Howdy from Western West Texas!
Come see me and I’ll show you all the favorite hang outs…in under five minutes. The main street takes drivers past all of the major spots in town including two pharmacies, three school zones, four retail stores, five churches, seven local eateries, and the one cemetery. All in all, living here reminds me of living in a major metropolitan city in only one way…you will drive forever at speeds of 80 mph to get to your favorite places. For example, Bealls, Wal-mart, and Dollar General equal our retail center while the nearest movie theater and true mall is 85 miles away. The difference here is that the 80 mph speed is legal, the cops will wave good morning to you, and they’ll be the only people you see besides truckers at 8AM on any Saturday.
Our new hometown boasts somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 residents depending on who is counting. Name-brand restaurants include Sonic, Subway, Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen. Yet there are some wonderful hole-in-the-wall food joints. So far I’ve found amazing Tex-Mex food (of course) and divine kolaches. Our town’s one grocery store has its own built-in tortilla factory and no grocery conveyer belts at its check out stands.
Most people came here to work the land for its crops or minerals or both. With oil prices and agriculture largely dried up in this parched place, many turn to the local prison or school systems for work. Some stay for their families and for the memories. Most leave after a few years for better jobs and higher pay. Yet a few will return year after year if only to rekindle old friendships during the annual rodeo or find some of the newest Western and glass art at the annual county fair.
The country is desert sand and scrub brush with more colors in a single sunset sky than any painter could mix in a lifetime. This as rugged, unforgiving country populated by some of the simplest yet kindest people you’ll ever meet. West Texans are like the land that spawned them, rough and crusty at first glance, yet they often carry lush souls if you can just delve deep enough to discover their secrets.