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True, Texas: What is it? Where is it?

Majestic Theater in Eastland. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

What is True, Texas?  The bold-faced greeting from a gleaming water tower. The creaky, timeworn floors of a rural dance hall. Local chatter and clatter from the kitchen at a road-side diner. The roar from fans in the stands at a high school football game. The whimsical fiberglass homage to the local mascot that you pass every day. All of these elements symbolize True—a collective community of the imagination.

True may be your hometown, or the one you wish you had.

Where is True, Texas? Experience the True community in towns as tiny as Fischer (pop. 20) or in bustling cities like El Paso (pop. 751,296). True comes to life in the architectural grandeur of the restored Donley County Courthouse, the community core of Clarendon; in the craftsmanship of bootmakers such as Henry Camargo in Mercedes; and in the echoes of laughter and applause resonating through Eastland’s Majestic Theater.

Of course, in a state as big as Texas, there are many more examples of that special state of being, construed to be the quintessential town of True.

Here is a sampling of what you'll find in the print edition.

Water Tower: Bandera

Constructed in 1947 in the style known as “Tin Man,” Bandera’s 50,000-gallon water tower is emblematic of the water towers that stand sentry (both literally and figuratively) at the heart of many Texas towns.

Courthouse: Donley County courthouse in Clarendon

“These magnificent governmental buildings reflect the independence and fortitude of a resolute people determined to create order and permanence out of a vast wilderness … ,” writes former U.S. Congressman and preservationist Michael Andrews in Historic Texas Courthouses (Bright Sky Press, 2006). And nowhere was such order better maintained than in the Donley County seat of Clarendon,

Café: H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop, El Paso

Proof that El Paso’s eclecticism extends beyond the multiculturalism you might expect in a thriving border city. Case in point: The funky and welcoming H&H Car Wash—an unlikely car-wash-diner founded by Syrian immigrants in 1958, serves some of the best carne picada in town (and offers an impeccable $12 carwash, to boot). 

Hotel: Olle Hotel, Flatonia

The 10-room Olle Hotel lies in Flatonia, a tiny town along Interstate 10, smack-dab between San Antonio and Houston. Constructed from 1899 to 1901, the two-story Colonial Revival-style building was first used as a hotel in 1915. 

C.H. Yoe  High School's team, the Yoemen, serve as our representative example of the enduring fall favorite. (Photo by Michael Amador)

High School Football: C.H. Yoe High Yoemen, Cameron

Texas high school football is a massively popular, all-inclusive enterprise. Its governing organization, the University Interscholastic League, includes well over 1,000 member schools. From cheerleaders and marching bands to team mascots and helmet logos, the game provides a tradition of touchdowns and town pride throughout the Lone Star State. 

Movie Palace: Majestic Theater, Eastland

In 2007, Preservation Texas proclaimed historic small-town theaters as that year’s candidates for the state’s most endangered places. And Eastland’s Majestic Theater might easily have joined the ranks of other terminally endangered movie palaces except that a dedicated band of enterprising preservationists joined forces with the local government to take over the building more than 20 years ago and bring the operation back from the dead.  

Texas is home to dozens of outstanding custom bootmakers, like Henry Camargo of Mercedes. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)Artisan: Henry Camargo, Camargo’s Boots, Mercedes

Texas is home to dozens of outstanding custom bootmakers, and the image of the single artisan practicing his or her personal brand of magic at an individual workbench stands clear as an embodiment of the small-town state of mind. 

General Store: T.C. Lindsey & Company, Jonesville

When you walk through the screen doors of T.C. Lindsey & Company General Store, brace yourself for a captivating trip back in time. Since the store opened in 1847, some important things have stayed the same—regulars keep coming to this heart of Jonesville, and tourists still find their way here to absorb its anachronistic essence. 

Dance Hall: Fischer Hall, Fischer

Sightseers exploring the famous Devil’s Backbone, the scenic stretch of Farm-to-Market 32 between FM 12 and Blanco on the western edge of the Hill Country, often stop midway at the former trading-post town of Fischer (population today, fewer than 20) to wonder about its barn-style, whitewashed dance hall.

Town Mascot: The Mule, Muleshoe

Muleshoe. Memorable, fun to imagine, and a name that conjures up multiple Clint Eastwood Westerns. The iconic symbol of the West Texas town of Muleshoe is the lovable, mighty mule, of course.

What does True, Texas, mean to you? Write us at letters@texas or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

From the September 2010 issue.

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