Monday, July 05, 2004

This 4th of July weekend I drove around what's left of the downtown area of my old hometown of Mexia, Texas. The old depot is long gone because the city council refused to give Southern Pacific a tax break on the empty building. So S. P. just bulldozed it. The theater where I saw Roy and Gene and Allan "Rocky" Lane on Saturday afternoons is now just one more vacant building among many, and the last picture show at the "new" Mexia Theater (built around 1952 or '53) was shown a long time ago. That theater's still there, though. It's a church. I kind of like that.

Many of the old buildings have literally fallen down because of lack of maintenance. The rubble has been cleared away, so there's a lot of bare concrete. A bbq restaurant and a doctor's office were built on one block after the old buildings were removed. Both lasted about a year before closing for good.

What's sad to me about all this is that I remember all too well going downtown on Saturday afternoons when the streets were nearly as crowded with people, shoulder to shoulder. No vacant parking spaces. (The street preacher who set up with an amplifier on the hood of his old Ford had to get there at 7:00 in the morning to get his spot.) Two movie theaters (the Palace, where they showed the cowboy movies, and the National, where the classier flicks played; I hardly ever went to the National). Four drug stores. A bookstore where I bought copies of Amazing and Fantastic and Astounding, not to mention paperback books galore. Three five and dime stores. Two hardware stores. Two barbershops. A shoe store. Three or four clothing stores. And so on. Gone now, every one.

And probably nobody out at the Super Wal-Mart either remembers or cares. Dang, but I feel old.

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