true Texan will tell you that, time permitting, he would rather drive
across the state than fly over it. The insistence on driving is a
fascination with the car (or truck), a primal need to be involved
with the land’s expanse and the constant and continuing opportunity
for discovery. Native Texans have an innate predilection for the land
itself. Few states could harbor the quantity of eclectic treasure
that Texas keeps on deposit and these
are commodities that most of us do not want to over look. It wouldn’t
Recently my wife and I came upon several instances of just this sort
of inhabitant wealth. While on safari (we went in pursuit of wineries)
through the west Texas
savannah we noticed that almost every town, backwater, or village
was proudly, and publicly displaying whatever claim to posterity or
fame it had to offer. Not only was the person, idea, geologic formation
or history mentioned by road sign or banner but, in fact, a museum
had been founded to exhibit the source of communal pride. What follows
then is a collection of photographs of several of these monuments
to memory. We drove the roads between Lubbock
and Fort Stockton
and while trying to document the sites as we came upon them- several
times doubling back to recollect missed items- I am quite certain
that we overlooked several. If there is an obvious omission I’ll apologize
now however, understand that there is just a heck of a lot of stuff
|Road sign in
Texas, advertising the Dan Blocker Museum. Just south of
this sign is difficult to miss or ignore. After driving through the
mid-summer greened, hyper-corrected kaleidoscope of cotton crop rows
for close to an hour it is impossible not to notice this television
icon hanging on the side of what seems to be an abandoned cotton gin.
|The actual Dan
Blocker Museum in O’Donnell,
Texas. A misnomer. As the curator informed me it is not solely
the Dan Blocker museum but rather there is simply a Dan
Blocker area to the museum of artifacts which came from the “attics
and backyards” of locals dating back to the 19th century. If you wish
to pay the “Gentle Giant” respects, you’ll need to travel to Dekalb,
Texas-that is where he was both born and buried.
| The historic
portion of Fort Stockton,
Texas. Barracks, stables, officer’s quarters make up this
small section of town dating back to the nineteenth century. When
coming into town this area is fraternally located next to the not-quite-as-historic
downtown area. This part of town is located away from the interstate
and was, at least by ourselves, overlooked for some time. The shop
owners in the downtown area typically appeared to be a little forlorn.
I hope I am mistaken.
Stockton Hotels >
| The Annie
Riggs Museum in Fort
Stockton. Built in 1900 as the Adobe Hotel, the museum houses
not only 19th- early 20th century Pecos county artifacts but also
curates an Archaeological Room which contains Columbian period Mammoth
Stockton Hotels >
| All we needed
from Monahans, we assumed,
was some gas, a diet coke and a not-too-old cup of coffee. However,
this Coca Cola Museum presented itself as we drove the main
street. Sadly, because it was early in the morning, the restaurant
was closed and some nuance of the Coca Cola company was denied to
| Odessa Meteor
Crater. I know. I couldn’t believe it either. It seemed as though
God was marking the spot where he wanted Odessa
to be founded. Maybe it is the divot left from some divine tee shot.
In any event, realizing that this section of the state was touched
(or punched) by some celestial body gives a particular majesty to
the area. Just a couple of miles off the interstate, the museum is
closed on Mondays.
| Still in Odessa
lies the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library. It is
a showcase for the biography and achievements of George W. Bush. A
subject so vast that the area developers decided that the Ellen Noel
Art Museum should be erected directly next door. The museums are so
close together that they share a conjoining parking lot. The presidential
museum also offers maps to the different residences of the Bush family
around Odessa. The museum’s
web-site states that the Leadership Library is available to “ learn
more about President George W. Bush and his predecessors”; presumably
for compare/contrast purposes.
| A couple of
miles from interstate 20 off Loop 40, the Commemorative Air Force
Museum is remarkable. In the first place, the site is enormous-several
acres and 40,000 square feet. Secondly, any male in the car will be
fascinated by the salvaged, antique airplanes and military equipment
in and around the hangars that are the museum. Follow the signs for
the Midland airport. The
museum is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Just down the main street leading to this museum is a Vietnam Memorial-also
not to be missed.
| The interior
of one of the CAF museum’s hangers.
| The Permian
Basin Petroleum Museum
just outside Midland.
The subtitle is Library and Hall of Fame, I assumed for the particularly
productive and well-behaved oil derricks. The museum is directly off
the interstate on the westbound frontage road.
| Erected in 1926
the Dal-Paso Hotel is now a museum in Lamesa,
Texas housing local articles from the early 20th century. It was,
strangely, closed in the early afternoon when we arrived.
|All the way back
to the big city we encountered the Buddy Holly Center. Located
on 19th street and avenue G (which is now termed, dear Lord, Crickets
avenue) the Center is just another example of the renovations that
is putting itself through. The old “Tech ghetto”, and I mean that
entire section of town, has been dispatched like a double-crossing
gangster and condos and a massive interstate have risen from the omnipresent
dust. The Center is closed on Sunday and Monday.
|I include the
museum at Texas
Tech for two reasons: First, one of my degrees I obtained
from Tech and I have a soft spot for all things Raider. Second, I
have always felt that the university receives unwarranted tertiary
billing behind Austin and
Station. The planetarium alone is worth the trip.
© Byron Browne. September 1, 2007
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