November 7, 2006

Palestine, Texas

Palestine (150 miles N of Houston, 108 miles SE of Dallas, 67 miles W of Nacogdoches) is an example of a town I'd never been to, and I had no idea whether or not my hour+ drive there would be worth it, or not. Yet once I was there, I discovered literally block after block of old Texas. I spent well over an hour wandering around taking pictures, lost in the past. I couldn't have been happier.
It didn't hurt that gas was under $2 a gallon. We haven't seen that in a while! I took the two-lane, state highway 294, a blue highway, and I kept thinking as I was driving how it was an older person's road, from another time. The shoulder, when there was one, was maybe two feet wide. With only two narrow lanes, there wasn't much room for error when any one of dozens of lumber trucks came barreling down towards me from the opposing lane. This was a highway which had never been idiot proofed. If you screwed up on this road, you'd know it, if you were lucky enough to live to tell. The typical teenager, distracted by a myriad of electronic devices, as well as driving way too fast, would not survive many trips along its winding, unforgiving distance.

Palestine is the county seat of Anderson County, and I first focused the various businesses (primarily law offices, bail bondsmen, and liquor stores) around the courthouse.
Smith Liquor, still open

Old Phillips 66, long closed

This old structure was across the street from the Phillips. I have no idea what its purpose was; I just thought it looked cool:
A lot of old laundromats around the courthouse!

And at this point, I thought I had found all I would find in old Palestine. I was back in my car, heading for home, when I this caught my eye:

I walked down to the opposite end of the alley only to see:

Remember, I had no idea any of this was here.

One last look back at the magnificent Texas Theater:
And onward, to where people once contentedly shopped (a lot apparently still do!), before indoor malls and Wal-Marts...

the City Shoe Shop:

I hope each of those ends up under the tree of some lucky boy or girl on Christmas morning!

Closed. You've got to love the whimsy that went in to designing the facade.

A font of the past:

The L & L clothing store - still open, thriving even. I did a Google search for it, and the only match was my Flickr set. I thought at first it was another great old movie theater as it seems to be an odd choice of signage for such a store, but I'm not complaining!

These two blocks of old stores were, of course, right across the street from the railroad tracks, and the cry of trains occasionally passing made the ground shake and the ambiance perfect:

A couple of old building across the street from the railroad tracks. The one on the left looks like it was made out of chocolate (at least in my picture):

This great, NEW neon sign was in front of a business across the street from the railroad tracks, too.

Finally, what with Veteran's Day being observed this Saturday (November 11), I thought I'd share pictures of a mural (across the street from the railroad tracks) that appeared to have been done around the time of Dessert Storm:

A great day in Palestine!

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