Editor’s Note: Our on-the-road correspondent Mark Pendl checks in–he’s still traveling the country searching for the perfect cowpony. This is his postcard profile of Yoakum, Texas.
Greetings from the Lone Star State! If you scan a Texas map, you will find me posted twenty-seven miles south of Gonzales (the birthplace of Texas) in a small town called Yoakum.
In its heyday, Yoakum was best known for growing tomatoes, meat packing plants, for making leather goods (mostly saddles) and for natural gas discoveries.
Like many small towns across this country, Yoakum has taken a downturn economically until recently. What was once a dusty, semi-ghost town huddled around a water tower is booming once again with gushing oil wells. For a few short years before the oil production runs dry, most everyone will prosper.
This is a cowboy and cowgirl town. The outskirts of this town is gated by cattle and horse ranches, single lane dirt roads, barbed wire supported by mesquite wooden fence posts, Lone Star state flags and a bunch of “down to earth” United States patriotism. Uncle Sam wears a cowboy hat, blue jeans, and cowboy boots in this neck of the woods.
Cowboy country like this comes with its own drifting experiences; they are quiet pleasures. There is something about this land – it holds you.
You cannot just look lightly across this land. The land holds your gaze, and forces you to acknowledge its power.
The townspeople in Yoakum help a person to realize that you can catch more flies with honey than with a fly swatter. In Texas, you learn to say “yes sir” and “no ma’am”; respect is everywhere! This is a part of the United States where angels have been flying too close to the ground.
It’s getting steadily warmer as summer inches closer. I’ll be leaving soon to the high mountains in the Far West, but I will miss this place. Yoakum, Texas has been good to me.