ELK — Elizabeth Kelly expertly gave her friend a perm early Thursday at the Tradinghouse Bar & Grill on FM 2957.
A few customers came in, but all in all, Kelly, who manages the restaurant, didn’t get many interruptions.
Things are slowly getting back to normal at this down-home eatery, she said, as she squirted solution over the tightly-wound rows of curlers. The media, tanks and most of the law enforcement and roadblocks are gone.
Customers once absent because of the standoff between authorities and the Branch Davidian cult are starting to return, she said.
But not long ago, things were looking grim for her business.
“They had the road blocked to where people couldn’t get to me,” she said, but added she isn’t blaming anybody for the inconvenience. “They had roadblocks all around me.”
“If this had held out 30 more days, I would have had to close my doors,” she said.
Kelly said much of her business at night comes from Waco — about 60 percent. They come out for her “good eatin’,” which includes hamburgers, steaks and catfish.
She also sells bait to many who fish at nearby Tradinghouse Lake. But during the standoff, fishing wasn’t allowed on her side of the lake, she said.
A steady progression of hungry Texas Rangers looking for a good meal saved the day during the siege, she said.
“I fed ‘em all,” she said. “They liked our food.”
Roadblocks were removed from near what was called Satellite City on FM 2491 about two weeks ago, said a Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, and the only ones left are those on Double EE Ranch Road. Within a few days, Texas Rangers will pull out from the site, too.
For Kelly, the whole incident smacks of a bad dream. She is thankful it is over.
“It’s like you wake up from a nightmare,” she said. “You just wake up, and you’re glad.”
It’s over for Harold Wiley, too. Well, almost.
Most of the time for Wiley, who lives off FM 2491, it’s like the Branch Davidian incident didn’t happen.
But passersby keep reminding him.
“When you’re out in the yard, tourists stop and ask where it’s at,” he said of the compound. “They just want to know where it’s at, although there’s nothing left.”
“The whole thing didn’t seem real,” he said. “I was real sad to see it end like that, but I’m glad it’s over.”
In particular, he is happy the roadblocks are down. At least twice a day, you had to stop and prove who you were.”
Wiley said the whole situation was bizarre. It changed the quiet countryside into something akin to a busy city street.
Now, though, things are back to normal, he said. The quiet has returned.
But at times, he finds himself looking to where the compound stood at large as a landmark—before the April 19 fire gutted it, killing as many as 86 people.
“Even when you go to the lake — out of the corner of your eye you miss it,” he said.