Big Texas Road Trip Part the Second...? Texas Farms Wind, Oil, and Cotton
Texas itself doesn't change much. In college I watched a documentary by Bill Moyers on Marshall, Texas, and it's a good show. Bill interviewed people who explained how the Great Depression didn't really affect them, because they were already self-sufficient. I tried to find a link to the docu for y'all, but was unsuccessful.
We banked in Marshall, and bought groceries at the Piggly-Wiggly; our school was in Bullard, and our post office box was in Cuney. We lived in Deep East Texas, somewhere between Noonday and Teaselville Junction. Marshall was the big city. We didn't go exactly through that neck of the Piney Woods on this road trip, but still I was tugged at the heart. I could imagine our school bus stopping at these ranch gates, iron arches decorated by walking and flying letters.
AllGood Cafe in Deep Ellum. This place had origami cranes on the ceiling and a cooler dedicated to pie and champagne - absolutely perfect for me. After a breakfast that couldn't be beat (with pecan pie and a biscuit) we meandered a bit, looking for the highway. Maz stopped the SUV and pointed past me out the passenger side window.
She was right, and I jumped out with my cell phone so we wouldn't be further delayed by unpacking my camera. I love graffiti and ghosts, bicycles, decay, streetlights. We found all of that in Deep Ellum, and didn't have time to explore enough. We need to go back there.
I also love having a road-trip partner that gets me and makes time for me to do this stuff. Thank you, Maz. I really appreciate you!
All of these pictures were taken with my phone. Therefore, I have spared us all the indignity of suffering through my attempts to capture the fields of windmills and those of oil wells that we passed along the way.
I will just tell you about the cotton.
My dad was born in Oklahoma and raised there by his grandparents. So that meant many of my summer vacations were spent driving thence from Michigan with all four of us kids stuffed in a station wagon, stopping only once ever to spend the night in a roadside motel. On one of these jaunts, a field of cotton caught my eye, and I wanted to stop and investigate.
"Let her get out, Mike," my mom said. Dad grudgingly pulled over, and I was allowed to carefully pick a boll or two. I was fascinated - here was the origin of my blue jeans. Here were the seeds, firmly bound in precious fibers, that caused so much upset in the South with the slaves and the cotton gin. Here was history in my hand.
"Get in the car," Dad yelled. Then he muttered under his breath, "Cotton-picking kids." Mom giggled. Later I understood the racial slur inferred.
And here it was again. I was a kid again.
"Cotton!" I yelled when I saw the fields - the same way I do every time we see cows.
"Where??" Mazzy yelled, too, and pulled over immediately.
"Get out your good camera!" I called to her as I bounced across the ditch, but she already knew. I walked carefully, knowing there could be prickers, cacti, holes, puddles, or snakes, but I had to have it. Cotton is so beautiful. I brought some bolls to Mazzy. She had to go and pick some cotton, too; I sort of figured she would, and I was glad to be right. Maz is genuine and inquisitive.
Back on the road, I took pictures of big Texas sky, processing plants, any signs of civilisation. It's a life out here that much of America can't fathom. Mazzy and I would like to spend a couple of days as tourists in Childress, maybe get our hair did at the Big Texas Hair Salon (it was closed on Sunday, of course.)
And I took pictures of trains.
Where I grew up in Michigan we had a train track not a half mile from our house. It was operated by Upjohn Pharmacy and fell into disuse. When we were in single digits, that train track was far enough from home to be an adventure. So there's another snapshot of my childhood for you. I promise I only saved a very few of the train pictures I took on this trip.
And we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!
Enjoy the ride: