Welcome to Iowa, Park in Texas (where commas are important)

Although I moved to the fair community of Iowa Park, Texas when I was a worldly four years old, I consider it my hometown.

For some people reading this, it will be preaching to the choir to lay out the logistical nightmare of ordering something on the phone when the town you’re from has the name of a state in it, just not the state you reside in.

When the early settlers from Iowa arrived in what is now known as Iowa Park, Texas, their first inclination was to name the town Daggett Switch, which had something to do with the railroad but sounds suspiciously in the same neighborhood as Possum Holler.

Ultimately, it was decided that a nod to their home state was warranted, and tacked “Park” onto the end because the original city plat boasted nine. Iowa Park today officially has 8.

The year all that took place was 1888, and how were they to know that more than a century later it would cause people like … us … massive confusion any time you have to order something over the phone and have it shipped.

My experience while ordering things to be shipped to our office in the past month has been:

Order Taker: City, please?

Me: Iowa …

Order Taker: No, city first please.

Me: The city is Iowa Park.

OT: Iowa Park?

Me: Yes.

OT: (Deep sigh) Zip Code?

Me: 76367

OT: But, that’s in Texas. I thought you were in Iowa?

That my friends, is why commas are important. As are patience and forgiveness for our town fathers and mothers, in my experience.

For instance, I want to scream my zip code right after I give the company name but decorum prevents that. They also won’t let you give your zip code first and work backward. I’ve tried.

I thought one time about pitching the current city council a few different ideas for memorable, yet un-confusing names. My favorite, yet unsustainable, name was “I’m From.” That way you can answer anyone who asks you where you live with “I’m From, Texas”. It’s efficient, right in your face and equally confusing.

It just won’t work because the next question will always be “Where in Texas?” It would be like Abbott and Costello’s* Who’s on First routine, only with a heavy drawl and weaponry. I’m getting old and I don’t have any more time for that than I do the original problem.

So, Iowa Park it is.

Salute!

Seriously though, we love visitors. Our official slogan is truly “The Town of Friendly Living.”

We don’t care where you park – Welcome to Iowa Park, in Texas.

In the spirit of give what you’ve got, your prayers, love and thoughts are sought and needed by those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the coast of Texas and Louisiana, as well as Puerto Rico, Haiti and Florida which is expected to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma this week..

I have friends and family affected by both, and it is heart-breaking and life-changing. In that spirit, please give what you can of things people need. Lately when I’ve been shopping I’ve been asked if I want to give a dollar of my purchase to hurricane relief. I do, and I do. It’s not much, but if enough people do it, it adds up. And the need is great, and about to be greater.

Give what you can, when you can. It is showing me the good in this country in the midst of political discord. No questions are asked because people need help.

In that vein, I want to thank the people from Iowa Park who have worked to help people – some they might know, most they do not – in a time of dire need. There are far too many to name, and I would leave out a name (I know me), and they don’t do it for a pat on the back anyway.

Our city has given money, and generously. They have filled a semi-truck and more, and they have offered their homes for refuge, all of which is the primary spirit of this country.

Many communities are doing this, thankfully. But I don’t come from most communities,

I come from Iowa Park, Texas, The Town of Friendly Living. A town that is not in Iowa.

 

**** For six hours, everyone who read this knew that I don’t know my comedy acts from days of yore. My hero was Gilda Radner. Thanks to my now editor-at-large Richard for  setting me straight that it was not, in fact, the Three Stooges who did that brilliant bit. This isn’t the first time he has saved me from myself.

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Welcome to Iowa Park, Texas

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.

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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.

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Gordon Lake

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.

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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.

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Welcome to Iowa Park, IPHS alumni. We are glad you are a part of this week’s history.

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The oldest building in Iowa Park, and office of my sweet husband, Bobby, BMC Retirement Planning

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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.

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