With Love From Nacogdoches

For the past few years, I’ve spent time “Behind the Piney Veil” of Deep East Texas which includes Nacogdoches. These dense and ever-present forests are home to deer, wild pigs and critters of all shapes and sizes. At night, they are the stuff of nightmares and tales of Big Foot sightings.

I can see that Texas tries to tell her story with relics and old churches out in fields-long ago abandoned. Some are brought back to life with funeral rites, family reunions and homecomings. These old wooden churches probably painted white again and again during active years.

Regional antiques point to a harder time, when the soil was tilled and town was for supplies. Wash boards and hand-held plows stand as relics of the movement of pioneers across the newly forming United States.

One of the best gifts we can do for the next generations is leave them a sense of the history and the struggles that were championed and overcome by ancestors. Bringing anything back to life is a labor of love-a car, an old house, a marriage.

One odd info bit that came up was that pieces of the Space Shuttle Challenger landed all over Nacogdoches County when it blew up in the ’80s. NASA and Houston are just a few hours away. I was also told that arrow heads are found throughout the fields when local farmers plow.

Local artisans paint mostly. I’ve found a few sculpture artists, quilt makers, wood carvers and artists that create wearable pieces. Area antique outlets and estate sales would make collectors drool.

Painters are the major focus of the local art world. Sculpture art comes out of the SFA pool of student art projects. A few galleries in the well-kept downtown have occasional shows. One woman makes chakra necklaces at the Farmer’s Market and hand made ‘hippie’ wearables showed up at the local ‘Trade Days’ outdoor market.

Situated about three hours from a major airport puts Deep East Texas in a pocket that isn’t disturbed by the growth that areas like Dallas and Houston have experienced. People are more influenced by what others are doing, saying and wearing than what is broadcast through media.

More than a few menus in town offer chicken fried steak, grits and sweet tea. Home made pies, cakes, breads, jams and honey show up at area Farmers’ Market. A number of area residents sell at the outdoor market in town which is open Wednesday afternoon and until noon on Saturday.

At the Piney Woods Fair, there were beautifully groomed animals, an impressive local painting and photo contest and a well-attended cheerleader competition. Teens from local high schools built trailers, deer blinds and wood creations for show and competition.

Some of the local accents are so strong that it almost takes a code talker to understand them. The lingo and colloquialisms are charming. The oldest town in Texas, Nacogdoches teems with trucks, farmer’s tans and western hats.

Texas has produced many originals. Rodeo sprang from the town of Pecos many years ago. The sport is now international and the NFR is well attended and widely broadcast. Someone was checking out the movie ‘8 Seconds’ last time I was at the video store.

At its own pace and compared to none, Texas is a place where the wild west, cowboys and good manners thrive. In California, I was deemed ‘too friendly’ but back home in Texas, I blend in due to the shared layers of rules one absorbs through the years.