NOTE: Part 3 of a 4‑part post about returning to my Pampa, Texas hometown.
I smiled as I turned onto downtown Cuyler Street, Pampa’s first paved road.
Red bricks, laid last century by “Indian Jim,” extended south as far as my eyes could see. Perfectly aligned rows and rectangles dissolved into muddy crimson, eventually to meet railroad tracks on the far end of the street.
One thing about my hometown had not changed.
Something across the street had.
“Resound” headlined the former First National Bank building.
How can a hometown survive without a ‘national bank’?
Resound offers wireless internet. Good news for a rural town.
WiFi takes over The Bank?
I remember opening my first bank account here with my father talking in the car about how the building was built during the Great Depression — “jobs for too many unemployed men.”
I whisper now, “At least it’s been repurposed for good,” and drive away.
Next, it’s to the hospital where I survived double pneumonia.
Worley Hospital looked in bad shape the last time I saw it. No time to stop then. It was Mother’s day.
Years before, owners had abandoned Worley Hospital. A newer hospital on the town’s north side drew more doctors and patients.
I cringe at the building’s extreme deterioration. Then my eyes, unconsciously, flick upwards. To the window I can never forget.
For two mostly-black weeks at age five, I lived in that circled room. Life-threatening fever seizures led to pain-filled treatments. But the day before dismissal, Mother lifted me up to that window. I watched traffic on the street below and giggled. I looked over at her and didn’t understand why her eyes were wet.
Ah, a little girl’s scary experience transformed into a sweet memory.
A half century later, scary returned. Thank you, A&E Network.
The film crew profiled Worley Hospital and its new owners, youngsters who dreamed of a B&B. They began renovating. Hauntings began. “Ghost Hunters” came to visit.
So much stuns in this TV clip:
- Ghostly entities sidling up walls
- Green bars recording voice echoes
- Ghastly state of hospital interior
- A B&B? In this building?
Outside Worley, I don’t know whether to laugh, roll my eyes, or go inside.
“No Trespassing” signs stopped me.
I needed a happy close.
On its north side, Pampa hosts a one-of-a-kind “musical fence.” It ‘sings’ the opening bars of “This Land Is Your Land,” as composed by Pampa’s most famous citizen: Woody Guthrie.
If you can play an instrument, you can play the song by following the fence.
Woody lived in Pampa throughout the 1930s. The folk singer dropped out of high school to self educate at the city library. In addition to songwriting, illustrating, and painting, he worked as a busker (musical street performer).
I wonder, “Did Woody busk on the downtown bricks?”
By the way, check out the final verse of “This Land Is Your Land.”
We need more Woody Guthries.