on Earth would someone name a town Earth?|
Just imagine the communication
inconveniences plaguing those living in the Lamb County community of Earth:
“Where’re you from?”
“I’m from Earth.”
“Har, har! Me, too.
Where are you really from?”
When you live in this High
Plains town 70 miles northwest of Lubbock,
every time you say goodbye to a visitor, you have to guard against a polite, “I’ll
look forward to seeing you the next time you come to Earth.”
you moved to Austin to attend the University
of Texas, but occasionally like to go home to see family and friends.
“I’m going back to Earth for the holidays.”
Even if you stayed behind,
when you’re ready to go someplace else, telling your friends, “I’m leaving Earth
for a few days” could net a few snickers.
Obviously, simply asking someone
if they have ever visited Earth can cause misunderstanding.
William E. Halsell did not make the heavens above, or the fishes in the sea, but
he created Earth in 1924. He had been in the area since 1901, when he bought up
a huge chunk of the old XIT ranch for $2 an acre. In August 1924 he had a town
site platted and began selling lots.
The Halsell Land Co. built a hotel,
a cotton gin and the first house. Within a couple of years Earth could boast of
a café, a service station, a store or two and more residences. And that’s about
all the solid ground there is when it comes to the history of Earth.
have un-earthed at least four versions of how a point in a rural High Plains county
became Earth: |
The first settlers wanted to call the new town Tulsa,
but the U.S. Post Office quickly took them back to Tulsa as a bad choice, since
such a town already existed in Oklahoma.
Halsell supposedly called his
town Fairlawn (some say Fairlene), but the frequent blowing dirt inspired someone
to come up with Earth.
Another tale has R.C. “Daddy” Reeves, who operated
the new town’s hotel, declaring: “We’ve got more earth here than anything else,
let’s call it Earth.”
A final version has Halsell, wanting to emphasize
the fertile soil around his town, came up with Good Earth. Washington, this tale
holds, did away with “Good” and made the place plain old Earth.
accounts vary as to how Earth,
Texas got its worldly name, you can take to the soil bank that Earth is the
only place in the United States called Earth. (There’s Black Earth, Wisc., Blue
Earth, Minn., White Earth, Minn. and Md., Earth City, Mo and Middle Earth, Md.
but that’s as close as it gets.) Neither does a global search reveal another Earth
anywhere on Earth.
Someone seemingly with all the time on Earth has also
discovered that in addition to Earth, the state of Texas has a small solar system
of other towns named after the planets swirling around our sun. Beyond Earth,
Texas’ extraterrestrial town names include Mercury,
Mars, Saturn and Pluto. Several states have Venus, Jupiter and Neptune as town
names, though no state has chosen to honor Uranus.
But to get back to
Earth, despite its all-encompassing name, it’s a pretty down-to-Earth community,
a rural agricultural center whose principle landmark is a shiny silver-colored
water tower with the green (as in “God’s green Earth”) letters E-A-R-T-H painted
on its tank.
|Speaking of paint,
several of the buildings along State Highway 70, the town’s main thoroughfare,
have been enhanced by someone handy with a brush. The former movie theater, long
since closed, has been dolled up as “The Tin Star,” featuring Anthony Perkins
perpetually playing in “The Blob” with showings at 6 and 10 p.m. daily and matinees
at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.|
|Down the street at
Main and Cedar is the paint-enhanced office of the Earth News, an imaginary newspaper
“Dedicated to the Development of the World’s Richest Irrigation Area.” On the
side of another building, someone painted a giant green population sign reading
“Earth Pop. 1019.” |
That population is not big enough to support its own school, so students go to
class in nearby Springlake. Because of that, the football team is known as the
Wolverines, not Earthmen. |
Small but tough, Earth endured the Dust Bowl
and the Depression but stayed in slow decline until the late 1970s. The high point
of Earth’s orbit came in 1980, when the town’s population peaked at 1,512. But
the number of those calling Earth home has dropped by nearly a third since then.
Even the Dairy Queen stands abandoned these days.
© Mike Cox
April 10, 2008 column
| Online Magazine | Texas
Towns | Features | Columns
Mike Cox's "The Texas Rangers:
Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900," the first of a two-volume, 250,000-word definitive
history of the Rangers, was released by Forge Books in New York on March 18, 2008
Kirkus Review, the American Library Association's Book List and the
San Antonio Express-News have all written rave reviews about this book, the first
mainstream, popular history of the Rangers since 1935.
by Mike Cox - Order Here|
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