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DOWNTOWN CHEROKEE: This is pretty much the whole place...

Places About to Disappear
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

If you want to go on a nice quiet drive head out on Sunday.  If you want to actually do something besides drive you'd be wise to choose any other day of the week.   Everything is closed except your church of choice and they generally shut down by noon. 


P.jpg (7100 bytes)ile on top of that, if you are interested in writing about the experience don't hang out with friends the night before and do your fair share of drinking and talking.   Your brain will likely be in idiot gear the next day.  I did all that and and more.  
       Well, I suppose if John Mulhollan and I had gone to one of your larger communities where folks might be hanging out things could have been different.  But no.  I decided we ought to visit some practically disappeared communities like Cherokee, Pontotoc, Fredonia, Brady, Katemcy, Art and Castell.  Okay, I know, Brady is alive and well -- except on Sundays.
CherokeeDoor.jpg (26821 bytes)       Anyway, the locations fit our brain activity which was pretty much as empty as the towns proved to be.  So now I'm faced with the daunting responsibility of reporting, while mentally impaired, about nothing.
       That's not to say you ought not go to these places.  Most of them will be pretty much the same any day of the week, but they're worth a look-see.   If you like old, wore out, broke down, past their prime, practically abandoned towns you'll fall in love.  I did.  'Course I wouldn't live in any of them, except maybe Cherokee which was our first stop. 
       Founded in 1878 Cherokee was a prosperous community by the 1890s complete with a hotel, several churches and businesses not to mention (which I will) the Cherokee Academy (1894) which later became West Texas Normal and Business College (1896) then Cherokee Junior College (1911) and finally Cherokee High School (1921) until it burned down in 1945.
       Evidently, back then the folks in Cherokee didn't mind change. Take the post office.  The Cherokee post office moved five times between 1859 and 1879. (When a post office moves does it need to file a forwarding address?).  'Course nothing much changes in the town these days except the weather.
       Straight away I let Nigel the Land Rover graze in a parking lot while I hopped out to take a picture of their local church.  Everyone was already somewhere else so there wasn't a congregation automobiles to interfere with the picture taking.
CherStoreSM.jpg (15556 bytes)       The way I see it, banker's hours can't hold a candle to preacher's hours, but then again both pretty much interfere with happy hours so I'll stick to my current profession -- the wages are low and I'll never be citizen of the year or such as that, but I can't complain (much).  Anyway I'm holding out for the day when the Pulitzer committee decides to give out the Pulitzer Prize for Illiterature.  I'm sure to be recognized.
       Cherokee is all antique stores.  Or, honing the description to a finer edge, stores that are antiques.  Most are empty and slowly working their way back into the earth so you better hurry.  John and I walked along the west side of town where some of the buildings are still standing and poked around.  If you like the look of the old west you'll take to Cherokee.  If you don't have your camera you'll wished you had.
       Finally we meandered across the street and there it was!
       "Look," John said, "a pile of feet."
RC.jpg (10836 bytes)       Sure enough, piled up against the side of a store (CLOSED) was about a hundred wooden feet.  They were as well crafted as those high dollar wooden ducks folks perch on their mantle piece.  Some folks call these things shoe trees, but for the life of me I'll never figure how someone came up with that description.  Where are the roots?  Where are the branches?  Where are the aspirin?
       It was all I could do not to help myself.   But, even if the place had been open I wouldn't have been able to decide whether to buy one or two.  And if two, which two.  A matching pair?  Two left feet?   (Speaking of which, why is it that fellers, like myself, are accused of dancing with two left feet.  I mean, does another klutz with two right feet do any better?  Or is it just that the folks "on the left" get blamed for everything that goes wrong on the danceTurnA.jpg (4971 bytes) floor?
       We surmised it was going to be pretty hard to find anything in Cherokee that would outdo the pile of feet so I pointed Nigel the Land Rover toward Pontotoc. 



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