Monday, March 3, 2014

The Second Largest Paris in the World


Several years ago, I read about the idea of being a tourist in your hometown. It was an interesting idea because people tend to get into a routine of going to the same places, often missing out on some fabulous things that are readily accessible.

I've done this, somewhat, in the town that I live now but had yet to figure out how it applied to my actual "hometown", which is actual not a town at all. I grew up on a cattle ranch, so my hometown is a pasture & a creek. The cows are long since gone, so the closest neighbors are now of the equine variety (plus a few dogs & chickens).
Remnants of our old cattle operation.
When I was looking for something to do this past weekend, it occurred to me that, just across the state line, is a larger town. I've spent lots of time in Paris, Texas, during my lifetime. However, I've always just ran into town with a particular purpose in mind & went home, which had always left me wondering why all these touristy (not entirely sure that's a real word) people come to visit. There had to be more to the town than a movie theater & tractor supply.

The Neighbors
So...I crossed over into the whole other country that is Texas...

Since I had seen it before, I skipped the cowboy hat-topped Eiffel Tower, but I feel obligated to mention it. It seems like every tourist I've ever met in Paris has loved seeing it & my kids always find it quite impressive.

 While cemeteries don't usually top the list of tourist spots, I paid a visit to Evergreen Cemetery. I had heard about it from several people that I had assisted in genealogy projects. As an undergrad, I attended a lecture about how cemetery markers can be viewed, anthropologically, as a microcosm of communities over time. The styles of the markers give a glimpse into popular artistic expression of the period. The level of expense or extravagance poured into laying the dead to rest varies over time & between cultures. Inscriptions on monuments can be quite telling. You get the point...

Since Evergreen had been around since at least 1861, it was fascinating to see the evolution of these things. I didn't take any photos while there, but there are several monuments that have become quite well known, such as the statue of Jesus in cowboy boots.
Fountain in the middle of Paris' Plaza

Jaxx Burgers, just off the town square, is where I had lunch. It was surprisingly good. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, I mean...what's a "gourmet burger" anyhow? But the food was great.

From there, most of the afternoon was spent walking around the square & exploring the boutiques, galleries & antique shops.

I spent quite a bit of time in one art gallery, talking to the owner. I can't find a webpage or I'd link to it. He had some absolutely magnificent pieces of Native work. It was sort of bittersweet. He had many things that he has been given by Native friends that he has made over the years. At the same time, I'm always conflicted when it
comes to seeing Native pieces (such as traditional clothing & weapons, dating back at least a couple centuries) leaving Native hands and going to non-Native collectors; but that's another topic, for another time. In any event, he had some magnificent

pieces. Naturally, I wasn't allowed to take photos of the most valuable ones, but he did allow me to see photograph that are displayed for sale in the gallery. The exception, is the buffalo hide drum shown on the left. He said that it is not for sale. It also has a twin, made from the same tree.

 When it comes to antique shops, I think I view a lot of them differently than some people my age. A great deal of what can be found for sale in antique shops is stuff that I grew up with, because we were poor & my grandparents were hoarders. So, antiques hold less fascination and more nostalgia for me. That's why I rarely actually purchase anything, with the exception of useful
things like cast iron skillets (old cast iron is usually much better than what can be purchased new).

I did run across a display, in one of the antique shops, that was a kitchen & ringer washer setup. Since I've cooked on a similar stove & washed clothes by hand, it reminded me how grateful I am for what I have. Electricity is my friend. ;-)

One place to not miss, if you ever make it to Paris, is Ta Molly's Mexican Restaurant. I've been going there since I was a kid, back when the Paris location was the only one. It's my favorite tex-mex & they have the best salsa in existence. I'm still hoping they will start bottling it, so I can buy it for home.

If you like museums, check out the Lamar County Historical Society Museum. Until this past weekend, I didn't even know they had a museum.
However, it's actually very interesting. It gives the history of the town & I learned a lot that I had never known. Perhaps, I'm odd, but I was actually quite intrigued with the iron lung that they have on display. It had been used at the hospital in town. I had never seen one in person, only in photos, & had only heard stories from my grandparent's generations about how they & others they knew suffered through polio.

I stayed in the Blue Room

 At the end of the day, I stayed at the Old Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast. It's located in a beautiful historic house & is run by two sisters who went far out of their way to be friendly and hospitable. The décor is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of when I would go to my great grandmother's house, as a child.

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