For years, I’ve wanted a D-H-R weekend – Darlene, Harvey, Rodney. My wish came true on my birthday for my two brothers and me to spend time together.
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.
ROAD TRIP TO ARCHER CITY
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.
VISITING THE TOWN ATTRACTIONS
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.
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.
The 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.
REVISITING CHILDHOOD MEMORIES & FRIENDS
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.
They served in WWII. Touching their names filled our hearts with love and pride.
VISITING OUR CHILDHOOD HOME & SCHOOL
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!
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.
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!
VISITING LARRY MCMURTRY’S FAMOUS BOOKSTORE
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.
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!