Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A town called Alice, Texas

Okay, I'm biased. I was probably conceived very near this town, and the first pictures of me - or some of them - are of my cherubic infantile self smiling and gurgling in my Unkie's arms on Northwood Street. Then there's the memory of playing in Mickey Hans' red wheelbarrow or rushing into Alice First Baptist church for Vacation Bible School. Don't get me started on the time Stephanie introduced me to my first pseudo-boyfriend at age 12 on Highland Avenue.
Small towns are sacred because they're guardians of our memories. My grandmother, grandfather, and uncle are buried just beyond the animal hospital, in a cemetery that I am pleased to say enjoys a nice view of the open Texas fields (yes, beside the highway, but I'm sure my grandmother would have smiled knowing it was an easy turn-off.) But beyond knowing my relatives eternally rest close by, I have the pleasure of hearing about them among the locals. Church members remember a man I never will, my dear grandfather Leonard, who died in his fifties of pancreatic cancer. Other people had my grandmother for a geometry teacher at the high school and rave about her brilliant mind, "so quick". Yes, she had a bad habit of throwing the occasional eraser but this is The South!
I've been here on an extended break from my normal activities up north. I came here to freelance and also look after my mom's various needs. Mom is a vibrant seventy-something, but nonetheless has needed me to drive her after surgeries or recently after she fell and hurt her knee. It's been my pleasure to help, even though getting my mom to buy a cane is like forcing a rhinoceros through a mouse hole.
Now, as I get ready to leave this fine slice of watermelon, there's a pull at my heart. I have enjoyed visiting the local library for my adult coloring group, and to a lesser extent, my short-lived time with the crochet circle. I have also checked out books there and made friends. While I've been here, the hours on Wednesdays have been slashed, and this concerns me.
While it's unlikely a library could close, everyone is worried about the cuts. My mother's property taxes have gone up-up-up. My coloring group ladies tell me there was a bad investment decision in the town, a big pool out on the highway, and no one has used it. To be clear: this is the rumor I hear, not investigated fact. Yet, something stinks in all of this.
The library needs more funding, not less, more books, not fewer, more open hours, not fewer. Period. If I have to run for mayor myself one day in this town, I bloody well will. Further, open the dang library on Saturdays! Literacy is more important than big-ass swimming pools no one uses.
Now, if you will excuse me I have some black-eyed peas to plant out in my mom's garden. See ya round, y'all!
Photos top-bottom, l to r: The author outside the Art Center in Corpus Christi; longhorns are a bit of a staple round these parts, as seen here just outside Alice; the author dons the native headwear at a roadside stop outside San Antonio; wild sunflowers are as ubiquitous as fine Mexican restaurants here, in the town of Banquete (pronounced Ban-ketty); the author with her "Pop" in 1963 outside the family home, just a street parallel to where her mom lives now; and bottom, the town's main drag.

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