In mid-May, I was in North Carolina, attending a Writers’ Conference. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon. That evening, I was playing Words with Friends on my phone, and a message popped up from my sister in San Diego. It said, “WHO lives in a dangerous part of the country?!? It’s a good thing you’re out of town.”
And I said to myself, as I rolled my eyes, “Ollie, Mollie, Gollie. What’s happened now.”
We’re rather, somewhat, just a tad … infamous, here in Waco. Lot’s of folks know Waco and remember Waco because of that Davidian thing, back in 1993. But more and more people are paying attention to Baylor University and its sports teams (as well as other notable things that happen there but don’t get quite the tv time that football does). And in July, three new National Monuments were established by Presidential Executive Order, including Basin and Range in Nevada, Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, and Waco Mammoth, in, yes, Waco, Texas. FYI, when the National Park Service article says some boys found a bone and took it to a local museum, where “museum staff identified the find as a femur bone from a Columbian mammoth,” the museum employee who identified the bone was David.
Anyway, back to May. I called JoAnne to see what was currently amiss in Waco, and she described the shooting at Twin Peaks restaurant, where members of five biker gangs congregated and nine guys were killed and many, many more injured. And I said, “We have five biker gangs in Waco?” No, five biker gangs from all over the place convened in Waco. But it didn’t matter. We were back in the news again, in an unfortunate way.
As I met people at the conference over the next few days, and, as always, people asked each other where they were from, I said “Texas.” If pressed, I said, “Central Texas.” If pressed further, I admitted, “Waco.”
I got two responses. Some folks winced a little and said, “Oh.” And they would nod their heads slightly and maybe shrug their shoulders in a “well, what are you gonna do?” comment.
Other folks, and I am so serious about this, would say, “Waco, Texas!! Fixer-Upper!! I love that show!!”
We are absolutely becoming famous for a program on HGTV: Fixer-Upper. A local couple (Chip and Joanna Gaines), who renovate homes, find people who are moving into the area and looking for a place to live. Chip and Joanna locate three houses that have possibilities but need remodeling. They show the three houses to the re-locators, who choose one, and the Gaineses (along with lots of work crews) renovate, remodel, repaint, re-everything. The show’s been on two seasons and has an amazing following.
Here’s how amazing: The couple have purchased a large space downtown, where they will have a store and warehouses and an open space for events. Meanwhile, they have been operating out of a small store on a main thoroughfare through town. I drive past it several times a week. Weeks ago, I noticed a lady in a floweredy muumuu standing in front of the store’s sign (Magnolia). She was grinning and someone was taking her photo. Really, I thought. Someone’s come here just to see the Magnolia store? I began to pay more attention. Things began to escalate. Now, during business hours, there is always a crowd of people, standing around, carrying bags and parcels out, and HAVING THEIR PICTURES MADE OUTSIDE THE STORE!! After business hours, the crowd of lookers and picture-takers thins out quite a bit. But they’re still there. I admit, I’m not out driving around in the middle of the night, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some brave souls were camping out, wanting to be first into the store the next morning.
The upshot is, of course, that WE ARE REALLY AND TRULY NATIONALLY FAMOUS, FOR A GOOD REASON!!
It is better to be respected than to be rich. A good name is worth more than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1 (Easy-to-Read Version)
We all want to have a good reputation. Well, many of us do. Waco residents prefer their city to be known as a great place to live. The Fixer-Upper program has really helped with that. Once people move here, they begin to learn that we really are nice, normal people. There’s an extraordinary university, a great community college, a beautiful park, and a nice zoo. And lots of other stuff.
The author of the article on the three new national monuments said, “Yes, that Waco.” He didn’t mean it nicely, I don’t think. I guess he doesn’t watch HGTV.