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  • Writer's pictureLee Weaver

GO WEST, GO HOME

“Lost in West Texas” is the title of a book by Jim W. Corder. Mr. Corder was born in a farmhouse in Stonewall County, Texas in 1929. In the book, Corder relates tales of growing up poor and describes his boyhood explorations of the “Croton Breaks.” On reaching adulthood Corder attained BA and MA degrees from TCU and his PhD from the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Corder’s West Texas is that area including Kent and Stonewall Counties, approximately two hundred miles west and angling slightly north, from Fort Worth.


Many (most?) folks have a special place in their hearts and psyche, perhaps where they were born or a place they’ve found on life’s journey. I contend that anyone born and raised in West Texas will always, if they’ve left, will feel a special yearning or a ‘pull’ to return. Maybe we all have the homing instinct. Canadian geese return to the same place each summer and each winter. Salmon return to spawn where they were spawned. Homing pigeons return to the coop. West Texas just simply has an aura, an atmosphere, a certain culture, a nostalgia that a native son or daughter cannot lose. People find a special place to visit or to vacation but it remains a second choice. True sons (and daughters) of West Texas may quash the instinct or resist for a while but it will always be lurking in his subconscious or his psyche. The problems that we suffer as ‘pigeons’ is that when we return from a mission, from a career, from raising a family, the coop has changed. In Corder’s case Big Rock Candy Mountain had been bulldozed to make gravel for the highway department, the road to Double Mountain is now a private road, and Grandpa’s old house had long-since burned. It’s hard to go back.


My West Texas is a wider area, mostly north, west, and south of San Angelo; with Snyder as the northern limit; Santa Anna and Brady the eastern-most points; Bandera and Uvalde and the Rio Grande River bordering the south; and west to El Paso. Towns are much more scattered, further apart such that one might drive fifty miles or more and not see another car.


There is a beauty to this West Texas. The weather is generally temperate, with a few days of possible freezing in late January or early February; a few days of 100-degree temperatures in mid-summer; with daylight saving time one can play golf or tennis without lights as late as 9:00 P M in June and July.


The sky is higher and bluer than most anywhere, untainted by industrial smoke and fumes. The stars are brighter in the clean atmosphere, free of the reflected glare of big city lights. (As the song says: “The stars at night, Are big and bright! Deep in the heart of Texas!”) The sounds of nature are unmuted by the hum or roar of traffic.


The people are more down-to-earth and friendly west of Dallas with her wanna-be big shots, or the clannishness of East Texas. (Probably most of the readers will remember the long-held motto of Fort Worth: “Fort Worth is where the west begins.”) There is a corollary to that: “Dallas is where the east peters out.” Further, if Fort Worth is where the west begins, San Angelo is the focal point of West Texas!

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