June 8, 2006

Kilgore impressions

I had to get a shot of this neon sign as I pulled into town. I don't know how old it is, but the store has probably been around since at least the 1960s. Still open.

It's easy to lose oneself in the wide, quiet streets of old, downtown Kilgore. I always feel like a character in The Last Picture Show.

From this site about Kilgore:

On Oct. 3, 1930, in a Rusk County pasture, 70-year-old "Dad" Joiner brought in the Daisy Bradford 3 and unknowingly tapped into the world's largest pocket of oil.

The resulting oil boom brought thousands of producers and drillers into East Texas, turned the quiet little communities into raucous boom towns and made millions for oil producers...

...More than 1,000 wooden oil derricks -- perhaps the most visible evidence of the East Texas oil boom -- lined the town's streets. During the Christmas season, lights were hung on many of the derricks. And one plot of ground was known as "“the world's richest acre..."

There's that famous line in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in which Raoul Duke reflects on the death of the 1960s and the counterculture's ideals: "So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark--that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back." (p. 68)

I think, somehow, that sentiment applies to a place like Kilgore, where it must have seemed like the boom would never end. But it did, and with "the right kind of eyes," one can see the high-water marks.

I parked my car and had this beauty to contend with:

Maybe I should go back at night? As if that one isn't enough, right across the street is (roughnecks couldn't spend all their time boozing, gambling, and whoring, not necessarily in that order):
The entire interior was reportedly done in western style decor. As a one-time Longhorn, I'm a little bit suspect about the color. Maybe it was somebody's attempt at diplomacy?

Unlike those two theaters, most of the stores in the old downtown are still open for business.

I'd hate to get anyone at G & B Boot Shoe and Saddle Repair in trouble, but they're not fooling anybody with that mannequin in the window. That man's a woman, man.

What's referred to as "the world's richest acre" is behind those buildings. The area was covered with thousands of derricks at one time.

There's something about old jewelry stores from the 1940s-1960s.

All that's missing is a '59 Thunderbird parked out front.

There's the old Longhorn Drugs. Again with the color...

Other remnants of a bygone era:

As I was leaving, I had to pull over to get some shots of this art deco, Frank Lloyd Wright kind of home, which I've named the "K. K. House." It is located right off of what is now the major thoroughfare, N. Henderson Blvd.

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