Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
- Community Blog
- From 4220 feet:
From America's Finest to Texas' Oldest- What a Difference A City Makes
It was odd to move across the country and see our San Diego mayor splashed across the news. What a mess! Now Bob Filner has been removed from office and everyone here has to know about it! Glad I didn't vote for him and I wish he had behaved more like a gentleman.
Here in Texas, things are done a bit different. That's what all three of the cops who pulled me over for expired tags told me. One even gave me a ticket. Registering my mother's vehicle was on my long list of things that finally needed to be done and it was-within five minutes with no lines and no appointment.
The local college, Stephen F. Austin State University, started this week and I have to be honest. Every time I saw a banner asking "Do You Want to be a Lumberjack?," I thought that was what they taught. Turns out, it's the mascot. Never heard of that one before.
Small town amusements are fun. In a town of close to 33,000, I've seen one movie theater, a bowling alley and one honky tonk down by the railroad. The college offers some theater, a lecture series and a planetarium but they are just getting underway as students converge on the town.
One of the biggest differences is the price of real estate. Rental rates posted at $400-$700 for decent-looking apartments along with houses starting in the 50s. Of course, the prices also elevate to over a million for an estate on a large piece of land. Condos are basically unheard of here as the concept of buying an apartment just doesn't make sense when you can own even a small piece of earth.
Horse and cows are everywhere as well as donkeys of all shapes and sizes. Turns out they are more than lawn ornaments that eat, the smaller equines keep coyotes and poisonous snakes away. They will kill them in fact. I tried to get my mother's miniature donkey, Pedro, to chase away a chicken snake but he just stepped over it. They only get excited when their lives are in danger but the long, black creature was easily five feet long and I didn't like him in the yard.
Coming from the user-friendly state of California, it's odd to see the common and frequent arrests listed in the paper for marijuana possession in such small amounts. I mentioned that to one of the officers that pulled me over and ran my out-of-state license and he said, "We're next," as far as legalizing the plant, "and I'm not looking forward to it," he continued.
The claim is that marijuana use will cut down on alcohol use once it is legal and that is rumoured to reduce DUI issues. Not sure about the math on that but if it works, it is so needed in both states. In high stress times such as the one created by the recent recession, people reach for something to relax. Allegedly, the downside of marijuana use is not as severe as alcohol but that has yet to be proven from what I have seen.
People are so nice here that you think they're trying to sell you something. Over and over, I kept having encounters with folks and thinking, "Do I know you?" They are just really friendly in the south and once you get used to it, you start to enjoy the open feeling of visiting so freely with strangers.
The real estate bubble didn't burst here because it never expanded the way it did in California. The banks were too conservative to make the risky loans. There are few foreclosures and housing prices have remained steady through the years while the West Coast took a nosedive.
Instead of Starbucks, there's a church on every corner-mostly Christian. Two services are held on Sunday and one on Wednesday night-same as always. Not much changes in these small Texas towns but then, everything does.
In a world that gets chaotic, here you still see long-term marriages, people living their whole lives without plastic surgery or Botox, active farms and ranches and young people that say "yes ma'am." It's refreshing in a way that is hard to put into words.
I'm here for a spell and then I'll be back in San Diego to take in our beautiful climate, mountains and beaches. I love it here and I love it there-for very different reasons.
For now, From Nacogdoches, I am SherryD