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Tales from the Road – TURKEY, TEXAS

Turkey, TX pop. 436 is on the same mostly forgotten back road through the Texas panhandle as Goodlett and Childress. This string of Texas towns and many others are sadly being abandoned to the desert.

Turkey is notable though, because it’s struggling to be great again. As the birthplace of early country music star Bob Wills, it grasps onto the idea that with its annual Bob Wills music festival, it will grow into a tourist destination. Someone (probably the federal government under Obama) funded a repaving of the streets with brick and sidewalk bumpouts. Its new/vintage, iron curly-cue light posts are evenly spaced, but are more right in Disney World. Of course, welcome flags hang from every one—and murals adorn several walls.

The problem though is that even with the ‘makeover,’ everything on this neat Main Street is closed. Dogs could sleep all day in the middle without fear.

The couple above owns an ‘antique store’ at one end of town.  I spent about an hour chatting with them.  Not another soul stopped.  A half-century ago, before the Intersates, it was the gas station. We talked about travel, and their hopes for Turkey to become an “in” spot. That is, “a town renowned for its eclectic offering of all the finest things in life… food, wine, friends and fun,” with cafes, a bakery, a crafty burger shop, tapas bars, gastro pubs, a vegan restaurant, art gallery, museums, B&Bs, a posh inn/spa, a licensed massage therapist, designer clothing stores, an indie bookstore, a vinyl record store, a winery, at least 4 craft brew-pubs, and maybe even a cidery.

I tried to tell them the competition is fierce; that hundreds of similar towns across the U.S. have the same hopes (see Healdsburg, California).

This couple had travelled; nine years in Hawaii (but they missed Turkey), managed a 6,000 tree peach orchard in California, and trucked to every corner the country in a 40 ft. motorhome.

He was a Vietnam Vet, working on stuff fifty years ago that he couldn’t reveal, even today… for security reasons. It was a pleasant break, but I didn’t find anything for me in the shop—mostly porcelain figurines, glassware, candy dishes, a few country 8-track tapes, and twisted barbed-wire sculptures.

They told me they trusted that things would turn around with Donald Trump. Maybe Ivanka will open a store—lots of availability. Would definitely get a deal.




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