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PRAIRIE LEA & FENTRESS:  The first two photos are of Prairie Lea, the rest from downtown Fentress.

Prairie Lea & Fentress
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

Headed toward San Marcos I was looking for Stairtown until I realized I'd already been there.  Up the road I abandoned the highway for downtown Prairie Lea.  Seems once you pass the quick-stop at the turnoff commercial activity ceases.

Apart from the handsome structure of an old abandoned church Parry Lea doesn't provide much camera appeal so I lit our for Fentress.


 

 

N.jpg (3257 bytes)ow here's a place high on promise but shy on performance.  Once downtown I let Nigel the Land Rover rest while I took a picture from one side of the street and then the other.  I crossed the street to Doyle's Bar anticipating an adult beverage.
YeloStore2.jpg (30816 bytes)       On the window was fairly recent looking lettering offering food at prices even I could afford. Studying the menu on the window I realized someone was pulling both my legs -- or I was up against another of those koans.
       Seems Pigs Knuckles were 15 cents more than a Veal Cutlet.  I don't know about you but I generally feed higher up on critters than that.   I remember Grandma Rosa ate pickled pigs feet but she experienced the Great Depression.  I just assumed she staying shape for the next one.

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       The place was bone-bare.  No beer, no sandwiches, no nothing.  Okay, maybe this is a homage the Fentress Hog Farm, which once raised performing pigs for Aquarena Springs, but when Aquarena went out of business it took the Hog Farm down with it. 
gas.jpg (12891 bytes)        Anyway, the downtown which is some two blocks long is filled with empty stores just begging to be occupied.  Back in 1929 the community boasted 500 citizens, thanks to the oil fields; but today there are fewer than 80 souls still holding out.
       Whatever else might be said about Fentress, it isn't camera shy.  Maybe someday a few dreamers will recognize its potential and put in a few businesses.  Someone could reopen the bar and restaurant ( maybe raise the prices a little), or the obligatory antique shop, bed and breakfast, or an art gallery.  A general store wouldn't hurt either.  I'd shy away from a dance hall though.  The last time that was tried the area church groups were mightily irritated and wanted to be rid of the place.  Anyway, about that time, the town water tower fell on the only bank and some folks claimed it was divine judgement.  Frankly, I don't get the connection butTurnA.jpg (4971 bytes) I was still pondering the White Front/Chocolate City paradox on my way to Staples.       

PAGE 1:  LOCKHART  /   PAGE 2: LOCKHART PT. 2
PAGE 3:  LULING /  PAGE 4:  LULING PT. 2
PAGE 5: FENTRESS  /    PAGE 6: THE BACKROAD HOME
   /  MAP

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