"You going to put anything in there about the cross?"
"Good. Put some stuff in there about my parents and religion and everything, and they'll just get all kinds of happy. I mean, that'd be great."
The cross is in.
Brother Bart, who's 2½ years older than Zach, and the cross are two West Texas landmarks.
Bart is 6'1½", handsome, swift, a great leaper, extremely responsible and neat. In sum, he is the anti-Zach. Stand the two side by side and pick which one is the NFL linebacker, you'd guess Bart. He glides across a room like a jewel thief. Zach hitches along behind him, taking two steps for every one of his brother's. Bart hangs his T-shirts in his closet, all facing the same way, first the short-sleeved ones, then the long sleeves. Zach's room is so messy you could lose a small farm animal in it. Bart made the state track meet in two events. He played football instead of competing in track and field at Tech, but now he's a junior high football coach who's in decathlon training for the 2000 Olympics. "Bart is my hero," says Zach.
The cross is the 19-story-high, 2.5-million-pound, $450,000, visible-for-20-miles white steel cross illuminated by two 1,500-watt flood lamps that his parents put up alongside I-40, 35 miles east of Amarillo, in a town called Groom. Zach's mom, Bobby, came up with the idea for the cross. His dad, Steve, liked it, and when Steve sets his mind on doing something, lock it in.
Steve is as stubborn as a weed and twice as hard to get rid of. He played one year of football at Tech before devoting all of his attention to his engineering major, started himself in the oil business with not much more than a phone and a pickup truck and made himself a multimillionaire by the time he was 35, in 1985.
Steve always wanted to give something back to society, so he erected the biggest cross he could. "We wanted to make people think of Jesus in their travels," says Bobby, "instead of being bombarded by all kinds of non-Christian things." She might be referring to the giant billboard down the road a piece advertising America's largest adult bookstore.