from scratch on the wagon, cooking for trail rides, Old West re-enactments, the National Cowboy Symposium and the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

The chuck wagon has taken him all the way to Atlanta, and his recipes have been featured in cookbooks. He has also been on the Food Network, he said.

“I’ve tried golf, I’ve tried fishing, I’ve tried all kinds of things that people do,” said Garcia. But he said he enjoys cooking on the chuck wagon because it is a family event in which even his granddaughters can help.

“This is not just about me, it’s about my family. I really love my family,” said Garcia.

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