Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tootling into Texas

Our long weekend out of town was spent in Gainesville, Texas - not far over the Red River, Oklahoma's border with Texas.

Gainesville, billed on road signs as "The Front Porch to Texas", doesn't have anything especially touristy to draw crowds there, though some of the town's business is sure to come from a huge casino, WinStar World Casino,located a few miles away, just across the state line in Oklahoma. Gambling is not legal in Texas. The casino is advertised on billboards as "The World's Largest Casino". I suspect they exaggerate. The casino's theatre regularly hosts concerts featuring world famous stars.

Gainesville itself has an historic rail depot. A passenger train, Amtrak's Heartland Flyer operates daily through the town, travelling between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth. We were standing in the street, very near the railway lines when the Flyer sped through one morning, nearly deafening us with its shrieking whistle. It was only the second passenger train I've seen since I came to the USA in 2004, whereas rail travel was a way of life for me back in Britain. This train had two levels though - an "upstairs" - something I'd not seen back in the UK.

As for the town's other claims to fame, (or notoriety) Wikipedia tell that:
During the Civil War, the Great Hanging at Gainesville, a controversial trial and hanging of 40 suspected Union loyalists, brought the new town to the attention of the state and came close to ripping the county apart.
Gainesville is home to a large outlet mall (the Gainesville Factory Shops) which used to attract visitors from north Texas as well as southern Oklahoma. Constructed in the mid 1990s as a "destination" shopping mall, it has since become a "distressed mall", with very few stores remaining in business. Our hotel was very close to the large and rather attractively designed deserted estate of outlet stores. It's now a virtual ghost town, apart from lights in GAP's still live outlet, and maybe one other. There's probably a story to tell as to how and why the development met its demise.

Gainesville has three antique stores which kept us busy for a half day. On another day we drove the 15 miles or so to a small town, Whitesboro. The short Main Street there carries three antique stores, for our delight. A few miles further down the road is Collinsville with a single big antique store recently re-located there from Gainesville.

Wikipedia, on Whitesboro, tells that:
After the Civil War, Whitesborough grew into a frontier town where female residents were prohibited from leaving their homes on Saturday nights because shootings were so common. Whitesborough had a population of 500, saloons, several stores, and other businesses when it was incorporated on June 2, 1873. By 1879, it had a bank, a newspaper, and train service from Denison, Texas on a line from the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. In 1887, it altered the spelling of its name to Whitesboro.

Driving back to Gainesville we passed a huge field with more horses grazing there than I'd ever seen together (or probably even separately) in all my life! Apparently this area is known as horse country - the breeding and selling of. Husband tells me it's easy to spot horse ranches because they are always surrounded by white fences rather than by barbed wire or bare wooden fencing.

So...our haul from the vintage and antiques stores: husband found a nice supply of vintage photographs for his collection. I bought a couple of books, a DVD set, and the sculpture shown below. It's an Austin Productions piece (like my Black Magic Woman and a finial sculpture). This one is by by Alexander Daniel. It's about 17" high, and the only Austin Productions piece I've seen lately with a nice low price tag ($25). I've just found similar ones online priced from $45 (with some damage) to $100+ The piece's title seems to be, variously, "Lovers' Heart", "Soulmates" or "Dancers". The two figures form a heart between them Awwww! How could I possibly have left this one behind?


mike said...

I know nothing about the two towns you visited, though I'm sure I've passed them on Interstate 35...I see they are just north of Dallas-Ft Worth, which I've driven too many times (once is enough). I see that world-famous Paris, TX, is due east on Hwy 82...had to have car repairs there once, so I must have been on I-35 at Gainsville when the need for repair occurred. Gainsville probably didn't have an auto repair, but Paris did.

You didn't mention edibles and fine dining experiences. Must only have been Denny's and the like?

Your Austin Productions, "Lovers' Heart", looks like something the Defense of Marriage Act weirdos would all have on their desks...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Fine dining? That's not really our style, which is lucky because in the places we choose to stay it doesn't exist anyway. :-) Our hotel was next door to Cracker Barrel, and that's my favourite chain. I always choose their "Haddock Dinner" - best fish dish I've found in the USA, and always reliably excellent, with steak fries, and a couple of other sides (carrots and coleslaw for me, or sometimes tomato and cucumber salad).

Our first evening meal, though, was a selection of light snacks from Walmart (sorry!) because we'd stopped at a German cafe in Muenster (on Hway 82) at lunchtime, on the way to Gainesville and eaten their Reuben sandwiches with German potato salad - from which we received a nasty bout of indigestion a, felt like giving an evening meal a miss. German food definitely isn't my thing - though their wines are nice. Only other restaurant meal we had was at Applebees - nothing special.

You don't like my new sculpture? I'm not a defense of marriage weirdo, though, I'm just a defense of love weirdo, whatever combination of characters are involved (as long as it's not incestuous). :-/

mike (again) said...

I was sorta being facetious about fine dining...chain restaurants have overtaken most small communities sitting on the edge of a major highway. You have mentioned in previous travelogue posts that you've occasioned upon some locally owned, very wonderful establishments. I remember one you mentioned that had a British theme.

Did you see that Walmart is closing-up a number of their stores? The segments I've seen on the news are ironic...the small communities losing their Walmarts are complaining that Walmart drove-out the small, family-owned businesses leaving ONLY Walmart, and now Walmart is abandoning them. Boo hoo, sob, sob. The locals seem to miss the point that THEY drove-out the small businesses by not patronizing them once China-Waltons arrived.

I'm not overly fond of your new sculpture, or anything with hearts as part of the motif, but who cares, as long as you adore it. It's upscale kitsch to me...LOL. I didn't mean to imply you are a DOM weirdo, I know you are not, but I can definitely see that group thinking the sculpture embodied their cause. Teddy and-or Marco may have the same sculpture on their mantle.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ The British themed place is in McKinney TX, yes, it's called "Churchill's" and they do (or did) a nice Yorkshire pudding filled with minced beef and veggies, as well as other British pub grub staples. We'll probably be back there one of these days when cabin fever strikes again.

Yes, I read about Walmart's closing some stores. Perhaps in the relevant communities it'll be possible for a few privately owned stores to set up again.

It's strange that the sculpture strikes you in that way. No such thoughts entered my mind when I first saw it, I was attracted to the general shape of the figures. The photo shows only the front, the sculpture's back is really nicely done too. I got a distinct art deco feel from it. I like hearts anyway. Husband has a thing for hearts too - he used to have a big bagful of little stone or wooden or glass or plastic hearts. He'd regularly leave one of them around the house in partially hidden places for me to find. LOL! I think there's still one of them on top of a door frame near the bathroom - I left it there as a memento. :-) I also have three or four (or more) heart-shaped bits and pieces around the house. A bit of hearty kitsch is good for the soul!

mike (again) said...

I've never preferred sentimental art. Call me strange. I used to collect religious art, because it was so over-the-top, sentimental-evoking kitsch, and those of strong faith would have considered me blasphemous, if they knew I did it for purely secular enjoyment. They were so full of bleeding hearts, tears, and expressions of bliss on heads enshrouded in sacred rays.

I had a collection of meal-special inserts from the Broadway Diner in KC, MO, that I collected for a couple of years. They were extremely colorful, very surreal looking photographs of "today's special" that were 2"X3", clear plastic encased, and attached to the menu...you'd have to see them to appreciate...LOL. I'm sure the Broadway Diner was relieved when the criminal theft stopped, concurring with my relocating to another state.

I thoroughly enjoy 3D paraphernalia, too. I used to have a box of post cards, rings, pendants, framed pictures, books, anything that was in reality 2D, but 3D in appearance.

I worked as a picture framer for a couple of years while in college. I had a fantastic collection of framed, very wonderful, works of art. Some original oil paintings acquired at the local art school (KC Art Institute) that were top-notch. Tapestries acquired from perusing the thrift stores, which likewise supplied many sculptures and stylish artifacts to display on tables or shelves.

Oh, those were the days...my collections have been discarded over years of relocating and my not realizing their true value (to me). I don't collect anything now, nor do I have any art work. I love art on the walls and around the house here-and-there. In some respects, I feel freer without the extra baggage and dust collectors, but I'm probably just saying that, since I'm without.

I know from previous discussions that you don't have the same appreciation of 3D and I highly doubt you have religious art or menu inserts adorning your household landscape or ever did.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I do understand your feeling of freedom from baggage and dust collectors. I experienced that for a while after our "Great Fire", and again after moving to the USA. It didn't last long, however. I inherited some "stuff" of my mothers, and she had "stuff" of her mother's, and anyjazz has some stuff of his mother's...then I've collected far too much on our jaunts through antique, vintage and thrift stores over the years, not to mention the paintings anyjazz has done throughout his life. We really need more closets! He worked in picture framing for a while, early on too, including driving a truck into Mexico and back for frames.

3D doesn't appeal to me, nor does religious art. Menus...hmmm..long, long ago in a country far from here... during early days with first husband we lived for a short time in a very scruffy little apartment on england's west coast. To brighten it up I used to cut out photographs of fancily presented food items, gourmet stuff etc. from magazines and stick them on the wall above the fireplace. LOL! Didn't need closets in those days!

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Charles Jonasson said...

While searching out two recently acquired Austin framed, "Man and Woman Towers" #AC0254 rustic iron wall sculptures I came across this company in the UK. It has cataloged, sells, and has priced many Austin Productions products including your "Soulmates" statue: http://www.austinsculpture.co.uk/product_detail.cfm?catL1=Contemporary&catL2=Lovers&productID=755

Twilight said...

Charles Jonasson - Hi there! Thanks for your visit, comment and link. Interesting!
Goodness me, those prices are way, way higher than I paid for my "Soulmates" ! These things vary so much, depending on store owners. Don't know if you saw my other recently acquired Austin piece - I told about it in a post a couple or so weeks ago


That post also has links to posts about my other 4 Austin pieces. I've seen some beauties which are outside of my pay scale, but always love to find them - don't know what it is about them, so different from each other, yet always recognisable. :-)