So we got in our rental car and sped out of Dallas/Fort Worth, between the sun setting over Six Flags...
We arrived in Stephenville, a smallish town in central Texas, in time for the Stephenville homecoming football game halftime show. They were playing SW's home town Brownwood Lions. The Brownwood/Stephenville game is an event that Texas Monthly put in it's 25 Things You Should Do in Texas article a while back and I now understand why.
There were an estimated 15,000 fans at the game, one of the largest sporting events I've ever been to - and this is high school football. The Stephenville fans have a tradition of bringing a can full of nuts and bolts to shake, creating a rattling roar that fills the arena. Speaking of, the game is so big they use the local college field.
We settled in at SW's brother's house out in the country for family socializing. I wanted to get a picture of something that would illustrate the country kitsch style of small town Texas home decor - the plates hung on hooks on the walls, blue and white curtains with lace edges, oak furniture, everything screaming irony to my eyes but displayed with complete sincerity by the hosts. Of course, I'm jaded and strange so nothing captured my eye like this:
It's a funny but universal truth. What is charming to a generational or geographical group can be hilarious, bizarre, upsetting, or just alien and strange to another. To me, country kitch is a lot like polyester. I find it tacky, yet fascinating and wonderful. But I don't want a full house full of the stuff, any more than I want a wardrobe of nothing but leisure suits. I have a few swingin' 70's suits but I only wear 'em when I want to look ridiculous. By the same token, I have some country kitch items at home but only display them in a "can you believe this stuff?!?" way. But I'm 100% sure that if the folks that love country kitch visited my home they'd find my own decor as strange and tacky as I find theirs.
SW's brother hadn't quite finished the renovations to the guest room yet so he pulled out his camper trailer and popped up our deluxe sleeping quarters. (Coincidentally, the first time I ever visited Texas as a boy we slept in an RV in my grandparents' yard because there wasn't room for us in the house.)
SW stayed up late into
the night catching up with the family while I opted to climb into bed. When
she clambered in a couple of hours later she asked, "So how's the bed?"
About the time I got out of bed a car pulled up in the drive. My luggage had arrived, 14 hours late but intact. I've never understood why everyone has the same black nylon rolling bag. They're impossible to spot at the baggage claim carrousel. A lady next to me at DFW picked up three of the things, only to put them back before she found her own. Why not put some kind of marking on them to identify them? Crap, I can spot my suitcase just by watching people's heads turn when it shows up. But apparently that didn't help it get onto the right flight.
Unfortunately, my prized Samsonite is close to its final journey. Savage baggage handlers have battered the thing so badly that the locks don't hold as tightly as they should. A wheel is about to fall off and the lining is coming out. It's not the case itself I have a sentimental attachment to, it's the stickers. Some of them mean a great deal to me and are irreplaceable - I (heart) to party at Dottie's, Truckadelic, The Penetrators sticker with the late, great Scott Rogers on it. Crap, it's even got a Degenerate Press sticker that's now out of print . I'll be sad to let this case go. I'd cut it up and make art out of it if I had the wall space.
I usually visit central Texas during the holidays when things are brown and dull. With the exposed rock, frequent cacti and occasional tumbleweed I used to joke with SW that it was the desert. But this trip I got to see plenty of green fields, filled with goats, pecan trees, farm equipment, even the occasional golf course.
The one thing I didn't see much of is cattle. Every foot along the road is fenced off as if there were cattle there, but either they're beyond eyesight (easily possible with the size of the ranches out there) or they just don't raise 'em like the used to. You will see 8' tall fences for deer (to keep them in for hunters, not out), but I didn't spot majestic herds of mooing cows as far as the eye could see as you might imagine when you think of Texas.
We blew through dozens of small towns, many with rows of abandoned stores and boarded up feed & seed co-ops. Most of these towns have charming, fortress-like stone buildings reminding me of days gone by, but many of them stand empty.
SW called my attention to a tree on the square of Comanche, "The one with all the historical markers around it." Apparently quite a few people ended up dangling from the end of a rope attached to that tree over the years.
A light lunch is almost ready when we arrive - roast beef with potatoes and carrots, salad, pasta salad, rolls, corn, two cakes, two pies, tea. What makes it "light"? The fact that there was only one form of meat on the table, of course!
Stuffed, we're off to the Come Home to Brownwood/Brownwood Reunion Celebration/Brownwood Feels Like Home festival, now in it's fifth year. It brings vendors, live music (both kinds, country and western, plus a little stage off the main drag that even features Latino music), events and activities of all sorts. Unfortunately it also features Texas heat. You can't quite see it in the photo below, but the sign down at the coliseum reads "99° at 2:03."
We wandered past cowboy world, where actors were reenacting the gunfight at the OK Corral, a kid was being tossed off a mechanical bull, and others were learning how to throw a lasso.
Down the block was military world, a display of various military hardware parked in the middle of the street. But I found the backward tricycle racing far more entertaining.
The kids had to pedal, or drop their feet and push, tricycles backwards through a short course to win a prize. Half a second after I snapped the photo below they were all three in a pileup.
SW and her mom had a specific stop in mind so we trekked up the block to Cheapo Depot and found a random jumble of strange items all at absurdly low prices.
Arms laden with cheapo goodies, we summoned our ride for a stop for icy smoothies on the way home.
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All content on this site is owned by Degenerate Press and cannot be used without our permission. We have lawyers for friends with nothing better to do than cause trouble (no kidding), so play nice. Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved