On Sunday, 29 July, we visited the small town of Baird, Texas. This rather charming, small, old town is located off of Interstate 20, about 20 miles east of Abilene. To do the history and feel (or spirit) of this town justice, we will offer our images in 2 parts of this photo essay.
Let me tell you, it was rather hot at midday this late July Sunday in this town. We are looking to the east.
Might this painting on the side of an old building qualify as a “ghost sign”?
A road sign at a corner in old Baird’s “downtown”.
Let’s start at the beginning. On our drive to Abilene from Stephenville (on Saturday, via Brownwood), we passed through several small towns along the highways we drove on. Such places as Comanche, Bangs, Santa Anna, and Lawn we passed through without stopping. Each little town had its own cemetery on the outskirts of town. There is much history in this part of Texas as these small towns were really frontier towns when founded in the mid 19th century before and after the Civil War. Those folks who lived back then must have been a hearty lot. (As we left Comanche driving southwest, we saw a sign for the Comanche Christian Cowboy Church, which I found to be amusing for its alliteration. This church does have a web page you can view online.) Santa Anna, a town of only about 1,000 souls west of Brownwood, did have a visitor center and a public library among other businesses. Perhaps, we should have stopped there.
We did stop in Baird (as we had planned to) and enjoyed the feel and nostalgic charm of this old town. The posted population sign told of 1,496 residents. Lucy, my wife, said “Oh no, Larry. This is too small to consider for a retirement home.” I think she is correct.
Here, we have parked the car on the main street of the business district. We are in front of the municipal court and city council board room. The red star on the window indicates the approximate position of Baird within the state of Texas.
We must be in Callahan County.
A look down the quiet, nearly deserted street in the direction of the old, railroad depot and museum. The street did not remain deserted as many cars came along and parked for the restaurant and Sunday lunch. The restaurant was one of the few businesses open that Sunday.
This painting was the length of the side of this old building and hearkens back to the time of steam power.
Here, in this closer shot, we see that this is an advertisement for, or a tribute to, the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
As we walk along in a westerly direction on the shady south side of the street, we glance to the northeast for this nearby scene.
In the shade of a building, Lucy poses for this photo.
There were many classic advertisements to be seen in store front windows along this main street. Note: “Laughing required.”
In front of Stennett’s Taxidermy business, we see an oversized western boot.
A classic printed advertisement for Winchester, a maker of long guns (shot guns and rifles).
Now, we can see many recently parked cars for the restaurant across the street.
One cannot escape the presence of secret societies and associations even in a small Texas town. Perhaps it is more like a social club for the locals.
A door for the American Hotel, which no doubt has seen better days.
We wonder what rare books might be found in this shop, but it was closed. Why do they buy ammunition? Or, could a shopper trade ammo for books in a barter type exchange?
Further along the street, we come to what was likely the county newspaper at one time.
We had to capture this image. In California, where we currently live, $29 thousand would not buy you a small shed or out house if the land came with it. I teased Lucy that we ought to buy this 2 building package and try to revitalize the downtown area. Of course, she knows of my periodic flights of fancy, and gave me a wan smile.
At the next cross street, we took this picture. Another “ghost sign”? Coffins and hardware and leather furniture all in one business some time back. Tobacco, too.
This building was vacant, but not in too bad a condition.
In this last image today, we see the stonework of the old building.
. . . . to be continued . . . .
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