Archer City, Texas | Road Trip to Yesterday

- - Birthday, Experiences

For years, I’ve wanted a D-H-R weekendDarlene, Harvey, Rodney. My wish came true on my birthday for my two brothers and me to spend time together.


My brothers and I stand on our front porch in 1961.

We took a road trip to Archer City, Texas where we grew up.

It had been exactly 50 years ago on my birthday that we moved away. I was 12, Harvey was eight and Rodney was six.


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It was a 2 1/2 hour trip from Oklahoma City and the time spent in the car was priceless. I brought along over 100 pictures of us as children during the time we lived in Archer City.

As we looked at each picture, we reminisced about our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the water tower, the fields we rode our bikes and the friends we played with everyday.

Archer City is your typical Texas town with the one stop light and court-house in the center of the town square.

For a population of road-trip-Murn's-cafe-thoughtful-gift-ideaapproximately 1,800, it has had its fair share of stardom. I’ll get to that in a moment.


The first stop was Murn’s Cafe, aka the Wildcat Cafe, and ordered a hamburger on Texas Toast with home cooked fries. The kind mom used to make. My brothers had the daily special of hamburger steak, mashed potatoes and carrots. DELICIOUS! Since this is cattle country, you get the best beef around.

Our next stop was the local jail turned museum.

We found a note on the door “If you want to see the museum, call xxx-xxxx.” I called and the curator said, “Can’t do it today, I’m in Ft. Worth but go over to the court-house and ask Judge Beesinger for a key. Just be sure to lock her up when you’re done.” Love small town flexibility.

road-trip-jail-museum-drunk-tank-thoughtful-gift-ideaWe toured the jail and saw pictures of our uncle who was born and lived his entire life in Archer City. He was involved in many civic activities including a volunteer fireman.

It also had a “drunk tank” that our uncle and dad spent time in sobering up. They were oil field workers that worked hard, played hard and drank hard.

road-trip-museum-thoughtful-gift-ideaThe jail was built in 1910 and had a hanging galley on the third floor. It was never used because it was outlawed by 1911. You can still see the rope and break away floor. There was an area for seating because it was a spectator event. Gives me the chills to think about it.

road-trip-royal-theater-thoughtful-gift-ideaAcross the street is The Royal Theater that was made famous by the movie, The Last Picture Show.


We traveled through town, passed the First Methodist Church where I was baptized and saw Auld’s Funeral Home that once was my best friend’s house.

road-trip-archer-city-hospital-thoughtful-gift-ideaWe also drove up the driveway of the hospital where Harvey was born that is now a private residence. So many things change and yet stay the same.

road-trip-archer-county-veterans-memorial-thoughtful-gift-ideaTo our surprise, in the town square was an Archer County Veterans Memorial Wall with our dad’s and uncle’s name engraved.

They served in WWII. Touching their names filled our hearts with love and pride.




Harvey, Darlene, Rodney on front porch of homestead taking a selfie.

We drove on to our house and stood on the old front porch for a selfie.

We remembered when Rodney was three, he climbed a tree in the front yard and fell cutting his eyebrow. It required three stitches. He still has the scar to prove it even though the tree is gone!

road-trip-archer-city-school-thoughtful-gift-ideaWe parked in front of the school and reminisced about climbing the fire escape.

We were almost to the top of the building when we thought the principal who lived across the street spotted us. We shimmied down as quickly as we could and ran home.

My brothers tell the story I ran so fast that I left them in the dust. I still remember that scared-of-being-in-trouble-feeling!

Next to the school was a baseball diamond where my brother, Harvey slid into 2nd base and sprang his ankle. I carried him crying all the way home. He hobbled around for two weeks waiting for the swelling to completely go away.road-trip-family-cemetery-thoughtful-gift-idea

We drove by the park where I taught my brothers how to swim. The swimming pool is still in operation!

Nearby is the cemetery. We brought flowers to decorate the graves of dad, grandma and uncle.

We inquired and found Harvey’s best friend from 3rd grade, Ward Campbell, who has an oil business in the town square. It had been 50 years since they have seen or talked to each other!


Before we left town, we stopped by Booked Up known internationally for rare and antiquarian books. It is owned by Larry McMurtry an American novelist and screenwriter who grew up in Archer City.

The Last Picture Show is one of Larry McMurtry’s most memorable novels. We had moved away before the filming but many of my friends were “extras” in the movie. It won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Picture.

He is also known for his 1975 novel Terms of Endearment, his 1985 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Lonesome Dove, and for co-writing the adapted screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. Terms of Endearment and Brokeback Mountain also won Academy Awards.

The building used to be a Ford dealership with beautiful new cars in the big glass windows.We visited with Jan and Crystal, book store employees, who remembered us as kids and told stories of our mom, dad and uncle.


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You will never guess what else is in the building, Mr. McMurtry’s Oscar and Golden Globe Award Statues.

Really! All the way from Hollywood to Archer City, Texas. I’ve never seen one up close much less have a picture made with one.


Our road trip created many new memories for all of us while bringing up old memories from our childhoods. Piling into a car with my brothers turned out to be the best birthday present ever!

I highly suggest you plan a road trip with your siblings and create your own priceless memories.

It doesn’t matter where you go, just GO!

There Are 3 Comments On This Article.

  1. Leana Wattenbarger

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