“Do you know anyone there?”, has been a popular question posed to me this morning. “Do you know anyone in that town that blew up?” What is hard to explain to those not from Texas is that you don’t have to be personally involved with anyone from the small town of 2700 people in West, Texas to feel the immense pain and loss in your heart normally associated with losing a loved one. It is difficult to explain to those not Texas born and bred about what it means to be Texan.
Texan’s know each other. We know know the people, the hard workers, the families, the youth pastors, the ma & pa shops and places like The Czech Stop. We are nice, ready-to-help, fun loving, family oriented, kind people. We don’t understand why you don’t return our smile when we walk by or return our wave if we pass your car on a small street. People who meet Texans, especially those from up north or Europeans, often feel uneasy because our strong desire to love and to help can feel a little strange to those not used to it.
As Pat Green said, “When you live in West Texas you can’t just exactly go somewhere…” Although he was referring to geography and not the specific city it still rings true. The Road trip is an as essential and ingrained part of Texas life. You pick up and drive down the interstate of your choice and pass small town after town after town of our people. Within these small towns you find places to eat, places to rest, good people and local specialties.
In West, Texas there is the Czech Bakery that is a drooling point of anyone I assure you. Light airy bread dough surrounding an ewey-gooey middle of your choosing. My favorite has always been strawberries and cream cheese. Or warm sausage and cheese kolaches fresh from the oven.
When driving, for example from Austin to Dallas, it is practically a crime not to stop at this place and get a box to go to bring it to whomever you are visiting for the weekend.
So, when bad things happen to good people, good people that are our extended Texan family… memories of childhood, college years and beyond flood your mind until you cry. These people are good honest hard workers. No one will be there to write a huge check and make it all go away. The survivors will be combing through their belongings for weeks trying to piece together their lives so that they can continue on. Days missed from work will not be reimbursed. Photographs are not saved on expensive external hard drives and family heirlooms like christening gowns or the family bible are not simply replaced.
I hurt for these people, these Texans, these family members. I hope those who are not an ocean away will get in their trucks and cars and go do something. Donate clothes, blood, and money, or perhaps, when the smoke clears, take another road trip down to West and help clean up and rebuild.
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