Many of you know that for the money, I work at a weekly newspaper in Iowa Park, Texas. During my hours toiling at the newspaper office, I write a weekly column, sell advertising and utilitize my skills as a graphics artist. I often share my column on this blog, as I am today. The topic of it this week is welcoming Iowa Park High School alumni home for the biggest weekend of the year, Homecoming and our famous Whoop-T-Do festival.
Being a lifelong Texan, I sometimes take it for grantedthat all smaller towns consider high school football a religion, with services held each Friday night.
This is not necessarily the case.
It occurred to me that many of my blog readers and subscribers are not from around these parts, and never have been. It also occurred to me that many of you don’t even know where Iowa Park, Texas, is. (Shout out to Brazil, where I have my highest number of international readers!)
This is my introduction and welcome to Iowa Park, my hometown.
I moved to Iowa Park when I was four years old and my parents started the newspaper here.
My first Homecoming memory in Iowa Park was the homecoming parade that year. I remember being so blown away that they had real horses in the parade. And those horses pooped on the streets, which further blew my four-year-old mind. I mentioned it to several contemporaries at my pre-school the following Monday and that was the first time (of many) I got in trouble at school.
(Fun fact: my favorite curse word is horseshit, which may or may not be related to that incident.)
But I digress.
We moved to a community that continues to have fall festivals, is proud of it’s home-owned businesses, and will help people out in need whether they are sick with mounting bills, or hungry. Iowa Park is my hometown, and I have a great love for the community and her people, although I moved to Wichita Falls four years ago, and commute back every day.
2015 marks my 46th Iowa Park Homecoming and Whoop-T-Do, which is to say I have probably eaten the collective body weight of the Green Bay Packers in sausage on a stick, funnel cakes and deep fried corn since I’ve been here. With it, of course, comes parades, homecoming queens, football games and bonfires.
……and great memories.
A newspaper is a recorder of a community’s history, in real time.
In the perfect world, community newspapers mirror the ebb and flow of life in the town they serve – births and deaths; laws made and laws broken; meetings and dissenting opinions; victories and losses; and ultimately, the good and the bad.
We always hope for more good than bad, for the record.
A big part of Iowa Park’s tradition and history is the annual Homecoming and Whoop-T-Do, so it is a big part of our year here at the Iowa Park Leader.
And it’s here …. so welcome home to all of you who don’t live here anymore. We are truly glad you came back.
I’ve never lived far enough away from Iowa Park to have to actually “come home” for homecoming. I live in Wichita Falls now, so I drive 30 miles round trip to my hometown almost every day.
Even if you come to Iowa Park fairly often, you probably don’t notice the subtle, and even not-so-subtle, changes over time.
This week I was thinking about what it would be like to look at Iowa Park with new eyes, so to speak.
So I tried to look at what life is like in Iowa Park on my way to work from Wichita Falls this week with those new eyes.
I’m here every day but somehow the changes don’t register because they are a part of the daily grind while they occur.
But when you come back after not being here a while, you notice those things.
A new housing addition. You can buy a beer or margarita in town for the first time since actual saloons were a thing and we had one in downtown Iowa Park. A growing mountain (lovingly referred to as Mount Trashmore, since it is our landfill) on the main highway. How beautiful Gordon Lake has become. Iowa Park has a McDonald’s? All of these things and more.
Our school campuses and Hawk stadium have changed in some fairly remarkable ways.
So look around and enjoy remembering the way things use to be.
Also, embrace the changes. Even with the changes you don’t like so much, it shows that Iowa Park is not in a rut – we are moving.
Of course, some things have not changed. Iowa Park still lives up to it’s name as “The Town of Friendly Living.” The spirit of giving and helping is still a cornerstone in this community. Our school pride and Hawk tradition remain as strong as ever. We are one of the few towns that has a full-service gas station and a home-owned newspaper, and our school cafeterias still serve hamburgers every single Wednesday.
Ray Copening, owner of City Cafe, and my Mom and owner of the Iowa Park Leader, Dolores Hamilton, sitting in front of City Cafe
After 46 years, the Iowa Park Leader still covers the history of Iowa Park as it happens, something we are proud of. With computers, social media and advanced technology, the method of covering the news has changed, but our dedication to reporting it has not.
Welcome to Iowa Park, IPHS alumni. We are glad you are a part of this week’s history.
The oldest building in Iowa Park, and office of my sweet husband, Bobby, BMC Retirement Planning
This is on the corner of that building, where I cut my name (with a heart over the i) when I was in junior high.