My wife came home the other day to find a heap of napkins, aprons, towels, placemats, and seasonal decorative towels placed in a heap in the counter. She asked, with the wisdom that comes from years of living with me, what was wrong with them.

Several things, I explained. There are five aprons. You use one a year. Let’s say you have someone in to help, and Daughter is home from college and helping as well. Unlikely, but possible. That means two superfluous aprons.

She is not entirely unaccustomed to hearing things like “superfluous aprons” from me.

I explained that the seasonal towels, which serve no purpose, and are draped on the oven handle, are old and boring. For example: I hate this one.

You bought that one," she said.

Maybe. Point is, I hate it now, and if we don’t get rid of it, it will sit in the drawer forever, and some day someone will have to clean out the house and they’ll come across mounds and mounds of rectangular fabric that was obviously never used -

“But that’s in use, right now.”

Yes yes but it’s not the most salient example of what I’m talking about. Forget about it for a second. Let us set aside the pumpkin towel. Point is, there’s nothing as sad or pathetic or maddening as coming across all those linens and tablecloths and things that were too good to ever be used. If we don’t use it, it’s going out.

“You are turning into Marie Kondo.”

Hah! She’s a lightweight. Everything goes. Everything is going out except for two of everything.

(Wife, perhaps considering her shoe shelf: Raised eyebrow)

I am haunted by all the unused old people stuff in my Dad’s house. It just gnaws at me. There was something so sad about it. There was something that said the lives in this house had just wound down and stopped at some point, years before the actual technical stopping. It’s why I have two suits, one drawer with 10 t-shirts, and a selection of sweaters that are confined to what I wear, not what I might. Granted, I have 25 shirts, but that’s because I like color. I know I have 2 shirts because I have 25 hangars, and if one new shirt comes in another is sent off to Goodwill.

My dad had about ten suits, a tottering mound of sweaters, so many slacks. He wasn’t a hoarder, and everything was hung up and neatly stacked, but I could sense the way he’d held on to some things just because. Same with the kitchen cabinets. By no means pack-ratty, but lots of things for parties that wouldn’t ever happen. Colorful glassware they’d picked up along the way, used maybe 10 years ago, probably longer: couldn’t bear to toss it, or never saw the need, or just didn't have a moment when he thought "those could go."

I understand. I have glassware to which I am attached, for ridiculous reasons. I have Frosty Root Beer mug with the brand's logo, no doubt bought because I thought "summer is coming and I will make root beer float for Daughter and it will be sanctified by this cool vintage logo and life will be perfect."

It has to go. We have inherited a set of nice wine glasses that never get used because there are the Perfectly Good Wine Glasses that come out for parties, and you wouldn’t want to break the nice ones.

So many vases! Do we need 10 vases? We do not need ten vases. Elton John is not coming to stay.

In short: out. OUT OUT OUT. Keep what we use, what we occasionally use, and a few things that we might use. Everything else, OUT.

Multiply by every household in America, and the quantity of stuff boggles the brainpan.

Oh, and the DVDs on the shelf downstairs? Same. I found DVDs downstairs in the media room, where I don’t think anyone had sat and enjoyed a TV show in ten years. Again: life, stopped. I think of the shelf downstairs with the Disney Treasures series all lined up, and it has the same stopped-time impression. Out!

No, wait, google . . . eBay . . . holy crap, people want $30 for those?

No. OUT. Well, maybe save one, for Daughter, if she remembers how she watched these and loved the early Mickeys and Plutos and Silly Symphonies. I did too. I ripped them all, including the menus, because the sound of the menu music playing in a loop because she’d fallen asleep, or left the basement without turning it off - a familiar old melody that brings back a certain time, and I’m the only one who remembers it.

But that’s GONE and it’s not coming back, and -


Maybe it all comes back eventually.



Still throwing away the towel, though.

(NARRATOR: He did not, in the end, throw away the towel)








Not to be confused with Mount Vernon, Texas. Population: 11,000 souls. Motto: “Steer Our Way!” Roy Orbison was born here.

I love Texas small towns. There are so many. Each, I’m sure, has a high-school football team. Each has remnants of the past that testify to a noble, upright civic past.

“The bad news is that your office is in the basement. The good news is there’s lots of light.”


“Bad news is you’ll have to get a paint scraper.”

The most generic pre-war government building ever conceived by the mind of man:



Still better than the ones they built in the 70s.

“The old-timer’s been blind for years, but you still suspect he sees things.”

Ojhnny’s Bar and Harmacy:


The windows appear original, and suggest there’s not a lot going on upstairs any more.

I’m starting to think it’s going to be one of those last-picture-show Texas towns.


That was a big store; the facade looks as if it tied together several properties.



Time has revealed the ancient work of some bricklayers who added art in small doses, just because.

“Save with a bank that’s thrifty enough not to spend your deposits on upper floor decoration”


A remnant of the empire of Colonel Cornelius Herring, who died at the age of 81 leaving $10 million. Used to have five ranches. Built a hotel. The whole Texas story in one man.


That’s lovely. Except for what they did to it.



I’m sure the ladies of the town loved it. Brought a bit of Paris to town. And not Paris Tx.



Great sign:



I don’t know what “Water White” means, unless they’re talking about white-wall tires. Which no one has anymore. DA hair, skinny jeans, Camels rolled up in your T-shirt sleeve, whitewalls, summer Saturday twilight, all of life stretching out in front of you. But I digress.

You get the sense it shut down in stages, not all at once.

It’s scenes like this that suggest the economic vitality of the downtown has, shall we say, ebbed in recent years. Love the black tile, though; someone was right proud of that.

The most perfect Texas picture I’ll show you this week:



Type “bowen department store vernon TX” into Google . . .



And the first result is “Wal-Mart.” Explains it all, I suppose.

Time to Re-tire, as the sleepy child entrusted with a lit candle says:



If you're curious:

The Fisk Tire Company was an American tire company. It was a major force in the US tire industry from the 1910s to early 30s.

In 1898, the Spaulding and Pepper Co was sold to Noyes W. Fisk and renamed the Fisk Rubber Co. It employed more than 600 people in 1910 and more than 3,000 during World War I (with a weekly payroll averaging $48,000). By 1917, the company employed 4,500 people with a $70,000 payroll.


Fisk was forced out of the market by "competition and systematic price discrimination", and the company's demise was accelerated by the du Pont family's taking an interest in the United States Rubber Company (which also controlled General Motors), in the OEM tire market. The domination of the replacement tire market (among, for example, bus and taxi companies) by the four leading tire manufacturers was at the expense of Fisk and other medium-sized firms while reducing profit margins for all.

The brand was acquired by a larger company, and faded away in the early 60s.

Go ahead, you tell him he did a lousy job of parking:


That planter indicates that a spiffification effort was undertaken at some point, with the usual results.

The buildings look like almost-dead and quite sincerely dead



SUPERIOR . . . what? I’ve seen the logo somewhere. Automotive? Ball bearings? Can’t recall.

Oh hell yes



Looks like it should have been a small move theater, but nothing’s coming up on Google searchs.


This was, and is.



Underwhelming website that kicks you out if you click on a link.

"Folks 'round these parts still talk about the lava flood."


Wouldn't be a Main Street entry without an OUMB:


Finally, the usual 1920s Hotel:

It is not, at press time, senior housing.

But you know it will be.

That'll do, I hope - and if not, I don't know what I can tell you.

Extra-generous dose of Motels today, since I have to up the number of updates if I'm going to get all the 2019 additions in. Revel in the bounty!






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